Ethra, the world of the Drakensang games.

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Ethra, the world of the Drakensang games.

Postby Illuminatus » Mon Oct 02, 2017 12:01 am

As usual, I’m about a decade behind the rest of the world in all things, so I only just recently discovered the Drakensang single-player computer games that came out in the 2000s (The Dark Eye, The River of Time, and the RoT add-on Philleason’s Secret).

The reason I bring up these computer games here is that I found out that they are based on a German pen-and-paper game “The Dark Eye” that has been around since the 80s, outsells D&D in Germany, and is now in its 5th edition (including an English translation). The game setting - the continent of Aventuria on the world of Ethra - has been fleshed out over decades.

I figured that a medieval fantasy setting with such a pedigree probably warranted a mention somewhere in the forum. I don't own any of the Dark Eye PnP stuff but it might be of interest to some. Everything I know of Aventuria I know from the Drakensang SP games.

The PnP stuff is put out by an outfit called Ulisses Spiele North America, and the computer games are downloadable from Steam. I understand the even older Arkania computer games were also based in Aventuria, but I never played them. (There's also a MMORPG that was developed by some company that bought out the Drakensang rights, but from what I've read it seems to have little in common with the original SP games.)
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Re: Ethra, the world of the Drakensang games.

Postby Havard » Sun Oct 08, 2017 11:01 am

Not familiat with the computer games, but I keep hearing great things about The Dark Eye RPG (Das Schwartze Auge). Are you saying Ethra and Aventuria are two names for the same world?

Are these computer games worth checking out? How much world info can you get from playing them?

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Re: Ethra, the world of the Drakensang games.

Postby Illuminatus » Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:13 am

Havard wrote:Are you saying Ethra and Aventuria are two names for the same world?

Ethra is the world, Aventuria the continent where the action takes place. (In German the world is Dere, an acronym for Erde.) It’s your old-school D&D-style late medieval to renaissance European fantasy setting. In my opinion, the game does a better job of creating a late medieval-feeling atmosphere than most American-made games (which to me often feel more like Hollywood-fantasy-medieval or Flash Gordon-goes-medieval.)

Havard wrote:Are these computer games worth checking out?

They are definitely worth it. The first in the series is only $10 on Steam, and these are really big, immersive games with days of content. I rarely get a chance to play PnP anymore, so I use computer games to get my medieval-fantasy fix, and Drakensang has bang for the buck. Gameplay is similar to Neverwinter Nights, if you ever played that (full 3-D, party-based, etc.) I find these games superior to NWN in most respects though. I’m at a loss as to why they remained relatively obscure in the Anglosphere.

Havard wrote:How much world info can you get from playing them?

Not being familiar with the PnP setting, I’m not sure how loyal the computer games are, but they are definitely immersive and loaded with detail. You get exposed to the nationalities, places, major NPCs, and some political machinations and conspiracies of the land, and also charming little day-to-day details (like the omnipresent local beverage, Ferdok Pale Ale, and the pricey delicacy Candied Kosh Bunting Tongues.) It’s those little off-the-cuff details that make a setting snap. I think playing through the computer game would really help DMing a PnP game, as in a sense you've "been there." Also, I would run a PnP Schwartze Auge game just for the chance to say “Candied Kosh Bunting Tongues” out loud.

I have a few minor quibbles with the games, but to be honest I’ve never met a computer game that I unreservedly liked. (I’m an old-school PnP DM with very particular ideas about how RPGs “should be,” and no computer game ever lives up to my completely unrealistic expectations.) However, I can say that I’m enjoying these games as much as any computer D&D-style game, and more than most.
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