Gaming Tabletop

Farewell to Fear… or Fun?

 

Many people love to complain about what is wrong with the world, but do little or nothing about it. That is not the case with David Hill Jr. of Machine Age Productions. He didn’t like the accepted norms of the average fantasy RPG’s setting, so he created a completely new RPG system. His new game, called “Farewell to Fear”, has raised over $16,000 on Kickstarter, and focuses on bringing political correctness to the RPG fantasy genre. David claims his game is a “Progressive Post-Fantasy RPG”. What does he mean by that? Well according to his Kickstarter page:

Fantasy’s full of all sorts of legacy concepts that are rather disgusting to us; sexism, classism, racism, institutional violence, those are just a few choice items. Farewell to Fear is a game about revolution, about taking fantasy out of the dark ages through drive and action.

Think punk rock meets fantasy. Bad Religion meets Tolkien, boot to face.

Don’t get me started on that last comment. It shows a total lack of knowledge of Tolkien’s work or its revolutionary impact on the fantasy genre.

Although the information I can find is rather ambiguous, it seems like the focus of this game will be for players to portray normal people, fighting against political incorrectness and unfairness. I applaud Mr. Hill for spending so much time creating a game that embodies so many of his personal beliefs, but despite my love of new tabletop systems, I don’t think I want to play his game.

Why? Because it sounds like every other fantasy game out there, only with more limitations on plot, overall creativity, and roleplaying. The entire concept of this system is that the PCs fight against “the man”, who we assume is to blame for the sexism, racism, etc. Already that drastically limits the creativity of the GM to create plots because they have to be about social justice. It also drastically limits the types of characters that the players can create because the PCs have to have the desire to fight the wrongs in society, but not be afraid to rebel against the current institutions that are in place. Party conflict and drama is going to be pretty hard to drum up in a group of incredibly similar characters. Maybe they can’t agree on whether to fight racism or sexism today?

It seems like the whole “Farewell to Fear” concept would be better suited to be published as an adventure path, rather then a game unto itself. They claim that the scientific method is the inspiration for their main mechanic.

The main game system is inspired by the scientific method. Instead of a huge focus on pass/fail mechanics, we’re mostly concerned about finding solutions through conjecture, precedent, and experimentation.

Ok, but how do I hit that guy over there with my sword? The actual dice mechanic spelled out on their Kickstarter page is rather vague, but it doesn’t sound very revolutionary to me (unless you’ve never played anything but D&D). Why design a completely new set of mechanics for something that could easily be used as a skin to lay over an existing, proven system? If you want something other than a pass/fail mechanic, check out the ORE system. For that you roll for the speed and quality of your action, and it is very applicable to situations like archeological digs, performing music, or very intense combat. Why reinvent the wheel? And how many times are your players going to want to play with that same wheel if you put it on a track with limited customization?

As a woman of mixed ethnicity, I’ve experience my share of discrimination in my life. I am wholeheartedly against any type of discrimination, hatred, or unfair treatment between players at the gaming table.  A game that could fight the imbalance at the table but still be fun would be truly revolutionary. This game does not fight the inequality that happens to players, it only lets them fight injustices that happen in an imaginary Medieval Europe-based world, which is possible in almost any RPG if the GM wants the story to go that way. In fact, it reminds me of quite a few GM created games that I’ve played in (and created) for D&D4e, Wild Talents, Traveller, and other systems. (This project’s Kickstarter video also claims that peasants in the middle ages studied laws to better their situations, and that women held more power than men… as a Medieval history teacher, I’d love to see their sources for that info…)

My big question? If you are trying to break the traditional RPG mold, why would you choose the most stereotypical setting possible as a foundation? Mr. Hill claims to be improving on the traditional Tolkien fantasy model (sorry… I can’t just let that slide) but it sounds like he wants players to behave just like Sam and Frodo. They are normal folk, facing the evils of this world to protect their village’s freedom. Or just like Gandalf, who despite being a virtual demi-god, puts the future of Arda in the hands of a minority group (hobbits). Maybe Mr. Hill has forgotten these small plot points, or how Gimli and Legolas broke down the barriers of hatred between their two races and became lifelong friends? Or Eowyn, a noblewoman who successfully kills the Lord of the Nazgul!?!?! I told you not to get me started…

I wish “Farewell to Fear” the best, but given the current information, I see very little that is truly original in this project.

About the author

Kimi

Kimi (aka GoldenLassoGirl) is known for her cosplays, comic book knowledge, and tabletop gaming podcast/stream. Read more about her at http://www.goldenlasso.net/about/

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  • When you say the game limits the types of plots the GM can make or the types of characters players can create, I think you’re missing the point. If you’re playing F2F the assumption is you want to do the sorts of things it’s focused on. Since F2F is focused on a specific type of story, it will be a better tool for playing those types of stories than a more general fantasy game. I don’t know if this game specifically succeeds at its goal, but my general experience is that focused games do work better for their focus than a more versatile game would.

    You would only play F2F if you want to fight injustice in a fantasy world and you want that to be the focus of your game. While I don’t want to do that, it would seem there is a market for it. Over 420 backers contributing over $18,000 before the game is released is huge for a small press publisher.

    • That is exactly my point, will it really be a better tool? We all have our “go-to” systems for different types of games, but I see nothing about this system so far that makes it a mechanical improvement for this type of story. The dice mechanic seems a bit convoluted (and lacks a true understanding of the scientific method, btw). Even the setting is completely mundane. I’ve run multiple games with this type of story in many settings, very easily and successfully in multiple systems.

      There is no arguing with the numbers. I hope everyone is as pleased with the end result as the initial idea.

      • I’m not really familiar with this game’s mechanics. I was speaking more to the general idea that a game with a tight focus is better for its focus than a more general game. This has been my experience with playing tightly focused games in general, but I have no idea if this specific example achieves its goal.

        I thought you were criticizing it for not being something it wasn’t trying to be, and I thought that was a little unfair.

        • I may be a little unfair at times, but I stand with my initial assessment. I’m very open to changing my mind when the game comes out. It seems to still be in the rough draft stage, so who knows what could happen?

  • I saw Farwell on kickstarter a couple of weeks ago and I came to a similar conclusion.
    I read a description of the mechanics on a forum. It goes something like this.

    Player “I want to hit it with my sword”
    Roll to d20. The DC is set by your experience.
    Experimentation 19-20 (wow swords are heavy)
    Conjecture 16-18 (you’ve seen others use a sword)
    Research 14-15 (you have hit a thing before)
    Precedent 12-13(you hit things with you sword a lot)
    Failure 1-11

    But the problem I see is that this isn’t for just attacking, it seems to apply for all the actions of your characters

    I also agree with your comments on Tolkien and would like to add nothing about this game is Punk Rock. But I happy they were successful and hope every one has fun.

    • I agree with the punk rock thing! Maybe that’s what they are going for, but the end goal of the game is anything but punk.

  • I play this game 40 hours a week… It’s called being an over-educated hourly employee for a Costco. The biggest plot challenge is that if I fail to successfully walk the razor’s edge in my battle against “The Man”, I find myself unemployed, losing my house, and possibly my marriage.

    Sign me up for a weekly Saturday night session…

  • Since I have not expierenced the fame system first hand I will just go off what your information. I think David was soliciting his game when he is saying revoultionizing RPG. From the sound of it he broke down a basic table top and mad it playable for small children not regular or hard core gamers.

    If I were him coming out with this system I would have done a better eveluation of the target market I was going after then prepare my presontation for press. For a regular gamer this would be the de-evelution of RPGs but it could actually be away to make table tops appear to be more family freindly. I could continue but I would like to hear some comments on my thoughts.

    Your Ranger in Rogue’s clothing
    Tbear220

    • Well he obviously did a pretty good job if they were able to raise so much money and get so many backers. I just don’t really see the attraction.

      You may be right about it being a good game for kids. The stories and characters will have a more predictable course than more open games. That might help with new gamers.

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