Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Augury - Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource

Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource, by Jason “Flynn” Kemp, of Samardan Press Publication is a basic set of d20 rules that draws inspiration from the one of last products of the “3rd Edition Era” by Wizards of the Coast – the great Star Wars Saga Edition line.

I became a fan of the latest version of Star Wars d20 game and I had great hopes that D&D 4th Edition would follow a similar path. Since the release of the so called “Saga Edition”, I was excitedly waiting for a fantasy variant of the system and that’s exactly what Jason delivers with his Fantasy Concepts Campaign Resource (or FCCR).

FCCR follows the basic rules and ability scores of traditional d20 games, with the same feat/ability progression of D&D 3rd Edition. The difference here is that all player characters receive an universal modifier (half their total character level) to certain rolls and stats like save scores and trained skill checks.

Other rules (known from Star Wars Saga Edition) are: base classes with talent trees – special abilities similar to feats; save score values that are fixed, like AC in classic D&D, beginning at 10 (with Reflexes being used to resist melee and ranged attacks); every character in a combat round can execute 1 standard, 1 move and 1 swift action (a standard action can be traded for a move action; while both standard and move actions can be traded for swift actions); rules for Damage Thresholds and Penalty Levels (to simulate serious wounds, fatigue, poison and knockout effects); no iterative attacks, unless you buy certain feats.

FCCR also uses action points (gained per game session, not level). Instead of alignments, we have rules for allegiances, whose mechanical effects are left in charge of the GM (but the book does give some suggestions).

We have rules for humans, dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs and halflings (the principal difference here being the use of rerolls to simulate some racial benefits). FCCR has five classes, all very broad and customizable. The game actively encourages multiclass. The base classes are aristocrat, expert, mystic (with a talent for divine spellcasters), outlander, scholar (with a talent tree for your classic magic-user) and warrior.

The books has the classical group of feats found in the SRD and the fantasy equivalent of some feats from Star Wars Saga Edition. There are item creation feats, modeled by the item’s effect instead of the traditional categories. After that, we have a chapter for the talent paths. It’s here that we get the spellcasting rules for the mystic and the scholar (every spell level requires a feat, with the first one opening up 0 and 1st-level slots). A nice touch is given here in the form of racial paths (talents restricted to specific races).

Skills in FCCR are level-based, either you’re trained or you are not. New trained skills are gained through multiclass or feats. This greatly simplifies the game. There’s an option rule for ‘Competent Heroes’ where the universal level modifier is also added to untrained skill checks (a good call for ‘pulpish’ games).

In the equipment chapter we get the rules for weapons and armors (in FCCR they substitute your Reflex save score, unless the PC has access to special talents), including masterwork items.

In the combat chapter the main difference to other d20 games is that the BAB is also added to the character’s damage rolls. It’s a dramatic change to the game dynamics and I’m not sure if it works with rules like Damage Thresholds and Penalty Levels.  Just to clarify, Penalty Levels work a lot like the Condition Track from Star Wars.

Closing the book, there’re a chapter dedicated to environments and hazards, one to magic and  another to creatures. These last two don’t give complete descriptions of spells or monster, but offer simple guidelines to convert the traditional rules to FCCR.

Augury result: WEAL

FCCR, as its name lets clear, is a great resource for those who enjoyed Star Wars Saga Edition and desire to use it in their fantasy campaigns. This particular incarnation of the d20 rules is more streamlined and simple to use, especially at high levels. FCCR also is better suited for low magic settings or scenarios with a swashbuckling flavor.

The price of the physical book may be a little high for some, as we're talking of a 108-pages paperback with simple layout and no original art (remembering also that it is not a complete game). But there is a digital version available for half the price, which makes it an excellent deal.