With the summer slow-down behind us, we’re launching into the best season for gaming with a cornucopia of Robot Viking coverage. To start things off, today we have the long-awaited review of Crafty Games’ Fantasy Craft RPG by guest writer Joe Grabianowski. But that’s not all — we’ve also got an amazing interview with the masterminds behind Crafty Games, Alex Flagg and Patrick Kapera. If you’re running a D20 campaign (or think you might want to), we’ve got the inside story on this must-have book.
Fantasy Craft is essentially a “high fantasy” version of the open-ended Mastercraft role-playing game system. It generously makes use of the Open Gaming License and utilizes much of the D20 foundation as a starting point. The idea behind Fantasy Craft is to take a recognizable system that, let’s face it, just about everyone in the RPG community has at least tried, and open up boundless possibilities in a basic fantasy framework with a wide variety of playable races, monsters, and NPCs. Dungeons & Dragons content is generally tied to one of the officially released campaign settings. This restricts what you can do with the content to a certain degree. Although many gamers enjoy cherry-picking out of various source books for their own campaign creations, Fantasy Craft allows you to quickly and easily create whatever kind of story hook, creature, or setting you can imagine and implement them into whatever campaign or adventure you are running.
I am particularly tickled at how easy it would be to throw your adventurers onto a jungle island inhabited by undead, skeletal, or even lich dinosaurs. The templates for such designs are well executed. Imagine a Skeletal Kraken, a creature that can easily be put together using the given template. This immediately lends itself to a hook. How and why in the world (or worlds) is there a Skeletal Kraken!? Suit up your adventurers and go find out! One of my favorite examples given in the template section is a Lich Royal Dragon. This sort of customization usually costs a DM a fair amount of time and energy to construct. Fantasy Craft streamlines this process.
Let’s face it, most of us don’t have Tolkien or Lovecraft as Dungeon Master, so Fantasy Craft is loaded with hooks, unique NPC characteristics, and tidbits of information about almost every creature, skill, and artifact. This will make the DM’s life a bit easier and truly enrich whatever adventure your on. FC has flair. Good flair. Not Office Space flair, instead the kind of flair that generates well-rounded and engaging NPCs for your characters to interact with [I was sort of hoping this game also had flare, as in actual flares, but alas... - Ed.].
Instead of layers upon layers of complex rules that you need to know, Fantasy Craft simply offers the option of using advanced rules for almost all situations. The book is filled with tables that describe various types of damage or even what kind of loot you might uncover in a Knoll encampment. These tables are modified by the gear rating given to each creature or NPC so, even if you roll a natural 20 for what type of gear is found in a goblin cave, you still won’t end up with a +4 great sword or anything like that. However, if one were to destroy a Lich Royal Dragon…
In most cases the tables are useful and appealing. There are a few tables just seem superfluous and perhaps even bizarre. For example there is a table that delineates the toughness of a criminal trial depending on the crime and how to determine the severity of the punishment. Honestly, any good DM should be able to determine this ahead of time or even right off the top of his head. Then again, Fantasy Craft leaves no stone unturned and strives to offer the widest possible range of cool stuff to use. So what I find to be unneeded may in fact be just right the table someone is looking for [personally, I love the idea of a legal difficulty table - Ed].
There is a lot here. Considering the book encompasses all the DM info and the PC info including all the great details, this is really a well-done fantasy RPG that is ready made for both new and old players alike. You can get a downloadable copy of Fantasy Craft at DrivethruRPG.