In the 80’s a pair of RPGs in my collection came out in standard softcover novel format. The first was Advanced Fighting Fantasy – an extension of the Fighting Fantasy franchise of game books, and the other was Dragon Warriors (released by Corgi Books back in the day). Dragon Warriors oozes that old-school feel that you would expect from an old school D&D knock off. While the game system is fairly solid overall, it shares some flaws with old AD&D, namely that a high level spellcaster is incredibly more powerful than a high level fighter.
The game feels somewhat more classically “medieval” than the Fighting Fantasy or D&D game worlds. Characters are assumed to be human and the world is very traditionally European. However, the character class choices make the game feel just as high fantasy as it’s contemporaries.
I was quite surprised to discover that Mongoose Publishing re-released Dragon Warriors in a more traditional hardbound format quite recently. I understand there are some minor differences in the rules, but haven’t picked up the Mongoose edition yet to confirm. Overall, the rules are simple and very well written, making it much easier to learn to play or even just pick up and play for a first timer.
The first thing when creating a character is you have to stop and check out that awesome illustration of the barbarian wielding the flaming d20 spear that I have on the right side-bar of the site. That opens the chapter and has made me smile since I first saw it in 1986.
True to its roots, the first step in character creation is to roll 3d6 in order for each of the five ability scores (Strength, Reflexes, Intelligence, Psychic Talent & Looks). It also includes a rule for determining what a “hopeless” character is – being one with 2 or more stats below 9 (which by the odds of the dice should happen fairly frequently). My first set of stats comes out with Strength 7, Reflexes 16, Intelligence 13, Psychic Talent 12, and Looks 15. Really, this set of stats doesn’t suit a Knight or Barbarian (the only two classes in the first book), so I check out the later books in the set. The second book has the Sorcerer and Mystic, but with my Reflexes of 16, I’m thinking Assassin from book 4.Of course this has nothing to do with my overall love of thieves, assassins and other rogues in RPGs, honest.
Actually, for a game that’s so medieval in writing texture, there are an awful lot of spellcasting classes available through the 6 books – Mystic, Sorcerer, Elementalist & Warlock; versus the 3 non spellcasters of Knight, Barbarian and Assassin.
As an Assassin, our fell hero starts out with d6+5 Health Points (10), Attack 13, Defense 5, Magical Defense 3, Evasion 5, Stealth 18 and Perception 8. These are all modified in turn by his ability scores. He also starts out with a backpack, nine throwing spikes, staff, sword, crossbow, case containing five quarrels, hardened leather armour, miscellaneous equipment (rope, climbing gear, hand lantern, flint-&-tinder, etc), and 3d10 Florins (16).
He also gets to start with a whole slew of special abilities – Combat Techniques that provide +1 to bypass armour, the ability to throw 3 throwing spikes (a d2+1, 2 weapon), and unarmed combat skills. He also gains the Shock Attack ability (like backstabbing or sneak attack); Inner Sense (psychic ability to detect traps and people in the dark); Light Trance (healing trance); a bunch of Alchemical Techniques; Disguise; Pilfering; Picking Locks (20%); and Tracking (a ranger/assassin, sweet).
Psychic Talent: 12
Health Points: 10
Magic Defense: 4
Combat Techniques (+1 to bypass armour, throw 3 throwing spikes per action, unarmed combat)
Inner Sense (psychic ability to detect traps and people in the dark)
Light Trance (healing trance)
Picking Locks (20%)
nine throwing spikes (d2+1, 2)
staff (d6, 3)
sword (d8, 4)
crossbow (d10, 4)
case containing five quarrels
hardened leather armour (AF 2)
miscellaneous equipment (rope, climbing gear, hand lantern, flint-&-tinder, etc)