Dragon Warriors Week Day Four

When was the last time you saw an image of fighting dice? Don’t know about you, but I think the d6 is in trouble.

We’re over halfway through Dragon Warriors Week and I’m still raving about Book One. With five more books in the series it’s time to step things up a notch with a look at Book Two, and how magic works in the world of the Dragon Warrior.

Book Two presents us with two spell-wielding classes – the Sorcerer and the Mystic – with Book Five adding Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Darkness Elementalists to the mix. In the Sorcerer’s case spells cost Magic Points to cast (one for each level of the spell) and they’re replenished to full charge at midnight. As Dragon Warriors is big on consistency, magical attacks are resolved in much the same way as a normal attack with a roll equal or less than MAGICAL ATTACK – MAGICAL DEFENCE on 2d10 for a spell to take effect. The blastier spells use EVASION to see whether the poor mook dodges out of the way. In either case, it’s consistent mechanics all the way. The only minor annoyance was that some things called for 2d10 and others for d20; we put that down to the low availability of d20s at the time the books were written, and used d20 for everything. Simpler that way :)

Remember that this was back in 1985 when AD&D was a mess of rules and inconsistency. Every mechanism in AD&D, whether it was hand-to-hand combat, unarmed combat, turning undead, checking skills or morale used a different resolution mechanic and remembering what dice did what demanded a mensa-like knowledge of the rules. Dragon Warriors was a serious breath of fresh air!

Along with their spells, Sorcerers also picked up skills in Calligraphy (creating scrolls), Alchemy (brewing potions) and Artifice (making Amulets and Talismans). These were covered in just over three pages, and worked. 3e D&D Crafting rules, take note. This is how it’s done.

On to the Mystics. Where the Sorcerer’s arts were magical, the Mystic was psychic. Yes folks – Dragon Warriors has psionics, right in the core game! Unlike a Sorcerer, the Mystic didn’t rely on predictable Magic Points as a power source but instead had to make a Psychic Fatigue Check after casting each “spell”. A failed roll meant that the Mystic was out of power until dawn the following day – bad news if you fail your first roll. With powers like Mirage, Pursuit, Telekinesis, Steel Claw and Duel, the Mystic made for a fun class to play too. One of my long-time Dragon Warriors characters was an Elven Mystic. Happy times.

Book Two also covers treasure of both the mundane and magical kind. There’s the usual batch of random treasure tables as well, and magical items pretty much follow the same style as D&D with enhancement bonuses for weapons and armour being the order of the day. By far my favourite item is the Ring of Agonizing Doom which fires an emerald bolt of lightning at 2-8 foes. Nice. After the usual magic items you’re treated to no less than 12 artifact write-ups and rules for creating Holy Relics.

As if that’s not enough, there’s two more scenarios to finish off the Book. Dragon Warriors is a miracle of compact, efficient writing that puts todays’ verbose, rules-lawyering tomes to shame. Lessons could be learned!

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 Four”

  1. Whoa… slow down there buddy… you can’t just replace 2d10 with 1d20!! Let’s not throw the probable baby out with the likely bath water!

    Being an old DW player & GM from back in the day I too spent many a sleepless nights pondering the worth of the 2d10… and in the end I realised that it guaranteed more consistent damage rate.
    Excuse me while I get technical here, the average on 1d20 & 2d10 is roughly the same, but the mean (the most occurring value) is much more consistent and higher on 2d10.

    Check out this forum post http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=4922912 (there’s a chart a few posts down [warning they get a bit carried away]). It shows that a huge 44% of the time you are guaranteed rolls between 9 and 13, how cool is that!!

    This all goes to show how well thought out and intelligent DW is! It’s not a game of lucky dice and random chance :)

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