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Author Topic: Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe  (Read 2317 times)

Matt

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« on: May 09, 2015, 10:36:38 pm »
So I happened to pick up copies of DragonQuest and Universe (both by SPI) at a yard sale. I have never seen or played either of them but they both look pretty awesome and the price was right.

Can anyone tell me about DragonQuest, especially if you have played it? It looks like you can create much more interesting characters than class-and-level games allow, and the Magic College stuff seems cool.

Can anyone tell me about Universe and your experiences playing it? How does it compare to "classic" Traveller, for instance?

Also, were there any supplements or modules for either of these games?

Oh, and these are the books; I gather there were earlier boxed versions so I assume these are 2nd editions or later printings without boxes.

Molotov

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2015, 11:42:56 pm »
I have both - never played, though. I grabbed DQ back in 1983, but lost it a few years later. I had passed on Universe at the time - both were carried in the tiny book section of Caldor's dept. store (again, 1983), and after checking it out a few times, it disappeared (and I missed my chance).

I got both via Noble Knight the other year; yet to play.

I suspect DragonQuest may be in for some attention, as the latest Mythoard included two DQ supplements by Judges Guild.

I'm very interested to hear if folks played, experiences, etc.

Larsdangly

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2015, 01:00:05 am »
I played a lot of Dragonquest in late middle school and high school (early 80's), and then again in the early 90's. It is a fantastic system in several respects:

- Treats character skill and advancement as a sort of hybrid of the class/level games (D&D) and skill based games (e.g., runequest). Characters are essentially defined by their skills, but there are only about 20, total (plus weapons and spells), and each is defined by a level that goes from 0 to 10. I.e., you don't need to have a dozen different thief-like skills to be a thief, or a dozen different nature skills to be a ranger; you just get thief skill or ranger skill, and your level at each is used to set your success chances.

- Magic is varied, interesting, dark (at least in 1E and 2E - by far the preferred editions; 3E is crap).

- Combat is tactical and fun, in the same way The Fantasy Trip or GURPs are. One major question you face if you want to play is whether you go with the action point system of 1E or the simpler system of 2E. Your instinct may be to avoid the action point system as one of those crazy over-engineered 1980's monstrosities. Don't believe it; the AP combat is awesome.

There are a couple of funny things about dragonquest: the exact mathematics of weapon skill advancement is a little goofy; the armor protection system in 1E is kind of broken (too easy to be unhurtable). But overall it totally rocks. I would love to see a slightly tidied, condensed version of this game published. Unfortunately, I doubt there is an audience to justify it. I always felt it was so good that there it was almost a sure thing that TSR purchased it solely to kill it off.

Arminius

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #3 on: May 10, 2015, 02:01:19 am »
As for what was published for DQ, the info at rpggeek is pretty comprehensive, although it may not be 100% accurate on what was published for 2e vs 1e.

To supplement that I'll mention there were a number of articles and modules published in Ares magazine. Off the top of my head:

House of Kurin
Camp of Allah-Akbar (also included in one of the box sets IIRC)
Treasure of Socantri
Stats for using DQ with the background of the wargame Albion: Land of Faerie
A quick combat system for 1e that was very abstract and quick-play
Some adventure skills such as horseback riding that I believe were incorporated in 2e
Miscellaneous errata for 1e, notably a rule that gave non-magic users a boost to magic resistance, and a clarification that your first profession costs only 100 points (instead of 1000, and this is very much IIRC)

Finally if not at Rpggeek, you can look around the web for some materials that were never published including the Book of Arcane Wisdom.

I never got to play a campaign but I did enjoy the 1e combat system as presented in the gladiatorial boardgame from Ares, Arena of Death. I was happy to see the simplified 2e system for the RPG, though. IMO 1e combat is a little on the procedural side and I feel it would scare away a lot of casual players.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 08:25:21 pm by Arminius »

Shawn Driscoll

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #4 on: May 10, 2015, 04:38:25 am »
For Universe, see http://universerpg.sourceforge.net/downloads.html for the books. I only use the world generator from it. Mongoose Traveller has a much better chargen and skillcheck than Universe.

JeremyR

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #5 on: May 10, 2015, 05:26:16 am »
I had Universe as a kid (got it from KB of all places), and my friends and I literally could not figure it out.

And we figured out Rolemaster. (And for that matter, Star Fleet Battles)
http://osrnews.blogspot.com/ All the news about OSR products I can scrape up, including a weekly roundup of new OSR stuff at RPGNow

Matt

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #6 on: May 10, 2015, 10:06:11 am »
Quote from: Shawn Driscoll;830776
For Universe, see http://universerpg.sourceforge.net/downloads.html for the books. I only use the world generator from it. Mongoose Traveller has a much better chargen and skillcheck than Universe.


Dude, enough with the pimping Mongoose Traveller in every thread. No one asked about Mongoose Traveller. Do you own stock in Mongoose or something?

Gabriel2

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« Reply #7 on: May 10, 2015, 10:32:40 am »
I have Universe.  I've never played it.  Back in the day, I couldn't figure it out.  I was looking through it recently, and I think now I could probably run it, but I don't have any desire to.

For Universe, you better like math.  Specifically, you better like squaring numbers.  Determining any chance to do things consists of something like:

Base chance (defined by skill) + Ability score (or multiple thereof) + Skill rating ^2

I recall thinking it was stupid there were no rules for XP.  Instead, skills only raise when you roll a critical success on a skill check.  I imagine that would result in players just spamming skills all the time.

I liked Universe more than Traveler.  Even though I understood Traveler better, Universe seemed more fun somehow.  The color plates and the poster starmap helped, but Universe's character classes and skills seemed more evocative somehow.  Universe's class and skill list were the basis for nearly all my early homebrew games.
 

Matt

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #8 on: May 10, 2015, 10:52:49 am »
Sounds like "XP" works more like Call of Cthulhu and other BRP games. That doesn't bother me any more than Traveller's lack of advancement. XP is kind of a sop to power gamers if you think about it.

Jason D

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2015, 02:25:43 pm »
I absolutely adore DQ, and played in a years-long campaign of it in high school. It was probably about as popular as Chivalry & Sorcery, etc. back in the day, a distant fourth or fifth place to D&D, RQ, and T&T.

The book was originally a boxed three-book set, then was published in a single softcover edition, and later, the TSR blue cover removed the whole section about demons.

A trove of magazine articles were published about it, many appearing in Dragon, including things like: Hunting/Fishing rules, the Warrior alternative class, the College of White Magics, improved social backgrounds, Horsemanship, some magic rebalancing, etc.

The D&D/DQ hybrid adventure also included a new magic college... Shaping Magics, if I recall correctly.

Universe, however, was loosely based on the DQ rules, IIRC. Unfortunately, word is that it was written by someone who'd never actually played an RPG (I am not sure about that, but is very believable), and the rules are an overcomplicated mess. I've got a copy, tried to run it, but we gave up at the end of the first session of character creation and a sample combat. This was remarkable, as we were veterans of games like Ysgarth  and the Tri-Tac System games, and were pretty adept with DQ.

Shawn Driscoll

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2015, 05:49:07 pm »
Quote from: Matt;830789
Dude, enough with the pimping Mongoose Traveller in every thread. No one asked about Mongoose Traveller. Do you own stock in Mongoose or something?

In that case, Star Frontiers does a lot of things better than Universe does. TSR let Universe die for a reason. I wish I was pimping MgT in every thread though. But this is mainly a D&D BBS.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 05:51:48 pm by Shawn Driscoll »

Arminius

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2015, 06:51:27 pm »
I haven't played Universe at all. I read the spaceship combat companion game, Delta Vee, which I thought was well thought out but verging on useless for an RPG, because it was so deadly.

There were a few supplements published in Ares, IIRC. Maybe one or two adventures, and an alien species of shapechangers. This was the only alien ever published for the system which tells you a bit about the feel--it aimed for a more hard-science sensibility than Traveller though still admittedly with hyper jumps and ray guns. The background involved a federal government, a lot of scientific exploration, corporate intrigue, and possibly political shenanigans. This was visible especially in related board games: the two Pandora games that appeared in Ares (both about a biological survey mission) and Star Trader, which had a Tim Truman comic in the same issue. Media influences seemed to include the original Alien, and maybe the Sean Connery movie Outlander.

I would have liked to play and I can't imagine it's really all that difficult compared to current stuff (really, how hard is it to square an integer? Could you make a chart beforehand?)

Years later, I played a bit of 2300 AD, which I think did something similar to what Universe was attempting, with a more fully realized background and other supplements.

danskmacabre

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2015, 07:01:45 pm »
I remember owning Dragonquest many years ago.
I got it 2nd hand and had a read.
It seemed pretty clunky and complicated and I couldn't find anyone at the time willing to play it anyway.

Ironically I was running Rolemaster and Spacemaster a lot at the time, which is also pretty complicated, but it seemed to make more sense to me than Dragonquest.

Gabriel2

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« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2015, 07:58:46 pm »
Quote from: Arminius;830850

I would have liked to play and I can't imagine it's really all that difficult compared to current stuff (really, how hard is it to square an integer? Could you make a chart beforehand?)


No, it's not really that hard.  But every skill has its own success formula.  For example, here is the first skill in the Skill Summary section:

BC + AY + Battlefield SL + Environmen SL + SL^2 - (enemy Environ SL + enemy Battlefield SL^2)

BC is calculated as:
Move secretly, enemy unaware (15 x Terrain Value)
Move secretly, enemy aware (5 x Terrain Value)
Close Combat, enemy unaware (30%)
Ranged Fire, enemy unaware (50%)

That's just for the Ambush skill.

Scientific skills are BC + IN + SL^2  (Base Chance + Intelligence + Skill Level ^2)

Meanwhile, Technical skills are BC + IN^2 + SL^2

As you can see, it's not so much an issue with the math as it is with the presentation.  Base Chances are situational instead of the standard way most RPGs represent the character's skill level as the base chance and situations applying modifiers.
 

Arminius

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Tell me about SPI DragonQuest and/or Universe
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2015, 08:23:33 pm »
Oh, I see. I'm not sure if I remember DQ having the same issue (definitely some chances were derived from profession level using a formula, but I don't remember if the situational modifiers were presented that way).

I think that Fantasy Wargaming, another old game though not from SPI really suffered in that respect.

I do remember that DQ has a funky system of spiritual affiliations (aspects) which looked difficult to apply in practice; however I have a suspicion that if you really made an effort to use it, it would add a lot of flavor. The same applies to some of the "peripheral" magic rules. People have complained about low base casting chances, but I think are rules you can exploit to bring them up, which incidentally are flavorful and potentially add depth and complication.