Let’s start off this bit with some full disclosure. Stephen J Grodzicki did pass me a comp copy of the Deluxe Edition. Also, I previously did do a review of the original free edition of Low Fantasy Gaming. Now I haven’t gone through each book with a fine-toothed comb to find every minor difference.
Now let’s get the low down on Low Fantasy Gaming. This game is geared towards a grittier and dare I say more Weird Sword & Sorcery type vibe. Magic is dangerous and mysterious. It uses as its base a set of rules that will seem familiar to anyone who has played just about any edition of D&D. Now there are some differences and I’ll go into what I think are coolest later but when reading through the rules of Low Fantasy Gaming, most folks will see the DNA of many other games. Because there are so many similarities, I’m going to stick with what makes Low Fantasy Gaming Cool.
Magic is Dark and Dangerous: IMHO even the original editions do that great of job of making magic mysterious. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun and that it ended up being as video gamey as later editions. In Low Fantasy Gaming, magic is dangerous. The more a magic-user casts spells, the more likely it is that something bad (and sometimes very bad) happens. I did notice that the Deluxe Edition did rename the spells as something more evocative and there’s a handy chart in the back to reference original spell names with the new ones. The Deluxe also adds the Cultist which is at its most basic is the replacement for the Cleric. Instead of list of spells, the Cultist gains a set of abilities that pretty much mirror the most common cleric spells. Like magic-users, there is some risk to their spell casting. Just like the cleric of Dungeon Crawl Classics, the Cultist can suffer the displeasure of their god and face some pretty mean consequences.
Unique Features: This is pretty cool. At 3rd level and three levels after that, player characters gain a unique feature. So what exactly is a unique feature? Well, much relies on the GM discretion and the player’s imagination. It’s basically any extra bonus for the character. What I like about this is that it’s one of the few times that I’ve seen a rulebook the suggestion to use inspiration from any other game. That’s right may be you like a feat or something from Pathfinder or 5E. Well, convert it and use it. So there’s no long list but some suggestions. Also, this little bit is sure to make all the characters and even the campaigns unique since this opens up so many options.
Luck: I like luck mechanics. While not a standard in many games, it is a standard in lots of fiction. So I got no problem with that. Luck is a save and a resource and it diminishes so make your choices wisely. It’s not just burning points for better results. This also is used in Major Exploits. These basically do something really, really cool. Not only would the character have to succeed on an attack, skill, or attribute roll but then they’d also have to make a Luck check to do the really cool thing.
For old grognards, I will say that the game has a skill system too. Now, it’s not as crazy as things were with 3.x but it a little more detailed than 5E. It’s a solid system that doesn’t inflate the skill levels and offers a new mechanic with a re-roll pool for characters attempting things that they are skilled at.
So do I recommend it? Well, yes. Yes I do. It’s a solid game that takes a lot different bits and pieces from various games and editions and puts them together in nifty little package. Am I actually going to play it? Probably not but I still recommend it. Like I said, lots of cool stuff from various other games which you can port into your game with very little effort. Plus there’s some handy pretty system neutral charts for GM’s like the NPC generator and as mentioned before Dark and Dangerous Magic.
The Deluxe Edition, the free version, and various other goodies are available on DrivethruRPG.
Also check out the Low Fantasy Gaming website for more good stuff.
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