Game Review: Fantasy Craft by Alex Flagg, Scott Gearin, and Patrick Kapera from Crafty Games – Chapter 6

We’re almost to the end of the 402 page Fantasy Craft tome from the great folks at Crafty Games! Chapter 6 deals with NPCs and monsters and though I was a bit put off by the tons of options in the combat chapter, this chapter showed more of the great design work that has gone into this game.

Let’s face it… whether you call them game masters (GMs), dungeon masters (DMs), lore masters (LMs), “Lord of the Table,” “Adam”, “Mark,” or some other synonym, epithet, or name I’ve not come across… they have a tough job. Sure, the players have to save the world (or their own butts) with their player characters (PCs), but GMs have to create EVERYTHING else. All the people, places, and things you encounter as a player that you didn’t create yourself – your GM created for you. And creating all that “stuff” can be hampered by poorly designed books, unclear rules, difficulties balancing creations with PC levels, or other constraints of time, energy, and resources. (Do we have a “GM’s Day” yet on the calendar? They deserve one!)

That’s where “Chapter 6: Foes” comes in for Fantasy Craft. It actually offers a process and plenty of options by which you can create stats for a NPC or beastie. What a concept!

First, they’re all NPCs in FC. Whether you’re talking about NPCs you might encounter in a town and chat with or the monsters and foes you meet on a battlefield doesn’t really matter. They’re all NPCs. That said, there are two distinctions – they’re either “standard” or “special.” Think of this like the difference between a minion and a more important NPC in other games.

Second, if you’re simply looking for a catalog of pre-generated NPCs and monsters, you’re in luck. There are fifty pages of pre-gen NPCs and monsters with plenty of templates for adding different qualities quickly. Have a peasant that was just zombified? There’s a template for that. Want to create a giant lich? Sure, why not? There are templates for those too.

Third, if you want to create something a bit more specialized from scratch, you have a clear set of steps and options to guide your way. I wish I had the same thing when I was creating NPCs for Palladium Fantasy more than 20 years ago!

Five steps take you from concept to complete NPC with stats and an XP value.

  • Step 0: Concept – Person, animal, or monster? Any initial thoughts on motivations, appearance, strengths, and weaknesses can help you choose things through the rest of the process.
  • Step 1: Statistics – Attributes, skills, initiative, attack and defense bonuses, saves, and other stats.
  • Step 2: NPC Qualities – What special abilities and weaknesses does the NPC have?
  • Step 3: Attacks – What does it use to attack with? Weapons? Claws? Gazes? Bites?
  • Step 4: Gear and Treasure – What kind of loot does the NPC have?
  • Step 5: XP Value (Optional) – This step is optional unless you’re dealing with special adversaries or NPCs players build.

So let’s walk through this process and actually create an NPC.

Step 0: Concept

Let’s say I want to create a corrupt sheriff for the players to deal regularly. That’s my basic concept – “corrupt sheriff.” He’s going to be human, strong, intimidating, and greedy. That’s enough to get me going.

Step 1: Statistics

This step is broken into a few parts – Size, Type, Mobility, Attributes, Traits, Health, and Signature Skills.

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    Size-wise, this guy is just medium sized with a normal reach. So “Medium” with a “Reach” of zero. So far his XP worth is zero.

  • Type-wise, he fits into the general “Folk” category as a normal “civilized creature with linguistic skills” that lives among his own kind. No XP bump.
  • Mobility-wise, he’s just human so we’ll go with “Walker” with two legs. Again – no XP bump.
  • Attributes-wise, tens across the board doesn’t really work. So we’ll go with: Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 14. Each point above 10 counts as 1 XP, so we’re at 24 XP so far.
  • Traits-wise… Hmmm… Each of the five traits (Initiative, Attack, Defense, Resilience, and Competence) is rated from I to X (1 to 10), with each point equating to 1 XP again. He’s going to be tough in a fight, so we’ll go with Initiative II, Attack IV, Defense IV, Resilience IV, and Competence V. That amounts to another 19 XP, which brings us to 43 XP now.
  • Health-wise, our sheriff is going to be tough to take down. Health is again rated I-X, with each point being another XP. We want him tough, but not too tough, so we’ll set Health to IV. So now we’re up to 47 XP.
  • Lastly let’s go with Athletics V, Investigate IV, and Intimidate V for his signature skills. That brings us up another 14 XP to 61 XP.

Step 2: NPC Qualities

There’s a great list of qualities, from Achilles Heel to Veteran… We’ll add “Feral” (+1 XP) because he gets out of control in combat sometimes. We’ll give him “Menacing Threat” (+2 XP) because he likes to throw his weight around. And we’ll give him “Treacherous” (+5 XP) so he can do critical hits a bit more easily in combat. That’s another 8 XP, so now he’s at 69 XP total.

Step 3: Attacks

Our sheriff is just a regular tool-using humanoid, so we’ll skip this and assume he uses a sword, dagger, or other tool like the rest of the humanoids.

Step 4: Gear and Treasure

As a greedy, corrupt sheriff, I think our bad NPC should have some loot, don’t you? We’ll give him a chain shirt, a longsword, and a bag of gold. I like this step because when the PCs kill him, they get to roll in a few different categories – (A)ny (random), (C)oin, (G)ear, (L)oot, (M)agic, and (T)rophies. Each has a table later in the book. So let’s say he has 2C, 2G, and 1T and call it good.

Step 5: XP Value

Since there’s only one corrupt sheriff, his XP value becomes his bounty, which is earned when he’s defeated. In this case, he has a bounty of 69 XP.

Results

Gerry Mander (Corrupt Sheriff) (Medium Folk Walker – 69 XP): Str 16, Dex 14, Con 16, Int 12, Wis 12, Cha 14; SZ M (Reach 1); Spd 30 ft; Init II, Atk IV, Def IV, Res IV; Health IV; Comp V; Skills: Athletics V, Investigate IV, Intimidate V; Qualities: Feral, Menacing Threat, Treacherous; Attacks/Weapons: Longsword; Gear: Fitted chain shirt; Treasure: 2C, 2G, 1T

Quick and easy, with a stat block that’s easily copied wherever I’d need it in my notes for a session.

Honestly, this is another section that should become the norm for other games. It would be awesome to be able to quickly assemble NPCs/Monsters in any game you were using.

In addition to the steps to NPC creation and the libraries of standard NPCs and monsters, you also get steps on how to convert monsters and other NPC stats from D&D 3.5 (OGL) format into Fantasy Craft. This should simplify the process of converting existing adventures into something that you could use with FC.

So that’s really all of “Chapter 6: Foes.” Next time we’ll look at “Chapter 7: Worlds” and deal with the rest of the book. Eventually I promise I’ll be done with this review of Fantasy Craft!

In case you missed any of the other chapter reviews, you can find the following prior articles here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5. 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 6

  • Granger44

    There’s one important thing about Fantasy Craft NPC stat blocks that you didn’t highlight: they are level independent. So you stat someone or something up, but instead of actual stats like attack, defense, or skill bonuses, you end up with the traits like Attack IV and Competence V. Once you are ready to use an NPC, you cross-reference the traits with the level (or threat level in Fantasy Craft parlance) to get the actual stats. This means you can create an adventure and then use it with any level of PC.

    Also, the XP value serves as a rough indication of how much of a threat that NPC will pose to the PCs. At 69xp, Gerry Mander, by himself, is considered an average threat. You could up his XP to make him a more singificant threat or you might just give him some minions or a situational advantage.

    This site has a nice NPC generator for both Fantasy Craft and Spycraft. You can create basic stat blocks or flesh out that basic stat block at any threat level.

    • Fitz

      @Granger44- That’s a good point and one I thought about including but then forgot when I finally sat down to write things out. The ability to “level up” a NPC/monster stat block for a particular party definitely helps keep things interesting (without making them too easy or too hard hopefully).

      Great link – thanks for including it!

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