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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 and specifically, in the Southern kingdom of Ferelden known from Dragon Age: Origins. The game was released in three sets, for character levels 1-5, 6-10, and 11-20, respectively. 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.
  • 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 truly gruesome spells that are Cast from Hit Points, and eventually a blood mage can replenish their mana by sacrificing either their own blood or that of a willing ally. Taking this 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 such catastrophic failure).
  • Dual Wielding: It is possible to dual-wield weapons with a proper perk, but the rules of two-weapons combat are somewhat murky.
  • Fighter, Mage, Thief: Like the video games, the tabletop adaptation includes three basic classes known from Dungeons & Dragons (the Clerics are lumped with the Mages).
  • 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.
  • 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 25), 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.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: It doesn't matter if your mage character is self-taught, specially trained in a circle, or hails from a completely different culture with its own beliefs about magic or methods of teaching it, all mages draw power from the Fade through the use of mana (or blood), and all mage characters use the same spell list, with some spells here and there restricted by specializations. All mages risk Demonic Possession if they're not careful, and healing and defensive magic are available to any mage who wishes to learn them.
  • Magic Is Mental: Averted. Magic is an inborn ability that each mage learns to control in their own way. As such, though Cunning and Willpower are both primary attributes of the mage class, the Magic ability is the sole factor in determining how proficient you are with spellcraft as well as maximum mana, meaning that mages are not automatically The Smart Guy of the party.
  • Mana: Mages have a pool of mana points from which they can cast their spells (except the very basic ranged attacks, which are free).
  • Mighty Glacier: Warriors have the largest selection of armor types, but each has its own ups and downs; heavier armors give more damage reduction, but impose harsher penalties to speed and mobility in battle. A character who clanks around in heavy plate gets a whopping 10 damage shaved off of each attack they endure, but they can only move a fraction of the distance other lightly-armored characters can move on a given turn in combat.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Like in Origins, the players can select one of pre-generated backgrounds for their characters, which affect their starting stats. You can no longer play as a dwarf/human noble, but get additional backgrounds to choose from, depending on the set:
    • 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). Across all three of the player guides, there are a total of thirty backgrounds.
  • 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 enough Magic (normally a Dump Stat for non-mages) and grants them huge advantages when fighting against mages. 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 Perks and Skill Scores, 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.
    • Magic also follows this to a degree, in the form of requirements. More powerful spells require that you already know a certain other spell as a prerequisite, which can lead to entire trees of magical effects. For example, in order to be able to create miniature lightning storms in an area of effect, you must first know how to zap enemies with individual lightning bolts, and so forth. Having a wider array of spells can make you more versatile, but more powerful and devastating magic requires you to dedicate yourself to certain spell types.
  • 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, or targeting an additional enemy, etc.

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.
  • Baleful Polymorph: The Revengers are actually the Dalish elves captured and corrupted by Mythallen.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Dungeon Crawling: Largely averted: the only "dungeon" in the module is one-and-a-half rooms long.
  • Fantastic Racism: The anti-Dalish sentiment runs deep in (some citizens of) Vintiver. Likewise, Harralan/Mythallen harbors deep hatred of "shems".
  • The Lost Woods: The Brecilian Forest next to Vintiver is just as ominous as in Origins.
  • 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.