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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Basic Fantasy RPG Review

Basic fantasy is a 164page old school style RPG written by Chris Gonnerman.
The page layouts and black and white art is reminiscent of old school role-playing games. With four races Dwarf, Elf, Halfling, and Humans. Classes include Cleric, Fighter, Magic-user, and Thief.

I've seen time and time again fans of the game try to compare it to a particular version of older editions of D&D. Since I didn't play those older editions I really can't attest to how close it is, but I have played enough retro clones and OSR games to get a sence of its old school vibe.

Basic fantasy is an OGL based game using the same core (although very scaled back) system as the 3rd edition of dungeons and dragons. Basic fantasy uses the core six ability scores, scaling combat bonuses, and abilities like it's roots. While keeping a simple feel and style that very much exemplifies older editions of the game.

This to me is the best of both worlds. Basic fantasy is simple and elegant while taking advantage of modern innovation and design like ascending armor class. I always give the example of a classic car. The classic styling and sleek lines, but under the hood is a modern motor, powerful while being fuel efficient.

Beyond being old school and mechanically elegant it's also a simple framework for hacking. With all the material out for OSR games and 3.x D&D it's easy to find resources for building the game you want to play. Build your game from the ground up.

While it's easy to use or convert other material to Basic fantasy, there is also a lot of material made for it, available for free on it's website at

One of the most amazing things about Basic fantasy is that it is a complete game. While there is a lot of resources (I'll cover that later) all you really need is the core rules to run it. To give you an idea how complete it is I'll give a quick page breakdown.

Quick page breakdown:
1-2 is introduction.
3-14 is character creation and gear.
15-35 is spells.
36-42 is rules for adventuring.
43-53 is rules for running encounters.
54-128 is monsters (2-4 per page)
129-143 is treasure and magical items.
144-163 Guide to game mastering.
164 is a very well done Index.

Another amazing thing about Basic fantasy, it's free on
As a PDF. Print copies can also be purchased on Amazon in paperback for $5 as of this review, as well as a field guide full of monsters and adventure most under $4 as of the posting of this review. Hard bound versions of the core book can be purchased on

The fact that I spent $25ish dollars and got the core books and a stack of supplements is pretty amazing value. Not even taking into account all the material available for free.

My own house rules and custom material can be found here.
And my Basic fantasy repository is here.

Fantasy AGE Rpg Overview/Review

I've been running games with the AGE (Adventure Game Engine) system since the first Dragon Age box set came out. While I was not all that happy with how those were released, I really liked the AGE game system that powered it. If you're familiar with the Dragon Age RPG or the Blue Rose 2nd edition RPG, then you're familiar with system that powers Fantasy AGE. For those not familiar I'll try to go over enough information to get a feel for the system. Fantasy age is a generic fantasy game system. There is a few things that make Fantasy AGE stand out, I'll try to cover them all. 

First of all the dice. In Fantasy age most rolls are made with 3D6 with one of those die a different color. The odd color die is the stunt die. If on a successful roll any two dice roll a matching pair the character gains stunt points. The amount of stunt points gained is equal to the number rolled on the odd colored die. Stunt points can be spent to add stunts and effects to the action they were rolling on. For example a combat stunt can push back to an enemy, do extra damage, or make the attack penetrate armor.

Stunts on a spell casting roll can lower the cost of spells, and add effects as well. Stunt points to me is the biggest reason to play Fantasy's what separates it from the crowd. Although there is plenty more to like about this game. I'm personally a big fan of rolling 3D6 rather than a D20, it's less swingy. The 3D6 Bell curve keeps high and low rolls possible while mostly rolling to the average making abilities more meaningful.

Combat in Fantasy AGE works in a familiar way with attack rolls being made against an opponent's defense. Attacks that roll greater than the defense means the attacker gets to roll damage dice against the target. But that's where similarities end. In Fantasy AGE Defense is a set value plus dexterity and shield bonuses. Armor doesn't add to Defense. Instead armor subtracts from the damage roll, heavily armored targets are not harder to hit, but rather harder to wound. I really like how this works, it's once again one of the reasons to pick Fantasy AGE over other fantasy games.

Fantasy AGE uses nine ability scores. Ability scores range from -2 to 4 to start but can go as far as 8. In most rolls a player rolls 3D6 and adds the appropriate ability score as a modifier to the roll. Rolls are either against an opponent's defense, an opposed, or against a static difficulty.

Each ability score has multiple focuses, these focuses are deeper skill and training. Having a focus grants a +2 to ability score rolls they apply to. For example a character with a Dexterity of 2 tries to pick a lock, she also has a focus on lock picking. When making a Dexterity roll to pick the lock she adds 4 to the roll. I really like how simple and intuitive this is. As players level they gain more ability points and focuses. Like most fantasy RPGs there is a power creep in leveling, but I find that Fantasy AGE does it fairly intuitive and without a truck load of numbers to track. 

Characters are also made up of Race, Background, and Class. Races are your standard fantasy examples of Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling, Human, and Orc. Each race gets some set bonuses as well as one thing rolled randomly on a chart. Backgrounds are based around social class. Rolled randomly or chosen if the GM allows, adds a focus and some strong role-playing flavor. 

Fantasy AGE has only 3 classes Mage, Rogue, and Warrior. While this really seems limited, there is a lot of layers of customization, allowing two players of the same class to play totally differently.

The most profound way to customize your character is with talents. Some talents are class specific they cover things like fighting styles and special training. Talents cover things like learning Alchemy, Lore, weapon styles, and Scouting. Talents often have requirements to take beyond class specific. For example to take Mounted combat you must first have a focus in Riding.

Talents come in 3 steps novice, journeyman, and Master. When gaining new talents you often have the ability to gain a new talent, or step up one you already have. I find talents to be great, especially with the limited number of classes in the game. This is the one area of the book I wish there was more of. They cover all the bases but that is about it. I would assume any settings or companions to come will add more.

The next level of of customization is class specialization. At level 4 characters can specialze in an aspect of their class. Mechanically these work like talents with three steps, but are only open to a single class. For example miracle worker is a mage specialization that makes them better healers.

Magic in Fantasy AGE is learning and casting of set spells. Characters spend magic points to pay the cost of the spell and make a spell roll. Spell rolls can generate stunt points giving the caster the ability to add effects. There are 12 schools of magic with 4 spells in each school. I like how magic works, especially how stunt points and the magic system works together. 

Fantasy AGE has about 20 pages of GM advice. This section is full of advice on how to flavor the game, how to emulate different styles of play. About what you would expect in a generic fantasy RPG. The advice seems like it would be very helpful to new GMs, better than most RPG GM sections. There is 10 pages of monsters, it's a small section but they pack in a lot, most your basics are covered from goblins to dragons. There is another 7 pages on rewards, how to handle giving experience points and sample magic items. A small section on campaign settings and even a sample Adventure in the back.

All in all I think Fantasy AGE is a really good game. The mechanics are solid and don't get unweildy. Most my run time with the AGE system was with a Dragon Age campaign I ran. But I've run Fantasy AGE enough to see it's really solid.

If I have any criticism I would say I wish there was more. More races, more talents, more specializations, more spells, and more monsters. Strangely enough I think the three classes in the book are just fine. Fantasy AGE has enough layers to branch into that having only three classes as roots works fine. As far as more of all the other character aspects, I assume we'll get those in the companion and or setting books.

The Pierson Monster, Savage Worlds

D6 Agility
D6 Smarts
D6 Strength
D8 Spirit
D10 Vigor

-2/+2 Charisma (depends on who you ask)
6" Pace
6 Parry (based on argument, internet house rule)
4 Toughness (based on immersion, house rule)

D10 Knowledge: Reading chicken bones.
D4 Knowledge: immersion
D8 Knowledge: Argument
D10 taunt
D4 persuasion

No mercy
Arcane background: Arcane banter
Allies: Nerds-international

Addiction: games with funky dice
Enemy: Dragonspawn (one who attacks from behind).

Vapor of confusion (Confusion)
Banter til you die (Entangle)
Argue in a circle (Drain power points)

Dwarven Honor Guard for Fantasy AGE RPG

I'm going to work on a few racial Talents.
"Even if the whole world was to take arms against my house, I will stand against the world".

Dwarven Honor Guard
This talent can be exchanged for a level one starting talent. You once served or currently serve in the guard detail of one of the great Dwarven houses.

Requirement: Dwarf, fighting 2, weapon group Bludgeon.

Novice: You are specially trained to react to danger, gain the Focus Dexterity (initiative).
Journeyman: Honor guard are specialzed  fighters with hammers. You inflict +2 damage with hammers.
Master: Reacting to danger becomes second nature to veteran honor guard. Seize initiative stunt costs 2 rather than 4.

Friday, January 26, 2018

AGE system freeform magic system, Fantasy AGE RPG

I've been toying with the idea of freeform magic for Green Ronin's Fantasy AGE system. Using both Ubiquity and D6 system as inspiration I created some basic guidelines. I'll refine them as I go.

To cast a magical effect the player describes the effect they wish to cast. The player calculates any bonuses or penalties based on Range, area effect, familiarity, and time. 

The GM looks over the spell effects and decided the appropriate base cost. Take the base difficulty and add bonuses and penalties plus ten. This final number is the cast difficulty.

Casting difficulty:
TN of spell effects is 10+ spell effect, then add bonuses or penalties for Range, Area of effect, familiarity, and time. Casting rolls are made on Intelligence with focuses being the four spell type catagories.

Touch -1
Close   0 (within 10 yards)
Medium +1 (within 30 yards)
Long +2 (within 50 yards)
Extreme +3 (within 100 yards)

Area of Effect:
Single target 0
Circle, small 6yard, +1
Circle, large 10yard, +2
Cone or beam +1 

Held, touched, true name -1
Seen up close, conversed 0
Seen from a distance,  +1
Can't see but know it's presence, +2

End of turn/Instant. 0
End of round. +1
End of end of scene/combat. +2
End in an hour. +3

Spell effects:

Control (push/pull)
1 really small object, under 5 pound
2 Small object, up to 20 pounds
3 medium object, up to 100 pounds
4 large object, up to 200 pounds
5 extreme object, up to 600 pounds

1 change appearance, superficial.
2 limited physical change, property. +1
3 strong but uncomplicated, nature. +2
4 Significant and invasive, +3
5 powerful and complicated. +4

1 simple raw material
2 small simple items
3 summon mindless,tool, weapon,
4 summon larger, complex, attack animal,
5 summon intelligent attack, large.

Chosen 1-6 for difficulty.
Damaging or Healing effect equals 1d6 plus a bonus equal to the difficulty.
Apply an element or source for damage add +2 difficulty. Damage is penetrating x 2 difficulty.

For example the mage character wants to knock down a bolder from above a goblin camp. The bolder is about 200 lbs and it's 30 feel away. Looking at Control the GM sets the difficulty to 15. (4 for weight, +1 for range, +10). The bolder comes rolling down causing the goblin guards to go investigate.

My original idea was for a system without magic points. But if using magic point cost to cast would be equal to final spell effect. Final cost equal to spell difficulty -10. Using the example above the Mana cost would have been 5 MP.

Another option is drain, rather than having magic points characters could have a backlash or drain for failed rolls. The idea here is that Characters can play it safe with easy difficulties, or push their luck and risk more. My first idea for this is on a failed roll the character takes damage to their health equal to the difference in their roll. If the spell effect TN is 15 and the player rolls a 10 he would take 5 damage.

Another option is that for every 5 the player rolls below the TN the character takes 1d6 penetrating damage.

Warlock specialization for Fantasy AGE

Some mages draw on magic from forbidden knowledge. Often obsessed with the obtaining dark lore and forbidden tomes. As such they find ways to bypass many of the weaknesses of other mages.
The common folk fear warlocks, they are known as "soul eaters". Warlock perfered Arcana are Fire and Shadow. Many also favor the Power arcana.

Warlock specialization
Class: Mage
Requirements: Intelligence 4 or higher and Intelligence (Arcane Lore) Focus.

Novice: the warlocks arcane blast becomes 1d6 penetrating damage (but no longer benefits from willpower).
Journeyman: warlocks can ignore 1 point of strain from wearing non-metal armor.
Master: Arcane blast now does 2d6 penetrating damage. Once damage is rolled the warlock gains drain equal to half the damage done rounded down. Warlocks can gain health and/or magic points for every point of drain, divided any way they choose.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Forest Guardian for Fantasy AGE RPG

At the heart of all great old Forests sits a guardian. Enchanted beings, so ancient not even the gods remember how they came to be. Some say the first order of druids summoned them, other say they brought the first order of druids to the deep woods. 

What is known is the deep woods are protected by the guardians. Protected from incursion from Man, Orc, and Demons alike. Even the Elves who show the forest and guardians reverence rarely travel too deeply into the ancient forests. Only the Orders of Druids and Rangers enter the deepest of forsts, communing with the ancient guardians as fellow defenders.

Guardians of the forest can call on all manner of allies in the forests. Ents, wild animals, Rangers, Druids, and Wild elf tribes.

Guardians have access to a wide range of Arcana.

Guardians can take two forms. The guardian form is that of a 15' tall horned humanoid. The second is that of a great white stag. 

4 Accuracy (Arcane blast)
2 Communication 
3 Constitution (Stamina)
2 Dexterity 
3 Fighting (Brawl)
4 Intelligence (Arcane lore +4, Nature lore +8)
4 Perception (sight, hearing, smell)
3 Strength 
6 Will power (Courage, self discipline)

Speed 10
Health 80
Defense 14
Armor Rating 8
Magic points: 30

Arcane Blast   +6   1d6+Will
Claws.              +4    1d6+3
Horned attack +5   2d6+2

While in Great Stag form perception and Dexterity becomes 6. Speed is 16, Defense 18, and Armor rating of 4.

Inquisitor's spear for Fantasy AGE.

these two handed spears are specially forged for the Inquisitors of the church of light. These master worked spears were forged by the Dwarven master of the great forge before it's destruction. Attack and damage rolls against corrupted or undead are both made with a +2 bonus.

Defensive stance and Treaten both cost one less stunt point while weilding an Inquisitors spear.

Feline race for Fantasy AGE

Native to the southern jungles Felines are becoming more common in the central and middle lands. Feline traders and adventurers can now be found in most of the known world.

Common female names:

Common male names:

Common family names:
Felines don't use family names but rather use the city or town they come from. This can get confusing to outsiders as not everyone calls every city by the same name. As Kaiden of Karabal, and Kaiden of twin spires are both from the city of Karabal, a city known for the two great spires in it's skyline.

If you play a Feline, modify your character as follows:

* Add 1 to your Dexterity ability.

* Pick one of the following ability focuses: Dexterity (Acrobatics), Accuracy (claws), or Communication (Bargaining).

* You have dark sight, which allows you to see up to 30 yards in darkness without a light source.

* Your speed is equal to 12 + Dexterity (minus armor penalty).

*You can speak Feline and the common tongue.

* Roll (2d6) twice on the Feline benefits table. Reroll any duplicates.

Feline Benefits:
2: +1 Perception
3-4: Focus: Perception (hearing)
5: Focus: Intelligence (Historical lore)
6: weapon Group Brawling
7-8: +1 Accuracy
9: Focus: Intelligence (Evaluate)
10-11: Focus: Perception (Smell)
12: +1 Dexterity

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Kravunn of the Black Reach, Demon Lord.

Kravunn is lord of the Black Reach keep and surrounding mountains. Which he took by slaying Morosh the dragon king in single combat. 

Kravunn commands a legion of Demon soldiers. Two of Morosh's chideren, enslaved and corrupted stand guard at the Black Reach keep. The region is filled with followers of Kravunn, followers are known for taking slaves in raids along the coast of the dark mountains. The threat of followers infiltrating neighboring settlements has many on guard, making all the neighboring lands weary of strangers.

2 Accuracy (Bale fire)
2 Communication 
6 Constitution (Stamina)
2 Dexterity 
6 Fighting (Claws, chain whip, long spear)
2 Intelligence
3 Perception (dark sense)
6 Strength (Intimidation, Might)
4 Will power (Courage, self discipline)

Speed 10
Health 120
Defense 12
Armor Rating 8

Bale fire          +4   2D6  penetrating damage
Infernal whip  +8  2d6+6 
Claws.             +8  3d6+6 

Favored stunts
Bale fire: knock prone & Mighty blow
Infernal whip: Skirmish & Disarm
Claws: lightning attack

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Death Arcana

Death Arcana
Your magic comes from the underworld.
Novice: you learn the spells Wither and Corps speak.
Journeyman: you learn the spell Spectral walk. You also gain the focus Intelligence (Death Arcana).
Master: you learn the spell Feed on your soul. You can choose one spell stunt to perform at -1 cost when casting Death Arcana spells.

Requirements: Death Arcana (novice).
Spell type: Attack.
Mp Cost: 4.
Casting Time: Major Action.
Target Number: 12
Test: Con (Stamina) vs Spellpower.

A target within 10 yards you can see begins to glow with a faint sickly green aura. The target takes 1d6+will power penetrating damage and their movement is slowed to 1/2 of normal until the end of their next turn. If the target makes a successful Constitution (Stamina) vs spell power test they instead take 1d6 damage penetrating damage and are not slowed.

Corps speak
Requirements: Death Arcana (novice).
Spell type: Utility
Mp Cost: 2.
Casting Time: Major Action.
Target Number: 10
Test: None.
You whisper to the dead, engaging in conversation with a corpse. Most corpses can answer only a few quick questions.
You may spend 2 stunt points to see a quick glimpse through the corpse eyes at the moment of death, often clouded and blurred the quick vision might only give minimal details and is often very traumatic to you.

Spectral walk
Requirements: Death Arcana (journeyman).
Spell type: Utility
Mp Cost: 6.
Casting Time: Major Action.
Target Number: 14.
Test: None.
Your physical form passes into the a aether, taking of a ghostly form. Until the end of your next turn you can move passing through small objects (human sized and smaller) and even living beings. Those you pass through get a chill that runs up their spine. You cannot pass solid walls, beings connected to the aether, or holy relics (undead, bale fire). Casting this spell on holy ground you take 1d6 penetrating damage.

Feed on your Soul
Requirements: Death Arcana (Master).
Spell type: Attack.
Mp Cost: 7.
Casting Time: Major Action.
Target Number: 12
Test: Willpower (Toughness) vs Spellpower.
You open your mouth wide calling out a piece of the soul from a target you can see within 10 yards. The soul leaves the target's body in a stream of sickly green light, into your open mouth to be devoured. The target takes 2d6+willpower penetrating in damage. On a successful Willpower Toughness vs Spellpower the target takes 1d6+willpower penetrating damage. You regain Health points equal to 1/2 the amount of damage done by Feed on your soul +2.

Initiative in Index card RPG.

I've had some time to think about some of the workings of ICRPG. Being a tinkerer at heart I can't help but want to come up with mat...