Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Fantasy Trip: Legends of the Ancient World


Like OD&D, The Fantasy Trip has benefitted from an interest in all things simple, flexible and elegant.

While The Fantasy Trip, being the books Melee, Wizard and In The Labyrinth, and the various adventures and advanced versions of those gamebooks, are out-of-print, and are now available only in the used-game market, The Fantasy Trip lives on under another name: Legends of the Ancient World, which is available as a free pdf from the Dark City Games website.

Legends of the Ancient World (LotAW) is a retro-clone of The Fantasy Trip. Its game mechanics are simple, and are almost identical to those employed by the original The Fantasy Trip game.

For example, there are only three stats in LotAW: Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. Each of those three stats begin at 8: you get an additional 8 points to spread between those three stats. Your Strength determines how much damage you can take, and how heavy of a weapon you can employ. Dexterity determines how likely you are to strike an opponent. Intelligence determines the potency of your spells, or the number of skills you may possess. Armor reduces the amount of damage you take.

LotAW truly is "rules-light": the rule-set fits onto a scant seven pages. I have printed the free rules, in booklet style, so that each player has their own copy. While this is a true retro-clone of The Fantasy Trip, there are several interesting additions to the game.

(1) LotAW uses a "plot-word" system to track your progress and modify encounters. For example, you may have an encounter. The results of the encounter will depend on whether you have a related "plot-word" for that encounter.

(2) LotAW has added a number of races that I don't recall being in the original game: Tigrans, Ursans, Caprians, Dwarggs, and Snake-men.

(3) LotAW has added a system of Karma and Wish points that allow players to modify their rolls or change the results of encounters. In addition, there are Curses that appear during play, that affect character rolls or ability scores.

This game is not for everyone. I personally find it a little too simple for a full-blown fantasy campaign, and am not a big fan of using Strength both as an ability measure, and also as your "wound" pool (in TFT and LofAW, wounds are marked off against your Strength). In addition, spell-casting is based on a points-system, with stronger spells requiring more fatigue points, and with spell fatigue also marked off against Strength.

On the other hand, if you are looking for a simple (and free) role-playing and/or fantasy game system, this may fit the bill. I play this game with my kids, and it is a good introduction to role-playing.

6 comments:

James said...

Thanks for the link. TFT was one of those games I heard about, but never had the chance to examine.

Robert Saint John said...

I often recommend LotAW (and the associated free adventures) as an introduction to solo gaming that's similar to roleplaying. I used to recommend it to anyone, but a few months back someone asked me for a good intro to D&D or D&D-like FRPG, and I was able to point them to the Swords & Wizardry Quickstart instead. The thing about LotAW (or TFT for that matter) is that it might set new players' expectations that all RPGs are played with counters/minis and maps. I'm all for that, but I think I'm in the minority these days.

I'm definitely a big fan of DCG's work. I've collected them all and just got the Savage Worlds versions of "Island of Lost Spells" and "Crown of Kings". These solo adventures are a boon to someone like me who still loves TFT, and I simply play them with TFT Melee and Wizard rules.

I'm not such a big fan of the LotAW or Time & Space rules themselves. I don't mind "light" at all, but I think they worked a little too hard to get too many rules onto too few pages (remember Metagaming's awful Dragons of Underearth? It's like that).

If anything I'd love to see them do one of their 32 page booklets and beef the LotAW system up, essentially a TFT-clone. OTOH, I'm sure the idea has occurred to George, and he would already have done it if he thought there was market for it. And between old copies of TFT, GURPS, and the TFT retro clone Warrior and Wizard, yet another option is probably unnecessary. I'd do it myself, but I'm more interested in taking the similar mechanics and "pulping them up".

Robert Saint John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A Paladin In Citadel said...

@James: TotAW also provides you with two free adventures, in addition to the free rules. Also, they have two other TFT clones, one for wild west adventures, and one for sci-fi adventures. If someone is looking for a light version of either of those genres, those free games are worth checking out.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

@RSJ: I am supportive of DCG, and their products, because I like the "lite" format (and not necessarily because I like the execution).

For complete role-playing, I too would recommend something akin to S&W. I like the counters in LotAW, it is a cheap substitute for minis. But I wish the counters were round, with an arrow pointing "front".

I only have The Dark Vale and Wolves on the Rhine. My FLGS is unable to copies of the others for me. I will have to go direct to DCG or buy the rest through their eBay store.

I hope they keep publishing their adventures. However, I would like to see them change the format slightly (I will be publishing my review of The Dark Vale shortly).

pepe cadena said...

I want to buy this book, but I have a big problem I do not have money, because I spend all the money in generic viagra because my grandpa needed it.