FANGS: Introduction

From RPGnet
Jump to: navigation, search

File:FANGS-Basic Fangs Logo (small original).gifWelcome to FANGS, the Fantasy Adventure Networked Gaming System. The goal of this roleplaying system is to offer rules that allow for fun, dramatic play without losing too much realism, simple and yet elegant rules, and balanced for different styles of players who wish to game together.


Christopher Allen's Story[edit]

In early 1976 I heard about a game called Dungeons & Dragons from a newspaper article called "Fantasies Come True". They mentioned that it was being played weekends at a local hobby shop. A long time fantasy and science fiction reader, I had to stop by.

The Game Master (GM) was a local Society for Creative Anachronism armorer (he specialized in chainmail and helmets), and quite a charismatic individual. He helped me roll up a character -- a dwarven fighter of the first level. I can remember now the head rush when I went into my first combat versus kobolds, and survived.

Several games later, I finally made 2nd level -- I was so proud! Then a few weeks more of gaming, I made 3rd! Of course, by this time I thought the extra 14 hits would make me invincible, so I went first into a 5 foot wide corridor. No one told me it led to the orc city. 35 dead orcs later (a streak of pure luck!), I died a hero's death.

My experience since that time has been mixed.

On the bad side I have experienced Monty Haul dungeons ("Congratulations, you have just gained 4 levels!"), unrealistic events ("I grab the fireball wand out of the bottom of my sack and shoot the onrushing dragon" or "I'm a 12th level fighter, I can attack 12 kobolds per round", etc.), arbitrary GMs ("Gorf the demon appears, grabs the chest in front of you, and disappears"), grabby players ("It's mine, I saw it first!"), weird dice system ("First throw a d20, subtract a d6, divide by 4, rounding up unless it...") and other travesties of good game play.

On the good side I have learned much from a number of good GMs and great roleplayers. I have had opportunities to examine many different gaming systems, and see how they affect game play. I have seen how good GMs can work around the rules to keep a game balanced and enjoyable. I've seen how realism can be use constructively in a game system, and yet know how to avoid getting bogged down into details.

With Basic FANGS I have tried to re-create that original experience, that "head rush" for myself, and for others when I GM. I also am trying to create a system that prevents many of the perils of poor game play. This has not been easy--my first GM spoiled me.

The first version of Basic FANGS was initiated on CompuServe's Gamer's Forum in 1985 with a discussion of goals and initial rules proposal. Later FANGS was playtested on AOL's Gamer's Forum and in their Red Dragon Inn chatroom. This culminated ultimately in version 1.4 of the rules released in April 1991 (pdf version available here). This was the last public release of the rules.

In the early 90's I played with the rules off on and on, including a major revision that used d20 instead of d100. Later in the 90s, when AD&D 3rd Edition system was released with an updated d20-based system I realized that that some of the concepts from Basic FANGS could be useful. In my version of FANGS low rolls on a d20 were good, but in AD&D 3rd high rolls were good. By turning my FANGS rolls upside-down, I realized that I could use my more skill/experience based d20 rules with existing "d20" brand modules. This resulted in version 1.6 of the rule.

In 2003 I talked Steve Perrin, one of original authors of Call of Chthulhu and RuneQuest 2nd edition, into stepping on board to make Basic FANGS even more professional. He has made a number of positive changes to it and has been play testing it with his gaming group in Orange California for several years.

Now proud to make this current version of Basic FANGS available online, not only under an open content Creative Commons license, but also made available in Wiki form so that players and game masters can contribute to the game system. I'm look forward to seeing how it evolves.

Steve Perrin's Story[edit]


Design Goals[edit]

Design Goals I set some goals when creating Basic FANGS:

  • First and foremost, keep the game FUN!
  • Allow the GM to create fast-paced and dramatic situations.
    • The GM should be able to change the "granularity" of realism . This allows the GM to increase the realism in order to create more drama in a situation, or decrease the realism to speed up the pace. For example, combat can resolved fast when it needs to, or more detailed when the situation requires it.
    • The GM can choose combat to be one-on-one, many-on-one, or many-on-many, depending on the dramatic circumstances.
    • The GM who needs a reasonable way out of a difficult situation with the Luck Roll and/or the Idea Roll.
    • The GM has available a magic system that is truly mysterious to the players, and learning about magic is an important challenge.
  • Keep game as simple as possible, and rules consistent.
    • Keep the player rules under 64 pages (hopefully).
    • Limit the character sheet to one page of game vital information, though background information can be on another page.
    • Preserve a solid relationship between Characteristics and Skills.
    • Keep dice rolls consistent, where high numbers mean success, and low numbers show failure. The same method is used for combat, spells, saving throws, and for the performance of a skill.
    • Keep the number-juggling to a minimum, so that a player can understand exactly what she can do by looking at the character sheet.
  • Use Rules that are fair to all players.
    • All characters start the game as balanced as possible-no dice are used.
    • Anyone may attempt ANY skill; learning a skill just improves the odds.
    • Magic is just a type of skill.
  • Make role-playing easy and intuitive for the players.
    • Imbed role-playing rules into the system with Advantages and Disadvantages.
    • Avoid character classes; all characters have different skills.
    • Avoid levels; characters increase skills by using them.
  • Be flexible and allow for easy expansion:
    • The game should be able to be played synchronously (like in a Conference Area of a BBS or a live game), or asynchronously (like a game in a Message Area of a BBS, or play-by-mail).
    • Initial skills, advantages, disadvantages, weapons, and items are available, and there are simple rules for the GM or players to create more that do not unbalance the game.
    • Design a small but sophisticated adventure, and describe how and why that adventure was created.

I have not completed or succeeded with all of these goals, however, I have made significant progress over the years that I've worked on the system.


Given the explosion of experimentation in RPG systems in the 80's and 90's, it is tough to design a system that is not somewhat similar to other gaming systems. Personally, I found myself learning as much from their mistakes as their successes.

But I must give credit where credit is due. From "The Fantasy Trip" I first adopted the idea of an system based on skills derived from characteristics (several systems have done this since, but TFT was the first I ran into). An obscure system called "Wizards' Realm" inspired the specific technique I use to derive starting skills from characteristics. From "Champions" the idea of separating body damage from stun damage. From "Fantasy Hero" and "GURPS" the idea of character points, advantages and disadvantages. From "RuneQuest" I have adopted an advancement system based on skills, not levels. From "Tunnels & Trolls" inspired my many-vs-many combat technique, and the luck roll. From Chaosium's "Basic Role-Playing" the idea roll, and basic combat theory.

Of course, I must also give some credit to Gary Gygax and the original Dungeons & Dragons for starting it all.

Finally, I would like to thank the members of the online role-playing forums on CompuServe, GEnie, America Online, RPGnet, as well as the computer-moderated RPGs such as Skotos' Castle Marrach, Island of Kesmai and Gemstone, and my ASMRB friends here in Berkeley.

I originally started Basic FANGS in 1986 on CompuServe, and I must credit my original inspiration to some ideas from members there. Since that time many players from CompuServe, GEnie, America Online and some local BBSs have helped. Thus the "Networked" in the FANGS name, "Fantasy Adventure Networked Gaming System." This game system is dedicated to these GMs and players.

Version Notes[edit]

  • Version 1.6.1 (Started September 3, 2003 -- in progress) -- Steve Perrin's review and update of the 1.6 rules.
  • Version 1.6 (September 23, 2002) -- After an eight-year hiatus, I have started modifying the game again. Some changes:
    • Since release of 1.5, there is now D&D 3rd Edition which has a new d20-based system, and an 'open gaming content license' allowing others to release "d20" branded games. Basic FANGS d20 technique in 1.5 is very different, with low rolls being better, but in D&D 3rd Edition d20 high rolls are better. I have attempted to make changes to the Basic FANGS d20 techniques to be more compatible so that they may be used with existing "d20 brand" modules -- there may still be a few errors that I didn't catch.
    • I am switching the text version from .etx text format to wiki format
    • I have a better equation for balancing attribute costs, resulting in a number of changes. If you want to know the deep dark depths of game balance, the formula for this curve is success%=(.031831*(tan^-1(0.31831*.1*(actorskill-targetskill)))+0.5 or in Excel =ROUND(0.31831*(ATAN(0.31831*.1*(A1-B1)))+0.5,2)
  • Version 1.5 (January 26, 1994) -- Major update, including converting from a d100 based skill system to a d20 skill system.
  • Version 1.4 (August 17, 1991) -- Final release of wizard and priest rules
  • Version 1.3 (March 23, 1991) -- Limited release of wizard and priest rules.
  • Version 1.2 (August 16,1990) -- Changed font & layout of printed version. Lowered basic knife skill to 40%. Different calculation for initial defense Skills. Increased coin multipliers for Wealth and Rich advantages (again!) Changed the value of the copper piece to 100 coppers for each silver piece; this should make it easier to calculate when purchasing equipment. Price lists are changed accordingly. To convert old prices to new; multiply old cp prices by 4 for cb. New requirements of ST and AG when using shields. New bonus when using both hands to wield a melee weapon. Skills can be practiced up to 75%. You can increase Characteristics up to a maximum of 20 during play (still limited to 18 during character creation.) Added simple combat system. Polished standard combat system. Attack with second weapon is now at -50% penalty. Added optional rules for non-human races as a form of Advantage or Disadvantage. Added Index to printed version.
  • Version 1.1 (February 5, 1990) -- First version for wide release. First release of Skills & Combat sections. Added Stun Points (SP.) Changed calculation of Hit Points and Dodge. Changed initial values for hide & sneak skills. Increased coin multipliers for Wealthy and Rich advantages. Added Hunted advantage.
  • Version 1.0 (July 12, 1989) -- First limited release.
  • Version 0.1 (April 18, 1986) -- Project initiated on CompuServe's Gamers Forum; goals discussed and initial rules proposed.