Stunts are a hallmark of the Adventure Game Engine, and something we looked at very carefully for Fantasy AGE’s new edition—one that’s available for preorder (with discount PDF option) and in PDF now, by the way! Look at the PDF and you’ll be able to see all the details for yourself, but this article will still serve you as a general review.
Where Stunts Have Been
Stunts have been part of the Adventure Game Engine since Dragon Age and have proven to be one of the most enjoyable, useful elements of the system. Dragon Age made more central use of stunts restricted to certain character types when it came to magic, to get into the flavor of its video game source material. The first edition of Fantasy AGE was designed in a more setting-neutral fashion with less of this kind of focus, but the rules were otherwise very similar.
The basic way to trigger a stunt remains the same: Roll matching results (doubles) on any two dice on your winning test, and consult the Stunt Die (called the Dragon Die in Dragon Age, and the Drama Die in The Expanse and the upcoming Fifth Season Roleplaying). You get as many stunt points (SP) as the result of that specially marked die. You can then spend the points on the stunt tables for various extraordinary effects, from extra damage to the ability to distract an enemy. Stunt lists for combat, exploration, and “roleplaying” (as social things were called) remained core to Fantasy AGE. Other AGE games, such as Modern AGE, used more and variant tables to hook the system to a particular flavor or expand what stunts could do. Modern AGE presented a large number of stunts in particular.
Stunts in the New Fantasy AGE
In looking at prior designs we wanted to better define what stunts are for, how to use them, and how to enhance Fantasy AGE as a distinct game with a (loose) class-based, heroic fantasy design. We also wanted to make stunts easier to pick, since while it usually just takes a session or two to select them on the fly with ease, some players found making that decision a bit flustering. With all that in mind, we kept the basics of stunts, but refined them, as follows:
More about story and function: We introduce stunts with an eye toward how they work in the story of the game, as well as its systems. A stunt has to tell a story that makes sense! Chapter 6 of Fantasy AGE 2nd Edition now makes that clear, along with the roles of stunts to represent exceptional performance and to cover a number of unusual situations (such as grappling and disarming opponents) other games might cover with special subsystems.
More ways to get stunt points: Fantasy AGE now includes the Stunt Attack option, where you can forego normal combat results to gain 2 stunt points for a special maneuver, such as when you want to restrain someone without hurting them. We’ve also introduced Daring, where you might gain extra stunt points in tough times, as failure accumulates and you’ve earned a truly stunning reversal of fortune; and Relationships, where powerful emotions about others can become a reserve of stunt points to call on when those bonds enter the story.
Basic and class stunts: Perhaps the biggest change is the introduction of a distinction between basic stunts, which anyone can use most of the time, and various forms of advanced stunts, including class stunts. Class stunts are earned as characters gain levels, letting them perform tasks supported by the class with true excellence. A few weeks ago we previewed an example Warrior class stunt. Here are a couple of others, from the Warrior and other classes. Be aware that class stunts are a little more potent than their basic counterparts by design, to support what each class is best at.
Envoy Stunt—Dominate Foe (4 SP): You compel an enemy to feel intense fear, confusion, or distraction. Select one target who can perceive you and has a Willpower no higher than your Communication. You impose one of the following conditions on them: Confused, Defenseless, or Frightened. You choose which condition affects your target. It lasts until the end of your next turn.
Mage Stunt—Battle Magic (2 SP; Spell): You may follow up your spell with an Arcane Blast as an immediate free action, though the blast becomes a simple test that can’t generate or use SP.
Rogue Stunt—Evade (2 SP): You slip past your foes. Until your next turn, you gain +2 to Defense, and each time an attack misses you, you may move 4 yards without using an action.
Warrior Stunt—Limb Strike (3 SP): Your blow injures one of your foe’s appendages, and they take a –3 penalty to tests that use it until your next turn. Furthermore, a blow to a humanoid leg or equivalent levies a –5 penalty to Speed, while one inflicted on a shield arm deprives your opponent of its Defense bonus.
See For Yourself
As we’ve said, the game ready for preorder and out on PDF. Give it a look!