Dragon Age Set 2 is out. My First Impressions

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Apr 292011

Like so many I scooped up Set 2 from Green Ronin and I spent much of last night reading through it. I’m proud to announce that it is well worth the wait.
I did take the chance to go over the play test documents released a while ago and and thought a lot about whether to pick this up or not. Our group has done a single one-shot of the Dalish Curse and they were kind of meh on the system. But I attribute that to many other factors mostly which was not the game itself. But I picked it up anyway, because this is still on my to run list (which keeps getting longer and longer.)
So what’s up in Set 2. There’s a ton more fluff on Thedas, the Gray Wardens, the Chantry and just about everything and everybody else in the setting. It’s really cool from the “I want all sorts of information” geeky stand point and could be a real asset to folks planning to run their games based in the Dragon Age universe. Personally, I’d probably pitch the DARPG for a more Conan like setting and campaign but that’s a project that is on one the back burners.
Now for the crunchy bits. There’s really a wealth of stuff here. Of course, there’s leveling up to 10 and the nine Specializations, three for each class (Arcane Warrior, Assassin, Bard, Berserker, Blood Mage, Champion, Dualist, Spirit Healer, Templar), more Talents with Ranks up to Master, more Backgrounds and some good options for character generation. And, yes, kids. You can play a Gray Warden, if you’ve got the guts for it. Qunari, too.
For me, the real gems come from the addition of grenades and poison as well as more spells. There’s some pretty good spells that aren’t in the video game but do add some much needed variance to a table top game. On top of that, we got rules traps and their dangers and an exceptional section on improved and magical items. Really, I don’t know about you but I kind of get tired of the magic shops being the equivalent of Costco.
There’s even more. I like the new stunts but I’m still on the fence about the role playing and exploration stunts. It’s just one of those gut instinct things that I can’t quite put my finger on. I think mainly because I just don’t the warm fuzzies about adding an extra game mechanic on something as abstract as having some characters basically talk to each other. But, hey, to each his own. In the GM’s Guide, there’s plenty of useful information on running a campaign and balancing encounters as well as another adventure, The Autumn Falls.
Here be monsters too. There’s more nasties to throw at player characters. Ogres. Yippe, I hated those things in the video game. I wish there would have been the space (or at least a level appropriate version) for a dragon and/or abomination but there’s plenty of other material out there so that’s not a real big concern. I would have also like to see more about demons and the Fade but that stuff is to come.
Overall, I give it a big thumbs up. If you got Set 1 and want to continue using the AGE system then Set 2 is well worth the investment. If you’re still on the fence then hell, buy Sets 1 and 2. Really, I’m pretty sure that is enough material to run a decent campaign.

Some Dragon Age One Shot Pre-Gen Characters

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Mar 282011

I ran a little Dragon Age one shot a couple of weeks ago and I figured what the heck, I really should post the the pre-gens too. I did nine characters. I used the 10 point buy plus some of the backgrounds from the Set 2 play test documents. I also went ahead and spent some of the starting cash to upgrade some equipment.
I did make one assumption that lesser healing potions would cost 25 SP and lesser lyrium potions would cost 50 SP. I tried to thrown in a variety of characters for the players to chose.
And here they are. Enjoy!

Feb 272011

It’s no real secret that I really like FATE and am a big fan of Dragon Age. Mike over at Wrath of Zombie did a little post on this subject a while ago and then I ended up in little Twitter discussion with the guys over at Dragon Age Oracle. And once again this got me thinking more about the subject.
I’ll admit up front that I haven’t play tested this yet but I am basing it on what our group has done with using Aspects in Pathfinder.
First Aspects are just for player characters and important NPC’s. There are no scene Aspects. You don’t do a maneuver to place an Aspect on a character. None of that stuff. They are a simple tool to help with role playing. Dragon Age already something similar built in. Goals and Ties. But Goals and Ties don’t have any real mechanical component to back them up.
In the heat of battle and the fervor of snack food and sugary soft drinks, players can tend to forget stuff. So, my suggestion is that player characters should have no more than four Aspects.

Concept: Look to your Background and what generally what you think of the character’s personality. Examples: Greedy Surface Dwarf, Slutty Elf Assassin (you know who I am talking about), The Last Survivor of Ostegar.
Trouble: This is the bad thing that haunts you. It makes your life “interesting” and much more difficult. Examples: Hunted by the Antivan Crows, On the run after murdering a Bann’s son. The character’s Trouble should be something unique to the character, not something that already carries many disadvantages like being an Elf or an Apostate. Those would be in the character’s Concept.
Goals: Just like the Player’s Guide for the Dragon Age RPG, This is something that drives your character to adventure. What he is looking for. What makes him get up in the morning.
Ties: This is what binds the character to the other player characters. Something that makes like or at least tolerate them. Once again, look at the Player’s Guide.
Using Aspects in play: From Pathfinder, we’ve found that 3 is the sweet spot for a Refresh. For those of you who aren’t quite familiar with the term, Refresh, in regards to FATE. That’s the minimum amount of Fate Points a character starts with at the beginning of a session.
Compelling Aspects works the same it does in FATE. You’re Aspect hinders you in some way, you gain a Fate Point.
Invoking Aspects: Once again, works just like it does in FATE. I don’t plan on crunching any numbers but my gut says that a +2 bonus to a test seems like a fair and workable number.
Changing Aspects: For this I’d say at the end of each session or when a significant change occurs to the character.
That’s pretty much it.