Free RPG Day: Dragon Age Quickstart Guide

When I first cracked the cover of this book, the first thing I read was the fact that this RPG is based off of a computer/console game by the same name. I knew I had recognized the name before, but didn’t put two and two together until I hit those words. This made me very leery of the quality of this work. Most of the time, a derivative work is not as good as the original. Books turned into movies generally suck. Movies turned into movies almost always suck. Computer games turning into RPGs? Well. Maybe it’ll work.

In this case, it worked, and worked well.

This freebie was a fantastic product for hooking someone into the game. Everything the group needs to run the adventure is provided within the covers of the book. Rules, spells, pregenerated characters, adventures, monsters, bad guys, good guys, world flavor and a rockin’ map are all packed within the 32 pages of the book.Free RPG Day 2011 -- Dragon Age

The Quickstart Guide opens up with a beautiful full-color map of Ferelden on the inside cover and credits on the opposing page. Then they quickly jump into what you’ll need to game with, what role playing is (been a long time since I’ve seen a section like that) and what the character sheet is all about. Following this page are two more that detail the remainder of the character stats and a pared down equipment list. In the middle is a one-pager (with permission to photocopy) about the Kingdom of Ferelden and what it’s all about. The fact that they included details about the world that Dragon Age is set in was a fantastic addition.

Then came five pages about the system, combat, stunts, actions and the like to give everyone a chance to learn the basics of the system. I really like the idea of having “Dragon Die” that affects how things come out, but it’s still included in the base roll. This really helps speed things up quite a bit, especially during combat. It’s a brilliant idea that I wish I had thought of first!

The largest section of the book is the 14 pages that composes the adventure that the GM will run the PCs through. It’s a well thought out adventure with combat, skill checks, intrigue, decision making and packed full of dark and wonderful role playing opportunities. If this is a taste of how the rest of the game is written, produced and edited, then I may put it on my wish list of things for my up coming birthday.

Lastly, are five pregenerated characters that give you all of the stats and details necessary to play the characters effectively.

Even though the insides of the book were black and white, I really like the layout, font, design and B&W artwork that was included. I’m hoping that the main book is full color inside because of the incredible artwork of the creatures that were provided in the Free RPG Day book.

Grade: A+ / Strong writing, mixed with a good system, mixed with an intriguing world all make for a great RPG system. If the price is right (I haven’t checked yet,) I’ll be picking this up at my FLGS.