Monday, April 18, 2016

Review: Dungeon Fantasy 4 - Sages

This book.
So, with the completion of Dungeon Fantasy 1, 2, and 3, the core of the franchise is established, and hereon out, the majority of books are more like expansions and improvements to a completed thing. Sages introduces two new classes that originally by the rules of allowed and disallowed advantages shouldn't be in a Dungeon Fantasy game. However, breaking these rules, it introduces two of my favorite classes, and it creates an easy system for the Quick Gadgeteer advantage that is simple enough to be useful. The introduced character classes (templates) are pretty tricky though, and they don't really work well in a straightforward heavy combat typical Dungeon Fantasy game, but if you like doing things a little different, and everyone is a little different, then this is a really good book.


Short and wide table of contents.
This book is a little shorter than the previous installments in the series: it focuses on the Artificer template (4 pages,) the Scholar template (also 4 pages,) and tools for each of them (1 and 4 pages respectively.) Besides that, we have an introduction, an index, and the very last incident of a full color cover in the mainline Dungeon Fantasy franchise.
The introduction is pretty straightforward, and basically says what I said in more words; that this book is about two academic types and the tools and skills to leverage them appropriately. Organization is pretty straightforward, but maybe it would have been better if Chapter 1 and 3, and chapters 2 and 4 were close together? This book is mostly content, with some interesting rules thrown in, no fluff, and disappointingly little guidance. A handful of worked examples here and there would have been appreciated by me, and I really liked the Making Them Useful section of Dungeon Fantasy 2 as well. Fortunately, that section does make a return in later installments in the series. The main event, however is great, and I do enjoy the Artificer and the Scholar.


This chapter describes the mad inventor/engineer type of character. It spells out a few new abilities like a new talent and perk, and has some real quick and easy invention rules. These invention rules are awesome, and feel like something that was almost missing from the Basic Set. They alone are worth the price of admission. The chapter includes a few build suggestions, and a great list of dual class templates, similar to Dungeon Fantasy 3. I miss the choice/marginal profession list though, but suggestions are spelled out for the Artificer lens that lets other classes dual class into being engineers. Besides those few points, the chapter is very straightforward and easy to read.


The other template introduced in the book, the Scholar is built around Modular Abilities, specifically, a version called Book-Learned Wisdom, which lets a Scholar change skills given a not terribly long time with a book. For the most part, the same praise and criticism applies to this chapter as the previous chapter. I think it is a wee bit easier to read, though coincidentally, I think the Scholar is the more technically difficult template in play.


A small list of a couple extra items, specifically geared towards the sages in this book. The items are all pretty good and the prices seem pretty fair. Overall, a nice supplement to the shopping list in Dungeon Fantasy 1.


This chapter is deceptive, it isn't just a catalog of books, but a whole system for defining mechanically useful books with rules for both Scholars and other classes. You have pricing rules for especially high quality or informative books, a few lists of suggested tiers of skills and how to deal with the difference between super hardcore skills and mundane ones. It also has rules for one off spell scrolls if that is your thing, giving you, again, another useful way to apply the GURPS Magic book. A very useful chapter even if the two main events aren't your bread and butter, but you still like the idea of players finding forbidden knowledge or buying magic scrolls.

Other Thoughts and Closing

Until doing a review, I actually kinda neglected the mechanics for scrolls. It's funny how often I find a neat useful thing when I do a review of a book I like. Weird how I miss something good the first time around. I'd say this book is kinda optional, but the Artificer and Scholar in my campaign are having great fun, and the stuff they do makes me really want to play an Artificer too. I wrote two posts recently modeling the Making Them Useful section from Dungeon Fantasy 2 since this book was disappointingly missing them, so, hey, that thwarts two of my small complaints.

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