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Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
by Brandon F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2013 03:20:19
I found it to be instructive enough to really explain where the creators of this game were going with their original thoughts on the game. Really, the art is well done, although the fact that everything is separated into three different files might have been given over to a single file instead. But that's a personal preference, not a judgment against the authors. It was quick to download, quick to read, and though it had some grammar errors it was easy enough for me to understand all but some of the more vague terms used. All in all, I give it 4 stars.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
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Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
by Matías C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/15/2013 12:21:18
This is one of the most solid quickstarts I’ve seen. The rules are simple, yet there is an example of play in each one, in case you missed something.

As for Mazaki itself, it’s a very cool game. We playtested it with some friends a couple of weeks ago using the previous version of the quickstart, and we had a blast! It’s a very fun game, where the focus is put in your imagination and how you engage a particular obstacle rather than thinking in abstract numbers. It’s the kind of game you can play with both your kids and a veteran gamer alike, and they both are going to enjoy it.

The content of the quickstart is all you need to experience Mazaki for the first time and have a glimpse of how amazing the final book is going to be. Even if you don’t like JRPGs or anime, you should give it a try, since the system is very adaptable to other settings. I have a few hacks in mind right now that I want to try once the final version of the book comes out next year.

All in all, you are not going to be disappointed by checking it out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
by Joe M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/14/2013 06:06:19
GMs these days have it so easy. Back in my day we were putting in a week's worth of design for a one-night affair, memorizing tables not because it was easy, but because it was the difference between success and "Let's go play quake". We had blood, sweat, and tears invested in those games. What do you know about fitting three core books and three expansions, a box of dice (organized by type), a DM curtain, a box of minis, character sheets, monster sheets, and a legal pad full of notes into a single backpack? What do you know about Dragon magazine? What do you kids know about THAC0?

Look at this game. Freakin motivates (and rewards) the player to actually role-play their character! Everything is so damn versatile, the GM can sit back all lazy-like and just make stuff up on the fly. Easy-mode, that's what it is. No alignments to mess with, just "fates", that are only as strict as you want them to be. No more digging around for the d12 because someone just HAD to pick up a greataxe, it all runs on d10s. No more rolling the legendary d100 to determine a random encounter, just pick a theme and cruise on through. No more cross referencing three different tomes to resolve a single action, just grab a sharpie and some index cards and write up your "conditions" on the fly! This is a travesty I tell you! GMing isn't supposed to be easy, it's supposed to be the miserable job the gods intended it to be! How else am I supposed to convince everyone to come to MY house and feed my martyr complex!

But really, Anthropos had me with Early Dark and this game was too good to pass up. It's a blast to play, easy for a new GM and deep enough for the best of us to enjoy, I'll be kickstarting the shit out of this when that comes around.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
by William H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/06/2013 20:59:47
I was lucky enough to try this out at the 2013 A-Kon and loved it. I've been demo-ing at my local shop since then and look forward to the Kickstarter. Best thing about the game, in my opinion, is the drama token system and simply how thematic the whole thing is.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Mazaki No Fantaji Quickstart
by Greg S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/06/2013 18:10:43
I've had the pleasure to check this game out in a few stages of it's evolution. I've enjoyed it every time!

I think the it's mostly due to the fact that it is a lot different than other games of this genre. Mazaki introduces a system which completely replaces the need for large books full of rules. Everything is on the fly, creative and very strategic once you get the hang of it. I played Early Dark a few times, and I can say this to me is way more fun.

Could it be that the casual gamer is also sliding into table top RPG's? Maybe. I think if there is a good system in place, it will foster creativity. This is where Mazaki excels in my book. As the 9th Doctor would put it, I think it's "Fantastic!".

Give it a go. I'll be apart of the kickstarter for sure.

Peace.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Early Dark Role-Playing Game
by Alexander L. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/09/2012 06:58:42
Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/04/09/tabletop-review-early-d-
ark-rpg/

Early Dark is the first game released by Anthropos Games, an Austin, TX-based outfit headed by Calvin Johns. Currently only a PDF version of the core book is available, but the hardcover will be available this Fall according to the website. Those who funded on the appropriate level via Kickstarter will be receiving a hardcover copy as soon as Anthropos can get them shipped out, but the rest of us will have to either buy the PDF or be content with waiting.

Overview


How to explain Early Dark? Imagine if sitting down to learn a new game system is like sitting down to a meal with several courses. Alright, now I’m going to put a chicken drumstick in front of you, but it’s going to taste like sourdough bread. Next, here is a cabernet, but it tastes like orange juice. A chocolate cake that tastes like lemon cake… you get the idea. Early Dark looks like another RPG in the traditional fantasy vein, but upon actually sampling this game you will find some things that are quite unexpected. The description on the DriveThruRPG site states that, “…ours is a world of magick, yes, but not a world of fantasy”. Well, I’m sorry but the format fits the fantasy genre: magic, heroes, medieval model of society, typical fantasy monsters (and some not-so-typical ones), strong resemblance to other fantasy games…just accept that it’s fantasy, but different.

I will give Anthropos a lot of credit for trying to buck the stereotypical model of a fantasy role-playing game. They have made some interesting choices that truly make Early Dark something different, and I really appreciate that.

Setting

The core book focuses on five main cultures: the Vayok, the Anu, the Alagoth, the Neferatha, and the Edish (though it mentions that others existed in passing). Each culture/race is presented as an amalgam of two (or more) well-known peoples that exist on Earth. For example, the Alagoth blend elements of Persian and Celtic peoples, trying to form this new culture that is an interesting, fresh hybrid. The designers ask that the term “race” not be used to describe these peoples, but that “heritage” be used instead, which has the connotation of something more cultural than genetic; everyone in these heritages is human. The next section will involve the interaction of these heritages over the history of the Hara Sea, which is the world of the game.

No sooner have you finished reading the introduction, ready to set off on uncovering this 400-page tome, than you step one foot into the Atlas and plunge headlong into over 150 pages of setting information. If you plan to read this section, and I think both myself and the designers hope that you do before you can really understand the world, get yourself comfortable because you are looking at the equivalent of a shortish paperback. This section is broken up into large sub-sections (eras) and those into smaller headings depicting important leaders and events, as well as general information about geography and the peoples mentioned above. There are also sidebars and great illustrations to keep it interesting. Fans of deep setting information will love this, those who just want to cut to the game or want to start playing right away will be annoyed by this, and those who like their setting information “on the side”, like myself, will simply skip it until they are ready.


Character Creation

Character creation is a curious mix of the very old and the very new. The first thing you are supposed to do is roll (with a d10) to determine the setting of your adventure, everything from geographical area right down to the opening hook. Does that seem a little backward to anyone? Maybe the designers know that their system is new and people aren’t going to be designing their own adventures right away, or maybe they just don’t like to think up a whole story to play to and instead just roll a starting point and go from there. Either way, it’s a bit odd, and I can’t see a lot of experienced GMs following it, but that’s how character creation starts out. One of the reasons stated by the book for this is so that players can base their creation choices on the background of the adventure. Still, the background is usually the GMs baby, so it feels a bit odd no matter how they justify it.

Ah, now the next item is something we are all familiar with: alignments. Wait…I don’t see “chaotic good” or “true neutral” anywhere! Early Dark uses the term “alignments” but it is not the same as that well-known, traditional RPG. Instead, alignments are something like your current source of purpose in the world. What is driving your character right now? Is it a quest? A job? Funding from a patron? Those are three of the six you have to choose from. Next up you choose a Milieu, or social group that you associate with. This can be anything from merchants to trash pickers, and are highly dependent on the heritage of the character. The choice you make will decide some of your “aptitudes” which are used in every tested action in the game.

Aptitudes are an important part of what makes Early Dark different from other games, or at least what puts a twist on what you are used to. Every action that is tested (i.e. rolled for) is going to be based in two aptitudes, which is called the “footing”. For instance, if I want to push the heavy pirate I am fighting off the side of a ship, I am probably going to roll using Fight and Labor (the syntax is to hyphenate them so they become like this: Fight-Labor) as long as the GM agrees that my manner of action agrees with that footing. There are eight aptitudes and every significant action will be based in a combination of two of them.

Next the player gives his character an “epithet”, which is a title of some sort that represents what the character has accomplished thus far. This is because of the attitude of character creation that focuses on “finding” a character that exists in the world instead of making one up out of thin air that might have no connection to it’s surroundings. Your character might be “Bringer of Ale” or “Washer of Many Faces”, or perhaps something a bit more heroic. After a suitable title is given, players determine other assorted attributes, pick some equipment, and, of course, think of a name.

Mechanics and Gameplay


Early Dark uses d10s exclusively, for all rolls from character creation to random encounters (an old-school favorite). This makes things easy, but all the other dice in your dice bag will be lonely [insert sad face]. RPGs in the last ten years or so have tried to put all sorts of twists on the die roll mechanic, but I think Early Dark has really found something different and intriguing. For starters, you don’t simply roll to see if you get higher or lower to some target number, at least, not directly. You take however many dice you rolled and form what is referred to as a “tack”, or a collection of rolled dice whose results fit inside of a “limit” (the sum of the two aptitudes you are using for the test). For instance, if your limit is 7 and you roll a 4, 2, 8, and 1, you can form a 3-tack with the 4, 2, and 1. The strength of the tack, or “force” (the number of dice in the tack), will determine how well you did and whether you met the target number or, if it was an open-ended test, how strong or weak the effect of your roll is. In combat you will be forming several tacks, depending on your strategy, the numbers you roll, and how you want to allocate them. Depending on the size of the tack, it will have a different function.

Feeling the crunch yet? Is it like a handful of almonds crunchy, or like freshly-poured cereal that crunches so loud your significant other makes you eat it in the other room? The game purports to be moderately crunchy, but I think for the average RPGer they will find that this game can be fairly crunchy. However I don’t think it’s the numbers that accomplish that, I think it is the terminology. This book is filled with terms. Teeming with terms. They are familiar words but their exact meanings are particular to how the authors chose to use them in this game. The best example is probably “alignment”, this is a word a lot of us older and middle-aged gamers are familiar with because of a very popular system, but in this game it takes on a completely different meaning mechanically. This game is crunchy in the sense that you will be adding numbers often, but you will also be remembering numbers and coupling them with terms like “limit” and “force” and “tack”. You might have a 4-tack inside a 9-limit, which has a force of 4, but you rolled 8 dice, etc.

The combat system is very tactical in regards to dice allocation and strategy. The tacks mentioned above are used in various ways to either strike at your foe or to perform tactical maneuvers or give yourself a small advantage. One reason why the dice usage in this RPG is so awesome is because it allows for this game-within-a-game combat where you decide how to use your roll depending on what you are trying to accomplish. Early on in the combat you might try to give yourself an advantage, then next round move in for a decisive strike. Meanwhile, your opponent might try to use a “talent”, which is like a special move or attack that has its own defined effects.

What Do I Think?


I was really excited when I started reading Early Dark, and my excitement was only tempered by the effort I estimated it would take to really grasp the game. This game has got a lot going on, but I think those who dig into it will be richly rewarded. I haven’t even mentioned so much of the content of the core book in this review: magick, storytelling, a whole lot of combat specifics, skills,

As I have already hinted at, I have some reservations about all the terms used in the game. On one page about combat defenses there are 10 bolded terms alone! I am not sure it is worth trying to change the RPG vernacular to fit your game or to define a specialized vocabulary for one game, but it may also help to attract and provide freshness for those who are looking for something new. Using terms like “alignment” and completely changing their meaning is, I think, a little unfair and unnecessary for the long-time gamer who has this word stuck in their head as one thing, and might not want to muddle the definition just for the sake of this game. If I may borrow a word from one of my professors, its usage is a bit “obtuse” anyway, and something like “purpose” or “drive” would have worked equally well. Alright, rant off.

Looking at this game, you think traditional fantasy RPG, but it’s coming at it from this other perspective. It’s kind of like bizarro-D&D, but to call Early Dark D&D in any way would be way off. I think Anthropos Games has succeeded in making something new, and something deep. It’s easy to see that a lot of thought and work went into this project, and I think that the RPG hobby is better off already just having this pseudo-scholarly thesis of a role-playing game out there. Now, if some RPGers start picking this up and running with it (the Kickstarter suggests some already have) I wouldn’t be surprised to see this title popping up more and more in the near future.

I think Anthropos Games really did a top-notch job on the production values as well, I will be jealous of anyone who gets to hold a hardback in their hands. There is excellent artwork in the book as well, some of which is sampled here. I prefer a more uniform direction to the art generally, and Early Dark has a lot of art contributors, so things look different here and there but overall a beautiful product. Cheers to Anthropos Games!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Early Dark Role-Playing Game
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