Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reading Dragons at Dawn Part III

So, time for another part in my series of post on Dragons at Dawn, the game that tries to salvage the rules used by Dave Arneson and friends during the earliest years of our hobby.

There are a few interesting differences here from D&D. Levels in the Basic game is limited, and in the Expanded game they go to 10. Hit Dice change per level as do Hit Points. No, they are not the same. I will talk more about them later when I come to combat. What is interesting is Hit Point Value, HPV, though. You get a set amount at each level! There are different charts for the progression for different kinds of classes but all have a set amount. Interesting. I can't say how happy I am to see level titles in the Basic game!

Those with good memories know I claim alignment only causes brain damage, but since nobody is perfect the founding father did use them.  Much have been said about how many you should use, and if they are guidelines for roleplaying or actual limitations on behaviour and functioning of in game powers. In D@D magic is aligned. This have been seen in D&D, in the Lankhmar campaign setting with white, black and red wizards. I still think it makes no sense what so ever and especially in D@D where much of the magic items are technological, and spells are always based on components. But, there you have it. The idea that you will get hurt if touching a powerful item of a different alignment than your own is interesting, though.

I saved this for last, since this is what I personally find most interesting. In 7th ed. T&T, there's this thing called Talents. They basically give you a bonus to your regular stat based saving rolls for the limited set of a trained skill. In D@D we see that once again T&T and it have evolved along similar lines, even though there have been no direct line of influence. Interesting.

Education are special areas of expertise, and you get a maximum of +5 however well trained you are. Very similar to the +1d6 of Talents. Just like in AD&D, you have to spend time and money to train in order to gain new ones. You don't just get new ones while levelling up. I think I'm liking the idea of making Talents work along those lines as well, i.e. you don't get them naturally, but you can train them and get a bigger bonus, from the starting +1.

Non-human characters
While there are the usual possibilities of playing a dwarf, elf or halfling there's also the possibility of playing a "monster race". There is a formula to calculate hits, HD and XP. It kind of makes sense, considering the original Blackmoor players actually played both sides, antagonists and protagonists. Naturally, this makes me think of how T&T have stood out as that game where you could play a monster. I got my copy of Monsters! Monsters! a few days back and have just read about how that was introduced way back. You do know you can buy it again, don't you?

More and more it feels like T&T and D@D would appeal to the same kind of gamer. I like sure them both!

Next up, Combat.


  1. Arneson's ideas of education/training and his magic system were quite different from Gygax's. In most ways I prefer Gygax, but it's interesting to see Arneson's take.

    Hit points were one of the worse things to come out of Arneson's game.

  2. How do you mean? You don't like the idea of fixed hit points?


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