This book came to me, before Set 1 had even come out, with the working title “Dragon Age RPG Adventure Anthology #1.” It should come as no surprise that we got sick of calling it that pretty quickly. After not too much brainstorming at all, Chris Pramas pinned the excellent name Blood in Ferelden onto the project, in homage to what can only be described as the massive arterial events of the Dragon Age: Origins computer game.
The adventures a game company chooses to publish to support a new game system can—heck, should—tell you a lot about what the designers and developers think that their game’s about. I don’t mean “what it’s about” in terms of whether the setting has wizards or laser guns or steampunk mecha in it. Because although a game’s core rulebook (usually) tells you how to play a game—what stats your character has, which dice you roll—it’s only when you start to unpack an RPG’s published adventures that you really start to learn how you’re expected to interact with the world of the game. It’s only in that context of digesting actual scenarios that you begin to understand how you’re supposed to play the game. And that, to my mind, is what a game is truly about.
Chris told me early on that his vision of roleplaying in Thedas revolved around the phrase “Moral Choices that Matter.” So when I solicited authors to propose scenarios for Blood in Ferelden I made it clear that we wanted them to propose adventures where the heroes were called on to make tough choices, and that—critically—the choices they made had to have a real impact.
I don’t think I’d be exaggerating unduly to say that my local group of Dragon Age playtesters, at least, felt a bit bludgeoned by the results. The frequency and difficulty of the meaty decisions the PC heroes have to face in (to take just one example) Walt Ciechanowski’s “Amber Rage” are truly punishing. Which makes a fine segue into what, exactly, you’ll find in Blood in Ferelden.
First off, the book contains three full-length adventures.
“Amber Rage” is the first. It’s set in southern Ferelden, near the Korcari Wilds. Without giving too much away, in “Amber Rage,” the adventure comes flying directly at the PCs when they fall under attack from an unexpectedly… um… virulent band of attackers. From there, there’s a critical journey over dangerous terrain and an equally difficult return trip.
“Where Eagles Lair” is the second adventure of the trio, written by T.S. Luikart, a Green Ronin veteran who’s turned in some great work here. It’s set in the Frostback Mountains, and prominently features the savage Avvar clansmen as (again, without giving too much away) both friends and foes. This adventure includes an appendix that presents source material on Avvar culture, of general use to Dragon Age RPG players and GMs both.
An adventure called “A Fragile Web” rounds out Blood in Ferelden. Written by Walt Ciechanowski and Kevin Kulp, it brings the heroes to the Fereldan capital city of Denerim. It changes up the tenor of the anthology by shifting gears to present an intensely political adventure featuring plots inside intrigues on top of machinations. Its structure also allows it to be used (if the GM wishes) as the framework of a mini-campaign, bookending and interleaving with other adventures that can occur in the meantime.
After the full-length offerings, Blood in Ferelden ends with three longish scenario seeds (they’re between 1,000 and 2,000 words each) that present starting points that GMs can flesh out into full scenarios on their own. Seeds entitled “All is Theft,” “The Pilgrimage of Sister Stone,” and “The Sound Sleep of the Innocent” (by David Hill, Filamena Young, and Yours Truly, respectively) give the outlines of entire stories—premises, plot developments, probable endings—but rely on individual GMs to do the scene-by-scene work.
There are two reasons we decided to round out the book with adventure seeds (because as originally outlined, Blood in Ferelden didn’t include them). The first reason is that we got more good pitches from our writers than we could include in the book as full-length adventures. Presenting some of them in abbreviated format seemed like a good way to avoid wasting good material. The second reason is related to how we hope the Dragon Age RPG will work in the marketplace. Given the popularity of Dragon Age: Origins, we hope that the Dragon Age RPG will be a gateway to tabletop roleplaying for people who like computer RPGs but have never done roleplaying with dice, around a table. My thinking was that players who’re new to a pen-and-paper experience could use some ideas that would help them bridge the gap between running full-length, pre-published adventures on one hand, and creating adventures of their own on the other. Beefy seeds seemed like just the right level of help.
I hope that you enjoy the adventures in Blood in Ferelden, whether you run them as a GM for your local players, struggle against their challenges as a PC hero, or just read them for inspiration. I also hope that they help you hone in the theme of “Moral Choices that Matter,” which is what I think the Dragon Age RPG is really about.
Thanks for playing!