Dragon Warriors a review in many parts…

Well, I’ve never written a review before, and I wanted to try my hand at it, but I’d also like to try something a little different from the standard review, I want to present a dynamic review in parts. Basically over the span of a couple of days I want to try my hand at reviewing the Dragon Warriors rulebook… but instead of presenting it as one gigantic lump for people to read, I want to go section by section and allow people to ask questions, give their own opinions, correct any mistakes I might make, etc. in hopes that this will not only make it a better review (and keep me on track to complete it), but also help me to refine my review writing skills. Ok, with that said…here we go.

Dragon Warriors: $39.95
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing (November 20, 2008), under their Flaming Cobra imprint with Magnum Opus.
Author(s): Dave Morris & Oliver Johnson

First Impressions:

Dragon Warriors is a hardback book, whose cover is done in color and depicts 4 adventurers (presumably a knight, barbarian, sorcerer and mystic) on guard as they descend cracked stone stairs into the unknown depths of some crumbling ruin. The art is old school in flavor but very evocative of a more dark and subdued adventurers than the wahoo style of more modern games...these adventurers look like they really don't want to be doing this and actually fear what lurks in the darkness before them.

The book itself is black & white inside with a nice font size (larger than 3e but not as large as 4e) and minimal whitespace (mainly margins about 1/2 inch). The book uses a two column format for the text and even has splash pages of comic-book like adventuring scenes that help to explain rules in the context of playing the game. The artwork within is all black and white and done by a handful of different artist...at first glance I will say that these artist do a pretty good job of making the art feel integrated, and very much all pieces from the same world. This is something I'm glad to see and enjoyed very much when looking through the book as it gave a strong impression of the feel that the game was going for and didn't create any jarring disconnects. There is also a black & white map of "The Lands of Legend" on pages 4 & 5 that has a very old school...like the maps you would find in old fantasy novels and solo gamebooks...look to it, all in all a very nice package.


The Introduction starts on page 11 and is written by Dave Morris. Here one of the authors begins with musings of what the "essence" of Dragon Warriors is. He talks of the rules, the world, and other things but ultimately decides the thing that most defines Dragon Warriors is the "flavor" of the game.

Where D&D is a Disneyland of fantasy where there is an elf in every tavern, and a multitude of monsters everywhere, the author contends that Dragon Warriors is based on a different premise, a fantasy game designed around a European folktale sensibility. Where the faerie are dangerous capricious creatures...and not likely to be sitting in a bar next to you.

He also discusses the feel of magic in the world, it is present but not common or an everyday occurrence. It is more likely in "The Lands of Legend" that what a villager might claim is magic is actually the result of their own superstitious beliefs rather than true magic. The author goes on to make a comparison where D&D, WoW, etc. would be of the George Lucas or Chris Columbus branch of rpg's Dragon Warriors would be a movie by Guillermo del Toro or Tim Burton.

He goes on to talk about the history of Dragon Warriors, from their thoughts on infiltrating bookstores in the way DW was originally published (paperback format) to some things he regretted (like not making the system based entirely on D6's, and thus more accessible). He also talks of the various other Dragon Warrior books and spin offs that exist beyond what was published in the corebook (The Chronicles of the Magi, Bloodsword gamebooks, etc.).

Dave Morris then turns again to the mood of DW in more detail pointing out that it is a world that can be both grim and horrific but also whimsical...also that most of this happens on a personal level as opposed to the save the world level. Finally he talks more of what has been loss (as far as written works) since the game was first published, and brings the introduction to a close by thanking those he feels gratitude to for the new version of the book.

Whew...Well that's it for tonight, any comments suggestions, questions, etc. would be appreciated and I'll try and answer them ASAP.

And tune in next time (tomorrow??) when I try and tackle Chapter 1: Fantasy Roleplay and Chapter 2: Creating a Character