Farewell to Fear – Punk Rock Post-Fantasy

This week I’m going to be talking briefly about Farewell to Fear, a new fantasy RPG being developed by the Machine Age Productions.

If you haven’t been over to Kickstarter and checked out the RPGs in development, I highly suggest you do. Not only can you help a project get greenlit that you want to see in stores, the rewards/pledge level system means you can often get an advance copy. Plus, it’s always nice to see your name in print!This is the fifth game Machine Age have funded through Kickstarter, and their first fantasy production (disregarding reincarnating immortals in Amaranthine. This is high fantasy people!).

Farewell to Fear is set in the Eastern

Europe-inspired Arduise, where the same old fantasy tropes are under attack by revolutions of thinking. Playing as a one of a whole host of “archaeologists, historians, alchemists, monster hunters, priest hunters, musicians, detectives, politicians, sorcerers, exorcists, biologists, and cavaliers”, the characters take the lead in changing the world for the better.

I really like how the Wizards live in their own pocket dimension, and Jenna Fowler’s artwork is amazing. I like that the first line of the book talks about the extinction of the Elves (somewhere around six minutes in).

Farewell to Fear has been up on the site for about two weeks now, and has about two more weeks left before it finishes the funding round. At the time of writing, the pot is over $9500, more than twice the $4000 goal. Not long after they reached the funding goal (around two weeks ago), I fired off a few questions to David Hill about the game. Here’s what he had to say.

Benedict: What was the impetus that led to the game?

David: It was very much a response to the modern “dark fantasy” fad. I’ve grown more than tired of “Tolkien with more rape”. I’m tired of stories that focus on monarchs and other privileged people that are essentially supporting the status quo. This game is about revolution, activism, social justice, and it’s about the people that were the notable exceptions. People in roleplaying games tend to be exceptional; I’m just focusing on different exceptions.

B: The Kickstarter says “[The game] uses two dice, a d20 and another die (maybe a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, or another d20). The d20 establishes your solution, and the consequences for your action… The other die determines how well you execute the solution. If you have a good solution, but poor execution, you suffer consequences, but can come back later to try the same solution.” Can you explain a bit more how this will work in action, and how it relates to the character using the scientific method?

D: The whole point of F2F’s system is, you can stagger your rolls, and you’re incentivized to prepare. If you don’t prepare, you’re not likely to see great results for your actions. You can keep experimenting, leveraging risks, et cetera, until you’ve got the solution you want. Then, when you’re ready, you do what you want, and see how it works. This means fights without preparation will be particularly deadly.

(After checking up with David today, he had this to offer as well)

D: The

dice system has evolved quite a bit.
Now, there’s sort of two things that happen during the adventure.
1) You’ve got a pretty simple d20 action system that goes against a pool the Director makes. Usually, the Director will have 2-4 dice of various shapes and sizes, that establishes your difficulty for those actions.
2) As you do those things, you can manipulate a dice pool for the team called the Solution. That’s five dice representing parts of your enlightened/scientific approach to things. As you do stuff to establish that solution, you increase the sizes of those dice.
At the beginning of act 3, you toss your solution at the Status Quo. That’s a really big dice pool the Director has had throughout. Your dice will negate some of the Director’s. This makes the final confrontation with the problem much more manageable. Just like in revolution, you make baby steps until you’re ready to collapse the tower walls. Once those tower walls are down, the king doesn’t look so big.

B: Where did the idea for the wizard guild/keys come from?

D: I knew early on that I wanted my wizards separated from the main world. I wanted them on a very separated ivory tower. So I put them in another dimension. I’ve always liked the way keys look integrated with fashion, so they were a shoe-in when I was talking with my main artist, Jenna Fowler, on what they should look like. It’s a way our wizards will stand out.

B: What kind of recipes will we be seeing in Foie Gras to Fear? Are you raiding mediaeval cookbooks?

D: Actually, we’re leaning more toward modern things that could have been done with the technology of the time. For example, one of the recipes we’re batting around is a primitive, carbonated ginger beer. It uses basic chemistry, wrapped brilliantly with some monster biology, to give us something interesting and modern but within the scope of the narrative.

B: You clearly had Apocalypse World in mind when you were thinking about the design of the game, at least regarding the character playbook/character sheet idea. Is that where the leap to hacking the Apocalypse World rules came from? What about Pathfinder?

D: I definitely had Apocalypse World in mind. It was a huge inspiration on the presentation. Basically, the idea for the hack came from two places. First, the basic game system might not be for everyone. It’s a fun experiment on my part. So, I wanted to give people something accessible from the sort of indie games community that they could use instead. As well, I really just wanted to do a hack of Apocalypse World, and this gave me the opportunity.

Pathfinder’s sort of the opposite case. I’ve done some professional work for Pathfinder before. But the inclusion of Pathfinder rules is my attempt to branch out of our “indie bubble” a bit, and give people the possibility for a more traditional gaming experience. So maybe we’ll be able to preach to someone that isn’t part of the proverbial choir.

B: How has the project grown as the additional funding goals have been passed? One of your goals is an all-out warfare scenario between the four main cities. Will the revolution the players fight be warfare itself? Or a jingoism about their own city’s superiority?

D: The project’s grown tons since the funding goals passed. First off, we’ve signed on other artists. That’s a great thing for us. But we’re now talking about adding additional modules, and even growing the game past its core classes. Last night, we brainstormed twenty five base classes, instead of the normal ten. I might add these as a potential stretch goal.

B: You’ve talked about the additional goal if you reach the $6k mark, what other marks are you thinking of? $10k, $12k? $12k would be 3x the amount you originally hoped to gain, and you did that in 3 days. Is it unthinkable, given Gareth Skarka’s Far West’s Kickstarter almost reached 10x the funding goal? (Note – at time of writing this article, the total stands at over $9500, with 16 days left of potential funding).

D: I’ll be assessing the response to the first goal ($6,000). I have something I’m planning for $8,000, and something for $10,000. I’ve got to clear the logistics before I announce both, since they could have some pretty big financial implications if I promise them before I’m certain how realistic they are. I would love to hit the $10k range. I certainly don’t think $12k is out of the question. I don’t think our hook is quite as easy to grasp as something like Far West or Technoir, so I don’t expect to see a revolutionary success. But, over 10k would make me feel successful in what we’re doing.
(Some more from my update from David).

B: How has the project grown as the additional funding goals have been passed? One of your goals is an all-out warfare scenario between the four main cities. Will the revolution the players fight be warfare itself? Or a jingoism about their own city’s superiority?

D: The project’s grown tons since the funding goals passed. First off, we’ve signed on other artists. That’s a great thing for us. But we’re now talking about adding additional modules, and even growing the game past its core classes. Last night, we brainstormed twenty five base classes, instead of the normal ten. I might add these as a potential stretch goal.

I think for the total war scenario, we’ll have a mix of both those options. There will be some political maneuvering, but the appeal of the hack really comes from throwing our Farewell to Fear characters into that war environment. They might be active participants. They might be trying to avoid it. But either way, they need to be immersed for the campaign to work.

 


B: Where did you find Jenna Fowler? Can we expect more of her colour art for the setting to make an appearance anywhere, since the book is B&W?


D: Jenna is wonderful. We met her while playing in an online Vampire: The Requiem game, of all things. And we just hit it off. As far as her color work, I’m strongly debating having her do a full-page color piece for each chapter. While they’ll be B&W in the book, I might release them online and in the PDF in color, because she’s just that evocative of what we’re going for.

Backers are currently eligible for additional play modules, a supplement involving a travelling cook and real recipes, and soon a Kindle-formatted version of the game. You can even get yourself an antique key! There’s some great artwork already up there, as well as some more explanation of the game world. So get on over there, and take a look.

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