The Let's Play Archive

Dragon Wars

by rujasu

Part 1: Character Creation

What is Dragon Wars?

A computer RPG released by Interplay in 1989, it was intended to be The Bard's Tale IV but was repurposed at the last minute as the rights to the name and setting were held by Electronic Arts. As a result, Dragon Wars takes place in its own setting called Dilmun, a small collection of islands in a land known as Oceana. Despite the last-minute changes, it is a fully fleshed-out game with a deep storyline and setting.

The game was released for the Apple II, Amiga, and MS-DOS, among others. They're all functionally the same, just a few graphical differences. I'll be playing the DOS version. There's also a Famicom version, and as you might guess, it's totally different (and totally in Japanese, though there's a prototype English->Japanese->English version floating around). I might show it off when I've finished the PC version.

Why are you playing this?

It's one of my favorite games of all time! It really is a better game than any of the three Bard's Tale entries and stands up to many of the classic computer RPG's of the era. It's also one of the most open-ended and replayable games I've ever experienced, which makes it ideal for an LP in my opinion.

How are we doing this?

The game is not video-friendly at all, so this will be an informative/screenshot LP. I'm planning to show off as much of the game as I possibly can; we'll see how that goes.

Audience Participation?

Yes, that's what I'm hoping for! Because this game is so open-ended, and because I already know the most effective routes through the game, I'll be asking for your input in deciding which direction we go. Additionally, we'll be starting the game with four characters, and I'd like you to help me make our characters!


The game does start us off with four default characters, and they're perfectly acceptable:

But what's the fun in that? We'll send Muskels and company packing and make our own!

Note that this isn't like the first Bard's Tale where our party will get wiped every five minutes. We start with four characters, and unless we decide to restart the game, we're more or less stuck with them. There are also some allies we can pick up and summonable creatures who will bring our party to a maximum size of 7.

So, from this point, I'll be taking applications for our main characters. Please submit only one character each. If there are exactly four submissions, I will (probably) use them. If there are fewer than four, I'll make up the other ones. If there are more than four, I'll pick the ones I like or throw darts at the computer screen to decide.

How do I submit a character?

If you have played The Bard's Tale I and have your save file readily available, you can provide me with the TPW file of your favorite character and I'll import it.

If you've played Dragon Wars before and you'd like to fill out a character sheet yourself, go ahead, just give me a name, gender, & list of stats.

For the rest of you (probably all of you), just fill out the following questionaire:

- Name (up to 12 characters long)
- Gender (Male or Female)
- Description of fighting style
- Favorite Weapon? (Axes, Flails, Maces, Swords, Bows, or just Magic)
- Magic user (Y/N)? If yes: High Magic, Druid Magic, Sun Magic, or just the basics?
- Is your character skilled at first aid? Athletics? Thievery?
- Is he/she a people person? More of a nature lover? Bookworm?
- General description, personality, anything else you want to add, etc.

Let's start off with Piers.

Snorb posted:

Name: Piers Paardersen
Gender: Male
Describe Fighting Style Here: We are a master of the fine art of Putting-Things-to-the-Sword no Jutsu, of course!
Favorite Weapon: Swords, naturally. The traditional weapon of a hero!
Magic User: Hell no. He's about as magical as a fucking rock.
Skills: I'm not entirely sure what skills are actually in the game, but let's lean towards stuff like athletics and make him tough as nails.
Personality: Piers is usually very friendly to his fellow adventurers, but he has a distrust of magic. Magic killed his brother once, you see...
Any Other Crap: Piers was formerly a soldier, and he plied his trade as a sellsword after leaving the military. He sees himself as The Hero from every one of the faerie tales his mother used to read him when he was little.

We get 50 skill/attribute points to distribute. Here's how we did it:

Strength affects how hard you hit with weapons, but there are other uses for it, so we want at least one really strong person on our team. Also needed for equipping some heavy melee weapons.

Dexterity is speed, accuracy (AV) and dodge (DV) all rolled into one, so it's also important for any fighting characters. Needed for equipping certain ranged weapons.

Intelligence affects spell accuracy, according to the manual. Otherwise, it doesn't do much, so melee characters don't need it.

Health is HP, Spirit x 2 is MP.

Lores help with solving puzzles and noticing things about the area. For example, if we're on a mountain, someone with Mountain Lore might notice something about the area which is helpful to us. Generally, you don't need more than 1 in any lore, and you don't need multiple characters to have the same lore. I'm giving Piers here a 2 in Mountain Lore because reasons.

Below lores are the abilities, some of which are absolutely essential. Piers gets Climb, Fistfighting, and Swim. Climb can get us to some places which would otherwise be inaccessible, so it's fairly important. Fistfighting is good in the beginning when you have no weapons, and useless later. Swim, like Climb, has its uses.

We'll ignore the Magics for now. Weapon skills increase your accuracy (AV) when using a particular weapon, and sometimes you need them to equip certain weapons. Since Piers is a sword specialist, we'll give him skill in both swords and two-handed swords.

Now onto Madrick...

RickVoid posted:

Name: Madrick
Gender: Male
Fighting Style: Kill it with fire.
Favorite Weapon: Magic is so much more than a weapon, you ignorant whelps.
Magic User: ; Whatever lets him turn things to ash.
First Aid? No.
Athletic? Bwahahaha
Thievery? How dare You dare accuse me of such a thing! I researched every spell myself!
People Person? No.
Nature? Ick.
Bookworm? Spellbooks? Where!?
Personality: Madrick is the very model of a modern evil wizardling. Adventuring is the fastest path to power, and he views the other party members as his own personal henchmen/slaves.
Other stuff: He once got uproariously drunk and accidentally burned down a tavern... and a barn... and a few buildings... look, that village was bonfire waiting to happen anyway. In deference to pattern recognition, however, he chooses to abstain from further alcohol.

Mages don't need Strength as they'll be in the back. Dexterity is good if you want your mage to use a bow, but it's not needed. Additionally, it's a good idea to have a mage with low Dexterity, as he can go last every round and cast a spell to heal the whole party. The manual actually advises you to do so. Obviously, we want our mage to have lots of MP and we want his spells to work, so we'll put some points into Int and Spirit. Health is important for everyone, even if they're not in the front lines.

With Madrick being a magic enthusiast, we'll give him Arcane Lore. It's useful for discovering a few very important magical areas along the way, so you really want one person with this lore.

Lockpick is one of the most important abilities in the game. We'll want to level this one up to 2 at some point, maybe 3. There are lots of doors and chests in the game, and you can't just bash them open. This is one of the few things in the game that you absolutely must have. Hiding and Pickpocket also seem appropriate here.

Magic! Every discipline of magic offers a fire spell of some sort. Druid Magic is better for healing and utility spells, High and Sun Magic are better for offense. We'll go High here, again because reasons.

So that takes care of our first two characters. Two more, and we'll be able to begin our adventure!

We definitely want someone who can heal and use Druid Magic, so let's create Kali!

Zore posted:

- Name: Kali
- Gender: female
- Description of fighting style: Berzerker
- Favorite Weapon: Axes
- Magic user: Druid support and healing
- Skilled at: first aid, general support stuff
- Who is he/she? Really in touch with nature and the natural world in general, has a way with animals and the like. Very personable and almost overly-friendly, she's always looking for something interesting or fun to catch her fancy.
- General description: Heir to an ancient and proud line of healers, Kali was ambivalent about all that and was always more interesting in animals and beating things with big sticks. Still, a lifetime of rigorous training has imprinted on her rather strongly, and she is a competent spell-weaver even if her heart isn't really in it at all. She's fairly careless and go with the flow, wandering where the wind and whim takes her. Hates cats with an unholy passion

Strength: 17
Dexterity: 13
Intelligence: 12
Spirit: 11
Health: 14

Strength is important for axe users. The better axes can't be equipped without 18 Strength, so we'll make Kali fairly strong. Otherwise, we'll go for a fairly even spread, so she can fight and cast spells.

Forest Lore - 1

Of course, Kali will be our forest expert. There are plenty of wooded areas in Dilmun, so this may come in handy.

Swim - 1
Bandage - 2
Tracker - 1

Bandage is one of the most important abilities in the game. Outside of battle, it's effectively a free heal spell. More points allows us to heal a greater portion of allies' health, so we'll start off with 2 here and hopefully increase this a bit more later. Tracker is the ability to track people or other creatures, it makes sense for a nature enthusiast to have this.

Bureaucracy - 1
Low Magic - 1
Druid Magic - 1
Axes - 1

Bureaucracy is actually a public speaking & negotiation skill. There's not a lot of talking in this game, but occasionally this will help.

For the fourth slot, we could take Lilly-Anne or Dolph. I'm going to opt for Dolph here to give us a bow-user.

Tuxedo Ted posted:

- Name: Dolph
- Gender: Male
- Fighting style: sneaky! A fair fight is a chump's fight. Dolph ruthlessly takes every advantage he can get
- Favorite Weapon: Bows
- Magic user? Yes, if spreading out skills is tactically sound and can give him an advantage in a fight. I don't know what the different schools are like, but i imagine him using buffs and debuffs rather than go boom magic.
- Dolph is skilled at thievery and maybe athletics if there are points to spare.
- Dolph is a bit of a sleazeball, good at talking himself out of sticky situations and manipulating others for his benefit.
- Dolph is in it for fame, fortune, power, and all that other good stuff. He's not quite evil (that just gets you killed by others seeking fame and fortune), but history will forgive a hero of a few transgressions, so he doesnt mind getting his hands a little dirty to reach a goal more quickly.

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 16
Intelligence: 11
Spirit: 11
Health: 12

We'll give our bow expert a decent amount of Dexterity.

Town Lore - 1

We'll give him Town Lore, since nobody else has it.

Hiding - 1
Lockpick - 3

We'll make Dolph an expert lockpicker so Madrick can focus more on his magic. 3 is all the lockpicking skill we should need in this game.

Low Magic - 1
Sun Magic - 1
Bows - 1
Crossbows - 1

Giving a character Low Magic costs 5 skill points, and the higher magic disciplines cost 10, so Dolph will only get a single point in Bows and Crossbows for now.

There's not a ton of "buffing" magic in the game, but there is some, and it's spread across all disciplines. We'll give Dolph a point of Sun Magic so that we have someone with each of the big three.

And we're ready to go! This party should do pretty well. I didn't go for a fully-optimized, min-maxed party here, but that's not really necessary. The important thing is we have a good variety of skills and all of the magic disciplines accounted for. Next update coming later today!