posted by Tibalt Original SA post

Fantasy Craft
Part 1: Context


So I said I would provide a review of Crafty Game's Fantasy Craft earlier in the thread. However, unlike other times I've considered reviewing a game, I spent several hours trapped on a plane yesterday and I'm spending a week alone in a foreign city. This review isn't going to be a normal review. For one, most of this review will be in response to the issues raised in Nights' review of Spycraft - whether the people at Crafty Games recognized them as problems, and how they decided to address them. Two, this will be (as far as I can tell) the first comparative review. I will be looking at Fantasy Craft side-by-side with it's more infamous sister, the D&D 3.75 herself, Pathfinder. This won't be polemic - I'll not trying to rise up one game by tearing down the other. In fact, I think highly of both games and I like a lot of the things they're doing. But the OGL era was a quiet cataclysm in role-playing that is, somehow, still going.

A few disclaimers: I am not an expert, an industry insider, or a historian. I was a tween who discovered D&D when 3rd edition was released, and grew into adulthood during the OGL era. I am as reliable as any other eye witness - not very. I played Fantasy Craft once when it was released, but I vaguely suspect that we used a bootleg copy of the playtest version and that was almost a decade ago. I have several biases, which I'll state here and otherwise try to avoid editorializing - 3.5 was a terribly broken system that I love dearly, all of its daughters carry the same fundamental flaws, the OGL was terrible for the RPG industry in general and the consumer in particular, and Ryan Dancey is a dink. I'll try to keep it to a minimum.

The Open Gaming Movement:
So, like, the existence of Fantasy Craft is weird, right? Everybody can agree on that? Crafty Games decided to take Dungeons and Dragons, a system for playing fantasy dungeon crawls, and kludge it into a system for playing super spies in Spycraft, and then kludge THAT system back into fantasy dungeon crawls. It's like Waluigi.

I, We, Waluigi: A Post-Modern analysis of Waluigi by Franck Ribery posted:

...You start with Mario - the wholesome all Italian plumbing superman, you reflect him to create Luigi - the same thing but slightly less. You invert Mario to create Wario - Mario turned septic and libertarian - then you reflect the inversion in the reflection: you create a being who can exist in reference to others. Waluigi is the true nowhere man...
So why does Fantasy Craft exist? Why does Pathfinder exist, for that matter?

The answer lies in Ryan Dancey, Wizard of the Coast's then-Vice President of roleplaying games. In 2000, WotC decided to license portions of D&D 3e under the Open Gaming License (OGL) to allow third-party publishers to produce d20 System compatible material. This was part of a ploy to smother innovation in the RPG industry and monopolize the market by flooding bookshelves with D&D and derivatives. That's not me editorializing, by the way - Ryan stated this himself.

The Most Dangerous Column in Gaming (ugh. Just... ugh) posted:

"Here's the logic in a nutshell. We've got a theory that says that D&D is the most popular roleplaying game because it is the game more people know how to play than any other game. (For those of you interested researching the theory, this concept is called "The Theory of Network Externalities.")... If you accept the Theory of Network Externalities, you have to admit that the battle is lost before it begins, because the value doesn't reside in the game itself, but in the network of people who know how to play it. If you accept (as I have finally come to do) that the theory is valid, then the logical conclusion is that the larger the number of people who play D&D, the harder it is for competitive games to succeed..."

So setting aside the size of Ryan's dink-ness (absolutely fucking massive, btw), he's was right. The industry was completely flooded with d20 System and their derivatives. If something didn't start as a d20 derivative, it eventually became one. Taking the long view, every single possible competitor was smothered under the weight, eventually dying ignoble deaths like being sold to an Icelandic spreadsheet simulator. d20 reigned supreme over everything, to the point where the eponymous die signified the act of roleplaying itself. This wouldn't be a terrible thing, of course, if the d20 System was good.

But it's not. Dear lord, it pains me to say it, but it's truly not good. Despite all my numerous happy memories from playing d20 games in high school, D&D 3e was so poorly designed that it almost instantly collapsed on itself and had to be replaced by 3.5, and the derivatives and supplements were usually broken messes. A few of my friends would compete to create the most broken character they could imagine - as far as I know, they never were actually able to finish playing out their PvP death matches before rules broke down or someone got bored. High level play was mostly a game of System Mastery solitaire, level 1 play was best used for simulating a group of poorly trained boy scouts entering The Cube, and really only levels 4 through 10 seemed to function reasonably well as long as everyone was on the same page about what kind of game you were playing. By the time D&D 4th edition was announced in 2008, the problems were pretty obvious.

Unfortunately, Ryan's interpretation of Network Externalities didn't seem to care who was publishing the competing product, and the extensive and irreversible nature of the OGL meant that other companies would be happy to feed the self-sustaining network of D&D 3.5 players. It was out of this need that Pathfinder, and to a lesser extent, Fantasy Craft arose. An attempt to fix the d20 System, with the benefit of hindsight and a decade of knowledge. These were companies that had survived on creating d20 System products, and didn't have Magic the Gathering to fund their marketing campaigns or printing costs. Is the system fundamentally flawed, like I believe? If not, surely these people would be able to make it work. Right? Right.

And this isn't an academic question either. For better or worse, Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition seems to owe a lot more to 3.5 then it does to 4th Edition, and it carries the OGL forward. Not to rant, but I truly do think the OGL has stifled the industry and has left a legacy that still hangs over us today. Other games and systems exist, of course. Anybody with a will and an internet connection can create their own system and publish it, and people will download it and play it. I'm not trying to discount their existence or their creativity. But if Disney was the only major movie studio and all they released were superhero movies, would it matter if indie films and theaters still existed? Would cinema grow and expand as an art form? Would that be a sustainable model, for anyone?

Anyway, onward to adventure!

Getting Started/The d20 System

posted by Tibalt Original SA post

Fantasy Craft
Part 2: Getting Started/The d20 System

Alien Rope Burn posted:

Fantasy Craft was, at heart, my D&D 4e. Pathfinder didn't do anything significant I didn't already have on my shelf of 3.5 books, I felt, and D&D 4th Edition felt too stifling with its deeply focused classes. Fantasy Craft was just right in the middle.
I like this quote a lot. It'll probably end up being the TL;DR of this entire review.

So now that we've gotten past my feelings on the OGL, let's start talking about the books themselves. This review could have easily been a comparison between Fantasy Craft and 3.5, but I chose to look at Pathfinder instead. Pathfinder stays very clearly on the path set down, and continues to follow it. I called it D&D 3.75 earlier for a reason - the system as a whole feels like an unbroken continuation. So why not compare the fixed version of the original game? Fantasy Craft, on the other hand, is a much more radical effort while still clearly within the framework of the d20 System. While the Pathfinder Fighter class is about the same as the original, Fantasy Craft's Soldier class is closer to the Soldier in Spycraft, including a level 14 Capstone "One in a Million" that lets her automatically roll a 20 once per session. I'll talk more about that sort of stuff when we get to classes, but there's a lot of suprising and interesting decisions made by Crafty Games throughout this book.

The d20 System
But first, I'd like to talk about the d20 System. If you're in this thread, you're almost certainly familiar with it. At the core, you have six attributes (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma) and a secret 7th attribute, Attack Bonus. Whenever you want your character to do something, you roll a d20+attribute, modified by any skills, feats, or abilities she might have. You want to roll high.

There are the races and classes and feats piled on top of this, but that is the core mechanic of the game. It's also the fundemental flaw in the system, in my opinion. It's not an objective fact, of course - everyone involved in the d20 System were competent and intelligent game designers, so they would have noticed an obvious "I can prove it with math" sort of problem. And a lot of what I'm about to say will seem like fixable issues that Fantasy Craft will try to address.

The problem is the d20, the range of levels, and incoherent nature of Difficulty Classes (DC). At low levels Pathfinder characters seem incompetent and fragile, because they are. A level 1 character will have, at best, +8 to a skill that she maxed out (including a precious feat) or a +6 to attack. She'll fail a DC 15 skill check 30% of the time, and she'll completely miss an Armor Class (AC) 10 enemy 20% of the time. She is the most competent person in your party, and she's mostly at the mercy of the dice.

Is a DC 15 skill check difficult? Is an AC 10 enemy hard to hit? Depends. A level 4 party will be mostly competent and able to hit those sorts of number - which is why the DM will throw harder enemies at you. DC checks are generally presented in Pathfinder as naturalistic - that a DC 10 climb will be a DC 10 climb regardless of your parties' level. However, a good DM is going to tailor the challenges to your party. So in my experience, DCs end up being a lot like an enemies' AC - a sliding scale that grows with the characters. Hopefully your DM can explain why the DC 30 lock is so much more impressive than the DC 20 lock in a way that doesn't make your Rogue feel patronized.

The optimal strategy for a player to take is to avoid the swinginess of a d20 altogether, and force their enemies to make saves with massive penalties for failure. In practice, that has generally meant using magic, but there's nothing inherent to this fact that makes a wizard overpowered. But when a wizard gets access to Knock and a rogue has to rely on their skill points, you can see the issue. And in theory there is a way to balance a save-or-lose spell like Color Spray against hitting someone with a sword, but it tends to be a problem in practice.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me on this, of course - people have been debating these things for literally a decade at this point. And there are a great many people who would argue with me whether these are even flaws, or just part of the game. There are some other issues that I'll talk about more when we reach Crafty Game's solution - action economy, hit points, loot, genre expectations. But for now, I'd like to point to the very first solution that Fantasy Craft provides: action dice. Yes, it's true, this whole review won't be warmed-over Quadratic Wizard rants from a decade ago - I actually want to explore what Fantasy Craft does differently from Pathfinder.

Action dice, as mentioned by Nights during the Spycraft review, is a metacurrency used by the players and DM to affect the game. Players use them to boost rolls, boost defense, activate a threat/an opponent's error, or heal the character. You're automatically given a set number at the beginning of each session, and they don't carry over - encouraging you to use them. It functions as a limited, session-based resource that dramatically increases a character's competency - and I'm using dramatically in both sense of the word. When used to boost a roll at low levels, it increases the result by +4 on average. To go back to our +6 attack character trying to hit AC 10, they're almost certainly going to succeed if the players wants. But players get to choose which rolls they boost, meaning they're going to boost the rolls that are important to them and when they really want to succeed. Ever scored a critical hit on a 1 health minion? Yeah. There will be feats and abilities later on that interact with action dice, but I'll cover them later.

So what's the problem with action dice? Well, there's two issues. First, my issue, it's a bandaid over the fundamental variance of a d20. It's entirely possible to just roll bad all night. You've used up your action dice for the session, and you've still got a couple hours to go. Hope you roll better, I guess! Second, presumably the one that the designer of Pathfinder had, it's a session-based metacurrency with an element of narrative play at work. Occasionally feats and abilities will give you the opportunity to just demand things from your DM, such as clue about the current puzzle. The DM is free to say no, but has to give you an action dice for doing so. It also constrains the DM - she has to trade in her own action dice to activate a player's error, or to put special rules into effect for a scene. While I'm not going to go down a GNS rabbit hole, you can appreciate why this clashes with the simulation mindset that seems to be behind Pathfinder.

Next time, I'll start talking Fantasy Craft and races.


posted by Tibalt Original SA post

Fantasy Craft
Part 3: Races

Human, Dwarf, Halfling, Elf, Gnome, Half-Orc, Half-Elf?

Try Giant, Treant, and motherfucking DRAGON.

The drake is the party's face

Unfortunately, I don't have time to really dig into the races offered by Fantasy Craft - a lot of this post is going to be spent just talking about Humans. Race options are Drake (miniature dragons), Dwarf, Elf, Giant, Goblin, Human, Ogre, Orc, Pech (Combined halflings/gnomes), Rootwalker (Treants), Saurian, and Unborn (Warforged, Golems, and other constructs). About my only complaint is that Orcs are based on Tolkien, i.e. deformed and tortured elves turned evil by some ancient Dark Lord. Like I get it, but it's a bizarrely specific take on an otherwise setting-neutral game, and it's not the last one either.

Splinter races (or what Pathfinder would call sub-races) are defined by feats - Ice Drakes have the Elemental Heritage feat, Blood Tribe Goblins have the Great Horde feat, Frogmen are Saurians with the Swamp Clutch feat, and so on. All the races have a couple splinter race feats. It's all pretty neat, and a pretty straightforward way of handling the problem of sub-races without too much bloat. About my only complaint is that it's too many options - 12 races with 2 or 3 subraces is a bit too much. You'll hear this complaint from me a lot this post.

But let's get into the meat of the discussion. In Pathfinder, Humans receive a +2 to one ability score, a free feat, and an additional skill rank. It is generally the safe, optimal choice but also a bit boring. In most situations, the specific feat you selected will be stronger for your character than the grab bag of flavorful abilities you get from being an Elf or Dwarf. While Pathfinder has significantly improved the other races, the specific abilities that fit into your build are usually going to be stronger than the half dozen abilities that don't.

Fantasy Craft Humans are similar at first glance. They receive no innate modifier, and are the default "Medium biped folk with a Reach of 1" (aka the baseline). They receive one Talent, a specific set of pseudo-feats that represents a particular heritage, personality, or outlook. Talents are things like Charismatic, Methodical, or Savvy. For example, Charismatic (part of a cycle with Strong, Agile, Intelligent, Wise, and Hardy) provides a +2 CHA and the Double Boost (Cha), Charming, and Encouragement benefits. Methodical provides +1 WIS, and the Enlightened Haggle, Enlightened Investigate, Free Hint (the ability to ask for a hint from your DM and either get it or an action die I mentioned earlier), 1 Origin Skill, and Slow and Steady benefits. Savvy provides +2 WIS, -2 STR with the Grace Under Pressure and If I Recall... benefits. There are no obvious lemons in the Talent list, and they all seem to put you about on par with the other races. Just about any of them could be justified based on what class you wanted to take.

In total, there are 25 talents. When I played Fantasy Craft, it was an all-Human game loosely inspired by Game of Thrones. Within that context, the Talents worked great for differentiating characters in a way that I don't think Pathfinder would have supported. That said, I got a bit of decision paralysis just picking out which ones to include as examples. While better than most d20 System games, Fantasy Craft doesn't really support building towards a concept (which is frankly a pretty unreasonable request, I know). On the other hand, I literally can't imagine building a character without at least some strong idea of what you want. You've got to go into this with a core vision, like a Pech martial artist who punches like Giant, or you'll just end up lost.

And then there is your Specialty. Where you'd be done with this section and moving on to classes in Pathfinder, Specialties in Fantasy Craft function mechanically as something in between a race and a class. You choose one at character creation (like a race) but it provides you a specific feat and some abilities like a 0-level class. Example specialties are Adventurer, Barbarian, Fencer, or Physician. Some races are incentivized towards a specific specialty - Pech don't get their Specialty feat if they don't pick Acrobat, Adventurer, Bard, Cavalier, Corsair, Merchant, Physician, Rogue, Swindler, or Warden for example.

What the hell, Fantasy Craft, you were doing so well. Why are you punishing my dreams of Danny Rand-gins, the Iron Proudfist? But nope, I'm mechanically discouraged from picking the Fist Specialty (aka Monk) for my Pech Soldier focusing on martial arts. There's actually a lot of these sort of issues. Goblins lose 2 of their starting action dice if their highest class isn't Lancer or Priest. Orcs can never make a Calm or Influence Check. Rootwalkers take double damage from fire. Elves receive half the usual amount of healing for vitality. Unborn explode like egg shells if they fall, as they suffer 1 additional damage per die and the damage gains the Keen(20) quality (this means nothing to you yet, don't worry).

As rad as being able to play as a miniature dragon might be, I really have to give it to Pathfinder here. Sure, their races are PSL-drinking Basic, but they're servicable and straight forward. Fantasy Craft on the other hand feels bloated, with too many races, sub-races, talents, and specialties to really be able to take it all in at once. And it doesn't really feel like it's in service to anything, either. Specialties are alright, I suppose, as a sort of expanded mechanically-supported Background but you're probably still going to pick the specialty that gives you the best feat for your character. Talents make Humans much more varied, but at the expense of their own special subsystem. About half the limitations on race-class-specialty combinations seem driven more by flavor concerns than balance - but Fantasy Craft has no proscribed setting. It frankly feels like a mess.

But maybe I'm missing it, because I lack a well-rounded experience. Like I said, the only game I played was all-Humans, and the Talents were wonderful in that setting. Maybe games like that justify Talents as a subsystem. And maybe having the option to play Team Large with a Drake Spellcaster, Rootwalker Keeper, a Giant Sage, and an Ogre Soldier justifies their own existence. Maybe I'm just getting a little cross-eyed because I'm reading it and not creating my own character. I'd love to hear other people's experience, but it really does feel like too much.

Next time, we'll talk about Classes!

Supplemental: Tordek

posted by Tibalt Original SA post

Fantasy Craft
Supplemental: Tordek

So before I digging into classes, I wanted to discuss Tordek, the iconic Dwarf Fighter from Dungeons and Dragons. Originally, I wasn't planning to actually make any characters in either Fantasy Craft or Pathfinder, but I realized that I really did need to show an example to illustrate some of my points.

In 3.5, Tordek is a Dwarf Fighter. He sinks all his feats into his Dwarvish Waraxe, carries a shield, and wears the heaviest armor he can afford. He showed up once during a game in high school, where the DM played him as a Fantasy worf whose really into being as Dwarfy as he can be. That's the concept we'll working towards with both systems. I won't be following the 3.5 version, because... well, he's kind of terribly built.

Anyway, Fantasy Craft immediately takes the lead by having the default character generation method being Point Buy, while Pathfinder recommends 4d6 Drop Lowest. I'm not going to spend any more words debating random character generation. The game just works better mechanically if a character isn't randomly better or worse than the baseline character. Anyway, I got 17, 14, 13, 9, 8, 8. No, really, that's actually what I rolled, I'm not just saying that to illustrate my point. They're fine enough though, so we'll go with it.

With the race already decided by our concept, the only real decision I needed to make for Fantasy Craft was the Specialty. Shield Bearer seems like a good choice - Tordek getting started as a hoplite shoulder to shoulder with his fellow dwarves seems to work.

Going into this post, I was planning to draw comparisons between the number of abilites you need to keep track of in Fantasy Craft compared to Pathfinder... but they're not actually as far apart as I thought, 7 vs 10. I forgot about all the incredibly niche racial abilities Dwarves get. I honestly can't remember any time they came up besides the AC bonus against Giants, the attack bonus against Orcs, and Darkvision.

Anyway, Fantasy Craft Dwarves have more racial abilities that you'll want to track. Thick Hide 3 isn't as helpful as it looks as Tordek will be wearing armor, but the +4 to CON makes him innately durable. From Shield Bearer, Agile Defense gives a +1 to base Defense and Practiced Resolved gives you back your action die if you boost a Resolve check and still fail. Melee Combat Expert means Tordek is considered to have 2 additional Melee Combat feats for abilities, which I'll talk about when we get to feats. Since Tordek will using a shield, the free feat is nice as well.

Overall Tordek is already noticeably more competent in Fantasy Craft, but Crafty Games had to include a lot of complexity to get to that point. While I take exception to Pathfinder recommending 4d6 Drop Lowest, it's admittedly presented as an array of options alongside Classic (3d6), Heroic (2d6+6) and Point Buy.

Race: Dwarf
STR	17	+3		INT	8	-1
DEX	13	+1		WIS	9(+2)	+0
CON	14(+2)	+3		CHA	8(-2)	-2

Darkvision		Defensive Training
Greed			Hatred(Orcs, Goblinoids)
Hardy			Stability
Fantasy Craft
Race: Dwarf Shield Bearer
STR	16 	+3		INT	11	+0
DEX	12(-2) 	+0		WIS	12	+1
CON	14(+4) 	+4		CHA	10	+0

Enlightened Skill(TBD)	Iron Gut
Improved Stability	Low-Light Vision
Thick Hide 3		Agile Defense
Shield Block Trick	Melee Combat Expert
Practiced Resolve	

Shield Basics
Next time, Classes for real

Classes, part 1

posted by Tibalt Original SA post

Fantasy Craft
Part 4: Classes, part 1

Fantasy Craft has 12 basic classes, two of which are restricted. I'll very briefly touch on their role in the party and their gimmick. Fantasy Craft describes party roles as Backer (improves the entire part's performance), Combatant (good at fighting), Specialist (master of one or more skills), Solver (excels at plot advancement and information gathering), Talker (great with NPCs and social situations), and Wildcards (able to fill in different or even multiple roles).

Assassins are Talker/Combatants who use deception to get in close for the skill.
Burglars are Specialist/Combatants who focus on stealth but can hold their own in a fight.
Captains are Backer/Combatants, a party 'force multiplier' who can hang tough on the front line.
Courtiers are Talker/Backers, the premier social characters (which has some suprising benefits).
Explorers are Solvers who excel at traps, riddles, puzzles, and other obstacles.
Keepers are Specialists who focus on a few key skills, making great healers or crafters.
Lancers are Combatant/Talkers who focus on mounted combat with strong social skills.
Sages are Backer/Wildcards who boost their allies and can fill any secondary role by building their own custom class.
Scouts are Combatant/Solvers who use terrain in combat and guide the rest of the party through the wilderness.
Soldiers are Combatants and the ultimate general warrior.

There's also Expert Classes (what Pathfinder calls Prestige Classes) like the Swashbuckler that I won't really talk about.

I love the Swashbuckler but this review is already getting thesis-like

The last two classes are Mages who cast Arcane spells, and Priests who use divine Miracles. Fantasy Craft doesn't assume spellcasting is something available to player characters by default. Instead, the "Sorcery" or "Miracle" campaign qualities have to be in effect. Mages use Spell Points as the resource of casting spells instead of Spell Slots, and high-level spells are gated behind career levels. They also get access to the Spellcasting skill, which they use to see whether or not a spell succeeds. A 0th level spell has DC 13, while 9th level spell has DC 40 - if the Spellcasting check fails, the spell fails.

Requiring Mages to interact with the core mechanic of the d20 System does a lot to solve The Wizard Problem, and getting rid of Vancian spell casting and spell slots is about the only time where Fantasy Craft is less fiddly and crunchy than Pathfinder. The Spellcasting skill also does a neat trick for multiclass characters that I really appreciate - you can still max out the skill even if you take a different class. Your ability to access higher level spells and strengthen your spells stop, but you become more competent at you do have access. If a level 10 character dipped into Mage for 3 levels to get access to Level 1 spells, she'll be rolling Spellcasting +13 against a DC 16 check for those spells. It's a nice change of pace from Pathfinder, where any multi-class character that didn't have full spell progression was almost certainly a mistake.

A typical wizard, apparently

Anyway, let's set aside Mages and talk about the classes in general. The first class you take, and ONLY the first class, gives you a Core Ability that is powerful and useful at all levels. These can benefit yourself, like the Burglar's Dexterous ability which doubles the number of dice you roll when you use an action die to boost a Dexterity-based skill check. Others let you help your teammates, like the Captain's Cadre ability which lets you grant a teammate one of your Basic Combat feats for a scene, for free.

Literally none of the classes have 'dead levels', where your abilities don't improve besides a bump to BAB and saves. Every single level, for every single class, you get something for leveling up. Most of the abilities are tiered (ie Explorer's Bookworm I-III) so that you don't have an overwhelming number of abilities to keep track of - most classes have around 6 to 10. Almost all the classes get 6 + Int skill points, and a set number of Vitality between 6 and 12.

Brief tangent, did anyone ever play a game where you actually rolled your hit die when you leveled? Even the groggiest table I've played at let you take 75% of your hit die. It's the most inexplicable thing I've seen in the rules for Pathfinder or Dungeons and Dragons because everyone ignores it. Anyway...

Most classes grants you a level 1 ability that give you a fundamental level of competency in that classes' "Thing". For example, the Burglar gets "Very, Very Sneaky" at level 1, where if they fail an Acrobatics or Sneak check, they still succeed if the check DC is less than their 20 + their Burglar level. Functionally, whenever your Burglar character makes a Sneak check, they get to pick the d20 result or a flat 15, whichever is better. If this feels very powerful, it's because it is - anything that lets you ignore the variance of a d20 is going to be busted. Fantasy Craft hands this out to everyone for their core competency. This literally blew my mind when I played.

The only exceptions are the Captain, Sage, and Soldier. Since the Captain is focused on leading a team and boosting her buddies, she gets a Follower to boss around and ensure she's not fighting alone with no one to boost. The Sage gets the ability to apply her action die to to her teammate's rolls, because she's all about playing Support for the party's Carry. I'll talk about the Soldier next post.

Finally, each class gets a level 14 Capstone ability, although it's not really called out as that. About the only thing in common is that they're extremely powerful rewards for sticking with the class. For example, Lancers get "Last Stand" - once per adventure, you and nearby allies take half damage after Damage Reduction and Damage Resistance is applied. You (but not allies) may continue to act normally even if your wounds drop below 0. -10 wounds will still kill you, so you're not literally the Terminator... but you're pretty damn close. Imagine that scene from the Magnificent Seven with Faraday, and you get the idea. The Courtier gets to automatically win an opposed skill check once per scene, the Burglar gets 4 extra Prizes (Magic Items, Holdings, or Contacts) and 400 Reputation to spend on them (like Spycraft's Budget, but fixed). I've never played in a high level Fantasy Craft game, so I can't say how good they actually are, but they seem pretty damn neat to me.

Next post I'll be taking a deep dive into comparing Tordek the Iconic Dwarven Fighter in Pathfinder and Fantasy Craft. I'm definitely doing level 1, I might do level 4, and I'm probably not doing level 20 unless people really, really want to see a comparison at high levels. The d20 system... I really don't think it should go past level 15, but apparently I'm in the minority on this.

The Iconic Solder in Fantasy Craft is, uh, intense