Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A DragonQuest Buffet

Some random thoughts about DragonQuest, in no particular order.

The Cover
I love the cover. It's not fancy, especially by current standards. It captures the spirit of the game very well, though. There's not a lot of fluff. A muscle-bound warrior, sword in one hand, severed dragon head in the other. What do you suppose this game could be about?

It should be pretty well known to anyone who reads this blog that I am not a huge fan of skill-based systems. I like the idea, but I can't stand endless skill lists and the fact that it limits players. It looks great on paper. At character creation the world is at your feet. "Any character can do anything!" Once play starts, though, your character can't do anything. He can only do the skills on his sheet. Granted, some games make it tolerable to try thing you don't have the skill for, but it is just human nature to avoid things that aren't on your sheet.

Anyway, some game systems offer a sort of class/skill hybrid. The Fantasy Trip is one, and DragonQuest is another. I know there are more, but citing these two is enough. In those systems there each overarching "skill" encompasses several actions. That is a decent enough concept on its own. What I really like about it, and what I think it brings to the concept of skill based characters, is flexibility.

Take GURPS, for example. Your character concept is a S&S thief. Your character can have the equivalent of Lock Picking, Stealth, Disarming Traps, and Picking Pockets. Each are individual skills, developed independently of each other. The same character concept in TFT or DQ would have Thief (or whatever it is called). It grants thiefly skills. More importantly, though, now in the back of your mind, your character is a thief. Maybe I'm overstating it, but I really believe that the proper mindset can really improve play, and fun, at the table. As GM, I would be very likely to allow the DQ thief to try thiefly things not specifically covered by the intrinsic sub-skills covered by the profession. As player, I would feel more prone to think outside the box and not feel so limited by a narrow set of skills.

DragonQuest is tactical and crunchy as gravel. It has hex grids and facing. Facing! I'm a wargamer who got into roleplaying. Hex grids and facing are biscuits and gravy to me. I know they are not everyone's horn of mead, though. So, don't use them. The earth won't spin off its axis if you play the combat without them. Just play it with scratch paper to mark positions like we always have. Bottom line: Don't let DQ's tactical combat keep you from enjoying a great game. It is much easier to take a tactical game into the Theater of the Mind than it is to add tactical detail to an imagination-driven game.

That's all for now. I'm sure there will be more.

1 comment:

  1. I really love this game, and that is quite peculiar, since while I have four copies of the rules, I have not yet played it!

    But, I'm in the midst of prepping for a DQ game right now and one of the things I wonder how it will turn out is the combat. I'm not that fond of battlemap based combat, since it slows things down. It will be interesting to see if it can work without minis while still being DQ at the core.