DAGGERHEART Explained: Comparing it to D&D

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Critical Role’s DAGGERHEART explained! How Does is Compare to D&D? (Ep.341)’ by Dungeon Craft

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Daggerheart: new RPG with unique mechanics and diverse character options.

Key Insights

  • The video discusses Daggerheart, a new roleplaying game by Critical Role and Darrington Press.
  • Daggerheart uses a unique 2D12 mechanic for resolution, with dice representing hope and fear.
  • Ability scores in Daggerheart are slightly different from D&D, with no derivative ability scores.
  • Success in Daggerheart depends on rolling dice, adding ability score modifiers, and meeting or beating the target number.
  • Daggerheart incorporates a cooperative element with a pool of hope points that can be spent to boost rolls.
  • Success with fear in Daggerheart may result in losing initiative and possible penalties.
  • Advantage and disadvantage affect rolls in Daggerheart by adding or subtracting a d6.
  • The damage system in Daggerheart involves threshold damage, curbing the hit point bloat seen in D&D.
  • Daggerheart offers three ways for a character to die: going out in a blaze of glory, using hope points to survive, or leaving it to chance.
  • As characters level up in Daggerheart, they acquire domain cards representing skills and abilities.
  • Daggerheart includes nine classes and 27 different ancestries, providing various character options.
  • The video praises many aspects of Daggerheart, such as the initiative system, reduced hit point bloat, and the hope and fear mechanic for crafting a narrative.
  • Challenges for Daggerheart include the need to create its own adventure paths and ecosystem for Game Masters.
  • Some consider Daggerheart to be too similar in tone to D&D, but its success could depend on the wide audience of Critical Role.
  • The video concludes by inviting viewers to share their thoughts on whether Daggerheart can challenge D&D and provides links to support the creator's work and other games.

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Welcome to Dungeon Craft! I’m Professor Dungeon Master, and this is where we talk tabletop role-playing games. Today, we’re discussing Daggerheart, a new role-playing game by Critical Role and Darrington Press. They recently previewed some rules at Gen Con, and I’ll be discussing the main mechanics today. But first, a word from our sponsor.

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Moving on to Daggerheart, Darrington Press previewed their rule set at Gen Con, and while I didn’t get to experience it firsthand, I read about it in several articles that I’ll be referencing today. In my previous opinion, I had incorrectly assumed that Daggerheart would be a D&D clone, but I was proven wrong by Bob Worldbuilder’s recent video clip. Daggerheart is actually designed by Spencer Stark and features a unique 2D12 mechanic for resolution.

Like Dungeons & Dragons, Daggerheart uses six ability scores, although they have slight differences and no derivative ability scores. Essentially, you only use the bonus without converting it to a range of values. The game recommends different colored dice to represent hope and fear. Players roll both dice, add their ability score modifier, and aim to meet or exceed the target number. For example, if the target number is 16, rolling 9 hope and 7 fear would result in a successful outcome with hope. Success with fear may come with penalties such as losing initiative in the next round.

Advantage grants an additional d6, while disadvantage subtracts a d6. Rolling doubles leads to a critical hit and a bonus result. The damage system works on threshold damage. If the damage roll, including modifiers, exceeds a threshold (similar to Index Card RPG), the target suffers wounds. In Daggerheart, barely meeting the threshold results in stress damage, and exceeding it may inflict up to 3 hit points of damage. The intention behind this mechanic is to address the hit point inflation seen in D&D and avoid lengthy combat encounters at high levels.

Daggerheart’s death system differs from D&D’s death saves. Instead, it offers three possibilities. Characters can die in a blaze of glory with a critical success, use hope points to avoid death and regain hit points, or leave it to chance by rolling a higher result on the hope die than the fear die. If death occurs, the consequences are not explicitly mentioned.

When characters level up, they receive domain cards representing new abilities and skills. Players can have up to five active abilities at once, eliminating the need to constantly refer to rulebooks during play. This approach aligns with my preference of avoiding rule lookups during a game session. Daggerheart features nine classes and 27 ancestries, including cat people (Ketari) and angelic beings.

In my opinion, Daggerheart incorporates many interesting mechanics. It addresses some issues I’ve discussed on DungeonCraft, such as the slow initiative system and excessive hit point levels in D&D 5th edition. The hope and fear mechanic adds a narrative aspect to dice rolls, resembling dramatic moments like Gandalf facing the Balrog. It allows for success with consequences, providing players with more agency in shaping the outcome.

However, there are potential challenges for Daggerheart. Unlike games like Shadow Dark and Old School Essentials, which are compatible with various D&D modules, Daggerheart will need to establish its own adventure paths and ecosystem. Some critics argue that while Daggerheart has unique mechanics, its tone may be too similar to D&D 5E. They question the need for another medieval fantasy game when alternatives with distinct tones already exist. The success of Daggerheart may depend on how it is presented on camera, benefiting from the wide-reaching audience of Critical Role and their ability to showcase the game.

Ultimately, Daggerheart has the potential to challenge D&D, but it remains to be seen. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to share your opinions in the comments below. And be sure to check out DungeonCraft on Facebook and Patreon for more content. Don’t forget to support my game, Deathbringer, available on DriveThruRPG. Also, keep an eye out for The Lost City, coming soon. May your rolls be 20s… or 12s. Watch more DungeonCraft and get my game to find out what I did to that poor Katari! Thank you for tuning in.

This article is a summary of the YouTube video ‘Critical Role’s DAGGERHEART explained! How Does is Compare to D&D? (Ep.341)’ by Dungeon Craft