AGE of High Adventure

I’ve been reading the Fantasy Age Basic Rulebook for the last week and I am really quite taken with it. It feels a lot like an expanded version of Barbarians of Lemuria in many ways, being somewhat more complex but using a very similar approach to how to design and run a game. Though the options for races, specializations, spells, and monsters are very generic, the rules and mechanics of the AGE system have really won me over. It’s a fantasy RPG like I would have done it myself, if I would attempt to create my own game. When someone in a forum thread pointed out that Fantasy Age is a game he’d run pretty much without houserules, I realized that this pretty much goes for me as well.

But to run a Sword & Sorcery game with Fantasy Age, there’s still a few tweaks I think work very well for it:

  • Normally in Fantasy Age, characters get training in a number of default weapon groups and that’s it. (Warriors get two additional groups later on.) For Sword & Sorcery I feel it’s entirely appropriate to allow rogues and even mages to become somewhat decent with bigger weapons. So when characters are able to take a new weapon group Focus for either the Accuracy or Fighting ability when gaining a new level, they can instead pick training for a new weapon group. All characters can get both training and the Focus for a weapon group this way (though obviously at different levels.
  • “Magic” weapons and armor of the Uncommon and Rare categories are not actually magic. They are simply made from superior materials and with advanced craftsmanship. Only items of the Legendary category are actually enchanted.
  • In a Bronze Age or Iron Age setting, the Black Powder, Dueling, and Lances weapon groups would not be available. In the Heavy Blades group, two-handed swords might be removed and the bastard sword replaced with a kopis or falcata.
  • When using experience points, the default way to award XP for an encounter is to judge how hard the player characters had to fight for their success. In a Sword & Sorcery campaign, the amount of XP can instead be based on how heroically, impressive, and flashy the players were fighting. This encourages the players to not play it safe but to constantly try to do things that are entertaining and impress the GM, even if they are reckless and foolhardy.
  • Since Sword & Sorcery characters generally have few possessions, are frequently broke, and there isn’t a lot of things to buy with money in Fantasy Age, you can easily run a campaign in which money plays no role at all. However, an exception can be made for unusually and extremely valuable treasures, such as a gold idol or a giant ruby. Since their monetary value has very little meaning to the players, you can still use this classic element of pulp adventures by rewarding them with experience points instead. Whenever the players manage to get their hands on such a special treasure and manage to sell it, award them 400 XP as if they had overcome a Hard (or Heroic) encounter. If they somehow lose it again before selling it, they get nothing. Finding such special treasures and successfully getting them to a town and sold can be thought of as an optional bonus objective that doesn’t have much to do with the main subject of the adventure. This encourages players to still look for valuable loot and break into well protected places to satisfy their greed, and also can make for great side-adventures if they somehow happen to lose one or having it stolen.

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