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By the same designer:
Great Ork Gods

Developed on
The Forge

Chanter was developed for the Iron Game Chef: Fantasy competion hosted by The Forge, and organised and judged by Mike Holmes. For the competion each entry had design a fantasy roleplaying game in seven days, using the words: Island, Ice, Dawn and Assault as key features of the game. Chanter was my entry.

These are Mike's comments about the game - they have been reformated for HTML, but are otherwise unaltered. These comments refers to the original text.

Style: Overflowing with style, chanter manages to bring us a staple of sci-fi/fantasy, the artificial world (though that’s not overt, and it might be a purely fantasy world), in a way that has the sleekness and voluptuousness of a world like Final Fantasy. In some ways completely alien, yet somehow familiar, too. Included is a brief, but yet very evocative cultural overview that delivers the tone of the game’s premises. The chanter culture is reminiscent of knights, and samurai, and many other noble organizations to the point that it becomes it’s own unique thing.

Estimated Effectiveness in Play: the mechanical resolution system is somewhat like Godlike’s in that it looks for matches. But it improves on that system with it’s “extras” rule, which makes the resolution very interesting in that a “tied” contest may have mechanical results that are applied while the contest is extended. In addition these bonuses effectively become something like a margin of success. The system is simple and intuitive, but produces a lot of result.

Combine this with the overall IIEE of the conflict system presented, and you have a truly outstanding system. Without exaggeration, potentially one of the best ever created anywhere (not just for purposes of this contest). Failure can, at the player’s option remain failure, or he can design a new conflict to move into. Thus the player is never dissatisfied, and the mechanic is self-perpetuating. Most importantly it does all of this incredibly simply and intuitively. No odd director stance control mechanics, and very clear as to who has final say over resolutions.

Chargen is a tad undirected, but given the narrow focus of character types this shouldn’t be a major problem. Character advancement is linked to long periods of time, which forces play to follow a progression over time that seems quite epic in following the rise and decline of characters.

Magic is handled broadly, but not so broadly as not to provide some framework for it’s use.

Creative and Effective Incorporation of Terms

Island: the attribute of self-reliance. Neat.
Ice: a complex virtue of chanters, the attribute representing it, and indicative of the special contests used to test it.
Dawn: magic associated with the rituals that the chanters perform to bring the return of the sun, and the attribute associated with it.
Assault: the combat attribute.

Completeness: all this, and the game’s only real contribution to answering “what do you do?” is to provide a list of creatures to slay. Well, the culture does seem to indicate a lot of political machinations, but most of this is left up to the GM to determine. Still, with characters as focused as this, and in this setting, even if the game ends up being hack and slash, I think it’ll be very good. I’m also tempted to count the missing explanations of the mysteries of All-that-is against the game, but leaving them as mysteries is probably just fine (as long as there isn’t an intended supplement with the answers!).

- Mike Holmes (Reproduced with permission)


Chanter is copyright © 2004 Jack Aidley