I love the Dragon Age RPG. We’ve been playing for a while now and it’s a lot of fun. We really enjoy the stunt system and the game plays fast and easy. In the course of playing though, we’ve noticed some really interesting little things that crop up in the system. I thought I’d share some of the observations we’ve made over the course of our game – and maybe get some feedback too…
One interesting aspect of the system is that it doesn’t really use a “tactical” combat system, but it also has some tactical elements, such as skirmishing and proning that happen because of stunts. One thing that we’ve noticed is that proning an enemy really has no downside… Because a character can get up and charge – and for the most part, charging will allow you to reach most enemies who are already in melee. And further, because you can move and charge in a standard turn you can charge a very large distance.
To remedy this, our houserule is to effectively turn Charge into a “full-round” action — meaning that if you are knocked prone you can’t charge someone. We do allow a charging character to move their full move amount (instead of half) but you can’t move and then charge (including using a minor action to stand from prone). Since charging has no real downside (it’s a standard attack with a +1 to hit) we’ve decided this is a pretty fair trade-off.
Heavy Armor Archers
Another interesting small issue with the system is that it encourages heavily armored archers. Archery is a difficult sell in the system – and despite what you might think, Warriors make better Archers than the Rogue class. And it makes sense for an archer to wear the heaviest armor they can. After all, since the archer is going to be raising Dexterity the majority of the time, then their movement won’t be as deeply impacted as a standard fighter. But the idea of an archer wearing heavy mail (and later plate armor) is not something I generally expect. But from a mechanical standpoint, Dragon Age encourages this. Talking with the only other Dragon Age GM I know, his players came to the same conclusion…
The Dexterity stat is very, very important in Dragon Age – and in many ways, it is the go-to stat for mages. Since Dex is an off-stat for mages, raising it doesn’t impact a mage’s advancement in terms of magic. This means that between high Dexterity and Rock Armor, mages are going to be very hard to actually damage – because they’ll have high defense and high armor value.
I have no problem with acrobatic-wizard antics, but it again seems to be a weird mechanical issue that mages are mechanically encouraged to max out Dexterity this way.
Big Bags O’ Hit Points
And while this is not a major issue, probably the biggest thing we’ve noticed so far is that combat is all about attrition. Between high armor values and high health points, the monsters are really big bags o’ hit points. As someone who spent the first two years of the D&D4e life cycle playing 4E a lot, I lived through a lot of arguments about how D&D is no fun if you can’t hit the monsters (see, I still maintain that a 65%+ hit chance is too high against passive defenses… but, hey). Well, in Dragon Age, you don’t miss much. I’d say in a typical combat a character might miss once.
What’s frustrating is that your PC seems to hit a LOT, but it doesn’t do anything. Even with stunts, it’s taking forever to put monsters down because they just have a lot of hit points and high armor values. And I find that far more frustrating than the occasional miss.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love this game – and we’re having tons of fun with our current campaign, but between my game and the other GM I’ve been talking to, we’ve noticed the same issues. While nothing there is a game-breaker or a terrible thing, these are just the weird mechanical things we’ve noticed in the AGE system.
What about you?