Over the past week or so, i've bought D&D 4e at my local bookshop and Fantasia from RPGNOW. I've just finished my initial read through both and its an interesting comparison.
If D&D 4e is the beautiful actress at the movie premiere, then Fantasia is her homely half sister that inherited the personality rather than the looks - but I mean that in a nice way.
Fantasia is, through and through, 'old skool' high fantasy.
Fantasia has loads of nice gaming rules. Story points that reward players for role playing and are used get useful things, avoid death, and advance to the higher character classes. Compulsory retirement of high level player characters (but the player gets kudos on their next character). 'Courage' as a player character attribute, to stop characters acting entirely fearlessly. Spell points to fuel the magic. You get the idea.
Yes, OK, you've seen these all before in 'house rules' bolted onto D&D, but Fantasia brings them all together in one package.
Fantasia also carries plenty of endearing clutter. Descriptions of 'iron spikes', '50 foot ropes' and 'small bags', anyone? Advice on how to deal with 'silly' or 'sleepy' players. A section on how to run 'simple games' and another on 'roleplaying'. And nothing wrong with any of that advice either.
There's little on world background, but that's covered in a separate book and is a story for another day.
The writing style is unusual and you'll probably either love it or hate it. It annoyed my son, I liked it.
D&D4e feels like it was written by programmers, approved by a committee and polished by the boys in marketing. Fantasia feels like it was put together as a labour of love by a real gamer. In that sense, it reminded me of the Palladium RPG, and 'the old skool'.
Bottom line is I prefered Fantasia to D&D4e. If you liked D&D2e, Palladium RPG, etc then I suspect you'll like Fantasia too.
Good book. Good price. Take a look.
[5 of 5 Stars!]