Sunday, 23 December 2018

Bare Bones Fantasy

Since I a still not getting in any playing time here is another game review.

I have had Bare Bones Fantasy since it came out and I browsed through the rules once before. But this time I took the time to take notes and observations as I read through the rules.

Bare Bones Fantasy is a product from DWD Studios. A fairly new Games company but one that I was aware of through their Star Frontiersman digital magazine. It is an OSR style fantasy role-playing game with a fair amount of support.

The Basics

Bare Bones Fantasy uses a Dice Standard of two 10-siders, so it is a percentile based system that feels a little like Chaosium’s Basic Fantasy in its conflict resolution. Characters have four abilities, Strength, Dexterity, Logic and Willpower. Abilities are rolled as 5d10+30.

The system uses classes but oddly the decision was made to call them skills. Logically, it makes sense but after a lifetime of playing games with class and skill, it is a little off-putting. I don't really have any game logic issue with the decision. The eight “skills” are Cleric, Enchanter, Leader, Scholar, Scout, Spellcaster, Thief and Warrior. The skills are rated in level from 1 to 6. During character creation, you pick a primary skill and give it a +20. Then you pick a secondary skill and give it a +10. As characters advance more skills can be purchased.

The system has the standard fantasy races, human, elf, dwarf, and halfling. The race chosen gives some changes to abilities.

Conflict Resolution

For Actions roll a d100 and compare the results to your Ability or Skill and any other modifiers. If you roll equal to or lower than the number you succeed. The rules allow for automatic success and failure. Any reasonable action succeeds on any roll of 00-05, and action with a reasonable chance of failure does so on a roll of 95-99. For example, if you want to pick a lock you would use your thief skill.

There is also a chance of Critical Success and Failure. Any time you roll doubles and succeed it is a critical success. Any time you roll doubles and fail in your roll it is a fumble.

On Contested Actions, both characters involved in the action make a roll. There must be a clear winner. Rolls are made until one contestant fails and one succeeds on the same throw.

Resistance Checks are made in reaction to some threats (like saving throws) to the character. An ability check that negates or reduces the otherwise successful threat. Resistance checks are actions. Each action taken after the first (in the same turn) results in a cumulative -20 to skill and ability checks.

Body points (BP) represent how much damage your character can take before falling down. When creatures reach 0 BP they are dead. When characters reach 0 BP they are unconscious for the rest of the battle. After the encounter, they must make a STR check. It is a save or die type check. If treated after a fight, 5 BP of damage can be healed (if it is recent). Characters heal 2 BP per day naturally. The system would appear to have fairly dangerous combat.

If you hit in combat, roll damage for the weapon used. The damage is reduced from the opponent's body points. There is also Damage Reduction (DR). If the opponent has DR, he may subtract his DR from the damage he would have sustained.

For a mage to to cast a spell, the mage must have at least one hand free, be able to speak freely and succeed in a spellcasting skill check. Spellcasters can cast any number of spells (if their usage allows) each counts as an action. Only characters with levels in spellcaster or cleric can learn spells. If a spellcaster is the character’s primary skill he knows 2 spells per spellcaster level. Otherwise, he learns only one spell per level. Once a spell is known, the character may use it as often as its Usage allows.

Each spell has a different usage. For instance, Heal can only be used once per day but Dispel Magic has unlimited use.

GM Advice

The Gamemaster section of the rules goes over success modifiers, resistance checks, and disadvantage. Disadvantage is a situational modifier, a character is considered to be at a disadvantage in his resistance check for a few special situations. If an opponent hits a defender with a weapon in melee and the defender has no weapon. If the defender is hit by a ranged weapon. If the defender is not aware of the threat. Disadvantage causes your resistance check to be halved.

The rules include a simple list of spells and monsters. There is an an adventure idea generator and a random dungeon generator.

Keranak Kingdoms
Finally, there is a provided generic setting, Keranak Kingdoms. It is land of one kingdom that was formerly ruled by a monarch with near-divine powers provided by a crown. When the last of the line died recently, anarchy ruled as all fought for the crown, until the Knights of the Rose banished the crown. The lands await a ruler judged worthy of the crown.

It is a pretty plain setting, which can be a good thing if you want to just plug in standard fantasy adventures with little work.

Bare Bones Fantasy is what it claims to be. A simplified rule system for Fantasy role-playing. It appeals to me. One of my favorite systems was RuneQuest 3 which also uses a percentile system but it much more complicated. Bare Bones Fantasy does have levels, but I think they are not going to affect play very much. A new character should be almost as big a threat as a more experienced player. This very much appeals to me. If I have one major complaint with D&D it is the levels which results in characters who are eventually way more powerful than the average person. They in turn have to be countered with exponentially more powerful monsters. I prefer a system where you could reuse your favourite low-level monsters and have them be a worthy challenge (kobolds again?).

I would have to try the magic system to see how it works in practice, but it does appeal to me. Rather than fire and forget each spell has different uses per day.

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