Welcome Back to the Labyrinth

"We have been away far too long, my friends," Ashoka declared, his face lit by the eldritch green glow of his staff. "But we have finally returned to the labyrinth whence our adventures first began."

"Just imagine the treasures that lie within," said Yun Tai, flexing his mighty muscles. "Wealth enough to live in luxury the rest of our days."

"And arcane artifacts of great power," added Ashoka his words dripping with avarice. "All ours for the taking!"

"Umm...guys?" Nysa interrupted. "Do you hear something dripping?"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Review: Dagger - Supplemental Rules for Roleplaying with Kids

Dagger is Brave Halfling's new rules supplement that strips down classic D&D to its barest essentials for playing with very young children.  Most of this stripping away is done to the character classes to make it fast and simple to get started, without having to learn a lot of rules.

There are four basic classes: Knight, Wizard, Elf, and Dwarf, with an optional Halfling class.  No attribute scores are used, and each class gets equipment package so there is no need to fiddle around with starting gold, shopping, or armour types.  Players can just fill out their character sheets, roll for hit points, and begin play immediately.  Knights get two attacks per turn and have AC 2, Wizards can cast two spells per experience level and have AC 9, Elves get one attack per turn, may cast one spell per experience level, and have AC 5, and Dwarves can automatically detect secret doors, can see in the dark, and have AC 2.

The supplement is only eight pages long (including the cover and the obligatory one page OGL) and the meat of it is on the first two pages.  The remaining four pages include spell descriptions and some monster stat blocks.

This supplement is a great resource for role playing with very young children who are not yet able to read and would otherwise be confused by the esoterica of a full-blown version of the game.  There are a few problems, however: there is a monster attack matrix, but no character attack matrix.  I'm not certain whether this is by design or accident, although the monster matrix appears twice so I'm inclined to believe the latter.  To-hit numbers are given for first level characters, but there is no progression for subsequent levels.  It is possible that characters are intended to use the monster matrix, but this is not explained, and if so, it would make more sense just to call it the 'attack matrix.'  In any event, the monster attack matrix is missing the armour classes, so it's of no use anyway.

Lack of usable attack matrices is no problem for experienced role players who will have access to them in other rule sets, and since the supplement contains no explanation of how to play, no equipment lists, and no treasure, a full rule-set of some type is required anyway.  This makes the four pages of spell description and monster stat blocks redundant, though; Dagger could just as easily be a two-page supplement and might be better served if it was.

It's tough to complain though, given that Dagger is available as a free download from RPGNow and DriveThru RPG.


John Adams said...

Hey thanks, Sean. Yes, the to hit progression did not make it into the free rules (it is in the options), but I can fix that.


Sean P. Robson said...

Very nice work on this, John; I think kids will take to this like ducks to water! I may start my daughter out on this while I wait for Delving Deeper to arrive, although at seven and reading well, I think she's probably ready for the full monty.

John Adams said...

Neat. :)

In my experience, very few characters ever level up in Dagger - because the kids really like to make up a new character (and by that I mean, look through old and new rpg books and point to the half-dragon, drow, pirate, etc) each session.

Trey said...

Good review, Sean.