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It’s All In The Presentation

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“We haven’t seen a Dungeon yet, all we’re doing is talking to people, bringing down corrupt political figures, and killing monsters out in the wilderness.  This is really different.”

My D&D 4e campaign consisted of my homebrew storyline, which was the backdrop for the published adventures I hacked a bit to fit my storyline. By the published adventures, I mean the ones that were the first set of modules put out for 4e by Wizards of the Coast.  Now, let me say, I enjoyed running those modules.  Sure, some people had massive problems with Keep on the Shadowfell for example, but I found it as a nice way to get into 4e, for both DM’s and PC’s.  I had no big issues with it.  Sure, they were combat focused with some roleplaying sprinkled in, but we had a good time with them.  The Dungeon Delve book also served a part in my campaign, as a source of ready-made encounters I could re-skin and shoehorn into my game as well.

All was fine and dandy, until we hit Paragon, as character options got too unwieldy for my players, combats took forever, and the game ended… If you read my blog (NewbieDM.com) regularly you know the story… So now here we are with Dragon Age.

Dragon Age has a completely different published adventure philosophy than 4e has, or at least had upon its release (the later 4e adventures written by Logan Bonner are pretty good).  Right now there are only 5 published adventures (officially) available for the Dragon Age game: one comes included in the boxed set as an introductory adventure (“The Dalish Curse”), another comes in the GM Screen (“A Bann Too Many”), and three come in an adventure supplement called “Blood in Ferelden”.  Since the boxed set only covers levels 1-5, all these are low-level adventures meant to give you a clue as to how adventures for Dragon Age should be presented and run.  I’ve already run the one in the GM Screen, and the first one in Blood in Ferelden, “Amber Rage”.

Warning, there are spoilers ahead.

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Fire and Forget: Vancian Magic for Dragon Age

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I was struck by a thought as I was driving home last night (no one was hurt and I was able to maintain control of my vehicle). I was thinking about the AGE system used in the Dragon Age Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game and how it felt like an Old School game. While I haven’t played it yet, what I’ve read so far suggests this to be true, except for one thing: spell casting.

DARPG uses a mana point (MP) system for casting spells. Mages have an allotment of MPs to spend on the casting of each spell. This is a dynamic and free-form system that plays very much like a video game: pick a spell and spend your MPs, keep casting until you run out of MPs, rest to recover MPs, repeat. I’ve watched my son do this when he plays a spell-casting character in World of Warcraft.

But it doesn’t feel Old School enough for me. I come from the “fire and forget” school of D&D and think that is a perfectly natural way for magic to work, especially if you’ve read Jack Vance’s Dying Earth series. So, I began a little thought experiment as I drove: could you use the AGE system to mimic the F&F approach to magic.

My first thought was to have the mage characters spend their MPs each day “memorizing” spells. I think the number of MPs might need to change a little bit and stress from armor also has to be taken into account. I haven’t been able to allot much time to this thought exercise so here is my first pass.

Please leave any and all feedback in the comments. Based on it, a revision could be issued down the line.

Vancian Magic for Dragon Age & AGE System

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Wrangler of Dragons: An Interview with Jeff Tidball

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Jeff Tidball is a gaming industry veteran with enough credits to his name to fill up the ending of a movie. One of his most recent titles is Lead Developer for the Dragon Age RPG published by Green Ronin. But, what exactly does that mean? Curious about finding out the answer to that question, and frankly, reveling in any excuse to chat with someone with as much experience in our hobby as Jeff, I fired off a few questions his way.

Not only did Jeff take the time to answer them, he then invited me to barrage him with some follow-up questions as well. The end result is a fantastic interview that sheds some light into the behind-the-scenes process of producing the Dragon Age RPG line by the man who can rightly be called the Wrangler of Dragons.

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Dragon Age Two-Punch: RPG Set 2 News & Dragon Age: Redemption Trailer

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Dragon Age gets in a nice one-two punch combination with these two stories, sure to get all fans excited.

Dragon Age RPG: Set 2

Green Ronin has finally released information about Set 2 for the Dragon Age Roleplaying Game. Though a release date is still not listed, there is already a product page on the Green Ronin Online Catalog/Web Store which reveals a few nice tidbits.

Update, Feb 25: As reported at ICv2, Dragon Age RPG: Set 2 has been set to release in May, 2011.

First of all, we finally get to see the fantastic cover for Set 2 (right): a female warrior (Grey Warden, possibly?) possessed of mighty rage (and perhaps some magical power?) delivers impaling justice to an ogre. Violent, and to the point of what Set 2 is all about: getting you to a level of experience where you can start tackling the darkspawn head on, perhaps even as a Grey Warden yourself.

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[Beyond Dragon Age] The Tower of Druaga: Backgrounds

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Beyond Dragon Age is a series exploring using the AGE System for anything other than the Dragon Age RPG, whether it is differing styles of fantasy, or other genres altogether.


In my last post I waxed poetic about backgrounds and what they can represent in your game beyond race/culture specifications, using my Tower of Druaga game as the example. Now it’s time to show you the finished product.

The basic backgrounds I came up for Tower of Druaga are Adventurer, Fated, Looter, Noble and Veteran. These five account for the vast majority of the main characters in the show (in fact, there are only two characters that don’t fit these backgrounds and I suspect they are special cases anyway, so I’ll cover those later on).

You will find the write-ups below or in my Tower of Druaga campaign at Obsidian Portal. Enjoy and let me know what you think.

Backgrounds

Adventurers gather in Meskia for fame and fortune, hailing from from all walks of life and all lands near and far. More than a place of origin, however, backgrounds represent the various kinds of people that decide to brave the mythical, demon-guarded tower.

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[Adventure] The Oleander Maw

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While whiling away near Redcliffe, the adventurers meet a city elf who calls on their help to solve a mystery. His master, the Mayor of the small town of Terin, has disappeared and a strange and dark presence now hangs over his town. With a prominent wedding soon to happen, can the adventurers figure out the mystery of Terin and of the small, wooden box adorned with carved oleanders?

The Oleander Maw is a Dragon Age RPG introductory adventure for four to five characters of levels 1-2. It features a mix of exploration, roleplaying and combat encounters including fights against bandits, a ghostly farmhouse, a crafty escape from jail and a confrontation against a supernatural entity that preys on deep mortal desires.

Written by: John M. Shade
Additional Material by: Daniel M. Perez

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The Fourth Class: However…

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In my last post, I discussed a possible fourth class for a generic fantasy AGE System. This came from one of Chris Pramas’ conversations with his Twitter followers, where he said that one of the reasons why he may consider a fourth class is the majority of gaming groups have four players and this should make it easier for these groups to just pick one character from each of the four classes and go. Putting aside the question of the size of the average gaming group, there were some interesting comments brought up in that Twitter discussion about what class that should be. I weighed in, arguing that what was missing in for a generic fantasy AGE-based game was a true ranged weapons archetype. If I want to play Dude With A Bow And Arrow, the Rogue class says it’s the one to go with (heck, even the image of the Rogue is the Dude), but to actually aspire to Legolasian heights, initially Warrior sounds better.

However, I think there is a better – and easier – way to achieve this character idea instead of creating a whole new class. Indeed, there is a simple way to get in both that Priest class and live up to the description of the Rogue as the one that’s supposed to be the archer: each class has paths.

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