Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review - Dragon Warriors RPG (Part 1)

Today I will begin my review of Dragon Warriors, a British RPG written by Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson.  It was initially published by Corgi Books in 1985-1986 as a series of six books which, put together, comprised the entire RPG.  However, my review will be of the newer edition published in 2008 by Magnum Opus Press.

Dragon Warriors 1985
 First off, I'll comment that I have never read the 1980's version.  But my understanding is that the newer edition is not changed much from the older one.  To put things delicately, this is still very much an old-school type of RPG - not anything like the new versions of RPG's that are overloaded with massive sets of rules, skills, feats, etc.  In fact, this game is very simple and elegant - but rich in flavor and atmosphere.  And the rules seem very quick and easy to learn.  I may not be successful in getting my current group to play it, but I will certainly mine it for ideas.

This 256-page book contains everything needed to run the game, for both the players and GM.  It even includes monsters, although it's suggested that the GM picks up the Dragon Warriors Bestiary to further flesh out the beasties and add more options.

I'll do this review in a section by section manner, starting with Character Creation.  (I'll skip the obligatory section on roleplaying, dice, etc).  When creating a PC, the player can only choose a human.  DW tends to be a lower fantasy game.  Elves, dwarves, and the like are regarded as wild, fey type of beings and are regarded with much awe and suspicion.  Character creation has an old-school feel to it.  First off, players roll 3d6 in order for the ability scores.  These scores are Strength, Reflexes, Intelligence, Psychic Talent, and Looks.  There really isn't any Wisdom equivalent.  Strength combines the traditional STR and CON scores into one ability.

Dragon Warriors 2008

Next, a Profession is chosen.  The choices are:
  • Knight (picture an Arthurian knight in full plate)
  • Barbarian
  • Assassin (very rare, sort of a Thief/Assassin combo)
  • Sorceror (like a MU.. sort of)
  • Mystic (uses powers of the mind, kind of like a psionicist but with some clerical type spells.. sort of)
  • Elementalist (commands the elemental powers of nature)
  • Warlock (basically a F/MU combo)
Next, Health Points (like Hit Points) are rolled.  (roll a d6 + modifier for Profession).  E.g., a Barbarian is d6+9 while a Sorceror is d6+4.

Each Profession is then assigned an Attack Score and Defense Score.  Barbarians have the game's highest Attack Score.  Knights have the highest Defense Score.  These are used for combat resolution.  More on that later.  These scores can be modified further by a character's Strength, Reflexes, or even Intelligence.

In addition to Attack and Defense, a PC has Magical Attack Score and Magical Defense Score based on Profession.  These scores can be modified by Intelligence and Psychic Talent.

There are some other skills and abilities:
  • Evasion (for dodging dragon breath, missiles, etc)
  • Stealth (sneaking)
  • Perception (noticing things)
  • Classes have special abilities that are awarded at certain Ranks (levels); for example, a 1st Rank Knight gets Track, Armour Expert, and Ride Warhorse)
PC's then get starting equipment and some starting money.  This is done by Profession.  For example, a Knight starts out with Plate Armour, Shield, Dagger, Lantern, Flint-and-Tinder, Backpack, 25 Florins (the standard currency), and the choice of either a Sword or Morning Star.  He can then use his 25 Florins to buy additional equipment.  E.g., a Bow with a Quiver and 6 Arrows would cost 22 Florins.  I actually kind of like that each Profession gets a "Standard Package" to begin with.

Encumbrance is simple and effective.  Each PC can carry up to 10 items of "weapon-size," which includes weapons, a quiver of arrows, a scroll, a bottle, a lantern, a sack of 150 coins, etc.  Small items like rings and amulets don't count as an item.  Armor is excluded from this since it already has encumbering rules.  Exceptionally weak or strong PC's can carry less or more items.  Simple and easy!

In the next posting, I'll talk more about each Profession.

2 comments:

  1. very interesting idea,i'll go through your review series as soon as possible.

    I own the original version of Dw and i can't say how much they differ from the "new" version, but i urge you to buy those little books if you have a chance.

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  2. CL: thanks. As I said, I'm no expert at the game but I hope you enjoy the read.

    I've looked at the original books and the only thing holding me back is that it's not my core game and it's fairly pricey. I just a set of 5 of the core books (missing #5) with a starting bid on eBay of $125. While certainly not outrageous, it's not cheap. But maybe I'll look around some more.

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