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Dragonbane Core Set €23,04 €4,60
Average Rating:4.9 / 5
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Dragonbane Core Set
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Abrahm [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/22/2024 16:35:40

I absolutely love Dragonbane it's easily my favorite RPG that I've played in a long, long time. Combat has some really interesting tactical decisions, encourages teamwork while using a constrained design space. Attacks feel weighty with just a solid blow or two can known out most PCs but you have tools at your disposal: armor, parries and dodges. The initiative system makes combat a little more chaotic but also gives the PCs a lot of opportunities to strategize.

I think it would be great for new players: no math required for almost everything you do at the table. Want to Dodge that attack? Roll at or under your Evade skill. Oh, you're wearing armor? Roll with a bane (roll 2d20 and take the highest/worst roll). Just fast and easy.

It also does a lot for me that feels right. It has the fantasy vibe I want. Players are heroic, but they're not super heroes. While it's certainly likely you'll get KO'd by a foe it's unlikely you'll die. It's relatively easy to Rally or be healed. It stays very small numbers as there isn't HP bloat. Heroic Abilities are flavorful but not exhausting. Magic is mostly centered on throwing around some damage spells and healing. The utility spells are limited and evocative.

This Core Set is just a huge value. It comes boxed with the Secrets of the Dragon Emperor campaign which is fantastic. I'm 22 sessions into it with my table and we're having a blast. It's 11 self-contained adventures on a sandbox map with a single campaign thread and three factions to tie them together. I found the whole thing to be very evocative, super easy to run, well keyed and very interactive. Most of the scenarios just have a bunch going on: NPCs to talk to, enemies to vanquish, puzzles to solve, factions to manipulate.

Highly recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Jay S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/22/2024 03:46:45

Being someone who missed the bus on the original D&D in the 80’s and only having truly come into TTRPGs in the 90’s with Legend of the Five Rings and World of Darkness, I will admit that I only had a passing understanding of what made dungeon crawling RPGs a thing.

I knew they were fun. And I knew that people weren’t in it for the story.

So I came into this Let’s Study for Dragonbane with the lowest of expectations, and come out with the highest of praise.

A Thing of Beauty

One can’t begin talking about Dragonbane without actually considering the aesthetics. Free League Publishing is famous for it’s amazing work in terms of the look of their games, and Dragonbane is no exception.

The artwork of the game manages to convey the feel of the game’s claim of “Mirth & Mayhem”. Cartoonish elements like the Mallard race, mix delightfully with the darker fantasy bits of the game giving it a strange balance between a beer & pretzels kind of game… but also one that doesn’t let you let completely go of your tactical thinking.

The illustrations in the Core Rules are top notch, and consistent in tone, never feeling like they were cobbled together haphazardly. There was clearly very strong art direction, and the monster illustrations, in particular, were a highlight for me.

So Much Game In So Little Pages

Dragonbane doesn’t have much in terms of setting. Some things are implied, but hardly anything is really explained. That said, what IS there is a solid game where the mechanics are conveyed clearly, and in a fashion that gets you playing as soon as you can.

Players have a good number of options to play, and nothing feels particularly wrong. I don’t think there terrible “builds” in the game, as the skills and relatively small spread of HP means people occupy similar levels of power.

The Mechanics for Combat and Adventuring are complete, and while it might be a bit deadly, it does manage to play up the tactical nature of the game. Sure it’s funny at times, but there’s plenty of tense moments too when you’re not sure you’ll manage to survive an encounter, especially when up against a monster.

Solo Capable

As I mentioned in my coverage of the Solo Rules, Dragonbane is completely equipped, and adds what amounts to a full campaign for solo play in the Alone in Deepfall Breach. What’s more, there’s no need to go get a separate GM emulator or other tools, Dragonbane already has them all right there for you to use.

A Full Campaign

The Adventure book that comes in the corebox also includes 11 different adventures, all of which are strung together to form a campaign. That’s already quite a bit of playtime stuffed into a single box. Sure there won’t be too much in terms of say, cultural exploration, or A Game of Thrones-style backstabbing and politics, but Dragonbane knows what it wants to be and does it well.

Everything Else

The promise of a core set that had everything brought me way back to 1989, when I first opened my Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn boxed set and got dice, maps, the rules, and cardboard counters.

Finally seeing this format return in Dragonbane brought a tear to my eyes, as it makes it for an excellent gift to a budding new GM or a gaming group who is looking for a game that they can quickly get on the table and start playing.

Conclusion

Dragonbane deserves to be on your shelf, whether in physical format or digital via VTT. Free League Publishing delivers on the promise of a complete game in all fronts, and does so without sacrificing quality.

There’s so much already said about the value of this set, but I can’t stress enough the fact that the game itself is already worth almost twice the cost of the set itself. Sure there’s so much that hasn’t been written about the setting, but that’s something that I imagine Free League will be working to expand on very soon. Already they’ve released a Bestiary, and at the time of this writing they’ve already gotten The Path of Glory Adventure Campaign on Pre-Order!

Dragonbane is a must buy on anyone’s list and will certainly be among my first and strongest recommendations for anyone, from those new to the hobby who are intimidated by big rulebooks, to someone who is looking for a nostalgic kick with a streamlined system that’s easy to teach and run.

This is a portion of a full series of Let's Study articles focused on breaking down the various sections of Dragonbane. If you'd like to read up on more of it, please visit

https://philgamer.wordpress.com/category/roleplaying-games/dragonbane/



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/28/2024 08:26:51

Dragonbane is a great game from everything I've read thus far. It ticks a lot of boxes for me in terms of a game where the players aren't super heroic and the game can be a challenge that rewards creative thinking and problem solving. The ONLY reason I'm giving this 4 stars is that the core pdf has no tables for creating treasure or improvised weapons. In the physical set these are done with cards. While the PDF of the cards is included they are one card per page. Unless you know to set your print job to multiple pages per page it's a lot of wasted paper and I was unable to find a way to align the fronts and backs properly while doing so. Fortunately I have card sleeves and playing cards to hide that. Other than my gripe about the cards being required and not set up like any other card PDF I've every purchased Dragonbane looks like it's sure to bring tons of fun to my gaming table.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Michael [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/12/2024 08:56:00

A nice change of pace from D&D and OSR games. Easy but fun mechanics and everything you need is included. Would love to see expanded material, especially for magic, but what's included will keep you playing for a long time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Joseph [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/02/2024 17:51:59

I am not normally a fan of fantasy games, but this has been great to run so far (enjoying it as a GM). Ran one two sessions so far, one for adults and one for my kids. It really grabbed their attention and hope it they continuing to enjoy it even more.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Patrick [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/25/2023 22:48:00

Loving this product! Enjoying it as a change and its simplicity.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Erik [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/20/2023 01:05:35

This is a fun and easy roll under system with some options still. Fights are rough and monsters can be very dangerous. All around a fun fantasy system that I recommend anyone who wants a fantasy adventure. The included campaign (or just one shot adventures) works great for the system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Björn L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/20/2023 08:14:31
Classic fantasy in modern times - a Mephisto review

Dragonbane Core Set

The translation of the original title, Dragons and Demons, recalls a classic fantasy RPG. And that is consistent because in the 1980s, Drakar och Demoner apparently was the role-playing game that offered an alternative to D&D in the early days of role-playing in Sweden. The game was based on early Chaosium titles, with the first edition from 1982 being a translation of the Magic World role-playing game. However, the Swedish version quickly took on a life of its own, apparently providing an introduction to the hobby for many Swedish role-playing gamers. Now, 40 years later, Fria Ligan has revived the role-playing game in a new edition, available as a traditional box set (or its digital counterpart). This box contains a rulebook, an adventure book, maps, cards, cardboard figures, character sheets, handout maps, and solo rules. The fact that the rulebook and adventure volume offer only about 120 pages each also seems reminiscent of earlier games.

The rulebook first describes the basic concepts of role-playing games and their core elements before moving on to character creation. Here, players must first choose a kin that gives them innate abilities. Subsequently, they decide on a profession. Then it is a matter of age, attributes, derived stats, skills, and heroic abilities. Optionally, weaknesses can be selected, and gear completes the character. Of course, instead of making the decisions yourself, you can also let the dice decide the character's fate. 

The game offers six different kin, of which humans, halflings, dwarves, and elves are well-known examples. Two unusual variants are also available with mallards, duck-like humanoids, and wolf-kin, anthropomorphic wolves. All kin are briefly introduced, and each one has a special ability. For example, halflings are hard to catch, and elves have an inner peace that makes it easier for them to heal hit points and willpower points. When it comes to professions, you will find the usual suspects like fighters or mages and more unusual representatives like artisans, scholars, or merchants. Each profession comes with preferred skills and heroic abilities, as well as different equipment. Once the essential decisions are made that determine the character's basic framework, age is determined by choice or dice, which affects the number of skills and modifies attributes if necessary.

The attributes are the usual six variants known from fantasy role-playing games, and they mainly modify the skills. The idea is that skills have a base value depending on the attributes. Trained skills double this value, and these trained skills are partly defined by profession and partly chosen by the player. The game offers a broad arsenal of skills like bushcraft, performance, or sneaking. The heroic skills are special traits that can differentiate a character, such as the ability to wield two weapons at once or having a magical talent. As optional rules, weaknesses can be used to distinguish the character further. When these weaknesses appear in the game, they provide opportunities for extra advancement. 

The advancement system does not use levels but so-called advancement marks. You get these when you roll particular results for skills or at the end of a game session. At the end of the session, you get the marks for questions such as whether you participated in the session or encountered a dangerous enemy. The advancement marks allow one attempt to increase a skill by exceeding the current value with the roll of a d20. Alternatively, teachers can be used to improve skills. Once a skill reaches the value of 18, you also gain a new heroic ability.

As usual in role-playing games based on d20, the extreme values 1 and 20 play a unique role. A 1 is called a dragon, a particularly good roll, and a 20 is called a demon, which brings particular disadvantages. As is typical for newer systems, rolls can have advantages and disadvantages by rolling multiple dice and using the worst or best result. At the same time, there is a rule to push rolls by making another attempt. If this attempt is unsuccessful, the character receives a disadvantage in the form of a condition that limits them. 

Of course, an extended chapter is devoted to combat, using the usual mechanisms. There are critical hits and the possibility to roll a mishap. While regular damage reduces hit points, harder hits result in injuries that bring further restrictions. Dragonbane's combat rules include special results at 1 (dragon) and 20 (demon). A dragon may deal a critical hit resulting in additional damage or triggering an extra attack, while a demon causes a mishap. Melee attacks can be parried or dodged but require an appropriate action, while armor simply reduces damage. However, when the hit points drop to 0, the characters must test if they die and at least take severe wounds. There are also mechanisms for dealing with fear when player characters have to face particularly fearsome monsters.

The basic rules of Dragonbane offer three schools of magic. In order to cast spells, a player character must choose the appropriate profession and acquire the appropriate heroic skills. The three schools are AnimismElementalism, and Mentalism, which cover different application areas and can be mastered by any magical character. The idea in Dragonbane is that spells must be memorized, so mages always have a limited selection of their spells available. There are also magic tricks that are considered simpler spells. Magic is negatively affected by metal, and of course, there are magic failures that can make the game more interesting. The school of animism is reminiscent of druids and clerics and includes spellcasting to animals, nature and healing. Elementalism includes typical elemental spells using fire, earth, water, etc. and also allows conjuring elemental creatures. Mentalism includes abilities such as telepathy, telekinesis, etc.

The following chapter provides a catalog of weapons and equipment, as well as additional rules. For example, when parrying, there is a risk of damaging or destroying weapons.

Of course, a bestiary is present too, which introduces several monsters. Among them are typical creatures such as dragons, giants, and the like. A peculiarity of the rules is that real monsters always hit without rolling dice. Only the type of attack is rolled. This approach is similar to the mechanisms of Forbidden Lands. Of course, there are also smaller creatures, such as goblins and skeletons, for which standard combat rules apply rather than the monster rules. 

A chapter for gamemasters provides additional tips, random tables, and rules concepts to cover aspects such as camps, food gathering, and other adventuring activities. There are also practical tips and instructions for designing adventures and campaigns.

The second book in the box is the adventure book. It features a sandbox region called Misty Vale, a closed valley that long ago was home to an advanced civilization that worshiped dragons but was then overrun by orcs. Now that the orcs are also in retreat, the valley is the destination of many adventurers and settlers seeking their fortune here. For the game master, the book provides a more detailed story that explains the background, which plays an essential role in the following campaign. For the players, the start of the campaign is more pragmatic: on their way to the valley, they have a fateful encounter that draws them into the adventures piece by piece. A central element in this sandbox is the settlement of Outskirts, which serves as a starting point for player characters to equip themselves, interact with non-player characters, and dive deeper and deeper into the campaign. In addition to Outskirts, there are 11 adventure locations in the valley whose stories require no particular order. It is up to the players to decide which locations to visit and when. These often serve as stand-alone adventure modules, which do not necessarily contain a fixed task and do not always follow the typical “enter the dungeon, defeat the monsters, grab the treasures” scenario but can have more interesting approaches. The adventure ideas are numerous and varied. Likewise, It is noteworthy that the campaign itself provides some context to the “dragons vs. demons” setting. Overall, the campaign includes adventure material for many evenings of play, allowing players to explore the valley and seek their fortune as they engage in an epic campaign.

If players are missing, another booklet also provides an approach for a solo game, where the rules are modified and countless random tables are supplied to flesh out the adventures. The solo game, however, is not just left entirely to chance. Instead, it also provides a background plot for a small solo campaign in which the player character must dive into the so-called breach to recover a dangerous artifact. There are several adventures here that are described in short, but their elaboration is then up to the tables and the player himself.

In addition to these books, the box contains additional extensive material. There are blank character sheets and five pre-made characters with background information. Also included are handout maps for locations and an overview map of Misty Vale. A double-sided battle map allows you to play with miniatures that are included as cardboard standees for the various monsters. Furthermore, there are various small card sets, including treasure cards, initiative cards, and adventure cards, that contain rumors and clues about the various locations in the campaign. A unique feature is the Improvised Weapons card deck, which can be used for encounters in taverns, caves, and forests. It provides impromptu weapons such as a wine bottle in the tavern or a wasp's nest in the forest to bring additional dynamics to the battles.

When I first read about Dragonbane – especially about the game's background – the project gave me the impression that it was a special interest role-playing game, mainly for the Swedish market and nostalgic role-players there. It seemed like it should appeal to players who want to connect their early memories of the role-playing hobby with this game. However, I am truly surprised and delighted after reading through the system. Dragonbane offers a wonderful blend of a basic approach, similar to the role-playing games of the 80s, combined with a well-designed, functional, but not overly complex set of rules. It offers an exciting and comprehensive sandbox campaign and a well-done presentation with additional material, coherent illustrations, and more. The game makes it easy to get started in terms of rules and campaign without lacking ideas or options.

Although Dragonbane does not provide much background information on the game world outside the campaign and does not come with an epic world description, this fits perfectly with the 80s approach and is more of an advantage than a disadvantage in my view. Dragonbane in this form is suitable for giving new players an accessible introduction to the hobby and appealing to role-playing veterans. At the same time, the game allows you to immerse yourself in a new and straightforward game world that is not overly complex or defined down to the last detail. The books have a good design and great illustrations that fit perfectly the game's direction. Of course, some design choices, like the duck-like mallard, take some getting used to, and one certainly hopes for more schools of magic, more monsters, and the like. But as a starting box, Dragonbane offers enough material for many play sessions and is, therefore, an absolute recommendation, especially (but not only) for players who started the hobby in the 80s.

(Björn Lippold)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Sergio T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2023 08:56:04

Dragonbane's presentation is nothing short of astounding. The production quality of the core set is simply stellar. Even more baffling is the fact that beneath the stylish art and the quantity of material, the game is actually very, very good. This game is refreshing and streamlined, but at the same time it packs just enough crunch to scratch all of my RPG itches. The rules are easy and fast but the world made by those rules is pretty deadly for the adventuring characters. Don't be fooled by the gorgeous art and maps: this is no 5th ed clone. Actually, I believe Dragonbane could be equally appreciated by the 1st time RPG player, by the consommate 5th ed. aficionado AND by the ever searching old grognard (I belong to this last category). The rules in the core set will provide a GM and his group with the ability to create countless hours of adventure, but the included "Adventures book" is not just there for show. Comprised of 11 adventures (each of them could be played in about an evening or maybe sometimes 2) this campaign has a good story, good characters, a nice structure and flow and sports the same level of superb presentation and art that the "Rules" book do.

I'm so very happy with this set, this has now become my favourite "to-go" system for Fantasy RPG.

And I haven't even said a word about the SOLO rules which come with the package. (Spoiler: both the rules AND the SOLO adventures/campaign are VERY good)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Nick M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/31/2023 05:02:44

Dragonbane has an interesting and streamlined ruleset. The art and flavor are great. I will welcome an expansion on the lore and options but it is a good start. I have reviewed Dragonbane more fully on my [blog](https://penanddie.com/2023/07/26/dragonbane-review/(opens in a new tab)). Please have a look.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/27/2023 08:03:52

I am currently part way through my first campain using the pre-made adventure book. I am thouroughly impressed so far. All the gameplay aspects are straightforward for the GM to understand and explain to the players in a painless manner. The adventure book is phenomenal, the world building, characters and the immense amount of things to do is mind blowing, but it leaves the GM enough leeway to allow for the characters to choose what to do and make things up. For example, there is so much content one play session ended up only using 2 pages of the book. I have 2 adults and 2 teenages plauying this and everyone is having a great time including myself as the GM. Would absolutley reccomend.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Tom C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/21/2023 16:06:08

The core set is no more than a set of simple rules - not much different from other Free League systems IMO - and little in the way of lore of the world. I understand that FL encourages community content for this game but what's included in the set is... sparse. The artwork is beautiful though.

The rules bring nothing new and the content is severely lacking. If you already have other Fantasy based RPG's or any game from Free League, I'm afraid there's little value in Dragonbane at this time. For this game to come into its own it needs content, preferably official stuff from FL.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2023 19:44:04

Dragonbane puede parecer difícil y muy aterrador (como todo juego de rol), pero a medida que comprendes las reglas, descubres que puedes y que no hacer, verás que este basto mundo, estará abierto para ti en todo sentido. Ya seas experto en esto de Juegos de Rol, o simplemente quieras aprender y emprender una aventura nueva y fresca. Creo que este TTRPG será el indicado para esta gran experiencia.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Hanani T. D. S. F. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/20/2023 14:06:34

I love this game. I'm really digging into Dragonbane's rules and aesthetics. As a Brazilian, it's sad that the game doesn't have a Portuguese version, but I can read it in English, so that's fine.

Dragonbane is fun, complete and clean. You can use this game for any type of fantasy game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Dragonbane Core Set
Publisher: Free League Publishing
by Jaydon C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 05/20/2023 22:19:44

This game is phenominal. When comparing to 5e, there are some things I like about it much more. Combat and armor are simpler. Willpower points instead of spell slots just makes so much more sense from a verisimilitude perspective, the much slower progression of player power, the fact that you could very easily homebrew a leveling system. The fact that characters aren't really stuck with a specific class and can progress in ways other than what would tie into their background. Anybody can learn magic.

The adventure included is excellent, I really hope to run it one day. It is sort of sandboxy but not a hexcrawl. Runnning travel is as simple as rolling on a couple charts, and pretty much every landmark on the map has an adventure tied to it.

There are definitely some things missing as another reviewer mentioned, but I expect that soon there will be more supplementation to assist with rules for those things.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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