Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Review & Commentary On The Fantastic Heroes And Witchery Rpg System For Your Old School Campaigns Part II

You can find part I of this review series right over here . Now when a DM starts really tearing into the Fantastic Heroes and Heroes Witchery rpg system book, this can seem a bit familiar and a bit intimidating. This is a four hundred page monster of a book and it goes right into the old school style of getting the adventurer outfitted with everything from swords to ten foot poles. Much of this is going to look familiar to the average old schooler at whom this product is squarely aimed! The artwork echoes and pulls from the pop culture of AD&D post Seventies and pre-second edition era AD&D. There is a health dose of 3rd put into the back bone as well which has been twisted through a strainer by the author via the OGL with some very cleaver writing and slight of hand. What this means essentially is that the DM can pull from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and Fifth edition AD&D with a sprinkling of 4th in races, PC classes, some cosmology, and a bit of modern thrown in to handle science fiction,sword & planet, and sword & sorcery to boot but its done in such a way as to be clever and it makes all of the hard work of conversion has been done for you. As a DM this is a life saver, also from a plus side there are appendixes for working with other retroclone style systems such as OSRIC and AD&D 1st edition as well as other retroclone systems such as the Labyrinth Lord system along with the Advanced Companion set. While not specifically named or anything for copyright & trade mark  reasons all of the tools are right there.

The big selling point was the fact that the author has included all of the basic tools for horror and science fantasy all under under one hard back. The classes for weird fantasy, horror from Ravenloft style to investigative Lovecraftian horror is all right there. The classes are well done and such that the DM could with little effort even run a Harry Potter style campaign with just what's in the book. Or even a post apocalyptic campaign with little prep time. The classes are all well balanced and this includes the fact that they all pull from the same experience table. This makes blending genres pretty much a snap with side systems and add ons all at the DM's finger tips but pay attention to the simple skill system because fantasy classes and science fiction ones don't always cross pollinate. But with a bit of slight of hand it should be easy to deal with on the DM's part.
 This book takes huge number of options from second edition AD&D and the Chinese resturant menu of 3.0 and 3.5 edits all of that business into a book that has everything you need right out of the gate to get into a concise mode of play. The character sheet is simple but that's fine with me, there's a nice one with fill one will all of the bells and whistles right over Here along with a ton of  free support.
 The equipment section gives all of the usual fantasy material but then shifts the tone straight over to pulp and weird tales as well with laser pistols and sci fi gadgets. This is fine because with a few tweaks & the science fantasy  a DM can run anything from Flash Gordon to straight up pulp heroes! Did I mention that this is all under one hard back and it easily takes all of those weird 3.0 & 3.5 hardbacks and makes them useful. There's even a space ship lurking in the background of this game!

 Combat is easy, quick and handles like a DM is used to, a stripped down no nonsense approach that has a number of options and add ons that allow the player and DM to customize the action without holding up the game for hours and hours. Yes 4th edition I'm looking your way!
 Hazards from pit traps to radiation is all here as well and its been stripped down, streamlined, and sectioned as per the usual saving throws from the OGL with a few minor twists and turns. I approve of these because they make my life easier and quicker. The systems here are brought together and blended in a clever way. Fantastic Heroes & Witchery provides a streamlined game engine with a myriad of options that is broadly compatible with any edition of AD&D.
 Religion is a whole other ball of wax in FH&W, the cosmology makes sense with a broad based system based on allegiances to gods and goddesses and agents. There is a Moorcock feel of eternal champion lurking in the background with the dark powers truly nasty and corrupting and the powers of Law light and good.  There is a massive twist on druids and all of this makes perfect sense with the addition of PC classes such as the friar, witch hunter, and much more. Yes the alignment system as you know it is out the window sort of. Travel into the afterlife is horrid and dangerous all of which ties back into the six hundred sixty six spells something I'll get into in part three!
 To wrap up Fantastic Heroes and Witchery is a tool box of sheer OSR awesomeness and one of my best purchases from the OSR. It does what it says on the tin and gives the DM  430 pages of rules to play either in the vanilla fantasy, dark fantasy, or swords & planets genres, with its rules on corrupting sorcery, technological equipment, and much more.

Part III coming up soon!

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