BASH! Fantasy Edition
From: Basic Action Games
Reviewed by: Ron McClung
BASH! Fantasy Edition is a new RPG Core Rulebook (PDF format) from Basic Action Games.
Like the Hero System, BASH! is a system that started out as a Super Hero system and has grown into a multi-genre system. I have not had a chance to actually look at the BASH! super hero version so I can not compare and contrast.
From page #2:
“The BASH! system was a product of my attempt to invent a role-playing game that would appeal to kids.”
Content: The full PDF (non-printer friendly) is 79 pages. It contains the basic rules of character generation, an advantages & disadvantages system, rules on powers and magic, a complete skill system, and chapters with equipment, weapons, armor, and adventuring gear. There is also a chapter on minions and monsters. All that you would expect from a RPG core rule book is included. The character in the game lies in the system and the details.
The game has some very specialized terms, being that the general idea is that you are role-playing a graphic novel/comic book. For instance, in combat you have pages and panels (combat round and turns). The introduction includes a short glossary for these terms.
There are more than 10 pages of creatures available to the GM, from basilisk to zombie. All are more or less the standard creatures from fantasy. The PDF ends with a sample adventure, sample characters, and an appendix that guides the GM in creating his own fantasy world.
System: Character generation is simple and straight forward. It is a class-less point-spend system with suggested race packages if a player wants to be something other than a human. There are three ability scores - brawn, agility and mind - and they range in value from 1 to 5. They act as multipliers to the 2d6 dice roll that is core to the system. The races given include your standard elf, dwarf and halfling, but also include birdmen, catfolk and wolfkin. Races are basically lists of suggested advantages and disadvantages for that particular race and can be customized as the player (with GM approval) sees fit.
All characters have a Energy Pool, which feeds certain abilities and all magic. It is a fixed number of points at character generation, but the system provides a variety of ways to get more points, to recover points and to push for more points during play.
There is only a short list of advantages and disadvantages. There is a lot of room for expansion and customization here. Supernatural powers start out with a list of mundane powers, which are basically those powers applicable to the fantasy setting carried over from the super hero genre. Most are reminiscent of feats from d20. Like everything else, these are bought with points. Following this is the magic powers list. Tied into the superpower system, the key difference is all spells cost energy, where only certain powers cost energy. Magical powers are defined in different categories: Movement Powers, Perception Powers, Mental Powers, Combat Powers, and Bio-Manipulation Powers.
In BASH!, one can have pretty much any kind of magic you can imagine. From low magic worlds to magic-is-as-common-as-water worlds. There are some ways to customize one's world for the type of magic he wants. One way that is suggested is the use of colleges of magic. Under each college are spells. Each spell is basically defined in terms of Magical Powers. For example, Wall of Wind is defined as the magical power force field. The Magic Colleges include Air College, Earth College, Fire College, Water College, and a few others. It is a fairly simple system with lots of room to be flexible and customize.
Skills are straight forward and simple. Of the three ability scores the character has, only two apply to skills - Agility and Mind. There are no levels to skills and there are no combat skills. One either uses the skill by rolling the associated ability score, or tries untrained at a penalty. There are also specialty skill options which allow re-rolls on attempts at that particular specialty.
Combat is handled by straight opposed agility or brawn rolls and sometimes supernatural abilities apply. Brawn determines the number of wounds and hits are the damage system, which are calculated after armor values "soak" what damage it can.
The Game system comes across initially like a version of d6. But as I read further and got an understanding of the nuances and the subtle elegance of it, I realized it was a little more than that. It is truly not a bad system. I am surprised that this is not a hard-covered book somewhere. It has some influences from d6 as well as Hero System and GURPs. A friend who looked at it for me said it reminded him of Fusion somewhat. The core dice for task resolution in and out of combat is two six-sided dice. As said above, ability scores act as multipliers to those 2d6. However, the Rule of Doubles say that if you roll doubles of any kind, you get to add another die. If that die comes up with the same number as the doubles, you keep adding another die - kind of like the d6 wild die.
One gem that seems to be influenced from d20 is the Danger Level of Monsters, like the challenge rating in d20. What? Challenge rating in a non-level based game. It can be done, and with the simple system like BASH! it can be done fairly easily. Because we are basically dealing with low numbers in stats, powers and abilities, a danger level can be calculated pretty quickly. The system provides the numbers for all the published creatures and gives you a simple formula for figuring it out for others that you create.
The PDF also includes rules to convert characters from the Super Hero version of BASH! to this one, and it is a simple matter of multiplying and dividing. There is a certain level of scaling between the two.
From page #2:
“What I found, however, was that it really worked well as a super heroes RPG for gamers of all ages.”
Layout: The file downloaded includes a printable version as well as a full version. In the full version, the layout is well-done - not too busy, but not too boring either. The art is very good. The cover art could be a little better but it could be worse also. The layout of the text is as one would expect from a core rulebook, and everything is there that you need to get started.
In conclusion, I can easily see this as a fun system to play. It is not perfect, but what system is? There are several influences from good systems and it brings it together into a system that is simple and very fast to play. There is not a lot of number crunching, although the math is a little more advanced than just adding numbers (but only slightly). Instead of knowing your addition and subtraction, you need to know your multiplication and division. Like I said, I am surprised this is just in PDF format. I have seen a lot worse systems in print - a LOT worse. I take off points for lack of a supporting web site, at least as far as I could find.