The Dark Eye gets the FKR treatment

(c) Bryan Talbot

I am a self-confessed The Dark Eye fanboy, or to be more exact: I’m a huge fan of the original, German-language Das Schwarze Auge (DSA for short). I don’t care about meta plot, and I incorporate things into my game that I enjoy. Just like it was done in early DSA.

What do we need for FKR DSA?

  • 1d20, because that somehow belongs to the DSA feeling
  • the old rulebooks
  • unrestrained anarchy and immersion 😉

Example of a hero creation:

I roll 1d6+7 for Courage, Intelligence, Dexterity, Charisma and Strength, and write down only if a stat is 8 or 13: 9, 12, 12, 11, 8.
Ah! Strength is 8. But I don’t write down: Strength 8, and I don’t write an 8 on the “document of strength” (DSA lingo for character sheet).

Rather, I write down: “weak.” This is quite enough for FKR DSA.

Which hero type do I choose?

I flip through the old rulebooks, and my choice falls on the mage.
Of course, I could have come up with my own type, as everyone who played DSA used to do.
For example, I could have played Hadmar Wieser’s infamous Cockscarf, or our (created in 1984) “Little Giant” (with a height of 2.80m). But I’ll stick with the mage.

(c) Bryan Talbot

What are the basic requirements for a mage?
I simply disregard this question. I want to play a mage, that’s it.
So I write on my document of strength: “Mage”. Like this.
My mage can handle daggers to some extent, of course this is nothing compared to a warrior or street brawler. But still.
And a mage has learned to use at least his staff to defend himself. And he can still sling spells when he’s wearing a padded tunic. I write down “Can handle a dagger to some extent”, and “Can defend myself with a wand”.

How much life energy do I have?: The book says 20 life points. BUT. Free-form DSA doesn’t recognize life points. It is narrative, and the referee decides how much damage a hero or npc can withstand.

The only thing that is certain is that mages have only 2/3 of the life energy of an adventurer (it says so in the book). This is good enough for the referee. Now he knows that a mage will go down after 2 hits at the latest, while the adventurer, for example, can take 3. That’s all you need to know.

How many astral points? 30 is what a mage gets in the rulebook. We don’t care about that either, we’re going to make magic magical again, and uncertain, as at least the illustrations of the first edition suggest. So away from an accountant’s game, towards the phantastic.

I could now roll hist starting amount of coins and go shopping, but that’s somehow really boring since 1990 at the latest. So: Starter Package. What does a magician start with? Hm. With his staff. With a dagger. With a robe or two. With a hat, and with two or three books and writing materials. Plus change for food and lodging. That’s it.

Where do I come from: The Middle Kingdom.

What’s my name: Torm von Göltken (a small nest near Gareth)

And this is what my ready-to-play hero looks like:

Torm von Göltken
physically weak mage, 1st level
(2 hits)
staff, dagger, two robes (thick and thin cloth), hat, three books, writing material, some money

How do fights work?

First and foremost: diegetically, that is, they must fit into Aventurian logic. Aventuria is the game’s setting. Mages, especially beginners, simply won’t come close to the skills of a warrior, in combat. My ad-hoc rules look like this:
Mages roll 2d20 and take the lower result.
The opponent rolls 1wd0 (if trained in combat) or 2d20 and takes the lower result (if they are similarly bad as the mage), or maybe even 2d20 and takes the higher result (if they are really good at combat).
The two numbers are compared — and the higher result hits.

Damage? That’s handled narratively: If the winning number is quite a bit higher than the number the victim rolled, maybe it’s a really hard hit, and the referee says “The blow hits you in the leg like lightning. You hear something go crunch and crack, and then there’s pain, pain, pain”. The player of the victim writes down on his document of strength: “severe injury to the leg” or something.

(I could just as easily have said: The mage rolls 1d6, and the warrior 1d10, but that doesn’t feel like DSA to me)

How does spell casting work?

Similar to combat. The mage rolls 1d20 against 1d20 or 2d20, depending on whether the target is magic resistant or not, or how much. Low difficulty spells don’t need to be rolled, they just work. Before the game, the ref should clearly specify how often a mage can cast spells, or how strenuous it is. Or he could specify that after each major spell, the player must roll 1w20 against 1wX, or under- or over-roll a certain number specified by the referee, in order to continue casting that day.

All of this is diegetic, so it is governed by the game-world internal logic and facts established in the game.

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