Thursday, May 11, 2017

Guest Starring on the Wonders of Thedas Podcast

After many delays due to real life, I was finally able to sit in on an episode of the Wonders of Thedas podcast.  It just so happened that they were going to discuss the organizations system, which has always excited me.  Being able to stat out a larger group of people and use them in special ways without a ton of extra rolling and bookwork is wonderful.  It gives you a quick way of figuring out what an organization can do, what their specialties are, and how dangerous they can be.  It also gives more options for rewarding and challenging players.

And it all goes back to the video game series, of course.  Dragon Age: Origins had you playing a Grey Warden, without actually making you feel like you were tied down by the organization itself.  You didn't get to see many other Wardens due to greater circumstances.  You weren't receiving orders from Weisshaupt or even from a superior, nor did you have newer Wardens to boss around.  You were able to cash in on the group's reputation and mission without having the true group experience.

In Dragon Age II, Hawke joins one lesser local group or another briefly upon arriving in Kirkwall, but that group's presence quickly fades.  Missions stop coming.  Hawke no longer participates in it.  Aveline becomes a part of the city guard and remains tied to them, but apparently can leave her position whenever Hawke calls on her.  And while Hawke could have tried to create an organization, instead the companions remain their own little band of rabble rousers.  Hawke's home is a base of sorts, but really only for Hawke.

Dragon Age: Inquisition gets into the organization-building experience the most.  The Inquisition needs materials, people, and so forth, which you can gather as you go along.  There's a defined base of operations for the entire organization.  Numbers grow, as do ties and reach.  You have a real sense of being on a mission with many others who devote much of their time to the same thing.  That doesn't mean that members can't have their own lives and interests, but the Inquisition is very active.

The tabletop game has options for different levels of involvement.  Dealing with organizations doesn't have to swallow up the entire game, but if you want to do more with them, you certainly can.  There are only two immediate criticisms I have for the video games and the tabletop version in this area.  The first is that there aren't enough ways for organizations to shrink or lose; indeed, after a while, setbacks seem unlikely.  The second is that options for building up your base of operations are lacking in Inquisition, and basically absent in the tabletop book.  But we can make up for that, now can't we?

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