In this post you will find the review of Dragonbane, a role-playing game that we supported on kickstarter and in which we now tell you our impressions about its content and rules.
Dragonbane is the remake of the Swedish role-playing game Drakar och Demoner (Dragons and Demons). It is an epic fantasy role-playing game, just like Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, and RuneQuest. It emerged more than 40 years ago as a Swedish version that adopted many elements of those role-playing games, to become something with its own identity. So we are faced with a game where we will play adventurers and heroes who will go on adventures in a world full of creatures, monsters and of course, magic, dragons, demons… and ducks!
The starter box comes with a complete set of manuals, dice, cards, die-cut characters, and maps. That is, all the elements necessary to be able to play Dragonbane from start to the end…at least until you decide to create your own content to expand your adventures in this fantasy world.
All the material is of extreme quality. The visual section presents us with a classic format, which strives to emulate old role-playing games, with a monochrome look and retro illustrations. However, this is totally intentional: the printing is completely in color, with green and parchment color being the identity colors of the game, so it has an extremely worked and careful edition.
The green dice have a bright color and the 20 dice have a dragon and a demon instead of the 1 and 20 respectively.
A set of initiative cards, improvised weapons, treasure and encounters are included, adding unique and modern mechanics to this version of the role-playing game.
Finally, I highlight the campaign map which shows the different places where the characters will travel for their adventures.
The rules of Dragonbane are explained in the rules manual, which details the character creation system, with its classes, races, skills, magic.
In Dragonbane you can play with the classic fantasy races: elves, dwarves and halflings. As well as more unique races such as werewolves (wolfkin) and duckmen (mallard).
The classes are very varied and range from craftsman to magician. Characters choose talents and increase their abilities as their skills improve.
Furthermore, magic has a more mystical aspect, having to learn it through teachers or arcane books.
The truth is that it’s very simple, with very specific features depending on your choice and nothing embarrassing like in Dungeons and Dragons and Pathfinder.
Combat system and actions:
Dragonbane uses an inverted d20 system, where you need to roll below a difficulty to get your action (usually your associated attribute or associated ability). A result of 1 (dragon) is a guaranteed success (or critical), and a 20 (demon) is a guaranteed failure (fumble). A very different aspect is the combat: characters only have one action during their turn (even opportunity/reaction action) and it has a more narrative focus.
The adventure book gives us a main starting quest, but then the game is “sandbox” style: the characters have to choose which adventures they want to do first and explore the territory to finish them. Furthermore, the adventures are designed for any level, so the order in which the quests are chosen does not matter. This format feels very campaign-like and leaves players a lot of freedom to choose their path.
With Dragonbane you will find a game that has all the iconic elements of classic “old school” role-playing games but reinforces this experience by adding unique and fresh mechanics. Easy to learn and with a narrative focus, it is an ideal role-playing game for new players or those who prioritize experiencing the story over complex mechanics.
If, on the other hand, your group of players loves to seek the meta with combos of classes, feats and spells, they will surely feel that Dragonbane is a game that falls short compared to D&D and Pathfinder. But don’t worry, if that’s the case, then the best option is to enjoy a fun session by forcing everyone to play duck characters!
Doctor Frikistein® reviews are made without any sponsorship and with games purchased for our property.