I feel like there are some things missing in this box set

Discuss our dark fantasy adventure tabletop roleplaying game based on BioWare's computer game, Dragon Age Origins.

I feel like there are some things missing in this box set

Postby zorblack » Sun Dec 20, 2009 7:28 pm

I understand that this is a new way to market an rpg, but I have some problems with the accessibility of the set to new or veteran gamers alike.

One issue I have is that the small bestiary in the gamemaster's guide doesn't have any indication of the strength of the monsters relative to the pcs. I've played the video game quite a bit (on my second runthrough now), and I thought I would try throwing two genlocks at a single pc as a sort of playtest, and I would follow this fight with some bandits. I was told by my player that he had serious doubts he would even survive the first encounter, let alone a second. With no xp values attributed to the monsters, and no numerical rating of their strength, determining an appropriate encounter is very difficult for a veteran gamer and nigh impossible for the beginning gamemaster.

Later on in the experience section it encourages you to decide how difficult an encounter was based on how much the party had to expend resources. Again, novice GMs are going to be totally over their heads figuring out how much xp to give to the party. This can be frustrating, you don't want to allow the pcs to advance too fast, but you don't want to annoy them with low rewards for their effort. Also, just because they expend resources doesn't mean an encounter was difficult; it could just mean they made bad choices and made things harder on themselves than you planned.

Another issue I have is pricing on magical items. A lesser health poultice/potion in the Dragon Age video game is made of one elfroot and one flask. A flask in this rpg is 50 copper pieces, about the same as in the video game. Elfroot is about 5 copper or so (it's really inexpensive is the point). Any 1st level herbalist can therefore make a lesser health potion with no effort or expense. The lesser potions seem really overpowered in this game for lower level characters, but at the same time they should be dirt cheap (in the realm of a few silvers). I have no idea how to price them to avoid messing with the game balance, so some guidance there would be great.

On the subject of herbalists, there are no crafting skills/feats/anything or any mention of them being available. There has to be someone in the world making these magic items and potions, but without knowing what skillset they are supposed to possess in the tabletop game, I have no idea how expensive their services should be. Also, are pcs ever going to get the ability to craft their own potions and poisons?

This is all I have now, but I haven't been diving into the material in depth. I may have more in the future, but I'm interested to know what the plans are in these directions. I just worry that gamemasters won't have a robust enough set of tools from the manuals to craft good adventures. With the huge amount of gaming material out there and good new rpg systems coming out every day, I don't feel like I should have to act as a sort of playtester determining adventures from a lot of trial and error when many other systems have some guidance in these areas from day one. I really like this system, and I'd love to see it take off. I hope my concerns make sense to everyone else, and this game can be made all the stronger from constructive criticism.
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Postby lordmalachdrim » Sun Dec 20, 2009 9:10 pm

I don't see the issue with the bestiary that you do. But then the system (Palladium) I started out on didn't give such information and encounter level appropriate creatures either.

And I don't recall (off hand) seeing anything like that either in RuneQuest, Shadowrun, Heavy Gear, GURPS, Hero System, or WFRP.
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Postby Saisei » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:18 am

I can understand your concerns, particularly for the novice GM but as far as encounter making goes I don't think you should worry about it too much.

I specifically warned my party before we started that this isn't DnD, there isn't a way of making balanced encounters and that there shouldn't bloody be anyway.

If a band of level 1 PC's happen across a Revenant for instance in DnD (Or Lich, whatever) they'll think "Huh... that's odd. This must be a fight we're meant to lose" or that someone will save them.

If this happens in the DARPG and your party doesn't scream like little girls and run away well then they deserve what they get.

I think I might be somewhat in the same boat as you though. I think I've been led along by the hand by DnD for too long. Why should the PC's only face enemies they can beat? It doesn't make any sense.


As far as the healing potions go, they're supposed to be very rare in the DARPG. If you get one you keep it until your lower half is hanging off. Only then do you use it. they shouldn't be readily available.

And as crafting goes, there's a post up here with some really good rules in it for making lower level potions. Aside from that I imagine we'll see the official ones in Set 2
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Postby zorblack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:25 am

To Lordmalachdrim: Wow, that's...really quite a list of less popular RPGs. When you were playing Shadowrun and GURPS, what edition were you playing? I basically think the idea in both of those RPGs (from experience and hearsay) was that pcs very quickly became ungodly powerful and so enemy difficulty was not as much of an issue. Shadowrun in particular mostly followed a "waves of enemies" type motto to keep the pcs busy.

To Saisei: I've done some DMing in my day, as well as some hackmaster GMing, and played a number of other games. I always liked to throw in an encounter or two for each adventure that they might have to run away from, but I want the ability to choose and know ahead of time what is going to destroy my party with impunity. I don't want to put in an important story encounter that accidentally tpk's. There is a way of making balanced encounters; we just need more info. I just don't agree at all that we shouldn't have the knowledge to make the choice of an easy-to-difficult encounter. As to crafting, I don't really want house rules for crafting; I just feel that I have to go to house rules for what I consider to be an important part of any system (crafting some sort of items), that is a failing of the system. At least in my eyes it is.

To both of you: I've played games that don't have any information about encounters, but they're mostly joke games like Paranoia (at least if you're running a zap adventure). I've also played games that are supposed to be hard on your players (Hackmaster outright tells the gm that players are the enemy, and tells you to reward yourself with stickers when they die!), but this game just feels to me like it's lacking polish.
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Postby Batgirl III » Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:42 am

To both of you: I've played games that don't have any information about encounters, but they're mostly joke games like Paranoia (at least if you're running a zap adventure). I've also played games that are supposed to be hard on your players (Hackmaster outright tells the gm that players are the enemy, and tells you to reward yourself with stickers when they die!), but this game just feels to me like it's lacking polish


So... The first seven editions D&D were "joke games"? What about White-Wolf's entire product line? Mutants & Masterminds? West End Games' Star Wars?

Gamemasters spent decades having to know their players, their party, and the needs of the story. Frankly, I despise the concept they introduced with D&D3e that there should be 13.3 encounters of 4.4 monster for every 1.2 players, divided by the square root of the treasure thy have. :roll:
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Postby Aldaris » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:14 am

Thanks for putting it so well. Saves me from having to answer. :D
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Postby Ryngard » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:32 am

Yeah seriously... figuring out how to do encounters has typically always been trial-and-error with the GM and players.

OMG they didn't hand out everything to us?! We have to think!?! OMG!

:)

Seriously though, just play with it! Have some fun trying things out. Don't worry so much about the rules!
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Postby Bill » Mon Dec 21, 2009 5:58 am

Missing? well, I would like an atlas that describes at least the major settlements on the ferelden map. Right now I either have to do all that work myself (and then find out they plan to publish it in a year) or wait to start my game?

Not really a complaint, as I am used to building entire campaign settings from scratch.

But no description in the gm's guide about denerim or highever or orzimar? wow....

I would gladly pay $ for a village/town/region gazeteer! :)
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Postby Riggswolfe » Mon Dec 21, 2009 6:50 am

Bill wrote:Missing? well, I would like an atlas that describes at least the major settlements on the ferelden map. Right now I either have to do all that work myself (and then find out they plan to publish it in a year) or wait to start my game?

Not really a complaint, as I am used to building entire campaign settings from scratch.

But no description in the gm's guide about denerim or highever or orzimar? wow....

I would gladly pay $ for a village/town/region gazeteer! :)


+1

My biggest disappointment with what we've got is how skimpy setting details are. From playing the computer game I have a decent idea of things like how Denerim is laid out and such but it would still be great to have some stuff put down on paper. I'd love to get a PnP Denerim map for example.

The lack of encounter balancing tools didn't even register with me. I figured I'd get a feel for it after a few games and go from there.
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Postby Bill » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:03 am

I like to provide the players with a list of nations, families, and towns to assist them in selecting where they are from. Helps to weave the characters into the back story and the setting. Right now I will have to use the fine codex entries from the computer game and whatever my creativity will provide. Or wait for boxed set 2; that will include setting info, hopefully.



I also hope to 'detox' my players from dnd. Not that I do not like dnd, but its getting stale in my opinion, and Dragon Age is very fresh.
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Postby Batgirl III » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:08 am

This seems like a good spot to chime in andCodex Collection. Seventy pages transcribing just about every entry from the videogame's Codex.[/url]
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Postby lordmalachdrim » Mon Dec 21, 2009 7:15 am

zorblack wrote:To Lordmalachdrim: Wow, that's...really quite a list of less popular RPGs. When you were playing Shadowrun and GURPS, what edition were you playing? I basically think the idea in both of those RPGs (from experience and hearsay) was that pcs very quickly became ungodly powerful and so enemy difficulty was not as much of an issue. Shadowrun in particular mostly followed a "waves of enemies" type motto to keep the pcs busy.



Shadowrun 1st -3rd Ed (just don't like 4th ed)
GURPS on and off a bit with 3rd and 4th

My players are big fans of Shadowrun 3rd, HackMaster 4th (waiting on advanced), WFRP 2nd (disgusted by 3rd), Alternity, and they rolled up characters for Dragon Age and are trying to work it into our schedule.
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Postby Bill » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:33 am

Batgirl III wrote:This seems like a good spot to chime in andCodex Collection. Seventy pages transcribing just about every entry from the videogame's Codex.[/url]


Thanks for the link!

The codex is excellent.
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Postby Zapp » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:33 am

I agree the pnp game will need a wealth of detailed information on the lands of the campaign base that the crpg doesn't need or give.

But allowing this to be its own product will allow GR to make it better.

Keep in mind that there will be lots of players who when they get their hands on the box will start to invent new lands for themselves.

I know I did that when I first got hold of my first rpgs, which like Dragon Age were boxed sets, back 25 years or so. :)

So believe me it is not a horrible omission from the first box set to not have complete details on Ferelden and surrounding lands.

Sure, its an inconvenience to lazy people like you and me. But we're not the #1 priority market group for this game, remember.
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Postby Riggswolfe » Mon Dec 21, 2009 8:33 am

Batgirl III wrote:This seems like a good spot to chime in andCodex Collection. Seventy pages transcribing just about every entry from the videogame's Codex.[/url]


Oh, I've had your codex for awhile now. I need to buy some ink then I plan to print it and have it bound at Kinko's or something.
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Postby zebuleon » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:00 am

Batgirl III wrote:So... The first seven editions D&D were "joke games"? What about White-Wolf's entire product line? Mutants & Masterminds? West End Games' Star Wars?

Gamemasters spent decades having to know their players, their party, and the needs of the story. Frankly, I despise the concept they introduced with D&D3e that there should be 13.3 encounters of 4.4 monster for every 1.2 players, divided by the square root of the treasure thy have. :roll:



nicely put. up until DnD 3e there wasn't any kind of 'challenge rating' system in almost any kind of game. GMs had to think on their feet and adjust the monsters stats on the fly. the GM should never be a slave to the dice anyways, thats what the screen is for, to hide your rolls so you can say you hit when you didn't, or miss when you would have killed the player. This way you can throw a dragon at a starting group and either let them win or lose as you desire and fits the story.
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Postby Aldaris » Mon Dec 21, 2009 10:14 am

Yep. That makes it all the more interesting when the gloves come off (read: the screen gets slowly and menacingly removed...).
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Postby zorblack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:31 am

zebuleon wrote:nicely put. up until DnD 3e there wasn't any kind of 'challenge rating' system in almost any kind of game. GMs had to think on their feet and adjust the monsters stats on the fly. the GM should never be a slave to the dice anyways, thats what the screen is for, to hide your rolls so you can say you hit when you didn't, or miss when you would have killed the player. This way you can throw a dragon at a starting group and either let them win or lose as you desire and fits the story.


You should never throw a gigantic monster at a low level group and then have them defeat it at your whim. That's really... that's just a bad idea.

I know games before 3rd ed didn't have much in the way of a challenge rating, but TV's didn't used to have remote controls, and video game controllers used to have one button and a joystick. The point is that we've moved on from that. Game companies have people around to playtest the game and figure stuff like this out so we can have a more refined gaming experience. It is becoming more and more apparent that you guys don't really care about having strong source material and I guess that's fine for you. You can house rule and invent all the stuff you want, but if that's what you're going to do, why even bother using anything from Dragon Age? Hell you could make your own game if you don't want any rules or tables of equipment or prices or challenge ratings right?
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Postby Batgirl III » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:42 am

Hell you could make your own game if you don't want any rules or tables of equipment or prices or challenge ratings right?


But I do want rules, equipment, prices, and so on and so forth. I just don't want Challenge Ratings. Even in 3.x and 4e I don't use the things, as the GM who is actually at the table every session, I know my player's and their character's capabilities far better than Table 4-1 or DMG, pg. xxx ever could.
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Postby Bill » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:44 am

A GM that does everything on the fly and ignores the rules MIGHT do a good job. I personally happen to be good at pulling a fun scenario out of my arse if I have to as a GM. But...my experience as a player is that most gm's, (including myself), are not as 'perfect' and 'fair' as they think they are.
I feel actually using the rules adds a layer of stability/logic/fairness/whatever.

I rarely need to 'fudge' rolls anyway; has to be an incredibly dire/rare situation for me to do that. And I assure, you, most players feel cheated when a GM does that. Fudging rolls 'for the story' is often just taking away a players ability to do something. And fudging to 'help' a player is often trivializing the challenges.

Just my opinion.


ps: I never use challenge ratings. They do not work. If you think they do work, you are mistaken. Those ratings ignore essential elements like surprise, terrain, and positioning. A battle in a narrow hallway that is easy as pie might be death in an open field. Challange ratings are nearly useless. Completely useless for veterans, perhaps a tiny bit usefull for a complete novice. maybe.
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Postby discuit » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:51 am

Zorb, it appears to be your opinion that a combat balancing ratings system would make the game better, note i said your opinion. For many of us, and i guess the designers themselves, though i can't speak for them, seem to be of the opinion that that wouldn't be a good thing....for whatever reason.

Now there is nothing wrong with you thinking that a system such as that should be in the game, but to try and pretend that becuase many of us don't think it should be means we are fanbois or being "ignorant" of the amazing advances made in the roleplaying world, well that is just being a little self conceited no?

The beauty of our hobby and the games it sprouts is that there is so much choice that you can find what you want in a variety of places, so if DA isn't for you as written, and you don't enjoy houselruling, then nae bother, there are tonnes of other great games on the market that already do everything you mention above

Just game and have fun i say. :)
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Postby Aldaris » Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:54 am

You do have a point, and I certainly don't make it a habit to fudge rolls. HOWEVER, I like to have the opportunity to do so. There are situations were a lucky (or unlucky, at that) dice roll of the GM might just kill a character or wipe the group, even if they do not deserve it.* And in those situations it is a good thing I can fudge a roll if I need to. Therefore I make it a principle to always roll behind a screen and never tell my players how much or little I "cheat". Occasionally, I break that principle. Such as before an epic fight that could go either way. It raises tension (because the players subconscious "the GM won't just kill us for no good reason" safety net comes off) and makes the outcome more rewarding.

@zorblack: HAVE we moved on from that? Every TV comes with a remote nowadays, but I can't think of a RPG other than D&D that has threat ratings. Just mentioning it because you make it sound like that's standard.





*meaning they didn't walk into the Dragons lair at first level despite the neon warning sign "here is a Dragon. It will eat you. Really." If they do that, they had it coming.
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Postby zorblack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:30 pm

Aldaris wrote:@zorblack: HAVE we moved on from that? Every TV comes with a remote nowadays, but I can't think of a RPG other than D&D that has threat ratings. Just mentioning it because you make it sound like that's standard.


Well, to be honest maybe not. I've played 3rd edition dnd, 4th edition dnd, and Hackmaster most extensively, and they all have some sort of indication as to relative challenge on monsters. But with 3rd edition dnd we're talking about a system that came out something like 10 years ago, and I personally have always found the CRs to be of at least a little help in designing an encounter. I don't think I like this whole idea of "rules-lite" at all, and I am just beginning to think this really just isn't my game. Hackmaster is by far my favorite right now, and it has such a ridiculous amount of information available that it may have spoiled me (you can roll on something like 10 or 15 tables just to start creating a character and assigning backstory bonuses and penalties). I'm just going to keep saying that if you don't give your new GMs some kind of help making encounters they're going to accidentally kill a party or fudge a ton of rolls just so everyone stays alive and then get frustrated and not want to play anymore. That's just my opinion strictly from a business standpoint here.
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Postby Aldaris » Mon Dec 21, 2009 12:58 pm

Fair enough. But we all started roleplaying and gamemastering at some point, and I don't remember parties constantly dying or having to be deus-ex-machina-rescued in my playing environment because the novice GM totally couldn't balance encounters. That said, those CRs would certainly be helpful to some, but their absence is hardly a big deal. In my opinion.
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Postby zorblack » Mon Dec 21, 2009 1:11 pm

Aldaris wrote:Fair enough. But we all started roleplaying and gamemastering at some point, and I don't remember parties constantly dying or having to be deus-ex-machina-rescued in my playing environment because the novice GM totally couldn't balance encounters. That said, those CRs would certainly be helpful to some, but their absence is hardly a big deal. In my opinion.


Well, you've had better novice gm experiences then :-?

I really have experienced exactly that sort of problem, and when I was a young DM myself in 3rd ed, I ignored the CRs and had to rescue the players myself. Once I learned to use the ratings, things were smoother and everyone had more fun.
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