Sunday, November 5, 2017

The Spy/Thief Skill in DragonQuest

A constant among RPGs is the idea of a thief character that helps get the adventuring party through locked doors and past dangerous traps or acquires the critical piece of information by picking the pocket of an opponent.  DragonQuest has their own take with the Spy and Thief Skill and this is my look at the ins and outs of the skill.
Though written up in one section of the rules, Spy and Thief are learned and advanced as two separate skills.  The description in the DragonQuest rules says,
The spy and the thief practice their trades covertly, in order to avail themselves of the well-guarded wealth of the powerful.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

I'm back again...

It's been a hectic few months and I just never managed to scrape together the time to put together any posts for the blog.  Of course I realized too late that I should have just been posting something instead of hoping that the time needed to get something together would just magically appear.  Doubt that this was a real concern for many but I apologize for just going dark without saying anything.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Undead in DragonQuest

Undead are a staple of fantasy RPG adventures and DragonQuest includes the usual suspects.  However, undead in DragonQuest can be a challenge to GM as described in the rules.  In particular, a number of the Greater Undead (Night-Gaunts, Spectres, Wights, and Wraiths) are described as "waxing and waning", "half of this world and half of another plane" or "vary in substantiality in direct proportion to the time of day".  Does this mean that their physical attributes should also vary?  For Spectres, this is specifically stated as true but for the others it is unknown.  The rules suggest that most Greater Undead are Adepts.  Do their Ranks with spells also vary?  Again, except for Spectres, unknown.  No game mechanics for playing out this variability are given in the rules.  Sadly while providing a somewhat different take on undead from other RPGs the DragonQuest designers left a lot of questions unanswered.
Because of some discussion on the Yahoo! DragonQuest groups, and a couple of recent adventures targeted at DragonQuest that featured or included undead, I decided to review again what is and is not there in the DragonQuest rules concerning the undead.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Usable Maps

Recently there was a blog post on the Monsters and Manuals blog about what makes a map useful or not and Cecil posted his own thoughts on it on his own Sword Peddler blog.  This prompted me to gather some of my thoughts about what makes a map usable (in contrast to useful as applied in the blog posts) in Virtual Tabletop programs.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

DragonQuest House Rules

I'm guessing that every DragonQuest GM out there has at least a couple house rules for their DragonQuest campaign and I'm no different.  Whether they are subtle changes to rules, different interpretations of DragonQuest's sometimes vaguely-worded rules or new skills, spells, weapons and colleges, every campaign has its own rules.  This is, of course, true for pretty much any RPG system out there but the collapse of SPI and the disinterest of TSR meant that DragonQuest hasn't really grown and evolved since its release.  Any changes or development for DragonQuest has been left to fans of the system through house rules.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Vision and Light in DragonQuest, Part 2

This post is a follow up to the September 2016 post about Vision and Light in DragonQuest.  I've gathered together all of my various thoughts and notes of how I run vision and lighting in DragonQuest into a few documents that are part of my house rules.  This post includes a link to the document describing the changes and additions I've made to the various magic talents and spells that create light or provide some type of vision.

Friday, April 28, 2017

MapTool Campaign File v2 for DragonQuest

A nearly month-long RV trip and other issues have kept me too busy to get any new blog posts out but I did manage to get a basic user guide written for the MapTool campaign file that I use for running DragonQuest.  Version 2 of the campaign file includes a number of new macros and a lot of updates to the previous ones.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Mapping with Master Hexes

Hex grids have been used for mapping in gaming since the 2nd edition of Gettysburg by Avalon Hill in 1961.  DragonQuest, published by a company known for its war games, uses the hex grid for tactical and campaign mapping though it wasn't the first RPG to do so.  This post is going to focus on the use of what I'm calling Master Hexes for mapping and isn't specific to DragonQuest.  This concept has been around since the very early days of the Judges Guild (Campaign Hexagon Sub-System) and maybe longer. I'm making no claim on having come up with anything particularly original here.  The inspiration for this post came from several blog posts that I came across recently.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Geography of the Frontiers of Alusia

The Frontiers of Alusia is a campaign setting released by SPI for use with DragonQuest or other fantasy RPGs.  I've used the Frontiers of Alusia (FoA) as a campaign base for DragonQuest off and on since its release in 1981.  The included 22"x34" map has the quality you would expect from the preeminent war game publisher of time.  The accompanying Travel Guide provided basic descriptions of the various named areas and features of FoA and included a basic history of the region plus hints about neighboring areas.  There are ruins, abandoned cities, impassable mountain ranges, deep dark forests, haunted battlegrounds, primitive cannibals and barbarian tribes.  Plenty of adventure hooks and room for GMs to put their own stamp on it.  It's a real shame that further expansions for either the Frontiers or Alusia as whole were never produced.
In the cover sheet Frontiers of Alusia is described as "a thinly settled, semi-explored wilderness."  In keeping with that there are only two settled areas within the Frontiers of Alusia: the Barony of Carzala and the Brastor Holding.  They cover about 4% of the total area.  If you've read any of my previous blog posts then you know that I like to dig into the numbers and I collected a few for the Frontiers of Alusia.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Movement Rate Conversion Charts for DragonQuest

DragonQuest specifies movement for the inhabitants of the DragonQuest world in two ways primarily.  First is the Tactical Movement Rate (TMR) which defines how many hexes an entity can move in a Pulse (5 seconds) during combat and second is the Movement Rate for the Chase Stage specified in Yards per Minute (YPM).  Then Book 2, Magic, comes along and uses Miles per Hour (MPH) for spells like Telekinesis, Windwalking and Shadow Wings which requires conversion to game movement rates when used on the Tactical Display.  It takes no great feat of math to do the conversions but for Telekinesis and Shadow Wings it needs to be done with each improvement in spell rank.  So a while back I threw together a few tables in OpenOffice Calc to do conversions from MPH to both TMR and Chase Stage movement for the two spells but also more general conversion tables.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Backfire Table for Invested Spells

One of the features of the magic system in DragonQuest is the Backfire Table.  Attempt to cast a spell with too little skill and you may end up with a backfire which can have a variety of negative effects from the mildly irritating to the completely incapacitating.  It's not easy being an adept in DragonQuest but not just adepts can cast spells.  The non-adepts can loose magic spells that have been invested in items.  These can also backfire but, to me, many of the backfire results don't make much sense in the case where the spell is cast from an item.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Starting Language Skills in DragonQuest

DragonQuest incorporated languages better than many of the other RPGs around at the time of its release and it still compares favorably to those that came along later.  Though brief at 2/3 of a page, the rules section on spoken and written language still manages cover in sufficient detail what it means to have Ranks 0 thru 10 in a language, touches on dialectic differences, mentions changes to language over long periods of time and which creatures would be expected to have their own language.  Many of the other Skills available have minimum language skill requirements including Thief and Spy.  The rules also detail what language skills a player character starts with.  For humans and shape-changers, they start with Rank 8 in both Speak and Read/Write Common.  For non-humans they start with Rank 8 in Speaking in their native language and Rank 8 in Speak Common.  To me this is where the rules are a bit unfair to humans as well as a bit too restrictive and boring.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Some thoughts on the Mechanician

As written the DragonQuest rules provide little incentive for an adventurer to take up the Mechanician skill.  The brief description of the skill focuses largely on the making of traps, locks and safes.  Not things you might make outside of the Mechanician's workshop.  There are no abilities ascribed to the skill that might be regularly employed by the adventuring Mechanician.  Those devices described in the rules all require tools, materials and, in most cases, a workshop. The Mechanician's ability to create locks, traps and other mechanical devices should give them some insight into disabling or disarming the traditional pit and arrow traps found in dungeons but nothing is said of this in the rules.  The skill can definitely use some love in the form of more detailed abilities and some adventuring-targeted abilities.