I'm getting tired of reading reviewers bagging on Dragon Age the pen and paper RPG just because it is based upon a video game and associated with a big company like Bioware. From this vantage point, if you don't like the video game you can complain about it (saying that CRPGs and RPGs are different animals and never the tween shall meet), or if you liked the video game you can complain that it's NOT ENOUGH like the video game.
Also, people are complaining that the rules are incomplete. Duh. It's for levels 1-5... an introductory set. I think this is a brilliant marketing tactic that we are seeing other companies doing in order to attract both nostaligic and new gamers. Kudos! I can get a a working game for half the cost of just one book in another system. I don't need 300 spells and 400 monsters to get started having fun.
Gimme a break.
I come from an old school background and dislike having too many rules and too many books. I'd rather spend my time actually playing than reading, organizing, and collecting vast arrays of adventures, skills, and splat books that I will never actually get around to using. I adore the Dragon Age tabletop pen and paper RPG and here is why:
I've played it, unlike many of the reviewers with real live gamers, most of them experienced and sophisticated.
We just have played Labyrinth Lord, Savage Worlds and 3.5 for years and I have to say, so far the reaction if extremely positive. By comparison to Labyrinth Lord, this is rules light with an actual world and a unified system that doesn't seek to recreate the past but instead seeks to streamline the advances in the hobby. Compared to Savage Worlds it has much greater flavor, is not a generic system, and has something that was a deal-breaker for us: Health points. Savage World soured on us because of it's wound system and how Bennies always just were used for soaking damage. Finally, compared to 3.5 it has about 1/10th of the rules to keep track of, and the world feels more "old school" / European rather than high fantasy bordering on science fiction.
It hits the sweet spot with rules lite - with stunts and the dragon die concept it it elegant without being overly simple. With just the three classes and several backgrounds, combined with Talents and Weapons Choices, you can create a great variety of characters.
The magic system is mana based, which I like. No more fire and forget!
The world of Ferelden is full of very interesting takes on the classic races of Dwarves and Elves. There is a rich, detailed history of the cataclysm known as The Blight and how it shaped empires, religions, and cultures. This is probably the greatest connection it has to the video game. To me it feels like the Celtic culture during the dark ages.
The tone is dark, gritty fantasy. This seems to be the trendy flavor we've seen in other products and I can say that it seems to work here very well.
The 3d6 dice mechanic works great and with the curve is much more interesting than d20. Add in the dragon die concept and you've got something new and exciting, where each roll actually contains three levels: total score, if there are doubles, and how strong the dragon die is.
The stunts system just rocks. SOOO much less complicated than feats, edges or other similar mechanics.
- The layout and art are strikingly good. I don't feel like I'm playing a generic system somebody whipped up in their basement, nor do I feel like I have a glamorous coffee-table book that is too pretty to get pizza grease on.
That's it. For the price of admission, this game will appeal to people looking for an elegant, rules-lite system that contains a deep, compelling world. If that's the sort of thing that you're after, than you'd be missing out if you didn't give it a shot.