Posted by Brother None at 7:00 pm on 03.12.2009 (4 years ago)
The third edition did make it into English-speaking countries; not as a tabletop RPG, but as a computer RPG: the classic Realms of Arkania trilogy, also known as the Northland Trilogy (NLT). The fourth edition has been officially released into English-speaking territories as The Dark Eye, though only basic rulesets are available.
I used to play quite a bit of 2nd edition Oog des Meesters, back in the day, and like many lovers of classic cRPGs I'm well familiar with the NLT games. But 4th edition is fairly unexplored territory. And unlike Dungeons & Dragons, to many players this property is completely unfamiliar. For that reason, we're going to walk through the basic rules and details on the setting in this editorial. As a 25-year old system, TDE is very complex, and as such this basic guide is not meant to be complete. It is simply meant to help unfamiliar players get a better grasp of the game and world.
Rules – Attributes
Eight attributes define the core statistics of any character. There are four mental attributes - Courage (CO), Cleverness (CL), Intuition (IN), Charisma (CH) - and four physical attributes – Dexterity (DE), Agility (AG), Constitution (CN), and Strength (ST). The possible variation to each of these attributes is 1 to 21, but 8 to 14 is considered a “normal” stat. Many of the character's other stats are derived from attributes, but during adventures they can also be tested directly. A twenty-sided die (D20) is rolled, and if the roll is lower than the attribute's value, the test has been passed. Derived data includes Vitality (VI), Endurance (ED), Astral Energy (AE), and Resistance to Magic (RM). So the negative and positive attribute system from 3rd edition is gone, with 4th edition adding advantages and disadvantages to character generation instead.
In 4th edition, each character starts with 110 Generation Points. Specialist professions cost GP (for example: starting as a magician costs 20 GP, while starting as a burglar costs 0 GP), but most of these points are invested in the 8 attributes as well as in starting Social Standing (SO). Your chosen race modifies your attributes, which must then match the minimum requirements for your chosen profession. Advantages and disadvantages are the final step in GP investment, with advantages costing GP and disadvantages giving you additional GP to spend (to a maximum of 50). After this step your total GP must be 0. To use an example from the TDE textbook:
Lisa starts her character's generation by determining the race (human, 0 GP) and culture (Horasian Empire, 5 GP). She opts to be a burglar (0 GP), which means she has to have CO 12, AG 12, DE 13 and social standing no greater than 7 as starting values. Her final character setup gives values of CO 12, CL 11, IN 12, CH 10, DE 14, AG 13, CN 11, ST 12 and a social standing of 7. That mean she spent a total of 102 GP, with her culture costing her an additional 5, leaving her with 3 GP. She spends 16 GP on advantages (Connections and Social Chameleon), meaning she's on negative 13, which she compensates with 13 GP in disadvantages (Curiosity and Greed).
Rules – Talents
The next step in character creation is your talent sheet. Talents are basically skills, and TDE has a rather wide set of them. For purposes of Drakensang, this list has been cut down to 10 combat skills (brawling, daggers, axes & maces, staffs, spears, fencing weapons, sabers, swords, two-handed swords, two-handed axes & maces) and 23 non-combat skills (sneak, willpower, perception, pick pocket, dwarfnose, animal lore, plant lore, survival, traps, streetwise, treat poisons, treat wounds, arcane lore, seduce, etiquette, haggle, human nature, fast talk, alchemy, bowyer, blacksmith, pick locks and disarm traps). Your choice of race, class and culture modifies your starting values (from the example above: amongst other things, Lisa gets +7 open locks from her burglar profession and +1 crossbows from her Horasian Empire culture). Combat skills determine some base combat values (see below). Other talents are tested ingame, by rolling modified tests against a number of attributes. Another example:
Lisa's character wants to open a lock. Her lockpicking talent is 7 from her background. Picking locks is listed as tested against IN/DE/DE, Lisa's values in those attributes being 12 and 14. She rolls three D20s, rolling an 13 for the intuition test, and 17 and 8 for the dexterity tests. She can use one point from her talent to compensate the intuition test so that the value becomes 12, and 3 points more to compensate the dexterity test to become 14, meaning she made her skill check (assuming there are no difficulty penalties due to the lock being very hard).
Magic works much the same way as non-combat skills. Each spell the magician tries to cast is tested against various attributes (sometimes including attributes of the target) modified by his Spell Prowess value in that particular spell. The basic spellset lists 27 spells, ranging from direct attack spells like Ignafixus to balm of healing and magic locks. Using magic eats up astral points based on the character's astral value, which slowly regenerates. In TDE, magic usage is limited to certain professions (magicians) or races (elves).
Rules – Combat
Combat works a little differently. Combat is based in rounds, with each character having an offensive and defensive action per round. Initiative is determined based on Courage, Intuition and Agility. The to-hit chance of the person moving first is based on his Attack Value, which is (CO+AG+ST)/5. After this the other person gets a chance to parry the attack based on his Parry Value, (IN+AG+ST)/5. The base Attack Value and Parry Value of each character are modified at character creation (and at each level up) by the player adding talent points from his combat skill value in the relevant weapon to either his AV or PV. Ranged attacks work much the same way only the base value is determined as (IN+DE+ST)/5, with no relevant parry skill attached.
Two other important modifiers to base AV and PV are EEC and the values of the item you're using. EEC is effective encumbrance: it is the base encumbrance value of the armor you're wearing modified by the ease of use of the weapon skill, subtracted evenly from your PV and AV (with PV having preference if the number is odd). And finally, many items have values that modify AV and PV: a normal knife has a value of -2/-3, thus lowering your AV by 2 and PV by 3. A battle axe has 0/-1, a sword has 0/0, a spear has 0/-2, etc. etc. Only after all these modifiers do the final attack value (AT) and parry value (PA) surface.
An attack is successful if the roll with a D20 against the attacker's AT succeeds and the defender's PA roll fails. The exception to this rule is if you roll a 1 or a 20. When attacking, a 1 is a lucky strike, which can be turned into a critical strike with a successful second AT roll. A 20 is a fumble, which is always a miss, though unpleasant fumbling consequences can be avoided by making a successful check against your AT. When parrying, a 1 is a lucky parry, which gives you an additional defensive action (to parry a second attacker, for example, as you can normally only parry one). A 20 is a parry fumble, which is always a failure, but like attacking fumble further consequences can be avoided with a successful PA check.
If the attack succeeds and the PA roll fails, the attacker rolls to see how much damage he does, based on the hit point value of his weapon. A weapon's hit point value is determined by its base value plus a strength bonus. A sword has D6+4 and a strength bonus of 11/4, which means that at strength 11 you meet the minimum requirements to use this weapon and then every 4 points adds a bonus point to damage: strength 15 gives D6+5 hit points, strength 19 gives D6+6. The defender's armor rating, depending primarily on his clothing, is subtracted from this amount to determine the damage points done, which is subtracted from the defender's vitality points. Example:
Bahron the warrior is fighting Kogando the pirate. Kogando has higher initiative, meaning he attacks first. His base AV is (13+14+12)/5 = 8, plus 4 from his sabers talent makes an AT of 12. He rolls an 7, landing a hit. Bahron tries to parry. His base PV is (10+13+15)/5 = 8, plus 3 from his swords skill makes 11. Swords and sabers do not have AV/PV modifiers, but Bahron is wearing a chain mail shirt with an encumbrance of 3, this is modified by -2 by the sword skill to be an EEC of 1, which lowers his PV by 1 to a PA of 10. He rolls a 11, failing to parry the blow.
Kogando is using a saber with a HP value of D6+3. He rolls a 4, doing 7 HP. Bahron's chain mail shirt has an armor rating of 3, meaning Kogando's hit does 7-3 = 4 damage points, which are subtracted from Bahron's vitality points.
Rules – Progress
TDE measures progress in experience, which in turn transform into adventure points. Adventure Points can be directly invested into talents, attributes, spell prowess, vitality, astral energy, endurance and in getting rid of existing disadvantages. Normally, only talents and spell prowess increase, with attributes increasing very rarely, mostly due to a prohibitive high cost.
Talents can be learned from any value, including negative ones, as having a score in a talent implies basic knowledge in it. Increasing known talents starts out costing relatively few adventure points but becomes harder as the talent becomes higher, costing more and more AP. Learning a new talent requires a teacher or direct experience in being forced to use it (sink or swim scenarios).