I’m astonished this game hasn’t gotten more press.
Fantaji is a Universal Role Playing Game, much like FATE, Cypher, or GURPS. It is the brainchild of Calvin Johns and his crew at Anthropos games. I purchased my print + digital copies from DriveThruRPG.com many years ago. The Anthropos website also has some nice character sheets, cards, and so on for your game. There’s a quick start set available to try out if your group is interested.
Fantaji is a good investment even in PDF form if you want a quick game to play at a convention or a quick pick-up game at the Friendly Local Game Shop. It’s also great for long term campaigns if players are interested enough in the setting and the characters you’re using.
It is written by an expert in culture, specifically ttrpg culture.
Fantaji is laid out very intuitively to answer questions veteran gamers might have as they read through the book and get ready to play. It’s not your grandpa’s BECMI D&D game by any stretch of the imagination. In Fantaji, character personality matters. Dramatic actions matter. Story matters. Dice rolls merely determine the ebb and flow of the actions.
The game uses D10’s only. Players might want to have a few blank index cards, tokens, pens/markers in 4 or so colors. Heck, characters fit on an index card if you really want them to. Anthropos does give players some nice character sheets. Creating a character takes less time than most games, but you’ll definitely want some backstory.
Action and combat are not the same fare as other RPGs.
One thing really stands out about Fantaji is the way actions are handled. Your character’s traits and theme are always “played-to” to gain advantages and/or disadvantages in any given situation. Combat isn’t the same old “I whack you, you whack me. Roll for damage.
Combat, skill tasks or even brutal negotiations are handled by determining the traits effective and rolling a die pool against a difficulty somewhat similar to the way World of Darkness does. Difficulty is always 3, 5, or 8 depending. “Playing-to” the scene’s conditions can also help increase the characters’ Drama pool or decrease the GM characters Drama. Successful rolls allow the player to narrate the damage or outcome of the situation more easily. Few battles need be fights to the death if so desired. The system favors less violent solutions in many situations, making the game very new player and kid friendly.
Board game fans will also have an easier time adapting to Fantaji in some ways. The action resolution and combat are done in a way similar to board game style play. Most players can probably pick the game up within the first hour or two of gameplay. Even though it might look a bit intimidating at first, Fantaji is easy to pick up and enjoy. The designers do an excellent job describing the way play flows and what characters can do on their turns.
The experience system or character advancement is a bit different than what some gamers might be used to. By playing to your character and the scenes traits, the character earns Themes. These themes add up over time and can be spent to improve skills and abilities, etc.
Worldbuilding and being a Fantaji GM is very pleasant.
This RPG is not a minis and big dungeon kind of game. Maybe point-based dungeons would be more in line with the gameplay. As a universal engine, the GM can build any game from Cyberpunk to a Saturday morning kids’ show with it. Many of the examples in the Fantaji book are anime themed, which also works quite well. (This system does so well with anime stereotypes and tropes.)
It is very important to hold a Session Zero before a longer campaign or just a quick primer on the setting used before any Fantaji game. That way the players can know what to expect from their characters’ personalities. Campaign setting makes a big difference in how conditions are overcome, too. Bulldozing through a dungeon; killing the locals and grabbing their loot isn’t always a good way to go.
A quick note about NPCs and monsters. They’re ridiculously easy to come up with on the fly and you can create one in minutes or less if you know what their goals and motivations are within the scene. It makes running games on the fly really pleasant.
There are four campaign worlds presented in the main book. The setting will also determine some of the characters’ abilities or what is available to them, as in most games. The GM has to prepare a little bit ahead if building a new world. The campaigns from the core rulebook are pretty cool, though. (No spoilers here.)
No Fantaji specific OGL on this one as far as I know.
There is no mention of a license or licensing agreement in the book as far as I’m aware. It’s a great game to enjoy with friends, but probably not a good game to sell third party content from. I think that’s okay in this case. Not every RPG need be marketable that way. I might still design a few items or even put together a campaign setting eventually.
Anthropos does have a new game in the works this year according to a source within the company. I’m excited to see what the designers do next. I love the more anthropological and sociological approach to gaming as I have a degree in Sociology and have also spent a lot of time in Anthropology classes. Gaming is what actually spurred me into both writing and the social sciences. Fantaji also flows well with a theatre oriented group.
Thanks for stopping by, Please give Fantaji a look if you want something a little more dramatic and a little less crunchy. It’s a lot of fun. I appreciate you as always.