Miscellaneous Questions And Answers
Q) Much of Fantasia is clearly inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, but I'm curious about the adventures that influenced the style of Fantasia's adventures. Can you tell me what old modules you guys liked best?
A) Thus far, all of Fantasia's adventures have been written by one person, Matt deMille, but there are indeed a great many classic D&D and AD&D modules which indeed inspired him. They are (in no particular order): "Castle Amber", "Ravenloft", "Horror on the Hill", "The Lost City", "Tomb of Horrors", "Master of the Desert Nomads / The Temple of Death", "Palace of the Silver Princess", "Against the Cult of the Reptile God", and "The Temple of Elemental Evil".
Q) I just noticed that you have a
'thank you' to Gary E. Gygax in the front
A) We bow our heads in ultimate shame. Such a monstrous typo and we missed it! Well, it will be fixed in future print runs of the game (assuming there are future print runs, given that sin, for we may get run out of town by mobs of angry gamers!)
Q) How can this game have such an expansive product line and yet I've never seen or heard of it until now?
A) This game is a labor of love, a home game that was published due to local demand, and then it grew from there. As the game's creator, I find it very comforting that my games are not well known. Let me explain: These games are the result of decades spent enjoying this hobby. They have been conceptualized, developed and playtested for a long, long time, and as such they are written for a purpose other than making money. I began gaming in the early 1980s, when RPGs were still very much a fringe game. There were no game stores. You had to search to find even a few books. But this wasn't a frustration, rather, there was a very special feeling to that, kind of like a treasure hunt or a secret handshake, a secret society, a magical alternative to life that you were a part of and that few others knew about it. Regardless of society's preaching of the virtues of being open and honest, we as humans love to have our secrets that make us feel powerful. Walking into an obscure store to a secluded corner where the forbidden game was to be found always had a magical feel to it. It was like it was there just for me. I try to find the good in everything. Our games are selling, but sure, not as much as we want them to, so I will try to find the good in that, and it is this: I am proud that these games will be discovered, not promoted. That way they will become a special part of other gamers' lives, just as the early (and better) RPGs were to me.
Q) I don't like dungeon crawls. Can't there be less adventures made for Fantasia and more supplements?
A) Well, dungeon crawls are a good way to describe common modules. Have you tried playing a Fantasia dungeon Adventure? The way modules are still written is in a 1970s pre-video game format, as in, lots of empty corridors to present a singular, boring challenge. Fantasia's dungeons are not 'crawls', they're frickin' rollercoasters! The absence of maps and plotless encounters speeds things up a hundredfold, going from one dramatic Encounter to the next, rather than mindless hours mapping uneventful passages. The common 'module' or 'dungeon crawl' is comparable to a wax museum, while furthering that analogy, a Fantasia dungeon Adventure is like the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland (if you've been on it you know exactly what I mean), with plenty of opportunity for role-playing. The only reason Maps were made for Satan's Labyrinth is because it is the 'ultimate dungeon' and wouldn't have that classic D&D feel without them, plus with 1000 Encounters, there's puzzles, perils, self-generating story and thus opportunities for role-playing around every corner.
Q) I know it's not a question about the rules of your game, but given how often horses come into medieval game play, can you tell me what the names 'foal' and 'stallion' really mean? I'm sure my GM is wrong when he says they are the same damn thing.
A) A 'foal' is a newborn horse, and a 'stallion' is a male horse who has become a father. Other terms that may get misunderstood are: 'Sire' is another name for a stallion. 'Mare' is a horse who has become a mother, also known as a 'Dane'. 'Colt' is a male foal, 'filly' is a female foal, and a 'yearling' is a horse born before a specific calendar date (thus all the horses born after that date each year are 'yearlings' for the next year).
Q) Why does the Fantasia Core Rulebook waste pages covering the basics of being a GM, when zines such as 'Dragon' and 'KODT' cover them in greater depth throughout their issues with various articles and such?
A) The Fantasia game is designed to be completely independent in every way, and also to appeal to both veteran gamers and newcomers alike. Veterans will appreciate a brief recap of the fine art of being a GM, and thus brief it is kept, as an experienced GM will not need such advice, and may certainly apply ideas and innovations from other media and forums, as they are certainly applicable. But newcomers who may not be aware (yet) of other such avenues will need the basics of how to do this very difficult job.
Q) Where can I get good Character Sheets for my game?
A) All three forms of Record Sheets (Party, Character and Game Master) are provided in the Rulebook and are free to be photocopied, scanned, or reproduced in any way for use in your own game. However, if you can't quite get the book to lay straight or flat, the Sheets are available in PDF format: Party, Character and Game Master respectively, as well as in a JPEG format: Party, Character and Game Master respectively. These and other downloads are available here.
Q) Why does the Fantasia game go out of its way to make uses for the D30 which is, really, nothing more than a huge novelty dice?
A) We like there to be uses for seven dice, rather than six, as it is more magical. Plus, everything starts that way, and we're part of the creative process of making things (as opposed to the corporate process of deconstructing things). Why, the sacred D20 was once nothing more than a novelty dice. When D&D was being created in the late 60s and early 70s, the D20 was found in obscure gamestores in Britain and other places, but the dice had no real use, and was given life in the fledging RPG game form. Who is to say that D30 won't become commonplace one day, and everyone using the 'D30 System' will be asking questions as to why anyone would bother making use of the D46? It's funny how everybody finds no use in D30s, but everyone has a few in their dice bag anyway.
Q) In the Adventurer's Book (The Book of Journeys), you refer to the Duke of Valdale, when the realm seems ruled by the Duchess Bethany Snow. Who rules this land? A Duke or a Duchess?
A) Valdale is a land without a King or an overlord of any kind. Different cities and lands are ruled by Dukes and other Lords, such as Barons and Knights, and thus in their respective realms, they are the supreme rulers. As Valdale is largely wilderness littered with adventure sites, indeed as it is 'adventure country', few Lords or their subjects look outside their borders, and thus, within them, there is one 'supreme' ruler. Bethany Snow is the greatest ruler in Valmaunt, as her blood is stronger than that of the Duke, and so is she the supreme ruler there. Politics and monarchies in Fantasia are more true in spirit than they are in our world, indeed they are hardly political at all, and are based on virtue, so a woman can certainly surpass a man of equal title.
Q) Why are there no rules for laws, crime and punishment in the Fantasia world guide?
A) The Fantasia Adventurer's Guide (or 'The Book of Journeys'), the gazetteer for the setting, would indeed be the perfect publication for such rules, but the Fantasia game is designed for more optimistic, heartfelt, heroic Players and Characters. Sure, even those gamers with the best of intentions make clumsy mistakes or get enraged and go berserk, but any GM worth his salt can deal with such an incident through common sense and storytelling ability when the need arises. However, anything that's printed in a rulebook or sourcebook, by basic human psychology, tends to be seen as something that should be or even needs to be used, and so the inclusion of rules for punishing the Characters when they break the law would only encourage more villainous behavior.
Q) Why are there are so many misspellings in Fantasia products?
A) Proper? In what world? The consistency of these 'errors' should imply that they are not errors at all. These slight departures from our world add an element of cultural realism to the fantasy world while at the same time defying any authorities that would otherwise claim any ulterior influences in this product other than the blatant, defiant acts of snubbing the mundane world. So, we do what we really want? I prefer evolving language in our own, deliberate direction, with the added bonus of undermining the credibility of any who do not take the time to understand us. We live in the fantasy world and enjoy its freedom far more often than when we simply open our griamores and sing fifteen-line sonnets. Why not have some variety in fantasy language? Oh, I forgot, if that happened, then we wouldn't have to be sentenced to twelve years of school, and the teachers might actually have to find something useful to teach us. God forbid.
Q) In the 'Wilderlands' Supplement, why are desert regions given specific names while all other types of terrain are generic?
A) In the Known World of Fantasia, there is only one part of the world where there are any deserts at all, and that is the lands collectively known as 'the Great Waste'. After S1 was finished, Matt contemplated the idea of making many more Supplements for the wilderness and dungeon settings alike, but Supplements keyed to specific realms, such as a wilderness Supplement whose Chapters were divided amongst the Kingdoms of Vaxxland, Roland, etc, and thus whose Encounters and Playing Aids alike would help define each realm, with the Great Waste being moved into this particular Supplement, and generic 'wasteland' Encounters made up for the final part of S1. However, Matt stayed with his original vision for two reasons. One, the emphasis on deserts being restricted to the few (albeit large) realms described therein prevents any misconceptions in the future about there being other deserts elsewhere in the world, as Fantasia is a world of themes, not necessarily realities as we know them, and it's important that the rest of the world remain a temperate climate in design and theme. Second, additional Supplements made for specific Kingdoms and other realms is not necessarily a good idea, as their key Encounters may conflict with those carefully laid out in Adventures and Quests set in the same lands. A third reason that may also arise is that for a Supplement keyed to specific lands may cause one to see only those realms listed and forget about all others. This effect is what Matt does indeed want for the desert, but for the desert alone, indeed to forget even the notion of there even being other deserts to find. Future Supplements will elaborate on the game in other ways yet undreampt of.
Q) Why are Skills, Powers, spells and treasures sometimes spelled with capital letters and other times not?
A) All game functions are Capitalized in order to identify actual rules apart from descriptions. However, throughout the various adventure products, many character elements are sometimes referred to directly (hence their being capitalized) and other times they are referred to in general terms. For example, "If one is Skilled in Stealth . . ." will be saying outright to use the Stealth Skill, whereas "If one uses stealth to avoid . . ." is not saying that the Stealth Skill is the only means with which one can be successful, suggesting that he might employ other means (such an Elven cloak, Dwarven boots, or simple tactics not covered in the rules, such as walking on the dirt and avoiding dry leaves and branches, etc). In any event, if a Skill Check is called for, the term 'Skill Check' will be used. But powers, skills, spells and treasures are not limited to those found within the gamebooks themselves, indeed they are themselves general terminology (for instance, there may be five or six different incantations that fall under the statistic of a 'burning hands' spell), and so cannot be given such a definitive identification, and in order to serve as a reminder of imaginative opportunities they are at best referred to in 'single quotes'.
Q) Is it an oversight that some NPC Handouts have a higher Defense Score than they should?
A) Oversights are always possible, but in the case of NPC Handouts, it is more likely that any statistics that just don't seem to add up are the result of skills and powers that are not included in the text. In the matter of a high Defense Score, it is probably accounted for by the NPC's Experience Level, as Defense Score can indeed rise that way. I know it is confusing, that on some NPC Handouts all abilities are described, even those ones that are universal to the Character's race or Class, while on other Handouts they are assumed. This decision is made individually for each NPC, and is based on how much mystery and secrecy the story or the NPC himself prefers and thus forces the Players to look deeper. NPCs that intend to be very helpful will have all their statistics openly displayed, while more reserved Characters (or those reserved by storyline) will leave the Players and the GM to say "Hey, he's a such-and-such, shouldn't he have this Power as well? They all do!" A good example is an Elf and his natural ability of Spell Resistance. A rule of thumb is to trust to the numbers on an NPC Handout, as they are all carefully calculated, and they take into consideration everything about the Character, whether it is explained on the Handout or not. It may also be good to point out here that all statistics on an NPC Handout are presented as their maximum, such as a Defense Score having already taken into account the Character using the weapon he is most proficient with.
Q) Why do Dwarven runes seem to vary and are not clarified in the Adventurer's Book?
A) Dwarven runes are meant to be difficult. Dwarves made them that way. Indeed, Dwarven runes lead almost directly to their treasures and thus their hearts, and so they are well guarded secrets of these people. There are to date two completely different Dwarven alphabets found and reproduced in various Fantasia game products, though we may yet be entrusted with more as time goes on. But I can assure you that not only would that trust end, but also I may lose my head to some great axe, if I should print the English translations of these letters in a game sourcebook. Whereas the different alphabets of Elves are a source of great pride for the Immortals (being the first languages) and so are generously shared with others, both Dwarven AND Mystical runes remain a mystery. Trust that each alphabet's runes vary enough in style to be easily differentiated from one another, and that they only represent English characters of generalized pronunciation ('o' is the same as 'oe', etc). But if more rune-letters are found on future adventures, we should rejoice, and the only ones who need fear or be confused will be the writers who are unimaginative or lazy; I can hear it in the Board Room now: "Why should we pay someone a day's salary to make more runes? I mean, isn't one language enough? In fact, designing anything new is a waste of time! I want old artwork recycled for next quarter's supplement rulebooks, and while you're at it, make sure to use large fonts and space the text enough to make sure those books fit the 128-page format and appear thicker and more substantial (and more useful) than they are. And don't even suggest making new modules! They don't turn a large enough profit. This adventure game can do without new adventures! Meeting adjourned!"
Q) Why do the Fantasia adventure products use so much poetry?
A) Fantasia uses poetry, songs, riddles and rhymes of all kinds for two reasons. One is to pay tribute to J.R.R. Tolkien, who truly created the entire genre. The other is to create the feeling of myth and legend, for poetry was the way in which legends were told until only the more recent centuries. While other fantasies (and games especially) try to make merely a historical setting, Fantasia creates a historically accurate feeling, which is better, because we play the games for the thrill, the dream, indeed all things that enhance the mood. Adventures should not be all hack-and-slash. Not only does verse offer variety, but it helps encourage maturity that allows for much more delicious fantasy and greater role-playing.
Q) Why don't Adventures, Modules and similar products have any pictures in them?
A) There are many reasons for this. Originally, we wanted to release a solid line of supplemental products (adventure material) with the release of the game itself, as opposed to the usual market strategy of "Let's see if the game sells and then we'll think about producing modules". Well, the game may not sell if the players don't have any chance to use it. Indeed, they need adventures to use the rules! Even though we do not rush products, pictures became a logistical concern, both of time and money, to produce enough pictures to fill the pages. But then Matt deMille stepped in and brought up a long-standing problem (and wonder) about artwork in adventures, and that is, simply, who sees it but the GM? The artwork in the rulebooks helps establish a mood, but artwork in Adventures is just lost and wasted, so why bother? So pictures were scrapped. But it worked out for the better, for in time we saw many advantages to a strict text format. For one thing, we could never start another common corporate practice of flooding new products with big, often recycled pictures just to take up space, thus cheating our customers out of the deeply detailed and rich treasure trove of material they are used to getting. And secondly, we realized that pictures tend to replace a GM's imagination, and whatever scene the art may represent becomes the same in every game; a Game Master is like a movie director, as each have their own interpretations of the script, and we wouldn't want to impede that in any way. And so, for all of these reasons, we keep artwork limited to the Handouts.
Q) How come Fantasia calls a grimoire a 'griamore'?
A) There are many different reasons. However, none of them is avoiding religious games-are-evil notions. Actually, the truth is pretty tame. First, 'grimoire' sounds a little too French for a world that is based largely on medieval Britain, so I thought the name 'griamore' would sound more English while still implying 'grimoire'. Second, it's just one of those little quirks I use in Fantasia to give it a little more character.
Q) Why don't Fantasia Adventures and Modules have 'adventure hooks' like other games?
A) Adventure hooks may appear like a good idea, but in our opinion they are a sure sign that a game has become too dependant on the printed word. Think about it, why should the GM have to go out of his way to gain the Players' interest? Aren't they adventurers? They should be looking for any opportunity to go on an adventure! However, even if the Players wish to have a deeper story or a scenario tailored closer to their Characters, then it should not be the GM's responsibility to try and throw out 'hooks', but rather, the Players themselves should initiate scenes and storylines of their own design that the GM can then work with. Indeed, if adventure hooks are used at all, they should be from the imagination of the Players, not the ever-generic notes of a pre-packaged adventure.