Tuesday, July 24, 2007


Another day, another game from the ‘it only cost a quid’ collection.

Dandanon, published by Wythchlight, is a British RPG published sometime in the mid nineties. The cover of the book is in black with an arcane diagram and the game’s name on it. It certainly looks nice, and promises an RPG with a strong occult theme.

The back cover is less enticing; it makes the usual fantasy heartbreaker promises. Of the two, it turns out that the back cover is the most accurate.

Undeterred, I crack open the book.

The inside of the book is far less inviting than the front; the font is small and sans serif; not the most readable thing in the world. Tables have no shading or other deliminator between rows, making them hard to follow.

Art is as expected; black and white line art, mostly amateurish, but few pieces are actively bad. An exception is the rather ornate dragon at the bottom of page 16-8, but since this is in a style not found anywhere else in the book, I suspect it was lifted from somewhere else.

Anyway, book savaged, it’s time to make a character.

First, we roll the stats. There’s nine of them in this game, and you roll them on 2d10, assign to suit. They’re then modified by your chosen race.

I roll and get
18, 5, 16, 11, 17, 11, 12, 13, 18
Having checked further ahead in the book I know that there’s no classes so I can assign these as I see fit and do so. I next pick my race.

Dandanon has the usual variety of elves, dwarves and humans, with added goblins, beastmen and orcs. Sadly these are all very vanilla, lacking the invention shown by some of the races in Darkurthe Legends. Since my previous two characters were human, this time I pick a high elf. As well as a few racial modifiers, this gives my guy +15 to his mythology skill. After racial modifiers are applied, my character has the following stats.

Physical Strength: 11
Manual Dexterity: 19
Agility: 12
Health: 10
Mental Strength: 11
Intelligence: 21
Memory: 18
Physical Beauty: 7 (hey, that 5 had to go somewhere, and ugly elves are amusing)
Size: 10

Next I roll my character’s social class, coming up with Merchant. Looking at the next table I see that there are two types of Merchants; Rich and Poor ones. I give my character a 75% chance to be from a poor Merchant family and roll 38.

No wonder the poor boy left to become an adventurer.

Anyway, being from a Poor Merchant family gives my character the following skill bonuses:

Oratory: +20
Bargain: +20
Townwise: +10
Read/Write: +20

He also gets 50-150 starting gold.

Next, we’re onto skills.

At this point Dandanon goes a bit funny. There are three ways to determine the base value of skills. They can have a set number, they can be based on the roll of 3d10, or they can be based on an attribute.

You get two pools of points to buy skills from. Physical skill points can be spent on Physical or General skills, and Mental skill points can be spent on Mental or General skills. The number of points you get is calculated from your Physical and Mental attributes.

Physical skills: 156
Mental skills: 200

Going through the list, I pick out the following skills. I also find that the game recommends that characters not be allowed to spend points on combat skills during character creation unless the GM has a good reason.

I decide that it’s no fun for characters to get killed in the first session is enough of a good reason and ignore this rule.

The mental skills I decide to spend points on are as follows, and for the purposes of this exercise I decide to split my mental skill points evenly amongst them. Once that’s done and their base values are added in I get the following results:

Creaturewise: 42
General knowledge: 40
Mythology: 58
Treat Wound: 34
Oratory: 63
Bargain: 63
Townwise: 40
Read/Write: 42
Thaumaturgy: 43

The same procedure is followed for my Physical skill choices.

Dodge: 34
Climb: 33
Hide: 34
Listen: 47
Parry Evasion: 22
Speed Specialist (sword): 22
Swim: 32

It should be noted that the book doesn’t say which category each skill comes under, I decided that myself.

Attributes, skills and social class noted, I’m done right?

No, no I’m not. Now I have to work out my character’s secondary statistics. There are a lot of these, and they’re all calculated off my main attributes or each other. Calculator time!

Encumbrance factor: We have a problem here. The calculation for ENF is apparently ENP/(PSTR*2). I can’t see anything that could be ENP, so leaving this for now.
Combat Speed: 6
Awareness factor: 10
Perception adjustment: -5
To hit adjustment: 9
Evasion: 4
Parry adjustment: 1
To parry: 12
Penetration adjustment: 1
Damage adjustment: 0
General hit points: 26
Wound class: 0
Shock hit points: 26
Shock class: 0
Spell points: 82
Word magic failure chance: 0
Short magic failure chance: 0
Long magic failure chance: 0

The last three secondary attributes are calculated with the formula of (11-attribute)^2, but equal 0 if Attribute is 11 or more. Okay, so it’s not complicated to calculate things to the power of two, but still, WTF?

Anyway, since the next chapter seems to be combat, I think I’m done with Bob the High Elf Merchant’s son.

Of the three games I’ve made characters for so far, this is the one I’d least like to play. Yes, seriously. I would play Synnibarr before Dandanon, and at least my Darkurthe Legends character has a pet fox.

Next is Fifth Cycle, another heartbreaker, but not from the 'it only cost a quid' collection.

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