While I was at PAX Unplugged I picked up the Fantasy AGE book from Green Ronin’s booth. I doubt Chris Pramas remembers selling me the Song of Ice & Fire Hardcover 6 years ago in North Carolina but it was cool to see him again. Fantasy Age is the generic version of the rules for Dragon Age. I’ve spoken at length about the Dragon Age ruleset and the great campaign I’m in. There are changes to strip out the Dragon Age flavor but the rule changes are pretty straightforward. Dragon Age has an ability called Cunning, Fantasy Age changes it to Intelligence. Dragon Age has Magic as an ability, Fantasy Age removes that, and adds “Fighting” and “Accuracy.” Rogues get bonus damage! The magic system is probably the largest difference. Instead of a Mage choosing spells one by one, the Mage gets bonus Talents, which are the equivalent of feats in this system. Talents have three ranks, Novice, Journeyman, and Master, and each rank gives you access to a more powerful spell.
I’ve said before that I think Talents are the biggest weakness of the Dragon/Fantasy Age ruleset. They’re not balanced, some of them are very niche, others are essential to make an effective character. The real problem though is that some talents add rules to the system, saying “you can teach an animal 1 trick” implying that someone who doesn’t take this talent cannot make an Animal Handling check to do this.
The balance question is less of a problem because, like earlier editions of D&D, the system wants you to roll for stats and roll in order. So someone might get great stats and someone might get average stats. It’s not balanced and that’s the game they want you to play. I’m fine with that. It’s less about you making a character than you being assigned a random person in this world.
I thought it would be fun to run through this once. I rolled the following stats with the Wizards Dice Roller.
So these are pretty damn good stats. Only one bad score, one -1 amidst a sea of positive stats. If I wanted to be a Mage I would want to switch that Willpower out, you can do that for one stat. Because I have a dash of Specialist about me I’d like make a Halfling. Dragon Age doesn’t have Halflings. So the next step in making a character is I need to roll on the Halfling Table for extra bonuses. I got a +1 to Communication and +1 to Perception.
One last random element. In Dragon Age you pick from one of 20 backgrounds. These give you your race and social class. You might pick City Elf, High-Born Dwarf, or a Tevinter Mage. These are all specific to the Dragon Age Campaign Setting though. Fantasy Age lets you roll for your Social Class and profession within that class. I rolled Middle Class and Initiate, like a religious initiate. This gives me a choice between two Ability Focuses, Willpower (Faith) and Intelligence (Religious Lore)
This is the point when one would normally pick a class. Like Dragon Age, Fantasy Age has three: Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. This stat array would make a good fighter. For a Mage, I’d want to switch Strength for Willpower. For a Rogue, I’d probably want to switch Intelligence for Accuracy.
With such low willpower I think I’d probably play this character as a coward or a charlatan of some kind. Maybe a cultist who would not drink the Kool-Aid when called upon. For a mage you could really go in any direction. This would make a great Chantry Loving Wizard in the Dragon Age system.
I’m intrigued by adding the “Fighting” and “Accuracy” attributes to the system. Here’s the reason why they did it. In Dragon Age, a melee fighter attacks with 3d6+Strength and deals damage with their weapon+Strength. Someone with a ranged weapon in DA attacks with 3d6+Dexterity and deals damage with weapon+Perception. So Strength is more valuable, relatively speaking. Having one stat to hit and one stat to damage brings them both in line. One big difference, instead of getting Backstab (+2 to hit, +1d6 when you win a skill check) you get +1d6 if your dexterity is higher than your opponents. In Dragon Age, that backstab is Melee Only which fucks Ranged Rogues. This applies to all attacks.