I do not have many opportunities of playing roleplaying games anymore these days – I live in a place in which RPGs are either too modern (because a lot of old people stick to billiards and games of cards, and consider weird any game with a thick rulebook) or too ancient (because younger people play massive online games and consider dice and hex paper quaint).
But I still like reading games, and last night I received a gift card for DriveThruRPG just in time to take advantage of a 40% discount campaign for DM Day.
So I looked into a few things I had on my list.
And I discovered Fantasy AGE.
Published by Green Ronin, Fantasy AGE is a game designed by Chris Pramas, an old hand at game design that was involved in a lot of games I like – including the Freeport campaign setting (sword & sorcery + pirates + Lovecraft), the Nocturnals campaign setting for Mutants & Masterminds, and Hong Kong Action Theater. Plus a cartload of other great stuff.
Fantasy AGE does not walk any extraordinarily original terrain – it’s basically a sword & sorcery engine, very similar in tone to the old classic D&D, but running on a system that’s both lightweight and cool, allowing for the creation of original, detailed characters rather swiftly.
Clocking at a little over 140 pages, the Basic Handbook is beautifully illustrated, rationally arranged, and covers all the bases: the races and classes we expect from a fantasy game, combat and magic, and all the basic perks.
The system uses common D6 dice, and works on an Attribute + Roll + Bonus vs Difficulty mechanic. Nice and smooth.
In essence, Fantasy AGE does what the old D&D did, but it does it better, faster, with less rules, and generally for a far lower price tag.
While I am perusing the pdf, I’ve already set my sights on a used copy of the hardback handbook – because yes, I like it that much, and I want a copy on my shelf.
Game masters willing to splurge a little extra also get the usual series of books – a bestiary, a companion (that adds more fantasy races, classes, bells and whistles), and a thing called Campaign Builder that provides the bits necessary to cover what the 140-pages basic handbook lacks: a setting.
But settings are readily available everywhere – and this simple, elegant game looks perfect to bring me and the team back to Freeport.
Because what could be better than sword & sorcery, pirates and dark Lovecraftian horrors?
Well, there is a campaign setting native to the system, and it’s called Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana – apparently is based on a game that was presented on the Geek & Sundry Youtube channel, where it was played by Wil Wheaton.
And truth to be told, with its mix of fantasy and science fiction, Titansgrave looks like something that might spark the interest of old, jaded roleplayers.
So yes, I like this small game a lot, and I’ll probably explore the other products of the line – there’s a Modern AGE that seems to cover present and near-future adventure, and the AGE engine is also used for the Dragon Age game based on the videogame franchise of the same name, for The Blue Rose RPG and the recent adaptation of The Expanse.
Will I ever play it?
Ah, that’s another story – but if I will not, it won’t be for a lack of interest, but for a lack of players.