Arthur over at the most excellent Refereeing and Reflection blog recently wrote about revisiting the Dragon Warriors RPG. This was in response to my gushing about it a couple of months back. He’s given it a second shake, and has reassessed it somewhat more positively.
“So, I’ll give Uncaring Cosmos their due: they’ve certainly made me sit up and take notice of Dragon Warriors again, and I think there’s something of a case to be made for the game having a significant place in the history of British RPGs.”
I accept a big part of the appeal for me is nostalgia. Back in the early 1990s, Dragon Warriors was such a puzzle to me. It was the first tabletop RPG I’d ever encountered, before I even knew what RPGs were (Games Workshop, which was the most visible pre-internet manifestation of the hobby in Britain, was by then solely focused on wargaming).
I probably picked up the first dog-eared volume of Dragon Warriors in a bargain bin in some second-hand bookshop. I never did figure it out (it wasn’t until Advanced Fighting Fantasy that I would actually try running anything, and I only really figured out how tabletop RPGs worked around 2014).
Nevertheless, I still think Dragon Warriors is a gem of a game. Yes, the art was a huge part of it. There was a strong dark fairy tale / folk horror atmosphere that I think runs all the way through the British Old-School.
More than that, though, I really dig how Dragon Warriors adds extra detail to combat compared to B/X D&D without adding any extra dice rolls. Instead of rolling to-hit and damage, you roll to-hit and armour penetration (with damage being a set amount depending on the weapon used).
It’s still a d20 followed by another polyhedron (typically d6 or d8). However, it effectively separates DEX from armour, allowing a bit more granularity without extra rules complexity.
Anyway, Arthur’s post has prompted me to shake the dust off and get back to blogging. So, ta for that!