Showing posts with label Crafty Games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Crafty Games. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Looking At Little Wizards - An All Ages Fantasy RPG

After a brief pause, +David Rollins gives up some opinions on Little Wizards, an all ages fantasty RPG from Crafty Games. There is also a free preview available of the game on RPGNow.

By David Rollins

Another Gen Con has come and gone and as the dust settles down on this year's ENnie Awards you may be sifting through the winners looking for gold, but if you are a parent looking for a good RPG to play with your kids you should be looking at one of this year's nominees.

Little Wizards from Crafty Games was nominated for the Best Family Game ENnie and while it did not win, it is worth considering if you are looking for a quality RPG to share with your kids.

The layout works well on multiple formats. I read the the pdf copy I received for review on my laptop, my desktop and even my phone. The two columns on square pages worked well on a wide screen and the columns fit easily on my phone screen so I could read a half-page at a time with no trouble. I also printed it out so I could get a feel for how the art worked in the book form.

ArnĂ¼ West's illustrations are brilliant, with plenty of action in every scene depicted. It's clear at a mere glance that this game is all about young wizards doing cool stuff. West's style mixes the familiar with the fantastic to open up a world that is both magical and comfortable for a brand new player. Some of the choices West makes, such as the viewpoint and the form of the buildings, reminds me of illustrations from old copies of Peter Pan which gives everything a classic feel.

The mechanics of the game are based on a roll of two, six-sided dice. The player rolls and adds a trait to meet a target number based on difficulty of a chosen action. That much is familiar to most gaming parents but there are some innovations that encourage a certain type of play. Traits are rated as Good (+0), Better (+1) or Best (+2). No character can be the best at everything so the players will need to work in teams where everyone has an important role to play. There are also rules for cooperation that allow other characters to help, so players only need to come up with a reasonable way their characters can contribute to start stacking up +1s on their friends' action rolls.

Character creation is easy, with a handful of choices and random tables that players can roll on, choose from, or simply use as inspiration. My daughter had a great time rolling up her Little Wizard's personality with the tables.

The Magic system is open-ended with plenty of room for players to get creative to use their magic to solve problems and plenty of suggestions and examples to help them along as well. There are different types of magic so again, teamwork is emphasized in the design.

There are no hit points or health in this game. If a character gets hurt it becomes a problem that needs to be dealt with. The violence in the game is on par with what you would find in a cartoon program like Scooby Do or My Little Pony so it's not likely that the players will find themselves dealing with character injuries often.

My favourite part of this game is the setting! It's wonderful how the original french author, Antoine Bauza, and the english language developer, Amanda Valentine, managed to blend so much of my favourite fantasy fiction for young readers into Coinworld. I see echoes of Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea in the Archipelagoes and the role wizards occupy as problem solvers. Terry Pratchett's Discworld shines in the shape of Coinworld and in the types of magic. A game about young wizards can't escape comparison to J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter series and it certainly shows in much of the visual aesthetic and technology level of the Little Wizards setting.

Coinworld is a disc with two sides, a light side with mischievous creatures like fairies and a darker side with monsters like goblins and vampires. The two sides are a mirror of each other, with each cluster of islands forming an archipelago that has a counterpart on the other side of the world. These archipelagoes have their own personality and features. What I like is that they are described in broad strokes with a few paragraphs of basic description and what kind of adventure would likely happen there. The more detailed descriptions of the archipelagoes come at the end of the book in the three sample adventures. Each adventure gives a little more detail about its location in the introduction. This choice implies that the world is not really defined until the characters actually visit there. This sand-box approach is a great way to get your kids used to the old-school style of play. The sample adventures give players and new “Narrators” a great place to start and plenty of hooks for adventures to have after each of the ones provided.

The only drawback of this game is there is no visual component. Most of the game is theatre-of-the-
mind style play without maps or miniatures. My youngest daughter is a visual learner so the games with paper miniatures tend to hold her attention better than this style of game. My oldest, on the other hand, is an auditory learner so this game turned out to be a great fit for her. I found it to be more of a feature than a drawback because I prefer the theatre-of-the-mind style of play to maps, grids and miniatures but it is something to consider.

Little Wizards is a wonderful table-top role-playing game to play with kids. It's a great introduction to the game and has a decent experience system so it can work well for long term play too. I like that the material that it draws on for inspiration doesn't force the same old fantasy tropes and assumptions on new players. They are offered a new world to explore and make their own. If that sounds good to you, head over to the Crafty Games' website to find out how you can get your copy!

A panelist on the Geeky Voices Carry podcast, +David Rollins talks about gaming, fantasy fiction and other interests of his across social media like Google+. David also plays games. A lot of games.