Faces of Thedas

At long last a day is here.  They announced the next D&D Hardcover Adventure, you ask?  NO YOU FOOL.  Faces of Thedas, the next (Last? Only?) splatbook for Green Ronin’s Dragon Age RPG has arrived.  At least in PDF form.  Still gotta wait a bit for the dead tree edition.

For those interested in the “I Told You So” I did tweet on October 14th that Faces would be out in more than two months and less that four.  IN WITH 16 DAYS LEFT ON THE CALENDAR.  Although it is still The PDF and not The Book.

That will be the last All Caps in this essay.

There’s art on the back cover with the DA Cast.  I see Celene, Flemeth, Solas, a Saarebas, Tallis, Cole, and a variety of other characters from the games.  Someone will have a lot of fun picking out all the people.

The book clocks in at 132 pages with the covers included.  Looking at the table of contents there’s an Intro and then we get right into the Stat Blocks.  From Anders to Zevran we have pages 4-95 loaded with 41 entries for different Dragon Age Characters.  Some are larger than others.  Scout Harding gets one page.  Josephine gets three.  Alistair gets four.  From page 96-121 we have some new organizations like The Carta or The Qunari or The House of Crows.  Pages 122-127 are your relationship rules.  The index and back cover close it all out.

Some of the art is recycled but some of it is new.  It varies.  I really like what they have for Briala and Fiona, not so sure about Dorian.

The character descriptions are not just stat blocks. There are deep dives into the lore of the characters and how to use them.  Since Dragon Age is often about people being not very nice to each other (aka being people) your enemies are often humanoids and this is certainly a big variety of them.  The characters themselves are depicted as level 5, 10, or 15 using the Dragon Age ruleset to create them.  Most of the characters are level 10.  The Origins characters and Big Villains tend to be level 15.  Minor characters are level 5.

First interesting thing is Who Made The Cut?  There are some surprising omissions and inclusions.  Obviously there are fan favorites: Cole, Iron Bull, Morrigan, Flemeth.  On the dark horse side we have Krem and the Chargers, Warden Stroud, The Dog, Marjolaine, and biggest surprise entrant to me, Yvette Montiliyet.  But the list of snubs is also big.  There’s no Bhelan, no Maric, no Blackwall, and no Vivienne.  We have no Fenris which I find shocking.  There’s also no DA2 Arishok (Just Use Iron Bull or Sten).  We got Wynne and Lord Seeker Lambert but we lack Rhys and Evangeline.  We have Meredith but no Orsino.  Tallis did not get reprinted but remains a free PDF online.  We have Sebastian but not Shale or any of the companions exclusive to Awakening.  There is an entry for The Architect and The Mother but their stats are still in the Core Rulebook.  Also no Corypheus nor any Red Templars or Venatori.  And last of all, there is no mention of Solas, not in his Start of Game incarnation and not The Dread Wolf you meet at the end of Trespasser.  This was the first thing I looked for.

So rather than start with #1 let’s look at a randomly determined stat block.  A random number generator gives us 19 because the Dark Tower is eternal you say true I say thankya.  #19 is Scout! Lace! Motherfucking! Harrrding!!!

At about a page and a third this is one of if not the shortest profiles in the book.  But it tells me everything I would need to know about using this character.  The book says she is Scout Harding, Surface Dwarf, her role is “Adorably Sarcastic Lead Scout.”  It explains her backstory, what she would do in an encounter, and explains what she would look for in a romance as her character is romanceable in the video games.  The stat block is honestly the least interesting thing here.  She is a vanilla level 5 Rogue.  This is not D&D where unique humanoids tend to have unique powers.  She is a built just like a PC for the TTRPG.  This character is very similar to my own City Elf I played, Elhar, who was also an archer Rogue.  Her stats are better than I think is normal for a level 5 character.  But if you wanted to make your own Scout this is not a bad template to follow.

Let’s hit the random number generator again and #17 is Flemeth.  This is very appropriate because while Harding is possibly the lowest level character in the book and rigidly built within the Dragon Age RPG ruleset Flemeth…is not.  Flemeth can cast any spell, she has infinite mana, she has permanent 8 Armor that cannot be penetrated, and she can transform into a goddamn Dragon.  I imagine if you wanted to use Trespasser Solas this would be a good template to steal.  This entry does not spoil Dragon Age: Inquisition.  But it does give her history, her relationships, and how a GM might use her in the story.

One thing I was looking for and I’m a bit disappointed were mechanics for how Seekers Lambert and Cassandra would be different than vanilla templars but they don’t seem to be.  Not the worst sin.  I’ve heard that Fenris was not included partly because he has a weird “heart-touching” power but the Seekers lack anything to make them more Seekery.  Cassandra does not, in this book, have a power to let the lyrium in someone’s blood aflame.

Three characters I would like to call attention to, Cole, Iron Bull, and Merrill.  All are level 10 characters.  But in these sections you will find something verrrry interesting, three new backgrounds for your Dragon Age character.  They include: Incarnated Spirit, Ben-Hassrath, and Dalish Mage.

The Incarnated Spirit has 10 speed, same as Human.  You gain a bonus to Perception and choose between Stealth or Empathy.  Your random bonus chart includes +Willpower, Dex, or Con, with potential ability focuses Initiative, Investigation, Self-Discipline, Stamina, or Persuasion. You can be a rogue or warrior.  Is it weird that Cole is based on a Mage but incarnated spirits can’t be a mage yet spirits are living magic?  Whatever.  The Spirit can also select a unique talent, Vanishing.  You can make someone forget you just like Cole does.  Curiously the Master Level of this talent is the only part that requires you to pick the emotion your spirit embodies.

The Ben-Hassrath table seems to be incomplete.  Maybe it’s not but there are a few typos which mix up the issue. It doesn’t gain a plus to an ability score, but what I think you’re supposed to is use the relevant parts of another background then you sub in this for your random roll.  A City Elf Ben-Hassrath gains the city elf traits but they speak Qunlat, and they roll on the Ben-Hassrath chart.

And what’ll probably be the most popular background, Dalish Mage.  No more Apostate for you!  Unlike Willpower this one gives you that all-important +1 Magic in addition to regular “Elfy Shit” like +1 Dex, Historical Lore, Staves, and Tracking.

I know there is more to talk about regarding organizations and relationship rules but we came here for these stats, son.  The organization lore is well worth it but I can’t make sense of these organization rules.  The book with shipping was $42 and the PDF was an extra $5.  I’d say Vivienne and Fenris would’ve bumped up the value to make the book worth that.  This is a bit pricey for a not massive book of boss monsters.  The content is good though.  Well worth the extra $5 to start reading this now.  The PDF itself will set you back $19.  There are a few other typos I noticed and I usually don’t catch that sort of thing so there are probably many more for those who notice clean copy.

I might’ve overpaid for this but I consider that extra $10 my, “Please Publish More Dragon Age Content” tax.  I love this universe and I’m running two games with these rules.  Green Ronin, please publish more Dragon Age content, Bioware, please approve this content in a timely fashion.  If they wrote more stat blocks, spells, magic items, and especially adventures I’d be happy to fork over cash for them.  I could take or leave D&D, but Dragon Age is where my heart is right now.