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Some thoughts on DragonQuest

SibKhatru

Registered User
Validated User
A game I have but have never played. It basically requires you to play on a hex map, which isn't really my speed. But for someone who wants really crunchy tactics it would be a great game to pick up. Not sure why TSR acquired it and then did nothing with it.

Not doing something with it might’ve been related to other SPI decisions, for instance TSR voided the lifetime subscription benefit for strategy and tactics magazine.
 

SibKhatru

Registered User
Validated User
A game I have but have never played. It basically requires you to play on a hex map, which isn't really my speed. But for someone who wants really crunchy tactics it would be a great game to pick up. Not sure why TSR acquired it and then did nothing with it.

Not doing something with it might’ve been related to other SPI decisions, for instance TSR voided the lifetime subscription benefit for strategy and tactics magazine. But of course what is more acquisitions sometimes is intended to remove competition. In this competition in terms of a brand name.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
We played 2e 100%TotM
I've seen people play games that were manifestly bad to use TotM that way; it just says some people have a combination of good enough spatial memory and/or willing to ignore inconvenient rules that they can play any game that way; it doesn't say anything about its general suitability for it.
 

The Fiendish Dr. Samsara

The elegant assassin
Validated User
Now that we know all about rolling over something but under something plus another thing, it's time to make a character.

[5.1.] I like the way that DQ has this hybrid random roll/point-buy system: you roll to see how many points you have to spread around. What I love is that the more points you have, the less you can invest in any one Characteristic. Roll an awesome 99 points to spend and you are limited to making one Characteristic a 19; roll a lousy 81 points and your best Characteristic can be 25 (human max).

Does this work out as well in play as it reads on paper? I’d love to know if anyone can supply. It seems as if it means that PC’s would tend towards being either super-specialized (my guy is really, really tough and otherwise below-average) or slightly superior all-around. The math there is that the chap with the least points (81), could plug 25 into Strength and 24 into Endurace, leaving him 32 points to spread into the remaining four Characteristics, which averages out to a poor 8 in each.

The other fellow, with the most points (99), can put 19 into Strength and Endurance, leaving him 61 to spread around in the other four Characteristics, giving him a perfectly respectable 15 in each.

I also have to add that I LOVE that the text specifically tells you to record the result of your roll on this chart “on a piece of scrap paper”. Don’t even think writing this on your character sheet!



[6.1] Some of the the discussion around sex and gender is - perhaps unsurprisingly - a bit embarrassing from a modern perspective. For example, DQ requires female PC’s to be weaker (-2) than male PC’s, although they try to balance that by giving them a bonus to Manual Dexterity and Fatigue (+1 to each). But, it's still weak. I forgot to mention that the example of using a trance in the minor magic section discusses a male caster entrancing a woman who is already attracted to him and explains that minor magic cannot also make this woman tear off her clothes and run around the streets. Hmn.



[6.3] Being non-human is a complicated process. If you want to be non-human, you have to try and make a roll with very little chance; the chances range from a 30% to be an Elf to a 4% to be a Shape-changer. If you fail the roll, you can pick a different race and try again; you can make a total of three tries with a different race each time and then - like Monopoloy - you have to give it up and stick with being human. I assume that this is to emulate the rarity of non-humans, which is fine and all, but seems like kind of an unfun process.

More reasonable, I think, is that each Race also has an XP multiplier that applies whenever they try to improve themselves. I can’t really tell if these things are even vaguely balanced: the Dwarf’s 1.1 seems reasonable for the modest benefits it grants, while the Giant’s 1.5 seems low considering that just being a Giant can give you +19 Strength! Interestingly, being an Orc grants a .9 multiplier, which would seem to make them improve faster than Humans, except that they have longer time requirements to improve abilities. I’m not sure how that would work out in play.



[7] I respect the idea of giving PC’s astronomical aspects. The system here seems both overly-involved and underwhelming. You basically gets a modifier of 5%-25% at a specific point in time, enough to affect one or two actions.

The only interesting part is that you have a 10% of being either Life- or Death-aspected instead of something astronomical. This gives a modifier when something is born or dies in close proximity to the character. But only if it’s a mammal and the exact modifier varies if the thing is a non-humanoid mammal, a humanoid mammal, or a humanoid mammal no less closely related than a second cousin. Seriously. There's a real role for genealogists in the DQ world.

Oh, and Life-aspected females feel no pain after childbirth and immediately become super-models. Or something.



[8.1] You roll from a fairly robust chart for the PC’s social status. I like that "Adventurer" is a possibility here. Status affects both your starting XP and monies. Obviously, higher status gives you more starting money: Slaves have a money multiplier of 1, while Greater Nobility multiply by 10.

The XP multiplier is less clear, but being either really poor or really rich means you haven’t developed much. The best multiplier (1.2) comes from being an Adventurer, a Bandit, a Barbarian, or a Pirate. The worst (.7) from being Greater Nobility.



[8.2] There is a chart to roll on to determine whether your character is legitimate or not because of course there is. Also, wheter or not you are first-born. An illegitimate character receives only 50% of the starting money s/he should, but 25% more starting XP. First-born is the converse with a ding to XP, but mo money. Because this thing isn’t involved enough without it.



[8.5] There is a huge variety between possible starting XP and monies. Just by rolling, one can start with somewhere between 10 and 250 XP and between 5 and 100 silver pennies. But don’t forget that Social Status and legitimacy affect that. If I have done the math right, the best possible starting XP would be the illegitimate child of an Adventurer/Bandit/Barbarian/Pirate (1.2 multiplier plus an additional 25%) who could therefore begin with 375 XP, while the first-born child of a Greater Noble could begin with as few as 5 XP. For reference, all you can do with 5 XP is...nothing. No, even basic knowledge of using a club costs 25 XP. Prince Useless the Incompetent really would be like one of those annoyingly helpless aristocrats you get in certain fantasy fiction. And Nobody the Barbarian could begin as an Assassin with Rank 3 in the dagger. Geez.

By the same token, that bastard Barbarian could begin with only 5 pennies, which is still better than an illegitimate Slave, who might
begin with only 3. So he can't afford the dagger. Meanwhile, the lame first-born Greater Noble - the one with only 5 XP - could begin with 1,500 silver pennies.

I find myself wishing that instead of rolling separately for starting XP and money, one reverse the percentile roll so that rolling great for one means rolling badly for the other. It would be in the spirit of the characteristic allotment vs. max that I so like.



[8.7] And the final entry in our triple-feature of “wait...what did that rule say?” is this, which tells you that you have now completely generated your character. Yep, all done.

Oh, sure, you “may want to” (actual quote) buy stuff with your starting money (like some weapons or food), spend your starting XP (so you know how to do stuff), or choose a College of Magic (so you get to start play as a full-on wizard). But only if you want to.

All joking about the word-choice here aside, that last bit is the real buried treasure and the rule that sort of defines DragonQuest to me: every PC can start as a magical adept. You don’t have to, of course, but there is no real benefit in not doing so. My first real taste of DQ was reading an article called “The Warrior Alternative” in Dragon magazine in which it was proposed that you might get some extra weapon skills and stuff if you did not choose to be an Adept. Since I love wizards, I remember being deeply impressed by the RAW.

This also means that all that stuff above about non-Adepts having access to minor magic is kind of beside the point since everyone gets to be an Adept. It’s pretty weird, actually. Of course, if you haven’t sunk any points into Magical Aptitude, your chances of performing any of this magic suck and, as we will see later, your chances kind suck a lot of the time anyway. But some Colleges grant Talents that work automatically, so why the hell not?

I’ve never heard any reports of what the thinking was about this from the design team. I'd love to know if the intent was really that everyone has magic or if something was left out or forgotten. Truthfully, I keep expecting to find a rule buried somewhere that says, “Oh yeah, take some awesome-sauce if you don’t want to be an Adept” or something. But I don’t think that anyone has uncovered that rule to date.


NEXT TIME: I descend into the hex-and-chit madness that is combat.
 

Bobaloo

New World Man
Validated User
I had a copy of the 2nd edition softcover back in the day, but we never really played. I really liked the idea of the war game-style rules references.

I started a deep read at one point as a youngster, but don't have much recall. I think it was hinted at in post 14, but I seem to recall magic being generally available but dangerous.
 

artikid

passerby
Validated User
Character generation worked fine, the one thing I remember, though, is that it pushed a couple of guys to min-max. No matter how many counterbalances you try to apply, it's the pretty annoying thing about point-buy systems, IMHO.
I remember a couple silly characters with crazy scores one way or the other.

I always thought that the XP cost multipliers and rolling to be a non-human was too much.

I think our GM used "the warrior alternative" from Dragon or a similar system. It slowed down chargen a bit, but it made for more interesting and varied characters.
 

Strange Visitor

Grumpy Grognard
Validated User
As I recall--and remember this is memory from many a years ago, so take it with a grain of salt until someone else who has used or read the game more recently than I have comes along--adepts are slightly less resistant to magic than non-adepts (significantly so if they didn't share the same School).

In regard to the experience points, it should be noted that this is a game where its entirely possible to be a combatant without spending any experience on weapon skills. You aren't going to be great, but neither are most of the other starting characters. So the experience bonus matters, but its not overwhelming. Its honestly usually more useful to spend them buying an initial rank in a skill if you've got enough, though you wouldn't necessarily regret dropping some into Shield.
 

artikid

passerby
Validated User
Yes S Strange Visitor I remember that thing about Magic Resistance as well. I think it was something in the range of +20%. But I don't think it applied to Elemental attacks like fireball (not sure, been a long time since I last read or played DQ)
 

fairytalejedi

Member
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I like how they specify an elf lifespan of 30,000 years. "Don't you think it's time to retire your character, Dave?" - "But I've only been playing him for 25,000 years game time!"
 
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