It's no secret that Tabletop Role-Playing Games (TTRPG) are experiencing a boom in popularity and mainstream focus like ever before. Titans like Pathfinder are releasing new editions, the Dungeons & Dragons movie is releasing in less than a week, and you can find a TTRPG for just about any subject matter or genre. For players interested in the genre though where to start, or what system might have the lowest barrier of entry can be difficult, especially when it involves getting a group together and one member running the game. FableCraft is a new digital TTRPG launching on Kickstarter that offers everything you will need to form a party and chat over video, experience different set pieces with visual aids, and run through combat encounters with ease.
Last week I was able to sit down and speak with Dave Hohusen and Andrew Habers the co-founders of RiftWeaver, the indie gaming company that is creating FableCraft, to talk about what makes FableCraft the "most accessible Tabletop Roleplaying game that still has a decent amount of roleplaying and depth". Hohusen and Habers first explained that their personal history was the first meeting in elementary school where they played D&D together all through high school. After that their careers grew in different ways, Hohusen towards games design and animation while Habers worked in Network Infrastructure. What brought them back together was their enjoyment of D&D and playing together again through the COVID lockdown. Using tools like Roll20 they were able to play, but they "didn't feel it was as cohesive as it could be."
In creating FableCraft it was the goal of Hohusen and Habers to make an all-in-one experience for players to experience a TTRPG adventure together where everything that is needed is available in one place. This wasn't just meant to be hyper-accessible and easy to pick up for those who are seasoned veterans of a variety of TTRPGs but something "especially for those who haven't played TTRPGs before. You can voice and video chat through the app, see scenes selected by your GM, and move tokens around on a battle map combining everything you'd want for a VTT experience. For the DM this also means that the pre-written adventures won't just be an instruction book of text and directions but the adventure can set the scene automatically including music, which will allow you to focus on what's happening directly in front of you, but also set up combat encounters automatically. That everything presents itself most logically and as integrated into the experience as possible was a key part of RiftWeaver's goal to make the barrier for entry as low as possible for new DMs.
What character options are available in FableCraft?
Players will get a chance to go through the Character Creator when they first join a game. After creating or randomizing your name, you can pick your Homeland, Class, and Fighting Style. The Homeland and Class that you pick will give you additional roleplaying options whereas the Fighting Style that you pick will decide what combat options will be available to you. After picking your Homeland, Class, and Fighting style you'll get a further five skill points that you can allocate to additional skills to shape your character further. Each character's abilities are determined by three separate parts, each holding weight in the direction your character might go, it allows for each choice to be more limited but for plenty of permutations.
The character that you and a friend might create could be a Highlander with the ability Gravitic Climb, and a Guardian Class with the abilities Hindsight, Imprison, and Judge. If at that point one player selects to use the Elementalist Fighting Style and another picks the Gravimancer Fighting Style it will help set your characters apart. One Guardian spell that Hohusen highlighted was the Imprison spell, "You can bind a defeated foe and magically transport them to the authority of your choice. You don't need to murder a bad guy to effectively deal with them [in FableCraft]". While the Guardian starts with boosts to Athletics, Culture, and Perception some of the other skills that you can put points into include Academics, Acrobatics, Charm, Empathy, Medicine, Skulduggery, and more.
How is FableCraft mechanically different from other TTRPG you might know?
In FableCraft the Dungeon Master will narrate the world of the adventure to the players. Using the platform's in-built tools the DM will be able to change the scene that the player's are viewing, add NPC or creatures to the scene, and play music to add to the ambiance of the game. Through narration and the player's own choices the DM will be able to prompt players to make skill checks. "If a player was to want to tumble from one branch to another it's up to [the DM] to decide how difficult is that acrobatics check." The rolls are made with custom six-sided dice that have the option to score a +2, +1, 0, or -1. As you upgrade your skills you'll be able to roll more D6 giving you improved chances to meet those requirements. That the DM gets to prompt to players with these checks means there's no need to go hunting down variables on a paper sheet or break game time to make sure something is done correctly. The DM can simply ask the players for a skill check, the game will prompt them to roll, and then they'll roll in-engine with the results being shared to all players.
Moving from a Story Scene to a Battle Scene the perspective shifts to look down as the player characters and any creatures they're facing square up. Each participant finds their place in initiative order and the battle begins. "To move your character you just pick it up and move it", as Habers demonstrates a portion of the battlefield around his character glows clearly showing the outline of the movable distance. The actions that a character can take based on their fighting style sit at the bottom of your screen. Each has a range, cooldown, and how much damage they achieve on a hit and any bonuses that can occur at a higher success. "We combined the To Hit and the Damage roll to make it more streamlined" to hit a creature a player only needs to score one point across their dice rolled. More successes on the die mean you'll get to do bonus damage. To balance this players might not do as much damage on a hit as they would in another system, but statistically, they'll be hitting a lot more and won't "be taking your turn and OH, I did no damage and I have to wait for my turn again."
All of the tools that RiftWeaver uses to create monsters, scenes, and more will be released as development tools. Hohusen explained the process is "super GUI driven. If you're making a sword you can tweak the range of the damage, it will have animations built-in so if it's a fire sword you can replace the animation of a slash with a burn."
How will you be able to play FableCraft?
At the moment the timeline that's been laid out for FableCraft is to launch on Kickstarter in with a demo available to backers as soon as July, from there the game will be in early access for 9 months. Backers to the Kickstarter will get access to a first Adventure that will cover two levels, at higher tiers you'll obtain more of these adventures with five adventures being available to the highest tier. Hohusen explained that one of the benefits of being a digital tool "is that we can scale the difficulty of the enemies you're facing based on the party level. Do I want this to be deadly? Do I want this to be easy?" These are all easy things to shift. At different levels Kickstarter backers will also get expanded music and scene selections.
While the game will be immediately available on Windows and OSX there are plans to port it to tablet first, and then mobile. "This time next year it will be on Steam, it will be on iOS for iPad, and ideally for Android Tablet. Over the course of next year we'll do the mobile release too."
TechRaptor would like to thank Dave Hohusen and Andrew Habers for talking to us about their upcoming project FableCraft