Fantasy AGE’s new edition does its best to strike a balance between keeping the game familiar—so familiar that many elements from the old edition work with little to no adjustments—and making improvements in all areas. One of those improvements was giving characters more ways to distinguish themselves from each other right from the beginning of play, and one of the ways to make it happen is through level advancements: the benefits characters gain as they level up.
Most of the game’s focuses are the same, though there are a few tweaks here and there, such as a Slings focus since we added that heretofore missing weapon category to the game. At Level 11, however, two things happen: Your character gains a +1 Bonus to all the focuses they know for free, and they can add the option to double focus by spending an additional focus advancement on a focus they already know. Thus, known focus bonuses increase from +2 to +3, and focuses you choose to concentrate on can increase to +4.
More Specializations—and Sooner
In the new edition, characters take a specialization starting right at Level 1, to better define who they are right from the start. Characters also gain one specialization slot at each odd-numbered level, with fewer restrictions than there used to be.
What About Dawizar—I mean, Damage Scaling?
One long-time observation about Fantasy AGE is that characters and monsters get pretty tough compared to the damage output of various weapons, spells, and other threats as characters go up in level.
We crunched the numbers to get a look at this and determined how a model attack would scale at different levels and monster Threat ranks. We wanted to avoid the “treadmill effect” of advancement becoming meaningless where equally advanced enemies would inflict equivalent damage, so that characters and creatures are actually never any harder to beat in encounters (many games do this with monsters and things like “Level 20 slippery ice,” but Fantasy AGE isn’t one of them). We also wanted class niches to become increasingly present in the equation. Consequently, every class has a version of the following level 6 feature:
- Damage Bonus: You may add your weapon focus (if you have one) when inflicting damage with a melee or ranged attack.
That’s taken from the Envoy. Mages also gain this for Arcane Blast and spells. This may seem like a piddly benefit, but at Level 11 this +2 bonus increases to +3 and might even be increased to +4.
At Level 16, members of each class gain an additional damage bonus that works out to around 1d6 depending on their class, on an action or in a circumstance appropriate to their class. This stacks with other bonuses. Here’s the one for the Rogue:
- Stunt Die to Damage: You may add the value of the stunt die of your attack test when you use Pinpoint Attack to inflict damage against a creature.
In addition, members of each class gain various other circumstantial damage bonuses. Compared against the math, they meet our design goals.
Specialization Preview: Skald
Skalds are battlefield poets who sing and write about heroes and war—those of ancient times, and those before them—during the heat of battle. They fulfil a dual role, urging heroes on to greatness, then immortalizing their deeds in verse. These chronicles can feature skalds themselves, who plunge into the thick of the fight to witness bravery and horror, and participate as earnestly as their companions, adding inspirational words to the clash of steel and roars of beasts.
Requirements: Communication 2 or higher, the Communication (Performance) focus, and the Intelligence (Military Lore) focus.
You’re a fighting poet who draws upon legends of heroism and tactical brilliance to achieve victory.
Novice: You spout improvised and memorized poetry that guide your friends and intimidate your foes. When using the Coordinate Envoy ability, you can use the stunt attack option as a minor action, but instead of an attack roll you make an opposed Communication (Performance) test vs. your foe’s reaction Willpower (Morale) roll. If you use this and the ordinary Coordinate ability in the same turn, you must pass on the SP you gained from each to a different ally. Your ally must be able to understand you.
In addition, to survive the battles you’ll sing about, you receive training in one additional Weapon Group of your choice.
Expert: Your knowledge of great battles gives you tactical wisdom that supplements your fighting ability. Once per encounter, you may add your Intelligence (Military Lore) focus bonus to your attack roll, as an applicable bit of lore occurs to you. You may instead grant this bonus to an ally (they get your focus bonus, not theirs), who must use it on their next turn. Neither option uses up an additional action, but you can only use one of these options once per encounter. If you affect an ally, they must be able to understand you.
Master: Your lore-backed verses can wound your enemies’ spirits as powerfully as a blade might cut their bodies. As a major action, you can make a Communication (Performance) test vs. your foe’s reaction Willpower (Morale) roll. Your foe must be able to feel fear, understand you, and be within 10 yards. If you succeed, you inflict 1d6 + Willpower penetrating damage, and you can attach combat and Envoy stunts to the result if you have the SP and they’re appropriate to an attack based on frightening and demoralizing a foe. You may not, however, use this attack to perform a coup de grace—no matter how artfully you tell someone they’re going to die, you can’t just kill them that way.