AGE Dragon Age Dungeons & Dragons

AGE: Stunts & Saving Throws Don’t Mix

darpg_editedOne of my favorite parts of the AGE system used in the Dragon Age RPG is the stunt system. When making an ability check in AGE, you roll 3d6 to get your result. If you succeed and at least 2 of the 3 dice show the same value, then you generate stunt points that can be used to add special effects to your action. I think that this system offers a much more interesting design and play space than the critical hit rules in most games because stunts happen more often (44% of rolls get doubles vs. 5% of d20 rolls being a 20) and they offer a menu of options besides just increasing the damage output.

That said, I think stunts could be a lot better integrated into the game as a whole. There is a lot of design space in the stunt mechanics and some Dragon Age RPG designs also work against the stunt mechanics. One of the big things that feels like a missed opportunity in AGE is when an active character doesn’t roll. For example, the High Dragon in Dragon Age RPG Set 3 has a fire breath attack that allows it to breath either a wide arc or a narrow stream of flame that deals damage to everything in the area. Targets can make a Dexterity (Acrobatics) check to take half the normal damage. While that design is widely used for area attacks in RPGs, I feel that it is problematic in AGE because the dragon doesn’t make any roll on the attack and so has no opportunity to use stunts.

As a quick conversion, you could use a house rule that replaces the fixed TN in attacks like the dragon’s breath with a roll that has a bonus equal to the attack’s TN – 10. For example, the High Dragon would make an attack roll with a +8 bonus.

I feel like a set of defenses similar to those used in Dungeons & Dragons 4E could be a better solution, but it would involve deeper changes to the AGE system. Using a defense could also eliminate a lot of places in the Dragon AGE RPG where both an attacker and the defender make rolls, such as offensive spells, so that only active characters roll.

By Scott Boehmer

A game enthusiast and software engineer.

3 replies on “AGE: Stunts & Saving Throws Don’t Mix”

I liked the AGE system. We only played the game for maybe two sessions just to give it a whirl and see how both the setting and system played. Our group found it very enjoyable. I’m not sure if it would capture us for a long-term campaign, but I think we all came away from those couple sessions enjoying both the setting and system.

We had a game going for awhile and the main reason we started was the third book was supposed to come out soon. Well, it got postponed for awhile so we were making up stuff. I wish they came out with a better magic item system for characters and dm and I wish they would have had what mages are capable magic-wise out of combat. I agree with the stunts and throws, though. But overall, I love the game, the fact that they made a table top rpg.

At first I thought your goal was to create “Saving Throw Stunts”, which I thought could be a great idea to prevent some “wasted” doubles.

But the idea to create defenses is a good one too. Creating a magic defense for example would be that game breaking. Because rolling 3d6 give a straight average of 11.

Given that in opposed rolls the defender wins ties (if I remembers correctly) the TN for any “static defense” (or “passive score” like they say in DnD 5e) would be 12 + Ability.

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