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The Saving Throw
Fantasy Craft 10.16.2009
Saving Throw's review of Fantasy Craft

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Fantasy Craft
published by Crafty Games reviewed by Martin Drury
402 pages, 2009, $49.95
Content 4.5
Organization 4
Consistency 4
Intelligibility 4
Overall
4
Great
Review Scoring

   Crafty Games' Fantasy Craft offers a little bit for every gamer, and a lot for some. If ever the term "a la carte gaming" applied to any source book, it applies to this one. While only containing seven chapters, Fantasy Craft takes everything you know about d20 gaming and shakes it until every little piece has been thoroughly separated. Better yet, imagine giving a two year-old a 1000 thousand piece puzzle, fully assembled, and waiting 15 minutes. This might seem like a recipe for disaster, but by the time Crafty Games' designers have stitched everything back together, the result is something akin to a mad genius' ultimate creation.

When it comes to the heroes of the game, Fantasy Craft gives players multiple options, and true to the concept of "a la carte gaming", allows picking and choosing of origin, talents, specialties, career level, class, skills, feats, interests and gear. These basics will be mostly familiar to d20 players. The character's origin is a combination of their species (race) and specialty. Fantasy Craft features 12 species, from the usual suspects (humans, dwarf, and elf) to the more exotic (drake, giant, goblin ogre, orc, pech, rootwalker, saurian, and unborn). Several splinter races are available as well, and made accessible through Splinter Race Feats. Some species also place limitations on talents, skills and feats that can be taken, and the human species gets racial attribute adjustments based on the talent they take. Talents can also modify the number of action dice, number of interests, appearance, and numerous other character options.

By choosing a specialty, characters can gain bonus feats, bonuses to defense, ability scores, movement speed, skill checks, and even hints from the Game Master. There are 36 specialties in all, and they share there names with what one would think of as classic classes (such as fighter, druid, cleric, and wizard for example) or occupations (miner, artisan, and physician for example). Fantasy Craft revamps the standard experience chart, and also grants more and larger action dice with increased career levels and bonus proficiencies and interests along with the standard ability increases and feats. Unlike other systems, Fantasy Craft requires a career level of fifth or higher for expert classes and tenth or higher for master classes.

Fantasy Craft provides a wide variety of classes, from the Assassin to the Courtier; and the Captain to the Mage. Prestige classes are divided into two sub-groups; the Expert classes (Alchemist, Beastmaster, Edgemaster, Paladin, Rune Knight, and Swashbuckler), and the Master classes. The core Fantasy Craft does not contain any of the Master classes, which is disappointing.

With all the changes that Fantasy Craft presents to d20 characters, it's not surprising that it does not stop there. Nearly every aspect of d20 gaming has been turned on its head. For some gamers, this will be a welcome surprise that can spice up gaming sessions that have become dull, while others will be turned off by the amount of changes, which range from minor name changes to wholesale restructuring. Still others will find that they will like to incorporate some of the new mechanics.

Fantasy Craft's one major drawback is the sheer amount of changes and "packaged" game mechanics, especially in the area of character creation. However, the game system seems well balanced, and these large scale changes are sure to appeal to the players and Game Masters who feel d20/3.5 gaming has grown stale, but who are not quite ready to give up on it. The final ruling on Fantasy Craft can not be made until a few more products are released in the line, but this core rulebook certainly gets the series off on the right foot.



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