Basic Mechanic, Character Creation, Combat Rules

posted by gradenko_2000 Original SA post

Adventure Fantasy Game is a game written by Paolo Greco and was released in Spring 2013. From the way it's marketed it tends to consider itself part of the Old School Renaissance, but personally I find the mechanics different enough from old-school D&D that it's really it's own thing, and that's good because being different means ditching a lot of the cruft that still permeates the OSR.

Before we even get to the Table of Contents, the game has a section called How to Start Quickly:


What's the base mechanic? Page 19. Read 20 too if you have a minute.

Character Generation? Starts at page 9. Checklist at page 19. Players have to roll a few dice, pick a Way and jot down details on their sheets. Good starting spells are Apprentice's Delight, Tumbleclick (p. 55), Ancestor's Mettle (p. 60), Selfess Gift of Life, Cure (p. 62), Mark of the Beast (p. 64), Twisting Root and Branch (p. 72).

Combat Rules? Pages 26 and 27. Treat FC as 0. Roll 1d6 for damage.

What about experience and growth? Pages 75 to 80.

That seems like as good a place to start as any, so I'll be tackling these in turn.

Base Mechanic

The core of the system is called 5MORE :

When the outcome is not certain, let the players describe their action and roll a d6

Modify the roll per the player's description
+1 for easy tasks, -1 for hard ones
+1 for good ideas/plans, -1 for bad ones
+1 for a high relevant stat (we'll get to this later), -1 for a low relevant stat
+1 for excellent equipment, -1 for inappropriate equipment

On a 5 or more, SUCCESS!
On a 2 to 4, the character failed but without dire consequences
On a 1, absolute failure, but be creative with the consequences

A skill/experience system is also tied into this 5MORE mechanic. If the player succeeds at a task with a natural 5 or 6, they get an Experience Roll. The player rolls a d6 again and if it also comes up as a natural 5 or 6, they get to write down the task they just did along with the first letter of EXPERT. Subsequent successful Experience Rolls for the same task let them continue spelling out EXPERT. Once they spell out the word completely, they get a +1 to all succeeding rolls for that task.

The game gives some advice on reining this in: the attempt at the task must be meaningful - no picking locks over and over; this should probably apply to tasks done under stressful or critical circumstances; perhaps one letter to be gained for a given encounter or scene.

Finally, if a player becomes an EXPERT in six different tasks, they choose to pick one of those six, erase EXPERT, write MASTER, and get a +2 bonus on rolls for that task.

Character Creation

Stats are broken up into three: PHY sique, CRA ft and SPI rit. You roll 3d6 for each of these. If your roll is 13 or better, then your stat is high and you get a +1 to rolls involving that stat. If your roll is 8 or less, then your stat is low and you get a -1 to rolls instead. Anything else is considered average.

There's also a table of additional effects that stats might have, such as high PHY giving you extra damage when wielding two-handers, or low SPI making you the target of bad luck events, but in keeping with the simplicity of the system you can just use stats as they interact with the 5MORE mechanic.


If you choose the Way of Steel, you're considered a Fighter . They get additional Hits, can wear any type of armour, and have something called Secret Weapon Techniques, but those don't come into play yet for the abbreviated ruleset we're talking about so far.

If you choose the Way of Magic, you're considered a Caster . The game explicitly says that while the spell descriptions describe the effects of a spell, they do not prescribe the spell's nature . A Caster can be a mentalist, a sorcerer, a bard or even a scientist, and how they access or flavour their spells is completely up to the player's imagination.

Casters start with 3 spells: Unveil Arcana, some other spell of level 0 and some other spell of level 1. A level 1 Caster has 1 mana, which they can use to cast 1 spell. They gain 1 more mana and know one more spell per level taken in the Way of Magic. Casters cannot cast the same spell twice until the dawn, and they need 6 hours rest to regenerate all of their mana.

If you choose the Way of Arts, you're considered a Practitioner . These are the "skill monkeys" of the game: for every level taken in the Way of Arts, the player can distribute 5 letters of EXPERT across various tasks. Practitioners can also use relevant skills to engage in tradecraft and earn some money for themselves during downtime. The game makes special note that pickpocketing and theft are valid tasks for this money-generating activity.

At this point you may have noticed that I've used the phrase "for every level taken in Way of X". That's because the game supports multi-classing : you can be a Fighter 3/Caster 5. Besides the extra Hits, taking levels in Fighter will let Casters cast spells while wearing armor, although you do need multiple levels of Fighter to be able to wear heavy/plate armor, not just one.


The game asks the player to write down 4 things that their characters wants to or is destined to do, with the provision that it should be easy to determine if an Accomplishment has already been successfully accomplished. This is supposed to be a guide for what the player should strive towards, and for what situations the GM should place the player in.

Hits determine the amount of punishment a character can take before being incapacitated.

At level 1, Casters and Practitioners roll 2d6 and pick the best result, while Fighters roll 2d6, pick the best result, and add 2

Every time the character levels up, they roll a d6 for every level they have (and Fighters add 2 for every level the have), and either take this new result for their new total, or add 1 to their old total, whichever is higher.


The last important number to remember is a character's Tier:
Level 1 to 3 = Tier 1
Level 4 to 6 = Tier 2
Level 7 to 9 = Tier 3
Level 10 and up = Tier 4


All characters start with a standard set of equipment:


a set of humble clothes, a pair of cheap sandals and a hat
a long, walking stick
a belt
a knife or an hatchet
a shoulder bag, containing:
a blanket
a wooden cup
seven days of rations consisting of hard biscuits and cheese
a bundle wrapped in waterproof waxed cloth containing:
three torches
tinder and flint
a pair of warm, fluffy socks

Fighters: a melee weapon of choice
Casters: a grimoire containing their spells
Practitioners: tools for the task that they're most EXPERT in

... and then they get to roll twice on a 2d6 table for additional random gear. On a 7, a Fighter gets light armor, a helmet, and a shield; a Caster gets a Doctor's Bag; a Practitioner gets A spare set of tools. Other results include a musket and 10 shots, a spears and daggers, an intelligent crow, a treasure map, a patron, or even a townhouse.

Combat Rules

This chapter tells you right off the bat that it's not a combat game, and its rules are lightweight and very abstracted by design.

The game has two different sets of combat rules: the simple 5MAIL and a more advanced FIGHTMORE. I'll be discussing 5MAIL for now.

5MAIL uses a number called Fighting Capability (FC) , which is your Tier - 1 , and then Fighters gain additional FC based on their additional +2 Hits per level. A starting Fighter would have an FC of 1, while a Caster or a Practitioner would have an FC of 0.

Combat is divided into 4 phases followed in strict order: Melee, Missile, Manoeuvre, and Magic . A character chooses which phase they want to "use" for their turn, and that's when they act.

Melee Phase

The character rolls a d6 and then adds their FC
If the target is wearing no armor, +2 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing light armor, +1 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing heavy armor, -1 penalty to the roll

Much like the 5MORE skill system, if the result of the roll is 5 or more, the character hits and then rolls for damage.

The section also mentions a Charge maneuver to gain a bonus to the roll if the character is not engaged yet, and that a character using a shield can do a 5MORE Shield Block roll once every round to negate a melee attack against them.

Missile Phase

If the character was hit by a melee attack in the previous phase, they can't act in this phase.

The character rolls a d6 and then adds their FC
If the target is wearing no armor, +2 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing light armor, +1 bonus to the roll
If the target is wearing heavy armor, -1 penalty to the roll
If the target is at a distance, -1 to -3 penalty to the roll depending on how far they are
If the target is using a shield and/or is in cover, -1 to -4 penalty to the roll depending on the circumstances

Manoeuvre Phase

This is where you close in to melee with a target without charging, or to leave melee reach of a target you're engaged with

Magic Phase

This is where a character can cast their spells. If it's instantaneous, then it takes effect immediately during this phase. Otherwise, a spell that takes more than one phase to cast will be declared here, then will take effect on the next magic phase. If the caster is wounded before the next magic phase, then the spell that they declared is disrupted and will not take effect, and the Mana they spent on it is lost.

The game says that Melee, Shield Block, Missile are all tasks in and of themselves, and so like 5MORE skill rolls, can result in Experience Rolls and EXPERT and even MASTER status.

Special Note on Monsters

Because of how the combat rules and stats interact, creating monsters is fairly simple:

Tier = same as the players
Level = should be about the same as the players, plus or minus within their Tier
Hits = Level * d6
FC = Tier - 1
Damage = 1d6

The rest is "special abilities" that you can make up on the spot, such as a monster being particularly heavily armored, or sneaky, or having a breath weapon, or having poison, and so on.

And that's it for part 1. Next time I'll talk about spells, experience gain and character development.

Experience and Character Growth, Holdings and Treasure Troves

posted by gradenko_2000 Original SA post

Adventure Fantasy Game , part 2

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.

Experience and Character Growth

AFG makes it clear right off the bat that it does not use experience points. Instead, it relies on three things:
1. Practical use of skills, as we've seen in the core mechanic's EXPERT and MASTER progression
2. Accomplishments, which we've covered in character generation as short statements that a player writes down as something that they want their character to strive for
3. Plundering, which is the more traditional method of looting dungeons



A typical way to gain a level playing AFG is to get your character's party to recover treasures and bring them to a safe place. Recovering treasures from dangerous places is one of the main tropes of the fantasy and adventure genres.

Dungeons contain Treasure Troves (capitalized, as in that's a specific in-game mechanic). If a party enters a Holding (again, a keyword) that is equal or higher level than they are, and they recover a Treasure Trove from it, and they bring the Trove out to safety, the party members all gain a level.

Every significant place that the players adventure in should have anywhere from one to three Holdings. Each Holding should have a Treasure Trove, whether it's a powerful magical item, or a plot-critical MacGuffin, or even just a ton of gold, but also that each Holding should have its share of encounters such that a Treasure Trove should only ever be gained with "considerable work from the players". It's mentioned throughout this section that whatever you do with the Experience/Growth rules, the point is that players should only advance if they're done something significant.

Finally, this section comes with a footnote:


If you are wondering if this makes AFG an heist-oriented game then, dear reader, you are perfectly right.
.. which I find refreshingly honest.


If you recall, back in Character Creation I mentioned that while characters have Levels, they also have Tiers:


Level 1 to 3 = Tier 1
Level 4 to 6 = Tier 2
Level 7 to 9 = Tier 3
Level 10 and up = Tier 4

And that Tiers are important because your Fighting Capacity in combat is [Tier - 1]

The way this works is that while Plundering will increase your levels, you can only advance to the highest level of your tier via Plundering. In order to get to the next Tier, you have to fulfill one of the Accomplishments you wrote down when you created your character.

Advancing to Tier 2 might entail a pilgrimage to the holy city of a character's faith, or perhaps gaining street cred within the setting's large, sprawling imperial capital. Advancing to Tier 3 could be gaining ownership of a plot of land (OSR's Name level, essentially), and so on.

The game also mentions that players will eventually use up all of the initial Accomplishments they wrote down, and so they should form new ones as the need arises, as well as to further serve as guides for a campaign's development as it evolves.

The game also acknowledges that since only three Accomplishments are needed to get to the fourth and final tier, the group can use Accomplishments to trigger other sorts of rewards as well, particularly in the realm of increasing one's stats. It also mentions that the Accomplishments that players write down and seek out can steer the tone and flavor of the game, and that the GM should make full use of these as plot points. A player that wants to avenge his father's death at the hands of a Mad Baron can serve as inspiration for the GM to make a Mad Baron archvillain right then and there.

Finally, players that manage to get to the very end of progression as level 12, tier 4 characters can undertake Endgame Accomplishments , which is when they cross into becoming the stuff of legends. Accomplishments of this scale should be things like uniting the Seven Kingdoms and actually becoming the Emperor, or turning an entire mountain into the vast sprawling capital, or becoming the Greatest Sorceror of all time, or communing with the gods and serving as their personal Prophet, and other such feats.

Holdings and Treasure Troves

(I had originally intended to cover spells next, but I'm going to go into Holdings instead since it was mentioned in the Plundering section)


Holdings are not the only places where adventures, combat with monsters and treasure-hunting happens. They are, however, the only places that hold treasure that confers an experience level when successfully plundered. A Holding's physical space is best described as a cohesive, stylistically recognisable and circumscribed set of locales. Holdings can be the entirety or portions of castles, forts, dungeon levels, hideouts, ruins, crypts, cairns and lairs: it's possible to have Holdings within Holdings.

The writing continues to be very honest about its genre tropes: entering a Holding should be a deliberate transition, with the most common one being a special dungeon door, while an outdoor holding might cause a sudden shift in the surrounding foliage, light level, and wildlife noise. Such transitions are necessary in order to telegraph to the players that they are now in "Exploration mode" to find Treasure Troves and that hostile encounters might ensue.

At this point we get to some guidelines:

* A Holding should be as the same level as the players, or higher.
* The monsters in the Holding should be of the same level as that of the Holding (and by extension of the players).
* There's a table listing how many monsters there should be for a Holding of any given level. A level 1 Holding should have 7d6 residents, and then it goes down by roughly 1d6 per level, until Tier 4 Holdings only have 1d6 residents, ostensibly to reflect that by then the players should be tackling few-but-individually-very-strong Dragons, Frost Giants, Liches and the like
* At the end of every Holding there should be a Treasure Trove, containing [Level ^ 2 * 3d6 * 10] thalers (AFG's currency) worth of Treasure. 20-70% of the Trove's value should directly be in thaler coins, while the rest should be in valuable goods
* Each Trove should also have a single Special Item that the GM can roll for via table

Remember that since combat consists mostly of Hits and Fighting Capability, Holdings should be fairly straightforward to fill out with monsters: A level 1 Holding might have 30 skeletons with 1d6 Hits each and 0 FC, spread out over a bunch of rooms, culminating in an encounter with a 2d6 Hit/1 FC Necromancer at the very end. Reskin the skeletons as goblins and the necromancer as a warchief. The game even presents an example where a castle is split up into three different Holdings.

Finally, from the Special Item section:

First, do a 1d6 roll to determine what kind of item it is:
1 gives you a Plot Device, or an item that has a marginal monetary value but is critical to advancing the plot of the setting
2 gets you a valuable trinket worth 2d6 * 100 thaler
3-5 gets you a Magical Item
6 gets you a Great Item from a d66 table. Examples:


Magic Broom. Can be ridden by two people and fly at 100'/round. A rider must spend 1 Mana for each hour of travel.

Barbed Sword of Slaying. This magical two-handed sword deals double damage (after factoring armour protection) against a specific type of creature

Shard of Hell. When the holder casts Hellgate the five lowest damage dice results are rerolled, but only for results that are not sixes. Note that this not only improves the damage but also greatly increases the chances of releasing a demon.

By now you might be wondering why I haven't posted any art from the book. That's because there isn't any.

On a personal note, this is my first time doing this kind of write-up, so any feedback would be appreciated


posted by gradenko_2000 Original SA post

Adventure Fantasy Game , part 3

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.
In part 2, we covered experience, character growth, accomplishments, treasures and dungeons

This time I'll talk about FIGHTMORE , the more advanced combat system.

FIGHTMORE is divided into 4 distinct phases: Melee, Missile, Manoeuvre and Magic. Combat always cycles through these 4 phases in a strict order. At the beginning of every a phase, a player declares if they are acting during that phase, and that precludes them from acting in any other phase.

Melee Phase

Every character acting in this phase selects a target they are in melee range with to attack.

If it's just one character attacking another, then both characters roll a d6 and add their Fighting Capability. If the attacker's roll is equal to higher than the defender's roll, the attacker hits and rolls for damage.

If it's two characters attacking each other, then both characters roll a d6 and add their Fighting Capability. Whoever's roll is higher gets to hit and rolls for damage. If it's a draw, both of them hit each other and both of them roll for damage.

Other options:

Charge! lets you move up to twice your movement speed and do a melee attack in the same phase if you're not in melee range of anyone yet. You get bonus damage if you need to charge more than 20 feet to get to your target

Shield Block will let you avoid damage if the attack rolls are a draw.

Unarmed Combat will give you a -1 penalty to your rolls, unless you are a Fighter in medium or heavy armor, or a monster with nasty claws or fangs and the like. If you didn't have a weapon at the start of this phase, you can spend this phase to draw a weapon and attack and suffer a -1 penalty, or draw a weapon but only defend, avoiding any penalties on your rolls.

Missile Phase

If you were damaged in the Melee Phase, you cannot act in this phase anymore

To make a missile attack, roll a d6, add your FC, apply a -1 to -3 penalty for medium to very long range, apply a -1 to -4 penalty for the defender using a shield and/or hiding behind cover, and get a 5+ on the result to hit and roll for damage.

Manoeuvre Phase

You can move up to twice their movement speed during this phase, although moving farther than your movement speed disables the benefit of your shield until the next round.

Magic Phase

This is where you can declare casting spells and when spells take effect. There's an exception though: if it's an instantaneous spell, then it's declared during this phase and then happens immediately after declarating.

However, if the spell takes 1 round or more to cast, then the casting should be declared at the start of the round (as in before the Melee Phase), and then only when it gets to the Magic Phase does the 1 round elapse and the spell takes effect. The reason for this is that if the caster is damaged during the Melee or Missile Phases, then the spell fizzles and the mana is wasted.

Rolling for Damage

Whenever you successfully land a hit, roll a d6. Then:
Roll a bonus d6 for every 1 FC you have
Roll a bonus d6 if you're using a two-handed weapon and your PHY stat is high
Roll a bonus d6 if you're using a magic weapon
Roll a bonus d6 if you charged more than 20 feet in the Melee Phase
Roll a bonus d6 if you charged more than 40 feet while mounted

Out of all the d6 that was rolled, choose the one with the highest result. That's your base damage.
Look at the remaining d6 - every other d6 that rolled a 5 or higher adds 1 to the base damage.


Whereas in basic combat, armor acts as a penalty modifier to the 5MORE roll to hit, armor is considered flat damage reduction in FIGHTMORE. Light armor reduces the damage taken from any hit by 1, Medium reduces it by 2 and Heavy reduces it by 3.

In closing

FIGHTMORE differs from the basic 5MAIL combat in a few aspects: melee combat is an opposed roll instead of a 5MORE roll, damage is higher and potentially more lethal, and armor is damage reduction rather than a reduction in hit chance. I can't say I really see the benefits of FIGHTMORE though. Opposed rolls are, at least to me, harder to eyeball the probabilities of, and the increased damage seems like it'd throw off the survivability curve of HP that's all d6 based.

There's another chapter on optional combat rules that I'll cover in a later part, but those are supposed to be equally applicable to both 5MAIL and FIGHTMORE, so FIGHTMORE by itself does not really feel like it delivers on being more "advanced" when it comes to combat. It's marginally more complicated, but I just don't see the point.

optional combat rules

posted by gradenko_2000 Original SA post

Adventure Fantasy Game , part 4

In part 1, we covered the core mechanic, character generation, and basic combat.
In part 2, we covered experience, character growth, accomplishments, treasures and dungeons
In part 3, we covered the advanced combat system

This time I'll talk about the optional combat rules , which can be applied to both the basic 5MAIL and advanced FIGHTMORE systems

Saving Throws : a character has 4 different saving throws:


Whenever a character runs into a situation that would necessitate a traditional TRPG saving throw, such as Alertness to dodge out of a fireball or Toughness to swole through some poison, make a 5MORE skill roll against the saving throw, but include a -2 penalty and a bonus equal to the character's Tier. If the 5MORE roll succeeds, then the character avoids some of the badness, else he takes the full brunt of it.

The saving throws are spelled out separately because they're supposed to be able to develop EXPERT and MASTER status, just like any other 5MORE skill.

Shield-smashing : if a character uses Shield Block as their action and an attack lands, roll for damage regardless. If the damage is 7 or more, the shield is damaged and cannot be used until repaired. Magic shields cannot be damaged.

Morale : When a battle turns bad, a character will have to make a Morale saving throw in order to keep fighting, or else they will flee. A battle turning bad is defined as [if your side has lost 25% of their total Hits], [lost 50% of total hits], [lost 75% of total hits], or if one side is totally outmatched.

Special weapon effects :

Swords and Long Blades - if the character wielding the sword is engaged with multiple enemies, any successful attack can be leveraged to deal damage to any enemy currently engaged, even if they were not the one that the attack was rolled against
Axes, Maces and Unbalanced Weapons - the target's armor is considered 1 grade worse
Flails and Chains - cannot be blocked by shields
Lance - when you use a mounted charge, add another damage die when rolling for damage (on top of the additional one you get simply for doing a mounted charge)
Spears and Long-Hafted Weapons - characters using these weapons always go first during the melee phase
Knives, Daggers and Short Blades - gain a +2 bonus to 5MORE skill rolls to conceal these weapons, and they can be drawn within the same round without taking a penalty. If the target is unarmed, add another damage die when rolling for damage.
Long Staves - characters using this weapon can use the Shield Block move as if they had a shield
Bows - characters using this weapon have a -1 to Fighting Capability (to be fair, the game outright admits that these special weapon rules are supposed to nerf ranged attacks)
Slings - these weapons have a -1 penalty to damage against armored targets
Crossbows and Firearms - the target's armor is considered 1 grade worse and Firearms deal 1 additional damage die, but Crossbows need 1 full round to reload, and Firearms need 3 full rounds

Critical Wounds :

If a character reaches 0 or negative Hits, roll a 1d6 and refer to a table for additional damage. These are things like taking scars or deep cuts at the low-end of the table, all the way to losing a whole leg or arm, or to just confirm your death in an especially gruesome manner if your Hits go negative enough.

Tweaking the Combat Math :

The ratio between additional damage dice and FC is 1:1. It's suggested to change this to 1 additional damage dice every 2 FC in order if you want armor to retain effectiveness even at high levels.

The ratio between [Levels + Additional Hits] to FC is 4:1. It's suggested to change this to a lower ratio to make the Way of Steel have a larger effect in combat effectiveness.

As an alternative way of calculating FC, divide the character's maximum Hits by 10 without adding Additional Hits and round down. This has the opposite effect of making the Way of Steel more "plain", although I'm not sure why you'd want to do this.

Finally, if you're using FIGHTMORE's opposed rolls for your Melee phase, there's a suggestion to use 3d6+Level rolls for "grittier" combat or 1d20+Level rolls for "swingier" combat, instead of the normal d6+FC.

Tweaking Initiative :

If you move Magic to the first phase, casters will never fail spells, making them much more lethal.

If you move Missile to the first phase, characters will always be able to take at least one ranged shot before becoming engaged in melee.

In Closing :

The saving throws are cool and would fit into a "normal" game pretty easily. I don't know that the combat here really needs the Morale check rules, since the math looks tighter and less lethal than the rest of the OSR. The special weapon effects and critical wounds rules add a bunch of chrome, but personally I think they just add complexity for complexity's sake.

What impressed me was the suggestions to tweak the combat math: It shows that the author really had a mathematical basis for the system in the first place, and understands it well enough to lay the assumptions bare and tell you how to jigger with it.