Fantasy World is a game that focuses on dramatic fantasy adventuring.
Dramatic fantasy is not about soap opera melodrama among teen wizards, although this could be a lot of fun, please someone make this game!
Dramatic fantasy is about the very personal conflicts, internal and external, that turn a bunch of murder-hobos into a group of heroes. It's about the consequences of their actions, and how they affect both the Protagonists and the world around them. It's about the tough choices and ppersonalersonal sacrifices and joys and sorrows and scars and hopes driving the Protagonists through their adventures. It's about the things that make you care for what happens.
When you don't care, something as epic as saving a kingdom could feel like a trivial and bothersome chore. When you do care, something as trivial as keeping a promise to a random village kid can feel epic and fulfilling. What this game's rules do is help you and your friends inject this level of meaning and engagement in whatever kind of adventure you end up playing.
If you already know everything about everything and can't be bothered to wait and follow the book's pace then here is a compressed summary of the key elements at the core of this game...
- dramatic fantasy adventuring = think about the mature/serious (ish) tone of Game of Thrones ... you play people
- your Fellowship = why and how the protagonists stick together
- your Violence = the costs and consequences of its use
- your Protagonism = how the emerging story is about the PCs personal Issues and Doubts
No matter how you personalise the setting, these things will always be true...
- Magic exists
- Gods are silent
- Cities are rare
- Travel is perilous
The common moves that everyone can perform are split like so...
- Action = Take a Risk / Interfere / Sway
- Info = Look Around / Read a Person / Recall Lore
- Violence = Brawl / Threaten
- Adventuring = Journey / Long Rest / Restock
- Special = Last Breath / End of Session
The playable Fellowships are...
- Mouse Guards - local defenders and agents of the law.
- Blades in the Dark - local scoundrels and rogues.
- Pathfinders - travelling heroes on a great quest.
- Torchbearers - travelling mercenaries and treasure hunters.
The playable Classes are...
- Knight - A bastion of virtue, bestowing guidance, judgement and retribution upon an imperfect world.
- Minstrel - A wAnderer and a wOnderer, shaping the world with their art and wiles.
- Occultist - A practitioner of arcane arts, keeper of forgotten knowledge and wielder of sorcerous powers.
- Priest - A worker of miracles, wielding the power of religious faith and fervor.
- Scoundrel - A criminal by trade and an adventurer by vocation: resourceful, connected, dangerous.
- Wildcaller - A child of the land, linked inextricably to its elements and spirits.
- Warrior - A battle veteran, bearing the wisdom earned in the face of Death and adversity.
- Wayfarer - A true explorer, using their insight into plant and beast to journey through wilds and cities alike.
Is This For You? Yes!
Fantasy World is a tabletop roleplaying game in the PbtA family.
If you're wondering what an RPG even is, worry not! I will explain all you need to know to go from zero to expert in the easiest way possible.
If you are a veteran roleplayer but are new to the ways of PbtA games, you're going to be fine too. I'll show you the lay of the land, the WHYs and HOWs, and all the juicy bits this kind of system has to offer.
And if you are well versed in many different PbtA systems, I hope to pique your interest too. Fantasy World tosses out the window a few things that are considered standard (or even trending) in many PbtA games, turns unspoken guidelines into explicit procedures, and adds some original mechanics into the mix.
Your First PbtA
Deep & Rich
But, Why Fantasy World?
Most Powered by the Apocalypse games shine because of some amazing idea that sits at their core. But too often they also end up prioritising style and novelty over clarity and practicality.
A common result is that the rule-book alone is not enough to learn how to properly play, requiring previous expertise in PbtA systems to fully understand the game's inner workings.
Another common problem is the lack of clarity in how some mechanics work, leading to the need for on-the-fly negotiation and interpretation of things that should instead be unequivocal and straightforward. Moves are very susceptible to this.
This state of affair prompted me to write a game that starts from a simple and familiar idea, ye olde fantasy adventure, and then focuses on being as user friendly and pragmatic as possible.
I put together this website to offer free and easy access to the full Fantasy World rules. My hope is for them to help people better understand other PbtA games too, how they are different, how they are similar, how they are brilliant and, sometimes, how they bump into problems. And to present a few ideas of my own, to try and push the envelope a bit further.
It might not be a veritable PbtA Next... but that's the general direction I'm aiming for.
( ... and if you enjoy, please support! ^_^ )
So... what is this game?
Fantasy World is a game of narrative action, adventure and exploration set in a fantastical world of your own devising.
It requires the presence of three to five participants.
One participant plays the role of World, while all others take on the role of Players. Both World and Players will act in the game through the lens of fictional characters specifically created for the purpose, referred in this text as Non Protagonist Characters (NPCs) used by the World and as Protagonist Characters (PCs) used by the Players.
In Fantasy World there are no winners or losers, as the aim of the game is to experience together an engaging story of adventure. Characters may fail or succeed, die or prosper. No matter what befalls them, you "win" if the ensuing story moves and entertains the people playing at the table.
To play you need to know these rules and to have a few items ready at hand:
- at least two six sided dice (2d6)
- some paper and pencils and erasers
- a printout of the Common Moves sheet (but one for each participant is better)
- a printout of the World Summary sheet
- a printout of the Class sheets each Player is going to use
- some snacks and beverages
You can find the files in the Downloads page.
(snacks not included in the downloads)
Ye Olde Introduction
World & Protagonist roles
The Act of Playing
What you do at the table could be summarised as a conversation.
You and the other participants go back and forth, talking about your fictional characters immersed in some fictional situation, describing what they do, what they say, how they feel, how it all looks like. Sometimes you talk over each other and interrupt one another, sometimes you wait for your turn to speak and allow space for others to express themselves, and in all cases you listen and build on each others’ ideas.
This conversation becomes a game when you add rules to influence it. The rules define who can say something, when they can say it, and how it can be said. They also inject uncertainty and risk into what you say, and ensure that important narrations have meaningful consequences.
World - There's a shut window on the west wall.
Player - I open it. Outside I see a tall mountain and...
World - Err... no wait... you can only say what your PC does and says and thinks and feels. I am the World and it’s up to me to say what your PC sees and hears and... what’s in the world, you know?
Player - Oh, ok then, what do I see out the window?
World - Well, there actually is a mountain, why not?. But it’s far in the distance, to the west. It is day and...
How Long it Takes to Play
Fantasy World has no definite end.
Usually you will play for one to three hours, which is a game session. Most likely you will have told an interesting and meaningful piece of a story, but not the whole of it. Thus you will keep building on it during future follow-up sessions. It is common to play one session every week, but many groups do it as often or as sparingly as they like and can.
Eventually you might reach the natural end of a story arc, or wrap up some loose ends and decide that this is where your adventure could end. This usually takes around ten sessions, and is called game campaign. Some campaigns could be shorter, others could take longer, some can even string together several story arcs.
Because of this, I strongly advise to gather participants with space in their lives for this kind of commitment. Playing super-short campaigns is possible, even ones that explore a complete story arc in the span of a single one-shot session, but this usually requires special arrangements to expedite things and special expertise on the part of the World to move things along faster than usual. This kind of play is meant more as a way to demo and showcase the game than to actually enjoy all it has to offer, as many features can only emerge over a longer time-span.