Making a 21st Century DragonQuest

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There was some discussion on Twitter this weekend posing the question: “What clunker of an older game do you dream of pairing with a modern ruleset that you think would make the world shine?”

I misunderstood the question (Twitter does not encourage thoughtful reading), and I took it less as an A-plus-B question than as a question of an older rule system that could shine with a more modern revision. And, of course, my mind went directly to DragonQuest (though I certainly don’t think it’s a clunker, but it is lost in a mostly forgotten corner of the gaming world.

So what might a modern DQ look like? That’s the discussion I’d like to start having.

I’ve more or less set aside the Open Source DQ project, because I don’t think it would accomplish that much to re-write the game. And the Seagate Rules are a pretty comprehensive version of that for those who want something like that to work with. But a more thorough reworking of the system could potentially be more interesting, and a better project at this point. And a new version of DQ could be appealing to a new generation of players.

In my experience, newer players have had difficulty managing and tracking all the minute details of the game. And I would rather have a faster moving game that could still do all the things DQ does, with less of the calculation that generally slows things down. Making things a bit more streamlined, and paring back some of the detail that doesn’t contribite that much to the game to create a faster playing game that nevertheless retained much of the character (other than the accounting-level numbers) of the game.

Since the original game is percentile based, it would be comparatively easy to make a D10 version that was fairly cross-compatible with the parent. If your strike chance was 73 and the first digit rolled was a 4, you didn’t need the second digit. You could keep track of the character with percentages, but use a faster D10 system that simplified and speeded up actions during play.

Chris Klug at one point a few years ago was talking about adapting a d20/DQ ruleset that built on the ubiquity of D&D. I’m not sure that’s the best way to go. Speaking personally, one of the things that drew me to DQ was the more human level of the characters (even high-level heroes are comparatively vulnerable in DQ, versus the accumulated Hit Points in D&D). And the infinite range of characters based on skills and abilities, rather than a handfull of classes. D&D has done a lot since the version that was around when DQ came out, but I don’t think D&D is the direction to take a new variant for DQ.

And because of the modular nature of the DQ rules, it would be possible to swap in new combat rules, for example, but keep the magic and skills as they are. Or other combinations short of full conversion would also be possible.

But this kind of project is a different kind of thing than what I’ve been discussing in the past; the formatting and coordination and organization is secondary to the general approach to the major game systems.  I’ll have some preliminary ideas about these in the next couple weeks.

One Response to “Making a 21st Century DragonQuest”

  1. J K Hoffman Says:

    I haven’t gamed in any capacity for years, but I have fond memories of DragonQuest. One of the things I actually liked was that it was percentage-based, which seemed like a more “real world” estimation of success or failure to me, for whatever reason.
    Of course, I’d love to see a new or updated set of rules, especially that opened up the possibility of new and different world settings. And, yes, a system that was a little more streamlined so that game play was smoother and easier for newcomers would be a welcome addition, too.

    But, I know there’d be a lot of resistance to that from some of the very old-school fans who think a static ruleset has some advantage that I, frankly, can’t fathom. DragonQuest still bleeds into my thinking about all kinds of fantasy settings and games, though.

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