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Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song $12.99
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Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song
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Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/26/2009 10:43:52

The Introduction states the purposes of this book: to introduce the concept of cataclysmic change in a game world and to present 4e versions of the barbarian, bard, druid and monk... which are linked to the apocalypic theme by being either manifestations of the new and changed world, or lingering remnants of an old order; although it is not of course necessary to have a world-shaking event just so that they may appear, you can just make the classes available if you prefer. Note that since this book was published, Wizards of the Coast produced the Player's Handbook 2 in which their versions of the barbarian, bard and druid appear. So, for those classes you have a choice of two variants.

Chapter 1 looks at The Apocalypse, and why you might want to have one in your campaign setting. There's an established history of the use of cataclysmic events in both fantasy fiction and within role-playing itself, whether it is just that things from the past are lost in the mists of time so odd and inexplicable ancient stuff can turn up and nobody knows how it works, or more directly a massive world-shaking war or natural disaster has wreaked such havoc that the established order is no more. There is clearly a lot of potential there for adventure... but first you have to decide how long ago the apocalyptic event took place - or even if it is still in progress. Another decision is what caused it to happen, which will determine both the state of affairs now and influence the sort of adventures that might occur as a direct result of the cataclysm and its aftermath. Some examples from fiction and film are included, with reasons for why that particular event might work well in your campaign.

Next, Chapter 2 discusses Conflicts. Now, there's always a lot of combat within a role-playing game, but the discussion here concentrates on why what has happened might be a reason for friction - almost inevitably leading to violence - between different groups of people. Even if you are not planning a major catastrophe in your campaign world, this might give you some ideas for why different groups can be working towards different ends, ones so different that the result is conflict, often spilling out beyond the original groups to involve other people. In keeping with the parallel purpose of this book to bring in new character classes, most of the conflict points involve different organisations or groupings such as bardic colleges and barbarian tribes. Having a background overarching conflict or quarrel can be a powerful tool for introducing an external influence on the characters: the barbarian, for example, might feel obliged to act because of what is or has happened to his tribe even if he isn't being threatened right now, or a druid might be attacked because of what other druids did in the past. Each class also holds potential for conflict between members of that class, particularly when there are limited leadership positions to contend for or a difference of opinion about how a certain situation should be dealt with.

This completes the coverage of the use of apocalypse in a campaign and is quite thought-provoking, although there is evidence of rather hasty work particularly in layout. The book then moves on to discuss the four classes in question, following a similar presentation style to the Player's Handbook. First up, the barbarian. He's pretty much what you'd expect, with a nice system of animal totems which confer appropriate benefits and powers depending on the totem chosen. The bard comes next, with 2 builds based on leadership either by flamboyant fighting or inspiration through word and music. Interestingly, your choice of instrument confers benefits according to what you play; and your choice of instrument can affect some of your powers (called 'performances') as well. Druids concentrate on the environmental or elemental aspects of the natural world and naturally they have animal companions. Of course, now the 'official' versions of these classes have been published, some people will want to discard these, but of course you may prefer these versions (to my mind this bard is closer to what I imagine than the Wizards one!). Alternatively, you can raid these for powers which you wish to make available to members of the class in question. You might also choose to use these classes to create NPCs, representing followers of different traditions to the 'mainstream' and so generate an area of conflict!

At the time of writing this review, no 'official' monk character class has been published. Monks are strikers, masters of melee especially without weapons, and can base their combat moves on either 'kick-boxing' or 'grappling' - striking or wrestling with opponents as preferred. Within this each monk also will have a particular fighting style which further characterises the way in which he fights.

The book winds up with a selection of feats, some mainly appropriate to members of the classes discussed here and others available to any character. There are also some class-appropriate magical items, especially musical instruments for bards, also druidic fetishes.

Overall this is a quite interesting work, although some may find it has been rendered redundant while others will mine it for additional powers and abilities for their characters. The discussion of the role of apocalypse is interesting and well worth a read, although it would probably be worth developing into a whole book of its own.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song
Publisher: Goodman Games
by Nathan C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2008 10:00:32

If there was one company that could make the board game heavy /RPG-lite role playing system 4th edition playable, it would have to be a long established company with a history of producing products for Dungeons and Dragons that went against the grain of marketing gimmicks.

And thus finally after Wizards of the Coast solved their original Licensing gaffu, Goodman Games produces Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist and Song. Having finally read the complete book and playtesting it at the 2008 Gencon, Forgotten Heroes gives 4th edition the Dungeons and Dragons makeover it so heavily needed by bringing back classic archetypes such as the bard, barbarian, the monk and the druid.

It was one of those cases of not missing something until it is gone. 4th editions urge to make a new hotness system deleted the four staples of RPGs and replaced with the likes of warlords and warlocks. The Iconic warrior barbarians, charismatic bards, disciplined monks and nature druids were left to be used as marketing tools for buying more books.

If the current line of accessories are any indication, its doubtful that WOTC will be able to reproduce the creativity and strength of the classes in Forgotten Heroes. At 90 pages, it is obviously not a simple collection of 3 new classes. Instead Forgotten Heroes takes aim at putting 4th edition into a traditional fantasy setting, introducing an optional campaign setting that DMs can use to segway their players into a traditional RPG Setting. The setting revolves around a great apocalypse that presumably destroys the current setting. After the world is set, each of the three classes is given an in depth treatment. Described in great detail is the class’s power source, and reason for its role. The description scripts how the class plays a role in the world and thankfully does not treat the reader as inept. Nowhere will you read “Play a Barbarian if you like to say “Ugh” a lot and scream.” Instead the writing is creatively tight and speaks to any fan of role playing games. At no time is Forgotten Heroes ashamed of being a role playing game. The entries show a refreshing contrast to the 4th edition classes, often giving various suggestions on ways of play and using the abilities to role-play the class.

The Barbarian class is a powerful brute whose embrace of nature has fueled his warrior prowess. He calls on totems to fuel his powers and his rage. He has two Paragon paths, the Berzerker, whom has increased Rage abilities and the Mundane, whom gains anti magical abilities with his hatred of magic.

The Bard is back in all his musical glory and is one of the best designed bards I have seen. What is unique about the Forgotten Heroes bard is how its power effects change depending on what type of instrument or voice is used. The book has two ways you can build the bard, either swashbuckling or Euphonious. The bard is still equipped with his bardic knowledge and a slew of bardic songs. It is by far the most creative of the classes and will make new fans of the Bard once again. He has two paragons, the song weaver who has increased musical powers and the loremaster, who has a compelling understanding of things.

The Druid can be built with either strong elemental powers or strong environmental powers. Druids attach fetishes to weapons and armor to boost their powers. It has a wide array of spells that effect several different forms of nature. Its Paragons includes the Shapeshifter, who has more mastery over wildshape abilities or the Purifier, who uses its magic to cleanse nature.

Finally, the Monk, is still created as the fighting monk, and, though written fairly faithfully to its traditional Dungeons and Dragons archetype, may disappoint fans who were hoping for at least the option of a more peaceful variation. His two build variations , the grappler and the kickboxer, are both strong, but not as distinctly different from one another as the previous classes. The monk uses a variety of fighting styles and postures that a lot of character to the class.

For the Player If you have been forced to play in a 4th edition game because you were voted out, beg your DM to let you play the Bard or the Monk from Forgotten Heroes. While the other players are doing tide of irons and tornado blow me down punches, your characters will stand out with its role playing infused actions such as singing anthems that deal psychic damage or breaking a chair over someone’s head with a unique fighting style.

For the Dungeon Master If you have been holding off from switching to 4th edition despite the constant badgering of your players, this is the book for your game. Forgotten Heroes is the traditional game you want to play with the compromise of using a system designed for tactical board games. It does not fix every problem with 4th edition, but its strong world history provides enough inspiration to build off of.

The Iron Word Forgotten Heroes is a nice compromise of traditional Dungeons and Dragons with 4th editions shenanigans. Each of the classes promotes the battle and RPG strengths of the class.

If this is an indication of future supplements, which I think it is, 4th edition will have enough 3rd party material to provide a thorough traditional fantasy setting by June 2009. This book actually made me want to play 4th edition again, and considering how awful an Dungeons and Dragons edition it is, that is saying a lot. I do wish the world was more fleshed out and hope to hear more about it in future supplements. Still another masterpiece by Goodman Games.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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