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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.