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Category: Role Playing Games

Review: The Fantasy Trip 3rd Edition

Posted on September 25, 2018  in Role Playing Games

This week Steve Jackson Games released the PDF’s of its newly revised game, The Fantasy Trip. These PDF’s are basically beta releases they put up for downloads for those who backed the Kickstarter campaign. They are collecting feedback to fix any issues before they send it off to the printers. I skimmed through the PDF’s and then printed them out, while I do not mind PDF’s, if I am going to be sitting down and reading a game book(s) from cover to cover, roll up some characters and then write a short adventure, having a printed copy on hand is nice.

 

First a bit of background, back in the late 70’s Steve Jackson (Steve) worked for a company called Metagaming Concepts, they published inexpensive little wargames, that were cheap and quick to play. This is where Ogre got its start. While there, Steve wrote a game called Melee, a nice little game for simulating man to man arena combat, like their other games, it was small, cheap and easy to play. He followed up with Wizard, which simulated magical arena combat. It did not take them long to figure out that this could easily be leveraged into a roleplaying game similar to Dungeons & Dragons, which was growing popularity at the time. Steve then went on to build The Fantasy Trip, which filled in the gaps and added all sorts of new ideas. Jackson at this point became disenchanted with the way things were going at Metagaming and left the company. He took some of the games with him, like Ogre and started his own game company. A few years later, Metagaming went under, Steve tried to negotiate for the game, but the owner Howard Thompson want too much money, so Steve went on to design GURPS. Thirty five years later, after the copyright to his works went unused, he applied to the U.S. Copyright Office to have the rights returned to him and he succeeded. Here we are today with an all new 3rd edition of the game.

 

Between 1978 and 1982, my friends and I use to play a variety of games in our High School Library during lunch hour. There was an early complaint that we were gambling, because we were rolling dice, but one of our mothers came to the school and straightened Principle and the Librarian out. I have no idea what was said, but no school official ever bothered us about it again as long as we did not get noisy. Wizard and Melee were chief among those games because they were fast and easy to play. Although, we never played it specifically as an RPG, surviving gladiators often developed personalities, relationships and drama over time. A winning gladiator always had the option to let the looser live or die. Often times this was a good way to get rid of a particularly annoying rival, but not showing mercy was also good way to not get any yourself, so it was a fine line. Occasionally there would even be interesting dramas and blood feuds, at least one of which lasted a couple of years.

 

Okay, so now onto the review. Frankly, not much has changed from the original version, the mechanics and virtually identical to the original game. The characters have three attributes, Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence. Strength dictated how many hits a character could take before dying, how many spells a wizard could cast and how big of a weapon a character use. Dexterity provided the character with the basic to hit roll, based on three 6 sided dice. Intelligence tells use which spells a wizard can use and how many. As the character received experience points, they could raise these attributes, because of the weird way the rules worked, it was not unusual for a Wizard to have a high Strength, sometimes higher than their Intelligence. It also did not take long for characters to get ridiculously over powered, once a warrior had a Dexterity of 15 or 16 he rarely missed and a wizard with a high Intelligence and a decent Strength could put a dragon on the battle field on the first turn or throw a huge fireball down range making for whoever goes first wins type of game. Reading through the rules, I see very little that would change either of these conditions. In the Labyrinth, which is the book that provides the RPG part of the game, does give players more choices like adding Talents rather than increasing attributes, but it is not really enough to counter balance the game. Having said all of that, the mechanics do work fine for low to medium powered characters, combat is quick and fun, magic has a lot of interesting effects and you can come up with a lot of cool characters to play.

 

The layout, again has changed very little from the original books published way back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. The art has changed, primarily because Steve did not get the copyrights to any of the art from the original product. Steve did however have the good sense to hire Liz Danforth, who did much of the art on the original, to be the primary artist on his new revision. If you are an old school gamer and especially if you actually played this game back in the day, you will like this game. In fact from that perspective, you really could not have asked for a better product. Steve did not make any radical changes rules wise, he simply sanded down some of the rough edges and in designing the layout he stuck with what was there rather than going for a more modern slick appeal. If you are a modern gamer, this will probably seem simplistic and amateurish by modern standards and you would be correct about this. Steve has made no announcement about what he is going to do in the future beyond supporting the game with some new adventures next year. I suspect that if the game does well, we can expect a 4th edition with a more modern appeal to it.

 

Overall, I am going to give this 3. Realistically, I should give it a 2 or a 2.5, because the new edition really does not add anything to the hobby and the rules were not particularly ground breaking at the time nor are they especially interesting today. However, being an old school gamer myself and I fully remember what it was like back in the heady days of the golden age, this does have a certain appeal to me and gamers like me. I can certainly see playing a couple of games of Melee or Wizard on one of those game nights where half the players don’t show. It does not happen often, but it does happen occasionally. So I am going to go with a 3 and I hope Steve does something interesting with this in the future.

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Category: Role Playing Games

Origins Game Fair vs Larry Correia

Posted on June 19, 2018  in Role Playing Games

So Origins Game Fair uninvited Larry Correia as a guest of honor due to his political beliefs. Now I know some of you are going gasp and clutch your pearls, but take a deep breath. Origins is a private organization, they have the right to invite or not invite anyone they want. You are free to disagree with them, but that does not obligate them in anyway. For those who don’t know who Larry Correia is, he is a right wing nut job who writes science fiction on the side. A few years ago he made a big stink at the Hugo Awards because he felt the SJW’s had infiltrated it and was using the awards to further their agenda and that so called conservative writers were not getting a fair shake. What Larry did was put forward his own list of what he felt was worthy books written by conservative writers and got all his friends to vote for the books on this list. He tried this several times and came close to influencing the awards a couple of times, but his movement eventually petered out.

Looking at these events, it really is no surprise that Origins dropped him. He brought politics into the Hugo’s and this upset a lot of people. There is a lot of cross over between gaming and Science Fiction Fandom, apparently many of these crossover people have long memories. In my book, I view it like this; If you shit in someones swimming pool, you should not be surprised when other people stop inviting you to swim in their pools.

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Category: Role Playing Games

I knew it, I totally called it!

Posted on May 10, 2018  in Role Playing Games

I told them to leave the eyes, it was not worth the risk, BUT NOOOOO!, they just had to climb up there and pry it out. Those fricking thieves just could not leave well enough alone.

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Category: Role Playing Games

Missing Characters from B1 – Explanation

Posted on May 7, 2018  in Role Playing Games

In the original B1 n Search of the Unknown, there was a set of per-generated characters to be used by new players or as hirelings. Bruce and I stole the names of a couple of those characters and played them for almost a year before both died horrible screaming deaths. Recently Goodman games published a Dungeons & Dragons 5E conversion of both B1 In Search of the Unknown and B2 The Keep on the Borderlands called Into the Borderlands. Goodman Games updated several of those characters to 5E, but not Brandon or Evro. I have taken it upon myself to do these conversions.

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Category: Role Playing Games

Missing Characters from B1 – Brandon

Posted on May 7, 2018  in Role Playing Games

The original Brandon from B1
Brandon (Fighter – Human)
Str 14, Int 8, Wis 11, Con 13, Dex 9, Cha 12


Brandon
Male Human Fighter 1
Medium humanoid, chaotic good


Armor Class 19
Hit Points 12 (1d10+2)
Speed 30 ft.


STR 16 (+3), DEX 11 (+0), CON 15 (+2), INT 9 (-1), WIS 13 (+1), CHA 14 (+2)


Saving Throws Str +5, Con +4
Skills Animal Handling +3, Athletics +5, Intimidation +4, Survival +3
Senses Passive Perception 11
Languages Common, Orc
Defensive Fighting Style. +1 to AC when wearing Armor


Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +2 to hit, range 80 ft./320 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d8 piercing damage.

Longsword. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d8+3 slashing damage or 1d10+3 slashing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.

Unarmed Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 4 bludgeoning damage.

Equipment Chain mail, Light Crossbow, Longsword, Shield, Backpack, Bedroll, 57 gp

 

 

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Category: Role Playing Games

Missing Characters from B1 – Evro

Posted on May 7, 2018  in Role Playing Games

The original Evro from B1
Evro (Fighter – Elf)
Str 14, Int 13, Wis 7, Con 12, Dex 11, Cha 9


Evro
Male Wood Elf Fighter 1
Medium humanoid, chaotic good


Armor Class 18
Hit Points 11 (1d10+1)
Speed 35 ft.


STR 15 (+2), DEX 14 (+2), CON 13 (+1), INT 13 (+1), WIS 11 (+0), CHA 10 (+0)


Saving Throws Str +4, Con +3
Skills Animal Handling +2, Athletics +4, Insight +2, Perception +2, Survival +2
Senses Darkvision 60 ft., Passive Perception 12
Languages Common, Elvish, Orc
Two Weapon Fighting Style. When you engage in two-weapon fighting, you can add your ability modifier to the damage of the second attack.


Light Crossbow. Ranged Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, range 80 ft./320 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d8+2 piercing damage.

Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d6+2 slashing damage.

Scimitar. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target.
Hit: 1d6+2 slashing damage.

Unarmed Strike. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature.
Hit: 3 bludgeoning damage.

Equipment Chain mail, Light Crossbow, Scimitar, Scimitar, Backpack, Bedroll, 64 gp

 

 

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