Product– Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook
System– Adventure Game Engine
Producer– Green Ronin Publishing
TL; DR-A strong successor to Dragon AGE. 92%
Basics-The Dragon AGE has ended, but that doesn’t mean all the stories you wanted to tell in the AGE system have. Fantasy AGE is the basic rule book for the previous Adventure Gaming System(AGE) system that came out with Dragon Age RPG providing all the basics any generic Fantasy RPG could need. Let’s break this down piece by piece and see what I think of them individually.
Mechanics or Crunch–
Game Basics- Fantasy AGE uses the same basic mechanics that Dragon AGE did; each player will roll 3d6 for an action, find the sum of the dice with some modifiers, and that will determine the outcome. Contested rolls work exactly the same with the higher sum winning the roll. This is a quick and easy way to have numeric diversity and an average in your dice rolls.
Stunts-One of the more interesting things with this system is stunts. When you roll your dice, two of the dice are one color and the third is a different color. If two of the dice have the same result, you get stunt points equal to the result on the differently colored die. These stunts have point values and will allow you to add extra flare and effects beyond hit a guy, cast the spell, or bluff the guard. Each type of action has it’s own stunt point chart that you can select icons to spend your points on with the more points spent, the stronger the effects. When I first read about this system, I was a bit put off, but then my math geek showed through. It’s easy to think that you won’t roll doubles often, but out of three six-sided dice, you roll doubles a little less than half of the time! Again, this is a fun addition to the standard “roll dice, hit guy, next person in initiative” we’re all used to.
Character Generation-Fantasy age characters make a few important choices and have to let some dice fall. When you make a character, you get to choose your race, background, class, and then you let the dice fall where they may! Lots of this system involves you randomly rolling for effects on your character. This results in your average character of a race having some average abilities and likely traits, but overall, I don’t like that part of character generation. While I’ve played older RPG editions, I prefer to let choice occur when you build your person. This system does downplay the negative aspects of low ability rolls, but I still prefer point buy. It’s an option, but most of the book tends to focus on rolling for your character.
Statistics:This game doesn’t have a ton of bonuses to your basic dice roll and that is great thing. Each person has a number of statistics being: accuracy ( weapon accuracy), communication (talking to people), constitution (body toughness), dexterity (agility and coordination), fighting (heavy weapon accuracy), intelligence (what you know), perception (situation awareness), strength (physical ability), willpower (mental resolve). You can generate these via point buy or just rolling 3d6 and hoping for the best, so your number will be between 3 and 18 white the modifier for your dice rolls roughly equal the modifiers most role players have from D&D. You can further focus in these abilities by getting ability focuses like Accuracy(Blades) where you add 2 to your dice results for all blades attacks. Thus, you will really only add two numbers to the three six-sided dice rolls. I do love any system that squashes power gaming at the start and builds in a mean and standard deviation for its die results!
Classes and Advancement-Much like the Dragon AGE RPG, there are only three core classes: mage, rogue, and warrior. These classes are much like you would expect. Mages cast spells, rogues are nimble and skillful, and warriors are heavy people-at-arms. Each level a character will get new options such as ability focus, talents (abilities in sequence like feat trees in DnD/Pathfinder), or class specific bonuses. The talents provide the bulk of the customization in the game. Every warrior has the same basic class abilities, but the warrior focusing on close combat and social interaction will be like that because of the talents he or she choose. You don’t get that many choices, but you do get a method to differentiate yourself from the press of other individuals out there.
Magic-Magic in this system is a point based system where players have a mana pool that is spent to cast a spell. Spells themselves come from the talents that players choose with each level of the talent providing more spells. It’s a simple system that reminds me of Final Fantasy and the Dragon Age video games. Not bad company to be in, but since you don’t get tons of different talents, you won’t have the abundance of spells you’re used to in different RPGs like Pathfinder.
Combat and Damage-Just like this games D20 cousins, combat flows in a turn based manner following every player rolling initiative. On your turn, you can do either two minor actions like moving or a minor and a major like attacking. Players and monsters have a defense rating that you attack just like any other skill in this game. If your attack roll equals the defense, you hit the enemy. Damage is done in this game based on the type of weapon you’re wielding with armor reduces the damage that a character takes instead of providing a bonus to your chance to dodge the attack. This doesn’t reinvent wheel, but why fix what isn’t broken?
Summary-You can see the Dragon AGE in the Fantasy AGE. That’s not a bad thing as I liked the Dragon AGE RPG and the Dragon Age video games for speed and elegance of the systems. However, my major problem is that the character and players don’t have many options. Sure, it’s fun, but I’d like a bit more crunch to my characters. That said, it is a good, quick, and simple system that you can easily use in any fantasy setting. 4.5/5
Theme or Fluff- It’s always hard to judge generic RPGs for their fluff content. By their nature, there can’t be a significant amount of fluff in this book since any fantasy setting should be able to be played with in this system. But, the book does have nice art, good general fantasy additions, and all the standard fantasy pieces you will need for your toy box. Just don’t go in here expecting Tolkien as this book can’t have that level of detail and still be general enough for everybody. 4.5/5
Execution-This book reads relatively quickly and has a decent layout. I can quickly get through the book, find what I need and make a character in under 10 minutes. I’d like more pictures, and some extra tables to make scanning the book easier like in the talents section. I prefer to see something similar to how Pathfinder does summaries of feats before the full descriptions. The book even has a small bestiary with some monsters to throw at your players. It’s not large, but for the $15 I paid for the book, I’m pretty happy to see a complete system, game mastering guide, and monsters in one book. This book even comes with a small adventure, so you can jump into playing after you buy only this book. Overall, good book with a few minor problems keeping it from perfect. 4.75/5
Summary-Fantasy AGE is going to be an awesome RPG if Green Ronin can bring more out for it. Titansgrave is coming out, and that will provide an awesome series of adventures and a setting for this game. That is what this book really misses-the fluff. The crunch is good. It might not be my all time favorite gaming system, but it’s well-designed, thought-out, and easy to use-all the things a quality RPG needs to be viable long term. I’d like more options, but that’s my old D&D 3.5 gamer heritage showing through. As for the book itself, it might not be my favorite layout, but it is a great way to present a games information. If you joined the Fantasy AGE for Titansgrave, you will not be disappointed! 92%