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Thread: The Dark Eye

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    Default The Dark Eye

    I'm a big fan of DnD but I have been looking for another pen and paper rpg to try. I'm currently looking at the German game "the Dark Eye"(Drakensang) and was wondering if anyone has played it, that could tell me how it is. How much different it is from DnD? Is it worth buying?

    Any Dark Eye fans that could help me out?
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    The Dark Eye is an excelent game, if you like a large persistant world with a very solid and well-written background. This game is completely carried by the fluff of the game , and plainly, in quantity and quality it is the best standard fantasy setting known to mankind. If you speak German. And like Metaplots. And can totally live with the idea that really powerful magic only belongs in the hands of NPC.

    While the background and story are made out of solid sunshine and greatness (and the availlable adventure modules beat every ever published by Wizards of the Coast in this regard), the rules are as terrible as the background is good. It is one of the most convoluted, complex and in some parts nonsensical set of rules I know. It started as a D&D clone back in the 80's and grew more complex, adding one half of a Gurps clone in the recent edition without getting rid of most of the old baggage before. The result is ...interesting, in the old Chinese curse meaning.

    The whole setting is a bit less obvious in its magic than most D&D settings. It is not a low magic setting - far from it - but all things supernatural are a bit rarer, more unexplainable and a lot more mystical. Active spellcasters of great power are rare, but fey beings, spirits and so on are actually quite common, even though they are invisible most of the time.

    The setting is also more mature than most D&D games and is not really a "children's game". The evil is viler and bleaker, the goods are - when they are mortals at least - all too human, even if they try, and Armageddon is inevitable. It also includes a Demon Queen of rape and torture (mostly rape), and a generally more revealing background.

    Character creation is strongly focused on the character as a person, not his or her function in the game or some kine of 'class roles'; character creation basically consists of chosing templates (one for the race, one for the culture and one, perhaps two for the character's profession) and slap them together. Character development is freeer and strongly based on the direct experiences and successes the character had in the last adventure. A DSA character doesn't have levels, he use his experience points directly to purchase new skill ranks or higher abilities.

    The whole system is based on skills. Everything is a skill, including spells and so on. Skill uses are painfully, painfully slow in this system.

    Combats take long if players don't know what to do and do not have the rules memorized, respectively don't know how to use effective tactics. It is pretty much a "who hits first is who hits last" kind of combat, where an injury can bring hefty penalties. The combats doesn't use battle maps, but offer much more options for warrior characters, making it quite tactical and suspenseful without being that realistic (or trying to be realistc at all). Overall, combats are a lot less abstract than in D&D, and a lot less predictable.

    Magic is also skill-based, and quite diverse. The system uses a number of different spells, which belong to larger spell schools while every spell is a separate skill and has some "built-in" metamagic. Normally, spellcasters specialise on a comparatively small category of power. Magic is powerful, but sometimes too slow for combat and spellcasters take longer to recharge than in D&D, but are also much less dependant on their magic to contribute to the game. Spellcasters from different magical traditions play very differently and have very different focuses.

    Divine powers are completely bound-in the background, and the priests can channel some power of their gods, but with not nearly the power or versatility of magic-users. More important, priests really shouldn't use their powers for another aim than to further the glory of their god, or that god becomes annoyed. By the way, the primary pantheon is very greek in style and appearance and uses similar niches for the gods (without Zeus, who is completely replaced by Helios).

    The best thing to do with DSA is to lose oneself in the great background and then to lose the crappy rules and replace them with something more elegant that works with the mood, such as Gurps, Burning Wheel or the Unisystem rules.
    Last edited by Satyr; 2009-03-11 at 02:36 AM.

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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    I should note that what Satyr describes here is the fourth edition (unless there has been a fifth one meanwhile, haven't been paying attention). The third edition was mostly skill-based, but still retained such concepts as classes and levels, and it didn't seem like as big a mess of rules as Satyr describes here to me (I have no comparison though, my knowledge of the fourth edition is mostly limited to the facts that it exists and that it did away with classes and levels, but I heard many people complain that it was too complicated). Which is not to say it was the most awesome mechanical system I have come across, far from it - I fully agree with Satyr's overall evaluation, that it is the background that is this system's forte, rather than its rules. And I also agree that it is most excellent in this regard.
    Last edited by Winterwind; 2009-03-11 at 03:06 PM.
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    Well, it certainly sounds interesting... except I don't speak German. Are there no translations out there?
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    I agree on everything the posters before me have said, and really recommend this game to you, if you feel you like it (and I can see why not everyone would) You can really lose yourself in the background, as the developers made a very good job of keeping the setting detailed, realistic (as far as I can say, and I'm by no means an expert, Aventurien, the main continent, is a pretty realistic medieval realm, only with amgic and gods that are actually represented on earth, or Dere)
    But! You may have noticed that so far, every poster in this thread is of German origin, and the main reason for this is that it is a German game. While I believe there is a translation of the basic rules, which are all you NEED to play, you are really missing something if you have no access to the other books that detail new professions, magics and regions.
    Still, I would recommend it if you and your friends are up for something different.
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    While the background and story are made out of solid sunshine and greatness (and the availlable adventure modules beat every ever published by Wizards of the Coast in this regard), the rules are as terrible as the background is good. It is one of the most convoluted, complex and in some parts nonsensical set of rules I know. It started as a D&D clone back in the 80's and grew more complex, adding one half of a Gurps clone in the recent edition without getting rid of most of the old baggage before. The result is ...interesting, in the old Chinese curse meaning.
    While you are right, I'd say it is not as bad as it sounds now...

    Skill uses are painfully, painfully slow in this system.
    That, sadly, is true, since every skill use requires three rolls.

    Combats take long if players don't know what to do and do not have the rules memorized, respectively don't know how to use effective tactics. It is pretty much a "who hits first is who hits last" kind of combat, where an injury can bring hefty penalties. The combats doesn't use battle maps, but offer much more options for warrior characters, making it quite tactical and suspenseful without being that realistic (or trying to be realistc at all). Overall, combats are a lot less abstract than in D&D, and a lot less predictable.
    Well, there is one point in that I can't agree: DSA has probably the most realistic combat system I know (depending on how many of the optional rules you use). There is only one major flaw: attack rolls. The QVAT alternate combat rule system takes care of that (and makes it more predictable), but then you'll have to rewrite most of the (many) combat special abilities (I'm using it).

    A very good description Satyr.
    What I'd like to add is that there are a lot of possible styles, because some regions are already renessaince while others still fight with the middle (or even bronze) ages... no fireweapons though, which I loathe in Fantasy settings. That multitude of styles one the one hand is very nice and opens up many roleplaying possibilities, on the other hand it can cause quite crude mixtures...
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    Quote Originally Posted by Winterwind
    The third edition was mostly skill-based, but still retained such concepts as classes and levels, and it didn't seem like as big a mess of rules as Satyr describes here to me (I have no comparison though, my knowledge of the fourth edition is mostly limited to the facts that it exists and that it did away with classes and levels, but I heard many people complain that it was too complicated).
    3rd edition was still more like 2nd edition AD&D, and a lot less like Gurps. It was also much simpler, but incredible arbitrary in its rules. I actually have absolutely no problem with complex rules, as long as they follow an inner logic - I actually think that a complex, yet logical game is much preferable to a simple but arbitrary and random rules that don't make sense in themself. DSA /TDE 4th edition is the worst of both worlds - highly complex rules that just doesn't make any sense.

    Quote Originally Posted by M0rt
    Well, it certainly sounds interesting... except I don't speak German. Are there no translations out there?
    There were several short-lived tries to internationalize the system; the latest one was abandoned after the publication of the Basic Rules (which are as thick and complex as the D&D core, but contain only roughly a quarter of the overall rules. Go figure.) The truly interesting book, the basic world description was also published in English, as was one of the worse adventure modules I know of - then the publisher went more or less bankrupt and sold the line completely. The books you are looking for, if you are looking for them, are the The Dark Eye Basic Rules and - the World of Aventuria setting Description.

    If you just want to get a peek into the world -and it is truly as great as the rules are terrible - I am half convinced to offer a PbP game set in the universe, based on my favorite adventure module (and probably the best adventure module you have never heard about).

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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    From what I recall of the game (and Realms of Arkania!), the setting's just begging to be played with The Riddle of Steel ruleset...

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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    Quote Originally Posted by Tsotha-lanti
    From what I recall of the game (and Realms of Arkania!), the setting's just begging to be played with The Riddle of Steel ruleset...
    Yes, that would probably work great as well (meaning: better than the originaly intended rules at least), but I don't know that much about the Riddle of Steel...

    Quote Originally Posted by Partysan
    Well, there is one point in that I can't agree: DSA has probably the most realistic combat system I know (depending on how many of the optional rules you use). There is only one major flaw: attack rolls. The QVAT alternate combat rule system takes care of that (and makes it more predictable), but then you'll have to rewrite most of the (many) combat special abilities (I'm using it).
    Sorry to say that, but while combats in DSA are quite fun at some time, they are not particularly realistic. Sure, they are less abstract than in D&D and not as mindnumbingly arbitrarily like the WoD rules, but they are more "hollywood realistic" than anything else. It works well within the setting, but a realistic combat looks different. For example, it does not include cleaving through plate armors with swords.
    For me, the attack rolls have never been an issue.

    Sorry, you ninja'd me, so I answer a bit later, okay...

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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    From your reviews it definitely looks interesting and something I should take a look at. The problem is I don't speak German, and according to you guys the translations are nothing compered to the German original. So I'm asking is it worth getting the translations? How are they compared to the original?
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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    On the quantitative level, the gap is huge. But the translation is okay, as far as I can tell (I don't own the English books, but I know one of the translators and I paged it through. The names sounds strange, but that is probably not a concern when you don't know the comparison.

    Sadly, the English web page of the game is nowhere to be found.

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    Default Re: The Dark Eye

    Well, there is the Wiki Aventurica, which offers some English articles, but I fear they are inferior in both length and contained information to the German originals.
    Looking on Wiki Aventurica, there are two books available, the Basic Rules, and the World of Aventuria, detailing, you guess it, the gameworld, and offering new professions, talents and rules.

    While you're at it, and for all the other DSA/TDE fans out there, you can chekc out Dere Globus, a conversion of Google Earth for Dere.

    http://dereglobus.blogspot.com/2009/...a-release.html Website is German, mind you.
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