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Dominion Rules 2.0

Reviewed by Aaron Smalley ©2001

Edited by Suzanne Campbell for The Guild Companion

 

In November of 2000, we reviewed Dominion Rules 1.0 by Dominion Games (at http://www.dominiongames.com).  The good people at Dominion Games stated at the time that they would listen to, and encourage, constructive criticism, as well as suggestions on ways to improve and add to the amazingly simple yet very playable system they had created.  They have lived up to their word, and have since released a newer version that has seen several improvements and has been added to.  They have also taken a different approach in distributing version 2, by breaking it into several smaller documents that can be more easily downloaded.  They also have both illustrated versions and non-illustrated versions of most of the documents (so you don't have to spend the extra time downloading the pictures if you don't want them).  

Currently available are the basics of the system mechanics and the character creation rules in the form of the Dominion Rules Digest.  They have greatly expanded their weapons and armor listings as well as making some minor (but much needed) changes to the combat mechanics in the Dominion Rules Armoury.  They have also released (as of October 16th of this year) a new dramatically revised and improved version of their Beast Rules in their new Dominion Rules Bestiary.  The Dominion Rules Spell Books are expected out very soon with a much larger selection of spells to choose from as well as some minor balance issues being dealt with (from what I have heard).  There are also plans to release a Dominion Rules Game Masters Guide in the near future. 

Since the basics of the Dominion Rules simple d12-based mechanics were covered in depth in the DR1.0 review, I will focus on the changes that have occurred and how these changes affect the game.  Also note that there have been some minor modifications to the Dominion Rules Licence, however the basics of the system are still free to download, use, and even re-distribute (as long as you follow the Licence).  Before any of you in the U.S. panic about the "incorrect" spellings of the word "License" and "Armory" take note that this game has been written in Canada and as such follows the spellings as used in Canada and the U.K.   

For starters the Dominion Rules Digest is much smaller than the original DR1.0 document, and is a little better organized (although the original was organized pretty well to begin with).  They continued to use the superb artwork of the Illuminators Guild artists, which gives all of their illustrated versions a very professional look.  They have done an even better job of giving examples of just about every aspect of the system than they did in the earlier version of the game.  Their rules covering "Favorable Rounding" have been modified slightly.  There have been a few more skills added to the basic skills listed as well.  They also walk the reader through a sample of creating a new skill for the system so that you can fill in any gaps that you may see within the system.   

As stated above, the Armoury and the Spell Books are being released as separate pdf documents. The rules covering the use of spells and for handling combat still appear within the Digest, however.  They have also made modifications to the Withstand Injury skill so that it now simulates the taking or avoiding of damage in a more realistic fashion than in the old rules system.  One of the biggest problems spotted within the original rules was the ease with which it was possible for users of Witchcraft to unbalance the game due to being a little over powered.  When this issue came up, however, the people at Dominion Games listened to the public's opinion as well as suggestions on ways to fix the problem.  What they feel is the best way of balancing this has since appeared in the newest version of the rules.  Personally, I would have preferred a little different fix for this problem, but at least they made a move in the right direction.   

The Dominion Rules Armoury now includes many more weapons and armor than what appeared in the earlier version of the rules, as well as better and more complete descriptions of each within only 19 pages of useful text.  They also discuss (although not in as much depth as I would have liked to see) the use of "Crafted" and "Enchanted" weapons and armor.  The whole idea of quality or magical items had only been glossed over in the original rules, and the small coverage given in the new rules does a very good job of addressing how they recommend handling this subject.   

The Dominion Rules Bestiary is one of the biggest changes to the second edition of the system.  They have revamped the way that Beasts are handled by developing an extensive set of "Beast Rules" that include a wide range of skills that beasts could potentially have.  They have also taken a little different marketing strategy with the Bestiary, in offering a "Trial Version" that has most of the Beast Skills and rules included, as well as directions on how to develop your own beasts using this system.  However the only creatures included are Dragons and a few of the more odd skills have been left out.  The complete version has all the skills and rules included as well as including 24 different creatures.   One thing to keep in mind here is that they have a well designed and easily navigable web site and with the large number of downloads that they see each day, it costs a fair amount of money to keep the site going, so...    

The complete Bestiary is only available through RPG Now (at http://www.rpgnow.com/) in an e-book format for $5.95 (U.S. dollars).  Personally, I was hoping that they would have more "Beasts" included within the book, but what they do have is well done and includes artwork from the Illuminators Guild.  They also give an example of the "creation" of a new Beast using their rules system.  However I thought the price was reasonable for the over 60 pages of material that was included and I commend them on bringing their great ideas to the public in a format that is free and open in most respects.  I was also impressed with their new system of skills that they developed to cover the actions and abilities of creatures that players are likely to run into.   

All in all, I highly recommend taking a look at the Dominion Rules 2.0 system.  On a scale of 1 to 10 I give it an 8 for playability due to its simple yet very well designed system of mechanics.   They also offer a good system of support and are willing to listen to the public and discuss ways to improve or better balance the system.

 

 

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