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Artaterxes

Created my first character! - First impressions of game

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Just got the game today. Looks sweet as heck. 

Here’s what I like about the character creation book. Mechanically, you only seem to need your race, class, stamina, and 5-8 skills. Most of the book is lore and guidance on what skills to pick. (Edit: I missed the rule where your race and class guides your skill selection, so I deleted the sentence that was here.)

But I think that’s a good thing. For people who just want to get into the game, they pick their race, class, skills, and play. My wife, for instance, would not want to read all the lore. She would just want to get into it.

Then for those who like reading more and backstories, and want some guidance for skill selection... they can read. I, for example, will read the whole thing. It’s chock full of flavour and great details.

So the character creation can take 30 seconds or 30 minutes depending on how much flavor text you and your group can choose to read. You can tailor the character making process to your group in this way.

Looking forward to the first adventure!

Edited by Artaterxes

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3 hours ago, twincast said:

As much as I want to play this (with my nieces in German) one day, I find it hard to get excited about such a less than bare bones character system. It is, however, a great little lore book.

That is sadly the biggest pro it has for me, being a good book of Terrinoth lore. As I’ve stated else, if it didn’t take place in the Runebound world though I’d be passing on it.

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I finished the first quest, To New Roads, as well as a bit of Dragonholt Village. I'll write a spoiler-free first impressions here.

Opening: There are almost no rules to read before creating your characters. You read about activation tokens, make your heroes, gain 100 gold, and begin reading. Everything you need to know is taught to you as you read through the quests, quite literally like tutorial pop-ups in a video game, which appear no matter what entries you choose.

Game Structure: The first quest, To New Roads, takes place outside the village of Dragonholt. Quests are based on units of "time." After making certain decisions, one or more units of "time" will pass, which you mark down. So far, it doesn't seem to work like a time limit. I never saw something like, "If you make this decision it costs 1 time, but this one costs 2." (Maybe, but haven't seen it.) Instead, it works more like, "If X time passed, these options are available. Otherwise, these." So rather than an efficiency exercise, I think time is the game's way of fixing how many things happen to your party each quest and isn't something you really need to worry about. It does, however, give a nice indicator of the percentage of the quest you've completed.

Glancing at the other quest sheets, some have twists on how time works, but the most obvious (and important) one is Dragonholt Village itself. Once you finish To New Roads, you'll be inside Dragonholt Village which is like the central hub. Time passes in Dragonholt Village too, but it's measured in "days." There are 8 units of time in most days, divided into 2 units per morning, afternoon, evening, and night. (Days 3 and 7 don't have night hours.) I'm currently on the first day. When you're inside the village, you can pick a place to visit and go on an "encounter," which takes up a unit (or maybe more) of time. Once the encounter is complete, you pick the next place to visit. Basically, you fill up your day doing things in Dragonholt Village and when you fill up all your time in the day, the next major event happens. You'll go on your next quest, and return to Dragonholt Village again.

Gameplay: The gameplay is about making decisions. Each time you're asked to make a decision, you pick any one you want, but you don't know the outcome. Some decisions are available only if you have certain skills, but you also don't know the outcome. For example, if you have the "persuasion" skill, this might open up a decision option. But, you don't know if you will successfully persuade. Likewise, if you have the "alchemy," "arcana," "duelling," "brawling," etc., skills, you will have different options in battle. You don't know what those options will do. You could select the alchemy option, but you don't know if you'll defeat the enemy or if the potion will blow up in your face. You could select the duelling option, but you don't know if the enemy will succumb to your attack, and you don't know how much stamina you will lose. Because skills don't have levels (e.g. Alchemy 5), you aren't more likely to get a better outcome with more training. Likewise, my encounters so far do not indicate that certain options are better. Maybe some encounters in the future might give hints at monster weaknesses based on the narrative, but so far I haven't noticed it.

There is training in the game. The skills are divided into 5 categories: academic, physical, combat, social, and spiritual. As you progress, you'll earn points in these categories (as a party). When you get 6, heroes can turn in their XP to learn more skills of that category. For example, if the heroes go into a store and buy equipment or generally have some sort of encounter, you don't actually keep track of specific gear. It translates into new skills or new training in one of the five categories, which will eventually open up new skills to learn. You do get a few trinkets to carry around, though, represented by item cards.

So you get skills, which open up decision options. You pick decision options based on how you would act in that scenario, not really because one option is "better." You find out what happens, and how much stamina you lose or gain (if any). If you drop to zero stamina, disable a skill of your choice (then go back to 1 stamina). Earn XP, save it up, wait till you get 6 points of training in one field or more, then spend XP on more skills. Earn gold, spend it on stuff (e.g. more training), which lets you get more skills, which open up more decision options. 

There is no way to "beat" the game. In fact, this doesn't seem like a game you play to win. The appeal of the game is to acquire skills that best represent yourself (EDIT: or your character!)  allowing you to act more like yourself (or character!) If you treat this game like sessions of comparative individualities (I choose this, because this represents my character’s personality; whereas you chose that, and look where that got us!) this game works really well. Especially because of the activation tokens, this forces players to include everyone equally. No, it might not make strategic sense to have the "sneaky character" sneak us into the quiet area only to have the "loud character" do something to alert our positions. (That never happened to me. Just illustrating!) But this game isn't about winning. It's about making each hero act as much as possible like himself or herself (or whatever character you wish to portray), acquiring appropriate skills, and seeing what happens. 

Characters: So on that note, I go to the character creation. To get the most out of this game, I suggest you make a character act as much like yourself as possible. (Edit): Otherwise, make sure you create a character you are comfortable representing. It ultimately all comes down to your skills and stamina. The more time you take to go through the character book, the more fleshed out your character will be and the more comfortable your role in the game.

I'll give you an example. I chose the reasoning skill initially, but then replaced it with arcana, thinking that I would want to see the effect of magic in the game. Like I said, that was a mistake. I can't approach it like Descent: Journeys in the Dark. There is no magic system. There's no "game to beat." So during the first quest, I was hurling magic spells that was killing off bad guys, often described in kind of brutal detail, and I thought, "Whoa... I'd do that in a game, but in real life... I'm more of a scaredy cat! I can't see myself doing that!" The narrative and characterization of the NPCs are written so well, and you're so immersed in the world that I always felt compelled to act like myself. I felt like a fraud for acting differently. In a game that I'm trying to beat, yeah I'll slice things up, but not in Legacy of Dragonholt. 

Narrative: I think the writing here is great, for an adventure game. You really do feel like you're wandering around a bustling village, and there's so much to do. The village of Dragonholt book is huge. I can see hours of fun ahead. It took me 40 minutes to complete the first quest, To New Roads. 

Conclusion: Don't approach this game thinking you can beat it. There's nothing to beat, especially because the outcome of most decisions is unknown, regardless of skills. (At least so far - remember I just started. - EDIT: OK, I was wrong. Check out my review. You can beat this game). Instead, this game is (edit: partially - again, see review) an exercise in making yourself act as much like yourself (edit: or your character!) as possible, and the world is so well-written to support that goal. I can see the effort and the massive coordination required by the designers to piece this work together. If you enjoy seeing your personal impact (as well as your friends') on the adventure, you'll enjoy this game. If you just want a fun social experience without winning or losing - this game will definitely provide that.

Edited by Artaterxes

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Great summary of how the game works, thanks! It sounds very much like taking the story elements of an RPG, while letting most of the mechanical game elements fade more into the background.

I made the attached file that cross-references race and class skills to make character creation easier.

Legacy of Dragonholt Skill Matrix.docx

Edited by Hawkstrike

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Nice impressions. Although your focus on roleplaying as yourself is interesting to me. It’s the exact opposite of how I view the hobby, where putting yourself into the mind of the character you’re playing is kind of where most of the enjoyment lies. The system allows for both interpretations of course.

 

Looking forward to more impressions as you play more.

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On 25.11.2017 at 4:38 AM, Artaterxes said:

[...] Your race and class seem to only be suggestions on your skill selection, rather than restrictions. So you can really pick any skills you want [...]

That's not true. According to the rules in step 4 in the Character Creation book on p. 17 at least two of your chosen skills must appear in your race skill list, and at least two of your chosen skills must appear in your class skill list.

So you can't pick any skills you want.

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Thank you for the correction Bjbu! That’s a very important point I missed. 

5 hours ago, jonamok said:

Although your focus on roleplaying as yourself...The system allows for both interpretations of course.

Yes of course! I shall edit my opening post to be less biased in that regard. Additionally, I shall delete my “quick start” character maker as it’s no longer as useful with the clarifications Bjbu mentioned.

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On ‎11‎/‎25‎/‎2017 at 7:10 PM, Hawkstrike said:

Great summary of how the game works, thanks! It sounds very much like taking the story elements of an RPG, while letting most of the mechanical game elements fade more into the background.

I made the attached file that cross-references race and class skills to make character creation easier.

Legacy of Dragonholt Skill Matrix.docx

Thank you for this .

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36 minutes ago, jhaelen said:

Thanks for the summary! Now I'm quite sure I'm not interested. Roleplaying without a game, i.e. for its own sake, isn't my cup of tea.

Im of the same mind as you...just that im crazy and having being so hyped up I will pick it up anyway. 

 

so disappointed they made such potential as something that looks like its for kids, talk about dumbed down.

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I just finished the second day in Dragonholt Village. It’s fun to explore and learn about the villagers. I haven’t been sent on any quests yet, though.

There are a lot of side missions for you to do. You can gain heroism by doing these and you also might increase your training in the five fields just by going through the acts. Heroism gives you occasional bumps in XP and fame, while training unlocks more skills to purchase with XP, which gives you more choices in encounters.

I thought maybe one quest (one of the smaller books) would occur at the end of each day, but it doesn’t look like that, unless I’m misinterpreting rules. So far I’ve learned quite a few clues about the main plot, but haven’t been asked to do anything about it. Maybe you won’t use all the books in a single campaign? Maybe just a couple depending on your choices in the village.

We’ll see, as I have 5 days left!

Edited by Artaterxes

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3 hours ago, Artaterxes said:

I thought maybe one quest (one of the smaller books) would occur at the end of each day, but it doesn’t look like that, unless I’m misinterpreting rules. So far I’ve learned quite a few clues about the main plot, but haven’t been asked to do anything about it. Maybe you won’t use all the books in a single campaign? Maybe just a couple depending on your choices in the village.

We’ll see, as I have 5 days left!

I'd say the list of achievements answers that; it's totally possible to experience all but not guaranteed. Not surprising IMO, considering the box is effectively one big gamebook.

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Finished the third day. I went on a quest (yay!) A common mechanic is this. You're given Choice A or B. Neither require skills, even though they sound like they do. It's the followup choice that requires the skill. 

Example (I made this up): My character has no combat skills and all social skills. I come across a tough-looking monster. I can fight it or reason with it. (No skill required for either option.) I choose to fight it. We attack each other. He comes at me with an axe. I can parry (requires dueling) or else I take the hit. I don't have the dueling skill, so I take the hit.

So the game encourages you to act in accordance with your skill set and character even if every single choice doesn't come right out and say it.

I failed the quest, by the way. But as long as I had fun, it's considered a victory, according to the rulebook! :P

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More updates. Day 5 now. Still no advancement of the main plot, but I get to go on another quest. I am conflicted about embarking upon it for fear of missing an important social event at the village.

The game is strangely addicting. The skill system is incredibly simple and the strategy slim to none, but the roleplaying is so immersive. When I first started I thought, “Yeah yeah I don’t need to write notes.” I ended up writing a lot! There are so many clues to discover that if you’re observant you can efficiently plan your day and uncover the quest details.

I guess that’s really the second major aspect. The first is role playing. The second is day planning. There are only so many tasks you can do in a day. Pay attention to rumours and details to choose your tasks carefully and cram your day with tasks that advance quests. Or else you wander around socializing and browsing...which the game somehow makes enjoyable too.

In my case, I spent one day looking for adventure and didn’t find much. In the last couple of hours I just went to a shady tavern for the first time and decided to kill my time there. Well... rumour for my current quest! 

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1 hour ago, Artaterxes said:

More updates. Day 5 now. Still no advancement of the main plot, but I get to go on another quest. I am conflicted about embarking upon it for fear of missing an important social event at the village.

The game is strangely addicting. The skill system is incredibly simple and the strategy slim to none, but the roleplaying is so immersive. When I first started I thought, “Yeah yeah I don’t need to write notes.” I ended up writing a lot! There are so many clues to discover that if you’re observant you can efficiently plan your day and uncover the quest details.

I guess that’s really the second major aspect. The first is role playing. The second is day planning. There are only so many tasks you can do in a day. Pay attention to rumours and details to choose your tasks carefully and cram your day with tasks that advance quests. Or else you wander around socializing and browsing...which the game somehow makes enjoyable too.

In my case, I spent one day looking for adventure and didn’t find much. In the last couple of hours I just went to a shady tavern for the first time and decided to kill my time there. Well... rumour for my current quest! 

Good writeups.  POS keep them none spoiler or put a spoiler note up :D

I love the idea of the game, love it, I just hate the idea of 3 players playing co op where a strong man cant use his skills if he activated last 'turn' hiding behind a fence.

In your opinion, for 3 players..(with the above in mind) would you just play as the rules are or try ignore the activation for PLAYERS and make activation for CHARACTERS? (still unsure if activations for characters might break the game as you might have the perfect skill for every situation how the game is made)

 

 

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VAYASAN, I would just leave the activation tokens as they are. An inactive hero just assessed the situation and determines it’s too hard for his skill level, and asks the active player to make another choice. I’ll give you an actual example from a quest.

1. Player A has the reasoning skill. He makes a choice in some matter and flips his activation token down.

2. In the next entry, (this is not a decision), the players move to entry X if at least one of them has the reasoning skill, and entry Y if nobody does. They read entry X - even though the player with the reasoning skill is inactive.

3. In entry X, Player B must now make a decision. One of the options requires the reasoning skill - the party was led to this entry because Player A has the reasoning skill, even though he can’t use it! If Player B had made the initial decision, then Player A would be available to choose that option. 

As you can see, the game often guides the adventure as if the players are making decisions based on the party’s overall skill set (see point 2 above -  oh we have a person with reasoning, let’s do this) even though the game knows full well that the person might be inactive.

The easiest way to interpret is that the inactive player assessed the situation and realized it was too hard for his skill level, and the active player decided on another option for the group. It’s a roundabout way of incorporating skill “levels” in the game, with challenges being tougher with more heroes.

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48 minutes ago, Artaterxes said:

VAYASAN, I would just leave the activation tokens as they are. An inactive hero just assessed the situation and determines it’s too hard for his skill level, and asks the active player to make another choice. I’ll give you an actual example from a quest.

1. Player A has the reasoning skill. He makes a choice in some matter and flips his activation token down.

2. In the next entry, (this is not a decision), the players move to entry X if at least one of them has the reasoning skill, and entry Y if nobody does. They read entry X - even though the player with the reasoning skill is inactive.

3. In entry X, Player B must now make a decision. One of the options requires the reasoning skill - the party was led to this entry because Player A has the reasoning skill, even though he can’t use it! If Player B had made the initial decision, then Player A would be available to choose that option. 

As you can see, the game often guides the adventure as if the players are making decisions based on the party’s overall skill set (see point 2 above -  oh we have a person with reasoning, let’s do this) even though the game knows full well that the person might be inactive.

The easiest way to interpret is that the inactive player assessed the situation and realized it was too hard for his skill level, and the active player decided on another option for the group. It’s a roundabout way of incorporating skill “levels” in the game, with challenges being tougher with more heroes.

Ok thanks.

 

Still baffles me how its designed....oh if your party has this skill turn to XXXXX.   XXX...oh sorry you cant use that you stroked a dog 5 mins ago.

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