December 8th, 2009

geekier than thou

Fireborn: First Impressions - Character Creation

As I've mentioned several times in the last few weeks, I've talked my roleplaying group into starting up a campaign of Fireborn. It's a now out-of-print RPG in which the player characters are all reincarnated dragons. As you can imagine, as a dragon (and a gamer) myself, this is right up my alley; I'm sharing my experiences in an effort to help fellow gamers and/or dragons evaluate the system -- and, if they start a campaign themselves, to do so as smoothly as possible.

Before I start, I also need to strongly recommend the forums at fireborn.org, a fan site where a lot of third-party resources, downloads, and rule modifications are available. (You'll need to register to download files.)

Why Fireborn?

First of all: As surprising as it sounds, dragons are underrepresented in urban fantasy.

No, really. Name three books/series set in the modern/near-future era that have dragons as major protagonists. (TTU doesn't count, though I'm flattered you remembered.) And yes, if you're an old-school gamer, "Shadowrun" and "RIFTS" have dragons -- as shadowy, godlike background figures. Fireborn does genuinely appear to do something new and different: give players a chance to play as dragons.

Beyond this, though, Fireborn elegantly solves a few problems that most RPGs spend a lot of time struggling with:
  • All those crazy superpowers that most players never get to use because you only ever obtain them at high level? You get to play with them from the start, because the game regularly jumps into flashbacks to your fully-powered "Mythic Age" dragon form.

  • The pacing and participation problems that crop up when the players split up to accomplish different objectives? The tedious process of getting PCs who start out as total strangers to come up with in-game reasons to work together? Don't happen here, because all PCs have a built-in permanent telepathic link to each other.

Collapse )