Monday, 11 February 2019

The King Under the Forest, part one

In which I shall ramble about Dragon Warriors....

I hold in my hand an ingot of purest old school RPG
I bought Dragon Warriors pretty much by accident. We had this mail order book thing at school and occasionally they did Choose Your Own Adventure or Fighting Fantasy books. I read the blurb for this and thought that it sounded like the best Fighting Fantasy book ever. Of course I was wrong. It was better than that.

I played it with my school friends and my sister and anyone who would sit still long enough to listen. I was eight and this was the best thing ever.

The first proper adventure I ran was the one at the back of the book, naturally. The King Under the Forest. Wherein the PCs meet a priest with an ancient map that shows the location of the Tomb of Vallander, a King Arthur figure. While there is no setting information in this book, the adventure sets the tone (along with the monsters chapter, tons of great flavour there.) This is early medieval England but the beliefs of folklore are real. The setting would be greatly expanded on in Book 6: The Lands of Legend.
Uh-oh, this looks bad....

For all that it has a cool dragon encounter (for 1st Rank novices!) it’s a fairly straightforward underworld crawl. For some reason, probably product identity, dungeons are called underworlds in Dragon Warriors. I like it. There are some puzzles and some fights. It’s pretty linear but it’s meant to introduce beginning players and GMs to the game so a lack of complexity is a design feature. However it’s grown up enough to have a slightly downbeat ending. This is a fairly common theme for games set in Legend, as the Dragon Warriors world is known.

So, this is a good introduction to the game in my opinion, at least in principal. In execution, well I ran it recently and it shows its age a little but it was still a good time. I think that tapping into the well established folklore of the Arthur myth is a smart move and if you were encountering Dragon Warriors for the first time then this is a good place to start.

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