A Word on Allies
At each location you travel to in Fantasy Quest, whether it’s the balmy pastures of the Green Meadows, or even the dangerous reaches of the Misty Fens, you will be faced with various trials. Should you manage to overcome these challenges the rewards can be great. For example, if you manage to find your way through the twisting passages of the labyrinthine Cave at the heart of Spire Tor, you might find yourself celebrating with the locals and perhaps even joining the Order of the Wild Eagle.
The people you meet in the game will have a dramatic impact on how you choose to develop your hero. There are many Strangers throughout the land, who will each have their own agenda, and you will need to Influence them to come around to your way of thinking. Some of them may be so opposed to your negotiations that you will end up having to Fight them. If you defeat them with Martial prowess you will still be remunerated, but if your parley is resolved through non-violent and democratic means, Strangers will point you in the direction of a valuable Ally who can help you in your journey.
From a game-play perspective, as the player you will be able to gauge the value of your method of interaction with the Stranger. If you defeat the Stranger by Fighting with them – and sometimes that might be your only choice - you will only be able to claim their Gold value as a reward. And although Gold is incredibly useful, even essential, to building your hero’s Skills, the alternative incentive of discovering a new Ally is almost always preferable. Since Strangers are ostensibly passive you might decide not to interact with them at all, especially if you are in a hurry to get somewhere else fast. If you do manage to successfully Influence a Stranger into helping with your own quest, you discard the Stranger card from play and draw the top card into your hand from the ’Ally’ deck. This represents the information that the Stranger has given you as to that Ally’s whereabouts. It might be a friend or relative of the Stranger, or even the Stranger himself in another guise.
Every Ally card will have a location which is their home. You will need to travel to this location to petition the Ally to join you. By playing a REWARD Action in your Ally’s home location you can put that Ally card into play and benefit from their help.
In the case of the dashing Corsair below (you will note that he currently lives in, or at least likes to hang around, the Lush Jungle) he will provide a permanent bonus to your SNEAK. If you’re playing a Shadow Class Hero, continuing SNEAK bonuses are essential to your advancement in the game. And if you are any other Class the Corsair will still be able to lend his Sneaky abilities to you to help you avoid Enemies or explore Places. He also has the unique and rather powerful one-off ability to automatically defeat any single Place you visit. Some Places have very difficult barriers to entry and automatically overcoming any single one of them could prove exceptionally useful.
Once Allies are in play, if you’re not careful sometimes bad things can happen to them. For this reason, if the Ally sports a valuable Keyword that ties into your Saga (more on Sagas in the future) you might actually find you want to hold the card back safely in your hand, where it has less chance – but not no chance – of being affected by events happening in the world. This way you get to save it for a rainy day, or indeed the day that you storm the world with your incredible Saga and win the game!
Finally, if all else fails, you may just decide that the Corsair simply doesn’t fit in with your company. Maybe your hero is a hoity-toity type and doesn’t like the cut of his jib? Perhaps you don’t have the Influence to be able to take on any more Allies at this time? Whatever the reason might be that you decide not to take the Ally onwards with you on your epic Saga, when you play their card as a Reward at their Home you may instead choose to discard the Ally card and immediately cash it in for its Gold value instead. A very mercenary practice yes, but one that might just save your bacon, or net you that next precious Skill upgrade.
Design Note: originally I had planned for each encounter deck to have its own thematic reward (by all accounts much like the design of Word of Warcraft: The Adventure Game, which I haven’t yet played), so for instance if you overcame the Cave you would receive the Dragon who lived there as your Ally. This would drastically cut down on the number of cards required for Fantasy Quest, which would be a bonus. But I eventually decided that it was too limiting in terms of the stories that could develop, and would also make the game far more predictable and staid. So now when you beat a challenge you will have an idea of what reward ‘type’ it will present to you (further narrowed down by the number of cards already played or in play), but that actual reward will still remain a mystery. Coupled with the various options for claiming the reward I believe this delivers a much more interesting, varied and dynamic game experience.
Join us next week for a look at some of the Titles you might gain for exploring the many hazardous and exciting Places in the world of Fantasy Quest...