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Dragon Hack: High Fantasy Adventures for AGE

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Ready for some over the top, high-fantasy adventure? Thanks to an earlier post here by Daniel Perez, some of you know that I’ve been building a sort of Pathfinder conversion for the Dragon Age game over on my own blog at joshjarman.net. I say Pathfinder because that seems to be the most popular fantasy game available right now that’s built on the old d20 System Reference Document engine. But the point of my little side project is really only to port the race and class paradigm most gamers are familiar with from that and similar games over to the Dragon Age system, resulting in a project I called Dragon Hack. Whether I call it a Pathfinder, 3.5 conversion, or something else entirely, isn’t important. What is important is it gives players who are hesitant to play a game without a variety of customizable race and class choices an option to do so while playing the AGE system by Green Ronin.

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Racial Talents: The Myrwinn and The Viragoi

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Last time we looked at the concept of Racial Talents. Now let’s see them in action with these two new backgrounds from my home campaign, the Myrwinn Woodsrunner and the Viragoi Freebooter.

Myrwinn Woodsrunner

A proud people, the Myrwinn of the Great Uncharted Forest are a transplant from the forests of Tanat far to the south. They have taken a liking to their new home, and the forest seems to have accepted them, allowing the Woodsrunners to find their way home each night from the hunt.

Myrwinn are smaller than the other people of Ryllia, and their light frames are dexterous and capable. They wear little in the way of clothing, simple harnesses which don’t interfere with their gliding flaps being the most common. Even though they look a little like mice, few would doubt the resolve of the Myrwinn in times of trouble.

Playing a Myrwinn Woodsrunner

If you choose to play a Myrwinn Woodsrunner, modify your character as follows:

  • Add 1 to your Dexterity ability.  Myrwinn are coordinated and have great reflexes.
  • Pick one of the following ability focuses: Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Strength (Jumping).
  • You can speak and read the Trade Tongue and Myr.
  • You gain the Gliding (Novice) Talent.
  • Your speed is equal to 8 + Dexterity – Armor Penalty (if applicable).
  • You are slightly more fragile than other races, whenever you are struck by the Mighty Blow or Lethal Blow stunts, take 2 additional damage.
  • Choose a class. You can play either a warrior or a rogue.

Roll twice on the following table for additional benefits.  Roll 2d6 and add the results together.  If you get the same result twice, re-roll until you get something different.

MYRWINN WOODSRUNNER

2d6 ROLL

BENEFIT

2

+1 DEXTERITY

3-4

FOCUS: PERCEPTION (HEARING)

5

FOCUS: CUNNING (NATURAL LORE)

6

FOCUS: WILLPOWER (COURAGE)

7-8

+1 WILLPOWER

9

FOCUS: DEXTERITY (STEALTH)

10-11

FOCUS: STRENGTH (CLIMBING)

12

+1 PERCEPTION

Racial Talent: Gliding

Novice: You have gliding flaps that make you capable of holding yourself aloft and making you a fearless leaper. Gain a +1 to all jumping tests and as long as you are awake and aware you do not take any damage from falling, no matter the distance. At this level, you can’t truly glide and gain no forward motion as part of your gliding down from heights.

Journeyman: Now that you have truly learned to use your flaps, you can glide in a flying-like manner when leaping from a height. You must always descend to use gliding, and you cannot gain altitude but you can move forward at twice your normal speed with a move action when gliding with a single Move Action. You may do this twice in a turn so as to move four times your normal speed in a turn. At the end of this glide though, you must land. The GM may call for Dexterity (Gliding) tests if you wish to make any maneuvers as part of the glide.

Master: You are a very skillful glider and you may not only glide as above, but you gain access to two new options:

  • When gliding, you may make a Dexterity (Gliding) test, TN15, to remain aloft for an additional turn by using air currents to control your “flight.”
  • You may make a Charge attack while gliding and add +2 to your damage for the maneuver.  After the charge you must land next to the target you charged.

Special: When gliding you cannot use your hands very effectively, only being able to hold small items – and certainly not two-handed weapons. If you are carrying enough weight that your GM feels it necessary, the GM can call for a Dexterity (Gliding) test when you wish to use the ability. Also, Gliding is going to be something you need to discuss with your GM, explain the way you see it and listen to your GM discussing how he or she sees it working in play so that everyone’s expectations can be accounted for.

Viragoi Freebooter

Long ago, before the coming of the Shen, before the conquests of Axion, before even the rise of the Phareen, the Viragoi had a proud empire. Spanning the southern continents, the Viragoi ruled the waves, explorers and conquerors. In those days, their empire made war on the Serpent Kings and fought the Ancient Ones wherever their paths crossed.

But time is cruel, and with time all these ancient empires crumbled. Today, the Viragoi have retreated to the last island of their once mighty empire – and from here they engage in piracy and looting, a danger to all ships that might enter their waters.

Playing a Viragoi Freebooter

If you choose to play a Viragoi Freebooter, modify your character as follows:

  • Add 1 to your Dexterity ability.  Viragoi are highly coordinated and graceful.
  • Pick one of the following ability focuses: Dexterity (Acrobatics) or Cunning (Seamanship).
  • You can speak and read the Trade Tongue and either Khem or Greci.
  • You gain the Four Armed (Novice) Talent.
  • Choose a class. You can play either a warrior or a rogue.

Roll twice on the following table for additional benefits.  Roll 2d6 and add the results together.  If you get the same result twice, re-roll until you get something different.

VIRAGOI FREEBOOTER

2d6 ROLL

BENEFIT

2

+1 STRENGTH

3-4

FOCUS: STRENGTH (CLIMBING)

5

FOCUS: CUNNING (NAVIGATION)

6

FOCUS: STRENGTH (MIGHT)

7-8

+1 CUNNING

9

FOCUS: DEXTERITY (BRAWLING)

10-11

FOCUS: CONSTITUTION (SWIMMING)

12

+1 PERCEPTION

Racial Talent: Four Armed

Novice: Because of your four arms, you are a much better climber and a have a very sure grip. You get a +1 to all climbing tests and a +1 to the result of the dragon die for extended climbing tests. You also gain a +1 to all tests to grapple an opponent and to hold a grappled opponent.

Journeyman: You are skilled at using your extra arms in combat. You may use the Lightning Attack stunt for one less SP than normal. If you have multiple talents which reduce this cost they stack. This attack must come from a weapon in your second set of hands.

Master: You have mastered the coordination and skill of your four arms.  Your bonuses from your Novice talent all increase to +2.  In combat, opponents no longer gain any bonus for ganging up on you, and as long as you are armed with weapons in both sets of hands you gain a +1 bonus to Defense.

Special: Even though you have two sets of arms, both sets occupy very close space. You cannot wield weapons in both sets of hands effectively along with a shield. If you use a shield of any sort, you cannot benefit from your second weapon set. This does not include the buckler from the Dueling group. You also may not wield two weapons that require the use of two hands simultaneously. You can however, use a two-handed weapon in one set of hands and one-handed weapons in the other set. You may not use two bows but you could have two crossbows if you want. This would allow you to have one loaded to use with the Lightning Attack stunt without the need to reload (until you’d fired them both).

Racial Talents for AGE

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Recently, Green Ronin published the second boxed set for the Dragon Age RPG.  Since much of this material had been available for use previously in the form of a playtest document, the first thing I did was look through the new set for changes.In the playtest, the new Dwarf backgrounds were given the novice level of a talent called Magic Resistance, with the option to purchase further levels of the talent as they advanced.  This talent was only available to characters who had it from their background – thus giving an example of a talent tied to being a Dwarf – or what I started calling a Racial Talent.  In the final version of the book, Green Ronin eliminated the racial talent, replacing it with a static modifier.  While the final decision may have been a “better” ability, I think the design team overlooked the value of the design space offered by racial talents.

Racial Talents grant a designer a means to offer a small but mechanically interesting ability to a particular background.  So being a Dwarf means that you get a little bit of Magic Resistance, being a Viragoi means that you are born with four arms, or perhaps you are a Myrwinn and you have gliding flaps. (What’s a Viragoi and a Myrwinn? Keep reading)  Each of these examples offers something to that PC just for choosing that background, but at the Novice level, the advantage is not overly powerful.  A PC who wishes to spend their talent choices as they level can gain further levels of their racial talent in lieu of other choices and make themselves more of a paragon of their race.

[Beyond Dragon Age] Jotunheim Frost Giant

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Following the theme of the movie Thor, it occurred to me that the best thing to fight using the stunt and weapon from the previous post would be a frost giant from Jotunheim. The frost giants in the movie were nasty, with self-generating ice weapons, unstoppable resilience and bad attitude. And now, you too can go and thwart their evil machinations!

Frost Giant

From the icy wastes of Jotunheim, the frost giants burst forth to spread icy death upon the Nine Realms. Their massive forms coupled with their ice magic make them formidable opponents for Asgardians, let alone for mortals. Wielding weapons made of ice, they are unstoppable in their rage and continually seek to dominate the universe.

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[Beyond Dragon Age] Hammer of Thunder

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I saw Thor this weekend, and though I have a few nitpicks, overall I liked it. I mean, I got exactly what I went in expecting to see: the god of thunder being boisterous and arrogant, hammering his way through problems and letting fly mighty Mjolnir all around. All that plus frost giants, Asgardian deities and Hawkeye? Yeah, I can forgive the rest.

Naturally, as I watched the movie, I thought about how some of those elements could be brought into a game. d20 and all its derivatives, from 4e to Pathfinder, have tons of published and fan material out there to emulate a lot of what the movie showed, but given the newness of Dragon Age/AGE we still have the opportunity to create new stuff. And in keeping with the simple and elegant design stylistics of AGE, rather than create complicated and exhaustive designs, I’m choosing to highlight only two elements here. Perhaps you will create some other elements and share them as well.

Note:There are minor movie spoilers ahead. Nothing major, just some cool scenes, but be warned.

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Improvised Magic in Dragon Age/AGE System

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In many games with magical power, it isn’t that mages codify the supernatural so much as they enforce their will on the world and the supernatural provides the effect. As they practice, they become able to generate the same or similar effects over and over, so often that they “learn” a spell. Still, sometimes in a game with a limited number of known spells you yearn to have the ability to improvise something off the cuff, even if you know it won’t be as easy as casting a spell you already know.

So, I present the following thoughts for the generic AGE system. I am not sure whether this fits Dragon Age specifically, but I don’t think it matters for canon. If it works for your table, use it, or modify it. These ideas were inspired by Shadowrun and the discontinued Dragonlance Fifth Age game.

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Dragon Age RPG on Canon Puncture Podcast

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Canon Puncture is one of my favorite gaming podcasts, both because Rich Rogers is a good friend and because he covers topics that align very well with my own gaming interests. Rich is an excellent interviewer and knows how to tease out a topic enough to look at it from various angles while keeping it interesting. Mixed in with the regular conversational episodes is a series called Game Advocates, where fans of a particular game (never the designer or an employee of the publishing company) go on the show to tell the audience why a particular game is awesome and everyone should try it.

In Episode 112, I went on the show to advocate for the Dragon Age RPG. Rich and I recorded that episode back in March, so the information about Set 2 not being available is obviously outdated. Rich did a good job of asking important questions about the game, why is it cool in its own right and how does it compare to other fantasy games, and I hope that it will get other gamers to give Dragon Age a try in the near future.

You can listen to Canon Puncture 112: Game Advocates – Dragon Age RPG at the website or download as an mp3 or via iTunes.

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