December 2, 2011

Early Thoughts on Dragon Age RPG

I got the chance this past Friday to sit down and actually play the Dragon Age RPG produced by Green Ronin, based upon the quite popular Dragon Age series of video games.

I bought the first box set quite some time ago, and thought the system behind it was interesting, in that it was incredibly simple at its core, far more so than d20, while offering up some variety in the form of the stunt system. But I couldn't get any of my regular gaming friends to break out of the d20 mold and give it a whirl, and so the box sat amidst my gaming materials, woefully collecting dust. I even picked up the 2nd box set when it was released at GenCon, more to see how GR would build on the system with no real aspirations of ever getting it on the table.

But as said earlier, that has now changed, thanks to members of a newer circle of gamers whom I've had the good fortune to meet and roll dice with as part of a bi-weekly Star Wars Saga Edition game. We rolled up characters, using a couple of the Set 2 options, and then proceeded to run through the intro module in the Set 1 GM book, "The Dalish Curse," with my taking the role of Donovan, a young Fereldan Freeman warrior.

My initial assessment: Fun! And Quick!

For me, the litmus test of any RPG system is how it handles combat, which is admittedly one of the most rules-heavy aspects of any RPG. And the Dragon Age RPG did not disappoint. It was able to handle combat quickly and without getting too bogged down, though we were only 1st level, so we didn't face any super-heavy foes barring the adventure's BBEG. We only had four players (1 Tank Warrior, 1 Melee Rogue, 1 Archer Rogue, 1 DPS Mage), but the four of us managed to work quite well together both in and out of combat, with a fair amount of role-play involved between the characters. Though I guess if I had a complaint with the system, it did kind of feel like my character wasn't really able to force foes to attack him, as the GM could (and a few times did) easily choose to ignore the armored sword'n'board guy for the squishier characters. But overall it's a minor complaint. Just about everything else in the game worked nicely, and it really is a shame I didn't get a chance to play it sooner. Hopefully we'll get the chance to gather 'round the table and venture once more into Fereldan. After all, there are darkspawn in need of killing, and I wouldn't want to disappoint the ugly blighters.


  1. You'll want to take a peek at page 76 of the Player's Guide from Set 2. The "Threaten" stunt seems to be what you're looking for for your tank. You make a Strength (Intimidate) test versus the baddies Willpower (Self-Discipline) for 2 stunt points. If you win, he has to attack you on his next turn somehow. The Warrior gets to perform it cheaper as he rises in level.

    Glad you enjoyed your first experience with the game. I really, really need to get it back on the table myself.

  2. I was aware of that stunt, but it also requires rolling doubles, which isn't a consistent thing. Maybe I'm a bit spoiled by 4e and their "Defender" aspect. Then again, maybe Threaten should be less a stunt and more a class ability, kinda like how it was in DA:Origins.

  3. As someone who picked up the first box a while ago and has still yet to play this game, this was an interesting read, and definitely makes me want to give it a try. Maybe I'll run it as a Skype-game over the holidays sometime, assuming I can round up enough interested players.

    Oh, and to me, it makes perfect sense that an intelligent enemy should go for the non-armored, squishy flamethrower as opposed to start hacking away at the walking tank, so I'm glad there aren't any (regularly usable) abilities to force enemies to attack the warrior instead. Having it available as a stunt (and with an opposed test tied to it) sounds fine to me, anything more than that I'd probably not be happy with. So, again, looks like I need to give this system a try, heh.