Monday, December 26, 2016

Using MapTool with DragonQuest

If the reason you aren't playing DragonQuest currently is that your gaming group has become geographically scattered then you might consider using a Virtual Tabletop (VTT) program like the free MapTool from the folks at  VTTs allow you to connect with other players via the internet and have a shared virtual table top through your computer.  Even for face-to-face gaming sessions VTTs can be a great gaming tool.  MapTool is the VTT I have used for years now and is what I'm going to talk about.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Using Inspiration Pad Pro v3 with DragonQuest

Tables for generating random loot, encounters, names, dungeons, weather and everything else can be found on the net and as part of the rules for different game systems.  Some are generic and can be used for any game system while many are specific to various iterations of Dungeons & Dragons or related d20 variants.  Inspiration Pad Pro is a free Windows program (and Android app) from NBOS Software allows you to easily create your own tables or generators to match how things work in your game world and the game system you use.  I love it and have created a few tables that I use for generating NPCs for my DragonQuest campaigns.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Gnome and Half-Ogre Player Character Races for DragonQuest

I decided to add the Gnome and Half-Ogre as player character races for my campaigns for different reasons.  For Gnomes it is mostly just as a whim.  I mean, who doesn't like Gnomes?  They are like happy Dwarves.  Half-ogres came about as a way to have a more practical Giant race for PCs.  As found in the DragonQuest rules, only the Stone Giant at 10' is even remotely reasonable as a character that might accompany adventuring parties into buildings, dungeons or even towns.  Look at poor Wun Wun from Game of Thrones.  No sleeping inside next to a cozy fire for him.
First the Gnomes...

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Shape-changers and the Moon in DragonQuest

DragonQuest includes as one of its character races, shape-changers.  Races other than Human must be rolled for per the rules and the player gets up to three chances at three separate races.  Shape-Changers are the least likely race to get as it requires rolling a 4 or less on a D100 roll. So shape-changers comprise less than 4% of the player-character population which presumably is only a tiny fraction of the whole population.  Scarcer than hen's teeth in other words.

According to the rules:
[6.9] A shape-changer is a separate genetic strain of human, with the ability to change into the form of a particular animal.
These are not humans cursed with Lycanthropy but are instead some kind of human offshoot with the ability to change into a specific animal form.  In DragonQuest, the character may have either Wolf, Tiger, Bear or Boar as their animal form and this is determined randomly.

Though not Lycanthropes (i.e. were-animals) they are sensitive to the phases of the moon.  The rules have this to say:
A shape-changer may remain in animal form for one-quarter of the night times the phase of the moon; thus, during the full moon the shape-changer could remain in animal form all night.  A shape-changer may remain in animal form for one hour times the quarter of the moon during the day.  A shape-changer may make one set of transformations times the quarter of the moon.
Unfortunately these statements reflect common misconceptions about the phases of the moon and what the terms 1st quarter and last quarter actually mean.  Full moon is not the 4th quarter but instead falls in between 1st and last quarters.  The term quarter does not refer to the amount of the moon illuminated but how far through the moons orbit around the earth it has progressed.

Farmer's Almanac has a lovely graphic that shows the phases and their names.

From Farmer's Almanac website.
Here is a chart I threw together that can be used to determine how many times and for how long a shape-changer may assume animal form

Moon Phase % of Night Day Hours Changes
New Moon 25% 1 1
Waxing Crescent
50% 2 2
First Quarter Moon
75% 3 3
Waxing Gibbous
100% 4 4
Full Moon
Waning Gibbous
75% 3 3
Last Quarter Moon
50% 2 2
Waning Crescent
25% 1 1

From a visual standpoint the moon appears full to the human eye for three days but as the rules split the changes up by quarters that means that the full moon period, for purposes of number of changes and length of changes, lasts for one quarter of the moons cycle or 7.38 days here on Earth.  Not an easy number to work with.  Of course the moon (or moons) on your world can have whatever period you desire.  Using a lunar cycle of 28 days would give you a nice tidy 7 days per quarter.  Even 30 isn't bad as you can put 7 days each on the New Moon and Full Moon phases and then 8 days each on the First and Last Quarters.  Or vice-versa.

The important thing is to pick some method of determining when these Lunar events take place within your game world calendar so that Lunar aspected characters as well as Shape-changers and Astrologers have a consistent system to work with.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Colleges from Arcane Wisdom

The unpublished Arcane Wisdom (until TSR's 3rd edition of DragonQuest) included three additional colleges for DragonQuest:  Lesser Summonings, Rune Magics and Shaping Magics.  The first two colleges provide the adventuring adept with some alternatives while Shaping Magics provides a means for NPC and PC adepts to create magic items ranging from the mundane to very powerful artifacts.  Though true for pretty much all magic colleges the DragonQuest GM should familiarize himself with these colleges before introducing them to his campaign.

Monday, December 5, 2016

The Entities Colleges of DragonQuest

This post looks at the three Colleges found in The Entities branch:  Necromantic Conjurations, Black Magics and Greater Summonings.  When you need your traditional fantasy bad guys, Adepts from these colleges fit the bill.  While other colleges can be used for evil purposes, these Colleges are all touched by the Powers of Darkness to a lesser or greater extent.

In the 3rd edition of DragonQuest released by TSR they pulled both Black Magics and Greater Summonings.  I don't really hold it against TSR as there was considerably more public scrutiny on their products than on those released by SPI or any other publisher.  I consider it more important that they finally released the Arcane Wisdom colleges in the 3rd edition as this made them more available to the DragonQuest fans.  Anyone who really cared about Black Magics or Greater Summonings already had a previous edition with the missing colleges.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Elemental Colleges of DragonQuest


From Magic System Designer's Notes:

These adepts use mana to penetrate their respective elemental planes releasing power stored there and altering their element on this plane.

The DragonQuest rules don't comment on this but many of the spells in these colleges create a quantity - usually temporarily - of their respective elements.  I've always assumed that in most cases the spell is actually pulling those elements from the elemental planes into the Adept's own plane.  At the end of the spells duration the conjured material returns back to original plane.

For me the Elemental Colleges, except for Fire Magics, have never felt particularly "elemental".  I expect them to focus more on the manipulation of the elements than on interacting with what fauna might inhabit that element.

There are some inconsistencies between the Colleges as well.  Air, Water and Fire have Binding as a General Knowledge ritual and Summon/Control of Elementals as a Special Knowledge ritual.  Earth however has Binding as a Special Knowledge ritual and Summon/Control as a Special Knowledge spell that is ranked for the Summon and Control aspects separately.  Air has Resistance to Cold which grants Magic Resistance to Cold spells but reduces damage from Fire spells.  Fire has Fire Resistance which grants Magic Resistance to Fire spells and reduces damage from Fire spells not Cold.

On to the Colleges...

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Thaumaturgies Colleges of DragonQuest

Decided I would just go through and do quick and dirty reviews of the various Colleges of DragonQuest.  Going to break it up into multiple part by the original three branches and then those in Arcane Wisdom.

Disclaimer:  My opinions are my own and I'm not saying that other DragonQuest GMs or players are doing it wrong if they disagree with my assessments.  While many of my comments do point out what I consider to be flaws or shortcomings in the Colleges and spells that shouldn't be taken to mean that I think the overall magic system is itself badly flawed or broken.  On the contrary, I think DragonQuest's system of ranking spells individually and having multiple Colleges is brilliant.

So without further ado - on to The Thaumaturgies.

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Look at Area-of-Effect and Wall Spells in DragonQuest

The various magic colleges of DragonQuest have a number of area-of-effect (AoE) and wall spells. The way that the area affected by each spell is determined varies considerably with some using a radius of effect, some are in square feet and some are in cubic feet. Several of them make me think that either the creator of the spell was fuzzy on area versus volume or perhaps an editor came along later and failed their math skill check. I also wonder why most of these spells didn't use a whole hex as a base for the affected area. After all DragonQuest assumes a hex grid for combat. Using formulas that pretty much guarantee that you'll always have partial hexes covered seems like an odd choice to make.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

DragonQuest Special Damage Chart

Looking at one of my older DragonQuest rule books I noticed I had made a correction in it to the [18.2] Special Damage Table.  I generally just do the math in my head to calculate the Grievous and Endurance damage ranges and so rarely look at the actual table.  I had forgotten about the change I had made and why I had made it.  Well the table as published in all three editions has a mistake that affects two of the ranges of Modified Strike Chances.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Characteristics in DragonQuest

Like all Role-Playing Games DragonQuest has a set of characteristics that represent a characters physical and mental attributes and capabilities.  In DragonQuest there are 6 primary characteristics determined by the player during character creation from a pool of Characteristic Points. These are:
  • Physical Strength (PS)
  • Manual Dexterity (MD)
  • Agility (AG)
  • Endurance (EN)
  • Willpower (WP)
  • Magic Aptitude (MA)
There are two derived Characteristics:
  • Fatigue (FT) - Determined by Endurance
  • Tactical Movement Rate (TMR) - Determined by Agility
One Characteristic with a fixed starting value:
  • Perception (PC) - Starts at 5 (8 for Bantam 2nd ed. or TSR 3rd ed.)
And an Optional random Characteristic:
  • Physical Beauty - Determined by 4d5+3 roll.
All of these have some impact on a characters abilities in combat, their skills like Ranger, their ability to use/cast magic and just generally surviving the cold, cruel world.  The degree of that impact varies quite a bit between the various characteristics.  Below I provide some detail on how and where a characteristic is used as well as some comments about them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Some Magic College Variants for DragonQuest

A while back I made some changes to the Air Magics and Earth Magics colleges and these are the ones I use for my campaigns.

Changes to Air Magics

Additional situational modifier added at -10%.
Added two Talents, Detect Fumes (T-2) and Speak to Avians (T-3).
Replaced G-4 Communicate with Avians with Far Sight.
Changed G-6 Conjuring Mist to produce more useful quantities of mist.
Replaced G-7 Summon Avians with Protection from Magical Cold
Replaced G-8 Detecting Fumes with Free Fall
Replaced Q-2 Purifying Air with Binding Air
Replaced S-4 Controlling Avians with Flight
Changed S-6 so that damage is reduced by armor.
Changed S-11 Snow Simulacrum to a ritual, R-3
S-12 to S-14 move up by one
New S-14 Spell of Lifting
S-15 Wind Walking removed
S-16 & S-17 move up by one.

Changes to Earth Magics

In the DragonQuest rules this was kind of two colleges in one with Pacifistic and Druidic branches. To me, neither felt like an elemental college so I fully split it into two separate colleges with Earth Magics being more elemental focused and the other, Natural Magics, being a Druid/Shaman type college.

The majority of spells and rituals were changed or replaced for the revised Earth Magics.  See the PDF for more details.

Natural Magics kept the General Knowledge spells of the original college and adds T-2, Pass Without Trace.  Ritual of Finding Totem Animal (Q-2) added which complements S-13 Animal Form.  Most Special Knowledge spells replaced and R-1 changed to Calling the Wild Hunt.

The revised/changed colleges can be grabbed on the Downloads page.

Feedback is welcome!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Magic Weapons and Monsters in DragonQuest

A pretty common trope of fantasy RPGs and literature is that some monsters can only be hit by magic weapons or weapons crafted with specific materials like silver for were-creatures.  In a recent thread in a Yahoo! DragonQuest group the discussion of how to transfer over DnD monsters that have specific requirements in order to be hit came up.  In DnD this is usually expressed as needing a +1 weapon or a +2 weapon or better.  So I've been thinking about how weapon enchantments are expressed in DragonQuest and what monsters require magic or magic weapons to be hurt.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Using Herbs in DragonQuest

One of the additions that Arcane Wisdom brought to DragonQuest was a section on Herbal Lore.  This described 50+ herbs (depending on which version of Arcane Wisdom you have) giving information about where they are found, how common or uncommon they are and what properties they have for various purposes.  A somewhat vague framework for how much of a given herb can be gathered and how much the gathered herbs are worth can be teased out of the section.  How they can be prepared for use by Alchemists, at what cost and what selling price can also be found in the text.  Altogether though it isn't particularly convenient for use and so some years back I put together a few tables to remedy that.  I have cleaned them up a bit for public consumption and put them into a PDF on the Downloads page.

Herb Prices

The first page of the PDF has several tables about pricing for herbs in their raw and processed forms.  The top table, Healing Herb Retail Prices, is the important one as it lists the retail prices for the various healing herbs in the different forms that they can be processed into as well as what benefits they grant.  The pricing that is given in this table is all derived from the guidance in Arcane Wisdom though I added some additional cost multipliers when determining the prices.  Without the multipliers I felt they were just too inexpensive.  In addition I apply limits on how often they can be used based on [82.7].  I also added a Concentrate form to go with the Powdered and Distillation forms found in Arcane Wisdom.  In my campaign Concentrates can be used by anyone but do require preparation and so can't be used in combat.  Distillations can be used the same as potions in combat.

The other tables on this page are used to determine the prices for herbs sold to Alchemists as well as what prices the processed herbs might be sold at for use by others.  Arcane Wisdom provided for each Availability rating an amount of herb that might be gathered.  For gathering of herbs there were four amounts that may be found: sprig, handful, bag and basket.  Each one being 12 times as much as the previous one.  For my uses I dropped the Sprigs per Handful down to 6:1 just because 12 sprigs seemed like a lot.

Herb Location Table

Page 2 has the Herb Location Table.  This table is for randomly rolling what herbs might be found during a random herb gathering such as when the party might be camped for several hours waiting on something and the Ranger is bored.  Under the rules [60.5] it takes a Ranger 12 hours to find just one application of herbs but that's has always seemed pretty silly to me.  Arcane Wisdom didn't provide any extra guidance for this and I've typically just winged it depending up the rank of the Ranger and whether or not he was searching in his chosen environment.  I figure 2 to 4 hours is enough searching to get a roll on the table.  Arcane Wisdom does give chances of finding particular herbs based on their rarity and this would be used if hunting for something specific with a similar time period spent.

Herb List

The last two pages are a list of herbs from Arcane Wisdom in tabular format.  There are columns that indicate where they are found, availability and three that indicate general usage.  Nothing too exciting but it can be handy if you want to see what herbs are found in what environment.

I think everything is pretty self-explanatory but please hit me up with any questions you have.

Update: I should mention that Poor Brendan's Almanac includes rules for an Herbalist skill that is similar to an Alchemist.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Magic Resistance in DragonQuest

When it was first released one of DragonQuest's more unique aspects was its magic system. Multiple colleges with differing styles of magic in each made it very exciting and appealing. Being able to pick and choose what spells your Adept character would focus on was cool and meant that every Adept, even one from the same college, would be different. I really liked this and still do.

Like many other RPG systems DragonQuest includes rules for resisting the damage or other effects caused by magic spells. This is often called saving throws in other systems. Initially this post was going to be about damage from spells and why, for some spells, it could be resisted and others not. Particularly why spells that caused actual physical damage could be resisted. The longer I collected my thoughts about it the more obvious it became that the question I was really looking at was how does magic resistance work in DragonQuest.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Magic Potion Table for DragonQuest

Some time ago I had gone through and collected a list of all the spells that met the requirements of [50.9] and could be made into magic potions.  These were split into a table for General Knowledge spells and Special Knowledge spells and given percentages for a D100 roll.  Nothing too exciting but thought it might be useful to others.

A PDF can be grabbed on the Downloads page.

Here's a screengrab (lower res):

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A Look at Character Progression in DragonQuest

While I was working on the DragonQuest Economics post I was wondering just how well the guidelines about Experience Point and Monetary rewards worked out over an adventurers career.  Does the adventuring character have sufficient money to cover training costs and upkeep?  How long does it take to reach Hero rank?  Can he afford healing potions?
Clearly I needed to spend a bunch of time answering these questions and so I started a human character named Bernie the Boring.  Bernie spent what experience and money he started with and then I artificially advanced him through adventures till he reached Hero rank.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Worksheets for Magic Colleges

I've added individual spreadsheets for each magic college in DragonQuest and Arcane Wisdom (except Lesser Summonings) to the Downloads page.  I use them for my Adept characters to track my rank in the various spells and also which SK spells I have acquired.  As a GM I use them for NPCs so that I know what spells they have and at what Rank and Cast Chance.

Undead in DragonQuest

A recent post on a Yahoo! DQ group asked about the life draining effects of the Greater Undead in DragonQuest.  I answered there but thought I would also post my take on them here and perhaps expand on it a little.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Extending Maximum Weapon Rank to 10

Why Do It?

Since the 1st edition of DragonQuest was released it has always bothered me that the so few weapons allowed the character to advance to rank 10 or, in many cases, even rank 8. This is important to the characters as their ability to achieve Adventurer or Hero rank (see [86.2] in DragonQuest rules) depends upon the character getting 8 skills to rank 4, for Adventurer, and 8 skills at rank 8 for Hero rank. A player choosing weapons for his character with thoughts of getting that character to Hero rank will be quite limited in weapon choice. Only one Hafted Weapon can go to rank 8 and only one Pole Arm. Even the Swords are limited with only 7 of the 13 going to rank 8 or higher. A low maximum rank means low hit chances (obviously),  lower initiative values, a lower chance to repulse an attempt to close and a lower chance to riposte (or prevent a riposte).

Friday, October 14, 2016

DragonQuest Economics

The economic rules for a fantasy RPG need to be reasonably sound and I believe should follow historical examples if for no other reason than to make it easy for a GM to research costs for things that the rules do not cover.  It is also important for making the game world feel more real.  If a GM has to make up a price for something on the spur of the moment it is better if the GM has a good framework to work from with prices for a broad range of items.  As DragonQuest includes Merchant skill as well as other income-producing skills it is even more important that the economic rules of the game make sense. This post hits on the topics of currency, income and the costs of goods compared to the middle ages and then looks at the economics of the professional skills in DragonQuest.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Healing in DQ

The combat system in DragonQuest can be quite deadly with even the lowliest of opponents able to severely injure or even kill the most heroic of characters by getting an [18.2] Endurance hit or a [18.3] Grievous Injury with their attack.  As Endurance damage is recovered slowly [85.1] at one point every three days the ability to get an injured comrade back on his feet in the middle of an adventure is pretty important.  In DQ you have the usual options of healing potions, healing spells and the arts of the Healer skill though there are some significant limitations and roadblocks for beginning or just poor adventurers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

PCs vs. The Average Guy

When discussing what adventurers may do the descriptive text of the rules is often at odds with the mechanics of the rules.
[83.1] "It is to be assumed in all rules concerning the amount of activity an adventurer may accomplish that adventurers are an above average lot of people and should not be compared to present day humans. Also, when compared to non-adventuring members of their respective races, adventurers have, on the average, 50% higher numerical totals in all characteristics."
While I agree with the general sentiment of the first sentence the second does not make sense when looking at the actual mechanics of DQ. I touched on this in my previous post about Stealth.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Stealth of Monsters in DQ

In DragonQuest the term monsters means any entities that an adventuring party might encounter or come into conflict with which aren't from a player-character race or species.  This description does include a variety of sentient entities such as the Fairy Folk.

A number of monsters are described within the rules as being stealthy with it typically noted as being X times that of an average human. So what is the stealth of an average human?

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Investing Spells in DQ

The DQ rules include a ritual available to all adepts that allows them to store spells inside of objects for casting later.  This is under [32.3] Investment Ritual.  Because there were essentially no limits placed upon what items could be invested with spells or how many invested items one could wield a set of rules developed over time in my campaigns.  I've linked to the handout as a downloadable PDF on the Downloads page of this blog.

The costs for "investable" items were derived from the Shaping rules and also Rune Magics runestick materials.

Hope it is useful or provides food for thought for other DQ players.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

My DragonQuest Campaigns

Thought I would put up a brief post about how I run DQ campaigns and a bit of my gaming background.  This may provide some insight into where I am coming from in my musings on DQ.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Vision and Light in DragonQuest

Vision and Light in DragonQuest

Vision and light are rather vaguely defined in DragonQuest (DQ). Light sources aren't discussed at all within the rules and no details are provided for the four light sources found in the rules (candle, candle lantern, oil lantern and torch) such as radius of illumination or for what period of time they last. The majority of other RPGs available during the time when DragonQuest was released included this information so, to me, it was an odd thing to leave out.

I'm going to look at the vision types described for the various races and monsters in DQ, the types of vision granted by spells, the spells that produce light, and the spells that obscure vision. I'm not going to propose any changes or fixes in this post but may do so in a later one.

Oh boy! Another Gaming Blog

Yes, Another Gaming Blog.

In part due to some recent discussion on a Yahoo! DragonQuest list I've been putting together some thoughts about the game and how it works.  I was thinking about the best way to share these and decided that maybe a blog would be the way to go.

Some, or many, of the posts to come will likely be about the flaws or shortcomings in the DQ rules as I see them. To the DQ fans who might stumble upon this blog know that DQ is still far and away my preferred system for fantasy gaming.

I'll post a few and see how this works.

What Is DragonQuest?

DragonQuest is a Fantasy Role-Playing Game first published by Simulations Publications, Incorporated (SPI) back in 1980 with a 2nd edition released in 1981 with slight update to it published by Bantam in 1982.  A 3rd edition was released by TSR in 1989 after their purchase of SPI.  A more detailed description can be found at Wikipedia.