Crimson Exodus and the Fantasy Dice System is quite simply; exactly what I have been looking for to take my RPG gaming to the next level. I have been playing Fantasy RPGs for over 30 years, and I have played a tremendous number of different systems. Of them all, the only one that really takes me into the story with just the right amount of crunch is Fantasy Dice. For the last 15 years I have been running an Epic Fantasy Campaign using the Rolemaster system, and while I loved the variety and detail, I came to loathe the plethora of books and tables that the system requires. But I could not find a system to switch to that gave me what I needed.
Until I found Fantasy Dice. With one very simple mechanic, any skill can be chosen and used by any player simply, quickly, and easily. But what if you want to use two skills in conjunction, say Acrobatics and your spear. Claus Bornich has created a simple system for doing that as well. And it won't require you to look up a bunch of stuff in a rulebook.
The base mechanic behind Fantasy Dice/Crimson Exodus is simple and elegant. Your attributes determine how many dice you will be able to roll. Your skills are based on which dice you will roll. When you increase your ability with a skill, you move up a die size. So you start out with d4, and can upgrade to d6, d8, d10, or all the way up to d12. You will spend your experience points to upgrade your skills. Again, simple, and easy. So if you have a skill of d8 and the associated attribute is 3, your base roll is 3d8. If you have the needed specialty of the skill you are using, you gain a bonus die, so in this example your base roll would be 4d8.
That brings me to the next elegant mechanic of Fantasy Dice/Crimson Exodus, scaling. You are allowed to scale your roll to move up to a higher sided die, or down to a lower sided die. How it is done is again, simple and elegant. Want to move up to d10s? Simply drop one die and roll d10s instead of d8s. Maybe you are using a skill in which the associated attribute is very low, like 1 or 2. So you might have a roll of 2d8 even with a specialty. Want to roll more dice? OK, you can scale down to d6s and roll an extra, so now that 2d8 becomes a 3d6.
But why would you want to scale down your roll? Every roll (skill use) has a target number of 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 etc. If you need a 4 for example and are only rolling 1 or 2 dice, there is a chance that you won't get it. But if you scale your roll down and roll more lower dice, the chance of all of them coming up low is much reduced. This translates into your character being more careful, while scaling up, is your character trying as hard as he or she can to do a great job at his task. Simple, Easy. But what if you really need a really high roll and failure is not an option?
Let me introduce you to Trigger Points. With the Fantasy Dice system, every character has three aspirations: An Immediate Aspiration, A Grand Aspiration, and a Counter Aspiration. These are chosen by the Players and can be anything at all. Since these Aspirations are part of the core of the character they can be used as inspiration in Roleplaying the character. And when you really need to do something extraordinary you can invoke one of your aspirations (but it must really tie into your aspiration).
This is what Trigger Points are for. Each character has a certain number of Trigger Points, and at a Trigger Point reload they receive one less than their maximum. So what happens to all of those left over Trigger Points? They are given to the Gamemaster, heh, heh, heh. So the Gamemaster starts the game with one point for each of the players in his game.
I can best explain how these work by a couple of examples from my own game. One of the characters who is a former Captain of a slave army allowed himself to be captured in order to start a slave revolt from the inside. While talking to his equal in the castle, he chose to use the skill Dominate, specifically the specialties Intimidate, and Command. He invoked his Grand Aspiration of freeing his people from bondage, and used two Trigger Points to take the maximum result of a scaled roll, and came out with a 12. It was an opposed roll, and I rolled 10 for the rival Captain. Pretty good roll, but his 12 gave him a normal success. He laid his cards on the table, and said "Do you realize what is about to happen? There is going to be a revolution, and you need to decide which side you are on." With his success, the Captain chose to join the rebels and his first duty in the revolution was completed. Awesome use of Trigger Points and led to spectacular roleplaying.
What about the Gamemaster? Well, after a long drawn out wrestling match in the canopy of a forest, one of my players used his Acrobatics to jump onto his opponent and yank my NPC scout off his perch in the treetops, causing them both to fall to the forest floor. Again, using his Acrobatics and the required Trigger Points, the player maneuvered himself to break his fall by landing on top of my scout, breaking his pelvis. I invoked his Aspiration of completing his scouting mission by any means possible, and spent a Trigger Point so that became "Not as Bad as it looks" Still a Nasty wound, but not the debilitating injury that it could have been by the dice results. The spent Trigger Point went back to the players.
There are many other awesome things about the Fantasy Dice system, such as Life Paths that your characters walk which gives them special abilities that only they have. Characters can choose multiple paths if they want to, or can specialize on one Path that they want to master. Choose Way of the Beast, and your character will be at one with animals and the wilderness. As your character progresses, he can choose more aspects of his path by spending Hero Points that he earns as he roleplays his character.
I have completely converted my campaign to Fantasy Dice, and my players are enjoying it tremendously. We haven't lost any of the crunch that we loved from Rolemaster, but we have done away with all of those tables and Rulebooks. That brings me to another thing that I absolutely love about the Fantasy Dice/Crimson Exodus system. It is so easy to adapt to whatever your Fantasy World requires. I was able to adapt it to work with all of our existing Rolemaster characters relatively easily, and that was a task I was dreading. Fantasy Dice made it easy. And that was quite a nice surprise. Because the mechanics are so simple, making adaptations is simple as well, and does not break the game, which is always a concern with most RPG Systems.
I could go on all day, and wax fantastic about how great Fantasy Dice is. But instead I encourage you to grab your own copy. and while you are at it, check out the new 2nd Edition of Crimson Exodus which is Claus Bornich's setting for the Fantasy Dice system. It is an awesome setting, and it comes with the latest version of the Fantasy Dice system including some new optional mechanics.
By the way, Claus Bornich the creator of this product is an awesome guy. I have spoken to him directly, and even made some suggestions. Imagine my surprise when I saw some of my suggestions show up in the 2nd Edition of Crimson Exodus. Not only is Claus a great person, he really listens to his customers and that is something that is really, really cool.
[5 of 5 Stars!]