At long last, the fey roads have opened! The gods don their masks, the Northern reavers sound their horns, and the dwarven forges burn like suns. The emperor of the ghouls rises from his dark throne, the wild elves leave the earth behind and ride the wind, and the mercenary armies of the Seven Cities march to war. Midgard Campaign Setting is here.
Wolfgang Baur, along with Jeff Grubb, Brandon Hodge, Christina Stiles, Dan Voyce and the always-astounding community of Midgard patrons, have created a book that culminates years of Open Design adventures and sourcebooks, KQ articles, convention games, and the campaigns of countless GMs who took their players on epic adventures in this dark world of deep magic.
In the last post, we covered how the Threat Level system works to provide Dragon Age and AGE system game masters with a base score for deciding if a group of adversaries would make an appropriate challenge for their player characters.
This post expands on those rules by providing the Threat Level system for the adversaries found in Open Design’s Midgard Bestiary Vol. 1, which presents fifty new monsters for use with the Adventure Game Engine—the system that powers the Dragon Age RPG. But first, a quick recap is in order.
Combat 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.
Now that you have a veritable trove of relic goodness awaiting you, you must pick one — only one — item from it. You see, you all have the power to choose the item that the kobolds will make available in the next issue of Kobold Quarterly. Yes, many fine artifacts arrived for appraisal, and if you haven’t yet looked at them, now is the time!
Kobold Quarterly issue #18, our big pre-Gen Con Summer issue, is out! It’s like a kobold beach party ice chest, but instead of being packed with gnome jerky, KQ #18 has savants, cavaliers, beast masters, and dragon hunters for Pathfinder RPG; Divine Gifts for the AGE System by Green Ronin designer Steve Kenson; a minotaur ecology for 4th Edition D&D; and three new adventures!
Characters powered with divine magic are common in fantasy RPGs. Rather than treat them as a divine magic-using class, Steve Kenson introduces the Divine Gift talent for the AGE System. Characters with a Divine Gift can belong to any class, and their gifts are defined by areas of divine influence such as Law, Chaos, Protection, Nature and Fate. Yes, you can finally play an official cleric in the AGE gamers!
Tim and Eileen Connors bring us “The Exorcist” for Pathfinder RPG, where a desperate plan to raise legendary heroes from the dead doesn’t go quite right. “Silus and the Red Dogs” is a modern update of the choose-your-own adventure books, with a fun solo adventure for a halfling thief suitable and simple rules. Finally, the excellent “Who Watches the Watch Fires?” is a 4th Edition D&D race against time to alert a sleeping city that reavers are on the way!
Kobold Quarterly #18 is available now in print and PDF. More features, columns, and articles after the jump: