I've been a fan of Fabled Lands since finding a curious book series called Quest, which included a pair of dice on each cover. How odd and fascinating! After devouring book 1 and 2 in the 1990s, years later I discovered there were four more titles and lands to explore but alas I could not find them. Then in 2011 I discovered them back in print and so bought books 1-4. I backed the Kickstarter for book 7, and bought the rest of the books by 2017. The last books arrived just before Hurricane Irma roared ashore. When the power went out, I introduced my son to the series under the LED glow of lamplight. While waiting out the storm we traveled the roads of Sokara and Golnir, climbed the mountains into the plains beyond, sailed the seas near Dweomer, and stayed well clear of Uttaku. When the skies cleared he was Rank 4 and long after remembered our first journey together in the Fabled Lands. In 2018, having given up on getting Book 7 in hardback, I ordered it from Amazon to complete the collection.
It was at this time that I went back to my thoughts in 2011, on how I wanted to join in on the adventures with others. I wondered how FL could be a multiplayer co-op adventure. I jotted down a few notes, got sidetracked with life, and finally this summer we made it happen. My son’s cousins, about the same age as him now as teenagers, were a bit bored one day, so I brought out the series, dusted off the old co-op rules, and our adventures began. After a few days of playing we are all at Rank 6, captains of two ships, and proud Paladins of Ravayne, This is how we did it:
- Each character began at Rank 1 like normal. We had Valtass the Warrior, Sun-turtle Sage the Mage, Harpo the Rogue, and my character, Hayoo the Wayfarer.
- I redrew and printed out a poster-sized map of the world and used wooden tokens to mark our location and our ship.
- I created background cards they could choose from to give their characters some flavor, even if their character choose a different profession later in life. For example, those who grew up on the streets gained the pickpocket skill, able to roll for some shards (or a beating) when in a city. Those growing up in Hogwarts, I mean a mage tower, could use one premonition each session (which allowed a look ahead of one section to see if a choice caused death. Quite powerful but didn’t always reveal an actionable answer and they were always afraid to waste it). I acted as partial narrator, allowing the group to take a vote on actions (usually on the side of recklessness, until their first brush with death, when they became suddenly quite wary. At least they were wary until the vampire incident. Why did you let him in!?! Thank you, Valtass, for that sanctity roll!).
- For skill tests one of us with the greater chance would do the roll, while another companion could help with a +1 if they had an equal stat (an incentive not to neglect abilities).
- During basic combat encounters each of us faced off with a copy of the original threat. For boss fights, an appropriate target of the threat was assigned to each character. Harpo, for example, had the privilege of attacking a dragon’s head throughout a battle and almost succumbed when the rest of us came to his aid, having already dispatched wings, claws, and a tail.
- Each character could buy a ship but had to pay for his own crew and roll their own combat. Should a storm take one of our ships, characters could be rescued with their personal possessions but the trade goods and crew would be lost with the ship.
- Class quests could only be completed by the character it was meant for, so a good part of our journeys were finding each other's quests so everyone could catch up in Rank.
- Each character also had to buy their own resurrection deals, which came in handy during a disastrous encounter in the Forbidden Forest. The two of us who survived recovered their items from the ground where they were pulverized and waited out the weeks and months for the others to make their way back to us.
- I will soon introduce caravans to them, a land-based variant of ships which need drivers and guards that they can use to harvest and transport grain (if they have a house in Wheatfields), metals (if they have a house in Caran Baru), and any of the the other goods from appropriate locations around the world, but encounters on the road can cause losses if they aren’t prepared.
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Thanks for those inspiring words, Jeff. I hope it's okay to share it here -- I felt it deserved a wider audience now that so many are abandoning Facebook.