Jordan

Fantasy Games

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The Fantasy genre has always been pretty close to my heart. It's how I was introduced to role playing games and so I always feel a special connection to the genre. Like many people, I got introduced to vai D&D at a pretty young age, and also like many people I have weathered multiple edition changes and "deaths."

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When 3.5 was cancelled, it kind of felt like the gaming community started taking crazy pills. People freaked out. yet it was something that I think kind of helped the community. D20 with it's OGL had a virtual stranglehold on the gaming market; at least that is how it felt and with it's passing it seemed that more room was made for the little guy. Oh sure, the passing of 3.5 saw the birth of Pathfinder (which has become enormous) and both the birth and flaming death of 4th edition, but it also saw the birth of numerous smaller, more "independent' games seeking to carve their own little slice out of the Fantasy genre pie.

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For me, I sadly don't have a fantasy game to play in. The current discovery I am obsessed with is a game called Arcanis. If you have spent any time in the Chat then I am sure you have witness a few of my little blurbs about it. What makes Arcanis cool (IMHO) you ask? Well Arcanis started as a 3rd party product for D20/3.5 It was an entire world that took many of the fantasy concepts and tweaked them just enough to be different from the standard and feel Unique. For example, the Gods of Arcanis had no Alignments, instead the churches did. Every god has both positive and negative aspects. That alone was one of the cooler aspects of the game. it allowed for a GM to have evil priests doing evil things in the name of their religion yet not have to explain when they weren't struck down by a bolt of holy lightning. Elves that were created by the creepy serpent empire and god-like elemental beings to be a slave race. Dwarves that were one celestial giants who were cursed by the gods of humanity to small of stature. And the lands themselves. Every country is based loosely (some loser than others) on a real world historical culture. Ancient Romans, Holy Roman Empire and so on yet still given a rich background that wove these places and people together to make a coherent world that (again IMHO) just works.

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When 3.5 was cancelled, the creators of Arcanis decided that instead of just rolling the game world over to Pathfinder, they would develop their own system. While i haven't had a chance to actually play the system, I do like what I've read. Insead of a D20 it uses 2D10 base to give a smoother bell curve. Character creation is set in stages. Characters no longer have classes, instead they are build by putting various pieces together at each stage of creation to form a complete whole. S just because you choose the Arcane Archetype for you character character, that doesn't preclude you from having been part of some country's army and taking a military background, complete with some sort of weapon and armor training. Most of the things you'd consider "class abilities" have been moved into Talents (basically feats). Another cool thing is that you can learn both weapon maneuvers, and tombat maneuvers. These are cool things characters can do in combat that share similar conceptual space with spells, and appear to be the Game's method of keeping the non spellcasters relevant in combat as everyone level's up.

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Yes there are still "levels." The game categorizes characters into 1 of 4 or 5 tiers of 10 ranks each. Every 1,000 xp the characters gain a rank at get to choose 1 option from the advancement tables. these options range from attribute boosts to new Talents or skils, to better defenses to gain a Path (think paragon path here). what you actually get is pretty much up to the player with some guidelines/limitations of course. Truthfully the game can go well past tier 4 if the group wants it to.

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Wow, okay that was a longer spiel then I expected! So I am curious; What games do you turn to to get your fantasy gaming fix on? What little gems (or horrors) have you discovered in your internet travels that you can share with us?

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Hehe. Honestly, I usually use Pathfinder or 4rth Ed D&D. I've recently started a 5th Ed game now though, so we'll see how that goes.

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I play a ton of 3.5. The community support for it is still enormous and will be for some time. Hard to improve upon perfection. ;)

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3.5 was improved upon. It's called Pathfinder and it blows 3.5 out of the water.

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I wasn't aware there was a 5th Edition D&D game out. Wow, they must be desperate at this point...

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Numenera fills that role for me, that and Dragon Age. The later especially hits the right chord for crunchy fantasy combat IMO. I love the dragon age stunt system.

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I prefer M&M and other flexible, open-ended systems for fantasy. It frees you to be fantastical, in my opinion. I've come to hate all leveling systems; they should go the way of the dinosaur, in my opinion.

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I wasn't aware there was a 5th Edition D&D game out. Wow, they must be desperate at this point...

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Technically it's not out yet, but they are working on it and had open playtests and the last open playtest documents are still out there. I think I have them actually. It's not bad either.

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Has anyne tried some of the other Fantasy games that sun off of the D20 crash? Epic, 13th Age, Iron Kingdoms, A Song of Ice and Fire, Conan, Lord of the Rings, The One Ring... Man there are more fantasy game out there than I first thought now that I am actually listing them...

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3.5 was improved upon. It's called Pathfinder and it blows 3.5 out of the water.

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Eh...Pathfinder fixes some problems, but creates others, and doesn't have the depth or wealth of support that 3.5 still has. Still good though. Matter of personal taste.

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Also...don't forget Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay!!!

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Pathfinder has an incredible amount of support, particularly if you are willing to look at 3rd party material. Pathfinder's main drawback is that it is still limited by the OGL and thus only so many changes can be made to improve it before you start bumping into the OGL glass ceiling.

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Yeah the latest edition of WFRPG is not bad... I've played it a bit.

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Oh yeah! 13th Age is really good too!

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I like M&M for fantasy, but hardly anyone ever runs it.

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I have 13th age but I haven't really delved into it. From my brief skim of it It feels a lot like 4th edition with some serious edits. Can you share anything else about it Max?

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I prefer M&M and other flexible, open-ended systems for fantasy. It frees you to be fantastical, in my opinion. I've come to hate all leveling systems; they should go the way of the dinosaur, in my opinion.

Generally I agree, the all at once nature of level ups always feels odd. Numenera does use "levels" (tiers), but each one is really just a kind of incremental increase that you earn by buying one of each of the other 4 incremental increases ... it's "Buy 4 character advancements, get the 5th for free!!" instead of DnD style levels (a.k. the Quickening style).

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Dragon Age uses level, which I kinda hate, but the combat stunt system is so good I put up with it.

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Dungeon World seems like an interesting low crunch fantasy system.

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I love the idea of using FATE for fantasy (including the "build your setting as a group" aspects), but for my TT peeps it just didn't seem to click.

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M&M also works well for a certain kind of fantasy games.

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Hmm. For fantasy games, I usually go with Pathfinder, Changeling (the Dreaming, not the Lost), or a variant of Scion or Exalted. We've even made Shadowrun work.

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Hm, I've never considered either of the changeling games as the basis for a fantasy game but either could work. I persoanlly thing the nWoD changeling game (Lost?) was an order of magnitude better than the oWoD changeling game (THe Dreaming?) but that is just personal preference. I personally don't see Exalted a fantasy game so much as a "supers" game tha stole for a fantasy game's wardrobe but again that is mostly just personal preference

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I have a soft spot for RoleMaster. Needlessly complicated rules, uneven XP earning system (you can get XP essentially for walking and you get XP for landing Crits, which some spells can do a lot of) and the game is deadly as fuck - that guy with a knife can kill your tank in mithril platemail with a lucky or skilled shot. But it was fun all the same.

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Technically, it's a level-based system, but it plays far more like a skill-based one. All classes do is determine the cost for various skills (including magic). Interesting twist, you pick the skills you're gonna level before you go up a level, to represent what you are training to do that level - if you spend the extra skillpoints to go up to ranks in a skill, you gain one of the ranks at the halfway mark.

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What makes 13th Age distinct from 4th Ed is the emphasis it puts on player/GM interaction. 4rth Ed is famous/infamous for being very mechanical in character builds. It's an exercise in careful mathematics. Character generation in 13th Age, though it produces a set of stats that play similarly in some ways, is much more about storytelling and narrative flexibility. Via concepts like 'Icons' which are power loci that are built into the game's setting rather than being abstract, and 'your One Unique Thing,' which is purely about roleplaying and storytelling with the mechanical effects entirely up to the GM, 13th Age manages to squeeze a lot of storytelling juice out of what is essentially a d20 system.

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They also slim down a LOT of complexity. Ranges for example, are expressed as "close, nearby, or far away." The specific number of feet is never an issue. Movement is measured as going from one band to another. If you can move really fast for some reason, you might be able to go two. There's enough rules in combat to allow use of tactics, but they're skinnied down a LOT from editions of D&D. Combats in particular play faster due to things like escalation dice (a scaling bonus based on how long the battle's been going, which tends to make rounds go faster and faster) and the way weapon damage scales with level, which prevents higher level combat from getting slower and slower and less exciting.

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A great deal of stuff is left very open to GM/player interpretation. Things like ritual spellcasting, item creation, all that...they give some ideas and guidelines, but stipulate very clearly that what is and isn't possible is a game table decision, not hardcoded into the book. Which I find I like.

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I agree with Max. I tend to dislike DnD but on read through I found 13th Age was a lot more skewed toward playable RP than I expected. I even stole the "one unique thing" mechanic for my table top Numenera game. It has really allowed for character driven stories to come to the foreground, especially with results like:

"I'm the only person to exit the dome of mysteries alive"

"I stopped adding long ago"

And

"I have an implant from a prior world and I don't know what it does"

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I just re-discovered an older game. Apparently in 2012, Rune Quest got a 6th Edition. I had never played it before but remember reading it way back in the 80's when the system was linked to their publisher's world, Glorantha. The 6th edition is entirely divorced from any setting and in fact goes out of it's way to be adjustable to whatever the GM's setting needs might be.

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The rather fractured gaming community I'm part of plays three very different FRPGs; Ars Magica 5th Edition, Legends of the Five Rings 4th Edition and Pathfinder.

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Like all d20 class-and-level games, PF is the easiest to pick up players for and is currently my favorite 'beer and pretzels' rpg; you can always find a new game, and it's the gamer equivalent of poker night, which lots of joking and idle chit-chat. Even after 30 years, fireballs and magic missiles are still fun.

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Ars is a LOT of hard work, but rewards the history nerd gamer with no social life and a Wikipedia addiction, and you can develop a rich saga over years of play. Combat is very rare (and super-deadly, so best avoided if at all possible), but the social stuff and crazy-ass magic are cool as hell.

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I've yet to run L5R, but playing it is a gas; for me, it strikes a nice balance between Ars and PF. Characters are actually quicker to make than in either system, but still turn out very rich, often equally good at combat or more social gameplay, and shugenja may be the funnest spellcasters I've ever played, with a cool Avatar: The Last Airbender vibe.

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I honestly prefer Pathfinder over D&D as even though it's class based, each class is highly customizable to the needs of the player and the DM. Compared to D&D 3.5, PF just feels more deep in terms of options. I wouldn't say PF is beer and pretzels because of how it functions you can have a far deeper game than a typical dungeon crawl. Then again I hate dungeon crawling in general, thankfully PF gives class options so your character isn't only good at delving into railroady ruins for loot.

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I love Ars Magica but getting anyone to play it or better yet run it can be difficult. It's very crunchtastic and can be a lot for a new layer to absorb once learnedbut that doesn't get in the way of the role play at all. Middle Ages wizards FTW!

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The only fantasy games I play so far are D and D 4th and Pathfinder. I was hoping to do dragon age, but that group fell to pieces before the game got going. That sucked in my view, I was hoping to learn more on it. I haven't play the others. Also is anyone interested in starting an fantasy game here?

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I'd be willing to play a fantasy game too, but it depends on the system. The most common system known here is D&D 3.5 and Pathfinder which are okay I guess. I would probably give AGE/Dragon Age a try, or D&D Next. I'd love to play Arcanis but I don't want to run it. :)

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I have some stuff for pathfinder. Also I have a d and d 4th mod or two. I am also interested in dragon age as well. I am also interested in anima if there is a way to find intel and people to play it.

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So what style fantasy do you guys like playing in. Do you prefer the epic, outrageous high fantasy as presented in games like D&D and Pathfinder, or do you prefer something lower in power like Harn. How do you feel about adventuring in pre-existing worlds like Forgotten Realms or Middle Earth? Do you prefer a GM or group created world?

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Myself, I tend toward pathfinder in general, but I'm sort of open to anything.

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I'm pretty flexible on playstyle. I tend to get sucked in by the setting details, and then whatever playstyle that setting embraces is the one I support. :)

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With me I am flexible person. As long as I have a group of people willing to help me and the system not too hard I can get into an game. Also the game isn't any good if either the gm or players are not up to playing their roles. Something I need work on when it comes to group role playing games. I often do one on ones more then groups. The problem with me is that there is not games going on when I have a chance to go to them in real life.

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For me it's Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 3rd Edition (which I almost own completely) which I am GMing since 2 years and Earthdawn 2nd Edition since... well since it got released like 20 years ago - and that game is still going.

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I never really managed to play any of the DnD games for long since they seemed very limiting and bland to me.

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I grew up with Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms, but those seem rather generic to me now. I have a serious love-bug for Pulp, so my favorite DnD settings are Eberron, with it's Steampunk Trappings, and Dark Sun/Athas, for it's refreshing Barsoomian take on DnD, in the vein of Robert E. Howard, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.

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Also a huge fan of Warhammer Fantasy, even if it's systems are a bit simplistic and dated by DnD's standards, the setting is amazing.

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Fun Fact: By piecing together some of the clues in the Realms of Chaos books, I have deduced that the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay setting is actually a post-apocalypitic setting that takes place far in the future AFTER Warhammer 40k. You can be playing the fantasy game, and stumble across ancient starships and blaster weapons, among other relics of the progenitors...

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Which makes me love it all the more. :)

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So in my internet meanderings I have stumbled upon another fantasy game.  This one is called Aspects of Fantasy and it's a fusion of D20 and FATE of all things.  I haven't really read deeply into the rules yet but it has some interesting ideas from what I have scanned.

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Bing! I have found yet another game of interest. This one is called Atlantis: The Second Age. it is a retread of an old 80's game by the same name and is in the Sword & Sorcery vein. It takes inspiration from such authors as Clark Ashton Smith, Fritz Lieber, Robert E. Howard, Michael Moorcock, and the like.

The setting for Atlantis is the antediluvian pre-history of our own world with cool mythological shit thrown in. Serpent Folk, "advanced" sapient apes (The Lemurians), Beast Folk, Atlanteans, Humans of all sorts of cultures, the game has a lot of cool stuff so far...

Here is the map of the world. If you click on it it's gets bigger and shows more detail;

uGY4S3F.jpg

Anyways, just though I'd share another discovery in my quest for good non-D&D/D20 fantasy rpgs. :)

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Pretty neat map! Though the continental positions are similar, so I guess they're not sweating continental drift.

What kind of system does it use?

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Kephra publishing bought the rights to an old game of the same name so I think it's a fusion of that and the old Talisanta game updated and modernized.

The basic die rolling mechanic involved a D20 which you roll and then add or subtract the degree of difficulty of the task from. the numbers needed to determine the various degrees of success or failure remain static; so a 6 to 10 is always a partial success.

What I like about it is that it's multicultural, there are "African" cultures, "Asian" Cultures, "Middle Eastern" and so on. while there are Caucasian humans in the game, they are no more or less prevalent/dominant than any other skin color.

I also like the races and character creation too. This game doesn't have the 'standard' fantasy fare, but races that are intimately connected to the world and make sense in it's context from the mercurial first race: The Jinn to the Andaman Beastmen, the sapient Lemurian apes, right up to Humans (the current 'dominant' species) the the Atlanteans.

In character creation, characters get their base stats from race but their base skills come from the culture they gre up in and their profession. So a Lemurian raised in Hellas (Ancient Greece) and trained as a Mercenary would get his skills from the Hellas culture package and the Mercenary profession package.

While I'm not a huge fan of random rolls in character creation, the life path system is actually pretty cool for the game and gives a few more nice things to the character. Profession are broken down into 4 basic categories based on the classes from D&D; there are Slayers (Fighters), Takers (Rogues), Shapers (Wizards) and Teachers (Clerics). Each category has 4 professions in it. For example the Takers are Assassin, Burgler, Swindler and Thug.

Anyhoo, that is a really rough snapshot of a tiny sliver of the game. I'm still reading it. What I'd really like to get my hands on is the Geographica; the World Book that goes into the various cultures in detail

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I would be interested in playing in a game in that setting.  Sounds great!

 

What kinds of beasties are there?  Does it have dragons?

 

Edit: 6,000th post!

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Umm, technically yes but they uber rare and powerful and linked to an evil, evil god, soooooooo..... yeah. If you meet one? Run.

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Good.  Dragons should not be pushovers.

 

Not sure why they have to be linked to the proverbial Devil though.  Do the asian cultures not revere good dragons as well?

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Remember, this is a game that takes place in antidiluvian pre-history, where Atlantis is in decine. It steals from the real world but is not a historical game in any real sense. So while there are "asian" cultures there isn't a china or japan in any real historical context.

Being completely honest, I don't have the full setting book and what is in the core book is pretty sparse. There are "gods" that are worshiped but little in the way of organized religion in most cultures. From what I gather though, if anyone is worshiping dragons it's most likely cultists of Set (or cultists of Ba'al)

Remember, Sword & Sorcery is the inspiration here. Dragons will generally mean Party Death from my understanding.

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