So, going into a journaling kick, I’m gonna play the Fantasy Trip solo engine. Now, I looked at the gaming system based off this engine and sufficed to say, I’m kinda interested. Now, I’m using the “In the Labyrinth” rule set, which expands a lot on the Fantasy Trip game.
Creating a character for this seems pretty straight forward. I have three stats, Strength, Dexterity, and IQ, to which I can spend eight points to increase. Going with a human Jack of All Trades with a 10 Strength, 10 Dexterity, and 11 IQ.
Each stat has different purposes, but if you’re familiar with OSR-style games, they’re pretty easy to understand. Strength (ST) is your health, spell slot, encumberment, and fortitude. Dexterity (DX) is your initiative, attack bonus, and reflex. IQ is your perception and willpower. However, IQ has something different, which is why I gave the remaining point to IQ. Effectively, they determine the feats and spells you acquire.
It’s a long story, but the point is that I have 11 IQ points to spend on any talent that isn’t higher than 11 IQ. Now, if seeing the ST, DX, and IQ acronyms make you think of GURPS, don’t worry. It’s not a coincidence. This system was made by Steve Jackson Games, who would later go on to make GURPS. One can even consider this the prototype of GURPS or even GURPS liter than lite.
This gives me some confidence in playing this game, as a gripe I had with some OSR games is that you don’t have any sort of choice in creating your character.
For the Talents, I’m selecting the following:
- Naturalist (2)
- Woodsman (1)
- Climber (1)
- Guns (2)
- Swimming (1)
- Diving (1)
- Acute Hearing (3)
So the scenario is that my character is a woodsman who is minding his own business out in the woods when suddenly he finds a goblin being picked on by some humans.
The rule of combat is to roll underneath the dexterity with three… dice…
Here we go again.
Now, granted, I don’t see this being as crazy as Cactus Solo since there’s more control on the points, the fact that it’s the same “roll under this number with three dice” had me knee jerk. So, trying to figure out the system, my character tries to fire a gun at one of the two guys. I managed to score a hit and deal enough damage to put the guy down. The Goblin, meanwhile, casts a magical fist to beat up the other guy.
Eventually, it becomes a game of who can roll under 8 the fastest which is a near 26% chance of happening.
So, it’s back to the Fray of Ursa Minor. We’re taking my strength of 10 as the Actor’s potency and the remaining human’s strength of 8 as the Target potency.
So we fail to beat up the human, but…
[Q: Does the human get scared from the gun? A: 8, Yes]
He runs off. And I gotta say, I really like how diverse the results are for this oracle. Whereas most would give you a yes or no, with a little bit of and, but, or somewhere in between, this goes for full monte and gives you about 8 different possibilities, all evenly spread out.
The Goblin gives thanks and informs the Voyager that he was trying to reach the Goblin Queen to hand over knowledge regarding an oncoming invasion and that he wouldn’t mind if he tagged along as a bodyguard. Given how this is a quest, I say “sure” and go with him. The two gain a hundred XP and we go onto the next scene, where I will roll the 3d6. If two of them are the same, I end up doing the Interesting pile, but if there’s three, I will do both that and a plot point from Adventure Crafter.
[Roll: 3, 6, 6]
Random Event time.
[Roll: 15, NPC becomes central to main thread]
I’m guessing this is the Goblin, so we move on. The duo come across a chasm that they need to cross. There’s no bridges and they must make a jump. However, since the woodsman is skilled at climbing, what he could do is set up a means to rappel from one side of the chasm over to the other, or at the very least go down to the river, swim across, then climb on the other side.
This will require a bit of skill for this. I don’t know what the skill roll will be, but I’m going to roll 3d6 and subtract 3 based off how many skills I used.
So, my character made it across.
[Q: Did he help Gobby across to? Minor Advantage. A: 6]
Yes, and they managed to do it in less than an hour, which means they don’t need to worry about the sun setting and needing to rest for the night for at least a few more scenes. So, that scene’s done, onto the next one.
[Roll: 4, 6, 4]
[Roll: 12, Something bad happens to an NPC.]
Oh boy… So, along the journey, Gobby ends up falling down a pit trap and ends up in a large, underground labyrinth (the main adventure system I’m using is called In The Labyrinth, so…) and the woodsman has to go down and save him.
Of course, I roll up an encounter with a humanoid whose entire attribute makeup totals to 50 points. For those who don’t get why or how this is a big deal, my character starts off with points totalling to only 32. However, with Gobby, the total is 64. So maybe we can take him on.
Now, I want to ask this… How does the “hit the DX” system work? If you need to roll under the opponent’s DX, then wouldn’t an optimal strategy be to not increase your DX, since 8 is a hard number to get with 3 dice? I can see why we have the more simplistic Armor Class in comparison, but how do people manage to do this? I had to watch a video of how the guys fight and it’s actually slightly better than how I imagined it.
Think the idea is to roll under your DX, which is good. The fact that you can buff your DX to over 18 (the max with 3d6) means you can always hit, but the opponent might come back with some armor or a tanky body. This has a leg up in comparison to Cactus Solo where the highest stat for your “roll to hit” category is 10. With this in mind, I restart combat and try to give this melee contest the justice it deserves.
Unfortunately, even with the explanation in mind, it feels more like a “he hits me, I hit him” sort of deal regarding combat. Thankfully, I have some Options that the game offers to try and spice up combat. For one, I can shift the facing of the characters as the game uses a hex-based map system rather than the usually square-based or even theater of the mind.
So, the fight plays out like so. The woodsman sidestepped and unloaded his gun on the guy. The brute survives by the skin of his teeth and nearly killed the woodsman were it not for the Goblin casting speed spells on both parties, giving the woodsman the much-needed advantage to sneak around and drop the brute. The duo gains 160 experience for that fight.
The two spend their time resting up and patching up their wounds before heading forwards in the Labyrinth.
[Roll: 1, 1, 3]
And another event.
[Event: 10, Something good happens to a PC.]
The group noticed the dead brute had treasure on him.
Six coper pieces… Not much, but it’s the least they can do. Once they are patched up, the duo explore the rest of the Labyrinth. Unfortunately, before they could escape, they got a poison bomb affect them heavily. They’re fine, but for the most part, their rest was for naught.
[Roll: 1, 3, 5]
So no event happens as the group escapes the labyrinth. Along the way, the duo come across a person who the Universal NPC Emulator will interpret:
- Modifier: 31, meek
- Noun: 63, civilian
- Motivation: 31 & 27, guard family.
Oh hey, it’s Gary from Sword Art Online Abridged!
- Mood: 32, Neutral.
- Bearing: 3 & 1, Alliance
- Focus: 30, skills
Gary notices I’m a woodsman and asks for some wood to be cut down. I agree so long as I get some pay for it.
[Q: Does he have gold coins on him? Odds: Slightly Disadvantaged. A: 16]
No, and he only has copper pieces. Hmmm… Very well, but he should provide a place for us to sleep while I get to chopping.
[Roll: 2, 3, 1]
No random event and it’s a pretty nice, lengthy rest for our heroes.
[Q: Does the villager get a little antsy with the goblin? Odds: Slightly Advantaged. A: 13]
No, he isn’t. So we chill and then depart next scene.
[Roll: 6, 5, 1]
Afterwards, we finally reach the Goblin Queen, who rewards my character handsomely. Roughly 100 gold pieces might be good. Now, the ultimate question is whether or not I’ll stay to help the Goblins out with the invasion.
[Q: Would they allow my presence? Odds: Advantaged. A: 4]
Yes, and interestingly…
[Roll: 17, Some form of combat begins. This should happen immediately. Make it interesting.]
So, combat has begun, but given how this is a huge Yavin IV style battle, I decided to put it to the Fray once again. I’ll ascertain the number of armies.
- Human Armies (Actor): 11
- Goblin Armies (Target): 17
- Fray Roll: 5
The group fumbles and we roll an incident (we technically should have rolled one back with the other Fray fail).
[Roll: Both 6s]
It’s heavily implied that with the Woodsman setting up traps and Gobby casting spells, the two were able to turn the tide, defeat the raiders, and the Woodsman is rewarded handsomely before he returns to his village.
And that was the Fantasy Trip. Personally, I liked some of the little quirks this game had such as the IQ being what you would need to buy skills and how the magic system works (I never went too much into detail but basically using magic drains your health), but combat was rather tricky. Once I got the hang of it, though, combat almost felt cinematic. This was a pretty good game once you get used to it and I highly recommend it, especially after realizing they have remade it for modern audiences.
The Engine itself is also good. It has a scene generator if you don’t have any ideas how to kick off a story or need to know where to go next, the Oracle is pretty unique in how it does its Yes/No system, and even the Interesting Table, perhaps echoing the CRGE system, has a unique plot twist for each number you can roll from 3d6. All in all, it’s a really good system to use and I recommend you guys try both this and the Fantasy Trip out.
Bon Voyage, Gamers!