Dicing with Dragons
Eye of the Dragon (Mini-Adventure)
Giocare a dadi col drago (Italian)
October 28, 1982 (original)
1983 (Plume reprint)
September, 1986 (Signet reprint)
0451144899 / 9780451144898
0452254477 / 9780452254473 (Plume reprint)
0710094663 / 9780710094667 (original)
|User Summary:||This rather outdated (but still interesting) reference book explains the workings of various types of role-playing games.|
When the roleplaying game phenomenon hit the mainstream consciousness of America, it generated a buzz that is hard to imagine now. Parents were convinced that RPGs were going to lead their children to Satanism, students got lost in steam tunnels during early disastrous experiments in LARPing, and meanwhile the new art form would lead to an explosion of creativity that would help ignite the nascent computer game industry.
There was a demand for books that would explain these roleplaying games to people who had no direct experience with them, for whom the end-all and be-all of fantasy was Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and sci-fi was Asimov's Foundation trilogy. That's where this book, and many of its ilk, came in.
Dicing with Dragons was written by Ian Livingstone and published in 1982. It attempted to introduce people to RPGs by including a simple "solo RPG" of Livingstone's design, which he called the FantasyQuest system. The first section (fully one-quarter of the book) is the system and its adventure, FQ1: Eye of the Dragon.
The FQ system is similar to later systems used in the Fighting Fantasy series. Characters are constructed with three statistics (Combat Factor, Strength Factor, and Fortune Factor) each generated with 3d6, and a Wound Factor which starts at 1d6. In order to hit an opponent, you must roll 3d6 higher than their Combat Factor while they try to do the same to you. Each time one or the other succeeds, they roll their Wound Factor and reduce the target's Strength Factor by that much. You may also be called upon to roll your Fortune Factor to avoid traps and the like; each success increases your FF by 1, while each failure reduces it by 1. Your character starts with 6 Rations which may be consumed out of combat to restore 2 Wounds.
Interestingly, after earlier decrying the sort of haphazard dungeon design which places unlikely creatures next to each other, the Eye of the Dragon adventure does just that! It's a simple solo of 134 sections, where your character is compelled by a stranger to find the magical eyes that will allow him to retrieve a golden dragon statue protected by a deadly curse. The dungeon forks, and is stocked with a series of encounters either bizarre, deadly, or comedic (or all three).
This is followed by a chapter on some contemporary RPGs (overviews of Dungeons & Dragons, RuneQuest, Traveller, and Tunnels and Trolls), a chapter on accessory products, one on miniatures gaming, a chapter on gamesmastering entitled "Playing God," a chapter on the early LARP games Killer and Treasure Trap.
As an artifact of the early RPG scene, the book has some mild interest, but I would recommend it only for die-hard collectors or maybe gaming historians. The included "gamebook" is made memorable only by the fantastic illustrations of Russ Nicholson, one of the primary saving graces of this book.
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