Triple Review of Call to Arms: Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader by Crafty Games

While sailing through the RPG blogosphere a couple months ago, I ran across a writer who expressed the opinion that the Edition Wars and WotC’s “stumble” with D&D 4E was actually good for the gaming community. I was a bit taken aback by this as I’d always felt the Edition Wars was rather hurtful to both sides – Pathfinder/d20 vs. D&D 4E – but this author opined that it was actually a benefit to the well-being of the RPG industry and the community.

The gist of the theory is that the Edition Wars actually sent quite a few members of the RPG community scampering off to try new rules systems, check out OSR clones, and even look into other genres of roleplaying than standard Tolkien-esque High Fantasy for their entertainment. The upside to all this has been a real Renaissance Age for the “indie” publishers out there, who have been successfully marketing new rules, new settings, and new genres of role-playing games.

[Author’s Note – At the time of posting, I was unable to find the blog again that I had originally read concerning this topic. So if any of you reading this review knows the blogger or the blog site, please post it in a comment, as I would love to give credit where credit is due!]

Now one of the indie publishers who have made its mark in this new RPG Renaissance was Crafty Games, who created a new system based upon the d20 SRD, but with streamlined mechanics to make it more user friendly. That game, FantasyCraft, has already acquired an avid following, and Crafty Games’ writers have been hard at work releasing supplements for their “D&D-like” system. The Call to Arms series have been adding new character types available for base, expert, and master classes – all of which opens the door to a wider variety of characters, making each one a truly unique playing experience!

Call to Arms: Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader


Call to Arms: Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader are three class expansions for Crafty GamesFantasyCraft roleplaying game system. All three class expansions are designed for faith-based classes, like a Cleric, and each is designed for a different facet of character development: Crusader is designed as a base class expansion, Inquisitor an expert class expansion, and Avatar is a master class expansion. The expansions include all the basic powers of the class, new feats, and new cross-class training abilities. There is even a section detailing NPC Qualities drawn from the class to design new non-player foes and allies based upon the class expansions.


Production Quality

The production quality of the Call to Arms: Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader is good overall, with sharp writing and an organized layout for the classes. Each Call to Arms PDF is nicely organized, presenting the class and advancement table, explanation of new class powers, followed by the feats and the cross-class training options. One presumes this is the standard for all the Call to Arms expansions in this series, which makes them easy to reference regardless of book.

The books are further organized using both a table of contents and PDF bookmarks for easy reference. While the books are short in page length, having access to bookmarks is always advantageous when trying to locate information about, or features of, a new class.

The cover art of Call to Arms: Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader is quite striking and beautifully illustrated, each one depicting a member of the class contained in the book. Being a short book, there is no internal artwork, but there are headers and footers in the expansions which depict adventurers battling monsters in a sort of side-scrolling delve. They are nifty black-and-white ink drawings, and quite detailed, reminiscent of similar “action” art from old edition D&D books and modules.


How do you serve your god?

Each of these three books in the Call to Arms series - Avatar, Inquisitor, & Crusader – focuses on a different way in which a character can serve a deity in a fantasy role-playing game, and are quite a bit different than the typical ye olde Priest class. All the books not only detail the class powers and advancement, but also include some decent “fluff” on character concepts and information on how a particular class might be played.

In Call to Arms: Crusader, the author creates a base class which can be described in about a half dozen different ways, from a holy knight conquering heathens, to a witch-hunter seeking evil horrors, or even a zealot converting unbelievers by the sword. The class is an upfront warrior type, but draws power from his faith in the divine, and supports other divine classes in their quests to fight the foes of their god. The class powers include a series of Called to Arms levels, which grant Sub-plots such as finding divine artifacts or slaying certain foes, as well as some very potent Battle Chants which can be conferred to oneself or other members of the party to grant “buffs” to aid in combat. This class is quite a fascinating re-imagining of the holy warrior/paladin classes, and can fill quite a few character concepts in one robust package.

Call to Arms: Inquisitor also can fulfill a number of interesting character concepts that you don’t see too commonly in most fantasy RPGs. This is an intrigue-based class, designed for players who like to manipulate the scene through either intimidation or fear, and is described by the author as having a “Solver/Talker” role in the party. While the most obvious character concept would be one of a agent of a Church who hunts down enemies of the faith, other concepts can include characters who blur the line between religion and politics to gain power or ensure it for their allies, or the very different approach of a charismatic character who can divinely inspire his allies while striking fear into his enemies. Using class powers such as Condemn to induce a penalty in an enemy’s Charisma-based skills to Style Feats which deal with Persecuting those of a particular alignment, the Inquisitor expert class incorporates a mix of features to create a very unique character class.

In Call to Arms: Avatar, the author offers a master class expansion which allows a player to portray a character which is a direct cat’s paw of a deity, or possibly darker entity, on earth. Like the other Call to Arms expansions, this class has a number of different possible character concepts, ranging from a prophet foretelling a god’s arrival, to a child of a god task to fulfill their destiny among mortals, or even as an instrument of a dark force spreading fear and awe. Although the author views the role of an Avatar as a “support” one, it can also be one which can manipulate the party to fulfill goals set by the god the character serves. Class powers include So It Is Written… which allows re-rolls on attacks, saves, and skill checks, to …So It Is Done which allows the same effect to transfer to fellow adventurers, to Alpha and Omega which inspires allies (buffs) and demoralizes enemies. The class also includes many several feats to make their spellcasting more awe-inspiring. This class seems to create a very unique play experience, and is likely to be a favorite for game masters to use for NPCs as well.

Overall Score: 4.1 out of 5.0


Conclusions

I really liked what I read in these three Call to Arms class expansions, and I think the folks at Crafty Games have created some class options here which are not often seen in fantasy RPGs. While the overall layout style is simple and utilitarian, the writing is very good, and there is some great ideas for playing a class or creating a character concept, which sits quite well with the class powers and feats that make up the nuts-and-bolts of any class in any game.

I’ll admit that at first I was a bit concerned about the price point, getting only one class for a couple bucks. But then realized the benefit of this to a full-blown class book, which might contain a dozen classes, but only a few which would fit into a campaign. Class expansions served up separately makes sure a player or game master has to buy any they don’t like, and that sure beats paying a huge price for a book where you will only use half the content! Overall, a very good deal indeed – except for you FantasyCraft completists out there…
So until next review… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Editor’s Note: This Reviewer received a complimentary copies of the product in PDF format from which the review was written.

Grade Card (Ratings 1 to 5)

  • Presentation: 3.5
  • - Design: 3.0 (Decent layout, excellent writing; a bit no-frills but still a solid design)
  • - Illustrations: 4.0 (Covers were excellent; lack of interior art disappointing but reasonable for a short supplement)
  • Content: 4.25
  • - Crunch: 4.5 (Massively crunchy as one would expect from class expansion supplements)
  • - Fluff: 4.0 (Surprisingly rich in fluff, including character concept ideas and a “how to play X” guide)
  • Value: 4.5 (Great format for adding new classes into a game system – buy the ones you like for cheap!)

Just a quick reminder - International TableTop Day is coming up on March 30th at the end of the month! It’s being sponsored by Felicia Day’s Geek & Sundry channel, to promote table-top gaming of all kinds! Check out my blog promoting the event and to get a link to the official site with event locations in your area!
 

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