Sunday, December 27, 2009

Fantasy Craft Freeport: The PCs

One of the first activities that usually happens early in a RPG campaign is character creation. Today, I'll be offering a few insights regarding the player characters in my Freeport Fantasy Craft game.

Fantasy Craft has a species list that includes the standard D&D races and more, minus the half-species (though you can get some of that through species feats.) The PC species in the FC book are:

Pech (a single race that nets in both halflings and gnomes)
Saurians (essentially, lizard folk)
Unborn (golems and clockwork creatures)

I didn't spend too much time detailing limitations and special qualities for my game. I wasn't ready to introduce a bunch of blatantly non-human creatures into what amounts to (or at least starts as) a city based campaign. So I outlawed all large creature PC species in the book except for Fire Brave Ogres (ogres with the fire brave species feat, which gives them a shapechanging disguise ability, essentially Ogre Magi). This still leaves players a few choices that aren't quite the norm for D&D: Saurians and Unborn.

In Fantasy Craft, in addition to species, a starting character must choose a specialty and a starting class. Human also get a starting talent; this gives them a bit more variety. Species bonuses and talent bonuses are similar in function, but species bonuses tend to have more extremes in terms of both positives and drawbacks.

Four of my players were there for the initial character generation. The characters they made were:

Human Agile Fencer Assassin (going for Swashbuckler)
Human Unpredictable Adventurer Explorer (specializing in chance feats)
Elf Acrobat Priest (of Water deity, Healing path)
Elf Bard Courtier
To get those not familiar with Fantasy Craft on the same page here, the first character's species is Human, the talent is Agile, the specialty is Fencer, and the character's starting class is Assassin. Classes operate in fantasy class much as they do in other d20 games, providing abilities and modifiers as you advance. Species, talent, and specialty, on the other hand, provide a handful of starting abilities or modifiers that don't change with level (mostly), but they are significant enough that they help define the character.

Now those familiar with Fantasy Craft will note right off the bat that the elves have made some suboptimal choices. In fantasy craft, some races have iconic classes and specialties that make some choices better than others. The priest player actually knew this; this came as something of a surprise to the courtier player.

I pretty much decided to waive the iconic specialty penalty for the elves; I've always thought losing a feat over a specialty was a bit much. I think as far as this sort of thing goes, I prefer Pathfinder's "mild but positive" approach to encouraging certain choices. At any rate, though neither Acrobat or Bard were on the elf iconic specialty list, it seems reasonable that they could be in this campaign, so I retroactively house ruled them to the list.

Iconic Class, I was a little rougher on. The game penalizes characters who don't have at least as many levels in one of their iconic classes as they have other classes (but only some races have iconic classes). I halved the penalty as the player wasn't aware of it, at least until she reached 2nd level. That would give her the chance to take a level in one of the elf iconic classes (sage or scout) and bypass the penalty.

So what did she end up doing? Upon reaching 2nd level, she decided not to worry about it. Courtier suits the player's style, so she decided she'd rather stick with what she started out with. But in doing so, she's now starts each session with 2 fewer action dice (dice that can be used during the game to add to rolls and do other things.) I guess she'll have to make up for it with clever roleplaying!

At the time of this writing, the party has progressed to 5th level.

For the priest player, I offered a conversion of Prielghari, a multi-aspected "tree of life" figure presented in Green Ronin's d20 sourcebook Bow & Blade; the player took the water aspect of the five aspects/sects the deity offers (wind, water, fire, metal, and wood). The priest player elected to take levels in Keeper (a physician/craftman "skill monkey" class) to shake off the elf iconic race penalty. This will slow down acquisition of some of the better healing abilities, but gives the character a leg up when it comes to skill based challenges in the game.

The assassin player plays his character in a charming swashbuckler-like fashion, always trying to woo maidens given the chance. He is building his character up to enter the Swashbuckler expert class (which features abilities with flavorful titles like "All for One" and "Only mostly dead".)

He could have chosen to enter the Swashbuckler class upon reaching fifth level. However, he was intrigued by the fifth level assassin ability Sword Practice, that lets the character pick up a temporary melee feat by practicing for an hour. This adds a nice bit of flexibility and lets you "try before you buy" with feats!

The explorer and courtier players are content to play their characters as pure members of their classes. The Explorer player has chosen to max out his chance feats. Some feats in Fantasy Craft scale according to how many chance feats you have. Explorers can take chance feats as bonus feats, and the adventurer specialty starts with one as well: Adventurer's Luck. This feat has been a boon to the party so far: it doubles the amounts of treasure rolls you make when resolving randomized treasure!

The courtier player, as mentioned, is also playing a fairly focused member of her class. However, the player is intrigued by the prospects of taking the martial arts feat at 6th, which lets her use Charisma in place of strength and dexterity for many purposes in combat. I'm hoping there will be some good flavor to go with this, such as some elegant ancient elven martial style.


icosahedron said...

Are there no more sessions, or have you not yet updated the blog?

I'm intrigued by Fantasy Craft, but yours is the first blog I've seen with actual play. Most reviews are very favorable, but reviews aren't examples of play.

I hope there is more to this. The entries so far have been very helpful. I'm thinking of running (a portion of) the WLD with Fantasy Craft.

Banesfinger said...

I'm also interested in an update (if any).
I think FC and Freeport would make a great pairing.

CaesarSlaad said...

Wow, I totally missed that there were comments on this. Guess I need to tweak the updates settings.

Yep, I am still running the same game, but it is drawing to a close. I eventually ported the Serpent's Skull adventure path to FC and used it for this group; that the adventure featured Serpentfolk made it an easy segue from Freeport.