Free League announces Dragonbane, the translation of Swedish RPG classic Drakar och Demoner

Today Free League announced an English version of Drakar och Demoner, the seminal fantasy RPG in Sweden. The original dwarfed D&D in the Scandinavian market during the 80s and remains massively popular still in this day.
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A new edition of Sweden's first RPG Drakar och Demoner, finally in English after 40 years – the Kickstarter begins August 30
We are thrilled to announce the Dragonbane RPG, a brand new edition of Sweden's first and biggest tabletop roleplaying game Drakar och Demoner, now to be published in English for the first time.

Dragonbane / Drakar och Demoner is coming to Kickstarter August 30.
Sign up here to be notified the moment the campaign starts:

Drakar och Demoner was originally launched in Sweden in 1982. Now, we celebrate its 40th anniversary with a brand new and reimagined edition, with one foot firmly planted in the heritage of decades of Swedish gaming and the other in the modern and innovative game design for which Free League is known worldwide.

There has been talk about the "Swedish invasion" in the RPG world in the last few years, with award-winning titles like Mutant: Year Zero, Tales From the Loop, Symbaroum, Forbidden Lands, and MÖRK BORG. Drakar och Demoner is the game that started it all. And now, for the first time, the game will also be available to an international audience, under the English title Dragonbane.

Drakar och Demoner / Dragonbane has art by acclaimed illustrator Johan Egerkrans (Vaesen – Nordic Horror Roleplaying and art books Vaesen, Norse Gods, The Undead, Dragons) and lead game design by Tomas Härenstam (Mutant: Year Zero, Forbidden Lands, ALIEN RPG, Twilight: 2000 4th Edition, and the upcoming Blade Runner RPG). The team of contributing writers include the elite of the Swedish tabletop RPG industry as well as acclaimed historical fiction author Niklas Natt och Dag (1793 The Wolf and the Watchman).

For a glimpse at the fantasy odyssey to come, check out the artwork from the upcoming core boxed set in this newsletter. More details about Drakar och Demoner / Dragonbane will be shared via our social media accounts throughout the weeks leading up to launch.

Drakar och Demoner / Dragonbane is a classic fantasy RPG full of magic, mystery, and adventure. This new edition is designed from the ground up to facilitate fast and furious play, with very little prep time and adventures that are a breeze to run.

Although a toolbox allowing you to tell fantasy stories of all kinds, Drakar och Demoner / Dragonbane is a game with room for laughs at the table and even a pinch of sillyness at times – while at the same time offering brutal challenges for your adventurers.

We call this playstyle "mirth and mayhem roleplaying" – great for long campaigns but also perfect for a one-shot if you just want to have some quick fun at the table for a night. The core set will include at least one complete adventure and we hope to unlock many more as stretch goals, offering a complete campaign to play even in the core game set.
 

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Banesfinger

Explorer
Beta rules:
Interesting decision to limit combat to 1 action. This means you can either attack or defend (parry/dodge). Most versions of BRP allow you to do both (1 action plus 1 defense reaction).
Yes there is a Heroic Ability "defensive" that allows extra defensive reactions, but the majority of PCs/NPCs/Monsters won't have that.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Understood. If they called RuneQuest Roleplaying in Glorantha "cutting edge" they used the wrong word. To me it is rather a labor of love, showing that you can create a rich, immersive game that really works on the table by using tools that were around circa 1985. This is what they did. But sometimes they would get defensive when people say "why you did not innovate" this or that.
As for me, I can enjoy a lot RQG and still be super curious to see what Free League are doing with DoD. Really excited 😀.
when it came out in 1978, RuneQuest was very innovative. Quite ahead of its time. Not reading Swedish, I can't judge DoD. What I can judge is the quick play of the new edition - which, if one has deep familiarity with the Chaosium lineup, is looking more like Pendragon than RuneQuest...
They don't have that many hit points ;)
(Size+Con)/2 just like everyone else in RQ...

Human size 2d6+6, con 3d6
Duck size 2d6+1, con 2d6+6
so, typically, 1-2 HP less. Human min is 5, max is 18; Duck is 5 and 15.
 


Yora

Legend
The pdf has been out for a month now and I've been going through it this weekend. It's a neat little game that reminds me of B/X and Barbarians of Lemuria in its scale and scope, with some mechanical parts from D&D 5th ed. and the Year Zero system. And skill advancement is apparently from BRP but with d20 instead of d100.

I really like it for being much simpler and less deadly than Forbidden Lands and Symbaroum, with rules that take up under 60 pages. I can see this as a great generic fantasy adventure game for my own campaigns, but it doesn't have the big crowd pleasers like an elaborate setting or unique vision.
It's what I would call a game like B/X, but without the weird excentricities of classic D&D, like spell slots and the attack roll calculation.

 

The game seems fine, if just a little off. It's like it is afraid to pick a stance and decide what it wants to be.

They offer pushing rolls, but as optional, perhaps because it completely breaks any challenge if used with even a single boon. So you shouldn't allow both, but pushing is the more interesting option that gives players more choice, but then boons are not listed as optional...

All melee tactical options are marked as optional, because it's always fun to wonder if you should play a warrior.

The heroic abilities rely on GM good-will to ever get. Really not a fan of that, because that's where the non-casters get their options from (but even casters need them to learn more schools). Just seems really weird to deny access to those unless the GM is feeling charitable (or you max a skill, which surely should be good enough of a reward on its own).

While it's great to make monsters just roll what they do this turn, it's weird that they did not extend it to all enemies (leading to the funniness of living skeletons pointing out that they're not monstrous, just regular NPCs - but the moment a goblin gets on a wolf, then they become a monster). There's also not enough of the monsters in the book, when surely that should be the core innovation of this game.

A bit of a weird bag.
 

Yora

Legend
More a toolkit of mechanics than an out of the box game in my impression. Which has its place. Sometimes that's what you're looking for.
It actually suits my current needs very well.
Beta rules:
Interesting decision to limit combat to 1 action. This means you can either attack or defend (parry/dodge). Most versions of BRP allow you to do both (1 action plus 1 defense reaction).
Yes there is a Heroic Ability "defensive" that allows extra defensive reactions, but the majority of PCs/NPCs/Monsters won't have that.
That was the one thing that stood out to me as being really strange and sounding like a bad idea.
But on further thought, I really quite like the look of it.

First important thing is that you only have to decide to parry or dodge after an enemy's attack roll against you has been made and determined to be a hit or a miss. If it's a miss, there's nothing to parry or dodge anyway. The other thing is that you can always wait with your turn until later in the round if you're not sure if you want to dodge or parry at a later point.

Typically in many games, deciding to negate damage against you instead of dealing damage to your enemies is a poor trade as it does nothing to reduce the number of attackers you're dealing with and the amount of damage they can potentially dash out. You're only stalling for time and treading water, prolonging a situation that is disadvantageous to you.
However, things look differently when you're low on hit points and one more hit could take your character out of the fight completely. Then the ability to negate a hit to remain on your feet becomes a much better idea. Because both kinds of evasion negate a hit, not an attack. If the attack roll is a miss, you can still use your action to attack or cast a spell. And you can also make your choice to attack or parry based on the enemy that has landed a hit against you. Accepting the damage from a little goblin might be worth it while evading the damage from a big giant would be much more important.

An interesting side effect of having to sacrifice your action to remain in the fight, which might actually be the whole point of the mechanic, is that characters who are already injured are more likely to lose some of their actions while fresh combatants can much better afford to just soak the damage. This means wounded characters are less effective in a fight than uninjured ones. Which is in stark contrast to the D&D combat system where it's a common complaint that being injured does not cause any penalties until you're completely out of hit points.

I think having characters give up their attacks for the round completely to parry or dodge a hit actually creates more interesting tactical choices and could potentially have a real impact on how combat plays out, compared to letting players attempt it for free. This is something I am really curious about to see play out in practice.
 

I think having characters give up their attacks for the round completely to parry or dodge a hit actually creates more interesting tactical choices
IMO, it just means the side with more characters has the advantage, and their frontline should tank with parries while those in the back deal damage. While both sides just pick one target and try to focus-fire that one down...

It's another reason why I think all opponents should be using their own 1d6 monster tables... so the GM wouldn't have to decide between playing opponents capably and having the gameplay not suck.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
It's like it is afraid to pick a stance and decide what it wants to be.

Yup. Some very recognizable bits from different systems shoehorned in...

While it's great to make monsters just roll what they do this turn, it's weird that they did not extend it to all enemies (leading to the funniness of living skeletons pointing out that they're not monstrous, just regular NPCs - but the moment a goblin gets on a wolf, then they become a monster).

This kind of disjointed design killed my interest.

I was hoping for a streamlined and somewhat pared down version of Symbaroum. (a brp derivative itself)

Which would have been a much more solid base to start with, and they'd have a chance to fix known system issues.

Instead we got this mish-mash of ideas that seems neither hot nor cold.

But the art is great. So there is that...

I expect it to sell well.
 

Yup. Some very recognizable bits from different systems shoehorned in...
...
Instead we got this mish-mash of ideas that seems neither hot nor cold.
Unfortunately, after reading the rules and about 1/3 of the adventure book, my impression is pretty similar. It feels like some D&D5, with a bit of Year Zero and BRP and somehow the result ends up being not bad, but also not very exciting. Maybe this is just me being tired of D&D and the d20 at the moment, but somehow Dragonbane as a whole doesn't click.
 

aramis erak

Legend
Free League already has two fantasy RPGs though. Even if there is room for another, it's weird to have a single company competing against itself like that.

(Though I suspect that a good chunk of what they're going for is nostalgia in their home market and curiosity in the US. So I guess it probably won't be really "competing" with Symbaroum or Forbidden Lands in that sense.)
Back in the mid 1980s, TSR had 4...
D&D (1981)(BX/BECMI)
AD&D (1979 for all 3 core rules)
Gamma World (which is a Post-holocaust fantasy - different subgenre, and different rules by edition; some were AD&Dish, others were not, one was Marvel Super Heroes style color table.)
Conan (1985)(yet another subgenre, albeit one which can be done with D&D or AD&D by careful ommisions. It also was based mechanically upon Marvel Super Heroes.)

Palladium had Heroes Unlimited, Villains Unlimited, and TMNT/After the Bomb all covering supers... albeit at differing power levels (HU/VU are essentially 4 color, TMNT and it's post-end-of-license de-Turtled Variant AtB being steet level).

GDW had several overlaps... We have MegaTraveller and 2300 both at the same time; also at that time, Space: 1889. Each distinct, but both MT and 2300 fitting Space Opera, and 1889 being Planetary Romance.

ICE had Rolemaster and MERP. Both fantasy, tho' subtly separate subgenera.

Chaosium had ElfQuest, RuneQuest, and Stormbringer. 3 very different fantasy games, but still, all fantasy.

So, the differences between Mork Borg, 2 mechanical flavors of Tolkien,, plus a fantasy version of YZE? Likely to do just fine.
 
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Yora

Legend
I looked at Symbaroum, Forbidden Lands, and Dragonbane and I found the first two to be too complicated to actually use for my campaigns, but Dragonbane looks just like what I wanted in the first place. (Whether it actually plays well remains to be seen.)

I agree that it's not a sexy prestige game like Symbaroum or Coriolis that stars with a very specific world and evocative presentation and then puts it into mechanics and game terms.
Instead it's a generic tool. The illustrations may have a distinctive style of one artist, but what they show is still as generic fantasy RPG stuff as it gets. Which is another thing that reminds me of B/X D&D and Barbarians of Lemuria.

It's not selling a campaign to players, but basic tools to GMs who want to build their own thing. I like it, but I don't expect it to sell well or get much attention. (Though then, OSE did and it offered the same thing, but it did ride the wave of an already popular edition of D&D.)
 

eyeheartawk

#1 Enworld Jerk™
Too bad, I was looking forward to the OG trad Swedish game. They just couldn't help themselves and put Year Zero stuff in it. It looks cool but I'll pass.
 

Jaeger

That someone better
I looked at Symbaroum, Forbidden Lands, and Dragonbane and I found the first two to be too complicated to actually use for my campaigns, but Dragonbane looks just like what I wanted in the first place. (Whether it actually plays well remains to be seen.)

I agree that it's not a sexy prestige game like Symbaroum or Coriolis that stars with a very specific world and evocative presentation and then puts it into mechanics and game terms.
Instead it's a generic tool. The illustrations may have a distinctive style of one artist, but what they show is still as generic fantasy RPG stuff as it gets. Which is another thing that reminds me of B/X D&D and Barbarians of Lemuria.

It's not selling a campaign to players, but basic tools to GMs who want to build their own thing. I like it, but I don't expect it to sell well or get much attention. (Though then, OSE did and it offered the same thing, but it did ride the wave of an already popular edition of D&D.)

My main gripe was that had they given us a stripped down and streamlined version of Symbaroum, Dragonbane would have been their sexy prestige flagship title.

Precisely because while it would still have had a distinctive visual style, the 'generic fantasy' aspect of the game would have appealed to a much wider audience than Symbaroum, or Forbidden Lands, which are attached to highly-focused boutique settings.

Whereas now, in my opinion; because of they quirky way they chose to do things mechanically, Dragonbane is just another novelty fantasy RPG.

But it has great art. So it will still sell well.


Too bad, I was looking forward to the OG trad Swedish game. They just couldn't help themselves and put Year Zero stuff in it. It looks cool but I'll pass.

Pretty much.
 

GreyLord

Legend
Back in the mid 1980s, TSR had 4...
D&D (1981)(BX/BECMI)
AD&D (1979 for all 3 core rules)
Gamma World (which is a Post-holocaust fantasy - different subgenre, and different rules by edition; some were AD&Dish, others were not, one was Marvel Super Heroes style color table.)
Conan (1985)(yet another subgenre, albeit one which can be done with D&D or AD&D by careful ommisions. It also was based mechanically upon Marvel Super Heroes.)

Palladium had Heroes Unlimited, Villains Unlimited, and TMNT/After the Bomb all covering supers... albeit at differing power levels (HU/VU are essentially 4 color, TMNT and it's post-end-of-license de-Turtled Variant AtB being steet level).

GDW had several overlaps... We have MegaTraveller and 2300 both at the same time; also at that time, Space: 1889. Each distinct, but both MT and 2300 fitting Space Opera, and 1889 being Planetary Romance.

ICE had Rolemaster and MERP. Both fantasy, tho' subtly separate subgenera.

Chaosium had ElfQuest, RuneQuest, and Stormbringer. 3 very different fantasy games, but still, all fantasy.

So, the differences between Mork Borg, 2 mechanical flavors of Tolkien,, plus a fantasy version of YZE? Likely to do just fine.

I may be off on what you are stating here, but I think TSR had a few more. Star Frontiers and Top Secret just off the top of my head.

Palladium basically used the same system for most of it's games if I recall though, unlike TSR.

ICE used Rolemaster and had MERP, but MERP was sort of like a liter form of Rolemaster in some aspects.
 


Jaeger

That someone better
Quirky how? The mechanics seem pretty straightforward and plainly explained to me.

Stuff like this:
While it's great to make monsters just roll what they do this turn, it's weird that they did not extend it to all enemies (leading to the funniness of living skeletons pointing out that they're not monstrous, just regular NPCs - but the moment a goblin gets on a wolf, then they become a monster).

I'm also not a fan of card mechanics. Of any kind.

I have played enough different systems that I can recognize when I will utterly bounce off a mechanic.

There is enough enthusiasm for the game that it is also clear that plenty of people have no issues issues at all with what they did.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I may be off on what you are stating here, but I think TSR had a few more. Star Frontiers and Top Secret just off the top of my head.
You are off on my intent. Those aren't in the Fantasy supergenre. I was restricting to just same genre, because the person I was responding to was complaining about multiple fantasy games within one company.

So I was listing multiple games within the same genre from a company
Palladium basically used the same system for most of it's games if I recall though, unlike TSR.
You do, for the most part. The exceptions being Amber, Recon, and Valley of the Pharaohs
There is a significant change with the switch to MegaDamage versions.
ICE used Rolemaster and had MERP, but MERP was sort of like a liter form of Rolemaster in some aspects.
Cyberspace was to Spacemaster as MERP was to Rolemaster; HARP is an evolution from those two...
 

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