Last week I discovered the existence of a new tabletop rpg based on the videogame Dragon Age: Origins. Actually I haven't played said videogame; my computer is too old to run it and anyway I don't play videogames anymore. Yet I remember watching the trailer and it was bloody fantastic. The background seemed dark and sinister, so similar to my own world of Ajsalium. Furthermore, the tabletop rpg publicly uses a new super simple game system. What more could I ask for?
So, thanks to the electronic formats I already owned it the next day. And I started to read as soon as I got it. Once done, I am now writing this review.
The game is actually "Dragon Age RPG set 1". It's the first of four sets; each one will cover 5 levels for the classes of PCs. This being the first set it covers levels from 1 to 5, logically. The set includes two lithe books: a Player's Guide (weighing 66 pages) and a Game Master's Guide (other 66 pages). The "real" set (i.e., not the electronic format) also includes a poster with the map of Ferelden (the nation in which the game predominantly takes place), and three six-sided dice.
Extremely simple. Everything is resolved the same way: with an ability test, that is done rolling three six-sided dice, totalling them up, and adding the appropriate modifiers of the related ability plus any focuses (specializations) applicable. With that you must reach a certain target number. In an opposed test, the target number is the result of the other guy's test. Combat is too an ability test, with the target number being the opponent's defense rating. Spells are cast spending mana points and making an ability (magic) test.
One of the dice must be of a different colour, and that's called the "dragon die". It's important when some doubles are rolled; whenever that happens the player gets points to perform various stunts (special combat tactics or magical effects). The number of points gained is the result of the dragon die.
And that's most of it.
Coherent system. Everything (including combat) is resolved the same way, by throwing 3d6. Also, the more is always the better, both in the dice roll results and in characteristics.
Tactical variations with stunts. The stunt points that players get when they get doubles (or triples) in the 3d6 roll both for combat and magic allow them to use different tactical maneuvers that add spice to the game.
Simplicity. If you have read this post so far, then you already know how to play Dragon Age RPG. And that's just perfect, both for total novices to the world of tabletop rpgs and for veterans tired of learning complex rules.
Limited. This first set, as it complies only the first five levels, is quite limited (for example, there are only 13 spells). Also, there are just three classes to choose from. Subsequent sets may correct this, though.
Railroaded. As a consequence of the preceding feature, character creation seems to be very railroaded. There will be little differences in game terms, and thus it's the roleplaying part that demands extra emphasis. Not that I complain, given that my own Ajsalium RPG would have pre-generated classes to copy and paste.
So my verdict is: worth giving it a try. I want to run the introductory adventure that comes in the Game Master's Guide, and have a real feel of the game. I don't expect to fully adopt it, but I am seriously thinking of "distilling" it to convert it into my generic ruleset. After all, there are already some nice similarities. For example, we are talking of very simple systems. Also, if you look at the main abilities from Dragon Age, you'll see they are mostly the same than the ones from my own Arcade Ruleset. I'll decide on this later, and I'll keep you informed.
Finally, for your viewing pleasure, here is a trailer of the videogame: