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Cards, Cards, and More Cards

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Greetings from a new fan of the Dragon Age RPG! I’m Icharbezol, or Ed for short.

In this post I’ll be presenting to the community some gaming aids I have created for my upcoming campaign. Inspired by Green Ronin’s Combat Cards and Quick Reference Sheets,  and ingrained habits from thirty plus years of gaming, I’ve gone back in my time machine to a day when I tracked almost every detail about my campaigns on index cards.

Each of these items is based upon a 3×5 index card template created in Microsoft Word, with three cards to a page. Each has a front, to be filled out by player or GM, detailing the specific subject matter of the card. Each also has a back, with a Dragon Age image and the stamp of whatever sort of specific item or event the card is meant to track. Printed on card stock and kept in a meticulously organized recipe box, I’m certain they will help me get everything organized for the reign of terror I intend to inflict upon my hapless gaming group. I’m only too happy to share with others, in the hopes that these cards can assist you, the reader, in beginning (or continuing, or surviving) your own campaign of shock and awe.

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A Review of the Dragon Age Forge

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The other day I sat down to think about how I could contribute to the Dragon Age community. My first thought was regarding a form-fillable character sheet for easy tracking, updating and printing of PCs for the game. Before beginning such an endeavor I thought it wise to check out the Dragon Age forums to see if someone had already started such a project. Lo and behold, someone already beat me to the punch and did me one better at that.

Forum poster Sync, from Melbourne, Australia, had started a thread regarding building an Excel spreadsheet character generator similar to the Heroforge project for D&D. This sounded really exciting. I’m a fan of the Heroforge sheets for 3.5 and found them a great help in keeping things up-to-date on my characters. Even thought the forum thread was from a couple of months ago, Sync had updated the first post with a link to the completed version for download. So I downloaded version 1.01 (apparently it had already gone through one revision) and started playing.

Download:

Dragon Age Forge (ZIP; .6 MB) External Link

This file is an Excel spreadsheet of the 97-2003 variety. You will need Microsoft Excel to make use of this spreadsheet. I have not tried to upload it to Google Docs nor open it in OpenOffice (both freely available software) to see if they would see if the file would still work. I also did not try to convert it to a newer version of Excel, but ran it in compatibility mode. If you are running Excel 2007 or later, you may have to enable macros in order to get the full functionality of the character sheet.

How does the Dragon Age Forge do after playing with it for a while? Read on.

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[Tower of Druaga] Lessons From A Play-by-Post

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As I have mentioned before, I am running a play-by-post (PbP) game of Dragon Age set in the world of the Tower of Druaga anime series. I have only one player, my friend JJ Lanza (who wrote the Vancian Magic post for the Oracle), as I originally made a prerequisite to joining the game having to watch a certain amount of episodes from the show and JJ was the only one to rise to the challenge. Neither of us had ever played in a PbP game before, only in play-by-email (PbEm) games, but we figured we’d just hit the ground running and pick it up as we went along.

We have been playing for a couple of months now and I have learned a few important lessons that are worthy of sharing. In many ways these are applicable to roleplaying games in general, not just to Dragon Age, though there’s one lesson specific to this game as well. My hope is that our hard-earned lessons can help others run smoother games online or face-to-face and create a more enjoyable gaming experience.

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Scaling Spell Power

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I have to admit that, were not for CinderellaManJJ’s recent post on Vancian Magic, I would never have gotten to this concept, especially as a blog post. While I quite enjoy the mana system used in the Dragon Age Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game, there is yet another magic system to which I lean more favorably: High Adventure Role Playing from Iron Crown. Within HARP’s magic system, which also uses points (Power Points to be exact), each spellcaster is able to manipulate their spells in such a way as to evoke truly epic scenes from fantasy literate. But always at a cost.

In Dragon Age, a Mage chooses which spell he will cast, makes the spell casting roll against the target number, designates the appropriate test if any, and applies the results. But what if, say, rather than simply utilizing spell stunts to effect minimal changes to the spell, the Mage elected to power it with more mana up front? This of course is not as simple as sacrificing more mana, as the target numbers would change, as would the requisite tests. But all to a greater and far more provocative system of spell casting.

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Stunt Man

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Well I don’t know about you fine people but one of the things I immediately fell in love with when I first ran the Dragon Age RPG for my group was the stunt mechanic. Those first Blight Wolves outside Vintiver in The Dalish Curse nearly decimated my players, but then the tide of battle flowed back their way and they swiftly cut down the snarling beasts. I’ve heard a few players say that this first encounter nearly turned them off the RPG as a whole but for me anyway this is when I decided that Unisystem had been knocked off it’s perch as my favourite RPG and Dragon Age now reigned supreme.

Of course the stunts aren’t the only reason I love Dragon Age. I could go on about the intriguing world Bioware have created with it’s dark fantasy edge, or the simplicity and retro feel that Green Ronin gave us in their ruleset. But then I’d be babbling and keeping you fine people from the purpose of this post.

Within a week or two of playing the pen and paper RPG and still heavily enamoured with the CRPG I decided to expand on the stunt list. I looked to the CRPG for inspiration and went about transferring as many as the abilities from the Dragon Age: Origins game to be used as stunts in GR’s RPG. They seemed to go down a treat as a year later I got messages of support from people and requests for more.

So here we are. I’ve readdressed some issues with the original stunts I created and clarified some points, and I’ve also added a whole page of new stunts: Mage, Unarmed and Special. I hope everyone enjoys them and they bring more fun and excitement to the fast paced combat of Dragon Age.

Download:

Dragon Age New Stunts by Saisei (PDF; 6.8 MB)

 

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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The Background on Backgrounds

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When making a new character, the third step, after coming up with a concept and rolling/choosing your attributes, is choosing a background for your character. Players need to know where their characters come from as this decision shapes many details both story-wise as well as mechanically.

My first order of business in planning my Tower of Druaga game using the AGE System was to define the character backgrounds. Since I am not really setting out to create a full-fledged sourcebook, my initial though was to simply reskin as many of the backgrounds in the Dragon Age Player’s Guide to suit my purpose; based on whatever my players wanted to play, then I would create anything new as needed.

At least that was the plan.

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