Hello once again my lords and ladies, to another resounding success of a review. It is my job to show you the good, the bad, and the completely ridiculous about different games. As mentioned before, we are focusing right now on role playing games, and what better way to involve everyone than take a game that was created in a world which exists in Video Games prior. I am of course speaking of DRAGON AGE, a Dark Fantasy Roleplaying Game, released by GREEN RONIN PUBLISHING in 2010, basing the entire world on the BioWare created world within Dragon Age the game.
The game itself was released in three separate box sets. The first one being levels one through five, the second set being levels six through ten, and finally the last publication was levels eleven through twenty. There was more than just the levels added to the game, which we will go over here in a moment. Mainly though, as the game was released, it became necessary to get each of the books involved in order to progress the story.
Since then, Dragon Age (in 2015) released a single set with all of the three rules sets combined into one hard cover book. Making the game cheaper, and easier to start up than previously. All together, it is actually a benefit to get them all separately in my opinion, as the books and kits that come with it are worth the extra. If you are lucky enough, Comic Hunter may even have them on sale when it is buy two get one free RPG day (that’s how I got mine) you get the best bang for your buck!
Keep an eye on The Comic Hunters facebook page, as they almost always have some sort of amazing deal on games, RPG’s, comics, or storewide things too. Honestly, this is one you need to look into snagging if you can.
The game is one of the most simple games to start playing, as they take in the older style of character creation. You can choose only one of three classes. The Fighter, The Rogue, and The Mage, leaving character creation to be fairly easy going and straight forward. Hell, there is only three races to choose from as well being Elf, Human, and Dwarf. This aligns itself fairly well to the original Dragon Age game, so it adds flavour towards the creation, knowing they stayed true.
As more editions (expansions) came out, they did add more flare which stemmed from future incarnations of the video games, including Dragon Age Two. It added additional races and classes, but still managed to keep the easy to use system, with the flavourful campaigns to follow. The game does an amazing job of building the Dark Fantasy world of Ferelden into a playable scenario of survival, immense love, and downright betrayal. Everything we want to see in a pen and paper Roleplaying Game.
There are two main things that keep Dragon Age different than most other Roleplaying games, and in my opinion, one of them is absolutely amazing.
First, the not so amazing, but a bit different one, the dice system for the game. This game uses a D6 based system, and you always need to make sure one of the three die are different. This is immensely important and will lead to our next point. All of your rolls to hit, do things in the game, cast magic, and anything else you do in a normal Roleplaying Game, is done using three D6 only. This makes things more simplistic, and a lot cheaper to get into, as you don’t get the dice obsession most players get, needing all the newest and shiniest set of dice!
Secondly is what happens if you roll doubles on any of you die. Rolling doubles gives you a bonus to be able and use stunt points to either make your attacks more efficient, more powerful, or completely decimate an enemy. The stunt points you get are dependant on the Dragon Die roll you get with your doubles. You get stunt points equal to the number you roll on the Dragon Die, an use them as you see fit. It can add more than one stunt to the trick, as you can add as many as yo want to add up to the stunt point total. In my personal opinion, this actually adds a level of flavour and story ability that no other RPG has matched at this point, and one that really works out amazingly well when being used with a good group of role players.
+ Giving a lot of information on a world we are mainly familiar with is an amazing design feature. They’re able to use something most people are familiar with to get players intrigued enough to try it out.
+ The artwork and world design is absolutely amazing. Stunning inside and out, something we’ve come to expect from Dragon Age in the past, so something I was happy to see take place in the modern release of the game.
+ The stunt addition to the game makes the design a lot more unique, adding to the ability to really role play the character the way you want. Be as flashy as you can, or add power to everything you do. Either way, it adds additional benefits to the character and battle abilities for you to have fun with.
– The limited amount of character creation you can use is really limited, which can takeaway from the game design for those of us used to hundreds of different combinations.
– There has been very limited deviation from specified story arcs, which leaves the Dungeon Master trying to write his own side story, which basically must take place in a certain world with certain parameters.
+ As with all other pen and paper RPG’s, this one has a lot of replay if the dungeon master wants to create his own story and world to go with it. There is not a lot of side issues and side campaigns in the books, as they are fairly linear to date.
+ With a more fluid and easier to build character creation, it leaves more to the imagination for little details. Once you add in more than the first book, you can have a lot of fun coming up with back stories for characters you’d never even have dreamed of. Especially the Qunari.
+ With the right group, the story that unfolds adds a level of love for the games as well. By first playing the games, getting to know the world and its inhabitants, the RPG really makes more sense. This adds a lot of fun, because people who have played the games can reference them, and Dungeon Masters can add characters in as they see fit.
– Although the character creation is more fluid and easier, the limited amount of class options, as well as race combinations, are a bit of a downer for the more seasoned RPG player. People used to games like Pathfinder, might find Dragon Age to be too cookie cutter.
– Players may find the dragon die to be almost too powerful in the early game stages. It can make a spell or attack essentially one shot most monsters you come before, leaving you questioning if your character is secretly a God or not.
+ Creating an easier to use character creation makes the game really easy to jump into. This is an amazing RPG for new to game people.
+By using a world that most nerds know and love, it creates a connection that most games don’t get. We know this world and its scare tactics. We also know where to go to get the best Dwarven mead in all the land!
+ Since the story is fairly linear, the most exciting part is the ability to create a lot of your own flavour with side quests, and NPC (Non player character) designs.
– The fact is, for seasoned gamers it is almost too simplistic. Sometimes it feels like they only dumbed it down to try and attract first timers, and not worry about the advanced RPG that most companies were doing.
– It isn’t until you’ve been running the campaign to level five that you are even introduced to the new classes and prestige classes. This makes it very difficult to try and focus on one thing, as the books each contained something different.
Honestly, this is one of the first modern RPG systems I have ever played and our group absolutely loved it. I was leading the group as the dungeon master, and weaving a tale that while following the book (somewhat) went in a complete tangent of a direction. The only issue is if you go too far off the beaten path, the limited source material makes it a bit difficult to come back from the brink as some would say.
Writing your own story is not easy in this world, at least not until you have purchased quite a few of the more modern compendiums, however the cannon story is an amazing one to follow. Well written, well drawn, and completely well thought out, Dragon Age is a game that I can not picture any role player not to love, at least in the beginning.
My recommendation to any players, new and old, is too read up on it and at least try to play through Dragon Age the first game, as it will give you about eighty percent of what you need to know about lore and the world. Honestly? It will make the game a thousand times more enjoyable.
Stop by The Comic Hunter and talk to the guys about getting the game, or seeing if someone is interested in running one for new players. If not, maybe you can be the next great leader in the fight against the darkness that is too come! Either way, I just pray you have what it takes to survive the upcoming apocalypse, and that the people will stand with you when you need them the most.