Fantasy AGE and You – Using Adventures from Other Games

So, here I am the Fantasy AGE developer with tons and tons of d20 adventures sitting on my shelves. A lot of them are really cool concepts, from a tour through the waters around Freeport to more than a hundred Adventure Path volumes from my former employer. I definitely want to run more Fantasy AGE games, but my time is limited and it seems a shame to just chuck all my older gaming products. That makes me wonder, naturally, how hard is it to adapt adventures and settings from other game systems to Fantasy AGE? And, is it worth the effort?

The answers are; not hard at all (though there’s an easy way and a hard way), and, of course, it depends.

Fantasy AGE

Let’s talk about the value of such an idea before we get into some tips on how to do it. The most obvious reason to convert materials for other games to Fantasy AGE is because you like the way Fantasy AGE plays as a game, but need ideas to fill your adventures. Especially for games built around having races, 20-level classes, and fantasy themes. The adaptation work isn’t particularly difficult, so you can easily treat multiple games’ worth of material as idea generators for your Fantasy AGE game.

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

One potential source for adventures: Freeport: City of Adventure (Pathfinder 1st edition)

This is especially helpful if you have multiple game editions of material for the same world, or want to mix elements from different system’s game worlds. So if you want to use the core world of one 20-level fantasy game, an adventure that uses a different game system, and a monster from a third, adapting all of these elements to Fantasy AGE may well be easier than picking any one of the three systems you are borrowing from to adjust everything to.

There is, of course, a secret to adapting other games to Fantasy AGE the “easy way,” and it is this: don’t even worry about trying to get it right.

Seriously, Fantasy AGE is not a game where you need to worry about a dozen tiny bonuses or have exactly the right balance of skills and special abilities. Yes, you CAN do things the ‘hard way’ and try to emulate every single special attack, creature type property, and tiny circumstantial bonuses… but mostly that’s not going to produce an end result that is any more fun and satisfying. As long as you use an appropriate equivalent, you can swap out a Fantasy AGE stat block for most things you might encounter in other game systems. If you tell players they are facing a band of 3-foot tall kobolds, they’ll never know you’re actually using the stat block for goblins. Or bandits. Or living dolls.

There are just a few things it’s useful to understand when working on your simple adaptation.

Adversary Threat Level

Fantasy AGE has guidelines covering what level PCs are expected to deal with what degree of adversary threat (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 104), and this is a good general guideline for adapting a Fantasy AGE stat block to represent a foe from another game system. If you have 7th level PCs, and you are running a d20 adventure for 12th level characters, it’s best for most of your adversaries be moderate threats. Yes, that means instead of making a 12th level d20 evil sorcerer a 12th level Fantasy AGE mage you may just want to pick a moderate threat monster with spells, and treat it as a sorcerer. A djinn or shadow person (Fantasy AGE Bestiary) can substitute for a fine spellcaster, and similar you can use any of the elementals from that book as element-themed mages.

Don’t do any more work than you have to. This is supposed to be fun for you too, after all.

Shuffle Special Qualities

Freeport Bestiary (Pathfinder 1st edition)

Anything that isn’t appropriate for your adapted foe? Just ignore. Don’t worry about fine details of balance—if you want a simple air-mage just grab the wind djinn, ignore the flight (or describe it as a spell) and strike out the bound special qualities, and go for it.

If it’s crucial your adapted monster have some special ability to fit the theme of an adventure or to have an encounter make sense, look at the Modifying Monsters rules (Fantasy AGE Bestiary, 133) and pick something close-enough. Again, the idea isn’t to exactly emulate every feature of your adapted adversary, but just to pick a few things that match its theme. If you really need to give a creature a new power to emulate some special ability the bestiary doesn’t give you any options for, consider just giving it a stunt that access a spell from an appropriate arcana.

It’s All Hazards And Tests

Nearly anything that does nasty things to the PCs and isn’t an adversary can be translated into Fantasy AGE as a hazard (Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook, 101). Trapped chest? Hazard you can avoid with a Perception test, and bypass with a Dexterity (Traps) test. Poison cloud? Hazard you can reduce the damage of with a Constitution (Stamina) test. Barrier against good? Hazard you can ignore with a Willpower (Faith) test. Hazards don’t have to be restricted to damage (though it is the simplest option), so you can apply other effects (borrowed from arcana or adversary abilities, or that you make up on the spot). A tar pit can be a hazard that just prevents a character from moving until they pass a Strength (Might) test, a magic blinding rune can require a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test with failure causing the character to be unable to see for 10 minutes, resulting in a -3 to attack rolls and halving their movement rate.

Similarly you can translate most non-combat challenges into basic, opposed, or advanced tests as appropriate. If an adventure has special rules for a chariot race, finding the right book in a partially-flooded library, or building a rebellion within an occupied city, it’s rarely going to be worth it to try to emulate the details of those rules. Just pick the test type that seems closest, tell PCs how often they get to roll based on how long the goal should take, and move on.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

When looking back on enjoyable RPG experiences, most players remember when they pulled off an amazing stunt, discovered the mayor was a vampire, swam across the River of Souls, slayed the dragon, or were the last defender standing at the Gate of Heroes. They don’t generally care as much if they had five +1 bonuses from different sources, managed to master the special rules for winning a senate debate, or got lucky on the 4-part drowning rules. The Fantasy AGE Basic Rulebook has all the tools you need to challenge the players and create memorable adventures, as well as advice on how to create new threats and encounters. When adapting material from other games, all you are doing is borrowing names, art, and general plots as blueprints for creating Fantasy AGE adventures.

If you keep things fast and fun, the players will never know if you didn’t give the half-dragon dire rat ghost from a d20 adventure all of its special defenses—they’ll just remember the dang thing kept running through walls and breathing fire on them until they skewered it for good.

PAX Unplugged and Freebooting

Green Ronin is very excited to be attending PAX Unplugged again this year. PAX Unplugged is Penny Arcade’s completely analog convention. It’s become known as the convention where people actually play games – a lot of them! Crazy, right? So, if you are in Philadelphia the weekend of December 6 – 8, please come join us and play some games.

You will be able to find us at Exhibitor’s Hall Booth 3649. Even better is that this year we will also have a table within the free play hall in an area designated for exhibitor demos. We will have our own dedicated table throughout the entire weekend!

Speaking of the demo table – we could really use a few more people to help us run games. Does this sound like fun to you? In addition to the fun of running games, Green Ronin will reimburse your badge and give you a t-shirt. Win-win for all of us!

If you’re already a Freebooter and interested, please contact me to discuss details.

Not a Freebooter but still want to run games for us? No problem! Becoming a Freebooter is fun, easy, and packed with perks. The first step is to fill out this form. If you want to help with PAX Unplugged, please also send me an email at freebooters@greenronin.com to make sure I expedite your application.

The Expanse RPG – Gen Con 2019

Finally, if you’re attending PAX Unplugged, please feel free to drop by our booth and say hello. Happy gaming!

Abzu’s Bounty is Coming Soon!

Abzu’s Bounty, the first campaign for The Expanse RPG, is almost ready to go. The layout is complete, and we’re waiting for a few final pieces from the artists. And speaking of art, I want to take a moment to say that the artwork in this book is gorgeous! It has everything you’d expect to see in an Expanse campaign: space battles, incredible planetary vistas, pirates, OPA terrorists, abandoned asteroid bases, and more. This book has it all!

As you’ve probably read, Abzu’s Bounty is a six-part, system-spanning campaign filled with action and adventure. We’ve given you the broad strokes, but today I want to delve further into the details without spoiling the plot. The story opens on board the ice hauler, Abzu’s Bounty, gathering ice in the rings of Saturn. The default setting has the characters as members of the Bounty’s crew. However, established characters can just as easily be on board for their own reasons. The crew of the Bounty discovers something unusual in the collected ice. The characters quickly find themselves swept up in conspiracies involving multiple factions from around the solar system. Not long into the campaign, the crew has the opportunity to claim a ship for themselves–an old pirate vessel called the Anne Bonny. With a ship of their own, they’re set to take on all of the challenges that await them: OPA terrorists, private security companies, space pirates, Martian secret agents, corporate masterminds, and more.

Abzu’s Bounty has a direct tie-in to the adventure To Sleep, Perchance to Dream in the core rulebook, but it is not necessary to have played that adventure. But for those who have played it, they finally get to meet Alexander Pope, the villain and mysterious entrepreneur who remains behind the scenes.  Players and GMs who have read the novels will also recognize several characters lifted right from those pages, and there are a quite few fun Easter eggs scattered throughout.

One of the aspects that I think is really cool about this book is that besides being a book full of adventures, it also provides a wealth of useful setting information. You’ll learn more about Luna, the pleasure domes of Titan, the tunnels of Mars, hidden and abandoned space stations, and even a pirate radio station–not to mention new organizations and factions and a shipload of NPCs. Lots of cool stuff that you can use in your own campaign or beyond the events in Abzu’s Bounty.

The campaign is designed so that you don’t necessarily have to run every adventure. You can easily skip those that don’t feel appropriate for your group. If you decide to tell this story, beginning to end, there is plenty of room for GMs to insert their own side stories or expand on the existing adventure. The campaign is designed for characters beginning at 2nd level and advance through 7th or possibly higher. A lot of flexibility is built into the story. The finale even provides an alternate ending for GMs who want to raise the stakes or offer the players a more challenging climax to the story. Be wary though, the odds of all the characters surviving this option are grim.

So, there you have it! I’ve endeavored to give you a more in-depth look into Abzu’s Bounty without giving away any of the secrets. Hopefully, I’ve succeeded. I look forward to hearing stories of how different groups tackle the challenges in Abzu’s Bounty–how they succeed and rise to the challenge.  Until next time!