A few months ago, Green Ronin, EA and BioWare announced that Green Ronin would be developing a pen and paper RPG
version of BioWare's upcoming PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 RPG, Dragon Age: Origins. While the pen and paper game was not
being demoed at Gen Con, I did get a chance to sit down with Chris Pramas from Green Ronin to discuss the game. The pen and paper game
shares its name with the video game, and the flavor of the world, but beyond that there are some significant differences. Green Ronin's
version will use a complete different mechanic than the video game. According to Chris, BioWare ruled that out immediately because of
the complex math that is crunched behind the scenes in the video game. Instead the game will use an ability roll system, featuring eight
different ability scores. Challenges will be met by rolling 3d6 and applying the appropriate ability modifier.
The main parts of the Dragon Age RPG will be released in box sets, the first of which will release in late October or early
November and cover levels 1-5. While the timing of the release is basically set to coincide with the release of the video game,
however, according to Chris, there is no set requirement on which one launches first. If the pen and paper game is ready first, it
will be released first. If it is not, it will not be. Currently, three other box sets are planned for the Dragon Age RPG.
Set number two, due out in summer of 2010 will cover levels 6-10. Box set number 3 will cover levels 11-15, and the final box set will
cover levels 16-20. Each box set will include Game Master and Player manuals and a short adventure. Other adventures, to be published
between the box sets, are also planned. Each box set will retail for $29.95.
The first box set is designed to introduce new players to the world of table top role-playing games. It will include a 64-page
Player's Guide with a background on Thedas and the nation of Ferelden, a complete guide to character creation, rules for
character classes and talents, a primer on magic, and the basic game rules. It also includes a 64-page Gamemaster's Guide with
advice on the art of game mastering, advanced game rules, and an introductory adventure that plunges the characters right into the world
of Dragon Age. The last to items in the box will be a poster map of the nation of Ferelden and three six-sided dice.
Of course, Dragon Age is not the only product Green Ronin has in the works. New titles, such as Super Villain Handbook
(for Mutants and Masterminds), Lost Island (for Freeport) and continuing releases for the Song of Fire and Ice series are in
the works. Green Ronin is also working on a sequel to 100 Best Hobby Games covering the 100 best family games.
Back on the video game front, I spent some time with Sony Online Entertainment. SOE is apparently on a quest to turn the entire world
into an online Trading Card Game, as Free Realms TCG joined a line-up of Legend of Norrath and Star Wars Galaxies
TCG. Unfortunately the demo servers had went belly up while I was there, so I was unable to see the similarities and differences
between this newest entry in SOE's hand of card games and their current line-up.
Fantasy Flight Games had arguably the largest booth of any vendor at Gen Con this year. With a series of new games releasing,
including Rogue Trader, Battlestar Galactica: Pegasus Expansion, and Warhammer: Chaos in the Old World, Fantasy
Flight had quite a bit of traffic coming and going from their booth. Directly behind Fantasy Flight Games was Catalyst Game Labs
featuring the 20th anniversary of Shadowrun and 25th anniversary of Battletech. Judging by the number of people moving
between these two booths both companies had a successful Gen Con.
Moving on from there, I visited the Fat Dragon Games booth. FDG produces a lot of nice PDF products. They recently started producing
3D paper models of terrain with Dragonshire and 3D Dungeon Master Screens with dice chutes in the towers (one for the
players to see, one for them not to see) and different shelves for storing minis, dice, and other accessories. These products are
well designed, and relatively cheap, especially when compared to products like Dwarven Forge's dungeon sets, but the cost of card
stock paper, ink, and optional backings can raise the price considerably. Of course, if you break a piece, you can always reprint
it and rebuild it.
Another product I demoed was the TCG, Spoils. Spoils is billed as the "best trading card game ever"; a bold claim that is not
quite backed up. There are two things in particular that hinder Spoils. The first of these is the art work. The cards are pretty, but some of them are
for mature audiences only. Another claim is the gameplay is more streamlined than other TCGs, but Spoils introduces a new
speed concept that while making the game more realistic, also requires that players keep track of one additional stat for their cards.
Despite these drawbacks, Spoils' concepts of factions based on human failings does make for a more contemporary gaming
experience than what one finds in typical, fantasy based TCGs.
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of Gen Con was Fantasy Craft by Crafty Games. Fantasy Craft uses the Master
Craft rules system but is essentially compatible with d20 rules. The big differences is that Fantasy Craft splits
everything about player characters, non-player characters, and monsters up into individual pieces that you can choose to use, or not
use, as you see fit. This increased number of options obviously allows for a lot more variety in characters, but at the same time
might overwhelm some gamers. Later this month I will have a full review of Fantasy Craft as well as an opportunity for you
to ask any questions you have about Crafty Games' upcoming products.
Another title I saw briefly was Alpha/Omega, a futuristic game setting. Unfortunately I did not get to spend much time with
it, but what I did see has piqued my interest.
I wrapped up my visit to Gen Con with a visit with Jason Bulmahn, Designer of the Pathfinder RPG. Jason had several bits of
news to share, such as the fact that Paizo plans to publish only 3 products per year in the Pathfinder RPG line, excluding
adventures. Jason explained that they understand gamers have a limited amount of money and so they want to give them the most bank
for their buck, so most products will be priced in the $30-$40 range. After the Bestiary, releasing next month, Jason said
that Paizo wants to focus on products that provide new and unique options for gamers. He also mentioned that a compilation of
monsters presented in the previously released line of Pathfinder Chronicles adventures is extremely likely, bringing them
up-to-date with the Pathfinder rules.
I finished my time at the Paizo booth by playing the short Pathfinder Delve they had setup. While I did not get to play for
long, it was readily apparent that Paizo's claim that Pathfinder will be easy to understand for anyone familiar with the 3rd
Edition or 3.5 Edition of "the world's most popular RPG" is accurate.