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Dragon Slayers RPG $4.99
Publisher: Beast Box Publishing
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2018 23:46:48

Short review: For the price, it's OK. Not good, but OK.

Pros:

  • easy rules, quick play
  • good optional rules
  • interesting ideas in the space opera conversion (included)
  • presentation (Because of the very basic layout (see below) it's actually easy to copy the text and make your own document with your house rules.)

Cons:

  • presentation (To me, it looks like almost no effort went into layout, like a collection of house rules with comments.)
  • many rules depend on using a battle map (Movement, falling damage, some feats etc. counts in "squares" which translate to 2 yards here. Reads like a board game instruction at some points.)
  • some unbalanced features (some optional races and some feats felt too powerful compared to others of higher cost)
  • Resting rules - the "rules assume the heroes will take a long rest about every 2-3 battles", with a long rest taking 8 hours, so there's no way you play an old school module with these rules (we tried) unless you use the option for "checkpoints", granting the effect of a long rest at any time if the GM wants it. This seems like a very cheap way to balance a game, sorry.
  • My personal disappointment: the magic system, counting spells as At-Will, Battle (= cast once per battle/short rest (1 minute)) and Daily (= once per long rest), which increased the board game feel for me.

I played a high elf mage and I felt rather underpowered (which seems to be the wizard's bane in most games at the beginning). We quickly included a house rule after the first few fights in which I cast my Lightning Bolt (Battle category) spell and then only used my bow and one of our players (RPG newbie) asked me if I played an archer, not a mage. We felt that a mage should be able to cast spells more freely, and quickly made the house rule that the Lightning Bolt spell is basically nothing more than a magical Combat Skill and should be treated as such. So, just like a melee or ranged attack we ruled a mage could make a magical attack which used the exact same rules for damage anyway. It even states in the description "You make a Ranged Attack, rolling Magic instead of your Ranged skill." Then by all means, this should be an At-Will spell! In a rules-light system which wants to encourage "bold heroism", why would the mage be limited like that? In fact, we felt that most damage spells (Battle category) felt underpowered compared to normal attacks which can be made at any time and without limits. Most of the combat spells we switched to At-Will, because a mage should cast and not cast once or twice and then shoot arrows with the ranger from the 2nd row. The thing is, with the categories requiring Battle (damage) spells a short rest to recharge, even at higher levels, you'd be restricted to just a few casts per encounter, and they'd have to be different spells every time. Using the Signature Spell feat (cast 3 times per short / long rest) on a Battle damage spell seemed like a waste if I could also use it on Daily spells. (Also, Counter Spell: why just a 55% success chance? It's a Daily spell so it won't be used lightly anyway, but when used it should be automatic or at least a higher success chance.) Edit: Forget this, and thanks for pointing me to it. The roll is done with advantage, so the success chance is high enough. Our DM overlooked that.

Long story short: We might play this again when we need a quick RPG, but we'll add house rules, especially to the magic rules, addressing the issues I described above. 2,5 stars.

Edit: After the publisher's reply, I'd like to add that it looks like our expectations were different. The game's description says it's "showcasing the latest innovations in modern gaming" and in our experience of modern games, squares and video game checkpoints are not. If the mage is indeed supposed to have more of a support rule, I'd expect more supporting spells (speaking video game: buffs and debuffs, or add to the Flare spell that the light option stays for an hour or so), or a note that actual spells are rather weak and a wizard's real power is supposed to lie in rituals, or something. What we felt was unbalanced:

  • Acrobat feat seemed too weak, maybe add rolling with advantage for jumping and climbing tasks.
  • Minor Magic-User seemed too powerful. It basically adds the mage class to the other classes with fewer spells but equal spell power and the ability to cast powerful rituals, for just 1 SP. I'd cut the Magic skill down to d4, increasing as is, so it's a step behind the mage's; and I'd definitely take the rituals away. That seems like wizard-exclusive stuff.
  • Dragon Born: not needing a magic focus isn't that great, is it? Anything can be used as a focus so not needing one is not a big thing, so this feat seems weak compared to High Arcana.
  • Arcane Blast: 2 SP seems too high a cost compared to the Kill Streak feat which does the almost same (it doesn't state it's not meant to count for mages/spells or any specific weapon attacks, although we guessed it should be limited to melee?) but is not limited to Once per Short Rest.
  • Halfling's Lucky feature seems a bit weak for a free re-roll when all classes have access to several re-rolls with SP.


Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks for your feedback, Michael! I'm sorry your experience was less than stellar, but am encouraged that you'd be willing to give Dragon Slayers another chance.

Please elaborate on the unbalanced features; we'd love to evaluate and correct any issues in a future update.

Dragon Slayers borrows many elements from board games (squares) and video games (checkpoints) to create a streamlined experience.

Battle spells are limited-casting because they use the mage's Magic die, which is always a step higher than his Melee or Ranged die. The intent is that a mage can intermittently attack like a warrior without overshadowing the warrior's main niche (dealing damage). I'm happy your group was able to quickly house-rule around this to accommodate your character concept.

A typical Dragon Slayers mage is less like a D&D wizard and more like Gandalf or a Star Wars Jedi -- using magic to supplement a sword instead of as a primary mode of attack. I would suggest feats like Arcane Blast and Signature Spell to facilitate a more offensive caster, and Dragon Born or High Arcana (or starting play at a higher level) to bolster the number of spells known.

Counter Spell has a 79.8% success rate (the d20 is rolled with advantage).

Thanks again for your detailed feedback and actual-play report,
Ben
Paul and I will take a closer look at those options.

Stay tuned for the next update, Michael! We're playtesting a feat that burns HP for extra spellcasting, which might serve the kind of mage you were hoping to play.

Once again, thank you for the constructive and specific criticism. Even if you decide it's ultimately not for you, we'll use this feedback to improve the game.

Ben
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Dragon Slayers RPG
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