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The Dark Eye RPG - opinions?

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
It’s the most popular game in Germany, surpassing D&D. The setting is basically a living campaign that’s been going on for decades. So that’s cool as hell.

The system, not so much. Your basic skill check isn’t just one roll, rather it’s three. Every skill has three stats associated with it and a normal skill check means rolling against all three stats.
 

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
I'm really surprised that they managed to get a lot of English publications out there. That was a major hurdle in the past, as the game is much more about the setting than the rules themselves. Their previous attempt petered out after a thin version of the basic rules...

Being German, I was pretty much "raised" on TDE. Starting when I got the first edition core box from my church library...
At a time it was so dominant when it came to fantasy gaming in Germany, that you're going to find lots of people who just burned out on it, like with D&D in the US. Looking for different playing styles or writing TDE heartbreakers. Bet this will come up in this thread, as it usually does.

I got out in the early '00s, both because the then new fourth edition looked like a badly done version of GURPS but still retaining all the sacred cows from the earlier editions, and because the alternatives were big enough at the time (D20 etc.). I played it a few times after that and got along with it better. And renewed my love for the setting when we did a rather kitchy campaign in my group (using HERO).

So I didn't do a lot of 5E gaming, but I try to keep up with it. They're doing interesting things with it, and while I don't agree with everything myself, I think it's moving the game into a more approachable space. And between PDFs and digest-sized versions, it's not even that expensive, despite them trying to bring way too many auxiliary products on the market (e.g. you don't just have a regional expansion, you also have an arms/armor book for each one).

The first and most important thing that one has to consider when picking TDE as a fantasy game is that it's somewhat more "grounded" than D&D (which itself is the "gold master" for almost any other FRPG). In that regard it's closer to Warhammer, yet not quite HarnMaster.
So not as many monsters, weird wilderness regions and high-level magic.

The game system tends to reflect that, especially if you want to play a caster. It's gotten a bit "better", but still don't expect any high-level D&D shenanigans. I'd say the power level stops at 3rd/4th level Wizard spells. On the other hand, as it's skill-based, you might reach your potential a bit earlier. This can be more frustrating for those kind of players who need a steady progression along one axis.
My recommendation for spellcasters is to really lean into their "tradition". Wizards should be scholars, elves are a bit weird and not just fighter-mages. Never mind witches & druids. And a lesson paid in blood and tears: No changelings. Ever.

You'll get used to the skill system, especially if you don't let the players roll for everything but have a narrative reason for it. Most of the complaints don't matter as much if you don't have to do a Perception roll for every facet of a room or do spurious Climbing rolls for every obstacle that doesn't really matter.

In combat it's just a single D20 roll, and the new edition makes parrying a bit harder (about the same level as GURPS), so there's less whiff, never mind that hit points don't approach triple digits anymore. I think the core rules present a rather manageable system, not more complicated than competing systems. And the amount of special options/feats is both limited and available to everyone, so you don't encounter many exceptions. It might be a bit more to learn in the beginning, but once you reach that level, you can stay there, even when progressing much further, even when switching characters. And there's still not just one way to win things.

No, it seems that the English edition has both the Aventuria Almanac for general information about the world/continent (I really like this edition) and the Warring Kingdoms as a fleshed out regional expansion. The latter might fare a lot better in Anglo-dom than in Germany. We're talking about two small countries, not politically very important and even a bit backwards, socially and technically. So for German players, the mere names of "Nostria" and "Andergast" (besides being horrible puns), evoke images of barely relevant hicks, comic relief characters in the setting.
But coming with fresh eyes, you got a pretty lovely medieval setting (as opposed to the rest of the world, which is quite almost baroque), war between human countries and viking invaders. Not as many weird casters or exotic cultures from the rest of the continent, so ideal to get your grips on the world and the system. You can play it pastoral and picaresque or outright grimdark.
I would kill for a good Perry Rhodan RPG.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
Validated User
The system, not so much. Your basic skill check isn’t just one roll, rather it’s three. Every skill has three stats associated with it and a normal skill check means rolling against all three stats.
The biggest problem I've got with this is that the mathematics are quite complicated, so it's harder to guesstimate the chances of success than with linear rolls or even bell curves.

At the table, I think the complexity is a bit overrated. Most checks are done outside of combat and with 5E modifiers aren't as common and finicky anymore (but they're added/subtracted from every roll, not from the skill total). Sure, it's three times rolling plus three times subtracting, but with a little practice that's not that slow. It doesn't beat 1d20+modifier vs TN, but it's not worse than e.g. Exalted/Shadowrun success counting or even the new 2d20 mechanic.
And at least 5E no longer has self control rolls to avoid being wounded...

It's much worse when combats don't end because every parry succeeds, which was the worst component of 2E-4E.

I would kill for a good Perry Rhodan RPG.
What prompted that? And I'm not sure you can do much good with the source material. They tried twice already.
Blueprints, Randian immortal supermen and "mouse beavers". It often felt like a British sci-fi parody without the humor. Kraftwerkhammer 40K.
 

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
The biggest problem I've got with this is that the mathematics are quite complicated, so it's harder to guesstimate the chances of success than with linear rolls or even bell curves.

At the table, I think the complexity is a bit overrated. Most checks are done outside of combat and with 5E modifiers aren't as common and finicky anymore (but they're added/subtracted from every roll, not from the skill total). Sure, it's three times rolling plus three times subtracting, but with a little practice that's not that slow. It doesn't beat 1d20+modifier vs TN, but it's not worse than e.g. Exalted/Shadowrun success counting or even the new 2d20 mechanic.
And at least 5E no longer has self control rolls to avoid being wounded...

It's much worse when combats don't end because every parry succeeds, which was the worst component of 2E-4E.


What prompted that? And I'm not sure you can do much good with the source material. They tried twice already.
Blueprints, Randian immortal supermen and "mouse beavers". It often felt like a British sci-fi parody without the humor. Kraftwerkhammer 40K.
You can get used to anything, I suppose. But yeah, three rolls for one check is rather silly.

I only mentioned Perry Rhodan because you said you were German. Not many people outside of Germany are even aware of Perry Rhodan. Which is a shame. I’m a fan of pulp sci-fi, so the weirdness of PR is mana from heaven for me.
 

Stormraven

Mystical Atheist
Validated User
I'm on the fence myself about the three rolls for skills - however, if one goes with the 'Is there a chance of failure & is it important if they fail' idea cutting down the number of rolls, I can get on board.
 

Matt.Ceb

40 Years of Unknown Pleasures
Validated User
The three-roll feature is one of the few things that keeps me running and playing DSA/TDE to this day.

It allows for more flexibility in character creation and I've always used it for narrative effect when determining outcomes: The attribute that's responsible for a fail or which had a truly good roll (perhaps even a 1) will determine how I describe and implement the outcome of the skill role into the world.

It's, quite literally, the only rules system using d20s I can stand to use. Enjoy, even. I always found slamming it for the three-rolls to be hugely overblown. It's one of its distinctive features and it actually adds to the game, both crunch wise and narrative wise.

I will continue to be happy with it, no matter what others say/think.
 

Sosthenes

Oiled Greek Wrestler
Validated User
You can get used to anything, I suppose. But yeah, three rolls for one check is rather silly.
Well, it's definitely a mechanic that doesn't have any equals. I would assume that the initial idea was making all three participant attributes important, but games like HarnMaster or RuneQuest solved that in a more convenient manner. Even the first edition of TDE did it differently.
It does have the advantage that a wide range of skill is possible and often useful. I miss that in other games -- although, as I've mentioned, direct comparisons to other system is hard due to the maths involved. I've seen the graphs, and they scare me.

I only mentioned Perry Rhodan because you said you were German. Not many people outside of Germany are even aware of Perry Rhodan. Which is a shame. I’m a fan of pulp sci-fi, so the weirdness of PR is mana from heaven for me.
Ah, so the geek equivalent of "I like your beer". ;)
To be honest, I've mostly read the first couple hardbound books, and never found them that weird. But they had to fill a few thousand pulp novelettes since then, so I guess weirder things must've happened in the mean time, beyond immortals from Atlantis and psionics.
I even owned the first RPG, which was a weirdly simulationist game without almost any PR flavor at all (arose out of PR wargaming, IIRC). And the less said about any flavor of Midgard, the better.
 

Cosmic Hobo

Madman with a Boxed Set
Validated User
Well, it's definitely a mechanic that doesn't have any equals. I would assume that the initial idea was making all three participant attributes important, but games like HarnMaster or RuneQuest solved that in a more convenient manner. Even the first edition of TDE did it differently.

It does have the advantage that a wide range of skill is possible and often useful. I miss that in other games -- although, as I've mentioned, direct comparisons to other system is hard due to the maths involved. I've seen the graphs, and they scare me.

Ah, so the geek equivalent of "I like your beer". ;)

To be honest, I've mostly read the first couple hardbound books, and never found them that weird. But they had to fill a few thousand pulp novelettes since then, so I guess weirder things must've happened in the mean time, beyond immortals from Atlantis and psionics.

I even owned the first RPG, which was a weirdly simulationist game without almost any PR flavor at all (arose out of PR wargaming, IIRC). And the less said about any flavor of Midgard, the better.
Ja. Natürlich. Ich liebe deutsches Bier.
 
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