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Rethinking Specializations: The Stance Warrior in Dragon Age/AGE

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Iconic Warrior

A while ago I posted some thoughts over on my personal website on the idea of warrior stances as an alternative to specializations. I asked Daniel if I could revisit the subject here, with a little more attention paid to the balance between these homebrew elements and the tools that already exist in the game.

Stances for Dragon Age are not a new idea. Since Set 1, we’ve had the stunt Defensive Stance, which implies a martial readiness used to ward off follow-up attacks to the character’s actions. Other Dragon Age fans have taken the idea of stances farther by adding a bevy of stances that confer static bonuses on the character. But my goal was to devise a system that gave players another option to choose from during levels 6, 8, and 10 when the only class powers they receive are the advancements in their specialization talent. With only two boxed sets in print, each class only has three specializations to choose from at present, none of which may conform to a player’s chosen character concept.

The stances system presents five warrior stances of roughly equal power, allowing the character to pick and choose between them as the situation demands. From the five available, warrior characters pick the one they want to learn at 6th level instead of choosing an available specialization. Unlike a specialization talent, the chosen stance does not grow in power as the warrior gains in levels. Instead, the warrior perfects new combat maneuvers, gaining the use of a second choice of stance from those provided at 8th level, and adding a third stance to his or her repertoire at 10th level.

An obvious benefit of the stance system of warrior specialization is that players can change stances during a fight, allowing them to use the bonuses and abilities granted by a particular stance to meet the present challenge. A warrior must spend an activation action to enter or change stances, and can leave a stance as a free action.

The warrior can never gain more than three stances, but with the game master’s permission could retrain, or replace an existing stance with a different one. Warriors can only choose to retrain stances when they reach a new level. This last rule will have to be revisited after we see what’s in store for level advancement in box set 3.

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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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