If You Build It… – Book Review of Fantasy Craft

When I talked to the guys at Crafty Games at GenCon last year about their current and upcoming offerings, I got a chance to get a copy of Fantasy Craft, their d20-based fantasy RPG. I honestly didn’t think a whole lot about it. The thought of another d20-based fantasy RPG sort of just flitted into my brain and then right back out of it. What it should have done is raise all kinds of questions for me, questions that would have driven me to get to this review far sooner than I otherwise would have. What ended up happening is that I didn’t get a chance to read my copy of Fantasy Craft until recently. When I did, all of those questions came crashing down and flooded my brain.

Once I opened the DPF, the question that came pounding through my mind, more so than any other was this: Why? Why, in the name of all things holy, would a company release a d20-based Fantasy RPG into a market that has both Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder dominating that market. Why?

As I read the book, that question kept popping up. I tried, but I couldn’t stop it. Every choice that Crafty Games made, from the really non-standard-seeming races, to the classes where you customize nearly everything about your character to the spells, all of it had me asking: why?

It took me a while to come up with an answer to that question. In fact, after I read the book, I had to let things sit and percolate, let that resounding why bang around my brain for a while before it finally clicked for me.

Why? Because sometimes, what is printed in the book is just simply not enough.

If you’ve played a d20-based fantasy game before, you’ve likely met the kinds of players what would love Fantasy Craft. They’re the players who always wanted to play a creature out of a Monster Manual or Bestiary instead of a core race. They’re the players who devoured every optional rule that could be found, re-mixing and creating new combinations of classes. They’re the players who only carried around two books when they ran games: the DMG and Unearthed Arcana. And even then, they had stacks and stacks of notes on the new races and classes that they were making.

Why? Because there are people who want the game their way, no matter what.

Fantasy Craft takes everything that you might be familiar with from D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder and turns the customization up to Eleven. Hell, they go beyond Eleven. As I read through the book, I didn’t see a single piece of the game, from races to classes to feats to skills, to spells to monsters that couldn’t be re-worked, tweaked or re-designed to fit the needs and desires of any group or GM. While it doesn’t delve into the number-crunching craziness that something like Mutants & Masterminds does, it still will let you put together nearly any kind of fantasy character that you can think of, without resorting to nasty things like level adjustment or making brand new classes.

Is it for everyone? Hell no! In fact, I don’t see myself ever using it. If you don’t want all of the options available to you, then don’t get Fantasy Craft. It’ll be too confusing and you’ll find yourself wondering why they couldn’t have just made it simpler. If, however, you want to have that power, if, as a GM, you want to be able to whip up a new monster, stands and all, in a few minutes, if, as a player, you want to be able to make your character your way with no questions asked, and you want all of that to happen within the familiar framework of a d20 System, then this is definitely the book for you.

Pros: The holy-crap-you-can-do-anything-with-this-game feeling is built right in. No waiting.

Cons: See Pros.

Final Verdict: 4 out of 5 stars. Has everything you need to make your fantasy game exactly the way you want it. But, it’s definitely not for everyone.

[tags]reviews,rpg, rpgs, role playing games, fantasy craft[/tags]

One thought on “If You Build It… – Book Review of Fantasy Craft

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  1. I have been reading over Fantasycraft lately as well. And I feel much the same, there is so much interesting stuff there but I think I would rather steal the parts I like rather than recreate my campaign to use them. FC is a great toolbox if you like tinkering with D20.


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