Freebooters on the Frontier, 2nd edition
Okay, thanks to everyone taking the time to answer that poll, it looks like Freebooters 2e will be the next project toward which I will focus my game-brain. I am excited about that, and eager to make the game better in every way possible. To that end I would love to hear from anyone who has played FotF and has an opinion about how to make it better. Specifically, what problems have you encountered in your own games, and what suggestions do you have for addressing these problems?
FotF 2e will be self-contained (i.e., you won’t need Dungeon World to play it). Right now my plan is for a 5-booklet set. Each booklet would be comparable to the original FotF in length (24 pages). Yes, I want to evoke the old D&D white box vibe.
My current plan for the set is:
Freebooters on the Frontier (the basic rules, revised and improved)
Advanced Freebooters (additional classes and other optional rules)
Civilization & Savagery (tables and moves for cultures, settlements, and NPCs)
Overland & Underworld (tables and moves for wilderness and dungeons)
Beasts & Booty (tables and moves for monsters and treasure)
My goal in revising Freebooters on the Frontier is to create a fantasy role-playing game that successfully fuses the improvisational survivalist adventure of early D&D with the improvisational fiction made possible by the Apocalypse Engine. The PCs should feel motivated primarily to accumulate loot, and fight monsters mostly out of necessity. I believe that by making PC death a real possibility (by starting with relatively weak PCs, not fudging rolls, and relying heavily on sensibly-interpreted randomized content), the drama and satisfaction of watching PCs survive and grow over time is heightened.
It’s also important to note that I want to avoid feature-creep on the basic rules and keep them as slim as possible. The Advanced Freebooters book will have room for additional classes and all the cool house rules people have concocted.
Here are some issues of which I’m currently aware and intending to address:
PC hit points
Does the cumulative HP rule make PCs too powerful relative to the monsters they face, given that monsters follow the basic Dungeon World rules? Has PC HP been a problem at your table? My current plan is to write new monster rules for FotF that expands their HP range. The intention would not be to have encounters that scale to the party, but to allow for bigger, older, scarier monsters to have more HP. Alternatively, I could scale down the roll-for-HP move.
As +David Perry has pointed out, the interaction between Scout Ahead and Navigate can be confusing, and I’d like to improve the overall procedure for travel both aboveground and below. Ideally, the same set of moves could be used in dungeons and wilderness, but I tried various versions of that when I was writing/playtesting The Perilous Wilds, and none of them were satisfying. The two modes of exploration are so fundamentally different that they call for different sets of moves. If that’s the case, I want to come up with a tight set of moves for each of these types of exploration.
Some folks have said that clerics are the least interesting class to play. Why is that, and how could the cleric be made for interesting? I like Maezar’s idea of rewriting the Divine Disapproval table to a 2d6 roll instead of 1d12 roll, in order to reduce the swingy nature of that table (and I think I would keep 1d12 for the Arcane Accident table because it underlines the chaotic nature of sorcery).
Rob Brennan has that noted that the “Cast a Spell” move may have some issues, in terms of not leaving enough room for making a GM move on a 6-.
Any opinions on the above stuff? What other potential problems have you encountered in play? What new things would you like to see folded into the mix?