7/12/2011

Published on 7/12/2011 Written by 10 comments

Review: Fox Magic (Furries: The RPG)

I am a sucker for self-published material. I cannot go to book fairs anymore, because I keep coming home with terrible self-published first novels that I will never read but bought because I wanted to support the author. Thus, when I went into my FLGS a few months ago and saw a sign proclaiming "New Game From Local Authors," I was compelled to buy it. That's how I came into possession of Fox Magic, the RPG from Fool's Moon Entertainment (also available as a PDF download at RPGNow).

What is Fox Magic? Here's the blurb from the company's (rather bland) website:
"Fox magic is a role playing game inspired by one of the most fascinating creatures in Japanese folklore: the Kitsune. Using a newly developed game mechanic called the Story Point System, Fool's Moon Entertainment Inc. introduces a new type of role playing game, where the players control more of the game, and the game master is not the god he used to be."

For reference, a Kitsune is an intelligent, personified, sometimes anthropomorphic fox spirit. Each player gets the play their own Kitsune, and wield weird magical powers in a variety of settings and periods.

First, let me get this out of the way:

Yeah, you know where this is going...

While I want to be supportive, and I want to write a serious review, I cannot get past the fact that this is essentially Furries: The RPG. Yes, those guys and gals that have a fetish for dressing up and pretending to be animals. What other audience could this game possible target? The only player characters are foxes, and you spend the whole game going about doing... fox things. Sure, you may fight some bad guys or something along the way, but the majority of the game just seems to be about hanging around talking about how awesome it is to have a tail. Or many tails, since Kistsune gain extra tails as they grow in power and experience. They're like experience levels. In tails form.

If you can get past the image of people having sex in Muppet costumes, there is actually some cool game stuff in here.

No seriously, just ignore this part.

First, the game uses 12-sided dice exclusively. The d12 doesn't get nearly enough love in gaming circles, despite having some impressive mathematical properties (such as being divisible by 2, 3, 4 AND 6), so it's nice to see someone going out of their way to make the d12 matter.

Second, this Story Points System is actually pretty sweet for those who want to role-play and tell stories (ie, people who don't play D&D 4E). Basically, the game master sets up the scene as usual, but then the players use their Story Points to steal control of the scenario and take the story in the direction they want to go. This is not entirely a free-form, collective story-telling exercise, though - there are very specific rules on how to take control, and there is strategy to it. It's like the players' main antagonists are not thoughtless humans encroaching on their sacred lands, or dry-cleaners asking what these weird fucking stains are on their Disney-style character costumes, but the Game Master himself. In a weird way, this game actively promotes conflict between the players and the GM in their drive to tell the story, and that's just kinda awesome.

There are some flaws (besides the elephant - I mean, accountant-in-a-bunny-costume - in the room), though I love that they used the d12, it was a completely arbitrary choice. As general rule, you succeed at checks on rolls of 7 or better, which means you could just a d6 with a success on 4.

Another beef I have, and I admit this is totally a personal opinion (but since this is a blog, fuck it), is that I'm not impressed with the setting. It just seems kinda vague to me. Sure, it has sample antagonists, and a fairly-detailed example of play, and an extensive history of feudal Japan cribbed from Wikipedia, but on a whole I still don't understand how you would play this game, and certainly not how you would run an extended campaign.

Honestly I have no idea how to work this into a game.

I cannot stress enough that it's probably just my taste, but lists of historic Japanese dates and evil spirits does not make me want to pretend to be three-tailed fox. Maybe someone who is more into Japanese mysticism or LARPing in second-hand Disney costumes would get this game, but overall this is just not something I could get into.

Overall, I think this game has some good points. It has kitsch appeal, and the Story Point System contains some untapped brilliance. Unfortunately, the game is marred by a weak (at least in my opinion) setting, and is a little overpriced. Even the PDF on RPGNow costs $15, which is too much for what feels like an incomplete game.

Still, if you A) like me feel the urge to support Canadian game designers or B) have a thing for pretending to be animals, you may want to check out this game.

No, really. If this does it for you, then man, have I got that game for you...

Like this?

10 comments:

  1. I agree that the d12 does not get enough love, but other than that this game sounds pretty terrible. I might spend, say, "free" on it, but 15$ is pretty steep for a weird furry based rpg pdf from a first time publisher.

    ReplyDelete
  2. AnonymousJuly 14, 2011

    This was hilarious.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Joe NelsonJuly 18, 2011

    I don't actually have anything against furries and in fact have had some players who've played them in old-school D&D, but I don't think this game would be for me.

    The big sticking point is that for $15 I could buy two or three of Beyond Belief Games games on RPGnow or a half-dozen other games from other companies. Hell, I could buy a bunch more Goodman Games adventures even if I don't intend to ever run them at that price.

    If it was under ten bucks, I might grab a copy just to support another indie publisher, but I just don't see it as anything I'd want to run.

    Good review though!

    ReplyDelete
  4. JsalvatoriJuly 20, 2011

    Couldn't this be adapted to another background / story-line? the antagonizing the GM sounds fun...

    ReplyDelete
  5. CDGallant_KingJuly 20, 2011

    Yeah, and I paid even more than that for a print copy.  And the core rules of the game aren't bad, it's just the setting that turns me off.

    ReplyDelete
  6. CDGallant_KingJuly 20, 2011

    Wait, what?  Furries in old school D&D?  Madness.

    At least you know they would always fall for the "poisoned bowl of milk" trap.

    ReplyDelete
  7. CDGallant_KingJuly 20, 2011

    I don't need special rules to antagonize you...

    ReplyDelete
  8. As the game designer in question, I thought I'd speak up on this some.  I'm glad you liked the use of the d12 and the Story Point System, but as for this being a furry-centric game -- that wasn't really the target audience.  The thing is, if you're making a game about kitsune, what else can you do?  Japanese mythology is filled with animal spirits (the tanuki, the mujina, etc), and the kitsune is the most famous spirit type in Japan (Inari having more shrines than any other god in Japan, period).  That does sort of tie your hands.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, actually, it can.  The point of the system itself is to be adapatable to other genres and settings.  I've got a few settings on the back burner while I work on another project, including 'giant mecha-fantasy' and 'spy genre' type games.  I've also looked over ideas such as martial arts and the like.  It isn't hard, really.

    ReplyDelete
  10. One thing I think it's fair to add -- it's fairly easy to have the characters all have human form - and in fact that's fairly common.  Human form allows them to mingle among human society.  If they spent most of their time in half-form, they'd stand out too much, which could cause a lot of problems for the characters.  Unless the GM is making this specifically either a furry game or making it a game where spirits are commonly accepted by the general populace as 'nothing special', being disguised as human is probably the safest way to get around.  Really, it isn't intended to be a 'furry' game as much as a 'cultural' game.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for commenting at Rule of the Dice.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...