Hello everyone! I'm writing this post for those of you who might not be familiar with my Tabletop Role Playing Game, Fabula Ultima!
The Latin title Fabula Ultima could roughly be translated as "Last Fable" or "Ultimate Story". Most of you have probably realized where this title comes from already: indeed, the game is my homage to Japanese Role Playing Games such as Final Fantasy, Octopath Traveler, Bravely Default, Bravely Second, Kingdom Hearts and Tactics Ogre.
This is also my attempt at tackling a large-scale, somewhat "traditional" role-playing game; it has a broad scope, a good amount of crunch, dungeons, magic items and bestiaries. However, my goal is also to make all of these elements coherent, functional and accessible, providing both Players and Game Masters with the proper tools and clearly stating their responsibilities at the table.
There's no "official setting" in Fabula Ultima. Instead, your group will create the basics of your very own game world during the first session. There are a few cornerstones that cannot be ignored (such as the stream of souls permeating creation or the existence of several isolated settlements in a landscape teeming with monsters and mysteries) but you're free to come up with a great variety of worlds.
There's three reasons for this:
- Everyone at the table is interested in what happens to the world you created together.
- The Game Master can gather an incredible amount of ideas and inspirations from this process.
- If you want, you can play in your favorite JRPG setting and the game won't fight back - as long as that setting matches most of the game's premises, which are pretty classic and flexible (this was intentional).
Fabula Ultima's Player Characters are heroes - while some of them may begin their tale as thieves or dark knights, they're expected to "do the right thing" in the end.
But if you what you want are the juicy, technical details, know that...
- Narratively, each protagonist is defined by an identity ("Last Warrior Princess of the Moon Kingdom"), a theme ("Hope") and an origin ("the Moon, duh").
- Mechanically, each hero starts the game at level 5, and you can go up to level 50. If you're thinking I'm a madman, don't worry - levels are quite small increments and are gained approximately every session. What's more interesting is that each level must be put in a class, so you might start the game as a level 2 rogue / level 3 weaponmaster, and later on mix and match between different archetypes.
- When you bring one of your classes to level 10, you master that class and get a special heroic skill. Since each class can't go above level 10, you will inevitably broaden your character's abilities as you level up - just like in typical JRPGs, your warrior will sooner or later be able to enchant her weapons, read enemy weaknesses and so on!
You can find more information on Character Creation in the downloadable files below!
At its core, Fabula Ultima revolves around a group of simple mechanics. Most of this core was inspired by the excellent Ryuutama, but there are strong influences from Burning Wheel, Apocalypse World and Blades in the Dark as well.
The first mechanic we should talk about is the Check. When you make a Check, you roll two dice based on your character's attributes: Dexterity, Insight, Might and Willpower (each attribute will be tied to a die size, from a weak d6 to a very strong d12). For instance, you might find yourself rolling Insight + Willpower to cast a spell, or rolling your Might + Might when swinging a powerful greataxe.
The flowchart below summarizes a typical Check:
Being heroic protagonists, the Player Characters have several ways to influence the outcome: they can support each other with a Group Check, spend Fabula Points to fight against fate and reroll dice, or even accept a steep Cost in order to turn a failure into success.
Regardless of outcome, the situation will change in some way - in Fabula Ultima, the action must be constantly kept moving!
You can find more information on Checks in the downloadable files below!From the simplicity of the Check mechanic stem a variety of other rules:
- A Conflict system that covers any adrenalinic or especially dramatic scene (battles, infiltrations and even audiences or trials).
- A Ritual Magic system that allows Player Characters to make full use of their magical talents.
- A Project system that regulates the crafting of more or less complex potions, items and contraptions.
- A Bond system that improves the heroes' teamwork abilities as they spend more time with each other.
Of course, the game doesn't stop there - inside the book you will also find:
- A simple but efficient system for Travel and Exploration, focusing on the dangers and discoveries that can suddenly "pop up" on the map as the characters explore it.
- An abstract Inventory Point system that covers consumables such as potions, antidotes and offensive single-use items. Very minimal bookkeeping!
- A Health and Dying system that prevents heroes from dying when it doesn't matter for the story, while also ensuring they pay a steep price for giving up a fight.
In Fabula Ultima, the Player Characters' role is supported by an underlying "story economy".
- By failing dramatically, being defeated or encountering new antagonists, the heroes gather Fabula Points.
- These powerful points can be spent to modify Checks, add elements to the story, and fuel a variety of awesome skills.
- Finally, spending Fabula Points is one of the main ways for characters to earn experience points and then level up - if you want to grow stronger, you cannot simply hoard your resources: you have to spend them and interact with the core economy of the game!
On the other hand, Villains have a resource known as Ultima Points... but I won't spoil too much. Suffice it to say, antagonists aren't that easy to get rid of!
The Game Master chapter contains a variety of advice and rules that can help you run the game. This chapter is constantly being updated based on playtest feedback - I want to focus on what people really need when playing.
- There is advice on how to help everyone make the most out of their Player Character classes.
- The chapter also contains advice on creating and portraying Villains, the most important driving forces in your game after the Player Characters!
- The item design system allows you to create cool magical items for your group.
- The creature design system ensures you can come up with a new monster in a matter of minutes, and helps you make sure each creature is tactically interesting to deal with.
- The battle design system allows you to gauge the dangers and complexity of a battle, and to spice things up with environmental dangers, boss fights, and more!
At the moment, Fabula Ultima is no longer available as patreon content: in November 2021, the game will see its full release under the Italian company Need Games!
The beautiful artwork above, by Catthy Trinh, is a preview from the final print version.
You can follow the updates on this patreon or via this Facebook Page!
If you want a sneak peek at the contents, there's a few downloadable files for you down below! Please feel free to share them with anyone you think might be interested!
And if you haven't already, join our Discord Server here!