The Dark Eye Core Rules by Markus Plotz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This game is really difficult, very crunchy. The rules are very comprehensive, which makes the game interesting. It feels more ‘realistic’ than Dungeons and Dragons.
Character creation is very interesting. You can choose between pre-generated pc’s or create your own. The interesting part is that you start from a certain experience level, with action points or AP. Every race (human, elf or dwarf) has a certain AP cost. There are multiple kinds of human, dwarven and elven cultures. And then there are professions. Professions, cultures and skills are all ‘packages’ and have a certain AP cost.
You can also begin the game by creating totally something classless and do your own thing. You can do whatever you want. If you earn EP, you also earn AP and you’ll can spend them whenever and however you’ll like. ‘Leveling’ as in DnD doesn’t exist.
Advantages & Disadvantages and Special Abilities.
You’ll remember Feats or Character Traits from DnD? These also exist in TDE. But in another form. Disabilities also exist in unearthed arcana in the DND 5e. In the TDE these are all Advantages & Disadvantages. There are also special abilities in the TDE, these are most similar to feats from DnD.
Advantages are extra abilities, improvements to your character that you also can buy with AP. Some give you the ability to regenerate faster, others to withstand cold or heat. Some of them give you better technique with certain weapons. It’s very similar to feats in DnD 3.5.
Disadvantages are more role playing restrictions and also disabilities to your character. These don’t cost AP, they give AP back. Like for example: you can choose to be a blind person. Or you can’t hear anything. Other disadvantages are that you have certain obligations, or that you are superstitious. You can’t walk further if you see a black cat on the left of the road. Certain unlucky numbers frightens you or makes you suspicious.
Skills are connected to 3 abilities. And you’ll have different qualities of success. When you have to roll a skill check, you’ll have to roll under your skill number with your three abilities. You can use the points you’ve invested in that skill to lower your score to your die roll under your ability score. The unused points determines the quality level (QL) of your action.
The party of players can also do group skill checks. Where the unused skill points of the group determines if the check was successful or not. There are also checks over time. Like for example if you want to build a house, you have to get to a number (determined by the DM) with your quality points. So you can build everyday on your home, your skill check takes a certain amount of in-game time. For example: Keep doing skill checks every day getting to the predetermined amount of QL points before the house is completed.
Combat is also pretty complicated. (It’s already explained in detail in my blackguard review)
You want to hit an enemy with your sword! You have two actions. One is moving toward the enemy, the other one is swinging with your sword trying to hit him. Your PC has an attack value of lets say 8. Your Rapier has an Attack Value of +1. The Rapier’s special attribute is agility, for every 3 points in agility above 8 you get a +1. You Agility is 14. 14-8= 6. You get a +2 to hit. This means you have to throw lower than 11 with you 20 sided die.
This means you have 55% chance to hit. (This would be a starting level character btw).
If you hit, the following happens.
Your enemy can parry or dodge with his parry or dodge skill. His parry skill is 13. Which is calculated by his DEX. Now he can use every 3 points above a base value 8 for agility. He has an agility of 12. 12-8= 4. So he gets a +1. Which is 14. Now he tries to parry with a short weapon against a medium weapon. He receives -2 on his parry. He has to roll lower than 12. He has a chance of 60% to parry the weapon.
He can also dodge the attack. A Dodge is your agility divided by 2. 12/2= 6. But he has a skill body control which gives him +1. He has a dodge of 7. Which is too low to use.
You have 55% to hit and the defender 60% chance to defend himself. Which gives you 33% to hit I think…
Lets say if you have to roll lower than a 19 to hit an enemy. He lies on the ground, this gives you an advantage: making your *chance* 100% to hit: this can even go over 20. Lets say you have to roll lower than 23 to hit. This means that if you roll a 19 + a random disadvantage of + 2 making a 21 still is a hit. But the fumble rule still applies. If you roll a 20 it’s still an instant fumble and the gamemaster may get creative and invents a random failure. An archer misses on 19-20 rolls. So there is always a 5%-10% chance you fumble, and a 5% chance you crit (on rolling a 1).
Later you are in a house with a low ceiling. Your enemy lies unconscious before you on the ground. Let’s kill him in cold blood! You swing your sword full of rage. Outgame you have to roll a d20; let’s say that everything except a 20 hits. You’re unlucky: you roll a 20. The DM decides what happens: your swing your sword above your head in full rage and your sword gets stuck in the ceiling.
What I’ve learned from past RPG sessions, is that if you play unknown or lesser known rpg’s, the players sometimes don’t know the rules and most didn’t bother to invest time into learning the RPG. So it becomes a confusing mess of players that don’t understand what’s really going on, or why they are throwing certain dice or what the consequences are of their chosen actions. They didn’t really understand why certain actions were not a good idea, thus failing the action. I think this game has the same problem: you have to know people who want to invest time learning a system this complex.
Very fun game, but very crunchy