Original SA post
So what better game to start on than the series I hold very dear and near? Yes, it's...
Part 1 of
The Final Fantasy RPG, Third Edition, by the Returners.
I've been threatening it on and off for a while and decided to finally just pull the trigger on it.
I forget how many pages this has, so let's get this started off right with some embedded musi--
We're gonna need the extended version.
I'll try to put any book text in quote boxes.
Auron, FINAL FANTASY X posted:
Every story has a beginning. This is the start of yours.
So they throw these quotes at the top of every chapter. Expect milquetoast bits of dialogue from all over the series as they struggle to match quotes to talking about thousands of d100s. Also expect to learn which game these characters are in, I guess. At least this book predates FF13, so we'll never have to hear about Lightning.
The book starts off, after our lovely quote from Auron, with a brief explanation of Final Fantasy. In case you'd downloaded this PDF that says 'FINAL FANTASY RPG' on it and had no goddamned idea what a Final Fantasy is. I suppose I've heard of worse ways to get someone into a franchise...
No, I haven't.
Actually, I'm just going to throw this text out there, in all its raw glory.
The first Final Fantasy title appeared on American shores in 1990, long after rescuing its Japanese creators from impending bankruptcy and virtual obscurity. Its unique blend of traditional Western mythology and science fiction had an almost immediate impact on game players the world over, going on to become one of the cornerstones of the fledgling console RPG genre. Since its inception, the Final Fantasy series has become one of the best-selling – and most influential – role-playing sagas of all time, spanning no less than thirteen official titles on seven platforms and countless spinoffs, including two animated series and full-length CG movies. The Final Fantasy RPG is both an homage to these titles and an attempt to bring their spirit and feel to the gaming table.
It's all like this. That takes up only about a fourth of the page. There is not a single bit of art in this book(don't hold me to this, it's been years since I really read this tome).
The book continues with a big section titled 'HOW TO USE THIS BOOK', which you'd think would be your usual 'what is a roleplaying game?' spiel. You'd be wrong. Instead we're treated to a series of conditional paragraphs addressing fans of the series that are new to tabletop RPGs, then people who don't know Final Fantasy are assured that
If you are new to the Final Fantasy games posted:
No 'insider' knowledge is required to use and enjoy the contents of this book. In fact, the first portion of this introduction is specifically designed as a crash course for this much-loved series, keeping you up to speed with the series veterans. In the space of the next few pages, you'll find capsule summaries for the fifteen most important Final Fantasy games as well as a primer on the content and feel that's common to them.
They aren't kidding. Let's skip ahead, as the rest of this section is ACTUALLY the 'what is a roleplaying game?' section we all know and love, complete with an explanation of how the book is formatted and a brief guide to how the book is laid out. Chapter-by-chapter, in case you didn't read the Table of Contents.
All in total, there are 10 chapters and 5 Appendices. We're in for a long one, folks. 400 pages of unadulterated nerding out over Final Fantasy.
After this we get a brief clarification on which games this book uses stuff from, and contains this little gem. I'll let you decide for yourself what red flags this raises.
GAME COVERAGE posted:
Rather than emulate any one particular game in the series, the rules presented here try to find a common ground between them by mixing and matching elements from each major release. The Summoning rules presented in Appendix III, for instance, are directly based on the 'persistent' Summoning first seen in Final Fantasy X, while the fire-and-forget Summoning from earlier games is presented as a separate ability
They then go on to apologize that it's not going to 100% match every Final Fantasy game, which... Given the state of the fanbase when this book was made, I guess I'm not going to fault it too much. In short, don't expect to be swapping Jobs all over the place, because the core book is basically locked in Final Fantasy Tactics style combat.
Without the Job switching.
Then there's this lovely block of text under a header labeled 'NAMING'.
The names of the characters, races, equipment, items, and spells listed in this rulebook usually follow the games' official North American translations. Because the quality of these localizations has dramatically improved over the twenty-five years since Final Fantasy first arrived in the US, names used in the FFRPG tend to favor the newest and most accurate translations. This includes the updated translations given to recent remakes of older titles like Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy Tactics; players who have only experienced the originals may not immediately recognize some of the names used here. The rationale for this is relatively simple: once a translation changes, it generally becomes the standard for all future games in the series. For example, the old x 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 sequence of Spells was dropped in favor of -ra , -ga , and -ja suffixes back in '99, 'Gil' replaced 'Gold Pieces' as of Final Fantasy VII, and the most recent translations began phasing out 'Soft' for 'Golden Needledkjddddddddddddddddddddddd
Woah, sorry, I fell asleep on my keyboard there. I'm no going to go back to give you the rest, it keeps going on like that for another two sentences.
We're gonna call this here, because the next section is going to stretch my fucking VIT stat to its breaking point.
9 pages of Final Fantasy history in dense text, minimal dividers, and no art.
Original SA post
Final Fantasy RPG Third Edition, the Returners RPG Part 2: Mimic Daravon
We're gonna need extended music again.
Before we get into the giant swath of text I'm not going to copy-paste here that is the History section, we get some more wonderful droning on from the book in a section called 'WHAT IS FINAL FANTASY?':
WHAT IS FINAL FANTASY? posted:
As might be expected from a series with twenty years of history, hundreds of creative personnel, and few direct sequels, Final Fantasy is a varied beast. Each game is a universe in its own right, introducing new protagonists, settings and conflicts; on the surface, there seems to be little connection between the traditional fantasy of the earlier titles and the out-and-out science fiction of the later ones, save for the name itself. Looking deeper, however, reveals a number of recurring themes that bind the games together, creating an important common ground.
Following that is a section that I'm actually not going to summarize for you. No, you need to see how dense and self-satisfied this book can get.
THE MAGIC OF MYTH posted:
The Final Fantasy universe takes its roots from a rich tradition of mythology and popular storytelling. Anybody familiar with the heroic fantasy genre will recognize most of the tropes: legendary swords, mighty warriors, shadowy villains, tales of magic and destiny. This is reflected in the liberal use of cultural references seen throughout the series, ranging from Robin Hood, King Arthur, Excalibur, and the Masamune katana to creatures like goblins, kappa, chimeras, and dragons.
I hate to be skipping so much text, but there is SO MUCH OF IT, and it's all like this! We'd be here all year if I covered the next handful of sections in full, so let me just go over them briefly.
THE CENTER OF ATTENTION
: Hey the players are important and they should be present for all the important events.
: Heroes are of all stripes, but usually the leader is a 16-21 year old and also... Uh oh, it cares about gender. OK, I'm just gonna let this dig its own hole.
THE HEROES posted:
In the earlier games, female party members tended to use magic rather than physical weapons in battle, and though the series has thrown up plenty of she-warriors since then, Summoners, Callers, and White Mages are almost universally women. In later games, female characters tend to be divided into ‘cute,’ ‘sexy,’ and ‘beautiful’ types, depending on appearance and personality; Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Final Fantasy X, and Final Fantasy XII are all examples of this kind of design. If there are any members of ancient near-human races or lost civilizations in the party, chances are high that are they are female as well.
And then it goes on to say non-human characters form a 'distinct minority' and that only Final Fantasy IX has more than one non-human in the party. Weird that a nerd group named The Returners, who show all the signs of 2008-fawning-over-FFVI-Final-Fantasy-Nerdism, would forget that FFVI had both a yeti AND a moogle in the party, but I digress.
: This isn't like your traditional D&D, the power level is much higher! Players are demigods, they cart around artifacts in their pockets! Mayhem! Dogs and cats sleeping together in the streets! This section mostly makes me think the authors of this have never even looked at D&D.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY
: The plot is all about discovery in the end. You should include discovery! Navel-gazing, historical expeditions and digging up ancient ruins! Never give your players the full info about the setting ahead of time, that's stupid, instead slowly reveal these details! They'll REALLY love your world!
: Final Fantasy is a mishmash of D&D and Japanese pop culture, as well as a smattering of international popular culture. There. I just saved you half a page of navel-gazing and self-satisfied droning on.
: Console RPGs are fucked up if you think about it, and you should accept that into your tabletop RPG, just roll with it. This is the second shortest section, and I also think it stands out as surprisingly good advice for this book.
: We really care about Summon magic. THIS is the shortest section.
: Chocobos, someone named Cid, usually there are some crystals, an airship, elemental alignments and some nerds named Biggs and Wedge.
: Being PG-13 is very important for Final Fantasy's tone and you should keep the language mild and bleep out bad words because that was funny in FFVII and it'll be funny here.
A SINGULAR MENACE
: Another good section. You should always have an evil overlord for the players to have a big final boss fight against at the end, and said overlord should be menacing and a constant threat throughout the campaign.
Finally, we're done with that. Now we get to move on to THE HISTORY.
First of all we get a not-very-brief-at-all blurb about the Squaresoft timeline in general, and by that I mean the actual company. Not their games. Forgive me for not pasting every single block from that section in here, but it's not anything you couldn't get from Wikipedia.
Finally we get to the games themselves. This is where they unload all at once on us, describing each game in a way that is both incredibly nerdy AND unhelpful! They're supposed to be spoiler-free summaries, but...
Behold, this back-of-the-box-ass quote for catching newbies up to Final Fantasy 1:
Final Fantasy posted:
Shrouded in darkness, the world begins a slow and terrible rot in the dying light of the four Crystals – crops wither and die, fierce waves ravage the oceans, and monsters spread across the sickening land. Now, the only hope lies in the ancient legend of the Light Warriors, passed down over millennia in the lore of Dragon, Elf and Human alike:
When the world is in darkness, four warriors will come...
Yep. That's is. That's what they're all like, too. I was struggling to decide what to do with these things, so instead I'll skip them entirely. There's so much to NOT talk about with these. If any really deep Final Fantasy knowledge is required to understand something in the future, I'll take an aside to explain it.
I don't want to be That Guy, but if I was going to write this section I would have just replaced it with a handful of blurbs about the worlds players are most likely to play in.
Brief aside, Final Fantasy has just about three settings(assuming we're back in 2008, that is) I would imagine are popular settings:
-Ivalice, the only Final Fantasy setting to recur, it's where a lot of the crazy, interesting races and political storylines come from.
-The Planet, the setting of Final Fantasy 7. Think Shadowrun with more monsters, less monstrous humanoids, and substantially more anime.
-Vana'diel, the setting of the MMORPG, so it has about as much worldbuilding put into it as Ivalice does.
Instead they decided to go on a weird, boring diatribe about each game. Here are the games it talks about :
Final Fantasy 1 through 13(which wasn't out yet as of the writing of this), Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Advance and Crystal Chronicles.
Oh and I lied, right after this is the "BASICS OF ROLEPLAYING" section. As I said, I haven't read this thing in ages and I thought the small glossary and blurbs we got before all the Final Fantasy history was all we were going to get.
This section is... Inoffensive for the most part, but well:
THE BASICS OF ROLEPLAYING posted:
At first glance, roleplaying can look like a daunting hobby, thick with seemingly arcane rules and specialized vocabulary that borders on the impenetrable. Reduce it to its foundations, however, and roleplaying is nothing more than a structured form of play-acting, a collaborative storytelling process involving several participants. Many people have summed the process of roleplaying up as a slightly more elaborate “let's pretend,” and that description cuts close to the truth – roleplaying merely adds the rules and restrictions needed prevent things from getting out of hand, as well as a designated 'moderator' to enforce them: the Gamemaster.
At this point it's charming.
This section isn't really anything new, we get an example of play but it's pretty stock script-format stuff. It briefly goes into the difference between one-offs(they call them Adventures in the book) and full Campaigns, which I like! A lot of players going into tabletop RPGs knowing only D&D stuff, or players coming onto another system off of D&D might not be familiar with the concept of a one-shot.
After this is a glossary of all of the terms like Adventure, Campaign, Gamemaster, etc.
Next time, we get into the mechanics of this thing in:
Have a teaser:
Scenes, Initiative Phase posted:
... The total of this is called the Initiative, and determines how far into the Scene they will act. It’s easiest to visualise the order of Initiative as a timer, starting at the highest Initiative and ticking down towards 0. When it reaches the lowest Initiative – or 0, whichever comes first – the Scene is over...
And if there's any problem with the way I'm handling this, if you really think I'm skipping too much or I'm being too harsh to this book, just speak up!
I probably won't stop being harsh though.