[How Do I: Fantasy] #4 Dragon Age

Posted: May 20, 2010 by pointyman2000 in Articles, Dragon Age, How Do I: Fantasy?, Roleplaying Games

"He's behind me, isn't he?"

"He's behind me, isn't he?"

Dragon Age is the latest Fantasy IP from Bioware, the makers of the esteemed Baldur’s Gate PC game.  While Baldur’s Gate was set in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting of D&D, Dragon Age is an original setting, one that was conceived to fit the bill of “Dark Fantasy.”

As a setting Dragon Age thoroughly deconstructs a lot of Fantasy cliches, while keeping some stereotypical aspects whole.  Elves, for example, were a high race with culture and religions of their own, until Humanity came along and reduced them to slaves.  The Dwarves are portrayed to be a very political society, something that I found to be very interesting, and breaks up the monotony of the “Monoculture” element present in many Sci-Fi and Fantasy races.

Bioware even went so far as to come up with an original set of metaphysics to explain magic and how it works, as well as it’s effect on society and the stigma associated with those who use them.

Campaign Concept:

Given that the the Dragon Age RPG boxed set #1 covers levels 1-5, I don’t think I can go all out just yet on the epic scale of fantasy.  This actually suits me fine as starting at a lower level does tend to emphasize the dangerous nature of the setting, and gives the players a chance to earn their spurs.

The campaign will take place outside of a Blight, just so players won’t be weeping at the idea of having to wade through an endless tide of Darkspawn slaughtering everything in their path.  That’ll have to come later when Set #2 comes out.

The campaign begins with the death of an old friend.  A circle mage well known for his travels and studies about the troubled history of Ferelden.  Throughout his travels, he has met each of the Player characters in turn, and had become good friends with all of them.  They meet up at his funeral, where they are each granted the possession of a book.

While this is all well and good, the trouble starts as soon as assassins attack the PCs in a bid to take the book back.  Mysterious strangers appear to lend aid or sanctuary, while still others show up demanding the book be returned to them.  It is a game of choices and allegiances, where the group’s decisions can turn the tide in this shadow war between factions, all of which are looking to obtain the book.

Themes: Paranoia, Mystery, Conspiracy, Action
Character Concepts: Any of the Dragon Age concepts can work here.

I won’t go into full detail as to the nature of the book (since I never know if I’ll actually run this campaign) but it is sufficiently important to get a whole bunch of people looking for it, from the Templars to the Circle Mages, Nobles and even a Cult or two.

In many ways this is the reverse of the 7th Sea game, where the objective is not to acquire the object as much as to keep it until you can sort out what it is and what it can do.  Choosing your friends carefully counts as well, since there’s always the possible element of treachery in your midst.

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Comments
  1. Zzarchov says:

    First off, don’t get me wrong, I LOVES me some dragon age, but I love it because its a cliche of proven sources (read “Yoinked” sources) for example;

    “Bioware even went so far as to come up with an original set of metaphysics to explain magic and how it works, as well as it’s effect on society and the stigma associated with those who use them.”

    The magic system is a straight rip of Warhammer fantasy/40k’s 30 year proven setting.

    Fade = The Warp
    Grey Wardens = Grey Knights
    Demons = Daemons
    The Circle of Magi = Sanctioned Psykers
    The Templars = The Ecclesiarchy

    etc etc

    It works, and its great, but everything in that game (like mass effect) is an “homage” to another established and beloved game, book or movie.

    • Hey Zzarchov!

      Nice comparisons drawn between the elements of Dragon Age to Warhammer 40k. It didn’t occur to me to check across 2 different genres.

      Minor differences exist (The Fade is more closely associated with Dreaming, and the Warp is a means to travel enormous distances) but they’re close enough for 40k to claim some measure of influence.

  2. Hikkikomori says:

    As long as you don’t make the bad guys TOO tempting to join.
    Which is the problem with most RPGs.

    Why do they get all the cool, black, emo stuff, while all I get is this Sword of Light +5. Ew.

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