Saturday, May 14, 2011

Did Graham Bottley grant my wishes? Advanced Fighting Fantasy Review part 1

OK, I will post a review of Advanced Fighting on June the 6th, but I really want to get something out, so I will post thie bonus post too.  Enjoy!

Back in April, I published a wishlist with what I would like to see in the new Advanced Fighting Fantasy sourcebook.

In this post, I will look at what I wanted and comment on whether I am happy with the result based on the wishlist.  I will also include bonuses that I liked but didn't anticipate.

Priest rules

Priests are now completely different to wizards, and what is more they are just a strong.  Priests do not cast spells the way that wizards do but they are granted three powers by their gods which they can use once a day (they can use a power again if they spend a luck point, but then that's it for the day).  Magical healing is mostly down to the priest now.  In fact it is mentioned later in the book that wizard spells should not be used to restore stamina.

Priests also receive an ability depending on which god they worship, a higher social class and help from their religious network.  

Nonhuman rules

The nonhuman rules not only met my expectations but exceeded them.  My problem with the 1st edition rules was that being a nonhuman meant that you had to spend precious skill points on skills that you may not want.  2nd edition gives humans elves and dwarves the same choice for special skills with bonus skills for their race.  This means that every race gets a bonus and no penalties.  Sure, you may not care very much about having minor magic if you are an elf, but that does not take away points that you can spend on skills you do want.  

First edition Advanced Fighting Fantasy had rules for creating goblin, orc, troll and centaur heroes, but 2nd edition gives you rules to turn any race from Out of the Pit (or indeed one that you create) into a character.  This gives directors and players plenty of options for character creation.  The book gives you an example of a goblin and rhino-man player character.  

Armour rules

Graham has exceeded my expectations again by elegantly creating a good armour system and giving a use to the armour skill.  Heroes can wear armour but suffer a penalty if their skill + armour skill is lower than a certain value depending on their armour, which means that adventurers can't just buy and don a suit of full plate mail as soon as they grab their first haul.  Armour also means that wizards have to spend more magic points on spells.  

Armour does provide real damage reduction.  There is an armour table just like the weapons table from the old AFF.  If you are wearing armour and you are hit, you can roll a die to see how much damage it absorbs.  To balance this out (or to just speed up combat), some weapons deal more damage.  The preview showed us that a sword deals between 2-4 damage now rather than 1-3 as in the old rules.  

Making magical items rules

Gone is the confusing enchant item spell and as Graham said in a comment in this post there isn't much.  However, spellcasting heroes have a chance to become powerful archmages who can develop powerful rituals which can create enchanted items.

Minor magic rules

I made a list of minor magic spells that I considered too powerful on this post.  I am glad to see that the Hold it! spell has been completely removed and some of the other spells listed have been changed.  Stutter cannot affect any spellcasting whatsoever.  Inebriate allows a saving throw against luck (an if a monster does not have a luck score then they are allowed to use skill).  The effects of honesty and smudge have not been changed but they are not big offenders and since the rules state that any creature without a luck score can try to resist the spell with a skill roll, then they will not work all of the time.  Pucker has in fact been made stronger as the victim of the spell suffers a -2 penalty to social skills that rely on speech and spellcasting.  

The number of minor magic spells (known as cantrips) is also not determined by luck but by multiplying the number of points the hero has in minor magic by three.  This stops the hero starting off with a maximum of six cantrips (or nine if you are an elf).

Some cantrips have been made stronger in the sense that they can give penalties to certain skill rolls.  Since they are minor spells, they only work for certain skills, for one round and give a small  (-2 at most) penalty but that gives them more utility.  These cantrips are push, slip and pucker.  

Minor magic now provides a range of spells which all have uses rather than a few overpowered spells and lots of less useful ones.  

More about Khul and  the Old World

There is a little about the history of Titan, the character of each continent and some locations in Allansia, but it does not expand on the material from Titan.  However, as Graham said, there will be a Titan II.

Better treasure tables

The 1st edition rules had eleven magical items including two magical weapons.  Special items could be found on the roll of a 5-6 of humanoid creatures.  The tables have been greatly improved.  It is now impossible to find a random sword that gives you a +2 bonus to skill and the book states that if a certain object does not fit the campaign then you can ignore it.  

Instead, the book gives a large range of items that heroes can find including many weaker but still useful magical items.  I noticed that a lot of these items have been inspired by Fighting Fantasy solo gamebooks, giving a good chance to reminisce over objects such as the pocket myriad, rind of fire or blue candle.  These items sometimes have different effects to what they did in solo games, however, for the sake of game balance. (for example, the pocket myriad in this book does not provide a sword that increases you skill by four).  

Streamlining of skills

Skills are now very streamlined and the offending overpowerd skills mentioned in this post have either been removed (in the case of scouting, disarm and two weapon fighting), changed so that they do not have a game breaking impact on combat (dodge can be used to reduce damage like armour does but only if the hero has the swashbuckler talent and is not wearing armour - not increases in attack strength for them and strength does not affect combat but has much more use for movement, carrying and other actions) or other situations (leadership and con together can't be used to persuade anyone to do anything and world lore has been expanded to be more specific on what people can know to prevent people arguing that anything can come under world lore).

There are fewer skills but they all have a good use and no skill is a dead choice.

Wait, there's more...

The new Advanced Fighting Fantasy also includes things that I did not anticipate including a very easy to use, dungeon generator, tow pre made dungeons (one is the wishing well from Fighting Fantasy but with different creatures), combat options (Fighting Fantasy was in dire need of these as combat was just a comparison of attack strengths), three types of magic (wizardly which uses magic points, priestly which is uses powers that can be used once or twice a day and sorcery which uses the 3 letter codes from the Sorcery! series and uses stamina points), alternative rules and some expansion on the creatures from Out of the Pit.

The new Advanced Fighting Fantasy has really fixed the major problems from the old edition and provided plenty of options for character creation and development to make it a great RPG.

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