Saturday, September 17, 2016

Opinions: Dungeon Fantasy 3 - Racial Templates

Swiggity swooty.
When I reviewed Dungeon Fantasy 3, I decided not to rate the content from the point of view of a player deciding what is good and useful mechanically, rather I tried to stay "detached" from the idea in a manner of speaking and only they made the templates well. Did they do it well instead of did they make them god. So, today I'm going the other route, which means there are a lot of opinions that are completely subjective ahead. I think to me, the most important thing about a different template is whether or not it makes me feel like I'm playing a different game - that I don't feel like I'm playing a human with some required advantages/disadvantages. So without further ado, let's dissect those templates.

How The Ratings Work

I am going to rate the templates based on these criteria:
  • Advantages - Does this template give me something that is impossible otherwise? Some nice unique perks? Or does it only give advantages that would be otherwise easy to obtain?
  • Disadvantages - Similar to advantages, but reversed. Does this racial template give me interesting and alien drawbacks? Does it really separate me from playing as a vanilla human? Are the challenges unique and do they require creative solutions?
  • Power-Ups - Does Dungeon Fantasy 11 have a fairly interesting list of growth options?
  • Mechanical Value - My value judgement, can I see this race as being good on its own merits, or do I just compensate for its weaknesses by buying off the racial disadvantages?
  • Aesthetic - A purely subjective category, do I have an overall feeling of uniqueness? Or does the race feel like a short/tall pretty/ugly human with unusual skin color/body hair/horn protrusions?
In the end, I will merely rate each race as 'fun' or 'boring.' Purely my opinion, and I don't mind someone proving me wrong if I made an objectively bad call.

The Races

Cat-Folk - Boring

Advantages

Nothing especially exemplary, besides claws and teeth. There is also fur, but that has a pretty narrow-band of usefulness where other characters can easily compensate with gear. The rest are not especially difficult to acquire in a Dungeon Fantasy setting.

Disadvantages

This is probably even worse than the advantages. Almost anyone can have any of them, though thematically, they all make sense.

Power-Ups

Though very mechanically useful, they also seem a bit too "meat and potatoes." What's worse, the really exotic power-ups don't seem especially... "empowering."

Mechanical Value

While Cat-Folk feel boring to me, I cannot deny they are absolutely solid. It comes with nothing but advantages most people want anyway, with zero to nil points "wasted."

Aesthetic

Overall, this feels like playing as a furry human with claws that specced into dexterity and combat. The disadvantages align with the theme, but I would have preferred something with more of a punch.

Coleopteran (Beetle People) - Fun

Advantages

The advantage list is truly exotic with several things that no other races have access to, and all of them very helpful.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages are a bit one note: the coleopteran is bad at social skills. In a way, the  no armor limitation on the built in DR might be taken as a second limitation. That, in my opinion is a more interesting disadvantage and trade-off than the poor social skills.

Power-Ups

A very short list... well, actually exactly one item long. It does go some ways to addressing the coleopteran's biggest mechanical weakness though, but I feel a little meh about that because in that way it weakens the distinctiveness. I think they should have taken advantage of the extra limbs and given it some more grappling perks and maybe extra attacks.

Mechanical Value

The Coleopteran is definitely a really good racial template, and could be an absolute combat monster in a way few races could emulate. The one big problem is the high point cost makes it really unlikely that a player can start with the race.

Aesthetic

The entire experience is alien, you have powers no one else has, people are afraid of you, your biology is different. This truly feels like an all-new ballgame.

Corpse-Eater - Fun

Advantages

The advantages are mostly just a little bit outside of what most races can achieve, but the one racial perk opens up a lot of interesting implications.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages really drive home how detestable this race is supposed to be. It is mostly a social handicap again, but it also includes a disadvantage describing its namesake which can make being sociable in polite company a challenge.

Power-Ups

Though really helpful, it does a bit to erode the uniqueness of the Corpse-Eater race by removing some of its interesting problems.

Mechanical Value

It comes with a lot of solid advantages, and a really cool perk, and the disadvantages can be show-stoppers just often enough, which I think good disadvantages should be.

Aesthetic

Mostly, it feels more like a slightly ugly human, than a distinct thing, and the main power-up makes that even more so, but the reliance on carrion can definitely seed a lot of interesting problems.

Dark One - Boring (But the Power-Ups change that!)

Advantages

The racial talent for Dark Ones is really powerful, but the rest of the advantages are nothing to write home about.

Disadvantages

They fit the occult theme, but they don't feel especially alienating 

Power-Ups

The power-ups really do a lot to make the Dark One more unique. Without it, they feel like humans with weird eyes.

Mechanical Value

The perk and the talent are really useful, and the power-ups are good too. The abilities feel a little spread thin though, might be good if you want to cross-train into two classes that can benefit from intelligence and dexterity though.

Aesthetic

Like I've said before, the version from Dungeon Fantasy 3 isn't that different from a weird, twisted person, but with Dungeon Fantasy 11, they are capable of being something different.

Dwarf - Boring

Advantages

The advantages are all pretty good, and the racial talent isn't that bad (feels a bit redundant though,) and the perk is helpful

Disadvantages

Completely mundane, but fitting.

Power-Ups

For the most part, these just come across as more of a good thing. Not bad, just no wow-factor.

Mechanical Value

The dwarf is really boring and straightforward, in my opinion, but mechanically speaking, it is really solid.

Aesthetic

It's almost impossible to feel like you are anything but a short, muscular human.

Half Elf - Boring

Advantages

Uh, nothing. It's absolutely nothing.

Disadvantages

We have a negative reaction from people.

Power-Ups

At least they can get that nice racial talent.

Mechanical Value

A drop in the bucket. You could probably put this template on almost any wizard character and not tell the difference.

Aesthetic

It literally says a slender human with unusual hair color.

High Elf - Boring

Advantages

Only marginally better than the half elf.

Disadvantages

The sense of duty is really expensive, and can be a little interesting, it's the only real note to a bland pile of bland.

Power-Ups

Even worse than a Half-Elf, you are only improving things you already have. They are pretty good though.

Mechanical Value

They are at least a pretty good fit for a Bard or an Innkeeper.

Aesthetic

It literally says a slender human with... predefined hair colors. You only have two choices! You know what? I'm gonna skip the rest of the elves except Wing Elf. Not wasting ink on copy and paste. All the elves are at least literally not human, but they might as well be.

Winged Elf - Almost Boring

Advantages

Wings! Wings really open up a lot of opportunities.

Disadvantages

Most of these are pretty bland again, but the one big thing is the Winged Flight advantage which has some unique drawbacks as well, which can have some important repercussions for battle, a cornerstone of Dungeon Fantasy, of course.

Power-Ups

Like the other elves.

Mechanical Value

Wings are a game changer, but the big penalty to some of the attributes is an eye roller to me, I'd bet most players would just compensate by buying them back up in commensurate.

Aesthetic

It is a thin tall human with white hair and wings. WINGS.

Faun - Almost Fun

Advantages

Musical Ability is somewhat rare, but also is difficult to apply in Dungeon Fantasy. They have a few unique traits due to physiology that might make a hand to hand combat more interesting though.

Disadvantages

The Mana Dependency can be a real obstacle and game changer. The others are a bit meh, but thematically appropriate.

Power-Ups

The only special power up is a counter to one of the disadvantages that make them unique. That feels like a bummer to me.

Mechanical Value

Mechanically, they seem a bit too thinly spread, which might make it feel like wasted points, but the shallow and wide template does cover a lot of interesting applications.

Aesthetic

This one feels a lot more unique than the elves do. The disadvantages, though nothing special really do a good job of telling a story, and the listed features are notable.

Leprechaun - Fun

Advantages

The Luck is cool, and appropriate, but I personally don't like the perk, even though you might say it's appropriate. The idea of using an extremely small character is also amusing.

Disadvantages

The Mana Dependency can be a real obstacle and game changer. The others are thematically appropriate.

Power-Ups

The only special power up is a counter to one of the disadvantages that make them unique. That feels like a bummer to me.

Mechanical Value

You can do some really good stuff with a Leprechaun, and everything works together to accentuate strengths and weaknesses appropriately.

Aesthetic

You won't for one second feel like you are just playing a short human, this comes with so many unique positives and minuses, the game will feel different.

Nymph - Almost Fun

Advantages

It's a bit one note, the nymph has awesome reaction rolls. Which is kinda cool, but it's just one thing. (Wow, you were just complaining everything else was spread too thin!)

Disadvantages

The Mana Dependency can be a real obstacle and game changer. The others are thematically appropriate.

Power-Ups

The only special power up is a counter to one of the disadvantages that make them unique. That feels like a bummer to me.

Mechanical Value

This can definitely make a powerful Bard or Innkeeper character.

Aesthetic

Unless you pay attention to the physical features, it doesn't look like it is that much different. You are just a drop dead attractive human instead.

Pixie - Fun

Advantages

Mobility! Annoying to hit! Fun perks!

Disadvantages

The disadvantages here actually pose some really interesting problems giving some fun contrast. You are absolutely tiny, so you also have low HP and ST of course, but Pixie Shot helps to counter that a little.

Power-Ups

The only special power up is a counter to one of the disadvantages that make them unique. That feels like a bummer to me.

Mechanical Value

A pixie can definitely go far as a sneaky wizard or a magical thief.

Aesthetic

Almost every puzzle in front of you will take on a new light when you are this small, the game is completely changed.

Gargoyle - Fun

Advantages

The racial perk is amusing, but very situational. On the other hand, the advantages are unique and exotic.

Disadvantages

Meh, but appropriate for a statue that sits outside all day in all weather.

Power-Ups

These strengthen some of a gargoyle's already existent specialties. I think it's spot on.

Mechanical Value

Point-wise, they seem like a good deal, but there are a few things that feel like wasted points... the Power-Ups fix them though.

Aesthetic

I think it could have been slightly better distinguished, but it is definitely not the same experience as playing a human.

Gnome - Fun

Advantages

The advantages are a little mundane, but the racial talent is really good.

Disadvantages

Boring.

Power-Ups

Make the advantages built into the template more gooder. Meh.

Mechanical Value

Dungeon Fantasy 3 rightly mentions they would make good thieves. Dungeon Fantasy 4 contains the Artificer, and I feel like they'd be a good match for that as well.

Aesthetic

It's not especially unique, frankly.

Goblin - Fun

Advantages

The advantages are a bit rare, and they are all really helpful.

Disadvantages

The big ones are a bit one note (bad social ability,) but it does it well.

Power-Ups

Make the advantages built into the template more gooder. Meh.

Mechanical Value

Everything is lined up appropriately to use this template. Point expenditures are pretty well optimized.

Aesthetic

Short dumb human with green skin.

Half-Orc - Fun

Not actually breaking this one down, they are just a slightly better, slightly more expensive version of a goblin, but they are tall ugly humans with green skin.

Hobgoblin - Almost Fun

Meh, it's like the Half-Orc with 6 in one hand, half a dozen in the other. I just think the Half-Orc has more interesting options.

Orc - Fun

They are again like a rebalanced Orc slightly dumber, slightly stronger, and I think they look just a bit more interesting to play than the Half-Orc tying them with the Goblin, if you want to understand my Goblin-kin ranking.

Celestial - Fun

Advantages

I don't really feel like the attribute modifiers are necessary. The perks are cool though.

Disadvantages

The advantages were a little lackluster, but the disadvantages make the Celestial an interesting race in spite of them.

Power-Ups

Although the power-ups are mostly about cancelling out the biggest weaknesses of the race, they feel like fitting rewards for the near perfect specimen that the Celestial is.

Mechanical Value

They are... just pretty good in a variety of ways, but with a cool weakness. I think the advantages could have been worked out to give a more focused feeling, and potentially produced a cheaper template.

Aesthetic

The master race, but still just attractive humans.

Elder Spawn - Fun

Advantages

The advantages paint an orchestrated picture of how weird and different you are, and do so in a helpful way.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages work well especially paired with the already thematically appropriate advantages.

Power-Ups

The one power-up The Look is perfect and really goes with the whole thing really well.

Mechanical Value

It's expensive, but I think it works well. Nothing is just for giggles or wasted.

Aesthetic

You are supposed to look human, but underneath everyone has this subtle feeling that it is all off, and that to me is cool.

Infernal - Almost Fun

Advantages

They are good, but a little meh, though the perk is solid

Disadvantages

The disadvantages make this otherwise nigh mundane race somewhat interesting.

Power-Ups

I don't know why, but for some reason buying off the important disadvantages for an Infernal seems wrong.

Mechanical Value

They are altogether pretty good, and the racial perk can make them better, but the template is so expensive.

Aesthetic

Despite the mechanics, it does give a "good" feeling and you will need to work around some obvious limitations to be effective.

Infused - Almost Fun (Much better with the Power-Ups)

Advantages

Most of them have pretty narrow use cases for all different types of infused, that said, they are thematically appropriate, and the Earth-Infused does actually seem mechanically well put together.

Disadvantages

BORING.

Power-Ups

The power-ups for each of the infused templates have several distinguishing advantages and drawbacks and are a lot more mechanically helpful than those in the default template.

Mechanical Value

Kinda weak and really expensive.

Aesthetic

They are almost humans, but just a teeny bit cool enough that I'll let it slide.

Halfling - Almost Fun

Advantages

Very halfling-like, and the racial talent is awesome.

Disadvantages

Meh, but appropriate.

Power-Ups

Yawn-fest 2.0.

Mechanical Value

Despite being a bit boring, they are great thieves and scouts.

Aesthetic

Short humans... with hairy feet.

Minotaur - Fun

Advantages

Strong dumb monster with some hidden, but appropriate talents. Fun!

Disadvantages

Appropriate, but really only one of them is kinda interesting.

Power-Ups

Decent, but not inspiring. I like Longhorn though.

Mechanical Value

Big dumb muscle that works well underground. Pretty usable.

Aesthetic

Yes. You are not just a person with a cow head, you are definitely playing a different race.

Ogre - Fun

Advantages

Dangerous, unstoppable monster. I've never played it, but I want to!

Disadvantages

The typical "scary monster" stuff... appropriate, but I wish it was more interesting.

Power-Ups

Just decent.

Mechanical Value

This is a great base for a powerful warrior who doesn't need brains.

Aesthetic

This just sounds like a lot of fun to role play.

Half-Ogre - Almost Fun

Really seems like a wishy-washy compromise that is almost everything the ogre is, but not as good and not as bad. I mean, it's not bad, but I'd rather be the ogre or not the ogre, not stuck in the middle.

Dragon-Blooded - Fun

Advantages

Some really unique abilities. Some are pretty niche use-case, but it all works together well.

Disadvantages

Appropriate, but a little boring. The quirk is decent though.

Power-Ups

They are perfect and they make a fun, unique race even better.

Mechanical Value

They can do well, but I almost think the Social Stigma is a bit inappropriate. Oh well, I guess I could make that a power-up in my Dungeon Fantasy games.

Aesthetic

These are definitely just weird colored people, they definitely have a unique physiology.

Lizard-Man - Fun

They have some important differences from Dragon-Blooded, but not that many. The power-ups are bit less cool though, but still pretty useful and appropriate.

Troll - Fun

Advantages

Pretty good, but not especially outstanding or trollish.

Disadvantages

Typical monster traits again, but an extra vulnerability to fire. Also... lowered ST? Night-Adapted Vision is a nice twist though.

Power-Ups

They deal with the critical weaknesses, but I wish there was something to pump up their strengths too.

Mechanical Value

They work well in the nominal dungeon environment, and they aren't expensive point wise, but somehow, they feel a bit underwhelming to me.

Aesthetic

The disadvantages and features make it feel fresh.

Wildman - Almost Fun

Advantages

The advantages all work together and evoke the image they are going for well, but they aren't outstanding.

Disadvantages

The disadvantages do a better job of making for an interesting experience for this character on the other hand.

Power-Ups

I kinda dislike that buying the low TL off completely is an option. It's one of the big defining discriminators.

Mechanical Value

They do have a lot of interesting capabilities to offer, and it's fun because they are hampered appropriately by their disadvantages.

Aesthetic

It just feels like playing a caveman, but the disadvantages go a ways to making it more interesting.

Other Thoughts and Conclusion

I wish it was easier to afford the expensive races. This is why I nominally play with the templates from Dungeon Fantasy 15 and 200 point characters instead so that everyone can take a race and a profession.
Lemme know if you have wildly different opinions.

2 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. I think higher levels of regeneration should be among the power-ups, but looking at it, I see how it could be interesting.

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