I’ve been hesitant to put down a session report for Fantasy Quest so far, because I’ve been tweaking and tinkering and concentrating on the mechanics a lot as we go, which may have read as quite dry and unfocussed.  And the last thing I want is for people to find the game uninteresting!  But there has been quite some demand for more info and development time scales and such, so I hope the following is of interest to a few of you.  We played another two player competitive game of Fantasy Quest last night.  With a few interruptions it took about two hours, which is perhaps going a little long – but we were playing the full length game with Sagas and an Ancient adversary.

I randomly drew a Werewolf Male Hero, Assassin class.  Assassins are great at Sneaking and Hiding and get an extra bonus die whenever you make a Surprise Attack.  For my starting Skill I took Foraging, which allows you to heal 1 Wound if you end your turn in a Forest.  Initially this Skill would prove not very useful, but towards the endgame where every location becomes dangerous and falls into Gloom, it became nothing less than essential to counteract the effects of the Gloom.  The purpose of my Hero’s Saga was to ‘Take the Fortress’!  If I was able to infiltrate and overcome this Fortress I would be able to claim the powerful ‘Stronghold’ Totem as my own.  The Stronghold contains three Items which you can immediately put into play, and like all Totems it boosts your Hero’s Hit Points by 4, giving you double the number of Actions you can use in a turn.  And you will really need these extra Actions and Hit Points by the end game, believe me.
Mmzomba drew an Orc Female Hero (which he nicknamed Princess Fiona due to the uncanny resemblance), Knight class.  Knights are honourable folk who foster their reputation based on the number of demons and undead they vanquish, gaining an extra Gold for each of these Enemies that they destroy.  His starting Skill was Swift, giving him an extra Move Action every turn, which meant his courageous Knight was nipping around the Map more nimbly than my sneaky Assassin.  His Saga was to Steal the ancient artefact: The Sceptre of Power, which is, well, a powerful sceptre really. 
For my starting Reward I drew a Minstrel, who likes to sing and dance around the Verdant Fields, which gave me my first direction to head towards to go and enlist her.  Meanwhile the Orcish Knight went out hunting for a cult who might lend her mastery of the Dark Arts.  Not a very noble or Knightly endeavour, but one that would net Mmzmoba a vital keyword for his Saga.  As we explored the map numerous Strangers revealed themselves and the Night deck threw out Enemies here and there, with Orcs and Demons arising from the darkest corners of the world.  The Weather changed frequently, with Storms (Strangers closing shop) turning into Rain (limited Movement), turning into Warm Sunshine (bonus Actions for Heroes).
Each Hero’s Saga requires eight Keywords to complete, and (currently) two of these are always more difficult, more specific Keywords to find.  For example, a line from my ‘Take Fortress’ Saga reads: “To DESTROY the outpost you must determine the nature of the ENEMY concealed within…”  Now, ENEMIES are fairly plentiful, and you shouldn’t have too much trouble tracking down one that you can take on.  But to learn how to DESTROY something you must successfully complete a Quest with the same keyword.  Luckily for me the DESTROY DONJON quest showed up very early on.  Unluckily for me, it is a Quest which requires intensive STUDY to complete.  My Werewolf was a Sneaky blighter, but not the brainiest Hero alive.  This meant that whilst my Knightly opponent was wandering the world slaying and plundering I spent my time on working out my Quest, and even had to throw down a few precious FATE points (which you can never replenish) to positively influence the outcome of my efforts.
Ultimately this tactic paid off – I destroyed the nasty Donjon and claimed my prized keyword.  My next tricky keyword was STEED.  But I was quietly confident about this one because as soon as I had amassed some wealth I could simply purchase either the Horse or the Camel Steed cards from the Market back at Sprawl City.
GAME NOTE – Amend Fantasy Quest rulebook to include suggestion of using ‘pen and paper’!  It’s much easier to write down your Keywords and tick them off as you go to keep track of where you’re up to.  This may be considered ‘hidden information’ in future games but for the time being we shared the same pen and treated it as bragging rights whenever we got a keyword we needed.
The Orcish Knight meanwhile had claimed a formidable Spell (the dreaded Battle Elemental) during his Questing and had stockpiled a respectable hoard of Gold too.  This was partly due to Mmzomba’s worthy desire to see if Gold was really all it was cracked up to be.  Feeling confident, and with a Battle Elemental in tow, the Knight raided the Dark Mire where Demons were feasting upon the land and its residents.  A hectic battle ensued and with a blurted incantation the Knight summoned his Battle Elemental into being.  Boosting his Fight with a whopping eight extra bonus dice Mmzomba took seemingly all the dice we had into hand and rolled.  It was awful!  We picked out maybe two hits from the carnage and then the Demons fought back.  Wounded and downbeat with her elemental vanishing from this plane of existence, the Orcish Knight finally managed to win and claim her reward…  Only to realise that Gloom had taken the Mire, and she was no longer strong enough to leave.  With just one Hit Point left the Gloom took its toll and the Orc Knight was defeated.  Discarding a card was bad enough but Mmzomba was gutted when he realised he’d have to discard twelve Gold (a record amount so far for both of us) before heading back to Sprawl to recover!
This gave me the opportunity I needed to catch up and I began to make good use of the Werewolf’s ‘Wolf Form’ ability.  This allows you to get about the Map more quickly but prevents you from shopping, chatting to Strangers or going shopping.  Before long I had accumulated a modest amount of Gold and turned home towards the Sprawl to go and collect my Steed.  Then disaster struck!  The Night brought us a Tribal Tithe: the good people of Sprawl City had to make a donation to the Barbarian tribes in order to keep the peace so two market items were drawn randomly to be discarded from the game.  I kid you not, Mmzomba gleefully drew the Camel and – you guessed it – the Horse.  Through my tears I could see him laughing at me as I watched them go.
My only hope now was to explore Places every turn to try and earn a Title.  Steeds are a form of Title and Places (which reward you with Titles) can most commonly be found in Forests.  This meant I finally began to explore the Forests I had shied away from for most of the game.  Though most of the Forests were now deadly and Gloomy, I foraged for Herbs to keep myself alive in the growing darkness.  As my Assassin hunted for a fabled Steed, the Knight ransacked the Plains looking for a Villain (a type of Stranger – Strangers being most common to the Plains locations) essential to beating her own Saga.
All the while the Days turned into Nights and time ticked on.  The Orc garnered more wealth again and this time was clever enough to spend it on a Gilded Sword and also to enlist a Corsair from the Sprawl.  I despaired as Mmzomba cheerfully ticked off another two keywords and passed me the first player token.

At this point the city of Sprawl was now besieged by the forces of evil.  We both continued to explore and collected a number of allies and spells and keywords and some extra cards to boot.
GAME NOTE – We’ve learned that it’s always worth keeping back a ’spare’ card in hand which you don’t necessarily need for your Saga, so if you get knocked out you don’t have to discard an essential keyword card.  Though it’s not always easy to decide which card can be considered ‘spare’…
Eventually, after exploring the Blessed Shrine I chanced upon a fine Horse and with joy proclaimed it as my own.  On the same turn I discovered a Villainous Gypsy, which I would have liked to Influence or Fight, just to prevent Mmzomba from obtaining his final keyword.  But with just three days to go before game’s end I didn’t have the time or resources to deal with her.
On my newfound Steed I raced to the towering peaks of Spire Tor and finally Took the Fortress which was my destiny, claiming the Stronghold and its treasures as I did so.
As word of this legend spread through the land, the Ancient finally revealed itself to be the Doom Lord, arising from the Badlands, coincidentally near Spire Tor.  Transforming into Wolfen shape and utilising the extra Hit Points from my Totem I rushed to engage the Doom Lord in combat.
The Orcish Knight deployed her newfound Boots of Speed and raced through the land – which was by now almost completely beset by Gloom – over to the Gypsy to try and defeat her and Steal the Sceptre of Power.
The Doom Lord was understandably unhappy about my assault on his keep.  My initial Surprise Attack paid off, but after recovering he smote my assassin and knocked him all the way back to Sprawl City.
The Orc reach the Gypsy Villain and tried to persuade her to part with the Sceptre of Power.
The Final Day dawned.  With the game finishing at the end of this turn, I raced forth from the Sprawl once again and again Surprise Attacked the wounded Doom Lord.
As the Orcish Knight brought negotiations with the Villainous Gypsy to an end by drawing her sword, the Werewolf Assassin – in wolf form – bared his teeth and leapt onto the throat of the Doom Lord, ripping his head from his shoulders.  The land was freed the Ancient’s tyranny and the game was mine!
GAME NOTE – Totems are worth 20 Victory Points, which means successfully completing one will almost certainly net you the win if playing just for VPs/Sagas.  Since we were also playing to defeat the Ancient, this was another factor to take into consideration.  Excluding my Totem however, and going on VPs alone, it’s worth noting that Mmzomba actually beat me by two points.  It has to be said, in terms of closeness and balance in Fantasy Quest, I found this game to be extremely encouraging.  Hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it!