Monday, 12 February 2018

Review: Quarrel & Fable

Disclaimer: I was provided a review copy by the author.

Quarrel & Fable is a simple and concise game that tries to emulate the mood and feel of the Fighting Fantasy books (so in a sense it is a cousin of Troika!). Systemically, it is a hack of Maze Rats (which started as a hack of Into the Odd itself).

System Summary
  • If a situation is risky or time-sensitive, roll 2d6. Characters succeed on a 9 or higher. Preparation and such grants advantage (roll an extra die and discard the lowest one).
  • Characters have some randomly determined values: SKILL (combat prowess), STAMINA (works similar to hit points), and LUCK (can be spent to gain advantage). For each point of SKILL, characters also have a point in a Special Skill that can be spent to gain advantage when relevant.
  • Unless ambushed, players have the initiative in combat.
  • To attack, roll 2d6 and score equal to or higher than the enemy's SKILL. If your SKILL is higher than the enemy's, you have advantage. On a success you deal damage (deducted from their STAMINA); on a failure, they counterattack and you suffer damage.
  • Spellcasting requires at least 1 point in a Special Skill. Spells cost a number of STAMINA points, and they are also risky to cast in combat. There are a total of 30 spell described.
  • XP is gained for treasure, killing foes, and completing quests and favours. XP is not divided among party members.
  • To advance, you need XP equal to your SKILL, LUCK, and combined value of Special Skills. Characters can either advance one of their characteristics by 1, gain a Special Skill at 2, or gain a prestigious item.
Things I Liked
  • The game outright tells the reader that the core resolution mechanic is geared towards failure, and encourages players to come with ways to gain advantage (raising their odds from a measly 27.78% to a much better 52.32% in standard rolls).
  • Combat is fast and risky due to the counterattack mechanic. Fighting a formidable foe face-to-face is punished hard.
  • The spells are very flavourful, and there is a twist concerning "memorisation". All 30 spells are available to spellcasters, but they cannot reference the rulebook during play: they need to remember the required components, foci, and name the spells correctly (and with spellnames like FUM, YUM, and NIP, it actually is a little difficult).
  • Characters start with a DEBT (an idea taken from the upcoming Electric Bastionland), and their creditors and prestigious items may draw unwanted attention each session.
  • There is a sample dungeon (not amazing but serviceable).
  • The entire product is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.
Things I Disliked
  • Starting characteristics are totally random.
  • The only monster stats are in the sample dungeon.
  • No sample prestigious items.

Quarrel & Fable is a very simple game. It is only 10 pages long (including the cover and acknowledgements); the text is straightforward and the formatting is clear. The spells are great and I quite like the magic system, even if it is rather meta-gamey (but then again knowing the abilities and stats of traditional monsters is also meta game knowledge that players and designers alike leverage a lot). I would have liked a more comprehensive treatment of monsters and some potential adventure hooks (say, a generator in the style of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells). To me, it seems more like a framework than a complete game.

Quarrel & Fable was written by Sean Smith and published in 2018 through OneBookShelf. It is available in PDF through RPGNow and DriveThruRPG.


  1. Interesting! Is there any character differentiation going on? One of the issues with FF is that a character with high stats is just plain better than a character with low stats - and in a system with interchangeable PCs, that hurts more than a system where characters fill various niches.

  2. Mechanically speaking, only their Special Skills are different from the get go, plus the different items they receive through advancement.

    1. Too bad. Always thought the FF core system had something going that could be turned into a great tabletop game.

  3. Hi there!

    If I want to send you something for review, how do I get in contact? Do you do reviews?

    1. Hey! Sure, hit me up at ynasmidgardnaule AT gmail DOT com.