One Die To Rule Them: Looking At Cakebread & Walton's OneDice Pirates & Dragons


This is a brief review of OneDice Pirates and Dragons. The PDF digitizing before me is 134 pages front to back, in single column format, and includes a printable character sheet. Illustrations are full color along with a two page map of the Dragon Isles, the RPG's main setting.

Let’s jump right off the plank and outline the setting.

The setting of OneDice Pirates & Dragons is the Dragon Isles, a collection of tropical islands innate with ancient magic and besieged by dragons. The four seafaring cultures of Uropa: Albion, Batavia, Esbania and Gaule have developed a number of settlements and ports throughout the isles, which when these cultures are not acting to underhand or war with each other, are busy enslaving the native islanders for their own ends.

Dragons inhabit a number of islands, some more powerful and infamous than others. They too war with each other and any pirates and privateers who have the misfortune of happening upon their territories. The most powerful dragons are worshiped by native tribes and wield necromancy magic at their scaly finger tips.
Creating and running character in OneDice Pirates and Dragons is land lubber simple. Adventurers have three primary abilities: Strong, Clever and Quick. Magic is optioned as a forth primary ability, but is only available to characters native born to the Dragon Isles. In creating an adventurer, players distribute six points among the primary abilities, with the caveat that no ability can be higher than 3 or less than 1. From these, three additional abilities are derived: Health, Defense and Move. Characters receive six points to distribute among a list of thirty plus skills.

The prime mechanic of the OneDice system utilizes a single six sided dice, and like many aspects of this RPG it is succinctly defined. "To see whether your character succeeds at a task, roll one six-sided dice, then add to the result the relevant ability (the character’s score in Strong, Clever or Quick) and skill (if he or she has one). Compare the result to the Target Number – if you equal or beat it, you have succeeded. If you have failed to beat it, your action has been unsuccessful (and there may be a consequence)."

Included with mechanics and throughout is respectable amount of rules, including how to sections and examples of play; the sections on ship to ship combat, and Game Keeper sections are really well done and give the Game Keeper something to run on as a one shot or build an entire campaign from.

Overall, OneDice Pirates & Dragons offers a succinctly defined system, and a unique setting of black powder, magic and high seas adventure. While I’m not a proponent of “rules lite” systems, as I prefer medium to heavy crunch, there is certainly some clever and well-designed content. The inspiration of European activity in the Caribbean from 1600-1800 (Uropa/Europe) is a nice jumping off point. The use of the number six with character creation: mechanics d6, distribute 6 ability points, select 6 skills, makes this a great introduction RPG.

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