Dragon Age combat system (DA: O, DA: A, DA 2 and the DA RPG systems) describe talents and spell with a variety of effects, such as "stagger", "brittle", "confused", as well as a fair variety of damage type: "fire damage", "spirit damage", "physical damage" and so on. It is possible to manage all those effects even in a Pen & Paper game, but in a Chat-based Role Playing (CRP) it just becomes... annoying.
Generally, when questing with this group, we are fairly flexible when it comes to taking into account damages, effects and damage type, but all of us should have clear what we're talking about when we mention a weapon or a talent effect.As a player
, this will give you an idea of what talents do, but consider that GMs seldom will apply what you read here literally
. This is just a "translation" of terms from "what you find written in talents/spells/skills descriptions" to "what you may expect when using a talent/spell/skill in game" (and what to consider if you want to write
a custom skill/talent/spell pool). As a GM
, you're not required to consider all this or even remember all
this, but it will give you a general idea on how to read a talent description and translate into actions when playing, as well as some hints and tips collected from current GMs of the group.
We will talk about:
- Health, Mana, Stamina, Attributes and all that stuff
- Talents descriptions (and how to read them)
- Damage types
Health, Mana, Stamina, Attributes and all that stuff
TL;DR VERSION: We don't consider them. Elaborate version
: GMs do
consider them but not literally nor numerically. It's not that your character has "25 Health Point, 27 mana/stamina points and your talent costs X and deals Y damage". Maybe some do, but rarely as is a PITA to manage them in CRP. When playing Pen & Paper you have character sheets you can update in real time, when playing by mail or forum you don't need immediate feedback, in chat it's a huge load of work to update character sheets in real time for a GM, so they just ignore those values and think of them in way general terms
- They're not level-dependent: a GM may not consider your level 10 character to have more health or stamina than your friend's level 5 character. Level in TMM is just about experience = skill proficiency (= quantity of talents/spells/skills/specializations available)
- They're not quantified: an attacks deal "great damage", "normal damage", "little damage", "critical damage". An healing spell restores "some/a large amount of/a little amount of health", a crit or a fumble enter when the GM decides so.
A GM can decide "this character is weak, three good hits and he's down" or "it's tough, let's make them sweat a bit and wait 4/5 rounds to bring him down".
Also, the GM can decide to help the players (if the quest gets too long or the combat proves to be more difficult than expected) by making hitting enemies "easier", and if they throw dices to decide, ignoring some failure if they're having a bad day: they are throwing the dices, no one will know anyway...
- Put more effort in role-playing than trust the "values" of your weapons and abilities. Results of actions are decided by GMs in a simple way: your attacks connects or miss, your skills succeed or fail. GMs decide that according to their preferences: some throw a dice, some toss a coin, some pick a card, some do nothing of this and decide arbitrarily but ALL GMs decide if an action is worth succeeding or failing according to the description of the action you attempt: if the attack is even possible or if it's so good it's impossible it doesn't connect, how you handle yourself in a situation and what argument you use to persuade or intimidate your opponent.
- Spellpower is impossible to translate in CRP, hence it's ignored.
- Critical chance CAN be translated, but it's often ignored because it depends in large part how a GM decides when a critical hit enters and what a critical hit does (some consider it "double damage", some "gives an injury", some "incapacitates enemy", some even "nothing at all").
- Even if you don't have a "strength attribute" you are strong, and even if you don't have a "dexterity value" you are agile to a point. How do GM consider "attributes" exactly?
- First GMs look at the character class and race: warriors are stronger and more physically resistant, rogues are more cunning and agile, mages have obviously more magic and willpower; elves are usually weaker than humans and dwarves but can be faster and equally skilled in magic, dwarves have same if not more strength than humans but less reach, and so on...
- The second thing GMs look at is the character description, portrait and background. Again, "narrative" overrides "values" in crp, so how you design and describe your character as well as you make them act, influences GMs considerations over them:
Example: If you're a hulking barbarian built like a tank you'll have more strength than a normal-sized soldier, but the soldier may be considered to be more resistant and have more stamina because of their training discipline.
However is also true that if you have a tall human apostate that keeps himself in shape by living in the forest, you may be considered just as strong and possibly fast as the average dalish scout or even a human rogue with the same physique.
- Remember what enchantments your equipment has and activate it when you need it. Since GM can't constantly check your Character Sheet to see that your weapons deal "extra damage" or your staff "increases spirit magic", we have remade the enchantments and runes system and made them "activated abilities".
Talents descriptions (and how to read them)
The Merry Mabari has a talent library
that covers all canon classes talent, spells and specializations rewritten to fit CRP, sometimes heavily modified from the videogame talents and specs, as well as quite a few new ones to improve customization.
As for all the things in Merry Mabari the first rule is forget the videogames
, then start over with what we have reworked.
Interpreting the talent description seems an easy task, but there are a few things to keep in mind, whether you're a GM or a player, that may help you understand them better.
- No talent has a guaranteed effect. With the exception of staff bolts that always hit (and even those can be parried or blocked) no hit in the Merry Mabari is to be taken for granted, so there is no guarantee that using a talent will automatically result in the effect that is described in the talent description. A character has always the chance to avoid, resist or overcome the effects of a talent, poison or spell.
- Spells and talents don't have a cooldown, so it is allowed to use them twice (or more) in a row, however it is good to vary attacks, and spamming always the same talent/spell may inspire your GM to check your "mana/stamina pool" and find it empty. Of course spell/talent spam is more tolerated if your character is low level and has only one offensive spell or one useful talent, but remember that you can always use the "normal weapon attack".
- The exception to the previous rule is Tier 2 talents and enchantments/runes that can be used only once per quest. Enchantments and runes have modified rules because it's impossible for a GM to keep track of permanent effects, so they must be activated and, like Tier 2 talents, can be unbalancing in a combat if used often, so the restriction is aimed at keeping their use more strategic.
- Spells descriptions have extra rules, namely Casting time and Visibility.
- Casting time indicates how long a spell takes to be charged. In terms of combat rounds, depends from GM to G, but usually Instant and Quick mean the spell fires the same round it's charged (Instant can be cast also if the character moves in the same round), Slow fires off the round after and Very Slow takes two rounds or more to charge before triggering.
- Visibility denotes if it's possible to track down the caster from the spell effect. They are quite self explanatory (Inconspicuous, Visible and Obvious for effect, gesture or power), but the purpose of it is not only exposing apostates to templars, but it's also useful for enemies to identify the spellcaster and take them down if they prove to be an annoyance.
- Some specializations that appear in the games are purposely unavailable, mostly for lore (i.e. Reaver) or timeline reasons (i.e. Arcane Warrior), while others are tied to your background (i.e. Templar). Specializations that are not available are not available and won't be reintroduced. Specializations that are tied to a character's background must be ALWAYS discussed with an admin, because usually special rules apply for those characters. Check out our Joining and Creating guidelines and our journals and resources about special rules or ask to an Admin for more information.
- Private specializations are additional specializations designed over a character personal experience, hence they can be used only by that character. This means that:
- Private specializations have to be written over unique and unshared experiences. Rare forms of trainings (i.e. Rivaini Seer, Silent Sister or Ash Warriors) and/or existing specializations mash-ups (usually discouraged), albeit rare they make for a public specialization.
- Having a private specialization is not a badge o honor. They are meant to improve the character customization, they aren't meant to make the character "unique", all characters are, but to help to make them more consistent to the idea the player has about the character development if the existing specializations can't help them.
- Private specializations can't be taught, albeit some talents can be passed on providing a training IC and/or the creation of a new private (or public) specialization the other character(s) can have access to.
DA system uses different types of damage in the talents descriptions to define what kind of damage a character suffers (physical, nature, spirit, fire and cold), but in TMM we don't really do that. We consider differently physical damage from magic damage, and the nature of elemental damage if that's the case. Usually:
- Physical damage can stop by physical means (armor, shield) or some magic shielding.
- Note that blades, axes, arrows and other sharp objects are quite likely to inflict cuts and other wounds when they connect with bare flesh or pass through armors and body parts.
- Defense against magical damage comes often from defensive magic and enchanted gear (but you'll have to remember you own it to the GM).
- Some spells (like Stonefist) are considered to deal physical damage, as well as some special non-mage talents (like Templar's Holy Smite) may deal magical damage. It always depends on the talent/spell description.
- Fire and cold damage have always the chance to cause conditions or injuries such as burns (fire), frostbite or frozen (cold) independently from the talent description.
Conditions that can be caused by talents or spells are:
- Stunned: A stunned character is woozy and disoriented, unable to attack or defend for the lasting of the effect. Usually this wear off briefly, but there are spells that grant a longer disoriented status.
- Staggered: the character is pushed back, or shaken off balance, becoming highly vulnerable to immediately following attacks. The character will recover in time and can attack and defend in the following round.
- Knocked Down: the character is disgracefully thrown to the ground. Fast and agile characters may recover quickly, while heavily armored characters might be unable to act for a full round while trying to get back up.
- Petrified/Frozen/Paralyzed/Sleeping/Terrified: self explanatory.
- Injuried: Self explanatory again. See the Healing and Injuries journal for more information.
- Severe Blood Loss: the character has lost much blood, and is too weak to move upright, perform combat actions, or cast spells. Must treat the cause and rest to remove it.
- Unconscious: this happens when your character is defeated. Unless you don't have fatal wounds, you may even recover from this state... providing your friends win the battle.
Here's a list of weapons we consider useable:
- One-Handed weapons. Dominant talent trees: One-Handed and Dual Weapon. these weapons can be equipped on the dominant hand or used in dual wielding. Note that in dual wielding non-dominant hand could manage only daggers unless the character is ambidextrous and/or has at least one master talent from the dual weapon tier. Mages can't use them with the sole exception of daggers.
- Daggers: includes short-blade weapons (~15-40 cm) of any kind and shape. They are the fastest weapons but also the ones that deal less damage and make less serious wounds. Can be thrown.
- Swords: includes long-blade weapons (~40-100 cm) of any kind and shapes such as long swords, broadswords, rapiers, sabres, etc. It's the more balanced weapon and the most versatile but doesn't have a good armor penetration against heavy or massive armor. Can be thrown only by warriors with the Heavy Throw talent.
- Maces: includes blunt weapons of max length of 90 cm such as flanged maces, short war hammers and flails. Has a better armor penetration than a sword but deals less damage and inflicts less severe wounds. Can be thrown only by warriors with the Heavy Throw talent (but given their shape it's a bit pointless to do that).
- Waraxes: includes all kind of short axes (haft length ~1 m). Deals more damage than a sword and has a better armor penetration than maces, but it's more difficult to control. Can be thrown.
- Two-Handed weapons. Dominant talent trees: Two-Handed. They are more powerful weapons but also the most difficult to control, and alos the more likely to inflict injuries like fractures and amputations. They are all restricted to warriors.
- Greatswords: are the most balanced in terms of maneuverability, damage and armor penetration.
- Warhammers: they have a better armor penetration than greatswords but deal less damage, though they are VERY likely to inflict fracture injuries when they hit targets with cloth or light armor.
- Battleaxes: the weapon that more likely can take a chunk off of you. Wounds are a sure thing with them, as they have a good armor penetration, but they are also the less versatile of all these weapons.
- Bows: Dominant talent trees: Archery. These are ranged weapons that shoot missiles (arrows or darts). They are not restricted to a specific class, but since mages don't have access to the archery tree (so they can perform only normal attacks with them) they prefer staves instead.
- Shortbows: easiest to carry around and fastest to charge and shoot, it's the less powerful of all bows. In normal conditions, medium armor can stop an arrow shot with a short bow unless the shooter is really close.
- Longbows: more powerful than the short bow and with a better armor penetration (in close range it can pierce Heavy armor), the longbow is slower to maneuver and quite cumbersome to carry around.
- Crossbows: The most powerful ranged weapon, it uses darts instead of arrows and has a great piercing power (with a lucky hit can even go through massive armor). This power has limitations: it takes way more time to recharge them than a bow (Bianca is a prototype and Varric owns it, so no auto-recharging crossbows in TMM!). Also, darts are more difficult and expensive to find.
- Staves: Dominant talent trees: none. The only talent that improves staff damage is the Arcane spell Focused Staff Attack. this weapons are both two-handed weapons and ranged weapons. and they are restricted to mages. All staves deal spirit damage by default unless specified, their darts always hit unless there are obstacles on its trajectory but they deal very little damage and they can't land critical hits or cause injuries other than bruises or minor burns (if dealing fire damage). Normal staff attacks don't consume the mage's mana and they can be used to give the mage a respite while recharging.
- Batons/Quarterstaves/spears: Dominant talent trees: Quarterstaff, some Warrior specializations. They're technically two-handed blunt weapons (piercing, if spears), but deal very little damage and they are more weapons of dexterity than strength. Batons are restricted to rogues, but mages can improperly use a staff as one (if they have the skills) in close quarter combat. If the staff it's considered a baton or a spear depends on the design of the staff (DA: O staves are usually batons, but some DA2 staves did have a blade on one end and they should be considered spears).
Other kinds of weapons can be discussed with the GMs or admins, but keep in mind we are in a dark fantasy medieval setting so, please, no lightsabres, steam guns, hi-tech/steampunk gizmos and similar lore-breaking things. Please. Admins don't like to hurt you.