One of the things that really drew me to the Dragon Age RPG when Green Ronin published it was that it was created and sold as an introductory roleplaying game product, meaning that the box for Set 1 was supposed to be something you could give someone who’s never played a tabletop RPG and they’d be able to use that to learn and start gaming. After being a roleplaying gamer for over 25 years I hardly qualify as a newbie, but as someone who got initiated into this wonderful world via another box set oh-so-many years ago, I wanted to see if this new set could serve as the gateway for a new generation of potential gamers in my family. I say all this simply to underscore one important point: I got the Dragon Age RPG solely on the basis of it as a tabletop roleplaying game product, period.

Now, the title of this post is obviously facetious, as I know full well that Dragon Age is tied to a very successful video game. Thing is, I’ve never played the video game. Ever. The most contact I’ve had with it was watching a couple of the origin cinematics at a friend’s house while we waited for the other players to arrive for our Dragon Age RPG session that night. I had to ask on Twitter who was that woman you can see on the top-right corner of the box artwork (right) because I kept seeing her over and over in promotional art for the game. And the guy in the promotional art for the upcoming Dragon Age II? No idea either.

Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter.

Now, I’m not saying that having knowledge of the property via the video game isn’t important; I’m saying that if you don’t have it, it doesn’t matter. Most of my friends have played the Dragon Age Origins video game and loved it, using that knowledge and love of the game and setting as their gateway into the roleplaying game. But I wasn’t like that. My first exposure to Thedas and the greater Dragon Age intellectual property came when I opened the Player’s Guide that came in my Dragon Age RPG box set and got to Chapter One: Welcome to Ferelden. And you know what? It was good enough to get me going.

I have mentioned to many that the Dragon Age boxed set reminds me a lot of the Basic Dungeons & Dragons red boxed set from the 80s, and this is one of the reasons why: there isn’t a lot of fluff about the Dragon Age world in the box, admittedly, but there is enough to paint a fairly decent picture of the land, the people, and past and ongoing conflicts, so that by the time I finished reading, I knew just enough about Thedas to make a character that fit neatly enough into it, and know the sources of conflict that I would hit hard whenever I run the game for others. I don’t know the details of the world by any stretch of the imagination, but I know enough to grab Thedas and make it my own.

Previous Dragon Age players familiar with the world via the video game will likely feel underwhelmed by the amount of fluff offered in the boxed set, but the truth is that this is an unfair expectation. Considering the target audience for this set, it isn’t realistic to present a huge info-dump about Thedas and expect a newbie player/GM to play the game. People who want to dig deeper into the setting need only run a Google search to find the Dragon Age Wiki and have tons of setting info at their hands. But for those, like me, who don’t feel the need to do so, there is enough exposition about Ferelden and its immediate environs to get games going.

So to those coming into the Dragon Age RPG without previous knowledge of the video game, to you I say don’t worry. You don’t need to know all that in order to enjoy this game. The boxed set gives you enough of an introduction to the Dragon Age world to launch your own adventures. From there you are free to gather more setting info from online sources to model your world closer to that of the video game, or you can strike out on your own and make Thedas your own playground, borrowing from all available sources as needed or desired, but bound to no one.

Either way, strike out into Thedas and get adventuring.

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