Dragonlance Fifth Age

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Hello, everyone! While I'm a big fan of classic Dragonlance - "Dragons of Autumn Twilight", "Dragons of Winter Night", and "Dragons of Spring Dawning" -, I absolutely loved the "Dragonlance Fifth Age" setting (I also liked very much the SAGA System rules, but that's not important right now ); I despised the whole War of Souls story not only for being simply bad (in my humble opinion, of course), but also for basically retconning the Fifth Age away.


However, I've gotten the impression that I'm one of the few people that liked the setting; from what I've seen, most despise it with a passion usually reserved for "Highlander 2". What I'd like to know is, why? Why do people not like "Dragonlance Fifth Age"? Is it because it's quite different from classic Dragonlance? Is it because of the SAGA rules? Perhaps both?

Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )

For me I think it was a combination of the non-D&D rules and the massive changes to the setting. By themselves, the SAGA rules seemed ok to me, but it didn't really feel like Dragonlance, as in my mind Dragonlance and whatever incarnation of D&D we were currently in were always joined at the hip.


You couple the rules system with changes like:


  • Kender that experience fear

  • No wizards of high sorcery

  • No gods

  • Giant alien dragons

  • Terraformed landscapes

... and the whole setting seemed like it may as well have been a whole new world that just happened to use Dragonlance names.

http://thecordsthatbind.wordpress.com/ "I can picture in my mind a world without war, a world without hate. And I can picture us attacking that world, because they'd never expect it." Deep Thoughts, by Jack Handy

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For me I think it was a combination of the non-D&D rules and the massive changes to the setting. By themselves, the SAGA rules seemed ok to me, but it didn't really feel like Dragonlance, as in my mind Dragonlance and whatever incarnation of D&D we were currently in were always joined at the hip.


Really? Huh. I don't know if it's because I never liked AD&D, but I never felt its rules were essential to any campaign setting. In fact, I quite liked SAGA System; I did have to make some minimal tweakings with it, but it worked perfectly well for my needs.



  • No wizards of high sorcery

  • No gods

  • Giant alien dragons



Those were the reasons why I actually liked the "new" setting more: I liked the idea of having dragons of enormous might and power carving out kingdoms for themselves right at a time when the traditional means of defense - magic and the gods - had departed the world. It reminded me a bit of the old "Fighting Fantasy" setting, Allansia: a chaotic land filled with dangers and horrors that only brave heroes - be they warriors or magicians - could face.

Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But the good name never dies of one who has done well. Cattle die, kindred die, every man is mortal. But I know one thing that never dies: the glory of the great dead. - [i]Hávamál[/i] D&D 4th Edition Bard builds: The Dashing Swordsman, The Master of Sound and Illusions, The Warrior Skald Captain Morality! (No point in not having fun with it. )

I think one of the issues a few people took with the 5th age was simply that what had been a fairly organized ( if stagnent ) setting didnt recieve subtle proddings to a new direction, but was punched in the face with changes that seemed to alienate the setting from the reader/player. Taken by its own merits the 5th age is a treasure of great concepts and ideas. I think a lot of the bitterness towards it at this point is just the memory of initial shock

ONe of the biggest things that sets Saga apart and rankles a lot of people (that I have spoken with) is this; Dragonlance began in an age of darkness where the gods were unheard of, knights were hunted and wizards mistrusted, even the good ones. The chronicles shakes this up and helps create a world that appears to be coming back into the light.


The gods have returned, knights are heroes again and Wizards are welcomed back into the world (somewhat). People of different races have also had their borders opened up and are partaking in the world again.


Saga effectively returns dragonlance back to the age of darkness. The gods leave, not just withdraw from the world but leave, taking with them not only divine magic but arcane magic. Kngihts are again blamed for not being able to save the world, and this time it is not just the good knights but also the bad. Kender, despite being the annoying child-like race that everyone gets annoyed with, people loved the idea. Saga destroys them. No longer are they the happy go-lucky, fearless adventurers that they were designed to be. Half of the elven nation withdraws from the world and not only shuts out the world, but erects a shield that nobody can get through (not even their own people who got caught outside the shield). 


 


Saga effectively took everything that the war of the lance did and turned it on its heels and destroyed. Now if this had happened after 4 maybe 5 hundred years, but it happened within 1 generation. Heck, the heroes of the lance were still alive.


And to top it all off, the game play was changed as well.


 


Now this is not to say that all of saga was bad. The system itself very interesting and brought back memories of WEG d6 star wars in which there were no classes or levels. It also brought a lot of new history to the setting.


But such drastic changes, in such a short period (setting years) was a little much. War of the souls was accepted more heartily because it restored the world to what it was just after the war of the lance, which is the era what most people (if not all-IMO) wanted to play.

I never played in the fifth age, but as far as the books went, I liked them.

Some Kender felt fear, but IIRC, not all of them. The planestravelling dragon idea worked for me, because the gods were no longer around to keep them out, and without the intercession of the gods, it made sense that evil dragons would at least try to grow in power, so the whole draco-cannibalism idea made sense to me.
The sudden loss of all magic except drawing magical energy from objects and such was interesting, but I think everyone knew that somewhere in there the gods either had to return or some other means of restoring normal magic had to be found.

Sidenote, Fizban under an alias in the Deathgate Cycle was pretty cool.

"I was a god, once."
"Sure, old man, sure."
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
""great gandalfs ghost!
if he had a ghost. i doubt it. he was such a snob...""


Heh good ole Zifnab.

I dream of Beer Head Armies.

Autocard is our friend. [c‍]Urborg Mindsucker[/‍c] → Urborg Mindsucker

""great gandalfs ghost!
if he had a ghost. i doubt it. he was such a snob...""


Heh good ole Zifnab.



zifnab! that's right. thanks.
Skeptical_Clown wrote:
More sex and gender equality and racial equality shouldn't even be an argument--it should simply be an assumption for any RPG that wants to stay relevant in the 21st century.
104340961 wrote:
Pine trees didn't unanimously decide one day that leaves were gauche.
http://community.wizards.com/doctorbadwolf/blog/2012/01/10/how_we_can_help_make_dndnext_awesome
I recently aquired some 5th age books, and i plan on running a campaing soon!
I know this thread is super-old, but I thought I would post my entry from RPGgeek.com over here for those still interested in this game. I'm currently running an exciting campaign using this ruleset, and basing it "loosely" on the 5th Age setting. Take a look, and if you have any further thoughts or questions, feel free to post them or PM me, I'd love to hear more!!

I cannot take credit for these ideas, though I wish I could. These were devised by a Steven Kensen several years ago. Someone turned me on to them just before I was ready to throw my recently re-acquired 5th Age rules out the window of obscurity...forever. Luckily, I read these, and now, I am psyched as hell to continue to play this great RPG system that is SEVERELY underrated. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!! add any thoughts, suggestions, play tests or criticisms to this thread, and tell the world of it awesomeness or suck...ness.

The FIRST thing a lot of you will notice, is that these quick rule modifications draw from Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game, also developed in conjunction with TSR's Saga Rules System for Dramatic Adventure. Marvel looks like a great system, I've never played, and at $180 for the core rules, I probably never will. Those lucky enough to have both, please chime in!

First, let me acknowledge that, my biggest problem with this game and what I believe essentially breaks it, is Player to Monster Scaling. It appears that a the most powerful hero/s in the game could never hope to defeat even a young adult dragon. There are few other things, like currency and costs for goods that sets me off a little bit, but that's not really the point of this kind of RPG.

Let's break it down a little shall we? Some of these are better and easier to implement than others. I'll point out the two I think are essential and easiest below.


SAGA Rule-Options from Marvel Super Heroes

"I'm primarily a Narrator for the Marvel Super Heroes game rather than Dragonlance: Fifth Age, so I am somewhat more familiar with the Marvel version of the SAGA system. I've got some various ideas based roughly on the differences between Marvel and Dragonlance. Feel free to use or experiment with them as you like. Several of these ideas are being incorporated into my Earthdawn Epic conversion for SAGA.

To illustrate these suggestions, I'd like to take the example of a fight between a group of three heroes and two yeti, as it might be played out using the Dragonlance rules. The yeti are Co 7, Ph 16, In 5, Es 7, Dmg +6, Def -2. The heroes have various abilities which are mentioned below.

We assume that neither side surprises the other. Two of the heroes choose to close to melee range with the yeti, while the third (a sorcerer) remains at near missile range to toss spells. The two heroes who closed each attack a yeti while the sorcerer prepares a flame bolt spell.

The heroes in melee each have Strength 7 and broadswords (+6). The base difficulty to hit the yeti is average (8), plus their Physique (16), or 24. Not surprisingly, both heroes miss. The sorcerer's flame bolt spell has a total difficulty of 11 (instant invocation, near missile range, instant duration, individual area, 9 damage points). Add to that the yeti's Intellect of 5 for a difficulty of 16. The sorcerer has Reason 8, plays a couple good cards and succeeds, doing 9 damage points to one yeti. Fortunately he expended an extra 7 spell points to make sure he accounted for the yeti's resistance. The sorcerer is down 18 spell points.

The heroes in melee must now avoid the yeti's attacks. They have Endurance 7. Avoiding the attack is an average (8) action, plus the yeti's Physique (16), a difficulty of 24 again. Not surprisingly, both heroes fail their actions. Each yeti does 22 damage points (16 +6). Each hero has Def -4 and takes 18 damage points, since they're both adventurers, it brings one down to 1 card and the other down to 2 cards (he had a damage trump). The fight continues... now, let's look at some options."

Ok, there's the set-up. Now...THIS RULES BELOW is where I think the game is saved. I think "Endurance" is still a relevant ability for Skill checks and such, but I do not think it EVER should have been used for a Melee Combat Mechanic. Detractions? Okay...carrying on...

Agility to Avoid Attacks

"As several folks have pointed out, Marvel uses Agility for all defensive actions in combat rather than Endurance for melee attacks, like Dragonlance. This certainly changes how combat works in Dragonlance, making high Physique monsters considerably easier to hit in melee. Take the yetis mentioned above. The difficulty to hit them normally is 24 (average action + Physique 16). Under this option, the difficulty is 15 (average action + Coordination 7). Still no cakewalk, but closer to daunting rather than impossible. The damage done remains the same, and their high Physique still makes yetis fairly tough to kill. A Strength 8 hero armed with a broad sword (+6) does 14 damage points. Minus the yeti Defense of 2 that's 12 points. Two such blows will kill a yeti, which seems about right.

By the same token, heroes use Agility to dodge all attacks rather than just ranged attacks. This does tend to reduce the value of Endurance in combat, but I'm not certain that's necessarily a bad thing. Assuming their Agility is comparable to their Endurance, the heroes in the example will have just as hard a time avoiding the yeti's attacks as before."

Next, below is another one I think is very cool, giving players more combat options.

Shield Use

"Rather than just adding to Defense, a hero has the option of using a shield's bonus as either Defense or a bonus to avoid attacks for that turn, representing the shield's ability to turn away attacks. So a hero with a kite shield (-2) could gain either -2 Defense or a +2 bonus to defensive actions, depending on how the shield is used. This option works with either the Endurance or Agility systems for resisting attacks."

Ok, so those are the two rules that I believe solve a lot of issues with Scaling in this game system. I think he former should've been used from the start, as opposed to making Endurance so pivtol, it doesn't make sense to me. Perhaps you could choose to use one or the other, indicating that your Character is TOUGH rather than nimble? I think that may be good as well. But the key factor here is attacking the COORDINATION (Agility) of the MONSTERS!! Right? Thoughts...

Okay, the following is the remainder of the articles. I'll let you finish. I think they are great thoughts, and mechanics, but I feel it may get too indepth to be a quick fix. But, I could be wrong.

"Action Total for Damage
In Dragonlance, an attack always does the same amount of damage. A Strength 8 hero armed with a broadsword (+6) always does 14 damage points when he hits, regardless of how well he hits. In Marvel, the damage of an attack is based on the hero's Action Total for the attack action, plus any bonus damage for weapons. For example, a Strength 8 hero attacks a foe and generates an action total of 16. The hero's base damage is then 16, plus any weapon bonuses. So the aforementioned warrior then does 22 damage points.

Note that this significantly increases the amount of damage heroes can do in combat (especially with trump bonuses for certain weapons). However, it also makes "critical hits" possible, where heroes who score significantly high results inflict more damage. Narrators may wish to consider combining this option with the next one.

Endurance for Defense
In Dragonlance, heroes have no Defense except for whatever armor they wear (along with protective magic and similar things). Some creatures have inherent Defense. In Marvel, heroes and characters has a base Defense based on their Strength (Endurance or Physique in SAGA terms). Implementing this option in Dragonlance increases the Defense of heroes and tough creatures, although it should only be used in combination with a system for allowing heroes to inflict more damage (such as described above).

If this system is used, Narrators should considerably reduce the Defense of most creatures, letting them use only their Physique as Defense and giving additional Defense only to creatures with strong natural armor. For example, a gargoyle and a unicorn are both Physique 16. However, a gargoyle has a tough stone hide, so the Narrator lets it retain its -3 Def bonus, but drops the unicorn's -4 Def, it's Physique makes it tough enough under this system.

Variable Health
In Dragonlance, characters have health ("hit points") equal to their Physique score. In Marvel, characters have a variable Health score unrelated to their Strength (Physique), which is used as defense. The Health score is generally based on how important the character is (thugs have low Health, while master villains like Dr. Doom have very high Health). This option can make certain characters and creatures in Dragonlance tougher or weaker as the Narrator requires, but setting the character's damage points at a level higher or lower than his or her Physique. One such option I've seen is to give important characters a bonus to health equal to their number of Quests, so legendary heroes are tougher than mere novices with the same Endurance.

Spellcasting
I have a number of variant magic systems posted on my web page for people to look at. What I'd like to suggest here is a separation of the difficulty of a spell from its cost in spell points.

In this option, spellcasting works like a normal attack action, using Reason or Spirit in place of Strength or Dexterity. The spellcaster makes an average Reason (Perception) or Spirit (Presence) action to cast the spell, paying the spell's cost in spell points. The Narrator can decide whether or not the caster needs to pay spell points to account for the target's resistance or not. Some spells affecting objects may be resisted, such as a spell intended to knock down a stone wall being resisted by the wall's Strength. Narrators may have some spells resisted by different abilities, like resisting some physical missile spells using Agility, or a resisting a spell that inflicts pain with Endurance or Spirit.

Generally, this makes spells easier to cast, but doesn't allow spellcasters to cast more spells, since they cost about the same number of spell points.

Doom Pool
In Marvel, Dragon Cards (there called Doom Cards) do not cause mishaps. Instead they are played normally, with the limit that Doom Cards are never considered trump. Any Doom Cards played go into a "Doom Pool." At any time, the Narrator may draw cards from the Doom Pool to increase the difficulty of any action performed by a hero. The Narrator MUST use all the Doom Cards by the end of the adventure.

Now, I've been told by Marvel Creative Director Mike Selinker that the Doom Pool system wouldn't work as well with Dragonlance because the distribution of cards is different between the DL and Marvel Fate Decks. However, I haven't really tried using it, so I can't say if that' true or not. If anyone out there has tried using a Doom Pool mechanic with Dragonlance, I'd be most interested in hearing how it worked out.

So, to close let's look at our sample combat again, using the options I've mentioned:

Once again, the heroes choose to close with the yeti while the sorcerer prepares a spell. The base difficulty to hit the yeti is 8, plus their Coordination of 7, or 15. The heroes are both Strength 7. One plays an 8 of Orbs for a 15, the other plays a 4 of Swords (a trump) and draws a 6 of Helms for a total of 17. The first hero inflicts a base 15 damage points (his action total), plus 6 for his broadsword, for a total of 21. The yeti subtracts its Physique of 16 for this damage and takes (21-16) = 5 damage points (The Narrator decided that yeti did not merit any additional Def apart from their high Physique). The second hero does a base 17 damage points, plus his sword bonus, for 23 damage. The yeti takes 7 damage points.

The sorcerer casts his flame bolt spell. He marks off the 11 spell points the spell costs, then makes an average Reason action. The Narrator decides that the spell is opposed by the yeti's Coordination (it can try and dodge it). The difficulty is (8 + 7) or 15. The sorcerer is successful, and the first yeti takes another 9 damage points (for a total of 14).

Now the yeti attack. Avoiding their attacks has a difficulty of (8 + 16) = 24. Both heroes make Agility actions to evade the yeti's claws and fangs. One hero has a target shield (-3) and elects to use it to evade rather than for defense. He gains +3 to his action to avoid the attack. He plays a 4 of Shields on his Agility 6, then draws a 7 of Arrows for a total of (6 + 4 + 7 + 3) = 20, not quite enough! The other hero has no shield, so he simply plays a 7 of Shields on his Agility 7 and draws an 8 of Orbs for a total of 22, still not quite enough. Both heroes are hit. The first loses the benefit of his shield, so his Def is only -1 and he takes (22 - 1) = 21 damage points. His companion has Def -4 and takes only 18 damage points. One yeti is very badly wounded and the other is hurt, but so are the heroes. Can they win...?

I welcome any thoughts or feedback. If you actually try out any of these options, let me know how they work out."
You couple the rules system with changes like:

  • Kender that experience fear



Just for posterity, even though this is super old... It is worth mentioning that Kender experience fear in the original setting as well. Read through the Chronicles again. Numerous moments exist in which Tasslehoff feels fear or some similar sensation. The Tower at Palanthas is just one example. 


Emily Hook Longmont, CO Current DragonLance 4th Edition Writing Project: Champions of the Lance

I was under the impression kender feel feeling's but there logic was child like innocent, retarded, or sheltered. Like if you keep touching a hot stove adventually you get burned! And Taz because he was older or unsheltered out in the world and the death of Strum had matured him?

Childlike according to the standards of other races. Kender could be quite wise about the world. I think carefree is more accurate.
Emily Hook Longmont, CO Current DragonLance 4th Edition Writing Project: Champions of the Lance