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Friday, 25 August 2017

Have your say on the next Fabled Lands book

A guest post today from Paul Gresty, author of The Serpent King's Domain, the seventh Fabled Lands book, which has been funded by the generosity of Kickstarter backers. As the book is nearly ready for release, Paul recently posted a KS update in which he canvassed the opinions of the backers on several rules points. Then we realized that there are a lot of other experienced Fabled Lands players out there who for all sorts of reasons may not have backed the KS campaign, but who might still have useful answers to those rules questions. So take it away, Paul..

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Excellent news. I heard from Kevin Jenkins recently that he's expecting to send us the finished cover for The Serpent King's Domain in the very near future. Once that's done, we're pretty much ready to move on to printing and shipping to Kickstarter backers. That's the Megara hardcover edition. A paperback edition from Fabled Lands Publishing will follow soon after.

We're fortunate in that the crowdfunded development of this book, in which backers are aware of each stage of the process of creation, allows the opportunity for a dialogue with the book's ultimate readers. Your viewpoints are, frankly, a valuable resource, one that we'd be crazy not to tap into. And so, before we move on to printing, I'd be very curious to get feedback from you on a couple of points of game mechanics.

CALCULATION OF DEFENCE

We've already talked about this on the Fabled Lands blog and the FL Facebook page, but I think the point remains somewhat ambiguous. For a long time there's been debate concerning whether any bonuses to COMBAT conferred by a character's weapons are added to the character's Defence score. I think even Dave and Jamie have found the point somewhat contentious – take a look at the wording of the front matter of the different editions of the various FL books, and try to spot the differences.

Dave, Jamie, Richard S. Hetley (editor of The Serpent King's Domain -- demo here) and I have discussed this point at some length lately – and the ultimate ruling is that any COMBAT bonus from weapons does not count towards Defence. The logic of the matter is as follows, as explained by Richard:
"Nothing else in the game gets two categories of items to boost it. I always presumed that armour existed to raise Defence since weapons have their own use. The numbers bear this out. Thanks to the documentation efforts of others, I see that the highest enemy Combat in the first six books of the Fabled Lands is only 15, so enemies roll 27 at their best; the highest player Defence item is already +10; plus your personal Combat of (probably) 12; plus Rank of a mere 5 and you're at 27 with plenty of slack and no need for a weapon. The absurdity was only visible after multiple books, where the enemies are unable to match a player using all these statistics together. Given that players get this strong after adventuring for long enough, enemies should have been made stronger in the first place to match them."
So, let me throw this open to all Fabled Lands players. What are your thoughts and opinions on the subject?

THE CASE OF THE JADE DEFENDER

A couple of people have pointed out that the description of the Jade Defender, a weapon obtainable in The Court of Hidden Faces, specifically states that a weapon's COMBAT bonus does count towards Defence. That is, it's a COMBAT +3 weapon, that possesses an additional quality of adding an extra +3 to a player's Defence – making it a COMBAT +3, Defence +6 weapon in all.

We've talked about that too. And the overall view is that, in light of the most recent analysis of the rules, that description was incorrect. Should the Jade Defender itself therefore be considered a COMBAT +3, Defence +3 weapon, in that case, to account for that extra Defence bonus – or can it still be viewed as a COMBAT +3, Defence +6 weapon? Me, I'd probably opt for the latter view, even considering that this greatly increases the weapon's value. Retconning the rules is one thing, downgrading that hard-won weapon you've come to rely on is something else.

HOW DIFFICULT SHOULD WE MAKE SPIRIT COMBAT?

The mechanic of spirit combat is a new addition for The Serpent King's Domain. This was partly conceived as a way of presenting enemies that would be a threat to even very experienced characters. A player's spirit combat values are calculated quite differently from physical combat. Rank has no bearing on spirit combat; a player's base Defence score is equal to either the base MAGIC or SANCTITY score (whichever is higher). The player's Nahual value is used in place of the COMBAT stat – and opportunities to increase Nahual are rare (and the player may not want to increase Nahual to its highest level). The choice of weapons and armour that the player may use in spirit combat is limited.

A little background on the evolution of these combats: Richard was the first person to playtest the book, and he found that these spirit combats, while challenging, were also fairly tedious – in some cases, players and enemies would miss each other round after round, only occasionally getting in slight, scratching blows that took a long, long time to whittle down Stamina. And so he rewrote the stats for every spirit combat in the book, increasing each enemy's offensive punch, while also reducing their Defence. In essence, he made it so that enemies hit harder, but die faster.

Some of the combats are difficult. They're meant to be. But this is where, again, I ask your opinions. Can a fight be too difficult? When you, as a player, run up against a really hard fight, is it a welcome challenge – or is it just flat-out frustrating?

I'm going to quote some points from a recent email discussion we had on this subject because I feel that, without giving away stats or spoilers, it demonstrates the sort of threat levels the player may run into. Dave asked if a player could always back away from a spirit combat if they didn't feel ready. Richard's reply:
“You can retreat from one introductory-level fight and one significantly harder fight. The introductory-level one, hopefully, teaches you just how much you need to strengthen yourself before doing the rest. The harder one is escapable. Two other fights are ones that you initiate when you are ready. They are another introductory-level one and, well, a certain other one that's really tough. And the remaining two fights are each unique. One is introductory-level and you can't escape. Another is really tough, but you can only get it after completing major plotlines in other books.”
What do you think, as players of the FL books? Your views would be much appreciated and could make a big difference to this next book and the direction the series takes from this point. You can post comments as replies to this post or on Facebook page (link above). Or, of course, feel free to contact me directly at paulgresty {at} gmail . com (no spaces).

And in particular I'd like to thank the Kickstarter backers for their ongoing support and patience throughout the development of The Serpent King's Domain. They're the ones who have made this book possible.

Paul Gresty

44 comments:

  1. With sufficient preparation/equipment, there's really no fight in the main six books I find to be too difficult. There are a few that end up being tedious, especially in Book 6. Even those come more from my dice system which always for "exploding dice" and automatic failures.

    The first combat is with the Ridiculous Rogue with a Combat of 4 and a Defense of 16. Oh, and to "properly" win this, you can't use a weapon and have to take him alive, which subtracts 1 from your Combat Skill. So, let's say you have a Rogue as per starting in Book 6 who's gotten a Dragon Mask and fights this guy. His Combat of 6 goes to a 5 so he has to roll a 12 to do 1 point of stamina damage to the Rogue. And the Rogue has 30 Stamina. Meanwhile, our Rogue has traded in his Chain mail for Splint mail, so his effect Defense is a 15 (Combat 5, Rank 6, Splint mail Def +4). This means the Rogue also has to roll a 12 to do 1 point of Stamina to the PC, who has 27 Stamina points. We're all going to be here for quite some time. Now, with rules as written, it's different if it was the Warrior with his Combat of 8/7 wearing Chain mail. His Defense would be a 16, which the Rogue's Combat of 4 can't hit, so you could rule automatic victory for the Warrior.

    The other battle is with The Enemy at Noburo Monastery and is another case where it's tedious, but only if both combatants have a chance in a fight. A person with Rank 9, Combat 12 and a Defense through Faith miracle should automatically win because The Enemy won't be able to hit his Defense of 24. Since rolls of higher than 12 can be generated under my system, it's going to be another long fight (the PC does damage on an 11 or higher, The Enemy on a 13 or higher, none of which numbers are exactly easy to generate).

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    1. The Ridiculous Rogue doesn't stick out too much in my mind. Playing FL6 as a dead-tree gamebook (as opposed to an app), I'd be tempted to flip a coin (or roll the die equivalent) to see who wins. Or simply accept that I'm not likely to win the encounter in the ideal way - which is not necessarily always a bad thing. In reality, I always begin my playthroughs in FL1, and wouldn't dream of going into FL6 with a COMBAT as low as 4. But, yes, if it's in the book, that possibility needs to be considered...

      I think I don't really consider The Enemy as a 'real' fight. Really - and, spoiler alert - surely the objective here is to see whether you, the main character, are brave enough to stand and fight against a (probably) superior foe. Even losing isn't such a disadvantage there, so long as you actually stood your ground, no? Or am I misremembering?

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    2. In truth, Book 6 is pretty safe for low-rank characters as long as you stay where it's relatively safe (avoid the forest and other areas which can force a fight. Avoid the sea except if sailing between Kaija and Mukogawa, etc.) Books four and five have a lot of random encounters that are just lethal. Akutsarai is pretty safe as long as you don't seek out trouble before you're ready and also have a decent amount of shards (and an Immunity to Poison/Disease blessing) if you get stuck on one of the island and need to take a trip back to Chambara.

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  2. My inclination is for the Jade Defender to be Combat +3, Defense +3. There's already so many ways to get a stupidly high Defense in this game. A Rank One Character with the Magic Shield (Defense +10), Ring of Defense (+2 cumulative with armor), a Defense through Faith blessing (+3 Defense for one combat) and a Combat of 11 already has a Defense of 27, making him invulnerable to almost all combats in the books (the exception being The Enemy in Book 6 because you can't take equipment into that fight(which big whoop all you "lose" if you lose the battle is a single Rank upgrade, you still get your Sanctity raised to 12)).

    Personally, I'd like to see different styles of magic items. Maybe something akin to the Conch of Safety from Storms that has an Immunity to Poison/Disease. My own edit of the Magic Shield remove the stupidly high Defense bonus and replaces it with 3 uses of an Immunity to Injury blessing. That way if you're unlucky at the Temple in Goldfall (that permanent 1-6 Stamina loss really hurts), greedy with the bats in the Tower of Despair, or just want to get that Hyperium Wand from Dawatsu without a nasty fight, it's less of a cost.

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    1. There's a shield with a +10 bonus?! Which book is that in? (I bet it turns out to be one of mine... Oh dear.)

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    2. Agreed, +3/+3 seems pretty generous already.

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  3. Book 2. It's one of the two potential treasures (the other is a sword Combat +2) found behind the waterfall assuming you can decode the message (or just remember the sequence to get to the shield) found up in the mountains north of Mamorak.

    Book 2 is one of the weirder books in the series, with a schizophrenic sensibility of being somehow Monty Haul and Killer DM. You can get the Magic Shield Defense +10, Vulcanium Mail Defense +7, unlimited Faery mead with and Sanctity of 6 (with multiple ways to raise your Sanctity) and you can trade in said Faery meads for Weapons Combat +3 or +4, Wands +3 or +4, the Vulcanium mail Defense +7. Not to mention if your Scouting is high enough, you can loot the barrows in Section 78 for 200-1200 shards. Oh, and you can even get unlimited Diamond Lances Com+2. And there's your Monty Haul.

    Meanwhile for your Killer DM, there's the Vampire Knight, the Castle Orloch Fiend and that boggart. At least the Knight can be driven back with a Sanctity or Magic skill roll. With the fiend and boggart, you either have what you need (feather or boggart's name) or you just die without a fight. Granted you can still evade the fiend with a Scouting check (and the boggart with a Charisma roll). I mean, I get that the Rank 1-4 character who should be adventuring in Book 2 would likely be an easy victim for those creatures, but suppose you're playing someone who's effectively Rank 15 or so with the White Sword (Combat +8), the Magic Shield (Defense +10), the Ring of Defense (+2 Defense cumulative with armor) a Base Combat skill of 12, the Ring of Ultimate power (+2 Rank, +1 all Attributes) and the sword of metal (base combat +2) for something like a Combat of 23 and a Defense of 42. You're telling me this demigod is still just meat for these creatures?

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    1. Book 2 is definitely to be laid at my door. Overall I feel Jamie did the better books (1, 4 and 5) because he was careful to provide quests, whereas my RPG-based sandbox sensibility didn't translate to the FL gamebooks.

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    2. I wondered which writer was (more) responsible for which book. After Way of the Tiger, and the martial arts vibe of The Eternal Champions, I felt sure that FL6 was Jamie's. I guess not.

      I like the weirdness of FL2. And I quite like that some creatures are just flat-out deadly, whatever your COMBAT and Defence. I've read RPGs that precisely describe the number of dice of damage inflicted when, say, a nuclear bomb explodes, or a dragon sits on you. I'm not at all interested in that. If a nuclear bomb explodes, you die. If a dragon sits on you, you die. If a boggart wants to mess with you, it can. If an imp wants to catch you and cut off one of your fingers... well, your banjo playing might never be the same again.

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    3. I get all that. I like weirdness, too. My thing is with internal consistency. Is the vampire knight a dangerous foe, sure, but so is the vampire necromancer, Dawatsu Morituri, who you can fight. Would the boggart and fiend kill the average Rank 2 character? Sure, but so would Big Boy and I get the feeling that if Big Boy ran into the boggart or fiend, he's rip out theirs spines and and beat them to death using said spines. Can those imps magically steal your fingers? Certainly, but there's several potent mystical effects in Book 3 that can be mystically countered.

      That said, I liked the idea of some Rank quests being self-contained. When I bought my set of FL books, I started with five and six. The last book in the series I got was four, which kind of screwed me when it came to one and five.

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  4. For my money Book 2 is my least favorite, but not because of the quests. There's actually some pretty decent low-Rank quests in Book 2. The Tower of Despair. The errands for the Baroness and Estragon. Heck, even the coded message quest is cool. For me the problem was that the prizes' value greatly outweighed the effort needed to obtain them.

    Meanwhile, Book 6 is likely my favorite if the series. I like the atmosphere and the way that you can get it somewhat with all the various factions of Akatsurai. I really love the need for a high Charisma and the pain-in-the-ass effort it takes to get one of those fairly cheap sword +6.

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    1. If book 6 works it's because of my love of Oriental cultures, especially Heian Japan, which was the setting of one of my roleplaying campaigns using Paul Mason's Outlaws rules. That said, if I were doing something like that today I'd either make it explicitly Heian Japan or I'd create a new setting; I wouldn't do mishmash Far East again.

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    2. One difference that I've come to notice between your books and Jaime's books is that your books tend to be a bit more self-contained, while his tend to stretch plots out over one or two other books. Also, his plots are more likely to alter things more drastically within his books. In Book One you can reduce the resistance to Marlock's rule to a handful of folks in the Coldbleak Mountains or fan the flames into a full-on, armies clashing civil war. In Books Four and Five, freeing the High King alters the nature of Lake Rimewater and almost completely transforms Old Harkuna with his return.

      That said, you have to own Books One and Four to complete the Sokaran storyline. You also have to own Four and Five to complete the High King storyline.

      Your books tend to give more chance to rise in rank within the books. Book two, even ignoring the bandits and Castle Orloch, could allow a character to rise from ranks 2-6 (Estragon, killing the dragon, loot the Tower of Despair and listening to the sea-shell). I've only found one direct rank raise in Book 3 (from the spectres) but there's plenty of chances to fight pirates. Meanwhile, Book 6 allows for 3 possible rank raises within it (fighting the Shogun's guards at the execution (not one I choose because it closes off other quests), Defeating Big Boy in combat (generally hard), Defeating The Enemy in combat (generally much harder).

      Contrast that with Jaime's quests. You can get to 3rd Rank in Book One (assuming you started there) with one profession quest and killing either Nergan or Marlock's brother.

      In Book Four you get one profession quest (unless you're a Warrior, in which case you get none). Otherwise there's nothing unless you have books one and/or five as well.

      In Book five there's really just one self-contained Rank quest - to become a Masked Lord/Lady, though it is fairly involved.

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    3. Interesting observations, John, and they confirm my impression that Jamie's books are better. Being able to significantly affect the world, and having quests of sufficient scope that they involve multiple books, are both the very essence of what Fabled Lands should be. And I'm pretty sure that when we started the series our intention was that the player could progress 1 or 2 ranks at most per book, a stipulation that I apparently ignored!

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    4. I distinctly remember noticing each profession having its own advance-one-rank quest in Book 4, just like in Book 1, but I couldn't find Warrior. I even went page-by-page to try to find it. Jamie could tell me flat out thatthere's no Warrior quest, and I'd still be partly convinced that there's one in there, so well-hidden even the author doesn't realize he put it in.

      While someone brought up the subject, how do you decode the message in Book 2? My amatuer cryptography skills were no match for it.

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    5. Nope, no quest for the Warrior (though the advantage they have in pirate battles more than makes up for that). Dave told me they key to actually deciphering the message. I don't recall exactly what it was, but it was not at all easy. Lazy person that I am, I assume my character is smarter than me and just remember the sequence to get the magic shield.

      Speaking of lazy, does anyone have a translation of the Map of Balazek? I could do it myself, but, again, I'm lazy.

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    6. I don't remember how to translate that code. I think I found the secret on a Fabled Lands forum, posted by somebody called 'Mave Dorris', or something equally cryptic. Don't remember it now, though. I rarely actually go for the shield myself - I'm always afraid of losing those one-off but super-useful items.

      Never managed a whole translation of the Map of Bazalek, either. I always assume it says, 'You character will get killed unless you cheat a lot on the Isle of Bazalek', and so I rarely go there.

      Unless you're patient, and playing it properly. In which cases it probably tells you the answers to the big golem's riddles.

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    7. Morrius (no relation) gave a succinct explanation of the waterfall code from Cities of Gold & Glory on one of the FL forums, so I'll quote that here:

      "VJ AM LAP AS PCX IS WSAQMM OV JAS PHI V LIV JAM GVAQV JUD JT AV JAH SPUD JT VIV LAV JET JMF

      "The spaces mean nothing. All the vowels in the text represent spaces. Rearranging gives:

      "VJ ML P SPCX SWS QMM VJ SPH VL VJ MGV QVJ DJT VJ HSP DJTV VL VJ TJMF

      "The remaining letters use a consonants-only version of a Caesar cipher: each letter is replaced by the preceding consonant (V=t, J=h, M=l, L=k etc.). This gives:

      "th lk n rnbw rvr pll th rng tk th lft pth chs th grn chst tk th shld

      "Now add in vowels to get the final message:

      "the lake in rainbow river pull the ring take the left path choose the green chest take the shield."

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    8. I ultimately came to realize that the Magic Shield (Defense +10) really isn't all that useful. Let's face, Vulcanium Mail (Def +7) and a Defence through Faith blessing do the same thing - and the mail is easily replaceable, especially if you have a Sanctity of 6 or more. Besides, since a Defense of 27 basically makes you invulnerable in combat, why bother hastening that moment?

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    9. "One difference that I've come to notice between your books and Jaime's books is that your books tend to be a bit more self-contained, while his tend to stretch plots out over one or two other books."

      But book 3 is the LEAST self contained book in the series. You'll have a very difficult time as a starting character in that one, unless you can get away to book 1 or 2.

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    10. Good point, 0813 (if I may call you that). Book 3 by definition must be the least self-contained as it serves to connect most of the other books. There are a few quests you can do without leaving book 3, but you're right that a lot more of it ties in elements from past and future books.

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    11. Book 3 is definitely the most hostile to a beginner of all the books. Three of the five random results at the start (deserted island, pirate base and the Bluewood) can easily result in your character's death right out of the gate.

      The only quest that you can't complete within just Book 3 is the one with the island and the sea-green glass. And that's openly because their aren't any temples to Alvir/Valmir so you can become an initiate to them. Which seems odd in a book so focused on oceanic adventures. Otherwise, there really aren't many "quests" as such, just a whole lot of sea-going random encounters and tie-ins to other books.

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    12. What does "pull the ring" refer to?

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    13. There's a heavy jade ring set in the riverbed, and you pull that to turn off the waterfall.

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    14. Huh. I'll have to read that more carefully in the future. It's probably been a really long time since I've actually really read the books instead of skimming through to gameplay sections.

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  5. Paul, I definitely agree with you that weapon bonus should NOT be included when calculating a character's defence score. That's how I have always interpret the rules anyway, but I'm glad this ambiguity is finally being addressed. As you pointed out, an important reason for not including weapon bonus is that it overpowers the character and eliminates any even remotely challenging combat encounters later in the game. Moreover, it further belittles the relative value of armour, which already makes little difference for advanced characters, while assigning disproportional value to weapons. Given that characters over time already become too powerful in combat (or, another way to look at it, enemies' stats in later books are too low and do not keep up), I would opt to correct the value of the Jade Defender to +3, +3, but I don't have a strong opinion on this.

    Regarding spirit combat, I think it is a welcome addition to the game mechanics. I like the idea of including magic or sanctity in combat and wish there were more opportunities for this like the priest quest in book 1 in the fight against the storm daemons on top of devil's peak. I would say, go ahead and make some encounters challenging - this is book 7 after all! Endless dice rolling should be avoided though, so I like your solution for that.

    Looking ahead for more FL books to come, I wish that the various professions would become more distinguishable. Currently, all professions eventually melt together as the character advances and increases in stats. Book 1 had some profession specific quests, which I thought was great and added to the RPG flavor of the game. Anyway, just a thought!

    Glad you are giving this so much thought and including the community in the discussion! Looking forward to the new book!

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    1. I very much agree with all of the above. Probably my favorite Profession quest is the storm demon one from Book 1. I liked it so much that I decided to "steal" it for general use. Basically to get it you have to be an initiate of Elnir. If you complete it as a Priest, you get the Rank increase. If you complete it as any other class, you gain a point of Sanctity (for, you know, saving an entire city from destruction). Basically I made this quest into a kind of mirror of the Troubadour quest, which is also generally available but gives different rewards to the classes who complete it (Rank increase for Troubadour, a point of Charisma for other professions).

      One book that disappointed me in terms of the Priest class was Keep of the Lich Lord. I'd figure that the one class best designed for that book would be the Priest, who could use their Sanctity to whip butt against the undead, but no, they're probably the least effective class for that book, having a low Thieving and Combat.

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    2. I'll confess that I always fell into the camp of adding a weapon's COMBAT bonus to Defence. It was only in playtesting that the discussion came up – and I found I was doing it wrong.

      FL7 doesn't really have any profession-specific quests. Certain quests or events might lean towards one profession or another, but no profession gets locked out of any area. Conversely, there are a few items that behave differently according to a character's profession – a MAGIC sword might offer a COMBAT bonus to every character, but, say, it will also grant Troubadours an additional bonus of some kind.

      In retrospect, I'd have liked to put in a little more profession-specific content. Even going up to 1200 game paragraphs, I still have a veritable shopping list of extra points that I'd have liked to include. But at some point you have to draw a line under the text and say it's finished.

      Luckily there are still five more books to write in the series...

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    3. One thing to consider would be items that are potent, but temporary. Instead of Gloves of Sig (Thv+3), a character might find a Hand of Glory, which gives Thieving +6 for one roll and can be used a maximum of 3 times before its magic is exhausted.

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  6. I have a couple of general questions about the books. In Book One under the well in Yellowport, you're required to bring a lantern or candle unless you're a Mage, in which case you can create your own light. Is that a general rule for the other books/encounters? Are characters currently in the Profession of Mage permitted to effectively ignore dark areas because they can create their own light?

    Secondly, are there any areas where being Male instead of Female provides your character with an advantage? I ask because there's two points within the books where it's better to be Female. When you acquire the codeword: Calcium in Book 3, you don't lose Charisma (and you'll lose a point if you're male). Also, if you properly befriend the unicorn in Book 5, you'll gain a full point of Charisma as well as a point of Magic if you're Female. Males only get the point of Magic.

    I'm all for girl power, but I wonder if there's anywhere that balances that. Is there someplace where you gain bonuses or beneficial effects from being a Male that you don't get as a Female? It doesn't have to be anything really mystical or stat-altering as the above, just maybe some area run by chauvinists where you get a Charisma bonus for dealing with them if you're Male (or suffer a penalty for being female. Like that.

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    1. Jamie used to play D&D, so maybe he was thinking of cantrips with that ability to create magical light. Certainly if it's been established that mages can do that, they ought to be able to do so in every book.

      As for the unicorn - I assume the codeword Exultant has a payoff in a later book, but I can't be doing with that soppy modern idea of unicorns anyway. If I put a unicorn in a book it'd be the deadly medieval variety!

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    2. If there's a pay-off, right now it's in the fan-made version of Book 9. In that book you can meet something like a unicorn "king." With a successful (but high difficulty) Sanctity roll Exultant give you a permanent Immunity to Poison/Disease blessing ala the permanent Safety from Storms bless you can get in Book 6. The catch is that your Sanctity can't drop or you lose that blessing and can't get the permanent version again.

      Evil also gets paid off meeting the "king" because he kills your unicorn-murdering ass on sight. No combat, no skill checks, just dead. So, yeah, unicorns are still pretty damned dangerous.

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  7. I love the lively discussion surrounding these books, the setting in all of them is so rich and real, better than any open-world video game I've ever played.

    In future books I would like to see an opportunity to either change or gain another profession, maybe only if certain prerequisites are made. I know that's a very D&D mechanic to introduce into the series at such a late stage, so I could understand not incorporating it.

    Regardless, oftentimes when I play through I decide that my character doesn't subscribe to such narrow-minded worldviews as "profession" and I allow them to engage in all of the various exclusive profession quests lol

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  8. Drawing up some optional advance rules shouldn't be too challenging given the number of people who can chip in. I always applied common sense to whether characters could use certain items; not just regarding class but also situation: a sextant won't help climbing a mountain for example.

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    1. Actually, I figure in the FL world it can. The compass, cross-staff (whatever the hell that actually is, I have no idea) and sextant aren't simple items to help with locating position. They're repositories of magical enhancements that aid all aspects of the Scouting ability. At least that's the way I look at it. Sort of the way holy symbols made of silver or gold really shouldn't be any holier than other symbols, but somehow are.

      Otherwise you pretty much nerf all those items and kind of screw the players who need them to deal with places like the Plains or swimming across a river or really doing almost anything that uses the Scouting ability.

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  9. I don't recall exactly but my memory is that the books needed NERFING...I never got on board with non-rogues being adept at using Lockpicks for instance. If every character can do everything what's the point in having classes?

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    1. Classes in FL are really just for flavour. The fundamental system is skill-based like GURPS, not class-based like D&D. The idea is that if you are an explorer of mythic status (a high-rank Wayfarer) you might very well have powerful magic and fighting skill.

      The professions do give access to specific quests, of course. Those are supposed to be things that would attract the attention of somebody renowned in a given class. But we didn't want to lock off large chunks of each book for any given choice of character, which is why skills take precedence and profession is secondary to that.

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    2. Pretty much this. Profession are good for other things, too. Warriors have an easier time fighting pirates. Mages can create light (and don't need to fetch along space-taking Candles or Lanterns). And if you run out of water in the Violet Ocean and want to make for Dweomer, it's good to be a Wayfarer.

      But, yeah, pretty much everyone is assumed to be able to do everything at least a little bit. Hell, during a recent playthrough with a starting Rogue, I rolled a perfect 12 (with a Sactity of 1)to bless the beggar in Yellowport and get the Azure codeword.

      While I have a house rule about that, it's easily possible to take a low-rank Warrior into Dweomer with a bunch of shards and raise his Magic a few points about his Fighting. My house rule is that you have to have a Magic of at least 6 or be a Mage to join a college at Dweomer. Otherwise you don't have the background or base knowledge to understand their lessons, which are, after all, at the college/university level. These are magic colleges, not magic primary schools. Meanwhile, as a corollary to that, the highest the colleges can take you, Magic-wise, is to a 9. To learn more than that, you have to get off your arse, go into the world and learn stuff through adventuring.

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  10. Dave & Paul,
    Recently Megara (the parent company publishing Fabled Lands 7 I think) invested a lot of money in and started a Kickstarter for a digital CCG, "Champions of Megara".
    I was highly skeptical of the idea and it seems many others are too, because the Kickstarter is not doing well. Recently, Mikael Louys posted here:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/370105323051113/permalink/1564531680275132/
    "Hello, we are facing financial trouble at the moment since our Champions of Megara Kickstarter is not working so far, and we invested 100k euros on it, so all our productions are now either slowing down or on hold while I must look for additional shareholders to help our company survive."

    Please tell me that Fabled Lands 7 remains on track for publication despite this, and hopefully that the next Fabled Lands book will not be affected by Megara's difficulties.

    Thanks,
    Vandervecken

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    1. Yes I have seen this and it is somewhat concerning (I am backing two of their KS projects). My main worry is that kickstarter funds collected for postage and manufacture might have been dedicated towards the risky CCG game. I would hope our funds have been ring fenced, but the comment that all projects may be on hold pending the company's survival makes me somewhat concerned. After all this wait, we may need to be content with PDF books for a bit or else wait until the softcover books come out. A shame because the previous Megara books were great quality - especially Autumn Snow.

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    2. Cam, Vandervecken -- I saw that too, and I agree it's cause for concern. The money raised by Megara for Fabled Lands book 7 should have been ring-fenced, and I have no reason other than that statement on Facebook to think it hasn't been. I will supply Megara with the PDF that Fabled Lands Publishing will be using for the paperback edition, but beyond that we have no more information or control.

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  11. Vandervecken:
    I agree that they should have focused on their existing obligations, rather than take a risk on such a pricy proposition. I personally don't know any gamers or even CCG players that partake in digital card games, and many that had millions of dollars in funding and billion dollar companies behind them have failed.

    So I also hope Fabled Lands 7 is released soon.

    Dave: I would reach out to Kevin again to check the status of the cover art once more.

    How long does it take to edit and layout a book of this size?

    Is there anyone else that can help? I would do it for a book credit and a few copies of the hardcover.

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    1. The hardcover is outside of our control, Mike, but I appreciate the offer of help. I'm doing the layout right now, so as soon as I have Kevin's cover art I can start the publishing process for the paperback editions. But if Megara is still intending to issue hardbacks to the KS backers, those copies should really go out first.

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