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Dave Morris and Jamie Thomson wrote game books based in the fantasy Fabled Land of Harkin way back in 1995 and now Greywood have utilised the skills of the powerful writing duo Shane Garvey and Jamie Wallis to bring Harkuna to the role-playing masses.  Apparently, despite its failure to set the literary and fantasy world on fire, Fabled Lands has enough of a constant fan base to  make this a viable prospect. Having read the Core Rules book I believe this game is pinning its favourability on the excellent background provided more than on any gaming mechanic.

There is nothing particularly exciting in the game mechanic. Within reason it is a basic Target Number mechanic using D6 dice; the roll of 2 x D6 plus the modification by the ability in use versus the resistance value put on the action by the GamesMaster and/or the Core Rules guidelines.

FABLED LANDS is written for the reader and player and not at them. By this I mean it isn’t one of those in your face chummer styles from da hood. The storyline for each adventure in any role-play game is always all important and the background for both the characters and the game runs a close second, but for many players the measure of an adventure is  how well the combat system works. In FABLED LANDS the system is as I have said but with the slight difference that every player has 2 APs to spend per combat round and each action in a combat situation costs APs - decided by the GM if the action isn’t described in the book.  The Core Rules book is set out under different Chapters with the first 96 pages (8 Chapters) devoted to bringing the players and GamesMaster up to speed on the background, the culture, the way of the world of Harkuna. From page 96 onwards it is the realm of the GamesMaster where can be found the stats and descriptions of the denizens, creatures, monsters and major cities.

As it is suggested that every player should have a copy of this book, and as half of the book is for GMs only wouldn’t it have been a better idea to publish two books of 95 pages each rather than one large volume of which only 50% is of use to the majority. Instead of $29.99 the books could have sold at $14.99 each and the possibilities of every player having their own volume would, in my opinion, increase. Fables Lands, the story adventure books, is a free roaming system where characters can pop between books on their adventures instead of just aiming at a goal in each book. Fabled Lands the role-playing game is as free flowing and flexible as the GM allows it to be. For a while it looked like there were no new rpg’s coming out so it is good to see Fabled Lands offering more options available to players.

Aesthetically this volume hides its artwork beneath the text on most occasions. Looking between the lines - literally - it is on occasion understandable. The pages are grey with black text, making scanning a nightmare, but the text is clear and well conceived.  

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021