Observations on Fantasy Craft
I posted this over on the Crafty Games forums as a summary of our take on the system:
Stuff We Liked
1. Character Versatility. Everybody agreed that they felt like their PCs could contribute in each scene, even if their character wasn't optimized for a particular task. While the group slanted towards combat abilities, in other words, they were able to engage in investigation, social checks, infiltration, and the dungeon crawl without feeling totally worthless. They p0wned their opposition in the fight at the end, of course, but the point was they enjoyed having a chance to do things no matter the situation.
2. Action Dice. I liked giving them, they liked using them, and by the end of the second session I think we all comprehended their many uses. Given my experience with SpyCraft I already knew AD were cool, but its still worth noting.
3. Combat was quick and painless. We resolved the concluding brawl with one Special NPC and two mobs of minions in under an hour. Most of us stuck to simple actions given our relative inexperience with the system, but it never became a chore.
4. Stress damage was a lot less fiddly than I thought it would be. Its not a massive revelation, but I liked how simply the save-or-shaken mechanic worked. It helped that we could copy-and-paste conditions from our PDF copies to the virtual game table, but in tabletop I imagine Condition Cards would also keep it simple.
5. Knowledge checks. The players liked that they didn't need to have a whole slew of ranks dedicated to scholastic skills in order to have PCs who knew things. I liked how easy it was to resolve whether or not they knew things. Win win.
Stuff We Didn't Like As Much
1. Classes, Feats, Origin abilities. While I think the Soldier got to use Accurate once during the fight scene, nobody else used their class abilities during either session. We had maybe one use of a feat and one or two uses of origin abilities. This is mainly due to lack of familiarity, but it was still a little surprising given how much space that stuff takes up on a character sheet.
2. Blend/Sneak and Notice/Search. I probably exacerbated things by drawing my players' attention to this personal bugaboo of mine, but we agreed that the fact that our Assassin was more stealthy when he wasn't trying to be stealthy didn't make much sense. I also didn't really dig rolling as much I felt was necessary when it came to resolving the passive skills. It never broke the game but its still something I have trouble explaining (or justifying) to my players. Advice would be appreciated.
3. Spell lists. In contrast to stress damage, magic was exactly as fiddly as I thought it would be. While I was the only one who had to concern myself with page flipping to sort out what each spell did on behalf of an NPC, it was still kind of a bummer. I ended up skipping spell use and falling back on one extraordinary attack they had to keep things moving.
All in all, we enjoyed the game and felt that the system served our purposes. I didn't convert the guy who didn't already have a copy of the rules, but it was nice to see things in play. We may return to it in the future for another one shot.