Review: Angry Hamster Publishing – Familiars of Terra Quickstart

Familiars of Terra Quickstart
Familiars of Terra Quickstart is a free introductory guide for Familiars of Terra, written by Elizabeth Chaipraditkul and published by Angry Hamster Publishing.
By Aaron T. Huss

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Familiars of Terra, specifically this Quickstart edition, is an epic fantasy game depicting “seekers” and their animal-kin familiars. Relatively rules-light, it utilizes standard playing cards in lieu of dice to resolve all conflicts. Quite simply, non-combat checks are resolved by drawing a card equal to or below the value of the character’s Attribute. Combat checks are resolved by whoever plays the highest card or whoever has the highest value if utilizing a power. The full core rulebook may introduce more depth into the mechanics, but this pretty much sums up the Quickstart mechanics.

Pretty simple right? Well, there’s a catch. Player characters do not perform combat; only their familiars do. That’s why they’re called “seekers” as they are seekers of the animal-kin. It’s kind of like playing Pokemon the Role-playing Game. You’re more like a trainer than a warrior or wizard. It’s a unique approach to the fantasy genre, but it does give you the ability to go crazy on what your animal-kin can do. In other words, they’re not limited to human abilities and combat could be something quite mystical in nature.

To me, this seems like a game geared toward children in the hopes of introducing them to role-playing games by easing them in; not throwing them into the fire. Being a father with four young daughters, I really like the game’s design and can see my children really getting into it. This way they could effectively create themselves as a character and let their imaginations go wild with their animal-kin familiar.

While this Quickstart provides a nice introduction to the game, it doesn’t provide an optimal method of getting new players into an actual game. Instead of an adventure that walks the GM and players through the system, setting, familiars, motivations, and antagonists, it provides two adventure seeds that give an overview of the plot, story hooks, and stat blocks for antagonists. While this works for the GM who already knows the ins and outs of the game, it doesn’t help the newbie out that much. It also doesn’t really give me a sense of what type of environment the game is trying to create.

This is a good start, but I would rather see how much depth is added in the core rulebook. The Quickstart just doesn’t give me enough, but it can definitely get you started. For myself and the oldest two of my four young daughters, we could easily sit down for a bit, create a rough storyline from the adventure hooks given, and play for an hour or so. I can definitely see a game like this being popular with children, but only if they don’t get too deep with the mechanics and setting. Sometimes you have to strike that perfect balance between rules-light, rules-medium, and setting scope.

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