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Forgotten Heroes: Fang, Fist, and Song RPG Review

Posted on October 10, 2008 by Flames


Available at RPGNow.com

Introduction
I’ve gotten access to an early version of the new Goodman Games book, Forgotten Heroes. This provides 4th Edition rules for those classes left out of the basic 4th Edition set (barring the Sorceror). Here you have rules for Barbarians, Bards, Druids and Monks.

This confuses me.

From my reading of the GSL (as it currently exists, it’s supposed to be being revised) this is a ‘bad move’. WOTC will be putting out new player’s guides with expanded player options that will include these classes and when they do, this product will have to be withdrawn – so far as I can tell.

I would expect the new corebooks to come out within a reasonable amount of time so the shelflife if this product can’t be good and it seems – to me – to be a bit of a miscalculation. So this was in my mind all the time reading through this.

That isn’t to say people won’t find it useful in the interim, it just seems an ‘odd’ move.

Overview
This is fairly hefty for a PDF, though it would make a slim book, 90 pages of rather dense rules information providing information for playing the aforementioned classes as well as a little supplementary information in the form of appropriate magical items and the idea of a post-cataclysm gaming in a fantasy world. The approach here differs from that hinted at in the Wizards’ books particularly in naming the source of Barbarian and Druidic power ‘Primal’ and that of Bards and Monks ‘Ancient’, rather than the ‘Nature’ spoken of in the official line.

Artwork
The artwork is good, but a bit stark in the version I read, it fails to either stand out, or integrate with the book as a whole, giving it an unfinished air. Since the version I looked at is apparently unfinished, this perhaps isn’t surprising! The pages are marred with a clunky border that does nothing for the layout and confuses and distracts the eye.

The text layout is a little cramped in places, especially where the paragraph abuts with the title bar (a solid colour) and imitating the layout of the Wizards’ books for feats, powers etc doesn’t seem to work so well without the colour, making things a little more confusing and harder to differentiate. Finding their own layout may have been a better idea.

Writing
The book is almost all rules and these are all laid out clearly and precisely. There isn’t a great deal to comment on other than that. This is a rules supplement and so long as the rules are communicated clearly that’s really all you need.

Rules
The rules seem to work and seem to have been thoroughly playtested. The characters have less clearly defined roles than the new core classes however and are, somewhat, replications. The Barbarian is a Defender, the Druid another caster – albeit with a different theme – the Monk appears to play similarly to the Rogue and the Bard is… well, a hybrid. Given that multiclassing in 4th Edition is a big pile of poo it may be that we will see a proliferation of these hybrid base classes where we used to get prestige classes. These will be good for role-players but Bards were always a compromise character, even in previous editions. With 4th Eds concentration on MMORPG style character roles there’s less room in conventional play for ‘halfbreeds’ that aren’t fully effective in a singular field.

Upsides

* Effective well tested rules that fill a gap (Where’s our half orcs and gnomes?)
* Three of the four classes are as good/powerful/useful as the base classes.
* Covers the higher tiers with ideas for these classes.

Downsides

* Almost instantly redundant.
* Bard still feels a bit half-arsed, despite a good effort.
* Non-character class elements feel a bit too much like an afterthought. A few more pages on each would have been nice.

Score
Style 3
Substance 4
Overall 3.5 (provisional)

Review by James ‘Grim’ Desborough

Look for more 4th Edition compatible products at the Flames Rising RPGNow Shop.

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