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Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Chris P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2016 20:49:56

I backed the game on Kickstarter. I really enjoy how the game takes some of the best parts of Wushu, and Fate and combines them in a smart way. The game rewards moving the story forward, playing to the traits of your character, and playing to the theme(s) set by the judge.


The system is universal, but does anime, and fantasy very well. That said, you can use it with almost any setting or genre you can think of.


The main mechanic involves rolling d10s. Roll 1 of them to CHECK a trait - describe your action, and then the Judge will assign a difficulty number (3, 5, or 8). If you beat it, you can create a condition, or add a drama token (effectively an extra dice that can also be used to power your special abilities.) The other main action is to CHALLENGE an obstacle. Describe your action, and roll 1d10 + 1d10 per trait or theme you play to. In responce, the obstacle can describe their action and roll d10s.


Anything can be an obstacle - another PC, a monster, a lock that you are trying to pick, a crowd of paniced theater attendeeds, etc. That's what makes the system so flexible.


If you are interested in something different, give it a spin you won't be disappointed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
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Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Gustavo L. F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/13/2016 19:48:49

Ok, I’ll try to review the game as best as I can, do excuse the fact that English is not my native language.


Fantaji and how I became exposed to it


Fantaji is a Roleplaying game developed by Anthropos Games, the creators of Early Dark, it was originally called Mazaki No Fantaji, but after the project failed on kickstarter the author tried again rebranding it as a Universal Roleplaying System, from what I gather while the kickstarter succeeded it was a small disaster since the author had to write his dissertation while developing the game (at least we got the final product).


I came to know of its existence in this very forum, when a poster referred to it as “Fate for people who don’t like Fate”, I like narrative games, but my group is very traditional so I’m always looking for new ways to bridge the gap and this sound like something I could find interesting.


The Premise


The author describes Fantaji as a qualitative roleplaying game, as in, it doesn’t define the world in terms of numbers but rather traits, so instead of having a Physique of +3 a character has Strong as an Ox, in this sense, traits are like aspects, with the exception (and this comes directly from the book) that a trait should always be “played to” and not invoked in certain situations by spending a metagame resource (and this is probably my biggest criticism of the game, the author voice comes off as condescending at times both against story games and traditional roleplaying games).


But how, one may wonder, is a trait played to every single time?, Fantaji answer to this is to make the traits as vague as possible, they are “poetic” if you will, in the sense that Strong as an Ox may mean hundreds of different things, so for example, you could play to it by narrating how you flex your muscles to intimidate someone, how your strength helps you to lift a gate, how your animal like intuition (the ox part) lets you travel through a forest, and well, pretty much anything that floats your boat, the idea is to stretch the meaning of the phrase as far as possible.


Every character, obstacle or meaningful thing in the narrative that needs a mechanical representation is a Tile (you know, like pieces in a table game), so we have 4 different kinds of Tiles:


Character Tiles: Basically the PCs Character Sheet
Obstacle Tiles: Anything the PCs are up against
Theme Tiles: Universal traits that anyone can play to in a scene
Condition Tiles: Situational advantages or disadvantages created by other tiles that may hinder their actions, they are special in that they are not open to interpretation but are rather objective, so if someone creates the condition “The floor is on fire” it is exactly that and nothing more, when a Tile does something that is made harder by a condition in play (or doesn’t narrate how they are avoiding the condition) they immediately lose a Drama Token.


Drama Tokens are how Fantaji builds up the action, for each drama token a Tile has it rolls an extra D10 when making a challenge, so a Tile with 5 drama tokens rolls 5D10 plus any other dice, Drama Token aren’t a metagame mechanic, a character with a lot of Drama is bursting with energy, invested and aroused, a Tile with no Drama is weak, disconcerted or unfocused


How does it play?


Scenes are played in rounds, every Character or Obstacle Tile gets one action which they may use for a check or a challenge


On a check the Tile plays to a single trait (let’s use the strong as an ox example), and rolls a single D10 against a difficulty of either 3, 5 or 8 depending on how hard our “out there” the task is, on a success the Tile either earns a Drama Token or manipulates a condition.


When you manipulate a condition you can create a new condition, destroy a condition in play, or force a condition, that means forcing another tile to trip it and immediately lose a drama token.


For example, if Regar is a barbarian with the Strong as an Ox trait the player can narrate how the character is rampaging, destroying everything in its path like a raging animal, the GM deems this a difficulty 5 task, so the player rolls, on a success he can either earn a Drama Token (he rages even more), create a new condition such a “Debris on the ground”, destroy a condition “I break through the Barricade barring the door” or force the condition (In an urge of rage I throw the goblin against the Barricade barring the door) immediately removing a Drama Token from the Tile (Goblin swarm in this example).


When a Tile interacts with another tile, it’s called a challenge, both players narrate how they are going to deal with the exchange and build a dice pool with: 1) each trait from their tile played to, 2) each themed played to, and 3) a die for each Drama Token, both Tile roll the dice and compare the results, for each die that scored higher than the opponent the Tile has a success point that they may spend to deal damage to the opposing tile or manipulate a condition like I explained above (Ties are called a clash and both Tiles gain a Drama Token).


Health in the game is measured in Blocks of 1 2 or 3 points, so a goblin swarm may have 2 1-point blocks and a 2-point block (expressed as 2[1] and 1[2] respectively), to deal damage a character has to gather enough successes to match the number of points of a block, so for example if Regar rolls 2 successes he can either damage the 2-point block, both 1-point blocks or a single 1-point block and manipulate a condition with the additional success.


(Note that I use the tems Health and Damage loosely, since Blocks may represent anything from wounds, mental stress, or any other resource that once depleted would cause the character to fail and be gravely affected)


So far one might think that draining away all Drama Tokens from the opposition would be the best tactic, and here is where Fantaji throws a wrench at things, when a scene ends: first, the table awards each Theme tile to whoever played to it the best, this is the equivalent of experience points (more on that later), and all Drama Tokens in play are totaled, this pool is used by players to heal their wounds, this is effectively the only way to heal damage in Fantaji… this might seem out there, but, buuuut, it’s actually one of the cooler aspects of the system, say that after a battle you are left with grievous wounds and need to heal but there aren’t enough Drama Tokens left, well, the GM may set a scene in the hospital where the player confronts an obstacle to gather enough Drama Tokens to heal her wounds. Say for example, helping a cancer patient during his final days, or using an “infected wound” obstacle, even healing is dramatic in Fantaji!.


Finally, most Tiles have a couple of Powers, this is shorthand for “little mechanical exceptions that let you play around with the system” akin to SFX from Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, I don’t want to get into too much detail, but I’ll just say that they can refluffed to suit your campaign, from super powers to hight-tech, magic powers or extraordinary competency in one area.


Leveling Up


When a Player Tile is created the player writes down a few milestones, short-middle-long term objectives the character is striving for, whenever one of the Milestones are reached the play may spend a certain number of earned theme tiles to unlock: a new trait, another block of health, or a new power. So yeah, character advancement is directly tied to achieving one’s goals and desires. The game encourages you to pick something that goes in hand with the Tiles you spent on the upgrade, so if a character spends “Like a cat”, “Silent Shadows” and “like the wind” themes to earn an advancement, they should buy something related to stealth or speed.


Closing remarks


The game has several optional subsystems for things like skills, spells, corruption meters, magical loot, and martial arts, they are just small mods to evoke different feelings, so, if you pick up the game be sure to check them out as they serve as inspiration for your own tinkering.


Fantaji is a great game, with incredible art and a sometimes confusing/condescending voice, the book takes you by the hand and guides you each step of the way, giving you ideas on how to model different situations with the basic rules (Using interconnected tiles as a dungeon is sheer genious), it’s a tactical/narrative game that does so many things differently that this short review doesn’t even scratch the surface, in fact, I think that this is a hard game to review as I don’t believe that there is anything quite like it out there.


Is it really universal?, yes, by managing the difficulty of checks and using the appropriate themes the game evokes the feel of the fiction its trying to emulate, so a scene in a superhero setting where the characters are fighting a cosmic horror with themes like “Bigger than Life” “Protect the Weak” lead to different descriptions and outcomes than a gritty horror game with themes like “Madness unraveling” and “Futility of life”, Breaking down a reinforced iron door might be a difficulty 3 check for superman, but an impossible task for Sherlock Holmes.


If I had to talk about flaws, I’d say that this game will not sit well with people who like concrete mechanics, traits are ethereal by nature and very abstract, they demand a lot of creativity and openness which might not be ideal for some groups, also in the end it has a single mechanic for everything, and while that may be kosher for some groups, the people that enjoy the madness of games like Savage Worlds might feel like there isn’t a lot to the game (I differ, but that’s not the point).


Finally, how out there is fantaji in my eyes…


Here is a representation
Gurps……….. Savage Worls …. Fate………………………………………………-
………..Fantaji



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Raoul H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/22/2016 08:35:33

Fantaji is the single most inspiring and innovative RPG system I did purchase the last year. And I purchased quite a lot of new systems - but for me, Fantaji hits exactly the sweet spot between solid, clever, functional rules and the vast possibilities of narrative control. In fact, I even think it's the first game where I would say that rules and narrative cannot be divided apart. Here, they are two sides of one coin, so to speak. Or rather: Telling the story is using the rules here, and vice versa. This was my impression when I first read the core rulebook, and the verdict still stands after five lengthy sessions and a one-shot evening of playing Fantaji (guess the first two sessions already erased all remaining doubts or uncertainties). For my gaming group, this is going to be the new universal workhorse of heroic roleplaying. High praise indeed, but I think it is well deserved. Warning: You might already guess that I love this set of rules, so expect some enthusiasm in the following review.


Ok, so first about the book itself: The pdf is 224 pages all in all, with a nice layout and a clear and well-organized presentation of the contents. It’s sectioned into 4 parts compromised of a total of 8 chapters for rules and another 4 chapters of settings (yeah right, you get 4 settings with the core rulebook!). The parts (and chapters) are called “I - System” (Introduction, 1. Combat Tiles, 2. How to Play, 3. Character Creation), “II - Judging” (4. How to Run a Scene, 5. Running a Campaign), “III - Worlding” (6. Game Creation, 7. Custom Niche & Powers) and “IV – Settings” (8. Neutrals Mods, and the four settings: Bloodsbane, Land of Mazaki, Waning Moon, Gamma Centauri). In addition, you have a reference glossary of a quality for which alone you have to love the designers! And while we’re on the subject of love: As another reviewer already said, you can really feel the dedication of the Anthropos Games team to their work while reading it.


So now I’ll try to make clear what I love about Fantaji (I’m no native speaker, but hope to be able to explain it clearly enough): The basic rules are very simple, but far from limiting. On the contrary, they provide you with some easy ways of doing anything (literally). In fact they are so streamlined and intuitive that after playing some sessions, we rarely come back to the rulebook at all (and when, it’s usually about looking up the specifics of a power or so).


Once the action is on, the game is played out in scenes, and every item that has an impact on the story/scene (and hence is subject to the rules and potentially to dice-rolling) belongs to one of four categories:


character: player characters and important npc/villains; characters have a name and personality, some descriptors for their niche/occupation (depending on the setting), traits (these are the equivalents of attributes in other systems, but they aren’t numerical stats but rather descriptors or qualities described in one trenchant sentence – playing to these fundamental traits of a character with your narration grants dice when having to make a roll; So while a wild catman might have Strength 12 and Dexterity 13 in some system, in Fantaji he could have the trait “Like a lion” (implicating even more qualities than just physical prowess); in another system, a female paladin might have a high number in Constitution and a suit of armour, in Fantaji she could be a “Iron Maiden” and kick ass in any way you can imagine; so traits are an important concept, like the core of the character, and they should be inspiring and both broad enough to be used in different situations and specific enough to really describe your character), powers (special abilities, magic or inherent technology that has an impact on the way your character works), gear/equipment (only the dramatically important stuff needs to be written down), health and milestones/experience (improving your characters uses a very clever system that I won’t expand on here).


obstacle: what PCs must overcome, anything from a blocked door over a puzzle or trap to monsters and enemies; these tiles have traits as well, and they can have health blocks and/or all kinds of special rules.


theme: passive tiles; hints on the mood and important aspects of a scene that can be used by both friend or foe; they too act as experience points, as the player who used a certain theme the most gets this theme tile handed out after the sence and can later exchange earned themes for character improvements.


condition: passive tiles; details and circumstances that can benefit or trouble characters and obstacles, like being shackled or surrounded by a fire or being out of sight of a particular enemy.


These are the four kinds of “tiles” used when playing, a tile being something like a reference card or data sheet that embodies the relevant item (physically, a tile can be everything from a simple index card inscribed with a pen to a full blown character sheet or a pretty, printed-out picture of a monster with stats splashed on). In addition, some tiles can be expanded by other sub-ordinate tile extensions (like gear for characters etc).


[Note: The arrangement of tiles is equivalent to the scene in terms of rules. This makes up for an interesting way of preparing adventures: once you have an idea what a scene that is likely to happen should be all about, you design a few tiles with which the conflict/problem can be pictured – and voila. So the GM (or Judge in Fantaji) can really plan an adventure/campaign by just building a deck of cool tiles and having some ideas about probable scenes and what could be arranged in which way, according to the characters’ actions. Everything the Judge has not prepared beforehand or that comes straight out of a spontaneous action of the pcs is just made a tile by using pen and paper. So a player could basically say: “I try to break open that barred door” – and while you as the GM initially didn’t think someone would want to do that, you just write this goal down as an obstacle tile. Simple as that.]


In addition to the tiles, you have Drama tokens and Status Effects, which are both kinds of tokens that can affect tiles. I won’t say too much about the nine status effects, but more or less, they are what the name implies: effects than can affect a character or obstacle (like Burn, Stun, Stressed and so on). They are a nifty way of hindering active tiles to use certain of their qualities.


Drama is a very important part of the game. It stands for the energy, momentum or alertness a character (or other tile) has built up. It’s not a meta-currency that buys you special actions or whatever. It is the dramatic state of a tile expressed in tokens. A watchman with 0 Drama might be strolling along bored and indifferent, while the same guard with 5 Drama would be in an over-alert, battle-ready frenzy with a burning will, flexed muscles, sparking eyes and a booming voice. Every point of Drama a tile has stacked on itself grants the same tile one die when a roll is to be made – that’s a tremendously important way of empowering tiles. What’s more, you can use Drama tokens to show other dramatic stuff happening on tiles as well (eg: I used a Burning Temple as an obstacle tile which could be saved by the PCs – every other round, the temple made a check with its “The flames went higher” trait against difficulty 5, and every success added 1 Drama token. With every point of Drama, the fire grew bigger and the chances of securing the temple grew smaller).
This concept is quite clear when we look at how the dice are used in Fantaji.


When you have to roll, you “play to” the traits of your character (or the character’s gear) and the themes present in the scene. Every trait and theme you manage to incorporate into the narrative of describing your action grants you one D10. Every Drama token you’ve got at the moment adds another D10. That’s the way of building your dice pool for a roll.


[Note: Playing to traits and themes is the core mechanism of Fantaji dice-rolling. It is a way in which the system and its’ connection between telling a story and ruling out consequences does shine. To gather the necessary amount of dice for a given task, you are “forced” to present a dramatic account of what your character does why and in what way. Sure, a crashing bore could try to come up with a lazy-assed sentence in which he expresses, to which traits/themes he plays, and a powergaming bloke might have the idea to play to each and every trait/theme available in a completely moronic, unbelievable way – but with these kinds of players you will have problems in any rpg system. And what’s best, Fantaji has a way of preventing such bullshitting: all the people around the table have to agree on which traits/themes where hit with the description of an action, so single-sided nonsense is hard to pull off. It took us our first session to get used to the concept of “playing to” traits/themes in Fantaji, but after all, it is very intuitive. Remember the catman with the trait “like a lion”? Well, he could describe his action as “jumping catlike onto the roof of the building, landing on four paws” or “staring at the enemy with his predator eyes, letting out a threatening roar before the charge” – and in both cases, the player would use the catman’s trait to his benefit]


Basically, there are two ways of rolling dice: by making a check or by making a challenge:


Checks are smaller actions that require you to play to only one trait or theme to make them (in other words, you need only a single non-drama D10 to make a check). With the single die, you roll against a target number (usually 3, 5 or 8), and can score one success. With this success, you can either build up Drama (adding a Drama token to your stack), or set up or manipulate a condition (you use a check to entangle an ogre’s legs with your whip? well, now you can write down the condition “The Ogres’ legs are tied together”).


Challenges are those confrontational actions that set you up against an obstacle (or another character) and in which consequences in the way of “damage” (be it to your health or your reputation or to whatnot) are to be expected. Here you try to build up the biggest dice pool possible, while your opponent does the same. Than it is a competitive test, comparing your highest results with the highest results of the other guy. Each of your dice that beats all the dice of your opponent counts as success. With the successes, you can deal damage, deploy status effects (if you have the means to do so) or set up/manipulate conditions.


The “health” or resistance of a character is managed in blocks of different size (called wounds), the size showing how many successes are needed to mark off the whole block (you have to deal damage in complete blocks, so an opponent who was only unmarked 2-size blocks left must be dealt damage with 2 successes to get one of the 2-size blocks down). There are different ways of defensive powers and armour, and dealing wounds can set the status effects Stressed or Bloodied on another active tile.
Manipulating conditions means using conditions for your advantage or to the disadvantage of a foe, causing him to lose a Drama token (to stay with the example of the entangled Ogre, you could pull on the whip tied around his legs to stagger the brute). Moreover, the same happens if someone accidentally triggers a condition (meaning you lose a Drama Token if you decide to just run to the other side of the room when there is a condition “The floor of the room is full of razor-sharp caltrops”).


There you go, those are the basic outlines of the Fantaji core rules (I hope my summarization does them no wrong). So you have four kind of items, two kinds of special tokens, and two kinds of making a roll. All these elements fit together in a very clever and intuitive way, and make for a system that can picture heroic feats without ever needing sub-systems and all the special special rules clutter. All the while it is enforcing storytelling and a dramatic narrative. And I wouldn't even call it "rules lite" - the rules are easy, but far from limited. Instead they are very versatile, allowing you to build any kind of creature, situation or special power of any complexity you can imagine. Indeed there are pages and pages about using “mods” to expand or hack the system in a way fitting your campaign. Seriously, I consider the possibilities presented in the core rulebook as pure gold for any GM. That’s the way I want a system: Easy and elegant, with lots of options and even bigger possibilities to tweak it the way you want.


As long as your setting has capacity for some all-out action, for heroics or the fantastical, Fantaji should be well-suited to bring the setting to life! To give an example: We used it for some Star Wars roleplaying in the time of the Great Hyperspace War, and I cannot think of any other RPG which would make integrating the Force and all the jedi jazz so easy (and what’s more, the force needs not be brutalized into some kind of spell-system or a hierarchy of special abilities or whatever). For my gaming group this has gone a long way to show the system’s universality and potential.


Conclusion: Buy this! You cannot do anything wrong by spending a meagre 12 € for getting such an inspired and intelligent RPG system. Even if you discover that it’s not your cup of tea – as long as you are a interested in RPG systems in general, you should consider this a must-buy.
I am looking forward to anything Fantaji that Anthropos Games has coming for us. Such are the words of the hooked.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/10/2016 00:39:40

Sorry to disagree with the others. Yes the art is great, layout is good etcetera. And it looks like if I had someone to explain things I would probably like it. But just the quick start alone is not enough to explain how it works and what so many of the terms mean. At least I could not understand a lot of it. No doubt it is better explained in the full book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
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Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Andrew R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/10/2015 18:52:04

There's a phrase in the guidebook that sticks with me now, having played several ties in different campaign settings: Fantaji doesn't reward roleplaying, it is roleplaying. So many RPGs are like complex board games that pay lip service to roleplaying. Fantaji really lifts the Excel spreadsheet, calculus homework, "just hang on while I look this up" weight off of RPGs and let's the players be creative, direct the game, and create story arcs, both for their characters and their campaigns. It's free-flowing, collaborative, and plot-centered. If you want your game session to feel like a party, this is it.


I'm currently working on my own campaign setting in the system, and I cannot wait to see what happens. As a professional writer, running a game in which story development is the mechanic is supremely exciting.


I started with D&D and went to GURPS, but I doubt I'll ever go back to either. Fantaji is way too fun (and too easy to learn; you learn by doing). Very much worth the purchase if you want something new, or are maybe looking to come back to gaming. It's a personal preference, but I can't recommend it highly enough. Try it out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
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Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Allyson H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/05/2015 16:56:35

Fantaji is an amazing vehicle for those who are not only well versed in table top gaming, but those who are interested in getting started. I tried the usual D&D engines with friends in college, and found the game too dependent on the GM and their personalities.


If you are questioning whether or not you want to get involved in this gaming world, this is the game for you. After my terrible D&D experience, I was convinced I could not enjoy a table top game. But, my partner was really into them, and we tried this game - it changed my entire perspective.


If you're not terribly interested in mathematics, you can still play and do well with Fantaji. Of course a little bit of mind math will make moves easier to calculate in this game, but generally you don't need to memorize much.


I usually try to explain this games to others by saying it's more like directing your own scene in a movie - what is your character doing in relation to everyone else's character? Once you've determined what you are doing, you can use drama and skills to gain dice. It's much more enjoyable than working backwards.


If you've ever had a bad experience with table top gaming, let this game change your mind.


I highly recommend this game to new players, veterans, musical theatre enthusiasts, gamers, model United Nations diehards, and public radio producers. There is really no downside to this game; if you have any sort of imagination, this is the game for you.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/30/2015 04:11:32

Fantaji reminds me of Early Dark in the sense that both of them are clearly works of people who had a single, powerful vision. Fantaji's approach to gaming takes narrative elements and gamifys them, using Drama as a currency to push characters (or obstacles) further. The "Playing To" mechanic insures that all actions serve the hidden bounds of a story's themes and it all comes together like clockwork.


That said, the elegance of the mechanics also makes it a little difficult to grasp. I've read through it and I understand it, but it wasn't easy. YOu will need to discard quite a bit of your old habits as far as RPG rules go. I definitely see spending more than a few practice sessions of work from all players to finally get it up and running smoothly, but once everyone gets it, Fantaji should run very well.


In addition, Fantaji is very well illustrated and the layout is clean. The language used is pretty accessible, though there are a few parts which make me flinch just the slightest bit, such as when it uses marketing language inside the product (it's "crazy versatile!" being the most memorable phrase that comes to mind.)


Overall, Fantaji is an unique entry to the lineup of universal RPGs that has a LOT of new ideas. If you like generic RPGs but are tired of point buy options, you might want to give Fantaji a go. It's not quite FATE, but it certainly feels like a fork of the idea of gamifying a narrative. Definitely a worthy addition to an RPG shelf.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal Role-Playing Game
by Greg S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/24/2015 17:53:19

This game is a wonderful mix of the technical and the creative. Maybe that is why I've been drawn to it, more so than the previous game Early Dark. The typical tabletop demigod will not succeed under this system. It is not about crunching numbers to determine your best roll, or knowing your character to get out of predetermined situations. Here you have to play to the table, your opponents and even your allies.


It is also transferable. Already I have a lot of ideas on how to apply conditions, scenes and obstacles to create a political drama. The conditions set by players also makes the DM change their tactics and narrative. You buddy Mike hitting on that hot Gaunxi priestess pissing you off? Why not roll to add the condition "I see right through you". But be mindful, Mike can use that against you, as maybe he plays it off as seeing right through the Priestess's holy than though act.


Honestly, I think that last little example is the power of this system. The smart, witty and creative will thrive here. And I think you and your friends will have a lot more fun. It feels like a breath of fresh air to me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Ryan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/12/2015 14:26:05

I just learned how to play this game over the weekend and after only playing 2 games I'm hooked. It can be played in a small amount of time for a single event, or even made for an entire campaign! There aren't really overbearing rules that say "you can't do that", instead asking "how do you do it?" It's a great game for experienced and beginner tabletop players that want WHAT they do and HOW they do it to be on equal ground.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
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Early Dark Role-Playing Game
by ar e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/27/2015 23:31:30

An excellent product all on its own, but I also found the system itself useful when adapting it to suit my own original setting. For me, Early Dark's mechanics strike the perfect balance between functionality and game speed. In my many forays into various tabletop engines, I've found that in general, a system is either so complex that it takes several minutes to resolve one action in full, thus destroying momentum before it can even build... or it's so streamlined that everything is too abstract, and it feels like I should just be writing a story rather than roleplaying.


Early Dark succeeds spectacularly at streamlining rolls and bookkeeping while maintaining facets of the game that make your character feel like "your character". It does so by culling hit tables and probability calculation, yet manages to make me think more actively when my character is taking action than any other system I've tried since AGE - and moreso than AGE, even.


The rules for advancement are also quite novel and work perfectly for what my campaigns tend to be about. In Early Dark, the focus isn't as much on crawling through dungeons and getting loot for loot's sake as it is about accomplishing things and forging your character into a literal legend. Every major thing your character does will be with the goal of making their mark on history, and it ties into the mechanics by allowing you to custom-build little "advancement packages" tied to a title or epithet earned from some great accomplishment your character performed in the course of the game. You play to be remembered. By doing something memorable, you grow stronger. By growing stronger, you are able to commit greater deeds that are even more memorable, and those deeds in turn make you stronger. It's an excellent cycle that has remained entertaining since I picked the game up.


This isn't even addressing the Arts and Talents systems, the magic system that has "just enough" meat (for my taste, at least), and the excellent world building job. So far I've only used the system for my own setting simply because that's my habit, but even just glossing over the playable cultures and the history that was put into this setting made the world builder in me stand up and applaud. I fully intend to play the game in its own setting in the future, and I'm actually quite eager to do so!


There are more things this game does well that make it a unique experience, but this review grows long-winded, and my opinion likely isn't worth too much of your time given my insular experience with tabletop gaming. In short, Early Dark is an excellent game that, as far as I've been able to tell, isn't going to be a familiar experience. It doesn't draw on the same old mechanical conventions, but what it's created is sleek, intuitive, flexible, and very fun. I strongly recommend giving it a try.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Early Dark Role-Playing Game
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Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Brandon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2013 03:20:19

I found it to be instructive enough to really explain where the creators of this game were going with their original thoughts on the game. Really, the art is well done, although the fact that everything is separated into three different files might have been given over to a single file instead. But that's a personal preference, not a judgment against the authors. It was quick to download, quick to read, and though it had some grammar errors it was easy enough for me to understand all but some of the more vague terms used. All in all, I give it 4 stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
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Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Matías C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2013 12:21:18

This is one of the most solid quickstarts I’ve seen. The rules are simple, yet there is an example of play in each one, in case you missed something.


As for Mazaki itself, it’s a very cool game. We playtested it with some friends a couple of weeks ago using the previous version of the quickstart, and we had a blast! It’s a very fun game, where the focus is put in your imagination and how you engage a particular obstacle rather than thinking in abstract numbers. It’s the kind of game you can play with both your kids and a veteran gamer alike, and they both are going to enjoy it.


The content of the quickstart is all you need to experience Mazaki for the first time and have a glimpse of how amazing the final book is going to be. Even if you don’t like JRPGs or anime, you should give it a try, since the system is very adaptable to other settings. I have a few hacks in mind right now that I want to try once the final version of the book comes out next year.


All in all, you are not going to be disappointed by checking it out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Joe M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2013 06:06:19

GMs these days have it so easy. Back in my day we were putting in a week's worth of design for a one-night affair, memorizing tables not because it was easy, but because it was the difference between success and "Let's go play quake". We had blood, sweat, and tears invested in those games. What do you know about fitting three core books and three expansions, a box of dice (organized by type), a DM curtain, a box of minis, character sheets, monster sheets, and a legal pad full of notes into a single backpack? What do you know about Dragon magazine? What do you kids know about THAC0?


Look at this game. Freakin motivates (and rewards) the player to actually role-play their character! Everything is so damn versatile, the GM can sit back all lazy-like and just make stuff up on the fly. Easy-mode, that's what it is. No alignments to mess with, just "fates", that are only as strict as you want them to be. No more digging around for the d12 because someone just HAD to pick up a greataxe, it all runs on d10s. No more rolling the legendary d100 to determine a random encounter, just pick a theme and cruise on through. No more cross referencing three different tomes to resolve a single action, just grab a sharpie and some index cards and write up your "conditions" on the fly! This is a travesty I tell you! GMing isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be the miserable job the gods intended it to be! How else am I supposed to convince everyone to come to MY house and feed my martyr complex!


But really, Anthropos had me with Early Dark and this game was too good to pass up. It's a blast to play, easy for a new GM and deep enough for the best of us to enjoy, I'll be kickstarting the shit out of this when that comes around.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by William H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/06/2013 20:59:47

I was lucky enough to try this out at the 2013 A-Kon and loved it. I've been demo-ing at my local shop since then and look forward to the Kickstarter. Best thing about the game, in my opinion, is the drama token system and simply how thematic the whole thing is.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Fantaji Universal RPG: Quickstart
by Greg S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/06/2013 18:10:43

I've had the pleasure to check this game out in a few stages of it's evolution. I've enjoyed it every time!


I think the it's mostly due to the fact that it is a lot different than other games of this genre. Mazaki introduces a system which completely replaces the need for large books full of rules. Everything is on the fly, creative and very strategic once you get the hang of it. I played Early Dark a few times, and I can say this to me is way more fun.


Could it be that the casual gamer is also sliding into table top RPG's? Maybe. I think if there is a good system in place, it will foster creativity. This is where Mazaki excels in my book. As the 9th Doctor would put it, I think it's "Fantastic!".


Give it a go. I'll be apart of the kickstarter for sure.


Peace.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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