As a note, my previous experiences with Green Ronin have been hit or miss. I love Mutants and Masterminds (both 1st and 2nd edition, hated 3rd edition), was middling on the A Song of Ice and Fire RPG, and their d20 offerings always felt half-completed to me. I bought fantasy on the strength of 2 principal factors: Price, and Size.
So let’s start there.
1.) Size and Production Quality.
Fantasy Age is only 144 pages. That’s not big at all. It’s in the standard RPG size format and hardback. Pages are in full color, and the layout is wonderfully easy to read. It’s logical, the stream of writing makes sense, and everything fits together. The pages aren’t thin, the book feels sturdy, and since it’s so light, I don’t get the impression it’ll break. 10/10
The cover is pretty, and evocative, and I like it. The interior art however, is too “generic fantasy” to really do anything for me. It’s not bad, just bland. Left me pretty cold. 3/10
There’s only rules in the 140ish pages (taking out the index/character sheet), so let’s get cracking.
The base mechanic is the same as the Dragon Age RPG (with some tweaks), and it worked there, and it works here. It’s simple, fast to play, and fun. So no worries there.
First up comes character creation, as it should. All the basic fantasy races are here. Not missin’ one. The idea of rolling for random racial traits is interesting to me. I like how it provides uniqueness, but it feels a little gimmicky in the long term.
The backgrounds after are interesting. They don’t provide a lot, but gives good roleplay and some small mechanical “benefit”, and handle the wealth idea of the game.
Classes. Again, pretty basic. Magic, Warrior, Rogue. The specializations are what set these classes apart. Each class has a lot here, and that gives a ton of options to a game. Not badly done.
Equipment. What you’d expect from a fantasy RPG. Interesting note, the game does have built in blackpowder weapons, which reminded me of the AD&D 2e players book, and their inclusion of small amounts of firearms.
Magic. Here’s some interesting ideas. The idea of set spells at certain levels of proficiency is great. However, this section feels unfinished. There’s only a handful of “talents” and each talent only has 4 spells. The talents feel a bit randomly selected, to ensure anyone can play anything, but some obvious ones are missing. This section felt the most lacking to me.
4.) Game Master Section.
Shoot me now. Another generic regurgitation of “what type of GMs are there” and “what types of players are there”. As if a simple google search won’t turn up a thousand articles rehashing the same tired idea. The basic idea of the section is obligatory to any RPG, and frankly, kinda…poorly done in comparison. Maybe I’m just tired of seeing this same thing. I’m sure it’s beneficial to some people, but I can’t imagine who picked up a game called Fantasy Age and didn’t already know a bit about RPGs*. 1/10
*EDIT: I should clarify I guess. The rest of the game master section (particularly the discussion of how to handle settings for a generic ruleset) is actually pretty well done and useful. I’ll modify the score, cuz I really did like those parts.
*FURTHER EDIT: It was pointed out to me that a lot of Titansgrave fans probaby are picking up this book based on the Tabletop show of the same name. In context of this, this section is probably pretty important in this book of all books. There’s probably a new wealth of RPG players who deserve a quality education on this, and I shouldn’t have been so dismissive of this particular section. Forgive this reviewer, and take that for what it’s worth. I have never seen the show, and I didn’t pick up Titansgrave, so it slipped my mind in the review.
5.) Pre-Made Adventure
The premade adventure is pretty generic and really uninspiring. Not much to say here. 1/10
Final Thoughts and Score:
Unmodified Score: 25/50 (50%? Not great)
Modified Score: Regardless of any issues I proclaim above, I really like this game. Parts of it aren’t for me (which you can say about any RPG). Does this game pass the simple “Would I run this?” test? Yes it does. I would absolutely run this system and game.
Final Thoughts: I like the potential here a lot (hence my modified score above). It’s solid, well thought out in most aspects, and works great for me. It needs a book about customization and creating your own content, and perhaps a book with additional options for characters/players (More magic, less generic races, some extra specializations would be great), but overall, I say that if you’re looking for a generic RPG system, and you prefer heroic, cinematic action, this is definitely the game for you.