A preview of Daggerheart, the Critical Role publisher’s answer to D&D

Darrington Press: Bringing New Flavors to the Tabletop Industry

Darrington Press, known for its association with Dungeons & Dragons, is venturing beyond the realm of traditional tabletop gaming with its latest release, Daggerheart. As an addition to its growing collection of board games, Darrington Press aims to offer D&D players a familiar yet refreshing RPG experience.

A Familiar Taste

Polygon got an exclusive look at Daggerheart during Gen Con, where they discovered the unique ingredients and mechanics that make the game stand out. While Daggerheart incorporates some new elements, such as the use of twelve-sided dice instead of the usual twenty-sided ones, it still carries the essence of D&D. The game features a fantasy setting where adventurers embark on quests, encounter enemies, collect rewards, and level up.

Spenser Starke, the creator of Daggerheart, stated that 75% of the game’s design will be recognizable to D&D players, ensuring a comfortable transition into this new gaming experience. Starke’s goal is to introduce players to a broader range of games and demonstrate the various options available to them.

Intuitive Design

In a demonstration for Polygon, Starke unveiled Daggerheart’s innovative modular character sheet. This two-piece sheet is designed to contain all the necessary information for gameplay. During character creation, players can easily access role-play prompts, reminders, and step-by-step instructions provided on the back sheet. The front sheet offers instructions for leveling up.

True to Starke’s previous work on Alice Is Missing, the character sheet incorporates the use of cards. Ancestry and community cards provide players with background options, such as different races and affiliations. Class cards combine domains from Daggerheart’s expansive selection, allowing players to create unique character approaches.

In terms of gameplay, players can draw spell and ability cards from their class’s domain deck. The character sheet provides space for five cards, with additional cards stored in a vault. These cards can be swapped during rest periods, offering strategic choices for players to customize their abilities.

The layout of the character sheet is designed to be visually appealing and easily understandable at a glance. Starke’s intention is to minimize reliance on the rulebook, allowing players to jump right into the game.

Embracing Narrative

Daggerheart embraces the essence of power fantasy, allowing players to level up and unlock new abilities. However, this RPG encourages players to consider the narrative implications of their character’s growth. Stress, for example, is a resource that extends beyond physical harm, emphasizing the emotional and psychological tolls of quests and challenges.

The use of “hope” as a gameplay mechanic also adds an intriguing twist. Players can spend hope to assist others or give themselves a temporary advantage. The game introduces interesting choices related to hope management, providing a narrative depth that enhances the overall experience.

Setting the Table for Success

Daggerheart’s primary selling point lies in its accessibility for new players without compromising the nuanced complexity that keeps veteran adventurers engaged. Darrington Press aims to bridge the gap between D&D and other games, introducing players to a wide array of tabletop experiences.

While the mechanics of Daggerheart have been showcased, it remains unclear how the game will support Game Masters (GMs) in crafting enthralling stories and building immersive worlds. D&D has been criticized in the past for its player-centric focus at the expense of GMs. As Daggerheart tries to appeal to the D&D player base, it must address this issue to avoid repeating past mistakes.

Starke sees Daggerheart as an opportunity to expand D&D players’ horizons and introduce them to the vast world of tabletop gaming. Darrington Press hopes players will recognize the multitude of gaming options available outside the familiar realm of D&D.