Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Some thoughts about using Fantasy AGE

I recently picked up the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook by Green Ronin Publishing. This new game takes the Adventure Game Engine (AGE) that was first developed for the Dragon Age RPG, and adapts it into a more generic fantasy rules set. This is the system that was used for Wil Wheaton's Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana web series, which I heartily recommend to anyone who wants to see what a RPG campaign is actually like in play. (Chapter 0 provides a good, if very brief, overview of the basic mechanics.) And if you want to play those adventures for yourself, or create your own set in the same world, the Titansgrave sourcebook is now available in game stores.

I'm not a videogamer, and I only rarely play SF games, so I'm less interested in Dragon Age or Titansgrave than I am in the AGE system itself. Green Ronin recently concluded a Kickstarter to produce a new edition of Blue Rose for AGE, and one of the promised rewards for their Freeport: The City of Adventure Kickstarter is a Fantasy AGE Freeport Companion. I bought the Basic Rulebook in order to learn more about the system while I wait for those two books to be produced.

The AGE system seems like just the right level of complexity to try out with my kids, who have been clamoring for more RPG time. They're 11 and 10 now, and been playing occasional games with us for a few years now. So far, we've tried D&D v.3.5, Earthdawn, and Pathfinder, because those are the systems that my wife and I know best. They've enjoyed all these games, and beg for more, but a simpler system would be a better match for their attention spans. Also, my kids haven't quite reached the point in their RPG careers of wanting to read the rulebook for themselves, but when they do, the Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook will be a more attractive choice. At a mere 80 pages for the Player's Guide chapters, it will be far less intimidating than, say, the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook.

The Blue Rose Kickstarter provided much of the impetus for me considering AGE as a new system to explore with the kids. I loved the original True20 edition, but the system and setting never caught on in my gaming group. However, the tropes of the setting--shining knights, magical animals, justice for the oppressed, etc.--line up very well with my children's tastes in literature and film. (To give just one example, they are huge fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, which could easily be reinterpreted as an all-rhydan Blue Rose setting.) I was considering the possibility of running a Blue Rose campaign for them even before this Kickstarter was announced, and now it seems almost a certainty that I will do so once the new book is available. Meanwhile, we can learn the basic Fantasy AGE system together. Preparing adventures should require less time with this system--which will be a big help with juggling my regular "adult" campaign with game time for the kids.

The Freeport Companion for AGE won't come out until after I conclude my current Freeport Pathfinder campaign. My next planned game will be a long-term campaign set in a completely different world, so I probably won't be running Freeport again for some time. When I do, it will probably be a one-shot using a different system--just for a change of pace--rather than a full-fledged campaign. I own the Fate Freeport Companion, so that system is one possibility. But if the Fantasy AGE Freeport Companion lives up to the high standards I expect of Green Ronin, then that system will be my first choice for the experiment.

For now, though, I've helped my kids create their first Fantasy AGE characters, and I will be running the Basic Rulebook's sample adventure for them (and a couple of my regular adult players) sometime soon. I will almost certainly post afterwards about how that went.

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