The Dark Eye – Core Rules – A more European approach to role playing games

 

The Dark Eye Core RulesThe 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

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.

Skill Checks

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

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.

I want to play this game sometime, but I’ve tried to run an DCC-RPG, which isn’t as complicated as TDE and it turned out that the players just didn’t understand why they were throwing the dice or didn’t know the complexity of the game. 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

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Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-01: Portent’s Peril

Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-01: Portent's PerilPathfinder Society Scenario #8-01: Portent’s Peril by Scott Sharplin

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Played this book as a player, not as GM.
So I’ve not read the book, but played it.

This story is a huge mess, based on too many skill checks to uncover the story. There is no place for roleplaying, or getting anything out of the npc’s without doing skill checks. Probably the GM could give us more, but he played it according to the book. We failed all the checks, all checks were below 10… We uncovered NOTHING. We didn’t know what to do, we didn’t know what happened. It sucked.

When the story was explained… Damn, it was unlogical. Made no sense. There are no choices to be made by the players. There is no option to roleplay (when I tried DM’ing a Pathfinder session there was no place to roleplay either…).

I begin to feel that pathfinder scenario’s or campaign books are just mind dumb – rail road adventures where the PC’s just follow mindlessly a trail and don’t have much to decide in the outcome. There is no room to be creative.

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Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Limited Silver Foil Edition by Goodman Games

Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG Limited Silver Foil EditionDungeon Crawl Classics RPG Limited Silver Foil Edition by Goodman Games

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an extremely interesting rpg. Even if you don’t plan to play this, because it has very interesting concepts for every OGL d20 fantasy rpg.

The first difference you’ll will notice, is the level 0 characters. They call this the CHARACTER CREATION FUNNEL. Every player rolls 3D6 for their abilities, and create 3 level 0 pc’s. They have no further classes, nor race bonuses, no modifiers, etc etc. Their hp is only a 1d4+stamina modifier. Their occupation and possessions are randomized with a d20 and a list for the results. The players play the first part of the campaign till they reach level 1. By then most pc’s will have died and the players choose which pc they will play for the rest of the campaign. the rest can become npcs. Since it only takes 10XP to reach level 1, this will probably be the next gaming session.

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Me in progress of creating a one shot demosession for my friends. You can see some character sheets I’m preparing, and a map of a 16th century abbey where the demo will take place. BTW: this is the special silver foil hardcover edition of DCC RPG

The way you get XP is also based on successful encounters and not on kills. You don’t have to kill to learn something out of an encounter. This way it’s easier to earn XP from doing other things outside combat, in other RPG’s this also the case but the players are more encouraged to kill every enemy they see to level faster.

The range of dice is also unusual. In this one you could use a d3, d4, d5, d6, d7, d8, d10, d%10, d12, d14, d16, d20, d24 and d30!! it’s looks quite complex, but it isn’t. This is called the DICE-CHAIN. When the rules say to use an improved die, you step up one die. So instead of a d6 you may use a d7. This is also cumulative, so you can step up multiple dice.

The combat system isn’t necessarily based on a grid, but it can be played on a grid, on a table or ‘theater of the mind’ . The MIGHTY DEEDS OF ARMS is something I really missed in other RPG’s. A warrior can declare a special move while attacking, so long it fits the situation. The warrior can try to land an attack specifically on the horns of a demon. Just roll a D3 to see if it would succeed to cut off the horns.

SPELL DUELS! It’s the best magical battle concept I’ve seen so far. Basically when a spellcaster, casts a spell, like for example a magical missile, the other spellcasters who come after him in the initiative order can react immediately by casting a counterspell, for example magic shield! When that happens, they give up their actions in the normal initiative order in that round. The spellcasters who dueled must place a d20 on the table with the 10 facing upwards. The winner of the duel may change the dice one number up. The next time the spellcasters duel the difference between the numbers of their d20 are used as a bonus. The cool thing is that they can get in a sort of flow. Like in Lord of the Rings when Saruman fought against Gandalf in the second movie. (I’ve found a nice help chart for this spell system: click here ) Spells have also cool side effects! When casting the spell, the higher your spell check the better the spell results. (More about spells in the video below)

The layout of the book is a mixed bag. Some pages look gorgeous, others not. There are different illustrators and the quality of their work isn’t always of the same height. That’s the problem, when somebody raises the bar, then the lesser illustrators look bad. The text layout isn’t always on a grid, the kerning is sometimes awful, the word-spacing and text flagging is sometimes just cringy… But the overall feel of the layout is pleasant, because it has a retro feel and it’s easy on the eye. The book is also written really well, everything is very clear. For an Rpg that claims to be for hardcore OGL 3.e players. For them it is a very accessible game.

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Alright! If you want to know more about the spell system, and how to integrate it into a 5e game. This video is very helpfull.