From publisher blurb:
Heroines of the First Age is a tabletop role-playing game about larger-than-life monsters and the dawn of civilization. HFA is the intersection between monstergirls, RPGs, and myth & legend.
HFA is the kind of game where the GM and the players collaboratively construct the specifics of the game setting at the start of play. This is detailed at the very beginning, in the Genesis chapter. Of course, the group can also decide to let the GM handle creating the game, or you can use a pregenerated setting, which we hope to produce in our Stretch Goals.
First, the group decides what the relationship between humans and demi-humans is, what the technology level is, and how magic works.
The group then goes on to describe what Power Pools are in play in their world. Power Pools are the metaphysical phenomenon that dictate the way the world works, what magic looks like, and what powers the gods might wield. But beware, Power Pools are far beyond the control of mortals; they are as treacherous as they are powerful. A number of Power Pools are provided for you to pick from, ranging from The Ink to the Everblood to the Restless Depths and the Screaming Sky.
Then the group has the opportunity to select a few gods or famous persons to populate the world with. Several names and titles are provided for inspiration, but it's up to the group to decide what they mean and where they fit in their world.
Next, the group works out a rough outline of the map, what cultures and regions exist. Regions are given descriptors and environments, and culture are described with dogmas, creation myths, and prophecies.
After the world itself is made, players create their characters. Players use a table of attributes and descriptors to create Features such as Aquatic Body, Long Ceramic Antennae, or Metal Horns. There are also some "established races" which describe the features of certain famous types of monsters. As the players make their characters, the GM asks them questions about how they fit in the world, and uses that to establish further detail in the group's lore.
Heroines of the First Age is Powered by the Apocalypse, which means it draws its mechanics and game design philosophy from the great Apocalypse World by Lumpley Games.
HFA divides the game rules between the players and the GM. The players do all the dice rolling, and the GM elaborates, narrates, and opposes the players' actions. There are no turns in HFA, instead, the entire game progresses as a conversation, where each player's action have consequences. When the player makes a mistake, the GM complicates the situation, then asks what the players do.
Most of the mechanics in HFA revolve around the things that the players can do. These are called Moves, and they're usually self-contained actions that include a condition and three outcomes: Success, Tie, and Failure. Successes give the player what they want, possibly with a bonus. Ties give the player something useful, but not as good as a Success, and Failures sometimes give the player something, but always call for "Fate to Intervene," which means that the GM makes one of their own Moves.
Player moves are separated into several groups. Basic Moves are things that anyone can do. Battle Moves revolve around physical and magical combat on a personal scale. War Moves allow players to control military units or their own characters on the battlefield. Social Moves allow characters special interactions with each other and NPCs.
Archetype Moves belong to one of several Archetypes:
Special Power Moves represent the natural abilities of a particular monster-character/race. They include things like Biteshake, Poison, Transformation, and Evil Eye.
And then there are Tragic Flaws. Every character has a Tragic Flaw, and these moves allow players to either suppress or succumb to their flaw. Flaws are core to how characters in HFA get experience.
GM moves work differently than player moves. The GM's moves don't require dice rolls. Instead, they give the GM options for complicating the situation, raising the stakes, or intensifying the action.
As the players gain experience, they can use it to pay for upgrading their stats, buying new moves, increasing their wounds or willpower, or changing their Tragic Flaw.