Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Game Blurbs that Work

Have you ever heard a brief description of a game and though to yourself: "Sold!"? Well, I just have, thanks to this little nugget here:
In a nutshell, if the medieval world had functioned the way that its population thought it did—magic exists and is scary, goblins turn the milk and steal your children, dragons exist but are a long way away, the dead sometimes rise but the power of God is stronger, the old king sleeps under the land and will rise when his country needs him, the current king is a prat, &tc. &tc.—then that’s Dragon Warriors.
I never got into Dragon Warriors first time around. It was very popular in Britain (and Australasia, I think) when I was a kid and I remember some people talking about it at school, but I was always more into Advanced Fighting Fantasy and then AD&D. Clearly, I was missing out. When I'm next in the old country I think I'll have to track down a copy - preferably of the original stuff, but if not, the retreads.


  1. I'm not sure it was popular in Australasia, or at least in my part of Australasia (Brisbane, at the time).

    The roleplaying club that everyone belonged to was all about AD&D 1e, with occasional forays into Traveller, RuneQuest and the like.

    I'm sure there was someone out there playing Dragon Warriors, and I have a vague recollection of seeing one of the paperbacks in a generalist bookshop once, but I don't think it could be described as popular.

    Maybe someone else from Australia had a different experience?

  2. The originals of the first three books are still easy to get on and I picked them up on Amazon last year, and I know I didn't pay more than £10 for the lot of them. They're great books, with a lot of character, and the adventures in them are fantastic.

  3. The originals are great (I own them), but the "retread" is well worth getting. It hasn't been rewritten, just reorganized. The original books were something of a mess when it came to looking things up - there were more than a few important rules that were introduced midway through the series. The new book has everything in a logical order, with a (very) few needed tweaks here and there.

  4. Yeah, in the late 80s in NZ, these were the same price as other paperbacks, and so the whole system cost less than one AD&D book. Am finding them occasionally in 2nd hand book stores for <$5NZ, too.

    It's not complicated & has great atmosphere, PCs gradually increase in power rather than doubling with each new level, and where the (thin) rulebook doesn't cover the situation, anything can be dealt to with d20 against the relevant stat.

    I think the best description is what OD&D would have been like if GG had been British.

  5. I never had the Dragon Warriors books, saw them a lot in bookshops and thumbed through them but every time I had a book token it went on a Lone Wolf book instead!

    I knew gamers with the books but I don't think I ever knew anyone who played it - the lads who had the books had read them but stuck with games like Red Box and Judge Dredd. I think the paperback format may have harmed it's chances, it (locally at least) didn't seem to get treated as a "real" RPG which is odd as we played a lot of the Fighting Fantasy RPG (the original in the orange book) when we couldn't be bothered to play anything more mentally taxing and that came in a similar paperback format.

  6. Sir Harrok: I think almost everything I've ever read about Dragon Warriors was written by Australians, but maybe it's just coincidence. Or perhaps it's a Melbourne thing.

    Superhero: Funny that I've not heard anything negative about them. I'll definitely be buying them soon.

    blizack: What books does the retread encompass? The whole set of 6?

    Pukako: Now that is a good recommendation.

    Coopdevil: We used to play that orange FF book too, and I think it's still at my folks' place somewhere. Next time I visit I might dig it out and write a post about it. About all I can remember is that weird tiger man thing on the cover.

  7. that weird tiger man thing on the cover

    That's the one! He was bursting out of a giant D6 IIRC.

    It was the first RPG I ever played and about three months before I got the Mentzer set for Christmas. On the grounds that the entire ruleset was easily committed to memory we used to go back to FF for improvised games played if the intended game session fell through for some reason.

    I suppose that in these days I'd probably regard RISUS as an alternative for "off the cuff" games.

  8. I was fortunate enough to play through every adventure in the six books. With your interest in both Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer I don't doubt you will love the books. DW has elements of both.
    Rules light with dramatic and stylish inked illustrations the books come alive with the story heavy adventures. There is a very English atmosphere to proceedings. Imagine The Canterbury Tales spiced up by Ray Harryhausen, with Vance consulting on lethal magic traps. Early on there is the eerie adventure on 'Hobbs Dell' which I remember vividly. And I knew I had it made when I survived the deceit and shenanigans in the fourth book and ended up the proud owner of Myrkyn's castle by the sea.

  9. Speaking as an Australian fortunate enough to have spent his early years in Great Britain...

    Here in Perth, WA, Dragon Warriors was one of games played in highschool lunchtime when not playing Basic/Expert D&D. I adapted parts of it to a Companion/Masters-level campaign the year after leaving highschool - enyojed by all except the "by the book" player who disparaged the very notion of borrowing from other games...

    One of the Sydney ex-pats who was one of my regular players these past few years got his start in Dragon Warriors.

    I saw a badly battered DW book at the local secondhand bookstore, and know the "retread" is in the game store in town. I am tempted.

    wv - ayalits: plural; exotic thrills, phrase used by promoters/self-advertisers, eg "get your ayalits here!"

  10. coopdevil: I myself have a fiendish plan to pick up the retread Dragon Warriors rules and use them to run Lone Wolf/Magnamund games, inspired by this thread:

  11. blizack: What books does the retread encompass? The whole set of 6?

    The Magnum Opus Press hardcover contains all the rules and setting info from across all six books, including abbreviated stats for practically all of the monsters. It also has a new adventure that I liked a lot.

    There is a separate Bestiary that has more detailed info on the monsters, and some great artwork.

    The adventures have been broken off into their own books - The Elven Crystals, The Prince of Darkness, and Sleeping Gods (which contains all of the short "one shot" adventures that appeared in various books.)

    All of these except The Prince of Darkness are currently available. Once The Prince of Darkness is released, all of the original stuff will have been re-released, and the new content will start coming out.

    (By the way, I have a couple of blurbs about DW on my blog.)

  12. Hmmm. I am intrigued. Tell me more about this game.

    V-word: Emishano
    Definition: An idol worn as jewelry or as a talisman among the tribes of the pre-columbian great lakes.

  13. Coopdevil: If I remember correctly it was just the Fighting Fantasy system, wasn't it? Roll under your skill to succeed on a given task. The ultimate rules-lite system really.

    Kent: It sounds right up my alley. Hopefully I'll be able to find second hand copies somewhere - if not, the retread will do.

    Mothman's: You know you want to. Give in to the power of the Dragon Warriors...

    Sirlarkins: Excellent idea. Am I right in thinking that there was a d20 Lone Wolf game? Even so, I'm so sick of d20 I think I'd much prefer a DW version.

    Have you read the Lone Wolf novels? They were pretty good, as these things go. I even had a couple of them on audiobook.

    Blizack: Thanks. I'll check out your blog posts.

    Rach: Take a look at the wiki. From what I can gather it's a slightly crunchier version of D&D or T&T, with a more 'medieval' bent, but still very quick and easy to run.

  14. Yeah, there was a d20 Lone Wolf game...and it was awful. Oh man, I should do a whole post on that pile. It was useful for the Gazetteer section, but otherwise, just no.

    I haven't read the LW novels; in fact, I didn't even know they existed! Thanks for pointing those out. I'll have to see if I can track some down.

  15. Sirlarkins: They weren't written by Joe Dever, but by somebody called Paul Barnett (writing under the name of John Grant). As I understand it he and the publishers (who only ever released heavily edited versions of the novels) didn't see eye to eye, which is why only 12 of the books were finished. They were called Legends of Lone Wolf. The first two are pretty standard fare, but as the series went on Grant began to do some seriously creative stuff with them. One of them, if I remember, had several chapters written in the second person - the first time I'd ever seen that technique in a novel.

    You can read an interview with him here where he talks a bit about them.

  16. Nice! Unfortunately, I've been Googling and it looks like only the first three were printed in the U.S.--which means that those are all readily available for cheap, but the later ones are priced as "rare books" on sites like Albris. Looks like I'll have to start trawling eBay for bargains...

  17. Fuck me, I just looked on and found one of them for 80,000 yen. That's about US$800!

    Anyway, more info here.

  18. I had these in the UK! Then I moved to Oz, and no-one had them...