Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 5

There’s only three chapters to go in Fantasy Craft from Crafty Games… Combat, Foes, and Worlds. Unfortunately between those three chapters and the index, character sheets, and so on, those last three chapters cover nearly 200 pages all by themselves! Every time I delve back into this book, I’m reminded how much of a beast it is.

On that note… Let’s dive into “Chapter 5: Combat” and see what we can glean, shall we?

Though I’m not much of a combat monster myself, I have to admit that combat does form a good chunk of the fantasy RPG experience. From the moment the ale mug is bashed against the counter of the PC’s favorite tavern to the moment the entire crew of drunk customers (and sometimes the PC’s) are unconscious on the floor, many exciting things are going on. Setup, initiative, and each round figuring out who does what to whom can be quite exciting and occasionally very drawn out depending on the numbers of combatants involved.

“The Order of Combat” section of the chapter describes the combat cycle for FC pretty succinctly.

  1. Flat Footedness: Everyone starts the combat without their Dex and dodge bonuses to Defense unless they’re entering a combat after it starts.
  2. Initiative: Roll d20 and add your initiative bonus. Pretty standard.
  3. Surprise!: If you start combat and your opponent isn’t aware that’s the case, you get 1 free action, 1 half action, or 1 full action during a surprise round. (No, you can’t split your full action into two halves – just one per customer.)
  4. Combat Rounds: Then you start into the 6 second combat rounds when each character can take 1 full action or 2 half actions, and any number of free actions (up to the GM’s discretion).

I’m not sure I agree with the Flat Footed penalties to start everything off, but it may serve to balance out a combat a bit more by not giving characters with a high Dex more bonuses at the beginning. So I can get behind that. And I do like the idea of simplified actions – it boils things down quite a bit and should (hopefully) streamline combat for a bit faster resolution.

Movement-wise, we’re dealing with 5 foot squares, and you have a d20-style scheme of movement… By default, it seems most characters will have 30 feet of movement (unless they have short legs, which reduces it, or long legs or wings, which increases it). Speed may be hampered by terrain or other battlefield conditions of course. If you don’t move you can take a 5 foot step. Moving diagonally uses the 5/10 rule, so every other diagonal square takes 10 feet of movement vs. 5 feet.

Standard attack rolls are pretty standard as well. Just like with Initiative, roll a d20 and add your modifiers. You can only attack things within your line of sight, which makes sense. And then you’re limited by range. Targets within your Reach (usually 1 square, sometimes more) are really close. Then Close Quarters covers from the edge of your reach to 30 feet. And Long Range deals with anything more than 30 feet. Range comes into play for melee and ranged weapons (with different range increments).

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On the opposite side you have a Defense score, which works like an Armor Class in D&D. Your Defense is 10 + your class Defense bonuses + your Dex modifier. Objects also have a Defense score. Even a single square has a base Defense of 15. Not sure how that would be used, but it’s nice to know the ground can take some damage as well.

Damage varies based on what you’re using to hit. Unarmed attacks do little lethal or subdual damage. Weapons have their own base damage and you add your Strength modifier if it’s a melee or thrown attack. And then there are other bonuses and modifiers for sneak attacks, multipliers, and other adjustments.

Where things get a little more interesting is the distinction between “standard” combatants and “special” combatants. Standard combatants come across as minions. They can appear in large groups and are easy to kill with few stats. Special characters are the more important combatants on the field of battle. PCs are special, as are some NPCs – major and minor villains vs. the fodder they may recruit to do their dirty work.

These “Special” characters have vitality points and wound points to measure two different aspects. Vitality represents how well a character avoids injury, which includes endurance. So as characters get tired and worn down, their vitality decreases. Wound points represents the characters ability to take damage. As this value drops, small injuries give way to deeper wounds… Damage is handled differently whether you’re
looking at a minion or someone with more beef.

Beyond this, there are a TON of combat options for Fantasy Craft – basic damage vs. advanced damage, myriad conditions, special combat rules for area effects, cover, near misses, falls, and so on… Remember when I talked about actions before? Standard, half, and free? There are five pages of actions with variations based on different contexts, sub-actions, etc. Everything from Aim and Anticipate to Swallow and Trample…

If you like lots of options with specific rules for key actions, I can see Fantasy Craft appealing to you. The rules definitely have more of an “Old School” feel to them than many other games that I’ve reviewed of late. Even so, I’m looking forward to “Chapter 6: Foes” to check out the FC ideals of NPC and monster design as well as “Chapter 7: Worlds” to see what the book recommends as far as world building goes.

In case you missed any of the other chapter reviews, you can find the following prior articles here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4. For more information, check out Fantasy Craft at the Crafty Games website and at RPGNow/DriveThruRPG.

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1 comment to Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 5

  • forged

    My initial impression of the “Flat Footed penalties” for combat is two-fold. Like you mentioned, it does give an advantage to those who happen to have high-dexterity (or just plain-old high initiative I’m guessing). The other thing it really tries to aid is boosting the importance of setting ambushes and not getting ambushed.

    (The latter is pretty obvious for the PCs …. you don’t want all your enemies acting for a full-round before you get to go.)

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen players try to set ambushes when they know an enemy is going to come to them. (Part of that is my fault in not putting the players in a situations where they really could do it well. 🙂 ) However, done right, it can be a lot of fun for the players.

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