On Saturday I had the chance to play the Dragon Age RPG by Green Ronin at a local convention. Initially I planned to run two sessions of Into The Odd, but we didn’t find enough players for the second game, so I decided to play some Dragon Age instead.
I’ve owned the rules pretty much since it has been released, but alas I never had the chance to give it a try. So I was pretty excited when I was given the chance to actually play it. The GM had prepared six characters: two rogues, two mages, and two warriors. I picked one of the mages, who turned out to be a human circle mage with a focus on primal magic.
Playing a mage is a lot of fun in Dragon Age, especially because there’s a chance that things can get terribly wrong. My most powerful spell had a slight chance of miscasting. During the game this spell misfired once, but luckily it just damaged my Marbari warhound instead of turning my character into an abomination.
The rules are extremely easy to understand. You roll 3d6, one of those is the dragon die, and if your roll result is equal or higher than the target number you succeed. The dragon die comes into play each time you roll doubles when making an attack roll. In that case the dragon die shows the number of stunt points you can use for that action. Stunt points allow you to move yourself or your enemy, add additional damage, ignore armor, reduce the spell cost of the spell casted, and more. Because of this, the combat rules can be kept simple, but you get additional option from time to time, which make things more dramatic and exciting.
Recently Green Ronin has released the Dragon Age RPG rulebook, which combines the rules found in all the three boxes and adds a new adventure. The PDF is available right now, the hardcover book is still in its preorder phase. I’ve put the PDF on my wishlist, and I am determined to get a copy of the hardcover book as soon as it reaches Germany. Now I just need to find a couple of people who want to play the game with me.
Mutant Year Zero is one of the games that took me completely by surprise. I faintly remember that I read that Modiphius was running a Kickstarter project for the game, but I for some reason I didn’t give it a closer look. Recently a friend reminded me of Mutant Year Zero. He has been one of the KS backers and was totally blown away by the final game.
So I started doing some research. Mutant Year Zero is the latest edition of a decade-old Swedish RPG franchise. The more well-known Mutant Chronicles RPG has actually been developed from an earlier edition of the Mutant game. The latest edition of Mutant has been created in 2014 and is published by Modiphius, which you probably know from Achtung! Cthulhu.
This review is based on the PDF version of Mutant Year Zero, which has been provided by the publisher for the purpose of said review. Thanks again, Chris! The digital edition is available from DriveThruRPG and contains not only the core rules but also several sheets, handouts, and two Zone maps.
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the game is that it looks totally awesome. The comic-style artwork fits the setting perfectly and the layout is top notch. I know that substance is more important than style, but in most cases style is what gets you interested in a game in the first place. The production quality of Mutant Year Zero is definitely on par with Fantasy Flight Games or Paizo products.
So what is Mutant Year Zero about? The subtitle “Roleplaying at the End of Days” actually gives it away. It’s the post apocalypse. Humanity has screwed up big time and the vast majority of Earth is a radioactive wasteland. But some pockets of humanity remain. The “People”, shephered by the Elder, have survived in a place called the Ark. In Mutant you play one of these people. And as you might have suspected every player character is a mutant.
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I don’t think I need to tell you about the importance of maps in roleplaying games. Even the most crudest of maps can still be a very helpful tool in any campaign. A great map might even help to immerse the players more deepy into the game.
An excellent example of such a map is the Traveller Spinward Marches map by the German oublisher 13 Mann Verlag. In its print edition it’s 96 cm x 68 cm, printed on both sides, and even laminated. I am not sure if you can use boardmarkers to write on it, but it should at least be protected from greasy hands or spilled drinks. As a physical handout the map is just awesome. It’s made to look like a product available in the actual Traveller universe. One side shows the scout map of the Spinward Marches, with every system detailed. You don’t need to look up stats in a book, everything you need is right there on the map.
The other side features the trade map for the same area, and features all of the information needed for crew of merchants trying to make a buck in this region of space. Especially the trade map can look a bit intimidating at first, but should come in handy during the game – especially if your campaign focuses on trade.
Some people may ask themselves whether a physical map still makes sense in today’s world. I have to admit, I still like having physical handouts at the table. And the map is definitely a great eye-catcher.
If you prefer a digital version of the map, you can get it as well – which actually contains one PDF for each of the two maps. The digital edition is a bit of a mixed bag to be honest. It looks great, is only 7 MB in file size and looks pretty good even on a tablet PC, but it’s just not as useful as the printed map – at least in my opinion. Your mileage may of course vary.
The print edition of the map sets you back €24.95 (about 31$) which is a pretty fair price, if you ask me. It’s available directly from 13 Mann or through local retailers. The PDF version is also available from DriveThruRPG and sets you back $15.55. If you are a fan of any edition of the Traveller RPG and if you’re playing in the Spinward Marches, you definitely should check this product out.