Roger M. Wilcox's playtest review of

The Spawn of Fashan

(First posted to in 2002.)

Twenty years ago, Dragon Magazine printed a review of a little poorly-selling game called The Spawn of Fashan by Kirby Davis.  The reviewer was sure, absolutely sure, that The Spawn of Fashan was a parody of role-playing games, that no game would intentionally be this bad.

The reviewer was wrong.  The author(s) of The Spawn of Fashan were serious.

The story would have ended there, except that 16 years later, the game's author discovered that it had acquired a cult following of sorts.  Despite the fact that only a dozen copies were ever sold, faux "variants" of it were listed as the favorite game of Loonies in that legendary list of "Real Men, Real Role-Players, Loonies, and Munchkins" that every serious gamer has read at least once, and apparently, a group of gamers had even considered having a Spawn of Fashan tournament.  No one could be sure whether the game was supposed to be serious or not.  So, late in 1998, Kirby Lee Davis decided to make reprints of the game available.  The reprints were steeply priced at $20 a pop — and by the time I found out about it nearly two years later and decided I wanted one too, the main reprint run had ended and Kirby was charging $50 per copy plus shipping.

But I bought it anyway.  I had to see it with my own eyes.  This was Spawn of Fashan we were talking about here.

And when I got that spiral-bound, plastic protected, 96-page book (with 2 page Author's Update) in the mail, opened its hallowed covers, and leafed through to the section on character creation, the results were amazing.  Mind-blowing.  It astounded me that anyone could actually play this game at all.

The text was densely packed together and obviously designed to be read all the way through without skipping over anything.  Yet, at the same time, this turgid text constantly referred to terms and charts that were defined elsewhere in the book.  Some of the references at least gave the the name of the chart I was supposed to look at, but others simply said things like "[See section III and V]."  The book only had nine sections total!  And worse, when I pored through the other section and found the term I was supposed to be looking for, it required me to know things from other sections that I had not yet read either.  And even in those cases where the text was more explicit and said something like "See the Body Roll Charts," the charts were not numbered, the page number where the chart was to be found was not given, and there was NO TABLE OF CONTENTS OR INDEX in the book.  And worse, all the charts were placed together in Section VII in more-or-less random order, making it necessary to leaf through that entire section every time a different table had to be consulted.

Well, okay.  I took a deep breath.  Sure, it was dense, but I figured the challenge of learning these rules couldn't be totally insurmountable.  And, darn it, if Jason Sartin could put himself through the hell of learning Imagine and SenZar to the point where he could write a review of them, then by golly, I owed a duty to the gaming community (not to mention my own pride) to try to do the same with The Spawn of Fashan.  I had to try.  I had to actually try and make this game work according to its rules, wherever those rules were hidden in the text.

I had to create a Spawn of Fashan character.

Character Creation

Nothing will better convey the exasperation of learning the character creation process in The Spawn of Fashan than to describe each agonizing step as it actually happened.  If I had to endure this much pain, so do you.  I opened the rules to Section III, Division B, "How to 'roll out' a character," and began slogging through the mud.

The first thing that struck me about the character creation process was that, though there are (apparently) no player-character races in the world of Fashan other than humans, males and females were created differently.  With males, all statistics are generated "normally."  With females, the number of dice rolled for strength, constitution, and hit points were halved, the number of dice rolled for charisma was multiplied by 1.5, and all females had "Intuition."  (But don't worry, the creators of the game aren't sexist — after all, they emphasize that they are not sexist in Section I.  Imagine me rolling my eyes here.)  Realizing this would make the character creation process more interesting, I decided to make my character female.

I then had to look up what "Intuition" was.  A note next to the term, in square brackets, said "[see the 'Destiny' listing on the Mental Illness table]."  (Great, so intuition is a mental illness, and all females have it?  But I forged ahead.)  Finding the Mental Illness table was the first obstacle, and it led me into the wonderful world of all the jumbled, haphazardly organized charts of Section VII.  If the Mental Illness table had been, say "Table 21. Mental Illnesses", I could have at least jumped right to the 21st table, but nooooooo.  Instead, the Mental Illness table was buried in a sub-division called "The Body Roll Charts," which were sequestered in Division C of Section VII, which was a Division that only the Referee was supposed to see.  (Not that any Referee would have caught a player peeking at Division C, since the place where Division B ended and Division C actually began was hidden away on the one-and-only page of the text that was printed sideways.)  At the end of the Mental Illness table was indeed an entry called "Destined", which instructed the Referee to roll on the Destiny Table for the character.  A very helpful note below this entry informed me that "Due to the necessity of having the Destiny Table interlock with the Referee's cultures and history, it is not given here."

In fact, there was no "Destiny Table" anywhere in the text.  Apparently, The Spawn of Fashan was designed to be "open-ended" so that the Referee could put any cultural-specific stuff he wanted to into the game without having to violate the game's rules.  Which means that a sizable percentage of the things that have to be defined for a character don't appear in the core rules.  Division D of Section VII does give us one little "sample" game setting, but it too lacks a Destiny Table.  (The sample game setting, by the way, was called "Boosboodle, a land just south of where Melvin is standing now."  I swear I am not making this up.)

However, in the same note below "Destined" where it said that the Destiny Table basically doesn't exist, there was a suggestion that "intuition" could be such things as being able to automatically dodge a number of blows ex post facto equal to 1/10 the character's intelligence, or being able to interpret dreams, or commune with nature, or "read minds via insight rather than telepathy" (whatever that means), or "etc.".  I bucked down, made the assumption that this was what the character-creation rules meant, and turned back to Section III, Division B.  I had a character to make, dog gone it.

After the "non-sexist" gender-differences were digested and out of the way, the very next paragraph informed me that I had to roll on the "Human Chart [see section VI and the Inhabited Area Charts] of the player's chosen area."  This was supposed to determine your parent's choice for your character class — excuse me, "character-type."  Okay, flip to section VI ... nothing.  The whole section is notes for the Referee on how to develop his own campaign world.  There were no Inhabited Area Charts in section VI.  The Inhabited Area Charts must be in Section VII, where all the other charts were, right?  Wrong.  There were no charts called "Inhabited Area Charts" anywhere to be found.  Gah!  Here I hadn't even begun to roll up my character, and already I was up against a wall!  Hmmm ... the text did say "of the player's chosen area."  Maybe those charts in Section VII, Division D, that describe the "sample" land of Boosboodle [snicker] will have Inhabited Area Charts and a Human Chart.  Well ... not quite.  They have an Encounter Chart, and an Inner Human Chart.  I furrowed my brows.  "Inner Human Chart" does have the words "Human Chart" embedded within it.  And every entry on that chart looks like one of the character-types I glimpsed back in the Character Charts of Division B as I was flipping around trying to find the Human Chart.  Oh, heck, it's close enough.  I'll use this chart.

The process of finding this chart and jumping to the conclusion that it's what the text meant by "the Human Chart of the player's chosen area" actually took me about half an hour.  The "organization" of the rules and charts takes a lot of getting used to.  Seeing that this chart had entries numbered from 1 to 100, I took out a pair of Percentile Dice and rolled.  11.  I looked down the chart, and read the line for my Parent's Choice character-type: "8-12 / Priest — roll for which god."


Just as there was no Destiny Table anywhere in the book, there was no "Which God" table anywhere in the book either.  If Priest was going to be my character's character-type, I'd be in deep trouble if I wanted to stay within the rules.

Fortunately, there was a way out.  The next sub-step of character creation was to pick a character-type and list it as my character's "childhood choice."  I skimmed ahead and noticed that I would eventually get to choose either of these character-types as my character's "real" character-type.  Kewl!  All I had to do was pick something other than Priest for my Childhood Choice, and I'd be safe.

Now, which character-type to pick for Childhood Choice?  Section III, Division B (the infamous character-creation section I was still slogging through) didn't say that I had to choose my Childhood Choice from the Human Chart I'd just rolled on — and I was curious to see what other character-types there were besides the ones on that short table.  Apparently, there were a lot of them.  Barbers, Carpenters, Beggers, Merchants, Wood Cutters (ah, the thrill of role-playing a Wood Cutter!), Farmers, Metal Forgers, Sailors, Stone Cutters, Miners, Construction Workers (do they get +2 to their wolf-whistle rolls?), Healers, Teachers, Specialists (whose specialty must be chosen when this character-type is chosen), Bandits, Mercenaries, Trappers, Occultists, Traders, Creepers, Priests, Thieves, and Swayers.

One thing about these character-types struck me as I was reading through them.  Occultists had a few "trances" they could place on themselves and others, Creepers could emit a mysterious black cloud, and priests could talk to their god, but nowhere were there any character-types with the ability to use general-purpose magic.  The Spawn of Fashan had no magic system!  This alone made it different from about 95% of the Fantasy Role-Playing Games that were on the market when it came out.

But perhaps I am being too forgiving.  The last page of the rules, which was reprinted exactly as it appeared in 1981, talks in glowing terms of up-and-coming products soon to be published by the Games of Fashan Co-op.  None of these games ever saw the light of day, as far as I know.  They included Deadlock, "the next evolution in chess"; Star Quest, a card game whose very name is so thoroughly unoriginal that it must already be under a dozen or so competing trademarks by companies who have never heard of each other; City Council, which sounded like Sim City but with more bureaucracy; and (I'm not making this up) Bunga! Bunga! Bunga!, "a total strategy game without dice."  And, of course, they also included "sequal [sic] rulebooks to the Spawn."  These would have supposedly included sea movement and encounters, "the living powers of Fashan," even more character-types, more monsters and animals (the "sample" land of Boosboodle in the Spawn of Fashan rulebook only has stats for 3 animals and 4 monsters), "advanced" combat (which made me cringe when I discovered how difficult "normal" combat was later on), "and so much more."  I'll bet that one or more of those "and so much more" supplements had a magic system in it.

Anyway, the "Creeper" character-type looked intriguing, what with that Black Cloud of Darkness power, so I chose it for my character's Childhood Choice.  At least I wouldn't have to roll on a non-existent table for which god my character worshipped.  Oh — and there was a note in the paragraph about choosing your Childhood Choice that said you had to be a Misfit if your Parent's Choice was Misfit.  Elsewhere in the rules, it was explained that Misfit was a character-type designed to allow the Referee to make up his own character-types.  Mercifully, "Misfit" did not appear in Boosboodle's Inner Human Chart, so it would have been impossible for me to roll "Misfit" as my Parent's Choice.

Step Three of "rolling-out" a character consisted, finally, of getting to roll her statistics: Strength, Dexterity, Reflexes, Constitution, Intelligence, Charisma, Courage, Courage, Courage, and Senses.  Yes, Courage occurs three times, however the 2nd and 3rd Courages apparently only come into play if your character has some "special fighting ability."  I never did get around to finding out what this meant.  In any event, for each statistic except the 2nd Courage, the 3rd Courage, and Senses, I had to roll "five 1-6 dice" ("1-6 dice" is Fashan-speak for a d6) and discard the lowest.  This would give each statistic a starting range from 4-24.  Or at least, it would if my character were male.  As you remember, for my female character, "The number of dice rolled at any time for strength, constitution, and hit points is halved."  But how do you "halve" the number of dice in a roll of 5d6-discard-lowest?  Do you roll 3d6 and discard the lowest, because half of the final 4d6 would be 2d6?  Do you roll 5d6, discard the lowest, and divide the remaining 4d6 by 2?  Do you roll 5d6, discard the lowest, and then randomly discard two of the remaining 4d6?  The rules were silent on this topic.  Section III, Division D ("Definitions"), which contains not only definitions but the actual core rules for calculating many quantities (and thus is one of the places that must be checked whenever you're trying to get through the rules), says under its Female entry that if only one die is rolled for strength, constitution, or hit points, the value of that die is halved, which doesn't help in this case.  (It also doesn't say whether to round up or down, but that's a problem that pervades these rules in many places.)  I elected to roll 3d6 for her strength and constitution and discard the lowest die.  For her charisma, which required me to roll one-and-a-half times the normal number of dice, I decided to roll 7d6 and discard the lowest die.  I ended up with the following Statistics: Strength 3, Dexterity 17, Reflexes 19, Constitution 8, Intelligence 16, Charisma 29, Courage 14.

I wrote these down on a photocopy of the character sheet, which the rules helpfully informed me had been included "just for fun."  (Oh, thank you, Games of Fashan Co-op., for having such a maverick free-spirit that you elected to put something as esoteric as a blank character sheet in your rules for a role-playing game.  I'm sure that was almost as wild a move as including a "sample world" so that people could actually use the game.)  In passing, I noticed there was nowhere on her character sheet to write down the fact that she was female.

Now that my statistics were rolled up, I was to choose between my Parent's Choice character-type and my Childhood Choice character-type, and circle it.  This would me my character's actual character-type.  Since I had no way to "roll which god" for a Priest, my only remaining choice was to circle my Childhood Choice and become a Creeper.

Then it hit me.  I'd had to roll my statistics after both alternatives for character-type had already been chosen!

Not even AD&D limits the player's choices in the character creation process this much.  At least in AD&D, you get to roll your abilities, then choose your character class from all the classes available in the game.  Here in The Spawn of Fashan, you rolled one character-type, picked another with no information other than your character's sex and which character type had been randomly rolled for you, and then you had to roll the dice and hope that your strength, dexterity, intelligence, etc. would come close to being useful in one of those two character-types.  Having cut my teeth on games like Champions, where I got to build any character I wanted without so much as a single die roll, Fashan's character creation system seemed like a futile exercise in being stuck with something I'd never want.

But, like I said, I intended to rise to this challenge.  Dog gone it, I was going to finish this randomly-generated character if it killed me.

Step Four of the character creation process involved making lots of rolls on "Body Roll Charts."  My hours in the trenches flipping the pages of this rulebook back-and-forth meant I now had a fair idea of where to look for these charts (Section VII), so this time I was able to find them rather quickly.  The first chart, "Eyesight Table," looked promising — I had a 1-in-20 chance of getting X-ray vision, a 2-in-20 chance of being crosseyed, and apparently no chance of having normal vision.  Or so I thought at first glance.  It turned out there was a little note at the top saying, "SR6 if a Thief or Trapper, SR5 all else.  If SR is failed, player should roll 1-20.  Referee finds result on the following table and tells player."

SR5.  What did that mean?  I flipped back to Section III, Division D, "Definitions."  SR did not appear.  Saving Roll, however, did, and informed me that it was abbreviated "SR."  Aha.  This game used conventional saving throws, just like AD&D did.  Or did it?  I'd better make sure.  Hmmm ... yep, it wasn't obvious, but to roll an SR, you rolled a "1-20 die" (a d20), and this die roll had to equal or exceed the SR number.  So to make an "SR5", I had to roll 5 or better on a d20.  The concept was easy and straightforward enough, but if I'd never played AD&D I never would have been able to figure out the Saving Roll rules as they were written.  I rolled a d20 and got a 13.  So the upshot of all this flipping around was, I didn't get to roll on the Eyesight Table at all, and my character had normal eyesight.

She also ended up with normal hearing, normal taste [snicker], normal insight, normal intellect (not to be confused with the intelligence statistic, I guess), and normal mental illness.  However, she did end up with microscopic smell [double snicker], an annoyance-level phobia of death, a supersticious [sic] phobia of something the Referee would have to make up (groan), a preference-level compulsion for arson, a scarred head (which reduced her charisma by 2d6 — which became 3d6 since she was female), and a bony neck (which further reduced her charisma by 1d6 — plus 1d3, since again she was female).  After the dust had settled, her Charisma had fallen from its zenith of 29 to a paltry 19.  I'm just glad I didn't roll a "sex-driven" compulsion or a phobia of supersticious [sic] fear of bald hunchback females, both of which were actual possibilities on the charts.

I then had to roll to see if she was left handed, right handed, or ambidextrous (she was right handed), and then had to use the dreaded Height and Weight table, which was an adventure in and of itself.  Apparently, there are three "starting brackets" on this table labelled "normal", "larger than normal", and "smaller than normal," although the printed layout of the table is so bad that you can't tell that these labels refer to brackets (they look like 3 different labelled tables).  The Height and Weight table makes all sorts of mentions regarding "the bracket your character starts off in," but nowhere in this table does it tell you where to find this starting bracket for your character.  I had to hunt through practically the whole rule book until I discovered, in the Character Charts subdivision of Section VII, Division B, that every character-type description contains a paragraph of the form "Height and Weight: [larger than normal/normal/smaller than normal]."  So, apparently, your height-and-weight starting bracket is determined not by your race or your strength or your constitution or your roll on the Body Table (which is one of the tables among the Body Charts, confusingly enough), or by anything else related to your physiology.  Your height-and-weight starting bracket is determined by by your character-type. Trappers are larger than normal, f'rinstance, while creepers and thieves are smaller than normal.

Now, I can sorta understand how the average trapper you meet might be more physically imposing than the average thief.  A small person would have a lousy time surviving in the wilderness but an easier time sneaking into small spaces, and thus would tend to gravitate toward the profession of thief.  A kind of "natural selection" process would also weed out those people who chose the life of a trapper but weren't burly enough to make it.  But think about this in the context of how character-type is determined in The Spawn of Fashan.  Your character-type is chosen before your stats are even known, based on what your parents want you to be and what you as a child wanted to be when you grew up.  How in heaven's name can these choices change your body size when you finally do grow up?!  Do kids who want to be trappers take growth pills?  And what if your Parent's Choice was Trapper, but your Childhood Choice was Thief?  You wouldn't know whether you were smaller or larger than normal until after you'd grown up and had all your statistics generated.  Does this mean there are insta-grow (and insta-shrink) pills available for adults, which must be taken when their profession is chosen?  The mind boggles.

In any case, this meant my Creeper character started in the smaller-than-normal bracket — or she would have if she'd have been male, anyway.  A paragraph above the Height and Weight Table explained that females start in the bracket immediately below the one they are "meant" to begin with.  Two 1d6 rolls later, my lady-on-paper became 5 feet, 1 1/2 inches tall, and weighed in at 119 pounds.  For a game that cares so much about dictating how my character was built, I was surprised that there was no table for weight gain or weight loss — after gorging herself on pizza for six months, or starving in a concentration camp for the same amount of time, the Spawn of Fashan system would apparently have her continue to weigh 119 pounds.  Perhaps such a chart was among the rules destined to appear in those long-awaited sequal [sic] rulebooks.

At this point, I was finished with step 4 of character creation.  So, naturally, after going through all that, the next paragraph informed me that all rolls in step 4 are influenced by the character's occupation (presumably, her character-type).  Such as, for instance, whether her height and weight started out in the smaller than normal, normal, or larger than normal bracket, for instance.  Oh, thank you for telling me now.

Next, I had to go back to the chart for the Creeper character-type again and look in the "Special" section.  Apparently, she gets to roll 10d6 for her Senses statistic.  (It was hard to tell if it was really ten d6, though, because a photocopying artifact went right through the "ten.")  Fortunately, creepers didn't have to roll more or fewer dice for any of their other statistics, as some other character-types did — if she'd have been a Trader, for example, I would've had to subtract 1d4 from her Dexterity, Reflexes, and Courage, and add 1d6 to her Constitution (which I guess I would've had to halve since she was a female).  Then, next to each of her statistics, I had to write down the "letter tables" for that statistic.  Apparently, different character-types use different tables for each statistic to determine their various bonuses and penalties.  Creepers get to use the B tables for dexterity and reflexes, and the A tables for intelligence, charisma, and courage.  I glanced ahead at some of these tables, and discovered that, no, the tables were not arranged in order with A being best and D being worst, or vice-versa.  For some statistics, table A was better than table B, and for others table B was better than table A, and in some cases, high values on table A were better than table B but low values on table A were worse than table B.  I sighed, shrugged and said, "Hey, it's The Spawn of Fashan."

Next, I had to determine her hit points.  By this point, all the little things I'd noticed flipping back and forth through the rules were starting to pay off.  I remembered seeing a "hit points" paragraph in the Character Chart for each character-type, so I quickly turned back to the Creeper description and saw that she got to roll a "1-4 dice".  I rolled and got a 3 — and then remembered that I had to halve this value because she was a Female.  Half of 3 is 1-and-1/2.  Again, the rules gave no guidance as to whether to round up or round down, but I decided that more hit points are always a good thing, and rounded up to 2.

Next came her Learned Abilities, and her Languages.  You need at least a 20 Intelligence to have any Learned Abilities, so I was safe there.  However, you get one Language for every 12 points of intelligence, so I had to dig up the Language Table.  It was easy to find, and short, and damn near impossible to make sense of.  Apparently, you were supposed to roll on the Encounter Chart for your local area (the Inner Human Habitation Zone of Boosboodle, presumably), and just use the language of whatever critter you rolled.  The problem was, 92 times out of a hundred, this would generate a character-type description, and I refuse to believe that occultists, traders, bandits, "swayers", construction crewmen, etc., all speak their own language.  (Even in AD&D, only druids and thieves had their own language.  Every profession having its own complete syntax is just ludicrous.)  Fortunately, the Language Table also says, "For those of you, however, who like a more solid, individual table, I prescribe the following:", and has another d20-based table after that.

I rolled on this table and got a 3.  This meant my character could "understand the dialect of another society on the planet" chosen randomly.  Needless to say, there were no listings of "other societies" anywhere in the rules, not even in the sample charts for Boosboodle.  I wimped out and rolled again.  This time, I got a 9, which meant she could "understand the squeekings and squallings of a local species of animal", which I had to roll up on the Animal Chart, but by now I knew where the animal chart was and could actually accomplish this feat.  I rolled a Narq.  My character can speak to Narqs.  And to think, if I had rolled better, she could have spoken to Worlongs, Bartalns, Macanda Cur, Lantals, Tractorns, Melarks, Filcornect, Mantax, Baero, Bull Makls, or a dead variety of one of the above animals (is there such a thing as a Bull Makl zombie?), or even — the mind shudders at the possibility — something on the non-existent Bird Chart or Bear Chart or Poisonous Snake Chart.

And I don't think I could have taken the excitement if I had rolled a 14-19 on the Language Table, which would have allowed her to speak with a species of monster.

Next, I had to figure out a whole lot of secondary modifiers that came from her statistics.  She had a radiation roll modifier.  She had something called Speed.  She had a Fatigue Rate for swings and for running.  She had about umpteen other functions I had to figure out how to calculate and write down, too.  Some of these were easy and obvious.  ("Obvious" being a relative term — this is The Spawn of Fashan we're talking about here.)  One of these, Luck Factor, required me to calculate her Bank Notes, which I wasn't supposed to do until the next step.  (Yes, the basic unit of currency in the world of Fashan is the Bank Note.  It is a silly place.)  Most of them required that I look at the notes for the "just for fun" character sheet to figure out.  But a few, most notably Basic SR Modifier and the Basic Parry Modifier, were so well-hidden that I'm surprised I found them at all.  The formula for Basic Parry Mod was squirrelled away in something called the Parry and Dodge Tables.  Basic SR Mod is apparently based on a combination of Intelligence and Courage.  There are entries in the Intelligence and Courage tables that say "+N to something-or-other and SR," but it didn't click with me at the time that these SR mods were in fact factors in determining the Basic SR Mod.

Oh — and one of the functions I had to calculate was called Hit Point Modifier.  It was based on constitution, and in my character's case, her Con of 8 gave her an HP Mod of -1.  Did that mean I had to go back and subtract 1 from her hit points?  Did that mean I had to subtract 1 from the "3" I originally rolled for her hit points, and then divide the difference by two because she was female?  The definition of Hit Point Modifier given in Section III, Division D, only mentioned that it applied every time she went up or down an experience level.  So, once again figuring that more hit points were good, I elected to not apply her HP Mod to the hit points I'd rolled back in the earlier part of this step.

After figuring out all these functions — which took at least an hour, believe me — I finally reached the home stretch: "Step six completes the character."  First, I had to choose my patron god or gods, if any.  Remembering the lack of god tables in the rulebook, I gratefully opted for "if any."  Then, I got to choose the items my character would begin the game with.  Some character-types apparently get automatic starting equipment.  The Creeper, unfortunately, wasn't one of them, and so my poor character had to start out buck naked.  I then had to roll for her Bank Notes, which I'd already rolled for when determining Luck Factor in the last step so I didn't roll for again (she got 80 bank notes), and then ... and then, the text said, "and players formulate their Luck Factor."  Sheesh!  Why did you list it in the previous step if I had to compute it here?!

And lastly, I got to name my character.  Naming a character in a fantasy world can be a daunting prospect, especially if it's not an elf (whose names must always have "el" in it someplace) or a dwarf (whose names must always end in "axe" or "beard").  So, in homage to the abysmally poor quality with which the rules were written and organized, I decided to name her ... Grignr.  Those of you who've read The Eye of Argon will understand.  (I don't care that the original Grignr was male.  It's the principle of the thing.)

I looked up from my desk and for the first time in hours, looked out on the sunlit landscape beyond my window.  I had just done something I once considered impossible.  I had finished creating a Spawn of Fashan character!


Or at least, I had finished going through the six character-creation steps in Section III, Division B.  There were still some important looking blank spots on her character sheet marked "AMC" that I felt I ought to fill in.  I also realized that I hadn't spent any of Grignr's Bank Notes to buy her initial equipment (above and beyond the "nothing" she got from being a Creeper).  I decided to kill two birds with one stone and buy her some armor.

There was a tongue-in-cheek sample scenario in Section VIII of the book, which provided examples of dealing with merchants.  This involved reaction rolls, encounter rolls, rolls to see if an item was in stock, rolls to see how much the merchant would try to charge the character, etc..  I wanted none of that.  I just wanted to buy her some armor.  I waved my hand and assumed that she would be able to get some armor for its listed cost.  The description for the Creeper class said they would never wear any armor that wasn't a cloak, so I picked a hide cloak, coming in as the most expensive cloak at 75 Bank Notes.

Now, I had to write down what this gave her.  It had a whole bunch of numbers associated with it: Weight 12, AHP 45, DR 3, AMC Drop 5.  AHP was its Armor Hit Points — armor can be damaged in Fashan.  So, apparently, can weapons, if they are attacked or used to parry.  DR was its Damage Ratio, the number of armor hit points that had to be removed from a single blow in order for the blow to penetrate the armor and injure the wearer.  (Hmm, this is sounding like a not-too-indecent system so far, actually.)  Finally, AMC Drop refers to the reduction in the wearer's Armor Class.  (Grooooan — Spawn of Fashan has Armor Class.  Well, if it has Saving Rolls and Experience Levels, I shouldn't be too surprised.  This was published in 1981, after all.)

I flipped back to Section V, on the Art of Combat, in Division B, "Preparation for Combat," which is where it described how to calculate Armor Class.  It said to combine the AMC Drop of the armor with the AMC Drop listed on her Reflexes Table (flip back to Statistics Charts, look up Reflexes Table, a Creeper uses table A of the Reflexes Table, so I look up Grignr's Reflexes of 19 and find that she has a -1 AMC modifier, which for some reason was not one of the functions I had to calculate during step five of the character creation process).  So, my total AMC Drop is 5 for the armor, and 1 for her Reflexes, for a total of 6, right?  Wrong.  Each of four areas of your body — area 1, the head and neck; area 2, the torso; area 3A, the arms; and area 3L, the legs — has its own separate AMC drop, depending upon whether any armor covers that area or not.  The coverage of a piece of armor is listed on the Armor Class Chart.  According to that chart, a cloak only protects the arms, legs, and back, so her AMC drop in area 1 is 1, in areas 3A and 3L is 6, and in area 2 is apparently 1 if attacking from the front (or the sides?) and 6 if attacking from the rear.

However, it's not enough to know her AMC drop.  The blank spots on her character sheet call for the actual AMC of each area.  How is one supposed to calculate this?  The definition of "Armor Class" says that AMC begins with 11 and goes down, but later says that an unarmored human's AMC (not counting his reflexes) is ten.  Section VI, Division G, on the philosophy of creating animals and monsters, also says that the AMC of a naked human is 10.  Drawing upon my decades of AD&D experience, I leapt to the brilliant conclusion that you were supposed to subtract your AMC drop from 10 to compute your AMC.  And this I did.  Grignr's Area 1 AMC was 9, her area 2 AMC was 9 (4 in back), and her areas 3A and 3L AMC were 4 each.

Unfortunately, the purchase of a 75-bank-note cloak left Grignr with only 5 bank notes left to spend.  This was 3 less than the cost of a dagger, the least-expensive weapon.  Well ... what the heck.  It's not like I was going to be entering any Spawn of Fashan tournaments with this character, and I wanted to try out the combat system.  I could pretend that Grignr had a dagger.  Maybe she found it in the trash.  I wrote the words "she does not actually own the dagger yet" on her character sheet's item-list addendum, and forged onward.

As with armor, each weapon's listing had a whole bunch of numbers and letters after it.  The dagger's listing read: I, damage 1-4, weight .4, length 10, parry mod -10, str req 6.  The Str Req one worried me — Grignr's Strength was only 3, after all — but eventually the combat rules would kinda-sorta direct me back to a paragraph in the Strength Chart where it would turn out that she could wield a weapon with a higher Str Requirement than her Strength, but she'd do one-half the weapon's normal damage with each blow.  A roundabout reference to the Parry and Dodge Tables eventually told me that, if Grignr ever parried, her dagger's Parry Modifier of -10 would be added to her own Basic Parry Modifier of 19 for a "Total" Parry Modifier of 9.  (This, as it would turn out, is a percentage chance to parry, which as you can tell is pretty slim.)

A weapon's Armor Hit Points were supposed to be 1/10 its weight, rounded up, but none of the weapons listed had a weight higher than 6, so that meant all of them would've had 1 Armor Hit Point, making the "1/10 its weight" rule useless.  Furthermore, one of the items I was supposed to fill in on the weapon's control sheet was the dagger's Hit Modifier, but no weapon had a "Hit Modifier" listed anywhere in the text.  Perhaps super-heavy weapons and weapons with hit modifiers were yet another goody destined to appear in the sequal [sic] rulebooks.

I also had to write down Grignr's "Total Hit Modifier" with the dagger, which was the sum of the dagger's non-existent Hit Modifier (which I just assumed, with a little shrug, was 0) and Grignr's modifier from the Weapon Usage Rules.  (What, you didn't know about the Weapon Usage Rules?  They're right there in the definitions, silly!  Duh!  What, did you think rules would actually appear in a rules section?  This is The Spawn of Fashan we're talking about here!)  Under the Weapon Usage Rules, any character who's never used a weapon before is at -2 to hit with it.  This drops to -1 after the first successful strike, and -0 when the character has inflicted at least 20 damage points with the weapon and earned at least 250 experience points attributable directly to the weapon's use.  There were even spaces on Grignr's weapon control sheet where I was to write down her "HP Removed" and "Exp With" the dagger.  However, the next paragraph of the definition said that Weapon Usage Rules do not apply to weapons a character begins the game with.  Did Grignr "begin" the game with the dagger, since she has one now and hasn't adventured with it yet?  Or did she only "begin" the game with her 80 bank notes and a nude body?  On this question, as on many many others, the rules were silent.

So, now I'd given her armor and a weapon, I'd determined her armor class over all areas of her body, and I'd figured all the numbers you were supposed to figure for a dagger.  At last, it was time to exercise this game's Combat System.


Despite the fact that there were 18 animals and 25 monsters listed on the Boosboodle Inner Human Habitation Zone Encounter Chart (which, we are helpfully told, is code named Bihhzec), only seven of those creatures are actually written up in the Animal and monster Charts on the next 3 pages.  I would have to choose one of these 7 creatures for Grignr to fight.  I chose something called the Concor, because its hit points were low enough — only 1-6 — that Grignr might have a chance against one.

A Concor, as you may have guessed from my description of the Animal Chart earlier, is one of the few creatures on Fashan that doesn't have a name that makes you giggle.  It's a snake, a golden brown viper, that is 2d6 feet long and weighs 1/10 its length in pounds.  That would mean a 10-foot concor would only weigh one pound — such a snake would be awfully thin.  Yet we are told that when it's on the hunt it will move to attack characters, presumably even human characters.  How a one-pound snake can swallow a whole human is beyond me.  Nevertheless, we are also told it has venom, so maybe, if I was very lucky, Grignr would get poisoned and the combat would end quickly.

There are all sorts of charts dealing with encounters, whether one party detects the other, surprise, reactions, etc..  I wanted none of this.  It was getting late and I just wanted to get to the combat system.  So, turning to Section V, Division C, "The Combat Process," I discovered that my first chore was to compare the combatants Dexterities to determine how many "phases" the snake and Grignr would get in one combat round.  The comparison formula was over in the Dexterity Chart, but mercifully, the rules recapped it here: Whoever had the highest Dexterity got one extra phase per 10 points his dexterity was higher than his opponent's.  The snake's dexterity was listed as 16, and since Grignr's was 17, she had the highest Dexterity, but since hers wasn't at least 10 points higher than the snake's she would not get an "extra" phase.  So, with no "extra" phases available, the next paragraph informed me that every combatant automatically gets one phase per round.  Why "Dexterity" and not "Reflexes" determined how many times a combatant could act in a round was anybody's guess.

The next step was to determine Initiative.  Combatants go in order of their Initiative only during the first combat round; during subsequent rounds, the combatants go in order of who has the highest Reflexes.  Flipping back to the Definitions Division of Section III, I found that each combatant's Initiative total was determined by adding a 2d6 roll to his Detect Level.  *Choke* ... his what?  Darn it, gotta look up another term.  Flipping to the Definition of Detect Level three pages back, it said a character's Detect Level, helpfully abbreviated DL, was found on the Senses Table.  Sigh.  Going back to the Senses Table — which I'd already consulted four times when determining Grignr's functions — I found that Grignr's Senses value of 36 made her DL 4.  (Why wasn't there a space on the character sheet to write this down?)  The snake was DL 2.  Okay, I now rolled 2d6 for Grignr and got ... a 3.  Cock eyes.  Her Initiative total was only 7.  Surely, the snake was going to beat her to the first punch.  I rolled 2d6 for the snake ... and got a 4!  Yes!  The snake's Initiative total was only 6!  Grignr had a chance to get off the first blow!

But before I could get around to actually doing anything, Section V, Division C calmly informed me that I first had to calculate the "Reflex comparison" of the two combatants.  The next paragraph, at the top of page 22, "recapped" the Reflex Comparison formula from elsewhere in the text, saying that for every 10 points your Reflexes are above your opponent's Reflexes, you have a -1 Reflex hit modifier on your Basic Combat Number (groan) and your opponent has a +1 Reflex hit modifier on his Basic Combat Number.  However, the Reflexes Tables on page 42 said that you have a -1 Reflex hit modifier, and your opponent has a +1 Reflex hit modifier, for every five points your Reflexes are higher than your opponent's.  Hmmm ... I can't imagine how this little gaffe could've slipped past the oh-so-thorough editing that had obviously gone into The Spawn of Fashan.

Fortunately, the snake's Reflexes were 22, and Grignr's were 19, so neither rule resulted in any Reflex hit modifiers.

Okay.  We have our adversaries.  We know Grignr has Initiative.  We know that neither of them has a Reflex hit modifier.  So, finally, Grignr gets her phase and can attack the snake with her dagger.  "How hard?" asks the next paragraph.  She can choose to (A) make a half-assed attack on the snake for 1/2 damage, which fatigues her by half a swing, (B) make a normal attack on the snake for normal damage, which fatigues her by one swing, or (C) make an all-out attack on the snake for 1-and-1/2 times damage, which fatigues her by two swings.  (Remember that Fatigue Rate Swinging function I mentioned way back in the middle of step 5 of character creation?  Grignr's was 3.  She would fatigue after 3 normal swings. Or after one normal swing and one all-out swing.  Or 6 half-assed swings.  Or 4 half-assed swings and one ... well, you get the picture.)  The rules for what would happened to her when she got fatigued were on the Fatigue Charts, but I didn't bother to read said chart.  I hoped this combat would be over with too quickly for it to matter.  So, I elected to have Grignr attack the snake all-out, which counted as 2 of the 3 swings she'd get before she'd fatigue.

Okay, time to roll dice, right?  Wrong.  The next paragraph wanted to know what area of the snake's body Grignr was swinging for.  Attacking Area 1, the head, would lower the snake's SITL by 2.  (SITL?  In a minute.)  Attacking area 2, its torso, would give Grignr a +6 to hit.  Attacking area 3, its limbs (what, snakes have arms and legs now?), would give Grignr a +3 to hit and lower the snake's SITL by 1.  Believe me, I was sorely tempted to say "I attack the snake's limbs," but sanity got the better of me.  I instead figured a +6 to hit would be the most useful, and elected to attack Area 2.

Now I got to roll a die.  A d20, to be exact.  I rolled a 3, and hoped that rolling low was good.  Had I rolled a 1, the attack would have gone astray I would've had to consult the Extraordinary Combat Table, and had I rolled a 20, I would have gotten to roll the d20 again, and if the subsequent roll was over 10 I'd get to add that result -10 to the 20, and if that second roll was a 20 I'd get to roll it again, and if that third roll was over 10 I'd get to add that result -10 to the 30, and if that third roll was a 20 ... ad infinitum.  A 20 results in an open-ended roll, in other words.  This combination did not bode well for my hopes that rolling low was "good."  I then added the +6 for attacking the snake's torso, and Grignr's -2 Total Hit Mod With Dagger (she was inexperienced with daggers, remember?) to the 3 I'd just rolled, for an "attack number" of 7.

Look up the 7 on a chart and see if I hit?  Naw, way too early for that.  First, we have to let the opponent parry or dodge!  I have a hard time imagining a snake dodging, but I have an even harder time imagining a snake parrying, so I let it dodge.  Consult the Parry and Dodge Tables!  The Parry and Dodge tables didn't yield their secrets easily, but I eventually determined that the chance to dodge was derived from the Basic Parry Modifier.  The concor listing didn't provide a Basic Parry Modifier, so I had to calculate it using the same formula I'd used to calculate Grignr's Basic Parry Mod back when I was creating her.  The Basic Parry Mod formula is the Reflex value of the snake (22), plus twice its Dexterity Hit Modifier.

Oh, great.  The Concor listing shows a Dexterity of 16, but in order to convert this to a Hit Modifier, I need to look it up on one of four subtables, determined by its character-type.  What character-type is a snake?!  Does a Concor use Dexterity table A, B, C, or D?  A 16 Dexterity comes in with no Hit Modifier on tables A, B, and D, but is a -1 Hit Modifier on table C.  GAH!!  Screw it.  I'm gonna assume the snake uses some table other than Table C, and that its Dexterity Hit Modifier is 0.  That gives it a Basic Parry Mod of 22.  There.

Back on the Parry and Dodge Tables, I noticed that none of the items listed in the list of Dodge Modifying Items applied (metal armor, cloak or robe, carrying a long weapon), nor did any of the items listed in the Attack Modifiers apply (missile, energy blast, or grip on defender).  Thus, the snake's Total Dodge Percentage was equal to its Basic Parry Mod of 22.  The snake had a 22 percent chance of dodging Grignr's dagger.  I rolled percentile dice ... and got a 93.  A clear miss.  The snake failed to dodge.

Now I could see if Grignr's attack actually succeeded or not.

First, I cross-index Grignr's weapon type to the target area's AMC on the Combat Results Table to get her "Basic Combat Number."  Her dagger had that capital I written down at the front of its listing, and that turns out to be its weapon type.  The snake was listed as AMC 6, and I decided to make a huge leap of faith and assume that it was this same Armor Class over its whole body.  (A dangerous assumption, considering what little you can take for granted in the overly-complicated world of The Spawn of Fashan.)  The Combat Results Table turned out to be the table on that one weird sideways-printed page.  Looking up the column for AMC 6 and the row for weapon type I in said table yields a "13", which is Grignr's Basic Combat Number for the attack.

Next, I add her Reflex comparison result to her Basic Combat Number to get her "Combat Number."  That was the Reflex hit modifier that had two different conflicting rules for how to calculate it.  Remember?  Anyway, I'd already determined that that was 0 under either set of rules, so her Combat Number is the same as her Basic Combat Number, 13.

Now, finally, I could determine if she hit the snake.  Her attack number was 7, and her combat number was 13.  This means "the attacker's blow failed to strike the target with enough skill to damage it."  What we AD&D players would call a "miss."  From her decision to swing the dagger to the point where I determined that she missed, it took me the better part of half an hour.

Fortunately, I was now getting used to the Combat Routine of Fashan, and so I figured I might be able to have the snake counter-attack and determine whether it hit or missed in under 10 minutes.  I quickly selected a normal-strength attack and targeted Area 2, giving the snake the same +6 to hit that Grignr had had back on her phase.  I rolled the d20 and got a 14.  To this, I had to add the snake's Hit Modifier with the weapon it attacked with.  Like all the other weapons in the book, "fangs" didn't have a Hit Modifier listing anywhere, so I assumed it was 0.  I also assumed that the snake "started" the game with its fangs and thus wouldn't get that -2 to-hit modifier from the Weapon Usage Rules.  I further assumed, as before, that it used a table other than Table C for its Dexterity and thus didn't get a hit modifier from it.  This gave it a Total Hit Modifier with fangs of 0.  Finally, I added the +6 from targeting Area 2 to the 14 the snake rolled, for an "attack number" of 20.

Uh oh.  20.  Does this modified 20 mean I have to roll that open-ended roll and add it to the 20 if it's over 10?  Gratefully, not.  A careful reading revealed what I had suspected: that the additional roll only happens when the attack die was 20, not when the attack number was 20.  I was safe.

Now, Grignr got a chance to dodge.  I'd already written down her Basic Parry Modifier (19) and her dodge modifiers from her armor (-2), so I immediately knew that she had a Total Dodge Percentage of 17.  I suppose she could have parried, but daggers had a parry mod. of -10.  Her 17% chance to dodge was better than her 9% chance to parry, so I rolled a d100 for her dodge and got ... a 43.  Her dodge failed.

So now, I got to cross the snake's weapon type with Grignr's AMC in area 2.  Mercifully, the Concor description listed its attack as weapon type F.  Grignr's AMC in area 2 was 9 from the front and 4 from the back, and I made the assumption that after frontally attacking it with her dagger, she would be facing the snake, and so would be attacked from the front.  (There are no front/back attack rules that I've found in Spawn of Fashan anywhere.  So far.  They might be hidden in the world-building philosophy section or something.)  Cross-indexing Weapon Type F with AMC 9 yielded a Basic Combat Number of 11.  Adding the snake's Reflex hit modifier of 0 to this gave a Combat Number of 11.  The snake's attack number was 20 ... so that meant the snake hit!

Not only did it hit, but since it hit by 5 or more, that meant it did an extra "level" of damage.  Whatever a "level" of damage is.  It wasn't really defined anywhere.  I assume that all attacks that hits by less than 5 do one "level" of damage.  That assumption was important, because the number of damage levels — not the actual damage points — show up in the next rule on SITL.

SITL.  Serious Injury Tolerance Level.  If you take at least as many levels of damage as your SITL, you have to make a Saving Roll to keep from receiving a Serious Injury.  Grignr's SITL was one of those many "functions" calculated for her during character creation, and was based on her constitution.  Her SITL was a paltry 1, which meant that even one level of damage would force her to make a Saving Roll, let alone two.

Next problem: Now that I knew she had to make a Saving Roll against serious injury, what number did she have to roll to make the save?  The combat rules I'd been following were silent on this point, not so much as directing me to a chart anywhere.  The Definition for SITL referred me to the Saving Roll Tables (yet another set of charts sequestered away in Section VII).  The Saving Roll Tables blithely inform the reader that "the serious injury SRs are printed with the Wound Table and the Extraordinary Combat Table (and NOT here, as it was previously printed)."  Grrrr.  I flipped to the Extraordinary Combat Table.  It does not mention serious injury SRs.  Thankfully, the Wound Table and the Combat Effects Table, on the next page, do spell out the process for calculating a serious injury SR.

The formula for the serious injury SR is this: Take the number of levels of damage, add one, subtract the targets SITL, and multiply the result by: 5, if the attack was against area one; 3, if the attack was against area two, and; 4, if the attack was against area three.  Needlessly complex?  Nope, just par for the course in The Spawn of Fashan.

Okay, the attack did 2 levels of damage (because it hit by 5 or more), 2 plus one is 3, subtract Grignr's SITL of 1 and that leaves 2.  She was hit in area two (her torso), so multiply the 2 I just got by 3.  Total: 6.  Grignr had to roll a 6 or better on a d20 to save.  I rolled and got ... a 9.  She was safe.  No serious injury was inflicted.  (Had I failed the roll, I would've had to wait until the next step, when I determined whether the snake's bite had achieved penetration or not, before I could know which of the two serious injury tables to roll on.  But I digress.)

Now, roll the damage, right?  Wrong.  Even though the snake "hit" against her Armor Class, we now have to see if the snake's fangs actually penetrated her armor.  To do this, we flip to the Penetration Tables.  These tables list all the major weapons alongside two sets of numbers.  The first number is the weapon's base percentage chance of damaging metal armor.  The second number is its chance of damaging cloth armor.  A later paragraph informs us that a creatures fangs which are less than 4 inches long should be treated as a dagger, and there's no way you're going to convince me that that snake's fangs are longer than 4 inches.  A dagger, we discover, has two entries: a lower-powered one for when the attack does normal damage, and a higher-powered one (marked with a dot) for when the attack does double damage.  Since the snake's bite achieved two damage levels, I assume that means it did "double damage" and should use the higher dagger listing, which gives it a 25% chance to damage metal armor and a 45% chance to damage cloth armor.

But what about hide armor?  That's what Grignr is wearing.  Is that cloth?  Another paragraph says that wooden armor is treated like cloth against blades but like metal against blunt force weapons, and that stone armor counts as metal armor, but there's no mention of hide armor.  I am forced to assume that it counts as "cloth."  I mean, people wear clothes, and people wear hides, right?  Good enough.  The fangs have a base 45% chance to damage cloth/hide armor.

We now add the maximum damage the fangs could do in this attack to this 45% chance.  The concor listing shows its fangs as doing 1-2 damage, so since the attack is going to inflict 2 levels of damage, its maximum damage would be 4 points.  That raises the fangs' armor damage chance to 49%.

Oh, wait ... no it doesn't.  Duh.  Grignr's armor doesn't cover the area where she was hit at all.  You don't need to roll for penetration for an attack to an unarmored area, it automatically penetrates.  Never mind.

(As an aside, if her armor had covered her front, the snake would have a 49% chance of doing one (1) armor damage point to her armor.  If this failed, the attack would end right there; if it succeeded, the snake would have a 49% chance of doing one (1) more armor damage point to her armor.  This would continue, one armor damage point at a time, until the snake either missed one of its 49% rolls or did at least the armor's "Damage Ratio" in armor hit points, at which point it would have penetrated.  Grignr's armor has a Damage Ratio of 3, so the snake would have to roll 49 or under on a d100 three times, in a row, in order to penetrate.  Metal armor tends to have a Damage Ratio of 4, which means each blow that hits it has to roll up to four separate times before we know whether it penetrated or not.  As you can imagine, this would get very tedious very fast.  Oh, and the owner of the armor has to keep track of each and every Armor Hit Point it loses from an area, and how many it loses overall, to determine when its protection worsens and when it falls apart.  Realistic?  Maybe.  But not fast.)

Now, at last, I can roll the snake's two d2 worth of damage (the 2 damage levels double the number of dice).  I roll a 2 and a 1, for 3 total damage points.  Oh no!  Grignr only had 2 hit points!  Did this mean she was dead?

No, it meant she has to make a Cling To Life Saving Roll.

Back to the Saving Roll Tables.

A Cling To Life SR depended on whether her negative hit points exceeded her constitution.  She was currently at -1, and her Con was 8, so no, her negative hit points did not exceed her Con.  This made the saving roll easy.  If inflicted by normal weapons, she had to roll a 10 or better, taking her Cling To Life Modifier into account.  (Her Cling To Life Mod was another one of those "functions" I'd calculated on her character sheet; it was handily already written down, and was -1.)  She had to roll an 11 or better to make this save.  I rolled ... a 14!  Huzzah!  She was still clinging to life, although her negative hit points meant she was unconscious.

Well, okay, maybe "huzzah!" was the wrong word to use here.  I was kinda hoping the combat would be over with.  Because now that she was unconscious, I had to contend with that dumb snake's venom.  The Concor's description stated that the first successful Penetration (there's that word again) of its fangs has "venom" from the Poison and Energy Charts.  Sigh ... another Chart.  Fortunately, I'd seen this chart several times while flipping back and forth through Section VII, so I had a good idea of approximately what page it was on.  (Remember, The Spawn of Fashan has no table of contents or index, or even a condensed list of charts.)

According to the "venom" entry in the Poison and Energy Charts, "Target must make a set of SR18s per injection, no matter how many levels of damage the blow had."  What scared me at this point was that I knew exactly what all this meant.  I was to make a set of Saving Rolls, each of which required an 18 or better on a d20, regardless of whether the snake's Attack Number when it hit Grignr was 5 or more better than its Combat Number.  Gah!  Fashan speak!  Anyway, Grignr had to attempt one of these Saving Rolls at the end of each combat round until one of them was successful, and every one that failed would inflict 2d4 damage on her.

I rolled a 17.  A high roll, but still a miss.  The 2d4 came up a paltry 3, meaning that her hit points were now down to -4.  That meant another Cling to Life SR.  This time, since the damage was delivered by something that was not a "normal" weapon, she had to roll a 12 or better (modified by her Cling to Life Mod of -1).  She rolled a 19 and still refused to die.

Next round: I figured the snake would just sit there and wait for its venom to finish her off.  It wouldn't have long to wait.  At the end of the round, I again missed Grignr's 18-or-better saving roll against the venom, so she took another 2d4 damage, and this time the damage came up as a whopping 8 points.  She was now reduced to -12 hit points.  This put her in the "more negative hit points than her constitution" realm, so her next cling to life SR was at -2 times the difference between her negative hit points and her constitution.  (It would've been at -1 times this amount, except that the damage wasn't inflicted by a normal weapon.)  The difference between 12 negative hit points and 8 constitution is 4, so this would be a -8, on top of the base saving roll of 12 and the -1 for her Cling to Life Mod, meaning she'd have to roll a 21 or better on a d20.

Well, it was an open-ended d20 roll, so there was a 2-and-a-half percent chance she'd ... nope.  Rolled a 17.  She didn't make it.  Grignr was finally dead.

Yet even in death, she wasn't gone yet.  The Definition for "Death" says that I get to roll her "healing die" (yet another computed "function" — Grignr's was 1d2), and this was the number of rounds she could still be revived if someone healed her during that time.  No mention was made as to whether she had to be healed back to positive hit points, or whether having any damage healed was enough.  In any event, it didn't matter, because the snake wasn't carrying a snake-bite kit and that meant the combat was finally over and done with.

Character progression

Now, I know what you're thinking.  You're asking yourselves, "Gee, what if Grignr had won the combat?  How many experience points would she get?"

Pfff, you munchkins.

Amazingly, in The Spawn of Fashan, you can get experience points by doing things other than killing.  In fact, you get experience merely by injuring your opponents.  The number of hit points of damage you inflict, times the experience level of a human target or the "lair type" listed for the creature you attacked, plus the Detect Level of the target creature, equals your experience point award.  The concor had 5 hit points, a Lair Type of 2, and a Detect Level of 2, so it would have been worth 5 x 2 + 2 = 12 experience points.

You also, wonder of wonders, get experience points by hauling off treasure.  You get the "value of the coins" you find in experience points, although it's not actually spelled out that this value has to be expressed in Bank Notes.

Finally, you can get experience points by going on a "mission."  There were no rules as to how this should be calculated, but just the ability to gain experience from something other than killing and looting gives The Spawn of Fashan bonus points over AD&D.  Particularly since it came out in 1981.

When you get enough experience points, as you might expect, you gain a level.  There's a complete chart that appears, in all places, under the definition for experience — it takes 1000 to reach second level, 3500 to reach 3rd level, and progressively more thereafter until by 18th level you have to rack up a monumental 1,200,000 x.p. to gain another level.  And, as you might expect, when you gain a level, you gain hit points.

What's truly amazing about this 1981 game system, though, is that gaining a level does not automatically give you such things as increased to-hit chances, increased saving throws, more powerful abilities for your character-type, etc..  Instead, gaining a level gives you a chance to raise your statistics.  It is your statistics — strength, dexterity, reflexes, constitution, courage, senses, etc. — that determine your ability to attack enemies, survive engagements, acquire languages and special abilities, etc..  E.g., your to-hit bonus is based entirely on your dexterity and courage, and does not derive from your level at all.  Your basic saving roll modifier, likewise, derives entirely from your intelligence and courage, not from your level.

Basically, although this is a class/level system, its mechanics are characteristic based rather than experience-level based, and I have to applaud them for that.  It's a concept we Champions/HERO System players are well familiar with, but which was virtually unknown by most AD&D-like role-playing games 20 years ago.

But this hardly makes up for the mire one has to waddle through just to be able to roll up a character and engage in basic combat.  The idea of running this game long-term, especially without any real "world" modules, makes climbing Mount Everest seem like trivial Sunday-afternoon recreation for a pampered Hollywood starlet in comparison.

Parting jabs

The original review of this game for Dragon in 1982 stressed the humor value to be found within its covers.  The fact that the designers were serious about such an ill-written game only makes it all the more hysterical.  There are real jokes hidden throughout the text too, such as the highly tongue-in-cheek transcript of an allegedly real game set in Boosboodle in Section VIII, and the pun in the name "healing die," but most of the humor here is unintentional.  Like this little ironically-placed piece of "hanging italics" in the dedication on the very last page:

"to Mr. Jim Watson and the rest of the Yukon Review staff, who allowed me to use their materials to do the typesetting of this rulebook"

Learning the actual game should only be attempted if you're out to prove how tough you are.  The reprints may still be available from the author, Kirby Lee Davis, whose last contact email address was at .

And always remember the last words in the rulebook:

How many Boosboodles are there in your life?

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