Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Completely Forgot to Mention...

Faoladh commented:
The only qualm I'd have is if you still included level drain effects. Fear would have to be generated in some other way.
Yeah, um, forgot to mention:

There will be no level drain in the game.

Level a threat, consequence, danger, B/X or any other "old school" edition of D&D is just fine and dandy by me, as I've written many times before. Why? Because it's just one more way of attacking a certain aspect of player characters, and it's a penalty from which recovery is relatively easy (just earn some more XP, dude). And anyway, in a world where character levels go from 1-36 (or 1-20 or 1-infinity-and-beyond) a lost level or two isn't going to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things.

Yes, I know many people have differing opinions.

But for MY fantasy heartbreaker, there will be no level drain. For a number of reasons (none of which pertain to the statement "level drain sucks!"). Here's why I'm leaving it out:

  • While the idea of "negative energy" undead was kind of cool in the original game, it was used inconsistently (i.e. not every "negative energy" undead creature drained levels).
  • If you're not going to be consistent with a concept (ghouls and mummies don't drain levels) than it seems a bit lazy not to come up with unique dangers/threats from each individual undead.
  • Fantasy heartbreakers give designers the chance to "clean up" the imperfections they find in the original (D&D) game...and I plan on taking advantage and doing the same. This ain't no retroclone, it's a fantasy heartbreaker yo! One thing I can do is look at the source material and change it to be more in line with MY take on traditional monster mythology. And I intend to do so.
  • Finally, with only five total levels in the game (less for demihumans) the issue of "keeping PCs power in check" becomes much less about reigning in levels. There are plenty more ways to cripple PCs (and more permanently!) than using level drain.
So level drain. There WILL be undead in the game (even though this is its own game, I plan on using stat blocks for monsters eerily similar to the B/X game...just in case anyone wants to convert with ease). The creatures of the night that I intend to use include the following:

Wights (renamed Draugr)

In other words, the same basic undead found in both OD&D and B/X.

By the way...did I mention there is no "cleric" class in the new game?
; )


  1. Heh, that's me. Always pointing out the obvious. It's a habit from playtesting SJG products for a lot of years.

  2. So, JB, this fantasy heartbreaker of're now committed to making it a reality? Just want to clarify.

  3. where did the term "fantasy heartbreaker" come from, anyway? What the hell does that even mean?

  4. I think this article is the origin of "Fantasy Heartbreaker":

  5. On the webpage that KP posted above, the writer defines fantasy heartbreaker games as being "truly impressive in terms of the drive, commitment, and personal joy that's evident in both their existence and in their details - yet they are also teeth-grindingly frustrating, in that, like their counterparts from the late 70s, they represent but a single creative step from their source: old-style D&D."

    Take from that what you will. In general, I think it refers to published games which do not stray far from the tenets of the previously published games that inspired them. I think of these types of games as someone's house rules that they've decided to publish instead of just using in their own games. They may have great presentation, but ultimately they are heart breaking because they are not major innovations. I would put Dungeon Crawl Classics into this category, myself. But that's just me.

  6. @ Iron Goat: Sorry...I referenced the article back in my 1st post on the subject (with a link). KP and Drance have the right of it.

    In addition, though, the other aspect of why these games (and, yes, I include DCC in the category) "break hearts" is because they are not very COMMERCIALLY VIABLE despite the amount of time, money, effort, and (often) love put into them.

    Why? Because if people want to play D&D, they'll play D&D and if they don't like the rules in D&D, they'll tinker with 'em till they like what they've got.

    Trying to publish a FHB as a viable commercial enterprise is just flushing money down the toilet. Of course, the same could be said for most RPG publications!
    ; )