This year I arrived in Indy a day early (Wednesday night instead of Thursday night) anticipating
the first Gencon where I could experience all 4 days of the convention for the first time.
That wouldn't happen this year.
At any rate, after getting up nice and early, throwing down the following nutritious breakfast:
I headed to my first game.
System: The Dark Eye
Duration: 2 Hours
Character: Blessed One of Rondra
This was setup as an introduction to 'The Dark Eye', which is Germany's dominant RPG in various incarnations over the last couple of decades. The newest edition was also Kickstarted for an English language version as well and seems to be doing fairly well judging by Kickstarter results.
The system itself is moderately crunchy, with a huge amount of work front-loaded during character creation. Characters do not have classes, but are based on 'point buy' with additions/subtractions by choosing various advantages and disadvantages (ex. My character was prone to long soliloquies as her disadvantage. Coupled with the religious restrictions by being a Blessed One of Rondra made for some interesting roleplay opportunities.)
Combat checks are either single d20 roll under for combat (Active attack and Active parry) with several maneuvers available for characters to train in.
Skill checks are 3d20 where players strive to roll under the three attributes associated with the skill (ex. a skill might list Sag/Sag/Dex indicating that you need to roll under Sagacity twice and Dexterity once.) Any failure means the skill check fails, but training a skill gives you Skill Ranks, points that can be used to offset failures. (ex. rolling a 12 when you needed to roll a 10 or under you spend 2 points of Skill Rank) Every 3 points of Skill Rank left is a Quality Level which dictates the degree by which you succeed which helps dictate such things as spell duration, reduced time for crafting checks and the like.
On paper it seemed clunky, but in play it yielded interesting results. A highly skilled player would always be able to get a Higher QL, but a player with higher attributes could usually pull off a base success which seems to simulate the well trained professional versus the naturally talented amateur quite nicely.
The plot was simple:
We were at the inn as the regional beer-fest was underway (I did say this was German right?). Of course a fight threatens to break out over some gambling gone awry as a big brute accuses a small , ratlike man of cheating.
As he advances on him, my character casts a 'Protect the Innocent' spell (cant remember the exact name), which entices the brute to steer away from his target and focus on my character.
Most of the fight that followed was the brute and myself and the brute slugging each other until he dropped (I was using an ability to hit harder at the cost of any active defense.)
|Every time in every bar in every game... Ever|
The Dark Eye has a 'life point' system, but given the point-buy nature of the characters there is no hitpoint bloat as you gain skills. Being a fairly combat oriented character, I had 31 LP, with a two handed sword doing 2d6+4 on a base hit which should give some sense of the potential lethality of combat. (Added to this, for every 1/4 LP you drop you gain a level of Pain, each of which raises the difficulty of your checks by 1.)
After the fight we basically had the choice of two storylines to follow:
1) Find out why nobody came back from the brewery.
2) Find the owner of the bag of severed ears that we found on a table during the fight.
We chose #2.
This led to quite a few interrogations and revealed a decent amount of social conflict support
in the system.
Through a few twists and turns, we ended up confronting a druid who had apparently been making some blood sacrifices while utilizing the services of a serial killer in the city. Our rogue interrupted a ritual he was performing, which caused a tree that he was facing to strike out and kill the druid with one hit.
The rogue threw some oil on the tree, and attempted to throw a lantern at it.
The rogue fumbled (Natural 20, followed by a confirmation)
The rogue was on fire.
Casting the spell I cast earlier, the tree tore itself out of the ground and began...lumbering
towards me as the dwarf charged in with its Axe.
We eventually set the tree on fire, but not before the rogue passed out, and the dwarf was terribly wounded.
So some qualifiers here:
1) I love fantasy RPGs
2) I hate hit-point bloat
3) Not a fan of levels
With that in mind, The Dark Eye was my 2nd favorite game of the convention. It is grittier
than D&D, but not to the level of Shadow of the Demon Lord. Thematically it seems similar
to 'the Witcher'.
The amount of Lore in the game world is fairly overwhelming, and it is 'living' in that new events
occur every year in the official timeline.
A missing GM and surprise Star Trek