Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Review & Actual Play: Age of Arthur RPG (Fate 3.0), Pt 1

Writing: Paul Mitchener, Graham Spearing
Art: Jason Behnke
Map: Steff Worthington
Editor: Mitch Williams
Page Template: Steff Worthington
Layout: Paul Mitchener
Arthurian Timeline: Andy Sangar
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 291 (including Index)

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Both the most recent, and possibly the last game based on the Fate 3.0 rule-set, Age of Arthur is a bit of an oddity in the overall and ever-expanding Fate landscape. 

What makes it so odd, you may ask?

Firstly, as mentioned above, it is a game published this last year (2013) based on the Fate 3.0 system (Spirit of the Century, Diaspora, Dresden Files, Starblazer Adventures), in the same year that the newest in shiniest version, Fate Core was released to resounding success. 

Furthermore, it is from the very-small press UK-based Wordplay Games, whose only other published product to date is the eponymous game Wordplay - a dice-pool game not-so dissimilar to the Heroquest system - and a game that I happen to own, but that no one else I know has ever even heard of. 

In short:
  • It's an obscure game from an equally obscure small-press publisher 
  • It's based on a now obsolete version of the Fate RPG.
With that in mind, why should you be interested in playing Age of Arthur, a game with seemingly so much stacked against it?

The quick answer is: because of love. 

The authors clearly love the subject matter that they are writing about, and it shows in every page of this almost 300 page document. They love the legends of the Arthurian cycle, the poorly documented but evocative true history of sub-Roman Britain, and the tales of the rise of the place they call their home today: England (Englaland).

This love shows in the details shown in description of the people, places and things described in this half-forgotten and mythical world. And it shows in the care and research done to combine the Arthurian romances of the 12th and 13th centuries and beyond with the yet older Welsh traditions of King Arthur (or Artorios, per the book) and his band ; an apocryphal war-leader who fought against giants and other creatures of legend.
As you might have gleaned from my gushing above, I adore the setting for this little indie game. It's very much in my wheelhouse, having extensively researched post-Roman and pre-Norman Britain as well as the evolution of Arthurian myths myself over the past few years. 

But I think it's fair to say that even to the uninitiated the richness of the flavor and ideas found in this book should grab the imagination of even the most jaded fantasy gamer, as it goes to the source of European themed fantasy; back to the well from which the modern simulacrums draw ever upon. 

Starting this week, I plan to run a game using the world of Age of Arthur but powered by a modified version of Fate Core. As we progress, I should be posting more about the experiences of my group operating in this world, as well as some more details about the sourcebook itself.

***
Since this is a Words of Mike post, I know that you all expect to see a build. Well, who am I to let you down, then? ;-)

To start us out, here is my first build for Age of ArthurEirwen of the Summer Court:

Eirwen of the Summer Court (Fate Core)
  • Aspects
High Concept: Changeling orphan girl of the Summer & Winter Courts
Trouble: Fae mind, human heart
Other: The spirits of my ancestors call to me; Rhoald is ever at my side
Oaths: Y Ddraig Goch shall pay for what he did to my kin!
  • Skills
+4 Lore (Divination)
+3 Athletics, Lore (Fae Magic)
+2 Notice, Rapport, Will
+1 Empathy, Deceive, Fight, Stealth
  • Stunts
Beauty of Annwn: You can sub Fae Magic for Rapport when attempting to charm or seduce. As this is achieved via a magic talent, it can be resisted by skills that defend against magic.
Spirits of the Dead: Once per scene, you may call upon the spirits of your ancestors for aid. Spirits summoned in this fashion have skill points equal to your Divination. Summoning a spirit costs an action, and you must give up an action to give a spirit a command.
Forestwalk : The spirits of the forest ever guide you. Sub Fae Magic for Lore (Wilderness) to Overcome travel challenges whilst in a forest environment.
  • Refresh: 3
  • Physical Stress: OO
  • Mental Stress: OOO
Consequences:
  • Mild (2):
  • Moderate (4):
  • Severe (6):

Languages: Fae, Brythonic

Extras:
  • Fae-made dagger: Cost 1, Light, Can be thrown
  • Gladius: Cost 2, Standard, Ignore one grade of armour
  • Embroidered Robe: Cost 2
  • Basic Survival Equipment: Cost 1, Knife, cloak and means to make fire
***
Rhoald the Barghest (Major NPC)

  • Aspects
High Concept: Barghest of Unseelie Court
Trouble: Mortal flesh is so very, very tasty...
Other: Eirwen is the loveliest of all
  • Skills
+3 Fight
+2 Physique, Stealth
+1
Athletics, Notice, Lore (Fae Magics)
  • Stunts
Creature of Shadow: You gain +2 to Defend against detection when in darkness or shadow.
Ambush Predator: Gain +2 to Attack with Fight when you invoke an aspect representing the element of surprise.
Unnatural Vitality: You are treated as wearing Standard armor for damage-absorption purposes.
  • Physical Stress: OOO
  • Mental Stress: OO
Consequences:
  • Mild (2):
  • Moderate (4):
  • Severe (6):
Background


Eirwen is a child of of Britons, the inhabitants of the isle since ancient of days.

For generations her people lived under the threat and overlordship of the Great Red Dragon Y Ddraig Goch; a creature that demanded tribute in the form of virgin (human) flesh and treasure, until the Christian priest Padrig taught them that such sacrifices were wrong, to to trust in the protection of the God of the Cross.

But this new god proved impotent against the wroth of the dragon’s ire, and Eirwen’s people were destroyed, every man, woman and child; save young Eirwen, who fled for her life into the ancient forest that bordered her people’s home.

Taken in by the Seelie Court of Queen Titania, young Eirwen learned much of the magics of the Summer Fae, before being traded to the Winter Court of Queen Mab; who had taken a fancy to the bitter and scarred young girl.

Freed from the service of both courts due to the resolution of the treaty, Eirwen is now able to pursue her own destiny.

With her erstwhile companion Rhoald the Barghest at her side, she now searches for allies to achieve her greatest goal: to find the Great Red Dragon himself, and destroy him...no matter what the cost.

***