For the past two Mondays a group of has been getting together to play Fantsy Age set in +Rob Conley's Majestic Wilderlands. Dwayne, the GM, really likes the AGE system. He wanted to give it a run and see how it works. Cause just because it looks good don't mean it plays good.
I think it plays very well.
I rolled a character, ended up being a mage, human, poor, artist, but a charming fellow. I took my magic in healing and lightning. And the skills I took (or focuses) are in healing and lore. So I am sorta of a glorified band-aid. One of his quicks I gave him is he is always one inch taller than anyone standing next to him. One of the first questions he asks when meeting someone is, "How tall are you?"
Different character, different system, different campaign, same horrible dice rolls. I just don't get it. How I can roll so bad, in 2d6, 3d6 and d20 systems. Roll high or roll low. I will find a way to destroy what the average is supposed to be. Let's take the easiest (hey +Douglas Cole I'm doing number stuff, I know you like that), the average of 2d6 is 7. I did a calculation of a few of my sessions using Pits & Perils and discovered that in my realm of existence, 7 is not the average, it is actually 5.6. Now I m NOT a number dude, but I would say that is a signifcant difference.
And as for quantum number generators, don't believe the hype. Quantum has feelings, cause it hates me. I still remember the night in a d20 game I rolled 6 or 7 1s in a row. And that was just the 1s I rolled in that one part. There were lots of them sprinkled throughout.
Breathe, step away from the Quantumness. Find that happy place where there are no 1s on the dice. Somehow the dice bounce playfully upon the table and slowly spin and come to rest with a large 20 showing. I cheer. I point at the GM and laugh and then remember that I was rolling an ability check.
Back to my intended intent.
Age System, I love the combat. I enjoy that there is defense, what you roll against to hit someone and armor, the bits that keep you from bleeding out. In the AGE system these are two very different things which I like a lot.
Cobat is a blast. This is where the AGE system works the best for me. Stunts are the mechanic that sets the combat apart from other systems. Stunts occurs when a roll is successful and doubles are rolled on the three dice. The stunt die is a different color and if a stunt is earned, the number rolled on the stunt die is how many stunt ppoints you get. So you can knock your oppenent down, do extra damage, do another attack, order a pizza or a combination of things. The stunt mechanic shines in this area. In other areas, like magic, it is less effective because the stunts are mainly geared toward combat. There are also stunts for exploration and role-playing. I don't think they work. It seems forced. If I were running a game I would keep the stunts strictly in combat.
Magic system is a bit generic. I don't hate it, but can't say I am a big fan. You select from school that specialize in fire, water, healing, wood, pickles and cookies. There are four spells in each school. They are independent on one another. It's not like GURPS where the schools overlap and some requirements are in other schools. With AGE it is a tiered system, you get the first two spells when you are a novice in that school, you get the third spell when you are a journeyman and whan you reach master level you get the 4th.
The spells are balanced, they don't overpower the mage, but if you can roll well (see rant above) they can be very effective.
The system uses spell points instead of slots. Various things can happen to make a spell work or fail. Most spells have a target number, if you don't roll above that, you lose your mana points and you have the pleasure of nothing happening. I tested out this several times during our last session and yep, sucks not to hit the target number. Some spell you can plaw more points in to give it more power.
Then there are the skills and focuses. They are different and I still get confused of which is which. I get it for a while then I get distracted by a squirrel and I forget. Happens. Skills allow you to use or do things that others can't. Like the first aid skill (that is called something I can't pronounce), I can do a minor action and first aid someone during combat. You get a major and minor action for clarification. So I can first aid someone then cast Get Back You Evil Bastard in one round.
Following up on what I just wrote. A round is 15 seconds. So in the AGEsystem I can first aid someone while in combat and then attack if I want.... Am I the only one who thinks this is wrong? If I am then you are wrong and I am right. I think if I ran a game I wouldn't permit first aiding in combat. Being someone who has experience with first aid it just doesn't work in my mind.
Healing is always a big issue with me in games. Most games make it too easy for adventurers to heal everything and move on without a scratch. AGE does this also. Not a fan. They have a short and all night healing rate. I would cut the all night rate, take the short rest rate and make it the all night rate. I don't want sissy adventurers. And sissy healing systems encourage entitlement and laziness.
Every class has specializations, like I plan on becoming a Miracle Worker so that increases my healing ability. But I could choose to be a lore master or sword mage. They are add on abilities to help enhance your character. I don't see the need for these specializations, but I guess it helps me target my career track for being a mage. Again, these are teired, novice, journeyman and master levels.
Experience is the same for each class. 2000 will get everyone to 2nd level. AGE doesn't give experience points per monster, but has a system where the GM determines the difficulty of the encounter and assigns xp from there. I do like this set up.
I really have enjoyed the AGE system, there is a lot I like about it. I hope to run a few one off games soon. I just wish I could find the system where I could roll better.