Ran my first session

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Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:37 am

Hi everyone,

I'm entirely new to the Dragon Age tabletop RPG! It's been on my shelf for a while but it took until last night before I finally got to run the first session of Dalish Curse with some of my friends. I'd like to take the opportunity to share my experience with you guys.

To sketch a bit of background: I'm currently still involved in a running D&D 4th edition campaign and in the past I've played quite a bit of Warhammer Fantasy RPG, both 2nd and 3rd edition and Star Wars (Saga Edition).
The Dragon Age game ran very smoothly, I have to say. It helped that everyone at the table had played the video games so we all knew the setting. The players (a small party of 3 guys, one of each class) got used to the system very quickly and before long they were already figuring out creative ways to deal with the stunts. We used a wet-erase battlemap and some miniatures to support the action.
Coming from 4th edition D&D, two things really struck me about the game. What I enjoyed was how quickly the fights went by, so that the combat parts didn't drag too much. Enemies have pretty low HP, particularly compared to D&D 4e, making the combat short but brutal. On the other hand, maybe it's because I've become so used to slightly meatier systems by now, but there was something about the game that felt a bit unfulfilling to me as the GM, although the players all seemed to really like its simplicity. Maybe I'll just need to be a bit more creative with the material, but a lot of it felt a bit too "bare bones" somehow. Perhaps Set 2 fixes this by adding some more detail? All in all, we had a good time. I'm pretty sure we'll finish the Dalish Curse next session, after which we may move on to Blood in Ferelden.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby zanwot » Mon Jun 04, 2012 12:43 pm

Hi, congrats on taking up Dragon Age.

From your comments it seems your session was a success, and that your players were quick to get a hold of the system, which is all great.
Audioepics wrote:On the other hand, maybe it's because I've become so used to slightly meatier systems by now, but there was something about the game that felt a bit unfulfilling to me as the GM, although the players all seemed to really like its simplicity. Maybe I'll just need to be a bit more creative with the material, but a lot of it felt a bit too "bare bones" somehow. Perhaps Set 2 fixes this by adding some more detail? All in all, we had a good time. I'm pretty sure we'll finish the Dalish Curse next session, after which we may move on to Blood in Ferelden.

I get the feeling from your message that the "meatier" systems have gotten you used to having a lot of "handles" to hold and pull, which is securing. Lighter systems, like DA, mean as a GM you are much more free, which is daunting but also can be very, well, liberating, and creative. You need to not hesitate to improvise and make up your own decisions, and maybe take a step back from combat. Personnaly the Dalish curve felt a little too constraining to my style, I am having more fun on the adventure from the GM kit which is more "open".
Set 2 could indeed help you, as for example it introduces exploration and roleplaying stunts which would help you see how to develop the game in those directions, while at the same time giving you a few more "handles".

All that being said, your comment on your game makes it sound like a great sucess with your players, and quite honestly I don't think my experience (or more specifically my players) with the Dalish curse went as well. So I am fairly sure you probably don't really have a problem, and certainly some tricks I could learn from you, you just need to get a feel for the game and feel more comfortable. Have fun!
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Scion of Haven » Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:03 pm

Audioepics wrote:Enemies have pretty low HP, particularly compared to D&D 4e, making the combat short but brutal.


Huh. I had the exact opposite experience. I ended up cutting HP in half across the board and dramatically reducing armor when I ran it, because everyone, players and monsters alike, had just too much HP and took way too long to die. Simple combats dragged on for hours.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:25 am

zanwot wrote:Set 2 could indeed help you, as for example it introduces exploration and roleplaying stunts which would help you see how to develop the game in those directions, while at the same time giving you a few more "handles".


Thanks for your advice! The roleplaying and exploration stunts sound like a really cool addition. If this group makes it a few levels higher and they still enjoy it, I'll definitely take a look at Set 2.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:29 am

Scion of Haven wrote:
Audioepics wrote:Enemies have pretty low HP, particularly compared to D&D 4e, making the combat short but brutal.


Huh. I had the exact opposite experience. I ended up cutting HP in half across the board and dramatically reducing armor when I ran it, because everyone, players and monsters alike, had just too much HP and took way too long to die. Simple combats dragged on for hours.


Strange, was this in the Dalish Curse? Or did it happen in higher levels? Because the fights really flew by for us, especially compared to other games. Maybe I'm doing something wrong that's accidentally making the game more fun?
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby shonuff » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:04 am

Armor resistance maybe?
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Tue Jun 05, 2012 2:17 am

shonuff wrote:Armor resistance maybe?

We subtracted armor from damage dealt (except penetrating damage). That's it right? I did notice that the fights were pretty easy on the players. Only the mage got into a bit of trouble, and that was just because he was left standing on his own at one point. Could it be that I needed to add strength to the monsters' damage rolls like the heroes do? Come to think of it, I never did that. I just rolled, say, 1D6+5 damage for the revengers' claw attack, as it said in the stat block.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Koeran » Tue Jun 05, 2012 3:16 am

The monsters strength should add to their damage rolls, but that should already be included in their stat blocks anyway. So you're probably okay there.

It can just come down to rolls sometimes. When my group played through the Dalish Curse, the Blight wolves nearly wiped us. Mostly because the GM kept rolling stunt points.

Edit: And yes, Penetrating Damage is the only damage which you don't subtract armour from.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Scion of Haven » Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:22 am

Audioepics wrote:Strange, was this in the Dalish Curse? Or did it happen in higher levels? Because the fights really flew by for us, especially compared to other games. Maybe I'm doing something wrong that's accidentally making the game more fun?

It wasn't Dalish Curse. My first experience was as a player, in which basic genlocks took upwards of 3 turns to kill each, even with a warrior, a rogue, and two magi blasting away at them. The players, though, were never really in any danger, since we had so much hp (even the magi) that we just soaked up hits with our meager armor.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Arimmus » Sat Jun 09, 2012 8:28 pm

For My games i start Players out with Mages 10 HP, Rogues 15, and warriors 20. For the homebrew setting I am making, you only gain HP ever 5 levels and MP every 3. Once I get the spell system done I will release it (Mages can have a potential 20 somethings spells come level 10.) Armor in my games is also a lot harder to come by. Heavy plate requires 1500 gp, and even if a player has it, they need to have to have a contact (Communications (Bargaining) TN 18, ST 15) find it, or find someone willing to spend the time to make it. (TN 15, ST 15). I also handle such interactions a different way, where it all depends on who reaches the ST first, the Attacker or the defender. If the Smith reaches it first, he will refuse to make it.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Sidmen » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:23 pm

Arimmus wrote:For My games i start Players out with Mages 10 HP, Rogues 15, and warriors 20. For the homebrew setting I am making, you only gain HP ever 5 levels and MP every 3. Once I get the spell system done I will release it (Mages can have a potential 20 somethings spells come level 10.) Armor in my games is also a lot harder to come by. Heavy plate requires 1500 gp, and even if a player has it, they need to have to have a contact (Communications (Bargaining) TN 18, ST 15) find it, or find someone willing to spend the time to make it. (TN 15, ST 15). I also handle such interactions a different way, where it all depends on who reaches the ST first, the Attacker or the defender. If the Smith reaches it first, he will refuse to make it.

Dang, those are some arbitrarily large numbers (for the armor). Wouldn't it just be easier to make liberal use of anti-armor stunts instead of charging enough money to buy a castle and forcing a bunch of incredibly difficult tests?

I mean, I know its your game and all, but just looking at that makes me want to go "so, whose up for murdering a knight".
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Woodclaw » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:08 am

Arimmus wrote:For My games i start Players out with Mages 10 HP, Rogues 15, and warriors 20. For the homebrew setting I am making, you only gain HP ever 5 levels and MP every 3. Once I get the spell system done I will release it (Mages can have a potential 20 somethings spells come level 10.) Armor in my games is also a lot harder to come by. Heavy plate requires 1500 gp, and even if a player has it, they need to have to have a contact (Communications (Bargaining) TN 18, ST 15) find it, or find someone willing to spend the time to make it. (TN 15, ST 15). I also handle such interactions a different way, where it all depends on who reaches the ST first, the Attacker or the defender. If the Smith reaches it first, he will refuse to make it.


I agree that the characters (and the monsters) tned to have too many HP. But these changes makes the heavy armor extremely expensive, the thwo things combined means that the characters are a lot more vulnerable. Did you increase the Defense score somehow?
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Arimmus » Sun Jun 10, 2012 8:38 pm

That price is for a campaign setting I am creating (D&D Currency). Sorry for the confusion.
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Postby Audioepics » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:59 am

So I see people are already using homebrew settings for DA. I like that, it's such a flexible system. I really liked the Star Wars conversion "Age of Rebellion" (there's a thread about it on the forum here). Are there any other interesting conversions worth knowing about?
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:57 am

Wow, thanks for the list. There's some fascinating stuff there! I'm particularly intrigued by the Elder Scrolls conversion. One thing that I feel is a little bit stifling in Dragon Age is the fact that there are only three classes. I know set 2 adds specialisations but you have to wait 5 levels before you have access to them. A classless system might help make each character feel more unique.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Arimmus » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:43 am

I actually am for my setting creating a "Classless" system for mine. Warrior, Rogue and Mage are just the archtypes, however it breaks down to this.

Level 1 3 Special abilities or talents.
Level 2 New Spell, Or a Special ability.
Level 3. New Talent, MP Increase.
Level 4 New Ability, and new Spell.
Level 5 HP Increase, and Talent.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Wed Jun 13, 2012 1:20 am

Arimmus wrote:I actually am for my setting creating a "Classless" system for mine. Warrior, Rogue and Mage are just the archtypes, however it breaks down to this.

Level 1 3 Special abilities or talents.
Level 2 New Spell, Or a Special ability.
Level 3. New Talent, MP Increase.
Level 4 New Ability, and new Spell.
Level 5 HP Increase, and Talent.


Does this mean anyone can take spells? Or do you have to start with the Mage archetype?
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Arimmus » Wed Jun 13, 2012 7:07 am

In my campaign only those that are "Wild Mages" Can have spells. and they at character Creation must roll a Magic TN 15 to be so.
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Omegawolf » Thu Jun 14, 2012 1:08 am

Figured I'd jump in and say hi to everyone, here since this is my first post, and also say that I just ran my first game as well, just earlier this evening in fact and we had an absolute blast. Will warn, there are spoilers to the first adventure the Dalish Curse in my post.

As the OP did, I will also give a little background - I've been playing D&D (or AD&D) since 2nd edition, and have played each iteration up to current (4e, that is until Next comes out, but more on that in a bit). I also have played 2nd edition WHFRP pretty extensively, as well as most of the White Wolf Storyteller games (Vampire, Mage, Werewolf, Changeling, Exalted, and Aberrant). Other games include Shadowrun, Cyberpunk, Mechwarrior/Battletech (the rpg and the original battle game), Call of Cthulu, 7th Sea, Star Wars (both the d6 and all versions of the d20 iterations up to and including SAGA), Gamma World, and probably several other games I can't remember at the moment. And I am currently working on making my own RPG system.

I was recently running a fairly intense D&D 4e campaign until one of my players had to head to Yellowstone to work for the summer, and I promised to put it on hold until he got back so he didn't have to miss out on the story. We did a little gamign here and there, tried the new Gamma World, but the GM running it was having a hard time powering down the pre-made adventure for only 3 or 4 players (one player has a busy work schedule), so I figured I could bust out the Dragon Age game that my loving wife got me for Xmas this last year while I continued to work on my own system (the rules are done, still need to work on the first setting for it).

Then I got the D&D Next playtest packet. My entire group looke dit over, and I was planning onm us playtesting it. Right out the gate, no one liked the rules and everyone stated we should just stick with 4e, and otherwise move onto something else for our current gaming.

So we made characters last week, and at that time I had only read part of the first box set, lesson learned? Crappy rolls for character creation are still crappy, regardless of system, but the player who made the bad rolls is making the most of it. He is playing an escaped Dalish slave from the Tevinter Imperium (funny since that is an option in the Set 3 playtest, but I am sticking to published stuff since we are just starting out), who happened to learn some magic from his captors by studying them (of course magic was inate in his blood, a fact that didn't escape his owners...). My wife is playing a tomb raider type rogue, and my third player is playing a talkative dwarf warrior. Overall I think next time I will use one of the creation methods in Set 2, probably the one that allows you to spread 10 points to your attributes. When it came to making the characters and thier backgroudns and such, like the OP it went rather smoothly since all the players know the video game.

For the play session, I decided against using a map and miniatures but I will probably use it for next game, we're just too used to it now. Not that it didn't go fine without it, just that there wasn't a lot of moving around it seemed, I think with a mat and minis, movement will be a bigger deal when everyone can see placement, and try and use stunts like Skirmish to try and control the monsters more, like to set up the mage for his big area attacks. We foudn the rules refreshingly streamlined and easy to use. There is a simple elegance to makign everythign in the game work the exact same way with the use of Ability Tests. My warrior player was also happy to see a game use armor 'the right way' by subtracting damage from damage rolls.

I ran (of course) the Dalish Curse, and they had a rough spot with the wolves at first, but eventually they overcame them. It went a little slow, but then everyone was getting used to the system, so it was to be expected. Once that was over they went through the rest of the session just fine, rscuing Eshara, taking her to town, talking down the mob (in 2 rolls! Dragon Dice were liking my group), and such. Eshara is even taking a shine to the elven mage. We ended with them heading into the forest right after the confrontation with the blacksmith and his buddies outside of town. Everyone is looking forward to next week.

Sorry for the overlong post, but wanted to say how great we all think this system is, while giving some information on my own gaming background for compariosn sake, and that we are looking forward to more. Here's to hoping that Set 3 and a book of adventures designed around Set 2 and 3 are out soon!
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Audioepics » Thu Jun 14, 2012 3:06 am

Hi! Nice overview of your first session. Sounds like it went even better than mine. I agree about the way armour is handled in this game. That's one thing (maybe the only thing) I preferred about D20 Star Wars over Saga edition :)

Sounds like you have a cool group who bring lots of roleplaying creativity to the table as well. Nice!
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Re: Ran my first session

Postby Omegawolf » Thu Jun 14, 2012 11:01 pm

Thanks, and and I apologize for the typos, my keyboard was hating me last night lol. Yeah, I liked how D20 Star Wars worked armor as well, but overall my favorite was always the d6 WEG Star Wars. Something about leveling up and having classes in Star Wars kinda bugged me, but I overlooked it at the time because it was the only Star Wars game on the block as the WEG books were hard to come by. I still run SAGA from time to time despite some of my standing issues with the system.

And yeah, my players are awesome when it comes to role-play. We've been gaming together for close to a decade, so we find a natural groove once a game gets going. I do believe though, that we will be playing this for the forseeable future. I am already making plans in the back of my head for adventures after the premade ones are finished, and I will say that the GM's Guide in Set 2 has some great advice for running your own stuff.
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