DragonQuest isn’t all dead. Recently, I ran two sessions of DQ at U-Con, and, in the end, both of them were full tables. I had seen that pre-registrations were surprisingly high, with 5 people for Friday and 3 for Saturday, which was pretty surprising in and of itself. But then, both nights, people were coming by to see if that relic from the ancient past was, in fact, what was going on at that table. (“You mean that old SPI game, DragonQuest? Really? That’s awesome!”)
The Friday night group was a couple grognards (my age or older) who knew the game, a couple guys who registered because they’d heard of the game but never played it, and a guy who saw we had an open seat at the table and was curious about the game. On Saturday, three of the 6 players from the first night were back: two guys who had pre-registered, plus one guy who had joined in who had his own event cancelled, so he came back and joined for a second night. The three new players were my pre-teen son, and two other players who had events that didn’t run and joined in. They were both experienced gamers, but had never played DQ before, so again, it was a mixed group.
Both sessions provided good opportunities to show off some of DQ’s special features. There were Grievous Injuries (in both directions), and other demonstrations of DQ as a system, and that was all good. One of the new players had a triumphant moment where his character landed a specific grievous injury against one of the attackers which was effectively a one-hit kill, and that really turned the tide for the group at that point.
If it was the early 80s, I probably would’ve sold a few people on the game. But, especially for the people dropping in, it was only a one-off experience for them. But that’s okay. And it still shows that DQ can stand its own (and maybe is worth a reboot or some OSR spinoff of its own).
I was hoping to try out a bit of the Wilderness adventure (at least a couple of the plot points) with the one group, but the setup and the group getting somewhat entangled in doing some stuff in the coastal town, and then a combat encounter took the remainder of the time.
Even though each was just a four hour session, in both cases I felt like they were turning into a group I would’ve gladly continued a campaign with. I suppose that’s the downside of a game at a Con; you don’t have the ongoing campaign. There was also a fair amount of off-topic table banter, which seemed like a good thing, to me, and I didn’t worry about that too much. It helped bring these people together and have a bit of a common bond, and in the end, everyone seemed to have had a good time. And that, to my mind, is the best part of it all.