Some thoughts on The Fantasy Trip

Back in 2022 I bought the “The Fantasy Trip” bundle on Bundle of Holding. Before that I have been aware of the system and read the clone of TFT released by Dark City Games. For some reason the clone didn’t impress me very much, but I was still intrigued enough to pick up the bundle.

So what is The Fantasy Trip? It’s a roleplaying game designed by Steve Jackson back in the late 70s which was initially released by a company called Metagaming. When Steve Jackson left the company he tried to acquire the rights to his game but failed. A couple of years ago he was able to get the rights back and re-released the whole thing. There’s even a huge “Legacy Edition” available which contains not only all the rules, but also several adventures, the Fantasy Trip companion, maps, counters and much, much more. If the shipping costs were not as outrageously high as they are nowadays this is something I’d love to add to my collection…

Ok, TFT is an old game which is sold in a huge boxed set. What makes it special? The Fantasy Trip uses mechanics which share some DNA with GURPS, another system I am very fond of. Characters are described by three attributes Strength, Dexterity, Intelligence plus Movement Allowance. There are no hitpoints but you lose Strength when hit. Armor doesn’t make you harder to hit like in D&D, but blocks some damage. The core mechanic is based on 3d6 and you have to roll equal or less than the relevant attribute. The stats are built using a point-buy system and there are no levels. There are only two classes: Wizard and Hero. Both can learn talents and magic spells, but the Hero gets cheaper access to talents while the Wizard has an advantage when it comes to buying spells. That’s basically it. Compared to GURPS it’s a much easier and simpler system. I love it! For some reason “The Fantasy Trip” makes me feel nostalgic about a time I never experienced myself.

Like D&D it evolved from tabletop miniature games and unlike D&D it makes use of hex maps. This might make it a bit harder to run combat in a theater-of-the-mind style (which I prefer) but this is not that big of a deal. Aside from that minor quibble I love everything about it: the simple mechanics, the charming black & white artwork, its approach to character creation. It’s definitely one of the games I keep coming back to whenever I think about running a new campaign.

Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to run or play it yet, but I would love to remedy that in 2024. I am pretty sure that my friends are up for it as soon as I am ready for it! If you haven’t checked out The Fantasy Trip, I highly recommend you do so, you won’t be disappointed. And if everything works as planned (which it usually doesn’t but that’s not the point) I’ll write more about TFT in the coming weeks or months. So stay tuned!