Dragon Hack and the Set 3 Open Playtest Rules

So at last we have some Set 3 rules! Here are my initial thoughts, with a vague slant as to how they  will play in Dragon Hack (and AGE of Eberron).

First, a couple of things that all point to an underlying system that I think pervades Dragon Age:

  1. Set 2 introduced advancement points to slow down ability increases.
  2. In Set 3 Health/Mana increases slow down. I was suspecting something like this would be introduced, dropping one or other of the 1d6 or Con/Magic bonus.
  3. Set 3 also has double focuses. I had also wondered if this would be in there, but wasn’t expecting the +3 (rather than +4).

This, I believe, suggests that all character improvement is done under diminishing returns, unlike almost every other system I’ve seen (not that I’ve seen a great deal!). Coupled with the talent system – which typically does not make characters more powerful so much as more varied in their abilities – it will be very interesting to see how high level play works compared to, say, 4th ed D&D. This seems to tie in with  characters getting only one more specialization as they level to 20 – there had been speculation that there might be two, i.e. one every 5 levels.

The new talents look good, and should fit into any game nicely, not just Dragon Hack. The exception might be Runecrafting, as this is not really a D&D ‘thing’.

The specializations are also good. The chevalier is vaguely similar to the Lancer specialization I came up with for AGE of Conan! But this illustrates one of the strengths of this system – these specializations can easily co-exist with one another. Of the others, the Force Mage and Keeper seem the most tied to the Dragon Age setting and also to the Dragon Age magic system. This also applies to the Shapeshifter, which duplicates one of the Druid abilities.

The Guardian is a nice warrior specialisation that would work well with the Fighter class talent. Looks like I’ll have to rename the Guardian specialization I came up with to a Defender! Specialization naming may be becoming an issue here – there is now a Ranger specialization for rogues which could be confused with the Ranger class talent for warriors. But it shouldn’t be too hard to keep them straight, and a little bit of multi-classing shouldn’t hurt! The Marksman also conflicts name-wise with the specialization described in Kobold Quarterly #20. But all in all, some nice ideas in all of these!

A couple of final thoughts for now:

  • Mages don’t get extra talent degrees at level 13 and 17. Is this a typo in the play test document?
  • Level 20 warriors get a bonus to ‘warfare’ stunts. Could mass combat rules be on the way in the full Set 3 rules?
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