Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Academy Arcana

Where to Get It: Google doc

Academy Arcana is another short, simple game. It uses a stripped-down variant of Fudge with almost no rules for conflicts, obstacles, or performance benchmarks. It's so minimal that I suspect it would work better as a campaign supplement for the Fudge rpg than as an independent game.

So how does it work as a campaign? Well . . . what's there is good, but there's not enough of it to do the job it set out to do. The premise is that you're students at a school for magic and you get a customized skill list (that sets aside two of its six slots for "Hazing" and "Pranks"), rules for character advancement based on the school year, and a bunch of suggested spells with the usual mix of good ("Cosmetic Illusion") and bad ("Firestorm" - because that's the sort of thing you want to teach high school seniors).

There is also some setting information that does a fine job setting the game's tones (try out for the Dungeonball team . . . unless you're one of those alchemy nerds who'd rather join the Cauldron Club), but four faculty members and three classes are not enough to build a world.

Overall, Academy Arcana was pleasant, but it was little more than a pitch. If this were a quickstart for a bigger game, I'd be interested. If a friend showed this to me, asking for feedback, I'd tell them they were on to something and they should keep going. As it is, there's just not enough meat on these bones for me to recommend it without qualification. A good-natured "Harry Potter with the serial numbers filed off" is something the world can use right now,but this particular book, despite having some fun and unique ideas (like getting a bonus to your spell-casting roll for acting out the gestures and invocations), really just feels like a start.

Ukss Contribution: Not a lot to work with here, but I liked the "Extradimensional Safe" spell, even if the book never quite explored all the hilarious and entertaining ways it could go wrong.


  1. How can Extradimensional Safe go wrong? I presume putting someone in it and forgetting about them?


    1. There's that. But also, where is that extra dimension? What else might exist within it? Do you have any guarantee that what you take out of the safe is the same as what you put in?