Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Dark Fantasy Basic - A Review

+Eric Diaz sent me a copy of his ruleset "Dark Basic Fantasy".  You can check out his blog here:
http://methodsetmadness.blogspot.ca/ pretty cool stuff!

Publisher blurb:
Dark Fantasy Basic is an old school roleplaying game (or adventure game) that pays homage to a beloved 80's game - which is stilll, for many fans, one of the most concise, clear and well-written RPGs ever published.

This book uses the same system as the world’s most popular RPGs – six abilities, classes, levels, etc. – and it is meant to be compatible with games from that era. Or any OSR game, really. It also has some modern influences, including all of the OSR and the most recent version of this game.

This is a complete game (from the player's side), with five classes (fighter, cleric, thief, magic-user and hopeless), skills, feats, weapons, etc. There are no races - all PCs are human or similar - but there are notes on how to create races for your games. There are 20 different spells but each one is flexible, meaning you can choose the spell level and some of the effects as you cast them.

The book ends with conversion notes for other OSR games. No matter what your favorite system is, we hope you find something useful for your games here!

My thoughts: 
Dark Fantasy Basic is a solid OSR ruleset.  From what I gather it grew out of playing OSR games, and is a compilation of house rules that worked well for Eric.  There are bits and pieces from new games & mechanics, shout outs to lotfp & DCC, some swinginess of b/x, all very cool and thought out.  There is a lot of flexibility in these rules.  

I should note that this is the player rules.  I'm guessing eventually there will be a monster book/GM guide and HOPEFULLY a few adventures to go with the rules.  Obviously though, because it's an OSR game, you can pretty much use any adventure/setting/monster without a lot of conversion. 

The first thing I thoroughly enjoyed was that the game is built around the premise of starting characters being at 3rd level (something I tend to do, well I start at 2nd), for the simple sake that lowly first level peons die.  A lot.  This is a smart idea, and something that can probably be easily modified if you wanted to start at 1st level.  

The usual 6 attributes make an appearance in the game, and like b/x it has the swinging abilities bonus where 18 is a +5, etc.  Which I dig.  There is a cool skill system with DC checks, everything based on the 6 main attributes.  The game isn't minimalist, just straight forward.  You can run it how you want.  

Included are character backgrounds, which I always like.  It places you in the world, gives you something to base your roleplay/character on.  

Yes there are feats, but they are similar to the fifth ed feats, so they don't really break the game.  For me its a "nah", but for another GM I'm sure they'd be cool with it.  The feats don't break the game and they are not overly complex mechanically.  One neat thing, if you are a character class other than a typical magic user/cleric you can still cast spells! But you must use a feat to do so.  Interesting. 

The spells system is pretty cool, casting spells requires a spell casting check.  All spell effects are based on spell level, not caster level.  For example, some spells cause “1d6 damage/level”. This
means a fifth level spell would cause 5d6 damage.  My guess is that you can technically case a fireball as a higher level spell if you want, provided you can make the spell check.  This has a sort of dcc/lotfp/5e kinda vibe to it.  Another thing I dig about the magic system, is that all the spells are useful, there's not a metric butt ton of them which is good (myself personally I kinda like a trimmed down list).  There are a few changes from the normal spells you find in most games.  Example "black tentacles (basic terrain hazard), purge (basically fix rotten/poisoned food), Resit elements (gain resistance to the effects of fire etc).  

I must say reading this, I really enjoy the humour, whether it's dark, or just a good giggle.  There's no point always being the glum author, where everything is dark.  Writing like that makes me want to move onto something else.  

Note on money, silver is the standard. 

The stock art that is used in this game is fantastic! and it totally sets the tone for it.  Great job finding all this stuff and cleaning it up.  

One thing that I really dig about this rule system is that it's 43 pages, and far more expansive than similar games where you only get the first couple of levels.  It's easy as heck to create monsters and adventures for this.  You could run fifth ed modules without much issue, as well as all OSR type modules.  

Will I play it? Honestly I'm not sure.  I started working on my own hack, and I've got a variety of rule systems that I'd like to try as well.  I think this game will fit right in with anyone who has had a taste of fifth ed and osr games, and wants something a bit more straight forward and less bloated than fifth.  I'd play this any day over playing fifth.  It crosses the bridge from old school to fifth (and other newer games).  The game includes adv/disadvantage and other familiar concepts.  There are enough spells to keep any magic user type happy!  The skill system is smart and doesn't really get in the way (same goes for the magic system).  If you are looking for an OSR type game, with some newer mechanics this is a great pick. 

I should also note that Eric has seven comics called "the displaced" up on OBS, they all look pretty cool.  Here are the links.

Issue #1
Issue #2
Issue #3
Issue #5
Issue #6
Issue #7