Rordin The Dwarf

As I mentioned the other day, I’d like to go through some of the characters that turn up in Dungeon Saga. This gives me a springboard to discuss some of the design choices we made as well as exploring different aspects of the game and its tactics.

 

Character

For some reason, in my head, the first in line is always the Dwarf fighter: Rordin.

painted-rordin-flatWhen I was thinking about the sorts of abilities and equipment I was going to put in the game, one of the things I really wanted to do was to include a spectrum of different styles within some of the Hero professions. So, within the concept of “fighter” there are actually several different approaches. Rordin, for example, starts out by focusing on defence. He is, in MMO terms, a tank.

In non-MMO terms, this means that he is very survivable with the best armour of any of the four Heroes.

Rordin is pretty good at dishing out punishment too, but that’s not his main aim. He is there to stop the bad guy(s) going somewhere. He can stand in front of any enemy and he’ll take less damage and last longer than anyone else. In a game in which positioning is often critical, this is a key skill.

While Rordin is holding someone in place the rest of the Heroes can get on with something else. This could be clearing the rest of the room, getting through a door, opening a chest, or whatever. Occasionally, the Barbarian Orlaf can be left on his own too, but only if he can kill the bad guys fast enough. Rordin can block a corridor on his own indefinitely and whenever it’s needed, leaving the remaining three to work as a team to get the rest of the job done.

His raw fighting power is second best among the Heroes, and he is one of two that can reliably smash down a door. Compared to the Elf and Wizard he’s a close combat monster. However, he’s not quick about it: slow and steady is Rordin’s way.

Like the other Heroes, Rordin starts the game with a single feat and gains another later on. Feats are one-use abilities that are specific to that Hero. Rordin’s first both makes him invulnerable and sucks up the actions of any adjacent foes to keep them where he wants them. Again: perfect for blocking a route to his comrades. His second feat pushes all adjacent foes away from Rordin, gaining him space to move once more: another survival trick.

As he gains experience during the campaign, Rordin also gains Tough (recovering a wound on a 6), an extra dice of combat ability (making him even harder to hurt as well as more dangerous in attack), plus two powerful magic items: The Runic Breastplate and Thorfin’s Hammer. The first makes him even harder to hurt, while the latter makes him a very nasty opponent in a fight as it ignores a lot of enemy armour. The overall effect of these bonuses emphasises his original style, and then enhances his combat power to eventually make him the most dangerous Hero against a single target.

 

In Play

I tend to play Rordin very aggressively because he’s so survivable. To my mind, he should be the one to go in first and absorb the enemy attacks. Even if he isn’t first in, I try to encourage my opponent to concentrate attacks on him. This means that the overall effect of any attacks is reduced, and any healing potions I may have will go further. When I’m playing all the Heroes, it’s not uncommon for me to end up with the Dwarf on the most wounds, despite his being the least likely to take one.

He is at his best when you have more than one group attacking you. In this case you can use Rordin to hold one lot off while the other three Heroes deal with the others. This gives you a huge superiority (in power and sometimes in actions too) in one area, which is what you need to get the job done briskly. And speed is important because DS adventures generally have a time limit.

 

Limitations

Rordin is a simple fellow who likes to deal with one threat at a time and in person. Anything that requires range, multiple enemies (unless they are very close together) or magic will get left to one of his companions. Even killing foes can take him a bit of time because he’s so focussed on defence at the start. So, like all the Heroes, Rordin works best when in a group, all of which nicely ties into the co-op nature of the multi-player game.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas | 33 Comments

DS Pledge Manager Questions

I know that the Kickstarter backers have their pledge manager available for Dungeon Saga, and I’ve heard a few questions about the game based on this.

As I don’t know what you don’t know (and want to know to inform your purchases), I thought I’d post this up as a space for you to ask questions.

At some point soon the rules will go out to you guys again. That’s currently just waiting for some reworking of the layout. It’s silly to show you something we know needs changing, so we’re making some corrections first. So, the rules are coming.

I am planning to do a series of short articles talking about individual heroes and other models in the range as a starting point for discussing their tactics as well as their appearance. I’m just waiting for the photos.

One thing I do remember being asked about was acrylic counters. How many wound and pile of bones counters do you need?

POBs are the easier one as there are 24 in the box. The most a single adventure starts with is 20 (at present – further playtesting may tweak this slightly). That leaves a few for Skeletons to get boned before more are raised. So you need that many.

Wounds are slightly trickier to work out. The Heroes have 5 each, but in all but one case the game is over if a single Hero takes 5. So, the most they will ever need is 4 Heroes x 4 wounds = 16. However, the other side may need them too, and here’s where it gets more vague. It depends on who you are fighting as to how many wounds they may need. Normal skellies don’t use them, nor do small zombies. Zombie Trolls do, as do some of the other (non-undead) races. It also depends on what you’re playing: pre-written adventures or some of your own devising. Personally, I’d say that 20 would probably be as many as you’d ever need in all but the most insane of home-brewed madness. You could probably get away with a dozen most of the time as it’s unusual for non-Heroes that get wounded to stick around long, so there are seldom lots of wounded individuals around at a time. Wounds on Heroes tend to concentrate on one or two of them rather than spreading evenly across the group – again reducing the likely number you’d need. It’s not an exact science though and these comments are obviously based on my experience and could vary with your group, depending on your play styles. As the pirates say: not so much rules as guidelines…

If you’ve got any specific queries then please ask. I’ll either know the answer or the person to prod for one.

Oh – one final thought. I have no idea what the pledge manager actually looks like or how it works because I haven’t seen it. All I can help with is content-based questions. If it’s technical stuff about what happens when I click this then you’re better off talking to Mantic customer services direct.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Kickstarter | 83 Comments

Dungeon Saga Playtest Day

dungeon-saga-boxLast Saturday we had a group of brave volunteers round to the Mantic Manse to help us test out the core scenarios for Dungeon Saga. From my point of view it was a very useful day as well as an entertaining one, and I think our testers had a good time too. Certainly, they were very complementary – at least when I was in earshot :)

We started out with the training scenarios so that everyone had the core rules clear in their head. This, of course, is the whole point of the training scenarios. Then we went through some of the adventures from the campaign in the core Dungeon Saga set: the fight against Mortibris.

As there are so many adventures for the game we had decided in advance to just focus on the core set rather than scatter our efforts across that plus 4 expansions’ worth of extra scenarios. I think this was the right decision. By doing this it meant that each of those adventures had several runs through by different groups, which gave us a better aggregate view of the balance and any issues.

Speaking of issues, there were gratifyingly few. With the exception of one scenario that left the necromancer with a bit of a lull in the middle (all fixed now), they ran pretty smoothly, and many were very close. A couple of groups told me of scenarios coming down to the last action by the last Hero on the last turn, which can’t really be improved for tension and drama.

Undead 1At the end of the afternoon we changed tack, and had a couple of larger games. All the morning and early afternoon games had been 2 player because this gave us the most runs through with the most efficient Heroes (co-op games are rarely as efficient a group of heroes as when a single player is in control). Still, multi-player games would be fun for us as well as the testers, so I took the part of Mortibris in one and on we went. The rotating rooms were as entertaining as usual :)

 

Naturally, I forgot to take any pictures, but I’m sure others managed to snap something. Luke, who writes Mantic’s blog, was wandering about with his phone camera, so you might want to have a look there.

I also did an interview for… someone I can’t remember the name of. I think it’s the senility again. Anyway, someone will remember and hopefully they’ll be kind enough to add a link below. We were, obviously, discussing DS, so it’s me answering questions and burbling on about that. Not having seen the result myself, I can only guess how coherent I was being. This was during one of the rounds of the day so I may have been a touch distracted :P

So, today I’ve been writing updates and tweaks to fix any of the points raised by our intrepid testers. All relatively painless, which is nice. Several people commented on the rules as being clear and easily understood. The issues were almost all ones of layout: where’s the best place to put this. People also wanted a QR sheet which we’d planned for the back of the book, but hadn’t finished yet. We’ll also be picking out important rules in each section and putting Important! boxes as reminders to help you find important or easily lost rules more easily. A few paragraphs will also be reorganised to make the key rule in them more apparent. Overall though, no major changes, and the book will benefit greatly from this level of picking through. I’ll be doing this again, repeatedly, before it goes to print.

Zombie frontAs well as my rules, we also had all the models on show, and these went down very well. It’s hard to pick out a personal favourite model, though the main contender has to be the skeleton jester, which I think is a KS special. Sylvain’s Orcs are also rather splendid, though I’ve only seen them in the green so far. Actually, now I think about it, my other, other contender for favourite might actually be one of the core box armoured zombies (shown half-finished, on the left). Hmmm… Sylvain seems to have a worrying affinity for the undead.

All of which only leaves me to thank once again the kind folk who came to help us test the game out. They travelled from quite far afield (I think Norway won the distance record), and happily gave their time for a rather strange cause. Very much appreciated though. Playtesting is an odd and sometimes gruelling process, and it was great to see so many happy faces during the day.

We might even have time for one more of these days before everything disappears off to print.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas, Events | 31 Comments

What Should I Call This?

Well here I am again. It seems like ages since I posted, mainly because it has been. Sorry about that. There are all sorts of reasons for my absence, but none of them are intrinsically interesting enough to bother you chaps (and chapesses) with. So I won’t.

Rather than muddle half a dozen subjects together in one post, I’ll syphon them off into separate missives, starting with one about the Dungeon Saga playtest day we had on Saturday. I’ll write that once I’ve posted this.

Even though I’ve not been here to blither about it, I have been thinking many gaming thoughts during my time away, and beavering away on several projects too. There are some exciting things on the horizon. So, with a little luck I should be able to use this backlog of intriguing notions to post a bit more frequently than not at all – I like to set my sights high :)

So, this is really just to say that I’m back. Jolly nice it is too.

Posted in Random Thoughts | 18 Comments

Covert Ops

Aplogies for not dealing with your comments for the last few days. I’m not currently at my desk and am writing this without any reference books to check rules queries and such. I’m also not sure if I will have a reliable net connection to post more than this brief missive, so this pause may continue for a few days yet. Or may not. Like I said, not sure about that.

This is not a permanent change though, and what passes for normal service will be resumed as soon as possible :)

Posted in Random Thoughts | 17 Comments

Review: Spectre Miniatures – First Look

This morning I got a handful of figures from Spectre Miniatures‘ Kickstarter.

spectre_package

These are a range of ultra-modern 28mm figures that cover both western forces, PMCs (Private Military Contractors – mercenaries), and indigenous African troops, militias and rebels. I chose to pick up just western forces and PMCs as they are useful in a wider context than Africa, and in any case I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with them. I just thought they looked interesting :)

The models come packaged in boxes, each containing one of the sets they are sold in.

spectre_boxes

Inside the boxes the miniatures are neatly packaged in a layer of what looks like hamster bedding. It’s a bit messy and goes everywhere, but it seems to have done the job of keeping the models safe and intact. It might even have some reusability as scale straw ;P

open_box

And here they are out of the bedding and ready to roll.

models

I’ll have a more detailed look at them when I’ve tried cleaning some up. For now, I’d just like to point out that most of them come as either a single piece, or in two parts (separate backpack on the SAS, one PMC shooter has separate arms). At first glance they look very nicely cast with few mould lines and so on to clean up. The models themselves have realistic scaled weapons, so they’re quite small. I like that. I also very much approve of the lack of infilling between arms and bodies – a common feature of gaming models to get them to cast in a smaller number of pieces, but often unsightly when viewed from above (in other words, the view you usually have of them in a game). These Spectre models have a gap where there should be a gap, as you can see here.

gap

So on first glance I’d have to say that they look very nice :)

Posted in Figures, Review | 3 Comments

Fighty Comes In Several Heights

In the comments of a recent post, Danny was asking about the tweaks for the Dungeon Saga Dwarf and Barbarian. The simplest answer is posting a pic of the current working copies.

rsz_1dw_-_barbThose of you who played the Dungeon Saga rules from the Kickstarter will see that they have changed very little.

Posted in Dungeon Sagas | 21 Comments