Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Importance Of Using Protection

And you thought combat in Original Dungeons and Dragons was deadly.

In Avalon Hill's Magic Realm, death comes quickly, and often.

Without armor, most Magic Realm characters are killed by a single well-aimed blow inflicted by any one of several monsters and natives. And that, regardless of how long you have been adventuring nor how proficient you have become.

That's why many Magic Realm characters begin their adventuring days with one, or several pieces of armor. And those that don't begin with armor either rely heavily on being fleet-of-foot and running away from danger, or spend the first couple of days chasing down some protection.

There are two kinds of armor in Magic Realm. The mundane armor, represented by grey counters, is included in your character's starting equipment, or can be purchased from the natives that prowl the valleys and woods of the Realm.

Mundane armor includes helmets, shields and breastplates, all of which are medium weight, are damaged if they absorb a medium blow, and are destroyed with a heavy or greater blow. It also includes suits of armor, which are heavy weight, damaged by heavy blows, and destroyed by tremendous ones. Any of those armor items are flipped over to their "damaged" side when their absorb their first blow. They are destroyed, if damaged a second time.

However, they can absorb lesser blows indefinitely. So a heavy suit of armor can absorb any number of medium blows and be no worse for wear. And the medium helmets, shields and breastplates can absorb no end of light blows without a scratch.

In addition to the grey, mundane armor counters, Magic Realm includes yellow armor treasure counters and armor treasure cards.

While there are several mundane helmets, shields, breastplates and suits of armor available to the players, there is but one of each of the yellow magic armor counters.

The gold helmet, jade shield and silver breastplate are worn by the mouldy skeleton, a special treasure site in the Magic Realm, and are heavy weight and are damaged by heavy (rather than medium) blows.

The suit of tremendous armor is found in the Crypt of the Knight, another special treasure site. The suit of tremendous armor is of little worth and cannot be carried by any but the strongest Magic Realm characters, like the White Knight, Berserker or Dwarf, as characters need to have tremendous strength to wear it. For those who can don this armor, it makes them a walking tank.

In addition to those armor treasure counters, there are three special armor treasure cards.

The first is the golden armband. Only light weight, but providing medium armor protection, this is a handy treasure for the light characters, who must otherwise forgo armor as they adventure in the Magic Realm. The golden armband is worth an additional 3 fame if sold to the Lancers.

The second treasure is the bejeweled dwarf vest. Worth an additional 10 fame if sold to the Soldiers (perhaps because the game designer failed to include dwarven natives to interact with?) the dwarf vest is but medium weight while providing heavy protection to the wearer. The bejeweled dwarf vest is also a great treasure, and so should be kept if the player has selected great treasures as one of her victory conditions.

The final armor treasure card is the golden crown. One third of the imperial regalia (the other items being the royal sceptre and the imperial tabard) the golden crown provides somewhat inadequate protection, being heavy weight and providing only medium armor. Its sale value of 50 gold, plus 20 fame if sold to the guard, and its status as a great treasure would tend to discourage players from using this as armor, unless absolutely necessary.


Eric Wilde said...

Thank you for this series on Magic Realm.

I'm an old 1e owner who couldn't figure the dang thang out. I used it as inspiration for GMing for years and still have the hex tiles somewhere around here.

Since finding your series I've turned to RealmSpeak and actually learned how to place this beast. I find it a most excellent board game!

Aaron E. Steele said...

Then my posts are having the intended effect. Magic Realm is criminally underappreciated as an example of good game design (if also a prime example of poor rules communication)

Eric Wilde said...

Incidentally, my solo Swordsman beat both the Imp and Demon at the same time. All he got out of it was a rusted armor curse, of which he wore none. Top that!

Aaron E. Steele said...

Amazing! I'm curious what you had in your equipment since you'd have a hard time with just your thrusting sword. I faced the demon recently and he rolled double-ones during his attack. Dragged into the pits of hell! What stung even more is I was facing off with him on day 27 of 28, had already satisfied my victory conditions, and was wielding Truesteel. Ah, hubris.

Eric Wilde said...

I can't recall the weapon I was using; but, I had the Belt of Strength. This treasure gives the Swordsman a T2** Fight chit that totally rocks.