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While all those posts about the setting of Dragon’s Dogma were a blast to write and gave me an excellent excuse to exercise the GURPS City Stats rules, I have to be honest and admit that they were not the first thing I thought about when I decided to do a Dragon’s Dogma adaptation. No, the first thing I always think about converting in these cases are always the characters. Judging from other efforts I’ve seen elsewhere, and from the fact that my post about Amiri seems to be the most popular individual post in this blog, I’m not the only one. And now I get to do exactly that!

The process is quite similar to what Mailanka has done in his Psi Wars project, but a bit more accelerated since I’ve already settled on using Dungeon Fantasy as a base. In this article, I’ll look at the basic concepts behind the class system in Dragon’s Dogma, and then look at how the templates from Dungeon Fantasy relate to the broad categories defined by the original game. The focus is on the DF 1 templates and their direct derivatives when those exist. Future posts in this sub-series will deal with the more exotic templates and with racial options specific to the setting.

Dragon’s Dogma Vocations and Dungeon Fantasy’s Templates

In the original game, the player character belongs to one of nine different vocations, each with its own set of special moves. While a lot can be said to describe each of them and their abilities, most of it is actually irrelevant for our purposes!

Most of the particulars of how vocations work in Dragon’s Dogma are either too fiddly for a literal conversion (such as the numerous individual abilities), or make no sense when removed from its original context and medium (like the fact that you can switch vocations by going into an inn). Even most of the specific vocations themselves don’t merit a detailed treatment, as they simply implement traditional fantasy archetypes in the context of those mechanics we’re not using anyway.

A better approach is to roll this specific implementation back to its basic concepts, and look at it from the point of view of a character in the setting. Never mind how much HP a fighter has or what their list of abilities is. How would someone witnessing this character fight describe their style?

At its base, Dragon’s Dogma is a class-based game. And the way GURPS Dungeon Fantasy implements “classes” is through its templates. One thing from the original games that I’ll keep using in this article is the color-coding of vocations, because it’s more of a sylistic tool than a pure mechanic, and it will help organize our discussion of how the DF templates fit into the setting.

Red Templates

In the original game, red vocations are based on strength. Their practitioners are heavily armored and carry hefty weapons. Their abilities consist of creative ways of bringing those weapons into contact with enemy skulls in melee combat. Though they might achieve superhuman feats, these are the product of mundane skill and prowess.

The Knight template from Dungeon Fantasy fits this pretty much exactly, and requires basically no change to fit into Gransys. Most actual knights should use this template, and so Status 1 {5} or 2 {10} become discretionary advantages for it in campaigns where that matters. It can also be used to describe common-born soldiers trained in the fighting styles popular in Gransys.

Barbarians also fit into this category, though they would most often be wilderness-savvy melee combatants rather than enormous foreign savages. To play such a character, do the following: Remove the discount for ST and HP, and reduce discretionary advantage points to 22 to compensate. Reduce Basic Move to 6 and SM to 0. Disregard the list of disadvantages and instead choose 40 points in disadvantages from the Scout list. A Barbarian with these modifications and the more “nautical” outdoors skill picks could represent one of the toughest fishermen in Cassardis.

A simpler, less angry alternative might be to use the Knight template with the 15-point Wilderness Training lens from DF 16, and add Outdoorsman 1-4 {10/level} to its list of discretionary advantages.

A lot of what the original game models as special abilities are standard options for anyone skilled in melee combat in GURPS. All of the general and template-specific martial power-ups from DF 3 and DF 11 should be allowed, and liberal use of Extra Effort in Combat should be encouraged.

Yellow Templates

Yellow vocations are based on agility. They wear light armor, and carry weapons such as daggers and bows. Their abilities rely on acrobatic movement, high-precision strikes or shots, and sometimes on dirty tricks such as flash bombs or entangling snares. Fantastic though they may be, their feats are also the product of mundane skill and prowess.

Scouts are the best-fitting template in this category, as they play pretty much exactly like an archery-focused Dragon’s Dogma character, and their wilderness survival skills are a welcome addition. Such a character might be a scout for a military unit, a bandit (reformed or not), a solitary hunter, or even a rural lordling with the addition of some Status and basic social skills.

The description above applies to Swashbucklers as well. Fencing weapons do exist in this world, but they’re not popular in Gransys where combatants prefer heavy armor and weapons that can defeat it. Interesting alternatives to them include paired long knives or shortswords, which would play like a melee focused strider from the original game. Broadswords and longswords also suit a non-fencing duelist and provide a bit more damage in exchange for giving up fencing parries. And there’s always the option to play someone from a region where fencing weapons and styles are common, like Ser Mercedes. In all cases, add Status 1 {5} or 2 {10} to the list of discretionary advantages for the template, like for Knights.

If you have access to the Swords Against Evil article from Pyramid #3/64, then the Aristocrat, Duelist and Rogue templates are also appropriate for the setting, with the same observations on weapons as the base Swashbuckler. For the Aristocrat, replace Higher Purpose (Blood Will Tell) {5} with Status 1 {5} in campaigns where this matters, and add Status 2 {10} to the list of discretionary advantages. Swashbucklers and Aristocrats could be foreign dignitaries, or local nobility who spent time abroad and learned a foreign fighting style. And when trained in local weapons any of the four templates could represent anyone who relies more on skill and precision than raw strength when fighting.

Thieves certainly exist in Gransys, and though they’re not as adept in a fight as the other “yellow” templates their movement and, well, thief skills are still as valuable as ever. They would be particularly likely to make use of those dirty tricks mentioned earlier.

As is the case for the Red templates, all applicable power-ups from DF 3 and DF 11 are allowed, and the use of Extra Effort in Combat is encouraged.

Blue Templates

Blue vocations are based on magic. They wear robes or similar clothing, and wield staffs more as spell-casting implements than as weapons. Their special abilities are spells!

Normally, adapting the magic described in the original source would involve careful research in an attempt to match the source’s magic system with one of the many offered by GURPS. In the case of Dragon’s Dogma, though, most of the work has already been done for us by a helpful NPC in the game itself.

According to wannabe mage Steffen, to work magic one must draw ambient energy from their surroundings and channel it into the spell they wish to cast. This is a difficult task that places great strain on the caster, particularly on their cardiovascular and nervous systems. Therefore, despite the popular view of mages as frail sorts, they need as much vigor and stamina as any warrior.

Other facts that can be glimpsed from the original’s story and gameplay are that casting a spell takes a few seconds at most, and that a magician has potential access to several dozen spells, some of which are prerequisites for others. Also, magic is commonly learned from books.

This just happens to be a perfect summary of GURPS’ default Spell Magic system, as detailed on the Basic Set and expanded in GURPS Magic. So that’s what we’ll use!

Wizards fit the description in the first paragraph perfectly. In fact, they are the only type of spellcaster in the setting! This means that they have access to the Plant, Animal, and Healing colleges of magic. They still have to follow the prerequisite trees for those colleges.

The Druid template can still be used to represent a wizard trained in herbalism and wilderness survival. Replace Green Thumb 1 {5} and Power Investiture (Druidic) 3 {30} with Magery 3 {35}. Green Thumb may still be taken as a discretionary advantage, but switch the extra levels of Power Investiture from that list with extra levels of Magery.

The Cleric template can still represent a priest of the Faith who also trained in magic. Replace Power Investiture 3 {30} with Magery 3 {35}, and reduce the points dedicated to Divine abilities or spells from 25 to 20. Switch extra levels of Power Investiture in the discretionary advantages to extra levels of Magery.

We’ll take a more detailed look at the magic system in the next post in this series. Among other things, discuss what to do about those Druidic and Divine abilities.

A Note on Hybrid Templates

Hybrid vocations are those that combine the attributes of two of the previously listed categories. They’re one of the most distinctive aspects of the Dragon’s Dogma class system, so I’ll dedicate an article to them right after I’m done nailing down the last details of the magic system.