Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 4

Another one of my goals for 2012 is to finish my chapter-by-chapter review of Crafty GamesFantasy Craft, Second Printing book. And, since we’ve dealt with character creation, action resolution, and spellcraft already, it was only logical that the next chapter of the Fantasy Craft book dealt with items, right? Unfortunately this chapter suffers from TMI (Too Much Information) and I’m a bit more confused about some rules than before I started.

That said, let’s go through “Chapter 4: Forge.”

It starts simply enough with coinage. FC uses silver pieces as the basic monetary unit, though there are some hints
on how to adjust the currency for other types (like steel or rice koku) if necessary for a particular setting. Each character begins with an amount of coin equal to 100 silver per Career level. Where things get interesting is with the way they divide money – coin in hand vs. “stake.” Basically it’s what you have on you vs. what you leave at home, which makes a ton of sense. It’s sort of like one of the old Bard’s Tale computer games where you have banks in cities and can deposit and withdraw money from. Though it may not be realistic, it simplifies things quite a bit for money management for PCs.

Next the chapter talks about two interesting concepts – Panache and Prudence. Think of these as the devil and angel on your PC‘s shoulders regarding money management. The devil says “spend it all and live it up!” and the angel suggests that you need to put money away for a rainy day. Though you start with zero in both, you get a few points to distribute from the PC’s Origin, class, and feats as in the earlier chapter. What are the benefits of Panache and Prudence? Panache gives you a little monthly income and an Appearance bonus you can apply to Charisma-based skills. And Prudence governs how much money you can transfer from “coin in hand” to your “stake” at the end of an adventure.

And we can’t forget encumbrance when we’re talking about character “stuff.” In FC they call it “Carrying Capacity” and it’s based on the PC’s Strength. I don’t know anybody who can lift 451 to 1,350 pounds with a Strength of 25, but I know a few wimpy people who can only lift 36 to 105 lbs with a 7 Strength. I’m sure this works about the same as in other systems, like D&D, so I’m not too concerned.

Then the chapter dives into the items themselves. Gear is divided into a few categories – General, Supplies, Transportation, Armor, and Weapons. And each category provides a list of items and potential upgrades. I’ll get to them in a minute. First we come to the part where I get a wee bit confused. Page 155 offers descriptions of how to figure out if an item is available (“Availability”) and how tough a particular item is when it takes damage (i.e. “Damage resistance”).

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Let’s talk about Availability first. The concept at a high level is pretty simple. Not all items are available everywhere, and the smaller the number of people and size of the settlement, the less apt you are to find something uncommon. With me so far? Ok. Now here comes one of the mechanics that has me scratching my head. Haggle is a Wisdom-based skill. The party makes a team Haggle check after identifying the item(s) they’re after, applying the modifiers from the Gear Availability table. Let’s take a Rural settlement (1-50 inhabitants; small farm, frontier settlement), with a “Haggle Check Time” adjustment of 4d6 hours. I have no clue how to work 4d6 hours into a standard skill check. Zip. Nada. None.

The other half of my confusion is the Damage resistance. Basically any time an item or a piece of scenery takes damage, it makes a Damage save vs. a DC of 10 + half the damage done (rounded down). If the item succeeds the save, it just gets scratched or dinged. If not, the item is broken and pretty much useless. Browsing the item tables, I’m unable to find “Damage” as one of the columns, but it appears that you can use the “Construction” of the item. So let’s look at a Jar or Jug, which has a Construction description of “Brittle 1.” Based on the description of “Construction” this means it’s a brittle item with 1 damage save. This seems to indicate that it has a “Damage Save Bonus” of zero… So if I smack it with a Mallet (1d6 lethal damage) and do 6 points, the item has a “Damage save” of 10 + (6/2 = 3) = 13. That seems a bit crazy. Am I reading that right?

Anybody have any ideas how to clarify these two sections? I’m just not grokking them at this point.

After that things get much simpler. Each category is clearly described with a large list of items, including a table summarizing all the key properties of those items. What’s fun is the upgrades you can add. For example, let’s say you have a Spyglass, which costs 100 silver. A PC could pay another 100 silver (+100%) to make it Durable, which might be handy to survive lengthy travels. Or maybe you have a couple of Elixirs (think magic potions) and want to combine a couple into a single cocktail or distill one so it doesn’t spoil or even turn it into a gas that affects a 2×2 area. These upgrades can really offer some fun choices for PCs to ponder.

The items are too numerous to list here, but offer a truly astounding number of things to purchase or manufacture. Who wouldn’t like a War-built wagon finished out with wheel spikes or other fun implements to mow down your enemies?

When you get to Armor and Weapons, there are entire tables of upgrades. Want a Goblin-manufactured sword or a Massive sword? Why not? Or perhaps you’re looking for Blessed, Insulated, or Vented armor? Sure thing! Just be ready to fork over some extra silver.

The next section of Chapter 4 covers some of those rewards that can’t be bought or sold (easily) like titles, reputation, favors, and so on. Though characters love loot, I think more lasting prizes work great as well to encourage heroic deeds. Plus, you never know when you may need a favor from someone important. The list of Favors covers two pages in a table – everything from getting a blessing or some combat training to imprisoning a NPC without trial, getting a pardon, or even spreading rumors. Finding and retaining contacts, buying homes and hideouts, gaining guards or other hirelings…

This all depends on gaining Reputation points. A character’s beginning Reputation is equal to the Career level x 10. And each point of Renown costs 30 Reputation, and there are three separate tracks – Heroic, Military, and Noble. Each track is managed separately, so one character may have multiple titles. To call in a Favor, the character must have the required Renown (one of the tracks), spend some down time (none, a day, or a week), and spend Reputation points. I think this framework gives characters something to shoot for without being unwieldy.

Lastly, the chapter deals with magic items. It seems that in FC, magic items are more unique and typically one-offs. There are a few sample items, such as a staff that makes spells more powerful, language-granting tokens, magic weapons, and so on. The fun part however is the Chinese menu approach to creating new items. Every magic item has 1 Essence and/or 1 Charm and no more, which probably keeps items more fairly balanced. Each item also has a level – usually equal to the adventures’ Threat Level and equal to the creator’s Career Level. There are a TON of essences and charms to play with, each with its own fun effect. And then there are the magic items of legend – artifacts. Artifacts are super-items with up to 5 essences and 5 charms, chosen by the GM.

Though I got a bit turned around on a few rules in Chapter 4, overall there’s a truly astounding amount of options available for PCs, NPCs, and monster treasure hoards. Smaug would probably approve! Next time we’ll press on to “Chapter 5: Combat” and see what damage I might be able to do with a FC character!

In case you missed any of the other chapter reviews, you can find the following prior articles here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, and Chapter 3. For more information, check out Fantasy Craft at the Crafty Games website and at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG.

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2 comments to Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 4

  • Granger44

    Re: Item Damage Resistance
    You combine the construction and size to get the damage save bonus. You are correct that the number listed after the construction is the number of failed damage saves before the object is broken; failing twice that number means the object is destroyed. So for you example, a jar or jug is a tiny, Brittle 1 object. So combine Brittle (+0) with Tiny (+2) and you get the item’s overall damage save bonus (+2). So if the jug fails 1 damage save it’s broken, but perhaps still partially usable. After 2 damage saves, the jug is in pieces.

    For the most part this is probably going to only be used when the GM needs/wants to use these rules. And don’t be afraid to apply a dose of common sense to the issue. For instance, maybe (non-magical) paper doesn’t get a damage save versus fire, you just rule that it’s broken or destroyed depending on how long it was on fire. Or maybe fire just gets armor-piercing or keen of some value versus flammable objects.

    Re: Item Availability:
    It seems like your confusion is how to work the time factor into the skill check. Here’s how I’d resolve it. Have the players make the team haggle check, and you make the time roll. For instance, if the players are in a village (-5 availability modifier) looking for rope and thieves tools, you roll 2d6 and come up with 7 hours. If the team haggle check result is 7, you could then say, “you spend 7 hours scouring the village. You find someone willing to sell you hemp rope, but noone seems to have thieves tools.”

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