Sunday, July 19, 2020

Player's Guide to the Fonts of Power

Where to get it: Dedicated website

I'm not entirely sure what I should do with this one. I really wish I'd gotten a chance to read it six months to a year from now, after it was finished. As it is, it's virtually unplayable in its current form. Oh, I suppose you could make an entire party out of the one finished class, but take it from me, it will break your heart to see these interesting spellcasting classes that look finished, but don't actually have any spells to cast.

I was a bit blindsided by that. It's not the creator's fault. I was warned that this wasn't a complete book, but that was several weeks ago and I forgot, and it wasn't until I was 90% of the way through it that I realized it. I should probably just hold off on writing about the book for a few weeks and see if more updates are forthcoming, but since I'm on something of a schedule here, I'll just talk about what I've seen so far.

It has a lot of potential. The rules themselves are complete and they look solid. I see a lot of D&D 4th edition influences, which is a thing that always makes me happy to see. It follows a common post-4e trend of using the skeleton of the game to support a more narrative style, which is something I'm going to hold off on discussing at length until the inevitable 4th edition post where I break down and go on a rant about how it was a much more narrative game than people gave it credit for.

Plus, I'm not sure how much of the 4e influence was intentional. It also has a lot of 5e in its DNA - making use of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic, proficiency bonuses, defenses keyed off every attribute (though they work like 4e defenses, rather than 5e saves), and class formatting that is very reminiscent of 5e's "class + specialization" style. It's entirely possible that the 4e-isms I was picking up on are second-hand.

Nonetheless, I liked it. Its best innovation is "downtime activities." Whenever you take a long rest, you've got the opportunity to pick one of a dozen or so special actions - you can use your downtime to craft items, bond with your fellow PCs, schmooze with NPCs, or give yourself a variety of bonuses for the next day. Some of the species and classes also have their own special downtime activities that can potentially become a key factor in your party's strategy. Overall, an interesting and flavorful mechanic.

It's not the rules that give this game its potential, though. The best part of the book, and unfortunately the part that still needs the most fleshing out, is its flavor and setting. The titular Fonts of Power are magical places in the world where you can craft magic items and bring the dead back to life, and I really would have liked to see a few specific ones described. Likewise, I love the Elementalist class. They wield pairs of opposing elements, and if they become too unbalanced towards one element or another, they suffer serious drawbacks even as their elemental spells become more powerful. Push too far, and they release an involuntary AoE attack that is among the strongest tools in their arsenal. It's exactly what I look for in a spellcasting class, and I really wish that their spells were already written.

Ultimately, this book is still too raw for me to really recommend, but it's worth keeping an eye on. If they ever do get to their planned kickstarter, I may well wind up reading it again.

Ukss Contribution: I'm a little dubious about doing one of these for an incomplete book, but there was such a charming idea that I would be remiss if I didn't steal it immediately. One of the PC species option is slimes. That would be weird enough, but they have cities. And the public transportation in these cities is pneumatic tubes. Slime-people zipping around in pneumatic tubes. I love it.

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