Sunday, 24 August 2014

First Impressions: Fluxborn Part 2

Chapter 1

The first page briefly describes the world of dreams. Dreamers, the typical inhabitants of the land are born when a person falls asleep. They live their life and age over time. Notably, when they die, this indicates the sleeping person who generated them has woken up. This raises the question of time frames. Are people born and age until death over the course of eight hours? Do the people creating these dreamers sleep for decades at a time? Does time work differently in dreams? The last one seems most likely, but I would hope they would explain that. Maybe they get into that later on.

There is some descriptions of strange landscapes but nothing that hasn't been seen in fantasy before. We also get our first taste of a real antagonist. Nightmares, as the name suggests, come out at night. They are only given a single mention, paired with the suggestion that dreamers are capable of more mundane evil like banditry.

It seems that Fluxborn are a type of dreamer, created upon falling asleep, not a being that inhabits both worlds like I initially thought. The setting is looking more like slightly strange fantasy than anything exciting. I should mention that my observations so far are based off the first page of chapter one. On the second page, it answers a lot of the questions I presented earlier. Time runs much faster in the dream world and the setting is medieval fantasy. I'm not holding out much hope on getting into much detail about the interaction between the waking world and the dream world. They do mention that every human on Earth being awake at once would destroy the dream world. Earlier they mention that the Fluxborn are lucid dreamers, how exactly that interacts with the accelerated time frame is yet to be seen.

The section ends with a piece of short fiction that is more or less indistinguishable from fiction in a generic fantasy setting. The book then describes the Fluxborn in general, noting they are relatively common and that they can detect Leylines. Leylines are given a scrap of discussion, mostly labelling them as places that Fluxborn can get power to do Fluxborn things. Fluxborn things, in this case, being Stunts and magic. Fluxborn, as they have active PC genes, are naturally draw to great things either evil or good.

We then get a description of the various types of Fluxborn. Boogeymen are the natural choice for someone who wants to play a monster or a noble monster fighting against the stereotype of his people. The art on the page is high quality and interesting. We see what a generic adventurer of both genders looks like, I think. They're both dressed very similarly the only real difference being their frames. One is broad yet lanky while the other is slim yet lanky. The description of these Fluxborn says that they have four horns but in the illustration they only have two apiece. There are some basic stats and their inherited ability. This seems to be a category of powers that players get to choose one of three effects.

Hares are the next Fluxborn presented. The first thing I notice is the art. This is the first example of bad art in the book. The two example Hares look like they're wearing baggy footie pyjamas. Their ears, which the text describes as coming out of the top of their heads, look like a part of their clothing. Putting that aside, after all, bad art is part of RPG history. AD&D has outright dreadful art. So what does this class type of Fluxborn offer a player? Lets see, short, curious, and lucky. These are our Halfling analogues! Their abilities make then hearty, brave, and lucky. It looks like Hares would appeal to people who play Rogues in your usual fantasy games or Tolkien fans.

Next we get to a type of character that we haven't heard about before. Also, you know what, the lack of a defined term for the different type of Fluxborn almost makes me wish they called them flavours. That's it, from here on out, I dub these Fluxborn Flavours. Anyways, to get back to the chapter, we get to a fairly normal looking flavour in the form of the Generic. I'm kidding, the flavour's actual name is Heroic. Not much better, right? The Heroic's art isn't bad, a bit generic, but not bad. These Fluxborn are born looking like normal dreamers until puberty which is when they acquire glowing gold or silver eyes, long hair, bulging muscles, and a starring role in bad fan fiction. Their abilities are pretty generic. I would imagine they're intended to replace Fighters and the party leader role. Their actual audience seems limited to fans of romance novels and the painfully unimaginative.

After we wake up, the book presents us with Frogkin. Honestly, I was expecting bulging eyes, sticky hands, you know the sort of things that fit with both a frog theme and their nature as living reflections of greed.
This flavour is straight up anthropomorphic frogs. Unlike their previous description as being of greed, they are jovial merchants and artists that like eating. In fact, their abilities are about food, except one of the three. That ability grants them a prehensile tongue. The art is well done but this whole section is so thematically disappointing that I don't want to spend any more time on it.

The final flavour was a bit of a surprise at first. It turns out Sic isn't this game's term for a Game Master. In hindsight it should have been obvious, this has turned out to be more like a fantasy heartbreaker than a twee story game. They have blue circuit board patterns that grow all over their body as they age. They have difficulty communicating with others because they can't show emotion or understand body language. As a trade they have a strong understanding of Flux. I don't think that term has come up before, but I think it's essentially this game's version of magic. So, we have socially awkward wizards. Oh, they can also fix things particularly well, for some reason.

Luckily the next section answers my Flux quandary. This is the name for the mixed forces of Wild and Logic. We get a brief description of what these forces are/what they do. We also get a hazard for both aspects of Flux. Wild Winds and Blank Storms are weather patterns infused with the relevant aspect. The affects of these are interesting and slightly surreal. I'm interested in seeing if this game can reclaim some of my interest.

The description of Leylines are pretty generic. There is a bit of mechanics here that are pretty interesting. Fluxborn can store 8 Flux, divided between Wild and Logic in any amount. The amount of each type of Flux is randomly generated by two 3d6 rolls. I've been trying to incorporate something along these lines in Crucible. The next page is a full page art piece showing a Fluxborn harvesting Flux from a Leyline. There is also a mechanic called Affinity. When players use one type of Flux it makes it harder to gather the other type. Similarly, they can gather their dominant form of Flux easier.

After this delightful interlude, we get back to the meat of this fantasy heartbreaker setting. The Nightmare is basically a knock off of D&D's underdark. It also brings to mind Shadowlands from Exalted. Apparently fear of the ocean is the reason that most of the setting is covered in water.

Closing Thoughts

As you may have guessed, my opinion of this product rapidly diminished as this chapter went on. The setting is really disappointing. The initial pitch was promising but the application failed to live up to what it suggested. The few mechanics I've seen so far have kept my interest enough that I'm still reading this product. I still don't know why this chapter exists, this product is small enough that they don't need to repeat material. The next chapter is apparently about setting and the third chapter is the games mechanics. Honestly you could split the contents of this chapter throughout the rest of the book and nothing of value would be lost. With the exception of the illustration for the Hare flavour, the art in this chapter was excellent. Really, the high quality of the art is the high point of this book so far.

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