As part of the discussion on Discord about looking at “OSR” games, I visited an old friend.
Back in the early 80s, I GMed perhaps 100 sessions of DragonQuest 2nd edition. I’ve just been combing through those old rules and I’ve found some interesting elements.
DragonQuest was first published SPI games in 1980. SPI published two editions: First Edition (1980) (herefter DQ1), Second edition (1982) (herefter DQ2). After TSR bought SPI, a third edition (1989) was published. TSR, publisher of the competing Dungeons and Dragons system, let DQ die after that.
All three editions are substantially similar. All three applied wargame design to combat, requiring a hex grid and figures that maintained a specific facing and had specific movement rates. The largest change is from First to Second, where the First Edition action point combat system was dropped in favor of a combat system which (I believe) more closely resembled the system from The Fantasy Trip. The big change from Second to Third edition was changing the name of the Courtesan profession to Courtier and removing the seduction ability — and also removing the magic Colleges of Black Magic and the College of Greater [demon] Summoning. (We can speculate that this was TSR concerned about appearances. The demon summoning college drew strongly on real world medievil Christian models for its rituals and demons.)
Action Point Combat actually looks interesting. In fact, after comparing it to DQ2, I think it might much easier to understand and apply than DQ2. Combat.
In DQ1, each combat round was divided into an indefinite number of pulses. Each pulse every figure would act in initiative order, announcing one action, paying AP for it, and resolving it. Actions were designed to force a choice between attacking, evading, moving, and other actions like drawing a weapon. Once everyone had one action, a new pulse started, and these continued until everyone was out of AP.
In DQ2 and 3, you act in initiative order and take one action, each of which can combine movement with other actions. For each choice, the movement was conditional on what action and whether the figure was inside or outside reach of melee attack. Thinking back to my days of running the game, tracking the variations always added to my cognitive load. I think DQ1 would have been easier.
Characters are defined by Characteristics, Major Skill, Advanture Skills, and skill in individual rituals and spells. Major skills were actually clusters of abilities that might represent professions: e.g. Military Scientist, Troubadour, Thief, etc. Each was a collection of abilities and tasks, each with their own success chance formula. Adventures skills, spells, and rituals, are single task skills.
How the Game is Played.
Ths single most interesting element were the rules on how the game is played around the table. Here are quotes from the DQ2 text p. 137-138 for your consideration:
“[79. 1] The players should elect one of their number to be the leader of the party. The leader should not only be the best qualified character for the position, but the most experienced player as well, because his decisions will usually directly affect the outcome of any adventure. …. In combat, the leader may add his Military Scientist Rank (if any) to the Initiative die roll.
The leader announces the general activities undertaken by the party during the
Adventure Sequence. …. The leader usually gives the orders for the non-player characters in a party; if
there is a disagreement as to what the actions of a non-player character should be, the majority
of the players rule. The leader counts as two players for determining the actions of non-player characters.”
And p. 138:
“[80. 1] The real time allotted to the players to discuss the actions of their characters depends upon the current stage.
The players have up to 30 minutes or one-tenth the game time to be spent on a single action, whichever is less, to decide on what their characters will do during the Trek/Wait Stage. The characters are assumed to be engaged in a similar conversation in tones appropriate to the occasion (e.g., hushed if hiding from a lynch mob).
The players have up to one full real minute for each game minute during the
Chase Stage to talk with · each other. Their conversation is assumed to be that of their
characters; if their foe has some method of overhearing the characters, the GM should
have the foe act on this information.
Unless a player prefaces a remark he makes during the Encounter Stage with a
comment to indicate that he is not speaking for his character, anything he says can
logically be assumed to be said by his character.”
“[78 .3] When combat occurs on the Tactical Display, there should be no lapses of time between player announcements of character intentions and resolution of them. ….the GM
paces the combat in that strict sequence. When it is a character’s turn to take action,
his player must announce within five seconds…or the character is assumed to take a Pass Action.
If the players wish to discuss tactics amongst themselves during combat,… Anything said
by one character to another during combat can be overheard by their opponents….”
(Note that a leader with Military Science skill can provide extra real time for players to discuss actions).
DQ is the only place where I have seen these actually codified in a rule text. I first encountered them in original Dungeons and Dragon play around 1976, where they were taught word of mouth rather than in texts.
Has anyone seen them show up in modern “OSR” play?