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Tabletop Game / Dragon Age

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The original Set 1 cover
The Tabletop RPG adaptation of the Dragon Age role-playing video game series, designed by Chris Pramas and published by Green Ronin in 2009. The players take on the roles of the warriors, rogues, and mages in a darkly Heroic Fantasy world of Thedas. The game was originally published in three sets, for character levels 1-5, 6-10, and 11-20, respectively, before a Core Rulebook was released in August 2015.

The game's core mechanic, similar to that of the d20 System, is to roll a GURPS-like 3d6 (three six-sided dice), add the ability score and skill modifiers, and compare the result to the target difficulty score. One unique aspect of dice-rolling in DA is the so-called "dragon die"—a die that is colored differently from the other two. When doubles turn up on a roll, the dragon die's value determines the number of "stunt points" that the player can use to enhance their action on that roll, such as combat maneuvers or extra spell effects. Its value can also determine the degree of success on certain rolls, including acting as a tiebreaker.

TableTop featured a game GMed by Chris Pramas himself for its season one finale.


The game system itself provides examples of following tropes:

  • After-Combat Recovery: Taking a 5-minute breather immediately after combat recovers a small amount of health proportional to the character's level.
  • Armor and Magic Don't Mix: While there's no rule that says mages can't equip armor, in addition to taking the usual penalties from being untrained in its use, armor also bumps up the mana costs of all spells, with heavier armors requiring more mana to be burned per spell. Averted if taking the arcane warrior specialization, which grants the mage armor training normally exclusive to warriors and allows them to ignore extra mana costs for wearing armor up to a certain amount, in addition to being able to wield certain melee weapons.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: Using the Pierce Armor stunt in combat allows you to halve an enemy's armor rating when calculating damage for the attack. In addition, some spells and abilities deal penetrating damage, which completely ignores armor, making mages very effective in dealing with enemies wearing pesky plate mail.
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  • Back Stab: The rogue's special move works by running up to an enemy and attacking in the same turn for an attack and damage bonus (it only works with melee weapons). At level 4, they can backstab an enemy they start their turn next to by bluffing, attempting to deceive the enemy into a fake-out attack instead of sneaking up on them.
  • Big Badass Battle Sequence: Set 3 adds in a rule set for Mass Battles, each taking three parts and with "crisis points" when near success or failure. The book goes on to describe how the battle of Ostagar fits within this system, the Tower of Ishal section acting as the second part's crisis point.
  • Blood Magic: A mage who wishes to learn The Dark Arts can take the blood mage specialization, which grants them access to an array of gruesome spells that are Cast from Hit Points. As they level up, they can eventually cast their spells from the blood of willing allies or even from enemies. As blood magic involves continually losing health in order to cast its spells, taking the specialization outright requires a high Constitution score.
  • Character Customization: The players can select gender, class, name, background, and starting items of their character. The rest (attribute scores and skills) is randomized, though later additions have allowed a Point Build System. A large portion of character customization also comes from taking various skill focuses and talent upgrades that mold your character into a unique individual. No two characters of the same class and level function the same in game due to the wide array of abilities they can develop and improve.
  • Class and Level System: There are three classes (see below) and the characters go up in level as they progress through an adventure. The highest Character Level the system is designed for is 20.
  • Combat Medic:
    • Since the mages combine the healer and the nuker roles, they can become this.
    • Healing wounds with bandages is also an option for non-mages with decent Cunning. With enough investment in the Chirurgy talent, a warrior or rogue can heal just as much as (if not more than) a healing spell using bandages and other medical supplies, though more advanced healing techniques such as area-of-effect healing and regeneration can only be done with magic.
  • Critical Hit: Averted. The Stunt mechanic is used instead (see below).
  • Damage Reduction: Armor works by reducing the damage taken.
  • Demonic Possession: Being possessed by a demon is a risk all mages face when they blow their casting checks (but only when they use spells with prerequisites—the most basic ones taught to apprentices are safe from misfiring). If the mage in question fails all of the successive skill checks that come from such a failure, they turn into a horrific monster known as an abomination. They then have to turn in their character sheet to the GM and roll a new character. In addition, the rest of the party now has to fight this abomination, which has all of the spells and abilities of the mage it once was.
  • Dual Wielding: It is possible to dual wield weapons with an appropriate talent.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Like the video games, the tabletop adaptation includes three basic classes following these archetypes: Warrior, Mage, and Rogue.
  • Game System: The Adventure Game Engine (AGE) was designed specifically for the game, although it is pitched as a setting-independent ruleset, later adapted for the Blue Rose reboot and TitansGrave: The Ashes of Valkana.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: The Faces of Thedas sourcebook is useful for players who want to put their favorite characters from the video games into their campaigns. In addition to other optional rules for organizations and roleplaying, the book offers stats, equipment, and roleplaying tips for nearly every named character in the series.
  • Health/Damage Asymmetry: Averted. Both player characters and enemies play by the same damage-dealing rules.
  • Hit Points: All characters start with a preset number (e.g. warriors with 30), which grows as they progress.
  • Honest Rolls Character: Enforced in the box set 1, where the entirety of a characters' initial statistics is determined by consecutive dice rolls. This was relaxed in later sets.
  • Loads and Loads of Rules: Averted in a conscious attempt to go easy on the newcomers to tabletop gaming.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: Unlike armor, shields add to a character's defense value instead of reducing damage, making it harder for enemies to even land blows on a character.
  • Mana: Mages have a pool of mana points from which they can cast their spells (except for basic ranged attacks, which are free).
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Like in Origins, the players select one of several pre-generated backgrounds for their characters, which affects their starting stats, skill focuses, and class options. Along with several familiar backgrounds from the video games, other backgrounds from the box sets include:
    • In Set 1, you can be a Dalish or a city elf, a dwarf commoner, a Circle or Apostate mage (elf or human), an Avvar, and a Fereldan freeman (the latter two were actually planned as playable origins for humans in DAO but were cut before the release).
    • Set 2 adds High-born/Low-born Dwarf, Orlesian exile, and Fereldan Craftsman. It also suggests more variety in the mage backgrounds through customizing the geographical origins of Apostates and Circle Mages.
    • Set 3 adds Orlesian Noble, Escaped Elven Slave and Tevinter Altus (noble mage).
    • The Faces of Thedas sourcebook adds Ben-Hassrath, Dalish Mage, and Incarnated Spirit to the list of backgrounds, making a combined total of thirty-three backgrounds across all of the game's materials.
  • Non-Combat EXP: The game outright states that any spending of resources into an encounter should be compensated with EXP, whether or not combat is involved. These resources can include health and mana, time (both in-game and real-life session time), money, political favors, etc. in order to make roleplaying and exploration encounters worth the effort. The game even goes as far as including entirely different stunt systems for social encounters and traversing the wilderness in order to keep gameplay engaging.
  • One Stat to Rule Them All: The Magic ability is the one stat that determines a mage's proficiency with magic. It determines accuracy and damage with all basic ranged attacks, mana reserves, success on casting rolls, damage dealt by most spells, and it also influences how hard it is for enemies to resist those spells. Largely averted for warriors and rogues, however.
  • Path of Most Resistance: The GM's manual suggests rewarding players with Experience Points based on how much trouble they had overcoming each challenge—in other words, the harder the path they choose, the more XP they get.
  • Player Party: The game is designed to be played in groups of 3 to 5 (plus Game Master).
  • Point Build System: Point-buy was introduced in box set 2 as an alternative to the original release's sheer randomness in character generation.
  • Prestige Class: At level 6, characters can choose one of seven specializations available for their class. These specializations are special talent trees that have tighter restrictions on who can take them, and they provide huge bonuses that heavily lean towards a particular playstyle. For example, the marksman specialization is exclusive to rogues who are at least a journeyman in the archery talent, and grants special attacks and heavy bonuses when wielding a bow, while the templar specialization is exclusive to warriors who possess high Magic (normally a Dump Stat for non-mages) and grants them the ability to nullify ongoing magic and attack a mage's mana directly. At level 14, players can choose a second specialization to further add to their arsenal of special abilities.
  • Purely Aesthetic Gender: A Player Character's gender does not affect any gameplay mechanics.
  • Regenerating Mana: Mages slowly recover mana for every hour they spend meditating or resting, with eight uninterrupted hours of rest fully restoring their mana reserves.
  • Resting Recovery: Though not able to fully restore a seriously injured character to full health, getting at least six hours of sleep restores a decent amount of health proportional to the character's level.
  • Skill Scores and Perks: Focuses and Talents vaguely correspond to Skills and Perks, respectively. Focuses represent a particular expertise in a narrower subset of certain Attribute checks (e.g. "Perception: Seeing") and give a flat +2 bonus to rolls where they apply. Talents have three levels, each of which gives the character a unique gameplay advantage. New Focuses can be learned at every new level (alternating between primary and secondary class Attributes), while Talents can be acquired or upgraded every other level.
  • Special Attack: If an attack roll (typically 3d6) produces a double (two dice with the same number), you can perform a "Stunt" of your choosing against the targeted enemy instead of a basic attack. Stunts can entail dealing extra damage, gaining an extra attack, disarming an opponent, etc.
    • This also applies to skill tests in both social and exploration encounters, with the game including separate stunt charts for each type of encounter, meaning you can mechanically change an encounter by slipping subtle flirting into a negotiation or mentally preparing yourself for combat as you open a door.

The Dalish Curse intro module that came with Set 1 (and was since made available for free) uses following tropes:

  • Action Girl: Once Eshara recovers from her wounds, she is more than capable of pulling her weight in a fight.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: TDC takes place in Ferelden around the time of the Fifth Blight, but it's not specified whether before, during, or after—which has a major effect on the setting.
  • Attack of the Town Festival: Downplayed. A Rage Abomination attacks the village of Vintiver a couple weeks after its autumn harvest festival.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Since the module (as part of Set 1) had been written concurrently with Origins and published just a couple months after its release, some weirdness is to be expected. For instance, "darkspawn" seems to refer to any monster of demonic origin, rather than to the creatures of the Taint; likewise, the blight wolves are a normal occurrence rather than a portent of the coming Blight; non-mages serve as Dalish Keepers and Firsts; and Chantry priestesses walk around with crucifixes (though this last one was fixed in the online PDF re-release).
  • Fantastic Racism: The anti-Dalish sentiment runs deep in (some citizens of) Vintiver. Likewise, Harralan/Mythallen harbors deep hatred of "shems".
  • Forced Transformation: The Revengers are actually the Dalish elves captured and corrupted by Mythallen.
  • Giant Spider: The Web-Weaver serves as a Mini-Boss in the Brecilian Forest.
  • Good Shepherd: Sister Arda is a highly-educated cleric and surgeon from Denerim who voluntarily traveled into the wilderness to help with the locals' spiritual well-being.
  • Noob Cave: The entire module is designed for level 1 characters and players who are new to both the setting and tabletop gaming in general.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: Implied with Eshara, who has snow-white hair when the heroes meet her (wounded and traumatized by Mythallen), despite being too young for it to be natural (even for an elf).
  • The Sheriff: The Warden of Vintiver, Tarl Dale, is a Reasonable Authority Figure, as well as the highest-level character in the module.
  • Torches and Pitchforks: The citizens of Vintiver, particularly the smith Coalan, don't take kindly to a Dalish being found alive at the site of a human family massacre.
  • Was Once a Man: Mythallen is an abomination created when an ancient rage demon possessed the Dalish scout Harralan.
  • Weapons of Their Trade: The Vintiver village smith Coalan fights with his smithing hammer.