The bread and butter for Free League Publishing has been rejuvenating old TTRPGs for a new generation. Dragonbane is no different. Known as Drakar och Demoner, it was the first and biggest TTRPG in Sweden. It was their D&D and now it has the chance to be just as popular.
Is that a duck? Yes…yes it’s a duck
The first thing I noticed was how easy the guide was to read and get a grip with. I was worried that it would be a D&D 5E clone but was pleasantly surprised. Dragonbane uses a D20, roll-under system, so the lower you roll, the better in this game. This will be alien to most RPG gamers but if you roll like me it’s for the best.
You will then select a race or in this instance a Kin. There are six Kin folk to choose from:
- Mallard (Yes a goddamn duck person)
If you are not a Mallard and living out your Darkwing Duck fantasy are you even a Tabletop gamer? The character creation doesn’t end there though. There are also ten professions including, Merchant, Thief, Bard, Knight, etc… Sometimes I struggle with this part of RPGs but I found it really simple.
Roll low, aim high
There is a lot of 5E in the basic game mechanics. These are advantages and disadvantages while rolling but they are called boon and bane. There is also a push roll like in Vaesen. It lets you reroll a fail but if you fail again things get a whole lot worse for you as you need to pick a bane for your character.
Combat is fairly straightforward. You use initiative cards instead of rolling to see the order of combat. You take your turn just like you would in D&D but this time you get a chance to interrupt another action. This helps you to dodge or parry an enemy’s attack. You just roll your D20 against your skill level and hope you succeed. You roll damage like normal but armor can reduce it like in Vaesen instead of being added to your AC.
Another aspect I loved was how the magic worked. You get something called Will power. This works like MP works in most games. You spend your Will power to cast your spells or do certain abilities. The higher the level of spell/ability the more WP you spend and the more powerful it is. Simple really.
All the goodies
You get everything you need to start your adventures in the Misty Vale in the Drangonbane Core Set:
- 112-page rule book
- 116-page adventures book
- A solo play booklet
- A map of the Misty Vale
- Illustrated playing cards for treasure, initiative, and adventures
- Five blank character sheets
- Five pre-made characters
- A battle mat
- Ten dice
- Cardboard standees for players and monsters
I received the PDF version so all I didn’t receive was the dice, either way, that’s a lot. Plus with all the maps, standees, etc… it will give me and others the kick up the bum to host a game in person and not over Zoom.
I can’t review Dragonbane without talking about the spectacular artwork. Again this is down to the amazing art style of one of my favourite artists, Johan Egerkrans. He just gets the fantasy vibe and illustrated another favourite RPG of mine, Vaesen.
If you are a fan of fantasy TTRPGs then get your hands on Dragonbane. It’s quick and easy to play by yourself or with others. Even if you don’t just get it for the Mallards you cowards.