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Codex Interview RPG Codex Interview: Seven Dragon Saga - A Return To Golden Boxes

Zed

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Tags: Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

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Tactical Simulations Interactive, or TSI Games, were kind enough to answer some of our questions regarding their upcoming (spiritual) successor to the GoldBox RPGs of the late 80s and early 90s: Seven Dragon Saga. Set in a new fantasy universe and being based on different pen & paper ruleset, one may wonder if this game will be able to live up to the legacy of the classics. Well, I don't know. This is an interview; not a preview, not a review. You silly goose.

From this interview, we learn with certainty that TSI will indeed go the route of crowdfunding Seven Dragon Saga. Let this be a lesson to everybody seeking factuals from media outlets such as Kotaku. We also learn a thing or two about party sizes, combat, the world map and more.

A couple of cool snippets:

In the press-release, one bullet-point touches on the importance of choices and consequences in the game. How will these choices be present, and how are you keeping track of the consequences? Will you be using something like a reputation system? Also, will there be any moral or ethical dispositions for characters – something like D&Ds alignment system?

The player's party represents the Empire in a newly conquered land during a time of crisis, so the NPCs on all sides fall into factions, which we will track with a reputation system. Players' choices at critical junctures can also modify the relative strengths of these faction. For instance, if the player liberates a border fort, he may have the option to raise the flag of one faction or another, granting them control of the fortress and surrounding lands. Should they come to regret the choice, another conquest of the fort may be in order.

We are currently balancing out a Goals system for individual characters. During character creation, the player will be able to select from a limited list of Goals. When the resolution of a quest aligns with that character's goals, they receive a benefit. Not all quest resolutions will have the full range of Goal alignment, so simply having a 'Greedy' party will not provide an optimum solution. Choosing a range of sometimes conflicting goals provides the party a potentially greater benefit, but may begin to clash with the player's personal goals, or lead to the alienation of useful factions. ​

You have made it clear that Seven Dragon Saga is not another tale of a simple farmer's rise to power and glory. What exactly does this entail for the gameplay? Will the game still have the progression relative to a beginner's campaign, but cosmetically scaled up in power? Or will it be more like a playing a high level campaign off-the-bat?

Missing all of your attacks and having 4 HP simply isn't fun. Players can expect to start at a mid-level of proficiency with a reasonable set of skills and abilities to choose from. This means the player will not advance as quickly as some games where 10th level is only a couple of hours away, but endgame characters are more flexible and powerful. Part of this is through incremental improvements (spending points on abilities), part through acquiring new powers, and part through equipment (loot and constructed). ​​

Enjoy the interview and have a great weekend.

Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Seven Dragon Saga - A Return To Golden Boxes
 

Dorateen

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You know, Zed, when I posted the kotaku article and their "revelations", I did say: Take it for what it's worth, considering the source

But this was a good interview. On some points I don't agree with TSI, but overall, I'm really digging their design philosophy. I hope they stick with their intuition on party size, and go with the full six from creation.

Nice work!
 

Zombra

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Wow, I like the sound of that Goals idea per character. Seems like a very easy way to get some consequential role-playing mechanics into what otherwise would likely be a totally straightforward battle simulator. I like RP, so, yeah. Looking forward to having my party bicker and disagree, just like in every P&P game I've ever played.
 
Weasel
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Good interview, thanks. Also like what I'm hearing so far.

But who am I kidding... no matter what they said I'd probably still back their kickstarter.
 

Infinitron

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I hardly see how that matters. They're still taking away that low level experience from you - and defining it as non-fun, to boot.
 

FeelTheRads

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Besides the obvious exaggeration of "all attacks", actually that is fun, if not for anything else then by simply the great feeling when you start to level up and are able to kill the stuff that you couldn't before.
Not that Sawyerists can ever get that. All the time the same challenge cuz then you apply tacticoolies like mashing the space button 5 times per second
 

stony3k

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I hardly see how that matters. They're still taking away that low level experience from you - and defining it as non-fun, to boot.
Low level DnD combat wasn't fun. It got a lot better once you got a few levels. Now this isn't DnD, so they could have made the systems better but that would be pure Sawyerism.
 

Roguey

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Well they're going about fixing it the right way - start at mid level, rather than the Sawyer way, which was to change the rules.
What makes you think you won't be starting at level 1 here? They said "start at a mid-level of proficiency" as compared to D&D. They're not going to make you advance three levels with six characters at character creation.
 

Infinitron

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Codex Year of the Donut Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker Pathfinder: Wrath I'm very into cock and ball torture I helped put crap in Monomyth
Well they're going about fixing it the right way - start at mid level, rather than the Sawyer way, which was to change the rules.
What makes you think you won't be starting at level 1 here? They said "start at a mid-level of proficiency" as compared to D&D. They're not going to make you advance three levels with six characters at character creation.

They might! That way, if the system is symmetric, low-level enemies that are weak like a low-level AD&D character can still exist.
 
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Roguey

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They might! That way, if the system is symmetric, low-level enemies that are weak like a low-level AD&D character is can still exist.
Enemies in Seven Dragon Saga fall into four broad groups:...An Overlord, screened by Soldiers and Grunts, and supported by Superiors presents players with more complex challenges.

Sounds a bit MMO/DA/4e inspired.
 
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Excellent Q&A, good job Codex!

And, SDS sounds very promising, looking forward to the kickstarter!
 
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Err. Why there's so many people who found low-level (A)DnD campaigns no fun? For me many low-level campaigns was way more fun and challenging than high-level, which were often abominations, either to prone to munchkinism and exploiting, or artificially made more challenging but still remained not really interesting.
 

GlutenBurger

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This is actually getting exciting, which is a little worrying. I had been hoping to die cold and jaded.
 

Roguey

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Err. Why there's so many people who found low-level (A)DnD campaigns no fun? For me many low-level campaigns was way more fun and challenging than high-level, which were often abominations, either to prone to munchkinism and exploiting, or artificially made more challenging but still remained not really interesting.
Too much chaos.

Level three-through the early teens is what most people seem to prefer.
 

thesheeep

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Err. Why there's so many people who found low-level (A)DnD campaigns no fun? For me many low-level campaigns was way more fun and challenging than high-level, which were often abominations, either to prone to munchkinism and exploiting, or artificially made more challenging but still remained not really interesting.
The problem is not that low-level/low-skill (for non-level based systems) cannot be fun per se. Of course it can. Other systems manage that rather well.

The problem is that DnD (pre 4th, at least) just sucks at it, as it leads low-level ad absurdum.
It just throws you into all kinds of ridiculous situations, like a well rested mage being only able to cast one flimsy spell for the whole day (which can still miss, what a joy), or an elf dying from a single attack by a cat, or a thief not being able to open even the simplest of locks. You just suck at everything, which is simply not believable if you do not happen to play a child. Hell, a new pig farmer in DSA (yes, you can play everything there) is orders of magnitude more powerful than lvl1 DnD characters in relation to early threats. Hence all groups I know always start at level 3 or above as that is where low-level slowly leaves the absurdly weak area and enters the "this is a beginner" area, where characters do not suddenly drop if they got an arrow to the knee.

All the broken systems of DnD (which means quite a lot of them, really) shove their shortcomings right into your face at low levels. It was clearly not designed for this.

What you probably found fun was that feeling of your character actually being in danger. Which is really only there at low levels in DnD. As you said, later on it becomes challenging only by introducing artificial means or cheesiness. Other systems (both Shadowrun and DSA manage that well) always give you the feeling of danger if the situation is realistically dangerous for someone of your character's skill.
In DnD, this only happens at a certain level range (IMO 3 - 10 with 3.5 DnD), which is kind of the sweet spot there. Below and above, it becomes increasingly absurd.
 
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Err. Why there's so many people who found low-level (A)DnD campaigns no fun? For me many low-level campaigns was way more fun and challenging than high-level, which were often abominations, either to prone to munchkinism and exploiting, or artificially made more challenging but still remained not really interesting.
Too much chaos.

Level three-through the early teens is what most people seem to prefer.
Chaos? What chaos? And yeah, I'm aware that some people prefer level 4+ and beyond, I just didn't think that it was mainstream opinion.

The problem is not that low-level/low-skill (for non-level based systems) cannot be fun per se. Of course it can. Other systems manage that rather well.

The problem is that DnD (pre 4th, at least) just sucks at it, as it leads low-level ad absurdum.
It just throws you into all kinds of ridiculous situations, like a well rested mage being only able to cast one flimsy spell for the whole day (which can still miss, what a joy), or an elf dying from a single attack by a cat, or a thief not being able to open even the simplest of locks. You just suck at everything, which is simply not believable if you do not happen to play a child. Hell, a new pig farmer in DSA (yes, you can play everything there) is orders of magnitude more powerful than lvl1 DnD characters in relation to early threats. Hence all groups I know always start at level 3 or above as that is where low-level slowly leaves the absurdly weak area and enters the "this is a beginner" area, where characters do not suddenly drop if they got an arrow to the knee.

I was playing ADnD since 98` till '00 and never I encountered "an elf dying from a single attack by a cat, or a thief not being able to open even the simplest of locks". I played as thief, btw, and I can safely say that my thief at low levels could open simplest of locks, thank you very much. Mages I give you, but given that they tend to became really OP, so early suckage at least somewhat compensated it. Also, magic missile never failed our casters.

All the broken systems of DnD (which means quite a lot of them, really) shove their shortcomings right into your face at low levels. It was clearly not designed for this.
What systems exactly are you talking about? I'm not the biggest fan of (A)DnD, but I don't really remember negative system's traits which show themselves in lower level campaigns and absent from higher level ones.

What you probably found fun was that feeling of your character actually being in danger. Which is really only there at low levels in DnD. As you said, later on it becomes challenging only by introducing artificial means or cheesiness. Other systems (both Shadowrun and DSA manage that well) always give you the feeling of danger if the situation is realistically dangerous for someone of your character's skill.
In DnD, this only happens at a certain level range (IMO 3 - 10 with 3.5 DnD), which is kind of the sweet spot there. Below and above, it becomes increasingly absurd.
Nope, while I certainly enjoy feelings of danger, what I like is mainly the smaller scope of both campaign's story and obstacles which character can overcome. As for that DnD becomes absurd after level 10 I certainly agree, I just don't think that it sucks so much at level 1-3 that it negates positive traits of low-level adventures.
 

Roguey

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Chaos? What chaos? And yeah, I'm aware that some people prefer level 4+ and beyond, I just didn't think that it was mainstream opinion.
Miss-fests plus dying to unlucky crits. Needs more numbers to avoid both those things.
 
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Also, magic missile never failed our casters.

Why would you use magic missile at level one? This is when colour spray, sleep, and grease are absolute nukes. 1d4 guaranteed damage is worthless.
Where did you find in my post that our mages used only MM? I just wanted to point that there's at least one commonly known spell which doesn't have a chance to fail and auto-hits.


Chaos? What chaos? And yeah, I'm aware that some people prefer level 4+ and beyond, I just didn't think that it was mainstream opinion.
Miss-fests plus dying to unlucky crits. Needs more numbers to avoid both those things.
I see. Misses in melee are, indeed, kinda dumb in stimulationist viewpoint. As for crits - well, while they may pose a problem in tabletop games, I kinda fail to see what's so bad in dying from unlucky crit in PC RPG (at least if not playing ironman).
 

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