Tabletop RPGs That Aren't DUNGEONS & DRAGONS Part 1: FANTASY AGE
Tabletop gaming (TTG) is a lot of fun and one of the more prominent features of TTG are tabletop role-playing games (TTRPG). The most famous TTRPG is definitely Dungeons & Dragons, but sometimes you want something different. There are a bajillion TTRPGs out there, but very few are talked about and that’s what I wanted to highlight in this series. My first departure from D&D? Fantasy AGE.
Fantasy AGE (FAGE) is published by Green Ronin and is similar to the Dragon AGE RPG. FAGE is the first RPG I played outside of D&D and I fell in love with a lot of aspects about it. It still takes place in a fantasy setting (there are some variations available that I’ll talk about later), so you have access to Dwarves, Elves, Humans, Half-Orcs, and a few other races you love. The classes are also familiar as well. You have the Fighter, the Mage, and the Rogue. This may seem like it’s a lot smaller than D&D (and it is), but it’s not as small as it feels. This is due to the specialization mechanic which gives you access to greater focus and more skills to hone your character. The best part is that you first gain a specialization at level four! Specializations turn your fighter into a Berserker, a mage into an elementalist, a rogue into a swashbuckler, etc.
Of course, one of the biggest differences between FAGE and D&D is the dice involved. In D&D, you use several polyhedral dice ranging from a 4-sided (D4) die to a 20-sided (D20) die. In FAGE, you use three 6-sided (3D6) dice for everything. One of these dice is different though as rolling doubles can give you Stunt Points (SP) to perform awesome feats like dealing extra damage, performing an extra attack, or adding an incredible flourish to your ability checks. This creates a bit more variety in my opinion than the simple critical hit system provided with a D20.
Another benefit is the different Attribute system. D&D uses six Attributes, but in FAGE, there are nine. There may be more, but I find it’s a bit simpler and it removes the “god stat” that plagues D&D (Dexterity is overpowered in my opinion).
The third difference that I absolutely love is the way that FAGE handles armor. In D&D, there is a single stat for defending called Armor Class (AC). If an enemy rolls below your AC, they miss, otherwise they hit you and deal damage. FAGE changes things up though. In FAGE, you have your Defense stat which determines whether you get hit or not, and you have your Armor stat. Armor will reduce the amount of damage that one takes and in my opinion this system works better for immersion. You may get hit by your opponent’s hammer, but if you’re wearing some hefty armor, you shouldn’t take as much damage as a naked person.
One final thing that I appreciate though about FAGE is the ease to adjust the setting with supplements. While there are a lot of supplements for D&D that take you to various settings, there’s not much official material to get you away from the fantasy realm. FAGE has a couple of books that help you do a more sci-fi/science fantasy-based campaign or a more modern campaign thanks to Titansgrave and the sister system of Modern AGE (I understand there are only small differences, but if interested I can look more into it).
There are limitations though to FAGE. For starters, there are only three classes and then the specializations. In D&D, the Player’s Handbook has 12. Also, while there’s a good community for FAGE, it is not nearly as extensive as the D&D community since D&D has been around for a very long time. Thirdly, it can feel boring to roll three normal dice instead of a full set of polyhedral dice.
I love FAGE and I love D&D. The system I choose typically depends on what those around me wish to play. They both have their good and their bad and I wish you luck in choosing your next system. Email me with your favorite RPG system that isn’t D&D and it may be featured in a future article. Be sure to include why you love it.