Originally published at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/05/11/tabletop-review-destiny-beginner/
Destiny Beginner is a role-playing game in the style of traditional fantasy that is geared toward either beginning role-players or experienced players who want a simple, straightforward system. You’ll find familiar tropes here: elves, dwarves, dungeons, fighters, mages, etc. There are some nice twists though that makes it a little more than just another fantasy RPG.
This game is, as far as I can tell, a little brother to a game called Destiny Dungeon by the same author, but in German. I assume that Destiny Beginner is some sort of lighter version, but I have no idea of the similarities because I haven’t seen the original game.
Character creation is quick and easy, in the PDF it only takes up one page. Basically you start by envisioning the character you want, and then you choose an attribute from one of two tables (each with four attributes) to be your main attribute. The attribute should follow what you want your character to be about; for example, if you choose “Strength”, you are going to be some sort of fighter or warrior (what’s the difference). Once you choose the attribute from one of the tables, you get that attribute at the highest starting value, and the other attributes on that table at a lesser value. You can then move your attribute numbers up or down by 2, taking any increases from another attribute.
Characters may also have a “great gift” that is basically a special ability than be a spell, or a special attack, or anything that the GM allows and fits with your character. That’s about it! Pick an attribute, pick an ability, write down you hit points, then later get yourself some gear and your character is ready to go.
This is where I enjoy when twists are put on simple concepts like rolling 2d6. Destiny Beginner utilizes a d66 system where rolls are determined by two six-sided die, one dark colored and one light colored. Attribute scores start at 43 for the main, 33 for the secondary. This is important because when you roll a check against an attribute, you use the dark die for tens and the light die for ones; so if you roll a 3 on the dark die and 5 on the light die, you rolled 35. If you rolled under your attribute score that tells you that you succeeded at a check. If your success is opposed by another success (say, when you are trying to talk your way into a restricted area and you AND the person you are trying to convince succeed on a Charisma or Society test), then you will have to add the two dice together to get your “success value”. In a nutshell, if two opposed rolls succeed then it comes down to the success value: how well you succeeded without rolling over your attribute score on scale of 11 to 66.
Another cool twist is that there are “optimistic” and “pessimistic” types of checks. If it’s optimistic, meaning the check is fairly easy, you can use the higher of the two die as the tens die instead of just the dark one. The GM can also throw “Obstruction Points” at you that will make success harder, or have to happen in stages. This can help represent larger challenges or slow down particularly successful players.
Combat is pretty much handled like any attribute check. You just roll against your attribute for whatever weapon you are using (some use Strength, some use Dexterity), and your opponent will roll against an attribute to block or dodge. Very basic. If you want to use your Great Gift, this game has a system where you can spend points to do so, and they are called “Destiny Points”. What is cool about this is that you can use Destiny Points to combine your Great Gift with some other action you are performing or you can just use them to power your Gift alone. For instance, if you your power is to create storms you can declare that you want to use Destiny Points to create a storm around an opponents’ ship, and the GM will decide how big of an effect that will have and how many Destiny Points it will cost to attempt it or how many dice you will roll to inflict damage on the crew etc. There’s a little more to it than that, but I’ll let you pore over the PDF if you’re interested.
The Rest of the Book
The rest of the book goes on to describe the setting: Lys Marrah, and the various landmarks and areas associated with it. There’s some nice stuff in here, lots of ideas for the GM and danger for the players. As for races, you’ve got your standard fantasy fare: elves, dwarves, gnomes, orcs and… minotaurs? Ok, minotaurs. It’s funny how the interpretation of orcs changes from lore to lore in the minds of fantasy fans, in this game they are close to animals, being described as having “predator” abilities.
The Appendix section has three adventures, even including a solo GM tutorial which guides you step-by-step, scene-by-scene through running a group on the third adventure, how awesome is that?
What Do I Think?
Well, it’s another fantasy, dungeon-crawly, everyone-is-a-hero RPG… what can I say? The good thing about this one is that it is focusing on an audience (beginning or light RPG players) and trying to serve that audience while still putting forward an interesting game. I think it does the job pretty well. The d66 system has some nice nuance and variation that feels like a developed game system, while still allowing plenty of room for role-playing. At nine bucks, it’s a little pricier than most offerings of light, easy fantasy RPGs but I think this game really has something more to offer than a lot of the flotsam that washes up on the shores of RPG Island. And I say that with the utmost respect to every RPG in existence.
I have to scratch my head at some of the layout decisions. I know that sometimes I get hung up on this, but really, in this case I see no reason why certain groupings of information should not be put together. For instance, the page of character creation is followed by several pages of mechanics, including combat, and then the Great Gift section telling you that your player gets a special ability. Shouldn’t that be right after I create my character? There is even a whole page of just listing creature combat scores (essentially a monster manual) before the Great Gift section. I think the monsters could have gone safely in the appendix. Another big annoyance was how the section describing Destiny Points started and then was explained further several pages later, AFTER subjects like NPCs, experience points, GM advice, etc. I have to ask why, why, why. Just put it together in the same place and then move on to another subject. This volume is so small and simple one page is often enough to explain the entire concept, so why not do that? Don’t spread the information across the book like it is some giant tome that has to explain all of these complicated, yet interrelated things. Rant over? Rant over.
The PDF itself is nicely done, a pleasure to read and understand outside of layout issues. The artwork is nice and simple, even a little cartoonish, but goes well with the feel of the game. I suspect this would be a great game for younger RPGers or for a lighter game with people who don’t see the cover and think they are playing some game about Link’s sister. When are they coming out with the Zelda tabletop RPG anyway?