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