Fantasy Imperium by Shadowstar Games is an Interactive Storytelling Game instead of a Role Playing Game. What does this mean? I’m about do dive in and find out since this is my Day 17 entry into the Character Creation Challenge. I had obtained this game last year when a friend gifted it to me while trying to reduce the number of books on his bookshelf. So I figured I’d give this game a go for the 2022 challenge.
If you are looking at the image above, yes all those pages are part of the character sheet. It’s six pages long. I had discovered this when I had printed out all of the character sheets before the challenge had started. When I saw the number of sheets, I moved the date for this character to January 17th because I thought I’d need more time to go through the process. Well as I discovered two days ago, all of that free time went poof. So lets see what we have in store for us.
The colorful maps on the front and back inside covers show the details of Europe in 1121 AD to 1348 AD. This is the basic time-frame that the game is set in. Magic is available, but risky and frowned upon in medieval times. The game is described as a battle between good and evil. OK I’m on board so far.
The GM is called a Storyteller and the players are, in a sense, actors. I’m still confused by the “storytelling” aspect. I’ve seen games like Amber and online Sims where you just “spoke your part”. But I’m also seeing various statistics and an RPG system. So what is this game?
Ah the Characteristics (aka the attributes). Strength, Endurance, Dexterity, Intuition (think Wisdom), Self Discipline, Reasoning (memory of things you have learned), Ego (confidence and self-worth), Awareness, Presence (think Charisma) and Attractiveness. To generate these, roll d100 and go down the list. There are a bunch of additional rules when generating the characteristics, but the big one is if more than half of the stats are under 50%, you can scrap them all and start over. I had a really good roll for Strength (97) and a really crappy one for Intuition and Reason (17 & 22). Not enough to scrap the entire lot. Consulting the other options I can see that I can re-roll one Characteristic (OK now intuition is now 86, kewl). The character is not female so I can’t re-roll my Attractiveness, meh. There are three extra rolls that I can use throughout the character creation process. A Reason of 22 is not the best, but I have a feeling that I need to save the re-rolls for something else. So my Characteristics are set and this character will be a strong type of fellow. To use the characteristics, you roll a d100 and then add it to the characteristic roll, the higher number wins. The characteristic results are also use for combat factor statistics. These include Hits, Stun (Shock on the sheet for some reason), Morale, Winded, Exhausted and Burnout. Power (for magic), Fate and Luck are randomly rolled or decided depending upon the profession. There is magic resistance (called savings throws on the character sheet) of Ceremonial, Natural, Extrasensory and Black Arts (Black Magic on the character sheet).
Next came the History and Appearance (page 6 of the character sheet). The RAW stated that this would be determined by the Storyteller based upon the date and setting (oh boy). Nationality was just selected. Screw it I’m going with Medieval England. So he’s a typical guy from the British isles with brown hair and average looks. I get to roll for the social class. The d100 resulted in Lower Middle Class (rank 2). Just barely missed rank 3 by a few points. The number of siblings is also randomly rolled (he has 5). What year was he born? I guess that would have been coordinated with the Storyteller. Let’s say the game is set in the year 1348 and he’s 22 years old. So 1326 is when he came into this world.
Now the book wants us to create a background for the character. This is probably more of the “Interactive Storytelling” element. Actions, goals, needs, flaws, history, reputation, etc. There was a ton of details that they wanted. Probably more than is standard for a RPG character. Page six of the character sheet is for this entire section. Unfortunately I’ve been robbed of the time needed to do something of this detail, nor do I have a Storyteller with an idea of what type of campaign they are going to run in Medieval Europe.
I’m assuming that the character creation continues when we move into chapter 2 detailing skills and professions. Fantasy Imperium is a skill-based system (which I have enjoyed in other systems). Basic skill calculations are taken from a Characteristic and dividing them by five. You can then spend skill points (new characters get 100+d100 to start) to a base skill number to increase that final skill number. Each skill point is worth 10% to the final skill number with new characters not getting more than 3 points per skill unless it is a professional skill which can have up to five points. I can only choose a profession from my social class (rank 2). Looking over the list I selected a profession (some, while historically accurate, didn’t make sense for a game) that my massive strength would have justified. The Man-at-Arms. Not only did this give me the skills to start, it also determined the Income and Savings. The skills also include the use of weapons. This took a while to complete. I quickly filled in some of the blanks spots on the sheet (not all of them over six pages) and I would have moved onto equipment, but I’ve run out of time. So I would have worked with my Storyteller to make sure I was picking up stuff appropriate for the time frame.
I did not scan in any character sheets that did not have any details on them. There were sheets with weapons and armor, magic and the massive character backstory details.
Well one advantage of having the sheet being so many pages is that everything was easy to read. There have been some character sheets where they make the font so small it makes it harder to read. I still think that six pages are a little excessive. There were also items on the character sheet that did not match the book. I’m assuming that Shock = Stun between the two, etc. This really should have been noticed by the editors.
The players will be doing a lot of work with the Storyteller before starting this game and creating characters.
There were a lot of adjustments to the statistics for female characters. Some good, some bad. There was also a ton of crunchyness in this system. I don’t know if this was part of the Interactive Storytelling or what? If I could find a video of a game in play, I might watch it to understand more. But I seriously doubt that I’ll play or homebrew for this system. It already has a ton of stuff in it so I don’t think there is anything that could have been added.
There is a ton of detail in this book. It may be a good resource just to have to use for your preferred fantasy/medieval style campaign. There was also a lot of good art in this book. I can tell that a lot of effort went into the book. Since I had never heard of the game before the book came into my possession (it was released in 2006) I don’t think a lot of other people have heard of it either.
From what I did read, I never did find out what it meant by Interactive Storytelling.
While my site was inaccessible to me (and everyone else) I had started writing the blog entry in a text file. When I could start posting again, I just cut and paste into the blog entry. I usually have the blog editor open as I’m creating the character so I can type in my thoughts as they hit me. I’m now wondering if I should stick with the text file first then worry about the blog entry later. Forcing myself to explore other options has given me something to think about. This entry was done as I had earlier and I may experiment with the next couple of entries.
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