Unlike other games I have run (or attempted to run), I kept things very simple: my PCs met one stormy night in a bar, met a mysterious stranger, met a creepy little girl, almost died when everyone was slaughtered by a Hunger Demon, escaped to a monastery where they joined forces with a Dalish Elf Lorekeeper to complete a ritual in town that banished all the demons that were lurching around.
The PCs completed the adventure successfully, got some loot, and had a good time. Compared to running my 4e games, combat encounters went by incredibly fast, even doing it over text as opposed to chat, with only little time spent remembering what roll was required to do what action. It was all remarkably easy, which was good as one of players had never played any form of pen & paper game before. The stunt system made for much more fascinating combat then the standard “I cast Magic Missile ad nauseum” that can happen in D&D. And the system in general seems to encourage RP a lot more than D&D does: in the three sessions it took us to complete the adventure, there were only two combat encounters. Three, if you count my mage player fending off demonic possession while asleep as combat.
Some of my minor gripes regarding the game mechanics is that there is little in the way of telling a GM how to balance encounters. Without really know how to balance encounters, I took some unorthodox approaches to making sure my PCs didn’t die in the final climax battle, especially since I only had two players: a rogue and a mage.Chiefly I borrowed a page from 4e D&D and unleashed a wave of minions on my hapless heroes: monsters that had the full range of attack/defense values, but with only one hit point, and on a successful attack did a set amount of damage instead of a range. The PCs could slaughter the minions with a single attack roll, but they did manage to take some significant damage thanks to their low hp and lack of a warrior. I was actually worried by the time my boss made his debut (one round later than planned to enable the PCs a quick healing break), but despite some heavy hits, the PCs hit harder and blew him away (the mage had a phenomenal couple of attack rolls due to Stunts and dealt almost half the Boss’s total HP in one turn!). There’s also a very slim selection of monsters to pick from, so I feel a lot of “re-skinning” in my future.
While I don’t nescessarily like Dragon Age: Origins, I love the setting presented in Dragon Age RPG. I love that there’s an actual difference in the types of undead (standard zombies and skeletons are actually dead bodies possessed by demons through the Fade; ghouls are living creatures that have subcommbed to Darkspawn taint, and shades are dead people unable to move on in their lives). And because it’s not a rigid video game, I can explore concepts the game glossed over, like how mages are constantly under threat of possession by demons in the Fade, or Templars that will notice an apostate mage and drag them back to the Circle. I do wish there was a lot more information given with regards to the Dalish Elves, the Darkspawn, and the Dwarven kingdoms, and lands outside and within Ferelden in general as what’s presented is fairly barebones, and I’ve no compulsion to try to play the video game and write down Elvish words.
Set 1 is for character levels 1-5, which should be about four or so adventurers, if I tailor each adventure to end with a level-up (I’ve been doling out XP, but I may just jack them up to level 2 before the next adventure). I’m a little annoyed that I have to purchase additional sets for additional things like Stunts for Roleplaying and Exploration encounters, character classes, monsters, and additional levels, but Green Ronin just announced that instead of the planned four sets they’re just going to go with three: Set 2 for levels 6-10, and Set 3 for 11-20.
Even beyond the additional mechanics the sets provide, though, I should have plenty of ideas for future adventures.
Who knew it was possible? A Dragon Age that I actually enjoy.