Ok, so I am sure that you are all watching (or have watched at least one episode) of Titansgrave over on Geek & Sundry. If not I can recommend checking it out. I am certainly enjoying it.
For those who don’t know and don’t want to check it out, Titansgrave is the RPG show being put out by Wil Wheaton and Geek & Sundry as part of the Tabletop Indiegogo campaign. It is being run using the Green Ronin Fantasy AGE system, which you will be at least a little bit familiar with if you have played the Dragon Age RPG.
So, what I’m going to do here is talk a bit about Fantasy AGE and do an example character creation for it. This post is based entirely on the PDF copy of Fantasy AGE as the print copy is not available in the UK at the moment.
Fantasy AGE is designed as a generic system that can be used to run a game in pretty much any setting you want, it also seems to be easy enough to pick up that it’s a good system for newbies. As the name would suggest there is a heavy lean towards Fantasy settings and it would be interesting to see a SciFi focused version of this in the future, maybe AGE of Science! The exclamation point is required. 🙂
One of the most important things in generic game system like this is, well, the system. If the system isn’t good then the whole thing is a fail from the get go. Thankfully the system in this case is pretty solid, it’s based on 3D6 (where two are of one colour and one of another, called the Stunt Die) and has this nice little mechanic where should you roll doubles on any two of the three dice you then generate stunt points equal to the number shown on the stunt die. The difficulties are easy to get a handle on and the game doesn’t suffer from the hit point bloat and stupid difficulty numbers that affected D&D 3.0/3.5 and 4.
Now I ran the original Dragon Age RPG for my group a while ago & this stunt mechanic was something that everyone loved and that we felt really added something unique to the game experience, rather than just a critical success, success, failure or critical failure you get a sliding scale of cool things that you do based on generating stunt points. Now you don’t always generate stunt points but as they are generated on any double on two or out three dice they come up fairly often. Wil also suggests in his Titansgrave game a house rule that means a roll of three sixes results in a legendary action that gives the player narrative control for that action and creates a legend that will be told in the game world for years to come. I like the idea of a legendary action so when I eventually run this game I might well poach that idea.
One final thing on stunts, there are different lists for stunt effects for combat, magic, exploration & social encounters. This means the base mechanic stays the same all the way through the various situations.
Ok, so there is some waffle about the game system etc. Lets have a look at the character creation.
In the Fantasy AGE book they suggest a nine step process for character gen:
1. Create Character Concept.
2. Determine Abilities.
3. Choose Race.
4. Determine Social Class and Background.
5. Choose Class.
6. Pick Starting Equipment.
7. Calculate Defence.
8. Pick a Name.
9. Choose Goals and Character Ties.
Time to get started.
1. Create Character Concept
In this fictional game, using a fictional setting that I will have to develop at some point in the future, what kind of character do I generate? In some ways it matters not as this is just for example & I’m never going to get to play it anyway. But I take pride in my characters, they are all protagonists in their own story.
So, what do I play. How about a Dwarven Magical Engineer, someone who blends skill with magic and engineering knowledge, an artificer of sorts. Yeah, that sounds like me.
2. Determine Abilities
Stat Gen time. There are three methods given, random roll, roll and assign or points buy. The range of stats goes from -2 to +4 with +1 being average. Out of the three options given I would go with Roll & Assign, this preserves some of the randomness but because you can choose where the numbers go you are not in danger of a strong concept being blown out of the water by a shitty dice roll.
Roll and assign it is, 3D6 for each stat and then look up that result on the table to get the result from -2 to +4. There are nine stats (abilities) to roll for:
Accuracy represents your character’s physical precision and skill with finesse and ranged weapons, such as bows and rapiers.
Communication covers your character’s social skills, personal interactions, and ability to deal with others.
Constitution is your character’s fortitude and resistance to harm.
Dexterity encompasses your character’s agility, hand-eye coordination, and quickness.
Fighting is your skill at combat with heavier weapons, such as axes and spears.
Intelligence is a measure of your character’s smarts, knowledge, and education.
Perception covers all the senses and the ability to interpret sensory data.
Strength is your character’s physical prowess.
Willpower encompasses mental toughness, discipline, and confidence.
Lets see what we get.
*Insert clatter of virtual dice*
We get the following results: 15, 10, 8, 9, 12, 6, 14, 16, 12. Translating those to the in game stats we get: +3, +1, 0, +1, +2, 0, +2, +3, +2.
Reorganising for ease gives: 0,0,+1,+1,+2,+2,+2,+3,+3. So we have two +3s and two zeros then a smattering of average. I’m planning on a Mage/Artificer character so I reckon my most important abilities are going to be Intelligence and Willpower so lets put those at +3 each, then I need to figure out what I put the zeros in. I reckon that Fighting & Communication are his worst stats, all that time spent studying means he is a bit reclusive and not a great melee fighter.
Now for the rest, the +2s go into Accuracy, Dexterity and Perception and the +1s into Constitution and Strength.
When picking these it is worth looking at the class description for the class you are intending to play as that gives the primary stats for that class.
3. Choose Race
Time to apply the racial template. In this case we’re going with Dwarf. But first a couple of notes, I like the way that they have handled the racial templates here, you get a set of standard bonuses and then you roll twice on a table related to that race. This means that every example of a given race is going to be slightly different. Also, when it comes to mixed race characters you pick which is dominant and get the standard abilities and one roll on its table, you then roll a second time on the racial table for the other race.
So Dwarf adds: +1 Con, either Constitution (Drinking) or Intelligence (Evaluation), Darksight up to 20 yards and speed 8+Dex (Minus armour), Speak & Read Common & Dwarven and then roll twice.
My two rolls are 2 & 11. These give the follow extra benefits:
Focus: Intelligence (Engineering)
That’s pretty handy given my character concept.
4. Determine Social Class and Background
Social Class & Related Background can be a combination of random roll and/or choice. To be honest, there is no reason this has to be a random roll, I’d be tempted to let my players pick their class and background, as long as they make sense given the concept they have picked.
In that vein I’m going to pick Middle Class as my characters social class, he’s from a merchant family with no history of magic (ooh, do I make this world a Magocracy where families without magical talent can’t rise above middle class, that’s a nice idea).
I’m going to select the background Scribe, his family are scribes to the Mages Council that runs everything in his home city and he was expected to follow in their footsteps, however once his magical talent expressed itself that all changed.
As a Scribe you choose either Dexterity (Calligraphy) or Intelligence (Writing). I’m going to take Intelligence (Writing), I considered Calligraphy as that would be a nice way to branch out a bit, but my thought is that his magic manifested before he got to that part of his training.
5. Choose Class
Ok, time to pick a class. There are three basic choices Mage, Rogue or Warrior; these give you a basic template where you pick a options and then a path to progress down. You can pick up more focused specialist classes later.
We start with some basic stuff:
Starting Health: 20 + Constitution + 1d6 – I get a 3 on the D6 so this is 25.
Weapon Groups: Brawling and Staves – Always nice to have come kind of option, even if I suck at it.
Then we get our level one class abilities:
Arcane Blast: If you are holding your arcane device (see following), you can make a special Ranged Attack that damages foes with a blast of magical energy. This is resolved like a normal Ranged Attack (so stunts are possible), but the attack roll is an Accuracy (Arcane Blast) test. An Arcane Blast has a range of 16 yards and inflicts 1d6 + Willpower damage. It requires no magic points to make this attack.
This is straight from Dragon Age, it’s similar to Cantrips from 5th Edition D&D in that it gives your mage a basic attack that you can use without expending magic points. Also, as you roll it as a Ranged Attack you get get combat stunts.
Arcane Device: Each mage has an arcane device through which they can focus magical energy. Its primary use is the channeling of Arcane Blasts, but it is used with certain spells as well. The exact nature of the arcane device differs from mage to mage. It could be a staff, wand, holy symbol, amulet, etc. You should decide what form your arcane device takes when you make your character. If you lose your arcane device, you can attune a new one to you by spending one hour and 5 magic points to do so.
Clearly this has to be a staff, something cool looking with an inkwell in the top and adorned with cogs and gears.
Magic Training: This is the most important of the mage’s powers. It allows a mage to cast the spells that are the hallmark of the class. You begin with two magic talents and four spells. See Chapter 5: Magic for more information about choosing and casting spells.
BOOM, magic bitches. Right, you get to select two magic talents which should give you four spells. Lets get on that right now. I’m going to take Earth & Power as my two Arcana, I think that they fit nicely with the idea of a Dwarven Mage, Dwaves are often connection to Earth & Stone and Power seems to me the kind of thing you learn when you study magic.
Earth Arcana – Novice grants me Rock Blast & Stone Cloak. Rock Blast is a direct damage spell that does penetrating damage and knocks prone the target, Stone Cloak give you your willpower in armour for the next hour, as long as you wear no armour. Those are both really good beginner level spells.
Power Arcana – Novice grants me Arcane Awareness & Spell Ward. Arcane Awareness gives you a 1 minute duration detect magic effect that allows you discern more details with a better roll, Spell Ward grants you and one other target within 4 yards a +2 bonus to resist magic.
That’s a nice balance of attack, defence and utility powers.
Magic Points: You use magic points (MPs) to power your spells. You start with a number of magic points equal to 10 + Willpower + 1d6. You must keep track of your current magic points; this is a measure of how much magical power is at your command at any given time. You spend magic points when you cast spells. You regain them through rest and meditation. See Chapter 5: Magic for details. You gain more magic points as you rise in level. From levels 2 to 10, you gain Willpower + 1d6 magic points whenever you gain a new level. From levels 11 to 20, you gain only your Willpower in MPs because increasing your power at higher levels is not as easy.
So I start with 18 magic points.
Starting Talent: You become a Novice in one of the following talents: Chirurgy, Linguistics, or Lore. See Chapter 3: Character Options for more information.
Out of that list I pick ‘Linguistics’, I like the idea of this character being good with Languages. At novice level this grants me an extra starting Language. I’m going to take Halfling as they tend to travel a lot and I am likely to have been exposed to their language.
6. Pick Starting Equipment
This is fairly standard, you get a backpack, clothes, waterskin, the Mage gets one weapon and an arcane focus, other classes get different options that include armour. I’m going to take a Staff (My Arcane Focus) & a Combat Tankard (a special Dwarven Item that combines the functionality of a Tankard with the usefulness of a set of brass knuckles).
You get starting money based on your social class. As a Middle Class Dwarf I get 50 + (3D6), in this case 60GP.
7. Calculate Defence
This is dead easy, 10 + Dex + Shield Bonus. So my Defence is 12.
8. Pick a Name
Ankaronin of the Carved Word
9. Choose Goals and Character Ties
This is a nice idea, you pick long term and short term goals that your character is trying to achieve. I’m not going to do this as I don’t think it works as well when you are creating characters in isolation. Same for Ties, this helps link you to the other player characters and build some reasons why you would stick together.
So there we are. It’s a nice easy system that gives you enough flexibility and depth to put together pretty much whatever you want. I am really looking forward to being able to run this, either as Fantasy AGE or Dragon Age. I am sure my players will enjoy it.
Name: Ankaronin of the Carved Word
Defence : 12
Starting Health: 25
Weapon Groups: Brawling and Staves
FOCUSES & TALENTS
Intelligence Focuses – Evaluation, Engineering, Writing
Linguist (Novice) – Grants +1 Language.
Staff (Arcane Focus)
Combat Tankard (Brawling Weapon)
60GP in Cash.
CLASS & RACIAL ABILITIES
Darksight to 20 Yards
Arcane Blast: If you are holding your arcane device (see following), you can make a special Ranged Attack that damages foes with a blast of magical energy. This is resolved like a normal Ranged Attack (so stunts are possible), but the
attack roll is an Accuracy (Arcane Blast) test. An Arcane Blast has a range of 16 yards and inflicts 1d6 + Willpower damage. It requires no magic points to make this attack.
Arcane Device: Each mage has an arcane device through which they can focus magical energy. Its primary use is the channeling of Arcane Blasts, but it is used with certain spells as well. The exact nature of the arcane device differs
from mage to mage. It could be a staff, wand, holy symbol, amulet, etc. You should decide what form your arcane device takes when you make your character. If you lose your arcane device, you can attune a new one to you by spending one hour and 5 magic points to do so.
Magic Points: You use magic points (MPs) to power your spells. You start with a number of magic points equal to 10 + Willpower + 1d6. You must keep track of your current magic points; this is a measure of how much magical power is at your command at any given time. You spend magic points when you cast spells. You regain them through rest and meditation. See Chapter 5: Magic for details. You gain more magic points as you rise in level. From levels 2 to
10, you gain Willpower + 1d6 magic points whenever you gain a new level. From levels 11 to 20, you gain only your
Willpower in MPs because increasing your power at higher levels is not as easy.
Magic Points – 18
Earth Arcana – Novice – Rock Blast, Stone Cloak
Power Arcana – Novice – Arcane Awareness, Spell Ward