[Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels different

"For in ages past, beyond memory and word, in the first blush of the world, Dragons terrible and great made war on this world of Krynn."
The Book-House: Find Dragonlance products.

Moderators: maddog, Dragonhelm

Post Reply
User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20472
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

[Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels different

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 02, 2016 8:11 pm

Dragonlance 5th Age was the first RPG by TSR that used the Saga mechanics involving cards as randomizers instead of dice. This was part of the big Magic the Gathering craze, so maybe that is why TSR thought giving cards a chance to replace dice would be a good idea. However, many Dragonlance fans reacted negatively to a new and very different ruleset. Add to that the fact that the new 5th Age Setting was pretty divisive among fans after the mixed response to Dragons of Summer Flame, 5th Age Saga did not recieve a huge success and was discontinued. The later products in the series even included AD&D stats along with the Saga ones to appeal to a wider audience of fans.

Maybe using this new system with an established setting like Dragonlance was a bad idea, but I really liked many aspects of this system. Yesterday I got into a discussion about these mechanics on Facebook and my friend Dyson Logos posted a very interesting comment:
Dyson Logos wrote: Even ignoring that the Saga system uses more aspects than just the number and suit of a card, cards are distinctly different than dice in that there are a limited quantity in play, so if someone has a hand with all the critical successes from the deck (or they've already been played and not shuffled back in yet), then everyone else's chances of success have shifted.

There's a whole resource control aspect that makes cards very different.
Dyson makes a good point. Speaking of resource control, I always found it interesting that the players would have to make a choice. Spend a good card on their hand now and regret it later, or actually risk failing an action with a poor card with the hope of replacing it with a higher card later on.

Did you ever get a chance to try this system? What did you think of the dice mechanics?

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Big Mac
Giant Space Hamster
Posts: 25445
Joined: Sun Jun 15, 2008 3:52 pm
Gender: male
Location: London UK
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Big Mac » Mon Oct 03, 2016 8:20 am

I've never really learned how Dragonance Saga worked to be honest.

How easy would it be to play in other eras of Dragonlance, in another location (like Taladas) or even in a different D&D campaign setting? Can the cards handle that?
David "Big Mac" Shepheard
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group, The Piazza's Facebook page and follow The Piazza's Twitter feed so that you can stay in touch.
Spelljammer 3E Conversion Project - Spelljammer Wiki - The Spelljammer Image Group.
Moderator of the Spelljammer forum (and administrator). My moderator voice is green.

ripvanwormer
Black Dragon
Posts: 3531
Joined: Fri Apr 03, 2009 7:14 pm
Gender: other

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by ripvanwormer » Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:03 am

Big Mac wrote:How easy would it be to play in other eras of Dragonlance, in another location (like Taladas) or even in a different D&D campaign setting? Can the cards handle that?
A similar system was used for the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game. Back in 2000, Emlyn Shannon was designing Planescape SAGA cards.

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 300
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by apotheot » Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:49 pm

I ran SAGA for Dragonlance once. To mildly put it, my players did not appreciate it. But that said, Dyson's point was dead on. This aspect was both appealing and unappealing to me. On one hand there is the resource management aspect--this helps ensure that the party doesn't have dozens of unused consumable potions at the end of the adventure like is a hallmark of many Fantasy Adventure games. On the other hand, the number of cards in play aspect tried to make the game a little TOO balanced, not with other players mind, but with the system itself. Theoretically, this ratio could be tweaked by removing some cards or adding complete new decks to the equation (is that what the FATE deck accessory was?) But most people weren't interested in buying an additional component to a game just to mess with game balance. Currently I am running all of these adventures retro-converted to 2nd ed (what my players prefer) as when I brought up the prospect of trying to run the SAGA system again I almost had a player revolt. It is too bad that it was attached to a pre-existing setting and not some new setting, as according to some of the developers it all but killed Dragonlance due to its high production costs. It is also too bad it wasn't released now, as current card based game craze would be a much better environment for it to have flourished.
-Apotheot

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20472
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Havard » Mon Oct 03, 2016 1:28 pm

Big Mac wrote:I've never really learned how Dragonance Saga worked to be honest.
The system is fairly simple. To perform an action, you select a card from your hand and add the value of the card to the relevant ability score and compare the total to a difficulty set by the GM (called Narrator in Saga).

SUITS AND TRUMPS
In addition, the cards are divided into different suits, each associated with an ability score. If the card you select has the relevant suit, you are allowed to draw another card from the stack and add that as well to your total. This is called a trump. Some character types have an automatic trump on certain abilities. Wood elves have an automatic trump with bows for instance.

THE NARRATOR
In SAGA only the players draw cards while the Narrator only sets values they have to overcome. So if you are attacked by a goblin, the player spends a card to see if he avoids the blow while the Narrator only refers to a number on his sheet. Some people felt uncomfortable with the Narrator never getting to draw cards. Personally I think it frees up alot of time for the GM. But it would be easy to change the system to have the Narrator flip a card from the deck instead of assigning a difficulty.

MAGIC
My favorite part of the SAGA is the magic system. It is a very simple system, where instead of having spells the player describes the effect, range, damage etc and from a simple chart he can quickly calculate spell cost and difficulty of casting. This lead to tons of creativity among the players and alot of fun. Everyone wanted to have at least some spellcasting capacity.

NUMBER OF CARDS
The number of cards each player has on his hand is determined by his experience. In addition, damage reduces the number of cards he has. This is a very elegant mechanic removes the need for bonuses per level, hit points and penalities for being wounded. All these things are rolled into the card mechanic.

All in all a fun system. I heard the Marvel version added some changes to the dynamic and I think that it would have been very cool to see a 2nd edition of Dragonlance Saga as well, perhaps incorporating some of the ideas from Marvel SAGA.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Falconer
Hill Giant
Posts: 487
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Northwest Indiana
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Falconer » Mon Oct 03, 2016 4:26 pm

apotheot wrote:Currently I am running all of these adventures retro-converted to 2nd ed
Do you have any conversion notes you could share, or are you just winging it?
Beggar’s Canyon 90s Star Wars
Old School Trek Star Trek TOS+OSR
Knights & Knaves Alehouse Old School GYGAXIAN games

apotheot
Troll
Posts: 300
Joined: Sun Jan 31, 2016 4:19 pm
Gender: male
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by apotheot » Tue Oct 04, 2016 1:11 am

Falconer wrote:
apotheot wrote:Currently I am running all of these adventures retro-converted to 2nd ed
Do you have any conversion notes you could share, or are you just winging it?
Doing a lot of winging it, but did try to stat out the Dragon Overlords...which was daunting in and of itself. Someone suggested using 1e dragons for normal Krynn Dragons, and 2e for the Alien Dragon lords. Loved the idea, but since other DL games I have run with these characters had used 2e dragons it felt like a massive depowering of them. So I went to 3e, 5e, and even a bit of 4e for some inspiration.

User avatar
Falconer
Hill Giant
Posts: 487
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2010 10:42 pm
Gender: male
Location: Northwest Indiana
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Falconer » Tue Oct 04, 2016 6:25 am

Please share if/when/whatever you’re satisfied with. :)
Beggar’s Canyon 90s Star Wars
Old School Trek Star Trek TOS+OSR
Knights & Knaves Alehouse Old School GYGAXIAN games

User avatar
Dragon Turtle
Initiate
Posts: 158
Joined: Sun Nov 27, 2011 12:35 pm
Gender: male

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Dragon Turtle » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:22 pm

5th Age Saga in Taladas split into a separate thread here: viewtopic.php?f=84&t=16678

-Dragon Turtle
This is Havard's Alternate Account
Please join The Piazza's Facebook group so that you can stay in touch.
This account is only used for forum administration. For general contact, please use my personal user account.
Junior admin at The Piazza. My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20472
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:41 pm

ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:How easy would it be to play in other eras of Dragonlance, in another location (like Taladas) or even in a different D&D campaign setting? Can the cards handle that?
A similar system was used for the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game. Back in 2000, Emlyn Shannon was designing Planescape SAGA cards.
Wow, I love the idea of custom designed cards for Saga!

There were a few articles in Dragon on using Saga with other Settings. I recall one article was called Saga of the Mists adapting Saga to Ravenloft (Mathew L Martin, Dragon #240). There also used to be this great fan website for Greyhawk Saga. The author took the site down years ago, but I think he actually sent me the files from the site so I might have them somewhere.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

User avatar
Havard
Dragon Turtle
Posts: 20472
Joined: Thu May 22, 2008 7:32 pm
Gender: male
Location: Norway
Contact:

Re: [Dragonlance 5th Age Saga] Why using Cards feels differe

Post by Havard » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:42 pm

Also, in Dragon #239, Steve Kenson wrote an article called A Saga of Your Own where he talks about how to adapt 5th Age Saga to The Forgotten Realms, Dark Sun, Mystara, Planescape, Birthright, Al-Qadim, Greyhawk and other settings.

-Havard

Aliases: Håvard Frosta, Havard Blackmoor, Blackmoorian, Dragon Turtle etc
Where to find me on the Web
The Comeback Inn - My Blackmoor Forum
The Blackmoor Blog
THRESHOLD Magazine - The Mystara Fanzine
My Articles at the Vaults of Pandius
Moderator of the Mystara, Blackmoor and Thunder Rift forums.
My moderator voice is
GREEN.

Post Reply

Return to “Dragonlance”