View Full Version : Drakensang/The Dark Eye, any info?

2013-03-18, 07:32 PM
My and some friends are trying to make a new RPG for our Game Design class (Yes, my school is awesome) and are trying to draw various inspirations from other games. On Tv Tropes I found "The Dark Eye" and it looks amazing, except...

I don't know German, and all of the sites I find with information are written in German and Google Translate is not very forgiving. Does anybody here know any good translations of the world (I"m mostly interested in the setting) or could summarize it for me?

Thanks alot

2013-03-18, 08:22 PM
Das Schwarze Auge. Yeah, it's pretty damn huge in Germany, but I never tried it. There are english translations and wikipedia seems to have some interesting info (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Eye).

warty goblin
2013-03-18, 09:13 PM
If you're interested in just the world detail stuff, there's World of Aventuria (http://www.amazon.com/The-Dark-Eye-Aventuria-FPR15002/dp/1932564063/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363658379&sr=8-1&keywords=world+of+aventuria), which is in English. I own it, and it contains a veritable ton of information, and is very light on mechanics. Unless you want to actually play TDE I suspect you can get a lot out of it without the Core Rules. (http://www.amazon.com/The-Dark-Eye-Basic-FPR10450/dp/1932564020/ref=pd_sim_b_1)

However TDE is a cool system, and quite different from pretty much anything else I've seen. I've gotten a lot of fun out of reading the core rules.

There's also a couple different computer games out there that can possibly provide some sense of the setting. Most recent is The Dark Eye: Chains of Satinav (http://www.gog.com/gamecard/the_dark_eye_chains_of_satinav), which, from what I've played, is a pretty standard sort of adventure game. There's also the Drakensang RPGs (http://www.gamersgate.com/DDB-DRAKCP/drakensang-complete-pack-bundle)from a couple years ago, consisting of the first game, Drakensang, it's sequel River of Time, and its expansion; Phileasson's Secret. Of those the first is charming but dull, and the second plus expansion is absolutely wonderful in a pleasant, laid back sort of way.

Going really old, there's the Realms of Arkania games, 1+2 (http://www.gog.com/gamecard/realms_of_arkania_1_2)and part 3 (http://www.gog.com/gamecard/realms_of_arkania_3). I've not played d these, but have heard they're very oldschool hard. Apparently you can starve to death or die of infection.

2013-03-19, 05:18 AM
There's a german wiki with some english articles - http://www.wiki-aventurica.de/wiki/En:Aventuria

I'm actually playing a TDE adventure right now, with the same group i played TDE the last time about 15 years ago , but i still dislike the overly complicated rules (or maybe they just don't order the information very well) - the worldset Aventuria on the other hand is quite nice.



2013-03-19, 05:24 AM
Step away from DSA. This is my advice.

To summarize my experience with this system:
Restrictive Charbuilding, unbalanced Race-system, chargeneration takes about 5 hours for a trained person. I sat over my char, re-calculating with a chargenerator and stuff 2 days on it.

The rules itself are basically only slightly easier than your average algebra class. And well the sanest thing I can say to someone... do not try to fight in this system. You either have to take it as a really strong focus or just have to avoid it.

Mechanic-wise rolling under things and having 3 rolls for a single skillcheck might be a cool thing to do but the system itself is clunky. Fights are "fast" as in a round is shorter than a dnd 3.5 round is as far as I can remember but you have 2 rolls per attack (attacking, parrying/dodging) and an endurance system. This basically dilutes fights between two really good fencers to be a dicerollfest until one of them has no longer enough constitution to fight on.

The thing is... the system in and on itself is not bad... for what it is meant. But it is too specialised. Better systems that have the same parameters (Realistic, PointGeneration) are more for all around. GURPS for example let's you do the stuff DSA is meant for and so much more while DSA isn't meant to be used for anything other than medieval low-fantasy stuff.

To quote one of our weekedn Pathfinder group: "I don't have the time to read rules more complicated than my Advanced Physics class."

2013-03-19, 06:34 AM
While I'd say Krazzman is exaggerating a bit, DSA definitely has some clunky bits. But I'll give you some general info first.

Earlier editions of the game actually had a really restrictive race/class system, where non-human races were classes onto themselves and such. However, since the 4th Edition the character building uses a 3-step point-buy system similar to a lifepath system.
First step is race, which gives you some small ability point and possibly skill adjustments, but if you're playing one of the several human races it's mostly flavour while orcs or lizardmen will have some mechanics in there. Races can cost you points, but several are free.
Second step is culture, which is were you grew up. Culture is somewhat restricted by race (no orcs growing up in elf culture etc.). Culture gives you some starting skills and stat adjustments depending on what kind of place and status you lived in. You'll in part be able to make choices, like if you'd like that +2 on bows, crossbows or thowing weapons or what second language you want to learn if you get any.
Third step is profession. Since the game is skill-based rather than class-based those don't really get anything you couldn't learn another way, but they do determine the largest part of your starting skills and special abilities and can cost a huge amount of points including having ability prerequisites (or status etc.) so they have a huge impact on your character. Unfortunately some of them are so expensive that you are forced to buy disadvantages to just break even which I consider bad design.
Additionally, all this is tied in with the world fluff, so that's another way your choices have a big influence on your character.
In the end you can buy advantages/disadvantages and have some free skill points to put wherever you want and that's pretty much it.

Advancement goes via directly buying skills, ability points and special abilities (and spells if you're a caster) for XP.

Now skill use is one of the things I find a bit clunky, since you roll for three abilities (d20, stay under your value) and then you can use your skill value to get equal if you rolled over you ability somewhere, margin of success being the skill points you have left over. Now combining several abilities to get a realistic representation of what a task takes is a nice idea, but that's too much calculation in my book. You get used to it, but I dislike it.

Combat is in principle nicely done, factoring in reach, allowing active defense (I like parrying more than AC, it just makes way more sense and allows for more active choice in combat) and there's a load of special abilities based on real fighting (they even have binding/winding which is a real rarity). The ability stuff is resolved by having precalculated values for attack, defense and ranged coming out of your abilities, which you put your skill points of top of to have your fixed values to roll for (say you have attack 8 and defense 7 and sword 5, you can have like 10/10 or 13/7 or whatever).
However there's a problem in that the math is a bit screwed up and high defense values are way more powerful than high attack values. There are some well-known houserule collections to fix this, but vanilla it's not perfect.

Spells are skills and can thus fail. There's mana to cast, there's a lot of special abilities for magic as well, most of which are flavourful and interesting. Also, there's lots of detail stuff like representations (elves cast differently than mages and witches are different again, each way of casting has unique benefits and one can even learn others...). Spells can also be modified in certain ways. Mages are powerful, but it's way less of a gap than in D&D.

Lastly to mention it again, if runs on its own fluffed out world which allows for vastly different styles depending on where you are. Sometimes it feels a little patchwork-ish but all in all it's nice.

So yeah, rules-heavy system with some really clunky bits, but the design is way better than D&D in my opinion.

2013-03-19, 06:58 PM
Before we go into setting details, the first mayor difference you absolutely MUST be aware of is that the basic premise of the game is VERY different from D&D.

Let's face it, D&D evolved from a wargame and it shows. In its most basic form, your adventuring party is a bunch of murderous hobos that just happen to have saving the world as an excuse to kill things and take their stuff.

The characters are heroes because they can kill stuff better then anyone else.

In TDE, heroes are heroes because they do heroic things. Heroic things like 'doing the right hing', even if it is detrimental to the character in question.

Don't get me wrong, you totally play D&D that way but the system isn't geared towards it. IN TDE, the rules and the setting are pretty much inseparable but they reinforce the notion that virtue is its own reward.

Most importantly, there is not the same strict black & white morality of the D&D verse. The gods are the good guys (mostly) who try to protect their creation from outside threats.

In this world, life, or maybe souls if you will, are made from divine power. Outside forces try to siphon off this power. So demons aren't really out to inflict pain and suffering, they want that sweet sweet mana. It just so happens that their ways of doing so happen to involve tricking mortals into selling off their souls (which are, after all, made out of that sweet sweet mana). And if that deal involves giving a bad guy magic powers that he abuses to hurt people...

And often enough, the right thing to do is not to kill the BBEG and be done with it, but to try and save his soul. Because every soul lost to the demons weakens the creator gods, and thus the world.

That is quite a oversimplification but it should point you into the right direction.

warty goblin
2013-03-19, 08:20 PM
The biggest difference that I found in terms of tone between TDE and D&D is that mechanically TDE puts a lot of emphasis on where a person comes from and what they've done, whereas D&D is fairly rootless by comparison. In D&D a fighter from place A is pretty much identical to a fighter from place B, and indeed you don't need to even know that to create the character. In TDE a Thorwalian pirate is quite different than an Andergast mercenary. Not just in terms of flavor, but in terms of mechanical abilities, which are dictated by the background choices made during character creation.

Basically it means the characters have some amount of automatic culture and flavor to them, instead of defaulting to murder-hobos. Not that you have to play D&D with murder hobos of course, but the rules don't dictate anything beyond that.

It also generally feels like a much lower key sort of fantasy. Magic items are supposed to be genuinely rare, magic seems a lot more limited in scope and chancy in application, and the whole thing seems a lot more grounded. Personally, I dig.

2013-03-19, 08:52 PM
TDE has been Germany's most popular RPG for many years. One of the reasons is the rich setting that has been developed in many boxes, novels and the newspaper "Aventurischer Bote", which exists both in game and in the real world. They have had an ongoing timeline, so if you want you can play the new premade adventures and find additional information in the newspaper, which probably really adds to the atmoshpere (never managed to play on time or spent the money). Some of the novels are great, others not so much. I think what I really like about the setting is the huge amount of details (so many!), but some argue that it is really difficult to find a place that has not already been described in some official resources.

The current (4th edition) allows for A LOT of differentiation of seemingly similar characters, both in regard to flavor as well as mechanically. The talent system is quite nice and considers different attributes and skill points in a realistic fashion. Especially the magic system is neat, as you train every spell individually which also allows you to adapt it spontaneously in different ways. Combat is very clunky, I had to houserule several things in order to make it easier - but then, I had to houserule every game until now. And yes, the character generation takes indeed 4-6 hours, depending on experience and complexity, which really irks me.

2013-03-20, 05:56 AM
My Exaggeration might stem from my dislike of the system that basically is the fault of the DM for the campaign I was in.

But I might want to add that a non good-built mage can actually go out of mana for a month from casting fireballs. Offensive Magic is really expensive and the regrowth rate is... tiny.

About fighting, wounds and and hitpoints. I tried out SR, Vampire, DSA and Warhammer so far next to GURPS and DnD. And I wouldn't implement any of those systems for fighting, if my main concern was realism. (GURPS is a bit different since I never really fought there and the last I remember was some acrobatic check for which I rolled 3d6...)

The healing in DSA is either too expensive or too restrictive combined with the wound system it turns your "heroic" deeds to screwing around pretending to be fighters.

My character nearly killed himself because his crossbow "exploded". Because apparently there are rules for weapons getting damaged from running through woods.

As it is said: DnD comes from a Wargame and the PC's are heroic because they can kill stuff better than others, shrug damage off better and can brag about it in a tavern. If you tried the things level 1 DnD PC's do on a repeatable basis.... your DSA char dies. From what I got out of the system/campaign the best fights are the fights avoided. Something you could talk yourself out or run away from, raising your odds before every battle get's to be the way you have to go.

I don't say it's a bad system or it can't be fun but I have to say it is really hard to get a good built group together that can brag about their deeds in a tavern at least from my experience.

2013-03-20, 10:11 AM
To elaborate on Krazzman's points, HP-wise a fighter type will start with around 30-35 HP and getting more is possible but expensive. Half a dozen over a career sound about right. More bookish types may have between 20-25 HP at start.

As for mana (or rather Astral Power Points), a typical wizard has around 40 at the beginning. Wizards have more ways to increase that pool then there are for HP but the limiting factor is in-game time mostly. The character has to spend time to increase his APP in addition to spending XP.

However, as combat and healing magic goes, APP are pretty much exchanged on 1:1 ratio to inflict damage or heal injuries. The fireball Krazzman mentions is a very expensive spell but since it has an area effect you can get a better ratio there, circumstances permitting.

However, recovery rate is about 1d6+X points per day for both HP and APP and the value of X depends on weather you spent your night in a nice, warm bed on a full belly or shivering under your summer blanket in a cold fall night in the woods, hungry. X can easily be negative. Minimum recovery is 0. Wizards do, however, have a couple of ways to boost their mana recovery, eventually replacing the d6 with a set value derived from their main stat. But it is a long way.

Wizards are better off debuffing enemies and such rather then going for damage, the idea is that killing things is the warrior's job. So unless your strategy is to put your wizard in a box and keep him there until you face the BBEG, then open the box and have the wizard kill the BBEG with a single high-yield damage spell, this works quite well actually.

Going back to HP: Since you don't get that many to begin with and they don't increase much, getting better at fighting means learning to protect your HP total by getting better at parrying, blocking and dodging* or learning maneuvers that allow you to defend against multiple enemies and getting better at ignoring or mitigating the effects of wounds.

As for exploding crossbows, well, there are (optional!) rules for fumbles and a possible result of a fumble is hurting yourself or forcing a check to see if your weapon breaks.

Oh, oh one thing about the Christmas Tree Effect: Averted, your character's efficiency depends mostly on his skills and abilities. Equipment can help but...

To put it into perspective: Even a person without training (skill 0) will have base attack and parry values of 6-8 (depending on stats). If you add skills to that, a skill of 12 is supposed to denote mastery. Rather in the Karate Black Belt meaning of the term. So a skilled swordsman with good fighting stats might have AT/PA values of 14/14 or maybe 16/12 if he is more offensively minded. Add +1 to each if he specializes with a weapon.

Magic weapons? Mostly them being magic means they can injure demonic foes. Demons tend to have low HP but, since they are not of this world, are resistant to mundane weapons. And if you are lucky, they offer a +1 to AT or, and seldom and PA or something.

As for damage, a basic sword does 1d6+4 damage. Have a high strength and this becomes 1d6+5. A master smith can add +1 or +2 to that. Magic? Temporarily add +1 or maybe +2 to that...

Of course, the way armour as DR and wounds interact, each extra point of damage is valuable. Of course warriors can use a version of Power attack. If the guy with AT 16 decided to reduce his AT to 12 in exchange for +4 to damage, that is about as much as a really, really sharp sword that has also been enchanted would net him.

As for wounds: Take a hit doing damage in excess of 1/2 your Con score and you suffer a wound, which will either give you a flat penalty to pretty much everything or, if you use the (optional) hit location rules, penalties depending where you got wounded.

If your warrior type has 14 Con (maximum starting value unless you pump extra building points into it), a hit of 8 points will wound him. Swords do 1d6+4 base damage, remember? Armour is vital. Of course, the heavier armours penalize your AT/PA values. It's a tradeoff.

The net result is that tin-can-man will rarely get wounded but hits will still nickel and dime away his HP (although many hits will fail to penetrate at all), but he is also a bit easier to hit (since he can't parry as well) and has a bit harder time hitting back.

Oh and being outnumbered really sucks. Enemies not only get a bonus to to-hit, you get a penalty to parry. On top of having only 1 parry against multiple foes. And the cherry on top of it all: Unless your character has at least some combat training (think Combat Awareness feat), he can't even freely chose to parry the first incoming hit but has to declare an enemy he focuses on.

Of course that works both ways but how often do heroes outnumber the bad guys. :smallamused:

As for armour, well, it reduces damage and either offers a blanket protection or, if you use the optional hit location rules, varying protection. Take as example the best armour in D&D 3.x, the chain shirt. Either it offers overall protection roughly on par with a full suite of leather armour, or it offers substantial protection to chest and abdomen, but none to limbs or head. Can be worn under clothing though.

Full plate then would be a suit of padding, chain on top of that (or maybe padding that is reinforced with chain at the joints) and then you add breastplate, arm & leg armour and a helmet. That is about DR 8 to a sword's basic 1d6+4 damage. It is also a -8 penalty divided between your AT and PA score, although fighter types can learn to mitigate this penalty a bit. To -6. Tops. Oh and it also slows you down.

Bottom line: There is no *best* fighting style (between relying on speed and skill to avoid hits and simply relying on armour and sacrificing speed), only a best style versus certain opponents. Kinda of a Rock-Paper-Scissors type of deal.

* There are attacks that can't be parried, only blocked or dodged, like an ogre's tree-club. And you can't parry, say, a two-handed sword with a dagger. A good dodger can dodge as reliable as other fighters block or parry, but even a successful dodge lowers your initiative score. You want to avoid that.**

** Also, wear helmets. Wounds to the head reduce your initiative drastically. At least if you use the hit location rules.

warty goblin
2013-03-20, 04:59 PM
It's worth noting that a lot of the more complicated rules aren't, to the best of my knowledge, available in English. Hit locations and location specific wounds spring to mind here - although called shots are included.

(Technically the Drakensang games have hit locations, but I think they're randomly selected somehow per attack, and I know for sure that wounds are generic, and not per-location. Which is good, the games are hard enough as it is.)