Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 3

When I started tackling Fantasy Craft a chapter at a time, I had no clue I’d hit a chapter filled to the brim with 41 pages of spells and spellcraft. When I was working on early books for Moebius Adventures we came up with a book of spells that was about 164 pages long unformatted (and no, it never saw the light of day), but it was nowhere near as organized (or layered) as this chapter is. Not only do you get arcane and divine covered, but a discourse on the different schools of magic, and more spells than you can shake a stick at. “Chapter 3: Grimoire” is full of wizardly goodness.

Though the spell lists are mixed, combining both arcane and divine, the chapter begins with a section binding system mechanics to spell casting. For example, an Arcane caster starts with a number of spells equal to their Wisdom plus their Spellcasting skill ranks. That said, I’m a bit confused about the “Spellcasting” skill – as it doesn’t show up explicitly on the character sheet or in any of the example characters available on the Crafty Games web site. There’s a “Spells” sheet that includes a “Spellcasting Abilities” section, but no actual skill… I’m guessing I’m just missing the connecting tissue between the “Spellcasting skill” and the character sheet?

At any rate, an arcane caster “knows” a certain number of spells. And they get a certain number of Spell Points per level – 2 per level. It costs 1 point to cast a 1st level spell, 2 to cast a 2nd level spell, and so on. These points are regained at the start of each “scene” except in certain circumstances.

Divine casters work the same way but use the Miracles quality instead of Spellcasting skill, and there’s a bit more restriction in choosing spells based around the Paths dictated by their god, ethos, or beliefs (i.e. Alignment). However, there are no Spell Points for divine casters. Instead, they are generally limited to one casting of a spell ability per scene.

Next we’re presented with a list of the different schools of magic – Channeler, Conjurer, Enchanter, Preserver, Prophet, Reaper, Seer, and Trickster. Each school then has different sub-schools. For example, an Enchanter has Charm, Healing, and Nature as sub-divisions, and Seer has Artifice, Divination, and Word as sub-divisions.

The Spellcasting (Int) section then tries to answer a few of the questions I had earlier about such things. Apparently having a spellcaster’s pouch for ingredients and a mage’s workshop can increase a wizard’s potency, as well as learning certain casting techniques. Spellcasting checks range from easy for level zero spells (13 DC) to nearly impossible for a 9th level spell (40). And then you get into attack vs. defense, and countered vs. suppressed spells, which I think are interesting distinctions. For instance, a countered spell ends the duration – but a suppressed spell pauses the Duration for a certain time. I’d imagine that mage battles might be quite entertaining.

Each spell then is described in terms of a few key areas – level, casting time, distance, area, duration, saving throw, preparation cost, and effect. And they go from Air Walk to Zone of Truth, spread throughout the different schools and their sub-areas as well as levels. There are 16 level 0 spells (like cantrips), 40 1st, 2nd, and 3rd level spells; 32 4th and 5th level spells, 24 6th, 7th, and 8th level spells, and 16 9th level spells. If that’s not enough, you can always pick up Crafty Games’ Spellbound when it becomes available.

One of the things I really like is that many of the spells have multiple levels to them. For instance, Animate Dead has five different level variations, each of which can create stronger and stronger skeletons and zombies. Though D&D does this with some of the summoning spells that I recall, I think it makes it a bit more consistent to do the same thing with healing spells, protection spells, weather spells, and whatnot.

Really, except for the weird disconnect I have with the Spellcasting skill, I’m quite happy with what I’ve seen so far with
Fantasy Craft and I expect that to continue to the next chapter! The artwork, writing, and editing have been top-notch.

By the way, if you missed part 1 of this review series, you can find it here and part 2 is here. For more about Fantasy Craft, you can also check out the Crafty Games website.

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