As I read FIST, and its supplements, I definitely recommend this to anyone who wants a light and flexible system of paranormal action and thrill.
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TL;DR It's beautiful, it's cheap, it's great fun. You should buy this game.
Overall the system is simple, clear and intuitive, it uses a 2d6 system to play. Players roll 2d6 + attribute for all rolls, the only exception being when a character is inflicting or recieving damage. There are 4 attributes FORCEFUL, TACTICAL, CREATIVE & REFLEXIVE, they were each well defined in the documentation and at no point in playing were myself or any of the players unsure about which attribute to use ina certain situation.
The influence of "simple world" which is listed as having helped inspired FIST is clear, but ultimately FIST does enough to make it it's own.
The documentation quickly establishes a theme and maintains it throughout. Once again some of the items listed as to have inspired FIST have a clear influence but FIST manages to blend them together with enough original material to create something that feels familiar whilst being new and exciting.
The documentation is simple and sleek, but gorgeous. It's simple black & white design and at 19 pages long the documentation is printer friendly for those who wish to print and play.
There is enough variety of character "trait" options that players can get creative with their character builds, but not so many that character generation becomes a chore. Traits typically offer a mix between powerful abilities, attribute points and weapons or items that could help the character in game. The traits seem balanced and offer surprising depth and huge variety in potential character builds.
The character "role" options helps give players direction in how their character could act without being overbearing. The fact that player advancement is tied to these roles means that players look to fulfil these roles to advance but can get creative about it.
In conclusion, it's a great game and an absolute steal. If you like metal gear solid, deus ex and the a-team, you will LOVE this.
hey there !! just wanted to say thank you for this very kind review, and ask you a question if you don't mind. i'm working on an update for the game that includes a wider variety of traits. you mentioned that there aren't so many traits that character creation becomes a chore - what do you think is a reasonable upper limit for the amount of traits ? i was thinking definitely less than 100, but i'm having a hard time figuring out exactly the right amount.
Whilst I only recently came across your game, I just want to say again I've had ablast playing it and really admire it.
Having played things like pathfinder in the past and having to trawl through the feats, I think anything under 100 is a good number. I think as long as you keep the traits relevant and intuitive to their names as you have done, you should be good. It means that often people can take a good guess at what a particular trait does, or be reminded quickly just by the title, so no trawling through an online SRD and having millions of tabs open.
I think at the moment you have 35 after having a quick count? Maybe try for 50 and see how it feels?
Once again though, I really enjoy it and now you've mentioned an update I can't wait to see what you have in store :)
Here's my initial thoughts/review
It's clearly a Dungeon World hack evolved into a much looser take on a genre mashup of titles like F.E.A.R. and Metal Gear - a world of government conspiracies and exploitation of superhuman mercenaries. Character gen is brief, accessible and unrestrictive. The presentation is really clean and to the point. I think I'd prefer a bit more elaboration on moves and mechanics as this seems pretty loose. Something like a CQC move, a Fire Under Pressure, a Silent Takedown, a Negotiate Under Fire, a Persuade the Civvie. Stuff like that would assist in guiding people in line with genre conventions. The trait system can also seem a little basic (lots of flat modifiers or 1 use items...) and more gear would be cool. Overall I think it'd be great for a oneshot but a protracted campaign might look to other pbta games to steal some mechanics for this game. (And not the other way round). Overall great game,
thank you for the review !! do you have any suggestions for mechanics from other games which players might adapt for FIST to make it a bit more long-lived ? i could throw together a "check out these other games" list at the end of the pdf or something like that !
FIST is A-Team meets SCP (or alternately Clive Barker's Jericho meets Full Metal Panic,) and I am strongly recommending it on that premise alone. It's twelve pages but packs a decent crunch, and while it runs on PBtA, I think this is one of those cases where it's going to appeal equally to PBtA and non-PBtA fans due to the way it handles combat. So if you're used to OSR or Delta Green or Night's Black Agents, there's still meaningful weapon damage, armor, and HP.
In a typical game of FIST, you play as an elite team acting primarily under your own authority and contending with weird forces. Those weird forces might be a recently unfrozen yeti monarch looking to bring endless winter down upon the world, or they might be a government agency that has become infested with symbiotic bees.
The book itself has a zine feel, but it's a very high quality one. The layout is excellent, and it manages to have a sort of military handbook tone to the art and also to the way the text is arranged on the page. This is really cool and it contributes a bunch to immersion.
There's also a lot of neat elements here that are admittedly small, but really welcome, and that I would not mind seeing standardized. For example, the table of contents is split into PLAYERS, REFEREE, and SUPPLIES sections, meaning the book is not only easy to navigate, but it flows really well. The GMing advice is also really straightforward and good, and emphasizes both challenging the players and supporting them.
Possibly my favorite thing in the book is the Traits system, which is the backbone of character creation. Each Trait includes an item, a stat mod, and a thing that you can just do (rip open doors, disguise yourself flawlessly, fast talk enemies, etc). To build your character, you pick two. To level up your character, you pick another. It feels extremely smooth and custom, and it makes character creation a matter of seconds, rather than minutes.
Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who likes pick-up-and-play crunchy games themed around espionage and the supernatural.
Honestly, I'd love to buy (or write?) a mission pack for FIST, and I'd be intrigued to see more of the setting.
tysm for the review !! it means a lot to hear you liked it so much, and keeps me motivated to continue creating 😁
this may seem like an odd part of your review to focus on, but i'm really glad to hear you liked the graphic design and organization of the game. both were heavily inspired by chris p wolf's offworlders and west end games' star wars RPG 1E - two games that are well-written, well-designed, and laid out in a very logical and easy-to-use way.
i've been working on a Dyatlov Pass themed mission module for a while now...
...but i've been procrastinating quite a bit. ripley caldwell, author of the also-very-good a wizard, is working on a traits expansion which should be available soon! and if you wanna write a mission module or hack/remix FIST or anything else, by all means feel free to! it's always really exciting to see what creative stuff people come up with that i never could have thought of myself.
That module premise sounds really cool, and a wizard was intense. I'm definitely curious about the traits expansion.
I'll see if I can come up with some material for a mission, and I'll let you know if I'm able to wrestle it into tested/layout-ed form.
Thank you again for writing this. FIST is a great system.
I seem to have started a small mission pack (1/6 missions complete, probably eta 15 pages.)
I think it might end up being zero art, minimal layout, since I'm not sure where to source good art for military hardware schematics, but I'd be happy to send a copy when it's done on...like, Wednesday?
This is a ballpark estimate, but FIST missions are proving really easy and quick to write.
oh sick !! excited to see the missions, sounds awesome. for the no-art look, you could do something similar to the "classified document" pages in the original book - the copier-styled font for that is "univers else" aka "fluxisch else".
i'm happy to hear fist missions are easy to write - the mission module i'm working on has been "probably ready for release by next week" for like three months now. if i could stop procrastinating, i could probably knock it out in a night or two. oh well !!
I completely understand. I get randomly creatively jammed on stuff, and blasting the right music sometimes helps, but sometimes the best solution ends up being just working on a different project for a while. There's no pressure, and I'm stoked for the Dyatlov Pass stuff whenever it comes out.
For my scenario pack, I've been using Michroma and Space Mono, since those seem to be the fonts the FIST fonts are based on and they're under the open font license. It looks close, but if that's too much deviation, I'll dig into figuring out univers else, space grotesk, and microgramma.
Graphic design and layout are really my achilles heel, though. The first time I ever used either skill was in winter 2019, so I'm learning as I go, and the results tend to be chaotic.
Either way, I'll send a copy once stuff is ready, before anything goes live, and I can remove or adjust anything that deviates from the intended design.
heya, picked this up with the big blm bundle and really really enjoyed it and cant wait to introduce this to my group! my brain is swimming with complicated military conspiracies, secret bases, and gruff cyborg ninjas, and any game that can get my gears turning like that is one that i think is great!
Question about the Mutant Trait: It asks you to "drop one skill you already have and take a new one".
This is meant to be, "drop one trait" instead, correct? Or is it asking you to reduce an attribute?
Thanks for your hard work on the game! Getting together a group for play-by-post and one of the players was curious about this.
it is supposed to be drop one trait ! called them skills earlier in development and must have missed that when i changed it over. thanks for checking the game out, hope you guys have fun !!
I really dig this game! Bought it earlier this month on DriveThruRPG came over here to give it a positive rating! Keep doing what you're doing, I'm going to share this with everyone I can!
wonderful game, more than worth the money!