Green Ronin’s Fantasy AGE

roninlogo_namebox I am of a mind that I find myself fascinated by the thought of RPG systems that are dynamic and flexible. Going hand-in-hand with being simple but elegant also helps. To that end I feel I must share my impressions of Green Ronin’s Fantasy AGE. AGE (Adventure Game Engine) is the system that has brought to life Dragon Age, the upcoming Titansgrave and Blue Rose. I am definitely investing in Dragon Age, I am a big fan of the series and having owned the original boxed sets of Dragon Age I am a fan of the initial builds of the system. GRR6001_450_d9ffbea6-fda4-4ef0-b275-a8521e0bd371_1024x1024 Fantasy AGE uses a modified D6 system that feels a lot like D20 meets Shadowrun. D20’s elegance and ease meets Shadowrun’s fist full of dice in a pleasant middle ground that tickles my fancy. All rolls are done on d6’s, most notably 3d6. Simple enough, but elegant in its spread giving you numbers from 3-18 plus any relevant modifiers. Every roll you make from a lowballed 1d6 to a high rolling 3d6 powers your checks, damage and combat rolls. The higher you roll the better off you do in most situations. Character creation’s first step is for you to choose a theme. What do you want this character to be? What have the seen or what drives them? It can be anything from the usual outcast wanderer looking for a home to a disgraced noble looking for a way to restore his family’s honor. Personally I am very enthused that the first step focuses on roleplaying instead of smacking people around and taking their stuff, big plus. Going back to the second step, and dice, even stats are done using a 3d6 system. The higher you roll the more your stat is, starting out at anything from negative numbers to the whopping +4 you get if you’re lucky enough to roll all 6’s. Once you’ve rolled once for each stat you can swap any two abilities. The abilities: Accuracy, Communication, Constitution, Dexterity, Fighting, Intelligence, Perception, Strength, Willpower. Each ability has focuses associated to it, focuses are like a skill boost. You gain a +2 to the specific focus. Those focuses are gained by classes, backgrounds and talents. The associations are obvious. If you have, for instance a focus in accuracy, it will be something like Accuracy (Arcane Blast), or (Bows) or (Black Powder). Communication (Animal Handling), (Deception), or (Gambling). Again, simplicity wins. The next step is your race. Here is where we get back to the usual tropes and get a little splash of new sprinkled in. Of the six races there are familiar faces; dwarf, elf, gnome, halfling, human and orc. Wait, orc you say? Full blooded, head beating orc. Each race gets two sets of benefits. The first set is a set number of abilities and bonuses that always apply. The second set is randomly determined from the ‘Benefits’ table. This makes for the ‘no two alike’ rule and that, again, is a plus in my book. Now before we go down the usual stereotypes there is the half-breed option. Say you want to be a half-breed, no problem. Pick two races and you get a few benefits from each. First you pick your dominant race, you get that race’s permanents. Then you get one roll on the benefit table from each race. Easy enough, yet again! Elf-orc? No problem, Dwarfling? No problem. Half-gnome? Creepy, but also okay. Of course you have to discuss combinations with your DM/GM. On to backgrounds, which is my favorite part of the system so far. You can either choose or roll your background. This gives you, on the first roll, your social class and then on the second roll the subclass of your background. From there you get benefits as detailed in the book. Simple and elegant. Each of the different ‘subclasses’ or background explanations gives you two free ability focuses (so there’s that wondrous +2 bonus to your ability rolls). The last part of character creation comes from selecting your class. There are three classes and within those classes, similar to your race, are different options to choose from that will make your character different and unique. You have Warrior, Rogue and Mage to select from. Each class is self-explanatory. Warriors are masters of hand to hand combat, rough and tumble types. Rogues are the sneaky-stabby kind of guys and mages are the spell casters of the game. They get access to all magic from healing to boom. Again, simple and elegant and I like it. Your character, as you advance, will gain access to further customization through character options that come in the form of talents and specializations. Talents come in three ranks Novice, Journeyman and Master. Each of these levels gives you some form of bonus that you can apply to your character. Specializations make your character more powerful and, well, specialized ranging from Arcane Scholars, Knights, Mage Hunters and so on. Every specialization takes your class further in to the delicious dipping sauce that is flavor. My personal favorite flavor so far is Mage Hunter. You get a small blurb about what the specialization focuses on, requirements (there are minimums), a small blurb that I feel is a sort of credo, and bonuses depending on the level of specialization you are at. Again, Novice, Journeyman, or Master. From there the book goes in to equipment and rules which are fairly self-explanatory. Then on to magic, ah my favorite subject. Magic is broken down in to different elements (meaning pieces not necessarily just earth, wind, water, and fire) and within those groups are the spells you can select. Each spell has the usual requirements, effects and stats and the MP Cost. The last part before you get to the GM’s guide is all about stunts. Now stunts are a little bit of flash and pizazz you can throw out if you roll successfully and get doubles on the dice, you gain a number of stunt points as the number shown on the die. You can use those stunt points to perform specialized actions that give you that extra edge you need when facing down an opponent. The higher the number, obviously, the more powerful the stunt. The last part of the book is for the GMs (no peeking, players!). Section one of this part gives you basic advice on running a game and keeping track of the events in the game. The second section focuses on the rules. Then come the adversaries and (the player’s favorite) the rewards. After that the book goes in to campaign settings and long-term games and provides a sample adventure. All-in-all I don’t think I’ve been more pleasured visually or in the brain pan by an RPG. Customizable along with simplicity and elegance. I’m sold. If you don’t have this book yet, get it. If you don’t want it, you’re wrong! Now if only I could get my hands on Dragon Age or Titansgrave…

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~ by lordnightwinter on August 10, 2015.

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