A Look at BareBones Fantasy RPG

Barebones FantasyBareBones Fantasy RPG is a game from DwD Studios, written by Larry Moore and Bill Logan. The game has become quite popular over on Google+. The system comes in a small package with 80-some odd pages that include character races, character skills, monsters, magic, and more. BareBones Fantasy RPG is currently available in PDF, softcover, and a hardcover is in the works.

I ended up picking up the PDF of the system late last year to see what it was all about. The system is intended to be a ‘rules-lite’ system using only d10’s for dice and trying to keep out of the gamer’s way allowing them so spend time having fun rather than held back by a heavy set of rules. They call the system the d00Lite system.

The welcome to the game page does introduce a golden rule – “The GM is in charge!”. After playing and running many rules heavy systems over the years, I have been finding myself drawn to systems with fewer and simpler rules and back to the days where the GM is responsible for figuring out the gray areas and running with it. I was quite happy to see this golden rule, it seems more and more of the games I am attracted to these days include something along these lines.

The Rules

To play this game you only need two 10-sided dice. Things such as damage rolls and the like are indicated by using the notation of 1D (one 10-sided dice) or 2D (two 10-sided dice). Checks are done by trying to roll under a percentage. If you roll under you are successful, over and you are not. If the two 10-sided dice come up the same number (i.e. both 2’s) and the roll was successful then you scored a critical success. If they come up the same number and you were higher than your percentage then you had a critical failure. The game’s mechanics revolve around this simple mechanic.

There are four ability scores for each character. Strength, Dexterity, Logic, and Willpower. Ranges for ability scores tend to range between 35 and 80, though there are exceptions.

Instead of choosing a character class in BBF, you choose skills. There are eight skills to choose from. From these skills the player selects a primary skill (netting a +20 in that skill), a secondary skill (a +10 in that skill) and you choose one skill to assign a level in. Some skills require a “level” in them in order to be used. This method of building a character allows a player to build their character they want without being tied into a particular class. It is a very flexible system.

There are four races in this book to choose from – Human, Elf, Dwarf, and Halfling. The player’s race choice will affect starting ability scores and provide other racial abilities depending on choice.

The Game Guidelines section adds a little detail for the GM running the game on success modifiers, damage, healing, and more. The book also contains spells for the caster-types, magic items, and monsters for the GM to use in their game.

Putting even more into this book, there is an included random dungeon generator and adventure idea generator. If you are ever stuck for an idea, these generators alone are sure to get your brain going with some ideas.

The final 7 pages of the book include a brief look at the campaign world Keranak Kingdoms to act as a backdrop for all of your adventures. If you purchase the PDF version of this product you also receive a free adventure called Maidens of Moordoth to help get you started.

BareBones Fantasy Map and MinisThe Play

I finally had the chance to take this system for a spin the other weekend. I used a combination of the NPC Generator and the sample characters in the rulebook to get some pre-gens ready. I used the Trouble at Karam’s Claim from the Keranak Kingdoms Fantasy Setting for the game as my first adventure. I ran the adventure for my kids, who do pretty well at playing new RPGs. They play Pathfinder quite frequently, my son runs some Pathfinder games for us, and I’ve run a quick run of DCC RPG with him as well.

I handed out the pre-gens – my son wanted a couple of dwarves, my daughter wanted an elven ranger type. She has a crush on Legolas. I had characters that fit those ideas and I spent a short amount of time going over the basics. That did not take long to explain and it seemed to set in after the first round or two of combat.

Trouble at Karam’s Claim was fun. There are a lot of one type of creature in it, though the module warns of that ahead of time. It can get just a little repetitive unless the GM plays it up a bit. The overall concept of the adventure is a good one though.

The play was quick and very easy to get the hang of. The concept of being able to do more than one action in a turn is very nice. Essentially, your first action in a turn is not penalized at all. The second takes a -20% to the score you are trying to roll under. The third takes a -40% to the score you are trying to roll under and so on. It really allows a character to decide just how much they want to risk not being able to defend well because they took too many attacks.

In the end the kids vanquished the primary threat at the mines and were successful for the day! My son liked it and has been poking around the softcover book a bit and studying some of the reference sheets I had printed up for the game. He ranked it above DCC RPG (he has a bit of a problem with all the randomness in DCC RPG).

Wrap Up

My experience with BareBones Fantasy RPG has been a very good one so far! I will definitely be looking to get into a few more games of it and will likely seek some out at conventions this year. I am sure I will find myself running a few here and there as well!

If you are looking for a “rules-lite” fantasy system for a low cost investment that includes rules to play, spell, monsters, magic items, a glance at a campaign world, and more – BareBones Fantasy is well worth checking out! BareBones Fantasy RPG is currently available in PDF, softcover, and a hardcover will be coming out in the near future.

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