View Full Version : The Dark Eye Anyone?

2010-08-06, 12:22 PM
Is there anyone who could tell me about the system, it's advantages and disadvantages? All I can say is, that even though it it the first system I played, I never really got into the rules.

2010-08-06, 12:46 PM
Sadly, I live nowhere near Germany, so no.

However, I believe Das Schwarze Auge (although literally The Black Eye) is usually translated as The Dark Eye.

2010-08-06, 12:55 PM
You're right. I'm sure I read Black Eye somewhere, tough. ^^

2010-08-06, 03:59 PM
Well, technically it's Black, but the meaning is a bit off in English.

Expect an infobomb from Satyr - IIRC he's got many opinions on DSA/TDE. I seem to recall them boiling down to "cool setting, confusing rules."

2010-08-06, 04:11 PM
Most of my friends are completely in love with DSA, but all anyone could ever tell my why it's a great game is because of the setting. And from what I've read, it's a very generic, middle-european, medieval, high fantasy setting. Which really doesn't thrill me in the least.

Amazon warrior
2010-08-06, 04:21 PM
A couple of my friend play DSA (I live in Germany), and they have successfully made the rules sound very hardcore. I don't think the latest edition has been translated into English yet - looking at all the setting books, they have their work cut out for them! I get the impression the character creation offers a lot of flexibility and customisation, but at the cost of apparently requiring a Java applet to calculate the point-buy system.

2010-08-06, 05:04 PM
The advantage of "The Dark Eye" is that the rules are more into detail than D&D. The disadvantage of "The Dark Eye" is that the rules are more into detail than D&D.
You roll more often (3d20), and must compare the rolls with your ability scores, trying to roll as low as possible. For every point you roll above an ability score, you need to substract from a skill pool, and if you fall under zero, you fail the skill check. Should you have enough points left, then you succeed. Some skill checks might demand that you must have a specific amount of points left.
Then there's combat. It has a few attack and parry option, of which you only have 1 of each, unless you took special abilities. Combat is quite deadly, if your enemies outnumber you, as you can only parry once.
And that's without using more complicated additional rules (for experts, as they claim it).
If one doesn't like rolling dices often, then TDE's not a game one should use.

One thing many do like, even although the continent which the game takes place has been given a detailed description, is that you can follow the events that happen on the continent with an official magazine that is styled like some kind of pseudo-medieval newsletter. You could read how a southern theocracy invaded a desert-kingdom, that a lost elven city was found deep in the north, what the political situation is between the old kingdom and the new empire, that a legion of ogres invaded the empire, or even how a powerful evil sorceror created an army of darkness to conquer the world, as well as minor colourful details that gives the background world of TDE it's popular charme.

Personally, I find the rules of TDE 4th and 4.1 (or however they call it now) edition to be too clunky compared with TDE 3rd edition, taking too much time when leveling up whatever stats you wanted, and still having too many exceptions to the rule that plagued 3rd edition.

Ruleswise, D&D is just that much faster with a d20-roll where you just add a modifier, and Shadowrun 4th edition is complex but not too time-consuming like TDE.

If the rules were more uniform, leveling up wasn't a chore, character creation had less minuscious details (while colourful, with all the extra-skill points that your character never is going to use really, it's a waste of time to write them down in the first place), and magic-users wouldn't be that uberpowerful (especially later), I'd give it a chance again.

2010-08-06, 05:25 PM
A satyrian "infobomb" would be alright. :smallbiggrin:

I mean, I myself already played the game. I know the basic rules.
But the things I want to hear about are the ridiculously high chance of failing at a skill check, advanced combat rules, maneuvers, advanced magic rules and if it's a low or actually high powered fantasy world. (... and probably how someone possibly could prefer it to DnD)

I remember that we were using an alternative combat system, because the standard system was very slow and kinda static...

2010-08-06, 06:00 PM
With 4.x edition, since ability scores cost a lot of xp (or adventure points, however they're called), most people won't raise them too often, if they didn't maximize them at character creation (as the numbers of skill points is more important in the end).
Seeing as the negative modifiers can range between -1 to -10 at an arbitrary rate, you can easily fail at basic skills that your character is supposed to be good at. In fact, once your skill points have fallen into the negatives with the skill point modifier (and there's a lot of stuff that can pile upon the negative modifiers), all your three ability score rolls get the same penalty as the new modified skill pool, and because you're then not allowed to roll over your stats, your characters fail often and in situations they shouldn't fail.
Combat has a lot of options, with several maneuvers tied to the skill pool of your weapon proficiencies, which adds several interesting possibilities how your character fights. Getting more parries, some kind of whirlwind attack, a deflecting counter-attack, penetrating blows that deal multiple serious wounds (a status modifying condition), greater proficiency at evading, power attacks, expertise, or other stuff is described. However, these many options do have negative modifiers to your roll, making it possible for you to miss again, and when playing with stamina, this adds a lot of unnecessary book-keeping.
Magic still rules supreme, and although the setting has always claimed to be a theoretical low-magic environment, there are too many magical locations, NPC-wizards with unique spells and abilities that make them often superior to PC-magic users, omnipresent gods, a veritable inflation of theoretically invincible demons, magic items and magical creatures. that anybody still believes that. Just by virtue of being able to modify your spells or lithurgies and getting many different results makes them already powerful compared to warriors, courtisans, bakers, knights, sailor, gladiators or anything other really mundane profession.
I think the developers did in fact drop this statement and are treating "The Dark Eye" as a run-of-the-mill high powered fantasy game where mages (and priests) rule and mundanes drool.

The game tries to separate the rules in basic, normal/advanced and expert segments that supposedly can be customized on every gaming table. But why make the expert rules so time-consuming and complicated anyway? TDE 4.x shirks away from slaughtering many holy rules-cows, but if they could reduce the fat considerably and do away with the hundreds of exceptions, it'd be an okay system.

The continent of TDE is actually an oversized adventure park. Your characters will only take a few weeks on foot (if they're lazy and take their time) to reach the icy glaciers of the north, where they fight yetis, snow dragons and pale dark elves of a demonic elven witch queen, or travel to a magical desert where the ruins of an ancient lizard civilisation under their god-dragon-emperor are buried in the sand, can participate in a slave revolt of an evil slaver-city-state, be part of a political faction and engage in cloak-and-dagger play, do arthurian tales with fairies everywhere and encounter magical river spirit kings, satyrs, dryads, fighting three-headed dragons, or enter a duchy with a medieval populace that dislikes magic, so that you can also expose yourself to a little bit witch-hunting (or participate in one yourself).
It's a small continent, deliberately kept that small, with many anachronistic regions that don't influence each another that much, that has a low traveling time, so that your characters can participate in all these sorts of adventures in their life-time.

2010-08-07, 01:54 PM
How is "late game"?

Is combat actually fun?

2010-08-07, 03:35 PM
Prepare the infobomb...

The short Version: Very detailed background with a breathing and constantly developing metaplot and several ongoing story lines, a few brilliant and many good adventure modules and very bad rules.

The long version:
The world of the Dark Eye is a tiny, tiny continent with one of the most detailed backgrounds in all RPGs. For twenty years or so, there has been a continuous metaplot, with various conflicts, hundreds of NPC and accompanying adventures to witness the metaplot (which is usually documented and published in form of a bimonthly zine).
The world is actually the part that most people I knowe like about the game - it is, for the lack of a better word, is a nice place for adventuring.
The magic setting is usually lower than in a D&D campaign, magical items and so on are a lot rarer, the game's primary design goal is "fantastic realism" (even though the realism part of that notion is usually not treated as vigorously as the fantastic part, often to the damage of the game) and it includes so many different sub-settings, it is sometimes a bit cluttered. The fun part however is that the world is developed well enough that a plot like "D'Artagnan, Eric the Red, William of Baskerville and Gandalf travelling to Innsmouth" becomes believable and feels like an organic outgrowth of the setting. It is probably the world's most thoroughly described setting ever, with sourcebooks for regions which are nearly unpopulated and still get more source book coverage than whole other continents. Yes, this intense coverage creates very little free spaces for own imaginations but it also creates a very familiar framework and an unmatched feeling of depth.

Rulewise, the game used to be a D&D clone with a few peculiar own elements, and switched to a - rather bad- Gurps clone - with the same peculiarities.
The rules are tedious, to the point that character creation and levelling without accompanying programs is a chore. Characters consist of several layers - species, culture and one or two professions - but the game in itself is basically skill-based, even though the creation of an own profession is again tedious and cumbersome. In addition, characters have merits and flaws, and special abilities which allow for additional options (especially in a combat; these work very similar to feats in D&D 3.5).
Tedious and cumbersome is also the motto for many parts of the rules - skill checks are based on rolling three dice, combat can take for ever with inexperienced groups or bad optimizers.
With good players, the combats are wicked awesome and fun , due to the comparative high risk (almost no chances ever of resurrection, and a single all-out attack of a dedicated warrior can kill pretty much any humanoid being when it connects), so the priority is usually not
Magic and Divine Powers work very differently, and are not that powerful. Spells will fail a lot and may take forever and the resource for spellcasting is very limited. So even a dedicated spellcaster often requires to learn several other useful abilities.
This is even more true for clerical characters who are pretty much primarily social figures and priests in the first place with a few often minor supernatural powers (which were retconned later into the game and as such are quite superfluous).

What is to keep in mind however, that the core concept is very different from D&D. Violence is very often not the best solution and getting in a fight is almost always risky, or downright suicidal when facing a numerical superior enemy. Magical items are again rare and often have only very limited uses, so they are usually emergency-only gimmicks. Plot and character play and methood acting is pretty much constantly presented as much more significant than character power - there is even a complete magic tradition that is nothing but comic relief (of the most annoying kind).

What's awesome however are some of the adventure modules and campaigns which are not only plenty of them around, they are way better than anything I have ever seen for D&D. Some are really weird, some are very elaborate, and yes there are quite a few which are stupid, or just cheesy. And then there is Jenseits des Lichts (Beyond the Light) which is just the best adventure ever written, I guess
The beginning of the adventure is pure comedy: the PCs are in one big city, get involved with the local star actress of the local theater, meet the gang of heirs of the great local merchant dynasties and get involved in loads of slapstick moments, like the epic battle between traditional "dark" artists and the new "rebel" artists who dare to paint optimistic, colorful pictures in grisly colours like spring green and pink.
Then they met one merchant (called the hamster behind his back) who has lost his fortune due to a war - and who had hidden most of his gold before he had to flee. Unfortunately in a city far away which is now occupied by a military dictatorship of demon worshippers.
The prospect of wealth lures the PCs to try and find that treasure which leads to the first major mood whiplash in the adventure - the funny introduction is then replaced with a paranoid horror atmosphere where you can't trust anybody, and the local rulers are a quite sadistic occupation force.
The whole thing ends with a riot, with the PCs and a centner of gold in the middle.
They can escape - and get the possibility to travel to a safe haven to return from the occupied lands, but before they have to sneak through the occupied lands. And for this, they need a disguise, namely as a travelling theatre troupe.
The next part of the overland travel is basically a lesson in improved theatre, which is just fun - until they meet another theatre group which challenges them to a "battle of the art" - and the PCs are suddenly trapped in a pocket dimension which effectively is a theatre play and follows the logic of one - including that all people think in loud, clearly spoken monologues, which nobody but the PCs can hear. The PCs than have to survive the play, manipulate it again and again (which is actually quite easy, because the world adapts to the needs of the play - if you are convincing enough, you can turn any sheet of paper into a letter, or any green fluid into deadly poison).
It is one of the most creative adventures I have ever seen, and the whole structure also requires and encourages the players to be as creative as they can be, coming up with weird solutions and effectively bend the world around their will. While they are in the middle of something that resembles a Shakespearean drama, only much more bloodthirsty.
The adventure relies strongly on the wits of the characters, in the first part mostly for fun and in situations which are embarrassing at best, in the second part to safe their lives and very souls.
It is very hard to combine humor and horror, as these are two quite complementary emotions. This adventure manages to do just that.

2010-08-07, 04:54 PM
Danke sehr!
There had to be a reason why it is so popular around here.

That adventure actually sounds terrific. The moment the players start to realise what is going on when they stranded in this pocket dimension has to be hilarious.

Isn't it kinda odd that it is possible to stumble in such fantastic adventures in such a realistic world?

2010-08-07, 06:25 PM
The world is not that realistic, and people who live in Aventuria (or however the continent's spelled in english) do know about magical fairy realms, demon planes and a high heaven with the gods living there that influence and shape the world regularely.
Stumbling in a fantastic adventure is not an oddity in the fantastical and magical (literally) world of TDE.

2010-08-08, 04:34 AM
Isn't it kinda odd that it is possible to stumble in such fantastic adventures in such a realistic world?

While the whole setting is a bit less obvious in its magic than most D&D settings, Aventuria is not a low magic setting - far from it - but all things supernatural are a bit rarer, more unexplainable and a lot more mystical. For example active spellcasters of great power are rare, but fey beings, spirits and so on are actually quite common, even though they are invisible most of the time.

However, the setting is also more mature than most D&D games and is not really a "children's game". The evil is viler and bleaker, the goods are - at least when they are mortals - all too human, even if they try, and Armageddon is inevitable. It also includes a Demon Queen of rape and torture (mostly rape), and a generally more revealing background.

2010-08-08, 05:07 AM
I believe there are no real rules for all this supernatural occurences.
Is it more like everything goes or are there actually some explainations somewhere? (Looking at the ex-kobold-captives with their pants dropping powers)

I agree. The setting is more mature - alone because of the more detailed background and because there is no sich thing as an alignment system as far as I know. Medievil areas are medievil, though there are also Renaissance areas, oriental areasvery different and also more advanced in different areas et cetera.

The books about demons are quite graphic - especially the picture with the demon with its @!$#* !@$% and his #%&!.
The pantheons are all also very similar, each with a different version of Doomsday, Ragnarok... Quite interesting.

2010-08-08, 05:38 AM
I believe there are no real rules for all this supernatural occurences.
Is it more like everything goes or are there actually some explainations somewhere? (Looking at the ex-kobold-captives with their pants dropping powers)

No, not really. It is a well-known fact that several of the authors belong to the "just handwave it" philosophy of gamemastering when it comes to rules, which would also explain some of the redundancies and just plain bad decisions but makes you wonder why the game was based on such a complex system in the first place. However, their rule knowledge is really bad, and in a true DSA tradition, this is also somewhat celebrated ā la "I am a free-minded and flexible gamemaster, and not some kind of hidebound slave to the rules. I am so much better than you." And yes, it can be annoying as hell.
There are a few background explanations for the various magical powers (mostly magic is floating free and can be used by sentient beings, but is formed by the subjective philosophy and world view of its users - wizards have an analytic approach to magic, so magic works analytically for them; Elves have an intuitive approach so it is intuitive for them; and changelings (as annoying as they are) see magic as a presentation of the cosmic humor and therefore it is intrinsically funny for them).

I agree. The setting is more mature - alone because of the more detailed background and because there is no sich thing as an alignment system as far as I know.

Well, the character creation is strongly focused on the character as a person, not his or her function in the game or some kine of 'class roles'; so individual morals and codes have a significance, but there is fortunately no form of objective morals (which is an oxymoron to begin with). However, the system indicates that characters are supposed to be 'heroic' in a way, but how this manifests is pretty much up to the player. It is very easy to create characters who are jerks with the best moral intentions, and self-righteousness is very common, especially among the representatives of most churches.

2010-08-08, 05:54 AM
I remember the core book telling you to play a good character since looking into the mindset of an evil character, a criminal, a murderer et cetera is something only a psychologist should do. Yeah, roleplaying in dsa/tde is that deep. :smallwink:

2010-08-08, 05:58 AM
And it's nonsense to begin with. Or do you think that, say, Stephen King is a psychologist? He at least has written many murderers in-character...

2010-08-08, 06:14 AM
And it's nonsense to begin with. Or do you think that, say, Stephen King is a psychologist? He at least has written many murderers in-character...

Well, interest in serial killers is a serial killer marker. I know this because I read a lot about serial killers...


2010-08-08, 06:19 AM
Of course, it is. I was trying to be sarcastic. Didn't you see the wink?

2010-08-08, 06:54 AM
The books about demons are quite graphic - especially the picture with the demon with its @!$#* !@$% and his #%&!.
Well, that's Germany. We have quite different standards when it comes to that.
As yu should know. :smallbiggrin:

2010-08-08, 08:26 AM
Huh, I just figured D&D demons actually preferred wearing pants to those flamboyant knickknacks things... There might be some minor differences if it comes to depicting violence or sexuality.

How does balance work in DSA/TDE?
How do you make up a well functioning group?
What pre made adventures would you recommend to a group of beginners?

Regaining astral points requires weeks of meditation, right?

2010-08-08, 09:19 AM
How does balance work in DSA/TDE?

Not well, particularly for a a point-based group. It is very easy to play a character who is significantly stronger or weaker than the average. However, the general focus is a lot less concerned with character and much more with character personality, and due to the general vulnerability of every characters, the power gap between a strong and weak character of similar experience is comparatively small. It is also absolutely feasible and to create characters who are not good at either fighting nor sorcery nor thievery and still be invaluable to the group.
And Elves are just better by default (it doesn't help that the Elf sourcebook is basically a large hunk of fanboy masturbation).

How do you make up a well functioning group?

By creating the group in context and cooperation. The best groups are usually those with a good-working interior chemistry, there is not much of "necessary" roles. I had great fun with a group consisting of a pimp, a pirate and a bard, as with a highly optimized group of a knight, a swordmaster and two very powerful mages.
Again, character power is not as important as, for example, in D&D. However, I would strongly suggest to not use summoner characters because they can often just "wish a problem away" instead of coming up with an interesting solution, and in a system with remarkably confusing rule,s the summoning rules are generally considered to be the worst in the whole game.

The optimal group as far as I am concerned, would be a primary warrior (e.g. an academy-trained fighter), a secondary fighter with a different style (e.g. a swordsmaster or mercenary), a wilderness expert, a social face person and a scholar, the latter two can usually be filled with spellcasters and/or clerics.

What pre made adventures would you recommend to a group of beginners?

I personally don't like the adventures directly targeted at new players because they are overtly simple and treat the new people mostly as stupid instead of just inexperienced. There are two current new player campaigns out there - Spielsteine and Weissenberg - and as far as I know, the latter one is a bit better.
As the bigger campaigns usually require a bit of prologue, I normally start with a few adventures which help to build up to the central campaign.
I am currently considering a follow-up of Skaldensänge, Helden einer Saga, Die Dunkle Halle and finally a heavily modified Phileasson-Saga as a strongly Thorwalian-centered epic. I could actually recommend this - the adventures are not extraordinary, but not terrible either (Phileasson however is an epitome of discovery and expedition-based roleplaying), the Thorwalian region is actually quite accessible, and Helden... is one of the better anthologies.

And then there are a few ones which should be ignored, especially Verwunschen und Verzaubert.

Regaining astral points requires weeks of meditation, right?
No, with the right advantages and special abilities, you can regenerate large chunks of astral power per night. Karma energy takes significantly longer, but then again, the clerics are supposed to be the servants of the gods, and not commandeer them around.