Dragon Warriors Week Day One

Reasons Dragon Warriors rocks, Number One: combat explained as a comic panel. Forget your diagrams of blast radii and pictures of plastic on battlemats. If you’re going to show players how to play the game, show it as a comic and get right into their imagination!

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Where Dragon Warriors stands out is that it’s strictly old school from back in the day when old school was new school. Character generation is fast, and combat doubly so. There’s none of this “using minis” nonsense either – it’s pure unadulterated in-your-head gaming where a you can say that your character backflips onto a table without picking up your mini and acting it out. I’ve seen gamers do that, and it’s not pretty.

With Book One you get a choice of just two classes – a plate armour wearing Knight, or a mighty Barbarian. No mere Fighters for this game! You won’t find magic-users or any spells in Book One – that’s reserved for Book Two – but you will find more than enough in it’s 197 pages.

Combat is slightly unusual in that each weapon does a fixed amount of damage (for example, a Morning Star does 5 points)  but each hit also has to make an Armour Bypass Roll to make a successful hit count. Armour is rated from 0 (none) to 5 (plate), and the weapon must roll higher. Your Morning Star rolls 1d6 for the Bypass Roll, so needs a 6 to get past Plate, but any successful hit is going to hurt an unarmoured foe.

It’s a great combat system in play as it differentiates between a swing that misses, one that is deflected off the armour, and a good hit – all with just the same dice rolls as Classic D&D. Nice. Compared to Classic D&D, working out the to-hit roll is easier too – just roll equal or less than your ATTACK – your opponent’s DEFENCE to strike a blow. Quick. Simple. Old school.

Dragon Warriors is a classic role-playing game released in 1985 as 6 trade paperback books. It is now available for free download. Happy Dragon Warriors Week!

4 Comments on “Dragon Warriors Week Day One”

  1. I grabbed those, since I’d never heard of them (probably not released in America?) It did look interesting. Armor Bypass rolls seem like an extra step, but it’s certainly a better approach to more detailed combat than the “weapon bonuses by armor class” approach that AD&D 1e added. Figure out what armor a weapon should always be able to bypass, what armor it should almost never be able to get through, and that defines your range: pick dice that will generate that range, and that’s your weapon’s Armor Bypass stat.

  2. Hi, Talysman! I suspect Dragon Warriors wasn’t available in the US at all (unless someone knows differently); it was made here in the UK and was also very popular (despite many distribution cock-ups) in New Zealand and Australia too.

    As the damage was fixed for each weapon, the game played ever bit as quick as Classic D&D – just roll to hit, then roll Bypass – and considerably quicker than AD&D. Even so, the simplicity hid a lot of what we’d consider “advanced and modern” features today like Critical Hits, rules for Evasion, internal consistency (combat is like Evasion is like Magical Attack), moving in and out of combat, fighting multiple opponents and more.

    Pretty impressive for a paperback book, eh? :)

  3. The new edition of Dragon Warriors goes further: all three major rules mechanics (combat, spell combat and attribute checks/winging it) each have their own example-of-play comic strip.

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