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AGE of Combat: Building Combat Encounters in the AGE System (Part 1 of 2)

AGE System logoCombat encounters are a staple of most tabletop roleplaying games, and that is certainly the case in the Dragon Age RPG from Green Ronin. Combat in Dragon Age is fun, fast, and cinematic, with both heroes and villains using the game’s unique stunt system to perform daring feats of skill to quickly turn the tide of battle. Creating balanced combat encounters can be one of the hardest tasks for a Dragon Age game master, however, as the game lacks a simple system to gauge the relative power level of any given NPC or monster.

One reason for this is that despite the game’s simple mechanics and easy action-resolution system, there are a lot of moving parts during a combat encounter: from each opponent’s average attack roll and Defense, to Health totals, unique powers and abilities, and lastly Armor Rating, which is subtracted from the damage done on almost every successful hit in combat. When these factors are added to the wide degree of variation between different groups of player characters, it’s certainly understandable why Chris Pramas, the game’s lead designer, has gone on record to say the game’s designers do not plan to release a static formula that can be used to determine whether a fight between a certain group of PCs and adversaries is balanced.

That hasn’t stopped fans from wanting such a system, however.

When Open Design released its Midgard Bestiary Vol. 1 last year for the Adventure Game Engine, the system that powers the Dragon Age RPG, it did so to some pretty good reviews. After all, the book provided 50 new monsters for game masters to use with the system, all drawn from more than five years of Open Design products. One of the consistent critiques, though, was that the book did not include a rating system for the monsters, even though such a mechanic is not part of AGE system.

Taking all this into account, earlier this year I started working on a way to give game masters a very rough scoring system to determine the average strength of published adversaries for the game and how they rated against the typical power level of a group of player characters. What I’ve come up with is a “Threat Level” system that while it cannot replace the good judgment of an experienced game master, should provide a starting point for designing combat encounters.

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Kobold Quarterly #22 Now Available

Kobold Quarterly 22Summer’s here, and you know what that means! Flee indoors and play games until the fiery sky-ball no longer burns our skin with its cruel flames.

Seriously though, there’s enough great stuff in Kobold Quarterly #22 to keep you occupied all summer. Get it in print + PDF or PDF only and you’ll enjoy articles for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, 4th Edition D&D and AGE System. But wait, there’s more: we also have articles for Castles & Crusades and 13th Age! Old school, new school, and everything in between — this issue’s got it.

  • The archdevil Barbatos, gatekeeper of Golarion’s Hells by Paizo’s Wes Schneider
  • Dragonkin servitors of Midgard’s Mharoti Empire for D&D
  • Four monsters from Journeys to the West for C&C
  • 13th Age’s Escalation Die mechanic with conversion rules for other RPGs by Rob Heinsoo
  • AGE System rules for black powder weapons
  • An interview with Pathfinder RPG lead designer Jason Bulmahn

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Kobold Quarterly #21 Now Available

KQ 21 coverGods and demons are a vital part of the swords and sorcery genre – as are their followers. Conan battles evil priests while swearing, “By Crom!” Elric surges into combat promising blood and souls for his divine patron Arioch. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser often find themselves pawns in the schemes of Nehwon’s conniving gods.

Kobold Quarterly #21 delves into the roles played by the divine in your campaign, featuring David “Zeb” Cook on using mystery cults in your game, Tim and Eileen Connors on soul-shredding clerical dilemmas, Marc Radle’s new shaman base class for Pathfinder RPG, and an ecology of the succubus with new feats, powers and traits for D&D.

KQ #21 also features official Pathfinder Society content, robber knights and vile wizards, new Zobeck and Midgard articles, and alchemists, druids, illusions, and seers for the AGE System – and a sultry pinup cover by Kieran Yanner!

The complete contents are after the jump:

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Relic: Eye of Fate

“You hold in your hands a cut ruby as large as your clenched fist. The light shines on its surface, reflecting your face like a beautiful yet fractured mirror. Beams refract through its structure, causing it to seem to glow in your grasp, and it possesses an unexpected weight. Even in a gem of this size, the heft of the ruby is unbelievable.”

The Eye of Fate is an impressive find with a suitably impressive history. First mentioned some thousand years ago, the eye was discovered by a now nameless sorcerer. He claimed it as his source of power, and used it to establish one of the first empires in the region. His most impressive feat was to slay a dragon that threatened his rule. The magician’s personal refuge was destroyed by siege engines immediately after his death, and his name erased from history in a bold move by Arcus IV, the noble who next assumed power.

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Kobold Quarterly #20 Now Available

Cover Art for KQ20Here in the Old Margreve, adorable woodland creatures are running hither and yon…FOR THEIR LIVES. That’s because Kobold Quarterly issue #20 is out today and this time the focus is on archers! With an all-new elven archer base class for Pathfinder RPG, a shadow fey hunting party on the prowl, and new arrows carrying acid, fog and razor filaments, the debate over whether it’s Wabbit Season or Duck Season just became much more energetic.

KQ #20 features Jeff Grubb on the lost elves of Midgard, a Q&A with Journeys to the West lead designer Christina Stiles and a new Zobeck adventure.

There’s also vile Derro ooze magic, new planar allies, AGE system specialties, 4e racial utility powers for gnomes, tieflings and minotaurs, and much more! Here’s the complete contents, after the jump:

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