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Heroic Fantasy
by Todor P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/09/2017 15:27:58

My favorite implementation of David Black's "The Black Hack" rules and mechanics!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroic Fantasy
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Heroic Fantasy
by Matthew O. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/25/2017 16:23:11

I can defintiely reccomend. It fleshes out Black Hack enough to fit a lot of players needs for a more full fledged substitute for dungoen cralwing, with a little bit more dpeth to the characters and options while still being very light and easy. From expanded classes,to the aspects and armor system I like the advances made, and hope their will be asuppplement soon (I have a player who loves druids wanting to see your take on that). Creative use of the usage die in other subsystems too, I can reccomend it for an Black Hack fans wanting a few new tools.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
Cheers Matthew, glad you have enjoyed the book. The Druid is coming along with some other races and notes to support running a Heroic Fantasy in the Saga of the Northlands. :)
Heroic Fantasy
by Konstantinos P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/12/2017 17:10:45

I believe Sophia gave us a great in length review. I just added my thoughts and comments at our blog (http://emerald-gatekeepers.blogspot.no/2017/04/heroic-fantasy-mini-review-or-pure-fun.html) It’s an awesome game and we have a blast while running it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heroic Fantasy
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/22/2017 05:16:22

What Do You Need to Know About Heroic Fantasy?

Heroic Fantasy (the game) touts itself as a heroic variant of the old school game The Black Hack (TBH). Heroic Fantasy (HF) has nine classes, a race and alignment system, more spells, magic item creation, PvP. And more.

I got a review PDF from the author, Graham Spearing. This is a reading review.

How does Heroic Fantasy compare to The Black Hack?

TBH offers a rules-lite game experience on 20 pages. It added modern ideas like player-facing rolls to the traditional core. Thus, TBH feels old school without being a straight retro-clone. (Read more about TBH here.)

Where does HF fit into? I see HF as a set of house rules to TBH, although it's a stand-alone game. It feels almost like the same game, but catered to a different gaming table.

HF makes gameplay even more heroic. In TBH, low-level characters are sturdier than in OD&D because they have more hit points (HP). Spellcasters can cast magic more often. HF cranks play up a notch. Armor is more powerful. And the game increases HP combat refresh for the melee classes. That means that characters don't die easily. (In this regard, both TBH and HF are not vanilla old school.)

What does Heroic Fantasy add to TBH?

I felt that TBH left a lot open to interpretation because of its small page count. HF remedies that. The author explains the rules in greater detail. The book contains a section with tips for players and the Game Master.

The changes to character creation come to mind. HF adds dwarves, elves, and halflings. Dwarves get a Usage Die for natural armor but get Disadvantage on keeping their spell slots. The rules for elves and halflings follow the Tolkien scheme, too.

I like how it pays off if you keep your halfling well fed:

If a halfling manages to have two breakfasts before elevenses then they are indomitably cheered and will automatically succeed at one test whilst digesting throughout the day.

Players can also choose between three alignments (Good, Neutral, Evil).

The classes feel like old friends in new garments. Very familiar, but adjusted towards TBH's mechanics. You can pick between nine classes: Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Necromancer, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warrior, Wizard.

Bards and Necromancers come with their own spell list. The Ranger has a Precision Strike and an animal companion. Paladins can Lay on Hands and must follow a Geas. And so forth.

I like the Rogue. It's a catch-all for the professions in the gray area. At first level, you have one specialization, e.g. Tomb Robber or Charming Swindler. You get another at 4th and 8th level.

The gimmicks from the TBH Thief are spread between the different specializations and new ones were added. So the focus is narrower.

The Warrior is similar to TBH but gets a Power Strike and a Signature Strike.

And players can customize their characters with two Aspects. Yes, those that made Fate popular. E.g. "Celebrity chef to King Dravok the Unsteady."

Bonds are another addition, this time from games like Dungeon World.

When it comes to the main rules, there are some tweaks, too.

Interestingly, you see a nod towards indie narrative games with the Fate rule. The Game Master (GM) introduces a new detail to the story if you roll exactly equal to your stat on a test. You might dislike the fact that this rule breaks the standard task resolution. When you roll a d20, you must roll under your attribute to succeed. So an equal result should count as a failure. With this new rule, the GM can decide if the test was successful or not and insert the new story detail. I'm not sure if this rule is necessary. As a GM I can add a twist whenever I like. At least that's how I play it.

What about armor? In both TBH and HF, armor absorbs damage. Yet in HF armor mitigates slightly more damage (e.g. plate mail 12 instead of 8). The Usage Die mechanism offsets this. The players must roll the UD. You must reduce armor points when you roll a 1 or 2. You can repair your armor for coin, though.

But don't forget that monsters deal less damage than characters of the same level. A 1 HD (Hit Die/Dice) monster only attacks for 2 damage (1d4). The GM must make sure to throw monsters of higher levels at the PCs so that they pose a challenge. I'm not sure if HF's higher armor points help here, even if you take damaged armor into consideration.

Ambush rules and rules for hordes extend the combat system. The horde mechanism simplifies how the GM can handle multiple opponents.

I also like that HF includes an easy solution for Player vs. Player and rules for magic items. The ideas for creating magic items are mechanical instead of flavorful but that's ok.

A bestiary rounds up the book.

Yeah, But...

At its core, I see this book as a set of house-rules. It is in the same genre like TBH (Fantasy/Heroic Fantasy). The power level feels nearer to newer editions of D&D than to the grittiness of the earlier versions.

The additions are worth the price if you want more options for your TBH-game. But I don't see it as an "own new game" like some other TBH hacks.

You could pick and choose what you want to use and slap it on the core engine. Don't like the narrative task resolution but want to keep the PvP? Easily done.

Thoughts

  • New classes, more spells, and monsters, extended combat rules, magic item creation, deities, an adventure.... moar stuff! That's good, right?
  • I like the addition of Aspects and Signature Weapons/Strikes for character creation. I don't see the need for the Fate mechanism.
  • It is The Black Hack extended and tweaked. You won't like Heroic Fantasy if you don't see the merit in The Black Hack.
  • Perhaps characters are too powerful. They sport a good amount of hit points and easier spellcasting than in traditional old school D&D. Pair this with strong armor and high damage output. Oh, my!
  • The book's layout is simple and readable. Nothing too fancy and it serves the purpose.
  • Good set of house-rules. It could have been advertised as such instead of packaging it as an own stand-alone game. But now you have everything in one place - that's nice, too. The price is fair.


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Arthur
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/11/2015 00:21:24

SIX POINT SUMMARY

  • Production values are a mixed bag. The aesthetics of the interior, and the full page art pieces, look great. Unfortunately, the cover text seemed somewhat digitized and out of focus, either a layout issue or a printing issue.

  • Mass Combat rules are great. Mass Combat rules that heavily resemble my favorite set of Mass Combat rules, but with a few twists unique to the system, are even better.

  • As I said above, I am more comfortable with the Le Morte D'Arthur, so it did take me a bit to get into the more historical Arthur. This does a nice job of setting it apart from the other major Arthurian game on the market (Pendragon).

  • I love how the various magical subsystems are built on the same solid base, but have the unique flourishes to set them apart. Definitely not crunchy, even "Fate crunchy", but Faith feels different than Druid Magic which feels different than Shapeshifting.

  • The cultural and geographic sections of the book aim for breadth over depth, covering a lot of ground in multiple, single-paragraph or so entries. I'm not usually upset with this approach, and I find it even more acceptable in a game with a historical basis, since I can research Britain in the 400s easier than I can, say, the Forgotten Realms in the 1200s.

  • Lots of wonderful, professional touches such as a fully functional index and table of contents, as well as a glossary and a pronunciation guide, the latter of which I REALLY wish more companies would use, especially if they are using lots of fantasy names or, in this case, historical dialects.

A great product marred by small production flaws that bring down the overall package, but counters that with a great Arthurian take that feels a little grittier than your normal Fate game. Personally, I like the shoutout to the dragon in Loch Ness.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2015/04/tommys-take-on-age-of-arthur.html



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Arthur
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Age of Arthur
by Dillard R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/06/2015 01:13:13

Bottom Line Up Front. This is not a FATE Core friendly game. Despite a text box in the book stating that it is. This game is firmly entrenched in the system used in Diaspora (that came out before FATE Core).

I really wanted to give this product 5 stars but I can't. I love the Arthur story. From "Le Morte d'Arthur" to "Dragon Lord" the various incarnations of Arthur has held my imagination. My hat is off to the authors. There is love in this book. There is thought and skull sweat present in spades...however, it is not current. It will require users of FATE Core to put in some serious thought and work to make this system compatible.

There is no Success with Spin. You pay your Fate Points for Aspects prior to rolling not after. You don't have Free Invokes or Boosts. Create Advantage doesn't exist. It is more SOTC-like; using maneuvers. Characters start with 5 free stunts and 5 refresh (reminiscent of SOTC). You can purchase more refresh with your free stunts. Stunts don't work quite the way they do in FATE core (you have to power your stunts with Fate Points) so you have to have the extra refresh or you won't be able to use your stunts (there are a few generic +1 stunts called specialisms, but these are few on the ground). You can still have aspects that are compelled to earn Fate Points, but since you have to power practically all your stunts with Fate Points you need a big supply straight out of the box. The mass battle system is intriguing and reminds me a lot of the Savage Worlds mass combat system. It does not match any version available from FATE Core (such as in the System Tool Kit book) Any FATE Core vets are going to have to do some serious work to adjust the engine to work they way they are used to. Warbands and battles get special attention, but since you aren't using FATE Core teamwork bonuses aren't used and number crunching becomes more prevalent.

Having said all that the setting itself is intriguing. Dark Ages Britain is a completely "open" time period. There are no real accurate historical records from the time the Romans left until two or three centuries later. (Bede or the Anglo Saxon Chronicle) These came out in the early to late 700s almost 300 years after the Romans left Great Britain. So little can be said for the historical accuracy of the setting other than there isn't any. That isn't a bad thing. It allows myth and conjecture to inform a compelling story about Player Characters facing off against invasions from the Saxons and from Hibernian pirates, while keeping an eye out being stabbed in the back by other would be British High Kings. Just about every aspect of the game is some sort of cultural or religious clash. Romano-Britains against the Saxons (or Hibernians) Christians against Pagans (or other types of Christians).

If this book were to get a re-write I would suggest getting rid of the dated engine. Then plug in the FATE Core engine. Get a bit more art. Change up the blocks of text to columns to de-stress your readership. (It was hard to read more that a page or two at a time). Give more examples. Of everything. Most people are not experts on the period. Move the setting to an earlier part of the book, or at least add some fiction so that the readership knows what the game is going to be about before they start making a character. This change is in fact critical if you expect Players to use the FATE Core method of setting creation prior to character creation.

The price point is too high for a game book that uses an older version of FATE that the majority of readers will find necessary to change. Any changes will necessarily be extensive and a 15 USD price tag will punish users of the FATE Core system who want to use this setting. In its present state this book may be worth 5 USD and certainly not more than 10 USD.

The setting sells the book. The engine detracts from it. Therefore I'll give this book three stars.

Edit: There is a rule for spin...in general if you get spin you get to add +1 to your roll. Again this is not typical of FATE Core. There are quite a few more dissimilarities but I won't burden the reader any further.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Map of Arthur's Britain
by Ben M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/13/2015 15:27:22

Great map. Rather a broad brush stroke not showing too much tiny kingdom aspect. Lovely work.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Map of Arthur's Britain
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Map of Arthur's Britain
by Jim M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/06/2014 07:10:44

Excellent map and great just to have as a decoration even if it's not used for actual gameplay. Very well done.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wordplay RPG Core Edition
by Judd G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/23/2014 20:58:07

This is one of the those generic systems that just gets the play flow right. Characters are built using player-worded traits with a number of dice assigned to them.

Conflicts and test are resolved by building a "hand" of D6s and rolling them to determine success via simple and quick mechanic. Goals and Nudges provide some extra mechanics to allow for more more tactical resolution, as well as dials for the grit vs cinematic feel of a particular game.

There is a section of developing settings, including samples of various genre themes and it would not be hard at all to duplicate or pay homage to your favorite genes, shows, etc.

I recommend this title heartily.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wordplay RPG Core Edition
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Age of Arthur
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2014 22:35:46

I have always loved Arthurian myth. The stories of Arthur and the knights of the round table have inspired me in one way or another since I was young. Although these tales have influenced me, I am also not overly aware, nor as well read as I should probably be to claim the intense wonderment that I just exposed a mere sentence ago. And yet, none of that really seems to matter with this product. Don't get me wrong, this is an amazing book filled with a wonderful world of warriors, adventure, and even a little magic; but at the same time it is not so heavily glued to the mythological fancy of Arthurian legend. It is instead a fascinating look at the potential aspects of Arthur, in a potential time period, where he could have existed. A fascinating web of historical accuracy, uncompromising historical liberties, (normally where magic, and other such elements are concerned), and wild imagination spurring wonder, all within the package of a couple hundred pages.

With that in mind on to the product itself...

While I think the pages can at times appear a bit busy, and a little bit like great walls of text, which in their own right can hinder the actual reading experience, these elements in no way hinder the experience of the product itself. The attention to detail, both with the Fate system used, as well with the historical and mythical elements described within the book show that the authors had an intense passion for the system and the the world that they described for the audience. The sheer volume of ideas, historical context, woven mythologies, and pure wonder at the more involved, and in-depth, sections of the book really get one more in the mood to play this than some of the other books I have read.

There is so much, and so little, that I can actually say as a result. It bears repeating that this book, in my more than humble opinion as a fan of RPG's, and a fan of the subject matter at hand; is that Age of Arthur, does everything that I think a book of its caliber should do: explain the rules in a way that is clear and understandable, present a world in which to inhabit or give the building blocks to build one's own world, and finally to infuse the imagination of those that read it with the desire to play the game as published. I think that Age of Arthur his all three of these points dead on. As far as I am concerned I will be hooked on this for some time to come.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Arthur
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Age of Arthur
by Luke M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/22/2013 00:41:03

This is a great little product, about 300 pages and well index. The art is sparse but whats there is quite nice.

I picked it up because I had heard about the mass combat rules, and I was quite pleased with what I found there. I'll frame this with a couple points of comparison: Diaspora gives you a strategic combat mini-game that is very close to a tactical wargame played out on a map. Reign (if you can read through the purple prose to find the mechanics) gives you an abstract system for running conflicts between companies or kingdoms of any size.

Age of Arthur lays out a system for massive battles. It probably falls somewhere in between the above to examples in terms of complexity and scope. There are turns, but no map. This is okay by me, I always have a hard time conjuring up Fate zone maps anyway -- and you could probably use one if you really wanted to. Your army size is of course significant, your general has a specific role, and your PCs and heroes even have something significant to do. I have not put it into play yet, but it reads very well and I can imagine several epic battles (and even minor scuffles between warbands) that we tried to represent at the table would have been better served with a system like this.

Another area of the book that I particularly liked was in the equipment section. Perhaps it is my particular play style, but I find that too many of the newer Fate games cleave too closely to the pulp roots of SotC in that they eschew any form of equipment, weapons, armor, etc. While that is a valid play style, I much prefer the feel created by games like this that give you some simple representations of equipment and force multiplies.

Weapons and armor are basic fare. I think the real interest is in the general use equipment and magic items. They are built with the same stunts as characters -- stunts that follow a clear and consistent rubric. Too many other Fate games throw exhaustive laundry lists of stunts at you, but all you really need is presented here: some guidelines for what a stunt can do and some guidelines to get started.

The PDF is a no-regrets impulse buy. At the price you pretty much cant go wrong, and it's free if you're buying one of the printed products with it. Also, at the time of this writing, it is available without watermarks which always makes me less hesitant to take the plunge on buying a digital product.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Arthur
by David C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/28/2013 13:38:47

I am a great fan of Arthurian myth, legend and history. This game hits a fantastic standard for that. Where King Arthur Pendragon takes Mallory and Morte d'Arthur as its starting place Age of Athur reflects Cornwell, Whyte and the Mabinogion.

This is not the Arthur of High Chivalry, this is a gritty, savage Dark Ages Arthur. The world of Age of Arthur is a world in darkness. The light of Rome has gone out of Britania, the savage Saxons threaten invasion, and petty kings and warlords bicker over the ruins.

The game runs on he Fate mechanics, derived from FUDGE. I am familiar with the latter, but this is my first encounter with Fate. I was very pleased by how well the game mechanics seem to support the style and feel of the game. This is a game about characters and their stories, with few if any arbitrary limitations imposed by dice or game points. Begining characters may be princes or beggars at the players' choice. Powerful wizards, apprentice Druids, knights, hunters, even scribes and clerks.

The game includes several styles of magic, which may be accessed by characters depending on their backgrounds. As befits the dedication required to work magic such characters will have fewer potencies in other areas.

I may not entirely replace King Arthur Pendragon with Age of Arthur, but they definitely will sit side by side.

And it is hard not to enjoy a game with such specialisms (special character bonuses) as "Be where the arrow isn't"



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Map of Arthur's Britain
by david f. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/24/2013 03:16:23

I really wanted to give this map a 5 as I am in a 5th Century adventure and it would be very useful to me. But it shows Stonehenge much to far west and that was as far as I got in fact checking. Over all it looks a very pretty map but I am doubtful of the real world location of places now and probably only of use to players and referees that don't really care about the correct location of places.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Map of Arthur's Britain
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Publisher Reply:
The updated version of the map on the site fixes the "Stonehenge problem" you mention.
Map of Arthur's Britain
by Mike P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/23/2013 11:21:06

Great overview of Arthur's Britain. I'm not sure how accurate it is, and a little more detail with additional towns of note would be nice. My biggest problem, however, is the sheer size of the file. 69 MB for a one-page image pdf is way over the top. I'm sure it could be reduced to 1/10th that!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
You're right about the file size being overly large. I've found a way to reduce it to 3.73MB, which is much more reasonable.
Age of Arthur
by Jane W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/18/2013 19:14:15

My interest is in the setting, not the rules, and I haven't play-tested this, only read it, so while I can say that they look clear and easy to use, that comment does come with a disclaimer.

The setting, though - it's always hard, with "Arthurian", trying to please all tastes. Should it be Malory re-written? Gritty historical Dark Age accuracy? Magic - none, some, the basis of the whole thing? How about religion - is it ignored, assumed to be Malory-style Christianity, a feminist rant against Christianity, or what? Well, the answer here is pretty much "yes". As an attempt goes to please all of the people, all of the time, this comes as close as anything can. All of these aspects exist, but the importance placed on each is up to the GM: or rather, the "Storyteller", and that word tells you most of what you need to know about how this works. The setting is Dark Ages, true, but if you wanted to play Malory, just accept that your Knight is wearing a mail shirt, not full plate, and ride off to rescue damosels from wicked enchantresses - the Fae are right there to use as opponents. If you want Dark Age history, you have Romans, Britons, Saxons, Picts and Gaels, plus a mass-combat addition to the rules. Suggested reading includes Cornwell, Duggan (surely as non-magical as author as you can get!), Mary Stewart and Rosemary Sutcliff, but as I read the background and possible adventures, I can see the Arthur of the Mabinogion in this, as well.

A common problem with Arthurian settings, whether historical or mythical, is their failure to allow for half the population to take any active part - not here! The part played by women is always historically reasonable, no-one's suggesting that 50% of the warriors are female, but there's no limits, and some example NPCs give a good idea of how women can take part, as warband leaders, bards, rulers, magicians, and anything else you feel like.

The default "adventuring party" is assumed to be the circle of advisors and agents surrounding a petty king, which gives plenty of scope. The worked example of a PC goes back to the male warrior, but soon develops him in much more interesting ways. If your players can't cope with the amount of invention required to create a character, don't worry, there are pre-gens at the end.

I like this a lot, and I think it may well become my go-to system and setting for anything vaguely Dark Age I want to do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Age of Arthur
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