DQ is a FRPG that was originally released by SPI and later revised in a 2nd edition. After TSR bought SPI, they released a 3rd edition which is still available, though maybe out of print. The differences between the 2nd and 3rd edition are small and include the elimination of references to black magic and demonology and the addition of supplemental material from SPI's Arcane Wisdom rules supplement.
The character generation system consists of rolling a random number which is then allocated to attributes like agility, magical aptitude and physical strength. The size of the original random number determines the maximum amount that can be allocated to a single attribute, this prevents players with large initial rolls from creating super strong beings and forces them to create more rounded characters.
Character races include: human, dwarf, elf, halfling, giant, shape changer (lycanthrope) and orc. Racial adjustments to character abilities and experience point multipliers help to balance the game. One exciting feature of the game is that all of the creatures in the monster section are listed with ranges of abilities just like the characters. It would take little, if any, effort to create gnome, minotaur, hobgoblin, neanderthal, centaur or any other race of character.
There are no character classes, characters use their experience to by levels of proficiency in skills, weapons or magic. Skills include: alchemy, beast mastery, ranger, thief, languages, troubadour, navigation as well as others. There are several colleges of magic with numerous spells and counterspells and a fair list of weapons categorized by usage. This system provides the flexibility and uniqueness of character that is the state of the art without the complexity and magnitude of rules normally associated with such an open game.
Individual combat receives a clear, well illustrated explanation which would be helpful to any player of any RPG. Ranges, field of fire, flank attacks, etc are explained and pictures of miniatures on a hex grid provide visual aid. A 25mm hex grid is provided to be copied and used as a tactical display, a smaller scale grid for mapping is also provided for mapping.
The rule book comes complete with character creation, advancement, combat, magic and encounter rules. An excellent adventure takes up the last few pages along with blank player character and adventure record sheets for photocopying.
I used to believe there was little support material for DQ, but I was wrong. The now defunct Judges Guild had published a few adventures and game aids, and TSR has one that was compatible with AD&D as well (DQ1, The Shattered Stone). SPI published a campaign setting (Frontiers of Alusia), 3 adventures, and 2 accessories (dungeon design kit and rules supplement). Chaosim's Thieves World adventure pack provided full statistics for use with DragonQuest. On top of this Ares magazine supported DQ with articles and adventures prior to issue #14. Additional magazine support has appeared in Dragon and Imagine magazines at least 11 times in the past. Finally, the DQ system is well suited for the use of universal supplements from any source and conversion of material from other systems is not overly difficult. 5th Cycle (Shield Games) and Ysgarth (Ragnarok Enterprises) material are probably the easiest to convert of the non-generic supplements available. DQ : 5th Cycle stat conversion follows:
PS : ST MD : HM AG : AG MA : MA EN : EN FT : FP WP:CS PC : IN PB : CL (DQ has no equivalent for EL)
Aside from being atrophied by TSR (DQ's ghost lives in the pages of AD&D 2nd edition) the only flaw in the game may be that the list of creatures can be considered unoriginal by some. As stated above, monster creation/conversion is not difficult and fun enough to solve this problem. Using DQ's, somewhat, basic collection of denizens one can interpolate the stats of favorites from other games and/or create original creatures.
All in all DQ is an excellent game system with easy to learn rules. A group of players with great imagination and creativity could easily campaign for years and even use the rules to play other genre (eg. scifi, superhero, horror). It would be sad to see such a flexible system disappear and I for one hope to prolong its existence as long as possible.
Style: 5 (Excellent!)