Ensign Expendable

I'm going to need a team of Templars ready to mobilise, street level maps of all of Denerim, a pot of coffee, twelve Jammie Dodgers and a fez


Dragon Age Quick Start Adventure

Recently I had the opportunity to run the quick start rules and adventure that Green Ronin put out for Free RPG day. I wasn't able to actually pick this one up on the day but Green Ronin were kind enough to release it as a pdf that you can download for free on their site. When I downloaded it I just read the rules and didn't read the adventure as I had hoped that someone would be able to run it and I could play. So when the opportunity came up to run the game at work for some people that had never played a table top rpg before I had to quickly read the adventure and familiarise myself with the plot and characters.

This, as it turned out, was pretty easy as it is quite a well presented and concise while still providing enough background and flavour to provide the basis for a great adventure. The plot is straight forward enough to easily teach the game while still providing a couple of different ways the game can go down, depending on the choices of the players. The ending is also open ended enough to follow up with further related adventures if you wish while leaving the consequences of the players choices up to the gm and group. I like this because would introduce a brand new gm to the idea that they don't have to stick to the script and can use their creativity to do whatever they want with the game without dropping them in the deep end. Yay to Green Ronin for that most thoughtful addition.

The adventure gives a good mix of encounters with rp, exploration/problem solving and combat for new players to get a taste of rpgs in general and Dragon Age in particular. As an overview of the game it worked pretty well. The cut down rules didn't have any character creation rules, there are five pre-generated characters at the back of the pamphlet, and not all of the focuses and only a few of the spells were used.

I was glad that my group decided that they would play what they wanted to play rather than trying to cover all the classes. We ended up with two rogues and a warrior. That meant that they had different challenges than a balanced group and we had fun with it.

The mechanics of playing the game were just as good as everyone has been saying they are. I've seen the full version of the rules and I was impressed but playing the game really hits home how well designed the game is. Compared to Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition, the closest game that I play regularly, everything is more streamlined and slick. The combat especially is a pleasure to run, and this is AS IS SHOULD BE! The mechanics didn't get in the way of the pace of combat and everyone found stunts to be exciting, there were more than a few juvenile 'Mighty Blow' jokes going round the table. The time to finish a combat was also a breath of fresh air. While the lethality of combat in Traveller means that fights are quick and dirty and we never get bogged down, lately my D&D 4e games have been getting me down that you can't start a fight and finish it on the same beer.

Using tests out of combat also give me a warm glow. Dice roll + Ability + Focus. Easy. This makes the D&D 4e skill system look pretty cumbersome while still giving a good amount of flexibility in your character. Don't get me wrong, I like the idea of the skills in D&D 4e, but I found the 3.x, and Pathfinder, system better for book keeping and customising skills. I'm finding that I'm beginning to dread even levels in 4e for having to update skills. Use the D&DI Character Builder I hear you ask. Well that's maybe a topic for a future post, but lets just say that I don't rent my RPGs, I own them. Also getting back to Dragon Age it looks like you wouldn't need a character builder to keep track of all your stats. This is leaving behind the quick start book a bit but from what I've seen character book keeping is easy, while still giving you plenty of flexibility.

There weren't any advanced tests in the adventure, but I like what I see in the main rules for them. They achieve the same thing as 4e Skill Challenges while streamlining them to something which almost rolls off the page. It makes me almost giddy when I think of the lack of obstructions to fun and rp.

How did the group of rookie rp'ers like it? They all seemed to enjoy themselves and wanted to play again. While we were playing it did seem like the pace of the game and the fact that we didn't have to refer to the rules much was making it a lot more fun than I was anticipating for them. While these are quick start rules I think that most of the core of what you would use for a full game were there. It's not like the Battletech QS that cut out a lot of the normal complexity.

I am thinking I'm really going to get in to Dragon Age. Of course it helps that I'm a fan of the computer game so I already have an investment in the setting. I think however that it is a great game for scratching that cinematic story itch that 4e doesn't seem to reach. That's not to say that I'm giving up on D&D, I still intend continuing my current game and enjoying it for the things that make it great (although after this story arc finishes we are taking a break to play a few one shots of other games as the pacing problems with combat are getting a bit too much. We will be back though).

I will definitely be getting the first (and probably second) Dragon Age boxed sets. Hopefully I can find some players to play regularly. I'm sure the guys who played this week will be up for another game at some point.

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  1. Absolutely up for another game some time! Provided I can find the time of course!

    I think one of the things Green Ronin really need a thumbs up for is how much people *didn’t* have to be looking at their character sheets all the time. Other than a little bit of familiarisation in the beginning, most of the rest of the session was spent talking amongst the group, making decisions, bargaining with each other, co-ordinating combat ideas, and laughing.

    A great way to spend an afternoon 🙂 Thanks for running the game!

  2. So how many medieval/fantasy rpgs are you going to be playing at once? 🙂

    Speed of game play also has a lot to do with the players. If they start grinding through the rulebook trying to find every possible (or imagined) advantage for their character it’s time to stock up on beer.

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