Then, one day, 'taaa daaa' here you go Box Set 3 and by the way we are releasing a hardcover core rulebook that covers all three box sets and then some. Soooo...we are cool...right?
*insert blank stare here*
The one thing about being a fan of the Dragon Age Origins video game, at least as far as I am concerned, is that the fanboy in me just couldn't stomp off and say screw it. Unlike some people I was not inclined to make a giant bonfire and burn the Dragon Age material that I did own while recording it for posterity (i.e. my YouTube channel and now VImeo) whilst giving a profanity laced rant. So it came as no surprise to me when I found myself at the cash register of my not so local game store with a copy of the meaty tome in hand. As my wife drove for the next hour I had my head buried in the book.
This hardcover tome clocks in at 440 pages, so there is a lot more meat in it than all three box sets combined. The art work captures the feel of the game and so do the rules, albeit in a muted fashion in terms of powers available to the characters. My big take away is that if you are not a fan of the original video game you are probably not going to be overly impressed with this game system. I think that is the whole point though, this is meant to be faithful to the game and not just another version of D&D or Pathfinder.
There in lies the rub, the real success of Dragon Age: Origins was not the graphics (although Orzammar was impressive) or really even the story, it was the dialog between the characters. IMNSHO the ensemble of voice actors gathered for DA Origins were a perfect fit and the dialog itself was precisely crafted and executed. If you could somehow take that level of dialog and embed it in Skyrim I would probably become a hermit doing little more than play such a game.
How do you capture that level of interplay between the characters sitting around the game table?
I am not sure that you can but it would be fun to try.
You have 3 classes Mage, Rogue and Warrior, 30 backgrounds (far more than the video game), after that comes the Focuses, Talents & Specializations. The last three are basically versions of what you got in the video game, again though, I would stress watered down in terms of their potency and the frequency with which you gain them. In spite of that, I have to give Green Ronin high marks for getting this right.
Within the system the basic test is 3d6, with one of those dice being the dragon die (i.e. a different color than the other two). How it works is pretty straight forward, tell the GM what you want to do. The GM determines the ability to be used and what, if any focus applies. Then the GM assigns a target number which reflects the difficulty. You roll the 3d6 and add the ability to come up with the total.
The Dragon Die is used to measure degrees of success, break ties and generate stunt points. Stunt points are used for special maneuvers which cover Combat, Exploration and Roleplaying Stunts. It is nice touch and again helps capture the feel of the video game without requiring a CPA to do your character sheet.
In terms of the system, I give it high marks for accomplishing what I believe it was intended to do!
From page 340 to 425 you basically have a series of adventures in Thedas. I do not know how it is that line developers insist on this utter bullshit waste of page count, when they could have made them available as PDFs on this thing called the internet. To devote so much of this book to these adventures...which are not stellar IMO...is enough to badly ding an otherwise well executed book.
They also stopped short on the full list of Raw Material Effects. Certainly not the end of the world but given how much energy they devoted to the adventures it was a slight annoyance.
The Dragon Age RPG gives you the framework within which you can run/play games that capture the flavor of the original video game. Even if you are not familiar with the video games, there is plenty of background material present in the book to bring you fully up to speed. For the true Dragon Age aficionado you could pick up the Dragon Age: The World of Thedas Volume 1 from Amazon.com.