Both Dragon Warriors and Maelstrom started their long life in the 1980s as paperbacks from British publishers Corgi and Puffin. Sold only in the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, and largely unknown in the United States, these two games provided, for a whole generation of Commonwealth youth, a gateway RPG experience. After both games fell out of print, devoted fans kept them alive, and in recent years indie publishers have brought them back for a new worldwide audience. These offers showed why a generation of British gamers cherishes these beloved games.
1. DRAGON WARRIORS
Published in paperback format to capitalize on the mid-’80s Fighting Fantasy gamebook phenomenon, the six Dragon Warriors books together constituted a complete FRPG with easy rules, fast play, and a mythic setting, the Lands of Legend. An analog of our own world in the early European Middle Ages, Legend feels down at heel, grim, gritty, and in places horrific. The names are right: Cornumbria, Ellesland, Albion, Glissom. No one has nice teeth, and no one ever wears a chainmail bikini. Elves are unknowable inhabitants of the otherworld, as likely to kill you in passing as marry you and take you away under the hill for 100 years. Goblins are mean-spirited, twisted, murderous denizens of the forest, where you don’t go at night.
[from Sept 2016]
Player characters pursue a range of professions: knight, barbarian, mystic, sorcerer, warlock, assassin, or elementalist. They are defined by a string of familiar statistics and health points. One key to Dragon Warriors‘ brutal reputation is that characters gain health points very slowly. A knight of the 10th rank must still fear a gang of angry peasants armed with staves and a couple of knives.
Nowadays Dragon Warriors is published by Serpent King Games, founded in 2011 by the game’s original creators, Dave Morris and Oliver Johnson. This resurrected Dragon Warriors Bundle included everything you need for a complete heroic saga.
There were five titles in this revived offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $48) as DRM-free .PDF ebooks, including the complete 2011 Dragon Warriors core rulebook, the Players Guide, and three short adventures with Chaucerian titles: The Knight’s Tale, The Miller’s Tale, and — new in this revival — The Reeve’s Tale. (And if you purchased this offer during its original September 2016 run, you received The Reeve’s Tale automatically on your Wizard’s Cabinet download page and in your DriveThruRPG Library. When you buy a Bundle of Holding early, you never worry about missing a title added later — even much later.)
Those who paid more than this revival’s threshold (average) price also got this offer’s entire Bonus Collection with six more titles worth an additional $60:
- Dragon Warriors Bestiary: Scores of creatures from the Lands of Legend, many unlike anything seen in other RPGs.
- Friends or Foes: Three dozen vivid nonplayer characters bring color to your campaign.
- Cold Fury: The full-length Fury of the Deep adventure along with many scenarios from the supplement In From the Cold.
- Prince of Darkness: A sourcebook and full-scale campaign set in the frozen and mountainous fief of Glissom.
- The Elven Crystals: An introductory four-part adventure re-forged in 2009 based on Oliver Johnson’s venerable 1986 Corgi paperback edition.
- Sleeping Gods: A complete seven-part campaign that can lead novice adventurers on a path to power in the Lands of Legend.
2. MAELSTROM [Sept 2017]Set in Tudor England around 1540, Maelstrom lets you create and adventure with nobles, mercenaries, priests, tradesmen, and herbalists. The game’s innovative freeform magick system, arguably a precursor to such classics as Ars Magica, lets mages warp reality to their own ends. Combat is fast and furious, with dozens of weapons and armor types. The wound system means injuries are a real threat. The herbal section, a highlight of the original Maelstrom rules, has inspired many net-based RPG herbals.
Originally published by Puffin Books under the Adventure Gamebooks banner (alongside the famous Fighting Fantasy series), Maelstrom is currently published by Arion Games (which also publishes the Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG line). This revival of our September 2017 Maelstrom Bundle, presenting most of the line for a bargain price, was a timely tie-in to the Domesday Campaign Kickstarter now in progress. Arion Games is raising funds for an epic two-book campaign that spans a century, the rule of three Kings, and several generations of characters who make their mark on history.
There were six titles in this revived offer’s Starter Collection (retail value $48), including the complete Maelstrom core rulebook and the Maelstrom Companion; Maelstrom Domesday, a standalone companion game set in AD 1086, plus its Investigators Guide; and the two supplements MQ1 Tournaments and MQ2 Inns & Taverns.
This offer’s entire Bonus Collection added fourteen more titles worth an additional $89:
- NEW in this revival! Maelstrom Rome: A 372-page standalone game that brings Maelstrom to the Roman Empire, AD 50. (If you bought this offer during its earlier run, you got Maelstrom Rome automatically on your download page and in your DriveThruRPG Library.)
- Maelstrom Gothic: A complete standalone game that adapts Maelstrom for supernatural investigations in 1850s Victorian England.
- Domesday North Yorkshire Moors: A remote and wild region with enough supernatural action for an entire Domesday campaign.
- Classic Fantasy Toolkit and Bestiary: Grab your 10-foot pole for traditional dungeon-crawling using the Maelstrom system.
- Beggars Companion: The lowest of the low can get into a lot of mischief.
- Four Maelstrom adventures — The Beast of Ledsham, Purple Mushroom Caves, The Sward [sic] and the Stone, and The Yuletide Spirit.
- Domesday Maps and Charts, Manor Cartography Symbols, and two sets of paper miniatures for Maelstrom and Maelstrom Domesday.