Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where are my magic items!?

I read Chapter VI of DragonQuest yesterday. This chapter start Book Two, and is called Magic. The way magic works is interesting. There are Talents, general knowledge spells, general knowledge rituals and then there are special spells and rituals. Just like in T&T everyone knows the general knowledge spells. It sure makes it possible to have options even as a starting character. I like that.

But, having read about all the schools of magic, or colleges as they are called, I was kind of surprised not to find any magic items! Looking around I realized there are none to be found. DragonQuest is a bit oddly organized sometimes, but having read it all I know I haven't missed it. So, there is no shopping list of magic items.

Whatever I felt about DragonQuest before, I surely didn't become less fond of it because of this lack. Frankly, I find the way magic items have become commodity is one of the ways the fantastic have been leeched out of some fantasy games. D&D 4th ed soured on me partly because of that. When everyone can look at that list and see all the details and effects nailed down, where are there space left for wonder and mystery?

So, it might mean you have to work a bit more, but DragonQuest have become one of the fantasy rpgs I feel "did it right". I've often heard that claimed, and even though I doubt this is what they meant, I now join the chorus. Since it's out of print, you'll have to buy Tunnels & Trolls instead. :)


  1. I remember DQ and don't.

    I'll have to go searching the interwebs for a summary, to see if it twigs my memory.

  2. BTW, the Fantasy novel series "Chronicles of the Raven" is based on a DragonQuest campaign.

  3. In DQ, you make your own magic items. Look for the Investment Ritual, 32.3.

    Alchemists can work with with adepts to create potions, and in the College of Black Magic, Special Alchemy allows making special potions.

    As I recall playing DQ in the eighties, we spent a lot of time tracking when we had the best Aspect (and other?) bonuses to create Investments.

    Definitely no shopping list, other than the spell lists themselves. I don't recall any permanency either, although it's been a long time. Everything (as I recall) is either dose-based (potions) or charge-based (Investments).

  4. Christian,

    Really? I read two volumes and liked them, but kind of lost speed after that. Maybe I'll have to pick them up again!

  5. Thanks for the nice summary of options, Jerry!

    The process is fairly hands-off in T&T, so I'll go and take a peek how it works with the Investment Ritual. Quite different, I guess.

  6. Actually, I'm all for taking the wonder and mystery out of magic, at least when magic is something that player characters can do. If they can't -- if magic is only done by Cyclopean Horrors From Beyond or whatever, then by all means it can be mysterious as hell. But if I as a player have a character who can use magic, I want to know the details and effects. I don't want to play "social engineer the GM" or twenty questions or "It works like this today for plot reasons, but tomorrow it will work like that"...I just want to understand my character's capabilities.

    And honestly, I'd rather put the wonder and mystery into the story, not into the mechanics. Things I and my character have never seen or heard of before = mysterious. Things I put on the character sheet and which my character knows how to do = not mysterious.

  7. I see what you mean. Sure, I have no problem with things on the sheet being known. The problem is if everyone knows all the details even before it's written on the character sheet. Then I feel the mystery have been lost. Where did the exploration go?


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