Monday, December 23, 2013

Monday Memories – Dragon*Star

Probably one of my favorite 3rd party campaign settings for 3.x was Fantasy Flight’s Dragon*Star. With the simple premise of “D&D in space” they managed to take fantasy and integrate it into a setting that I think is one of the best space opera settings around.

The idea is that known space is governed by the chromatic and metallic dragons. And every few thousand years, the current Dragon Emperor steps down and another takes over. Only, by agreement, the chromatic and metallic alternate.

At the time of the campaign setting, a gold is stepping down, and a red is coming in. And these dragons adhere to the classic D&D tropes of alignment. So, a Lawful Good dragon is leaving, and a Chaotic Evil one is about to take control. Let the chaos and strife ensue!

This was one of the few campaigns that I actually ran as the DM, and I didn’t really integrate much of the political struggles into my game. My story was basically Firefly with magic.

The party consisted of a cat-person who owned the ship, the Nefarious Lion, and his co-pilot, and Orc named 13. Along the way they picked up two former soldiers, one being a psionicist and medic, a former “NASCAR” type space-racer, and a blob-like mechanic (basically a conversion of Star Frontiers’ Dralasite) who had been raised by dwarves.

I ran several adventures, including one inspired by Event Horizon for a Halloween game. Although each was an individual “episode” of sorts, there were a few subplots that ran through the whole thing. I had several more adventures planned out, but life got in the way for a while, and we ended up changing games. My group did that a lot.

The game itself was very cool. You used the D&D rules for almost everything, with the DS books providing additions for things like technology and such. Magic was just as prevalent as it was in a traditional D&D game. In fact, it was designed so you could bring your D&D character into Dragon*Star, and explained it that some worlds had not been brought into the Empire yet. Which made for some interesting opportunities for game play.

The whole thing got a lot of comparison to Spelljammer. But really, instead of being a fantasy game with sci-fi elements, it was a sci-fi game with fantasy elements. Which ended up giving it a much more unique flavor.

Some of the stories I ran and had planned to run have been adapted to works of fiction (in various stages of development). I am currently creating a setting for stories that is similar in tone (mixing my fantasy chocolate with my sci-fi peanut butter), and I will probably port over some of the plots and ideas when I can.

Although Dragon*Star is out of print now, you can still buy the PDF’s from Fantasy Flight’s website, and you can often find the books in used book and game stores. I highly recommend them.

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