Ordo Draconis, a review…

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Apparently as a result of my previous review of the Pathfinder RPG (Which many of you seem to have liked, thank you!); I received a review copy of Ordo Draconis #2. What is Ordo Draconis you say? They describe themselves as a non-official e-zine dedicated to the Dragon Warriors RPG. Ordo Draconis also includes statistics for the Pathfinder RPG in an attempt to broaden their audience and share the joys Lands of Legend campaign, a mythic Europe/fantasy version of our world.

In an attempt to be succinct let me put it this way, I really liked this product. It is a solid 97 pages of gaming goodness, full of ideas, very well written and with great layout and cartography. Illustrations are sparse but appropriate, of excellent quality and best of all very flavorful. Want to learn more? Read on…

My first impression after downloading the file and opening it was, “Wow that’s a nice cover!” The art by Jon Hodgson was stylish and the adventurers looking back as they stand before a mysterious door set the mood for my adventure of discovery as well as representing the mood of the setting very well. Flipping the page I was also pleasantly surprised by the Northern Cornumbria map on the inside cover. After a quick perusal of the magazine I decided I needed to print this out to read it. Some of you may read on the monitor, but my eyes aren’t what they used to. Once I printed it I read it over the next couple of weeks.

I’ll admit that theses days it’s the rare gaming supplement I read all the way through. I’ll scan and find things that interest me and little by little I’ll get around to reading it, but the content on Ordo Draconis kept me interested all the way through. My first hurdle was getting to know just what the Dragon Warriors RPG was. The magazine has stats for Pathfinder but I wanted to know where the world came from and at least try to understand the other set of statistics in the book.

Turns out the Dragon Warriors RPG was a British RPG published in the 80s in paperback format. All the rules have been collected, revised and published by Mongoose Publishing recently. I have never played it but the rules presented seem easy enough. While I’m not currently in the market for a new fantasy RPG, they already have the stats for my current game of choice in this genre integrated so no biggie. Where this publication truly shines is in the quality of the articles, the ambiance and the amount of ideas it brings to the table.

The whole of Ordo Draconis #2 is tied nicely together within the Northern Conumbria region, from specific locations, inhabitants, folklore, ideas on little scenarios to a full blown adventure. I loved the feel of medieval Europe touched by magic and the coming together of real world myth and the game. I particularly liked the articles detailing the Darbon Barony, Eastmarch, and piece entitled the Along the Road (apparently a regular column) which had small story ideas, that while specific for the setting, could easily be used for any fantasy game. In fact that is a common thread in many of the articles, even if you don’t play in the Lands of Legend, much will be useful here.

Case and point the adventure, For Whom the Bell tolls, which takes place in an abbey and while it has nothing to do with it, reminded me of one of my favorite movies, The Name of the Rose. I though it was very well written and had a lot of neat little details I will use even if I don’t run the adventure in its entirety. How the adventure brings together elements from other articles was a very nice touch. The credits mentioned that I could download the maps from the Dragon Warriors wiki, and I managed to find them, but a direct link to the maps would have been nice.

I have a couple of minor nitpicks. The article that opened the issue, the Thane, while excellent and very flavorful, had no Pathfinder stats. I’m not advocating the creation of a new class, which I don’t think was warranted, but some feats or talents to create the flavor of the Thane would have been welcome. Some letters where hard to recognize with the font used for the article titles. And while not all the articles were equally useful, the balance was positive and I really enjoyed reading and reviewing the excellent magazine.

Ordo Draconis number #2 is available from DriveThru RPG game HERE, the Paizo store HERE, and I think its great deal for $3.50! Looking forward to #3, The Nomad Khanates, great e-zine guys, keep up the good work.

8 thoughts on “Ordo Draconis, a review…”

  1. Good review. I have been intrigued by Dragon Warriors since it came out.

    What could go wrong? It's an old school british RPG – just like my favorite RPG Warhammer FRP. And it's published by Magnum Opus Press, which is the new project of James Wallis, who was head of Hogshead Publishing – former publisher of, you guessed it, my favorite RPG Warhammer FRP. 😛

    I guess I should pick the book up…

  2. In reply to Sven: yes, DW and WFRPG are similar in some ways. The biggest difference (and the reason I end up preferring DW 60:40) is the tone. DW is grim but not suicidal. Not all bad things are truly evil and human frailty can sometimes be overcome or forgiven.

    Whereas IMHO canon Warhammer (especially at the beginning of the 90s when I gave up on it for a long while) is just TOO depressing. Why bother try to achieve anything when some inevitable swarm of chaotic beastmen/skaven/dark elves/warped dudes has already undermined the government and will shortly kill everyone you love?

    That said, if the GM can soften the tone a bit the WFRP world is great.

    The second difference is the technology/social level. Legend (DW's default setting) takes elements from 9th-14th century eurasia. Whereas WFRP seems more 14th-16th century. WFRP is rarer in this regard but I think it gets it about right.
    .-= Cameron Smith´s last blog ..Ordo Draconis and EN World =-.

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