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The Dark Eye - Core Rules €18,97
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2022 14:39:04

Originally posted here: https://theotherside.timsbrannan.com/2022/10/review-dark-eye.html

I have known about this game for a while, both The Dark Eye and the original German Das Schwarze Auge. I always wanted to own the original German, having taken German in both high school and college, but not using a language for, well longer than I care to admit, you lose it. Das tut mir leid. The Dark Eye always attracted me as a sort of darker fantasy RPG. A game where Mirkwood is replaced by the Black Forest.

I picked the 2nd Printing of the English edition at my local game auction. I grabbed the core rules and a bunch of add-ons that I suspect came from Kickstarter. There is a lot and it all looks so good. There is even a basic QuickStart.

The Dark Eye - Core Rules

Hardcover & PDF. 414 pages. Full-color cover and interior art (and all of it is gorgeous).

For the purposes of this review, I am considering both my hardcover version and the PDF from DriveThruRPG.

There is so much about this book and game that I love. Before I go into my deep dive I want to say that this game is wonderfully crunchy; this is not a rules-light game. BUT, and I can't stress this enough, it works so well here. This easily could have come across as an artifact of the mid-80s with some early 2000s notions added on, but it doesn't. It actually all holds together rather well. I can well imagine that this is what D&D would have been like if instead of the wilds of Wisconsin it grew up in the wilds of Germany. In both cases, the beer and brats would have been good. The adventuring world, Aventuria (and I will be discussing that more), is a dark place but the characters seem lighter for it. It is a nice antidote for the "Grimdark" worlds where the characters are equally grim.

Chapter 1: Introduction

This chapter gives us the basics of the game including what an RPGs are. We also get some background on the adventuring land of Aventuria including the lands of Middenrealm and surrounding lands. There is a nice map too. We get a brief on all the gods and demigods and even the five major dragons of the world.

Chapter 2: Basic Rules

Covers what it says, basic rules. The game mostly uses d6s and d20s. There are eight attributes; Courage (Cou), Sagacity (Sag), Intuition (Int), Charisma (Cha), Dexterity (Dex), Agility (Agl), Constitution (Con), and Strength (Con). Remember I said it was wonderfully crunchy. Attribute checks are rolled on a 1d20, rolling under their score. Pretty easy. There are modifiers to these rolls as to be expected. A roll of "1" is a success and "20" is a botch. If a modifier ever brings an attribute below "1" then it can't be attempted. This chapter also covers the basic of Skill checks and combat.

There are also various Conditions, like confusion, pain, paralysis and so on that also modify various rolls and even combat and movement.

I think this great to have all of this up front since it helps with the Character Creation section next.

Chapter 3: Hero Creation

This chapter details character creation. There are 15 steps outlined. Sounds like a lot, but character creation is quite detailed. It is a 4-page character sheet after all. There are many human cultures that provide some roleplaying differences and some mechanical ones. Additionally, there are Elven and Dwarven cultures too. By Step 5 we are getting to allocating points to our Attributes. Going pretty fast so far. This is a point-buy system and like many modern RPGs you can set caps on attributes and the total number of points. You can choose a Profession (detailed in Chapter 6), as well as choosing Advantages and Disadvantages. You can then modify abilities, calculate combat techniques, choose any special abilities, calculate your derived characteristics, buy equipment, choose your starting age and name.

There are some sample characters given and some details of how they were made. With all these cultures, professions, advantages, and disadvantages you can make a wide variety of characters.

I created one for a Character Creation Challenge last year, the process was long but really fun.

Chapter 4: Races

This gets into detail on the races available to us. In addition to the Humans, Elves and Dwarves we have met there are also Half-Elves (who use elf or human culture).

Chapter 5: Cultures

Cultures are the more important aspect of your character's background. So there is more on culture than on race. The cultures are highly detailed and have some Earth analogues, but not exact copies which is nice.

Chapter 6: Professions

These are the "classes" of The Dark Eye. And there are a lot of them here. They are divided into three types, Mundane, Magical, and Blessed.

Mundanes include Bard, Courtier, Gladiator, Guard, Healer, Hunter, Knight, Mercenary, Merchant, Performer, Rogue, Sailor, Spy, Tribal Warrior, and Warrior.

Magical professions are: Spellweaver, Wyldrunner, Cat Witch, Raven Witch, Toad Witch (three witches!), Black Mage, Gray Mage, Guildless Mage, and White Mage.

Blessed professions are your cleric and religious types. They are: Blessed One of Boron, Blessed One of Hesinde, Blessed One of Peraine, Blessed One of Phex, Blessed One of Praios, and Blessed One of Rondra. Or, the various gods of the land, but not all of them.

Chapter 7: Advantages and Disadvantages

This covers the same lists found in character creation, but much more detail.

I am a huge fan of Advantages and Disadvantages. We used them all the time in Unisystem and became a great mechanic. I would love to see them ported over to D&D in someway. But I guess modern D&D has feats, so there is that. These are great here and hit all the ones I expect to see.

Chapter 8: Skills and Chapter 9: Combat

Both chapter deal with how to run skills, non-combat, and combat respectively. Chapter 8, like Chapter 7, provide more detail than what was presented in Character Creation, Chapter 3.

Chapter 10: Magic

My favorite part of any fantasy RPG is Magic. This one is no exception. In the Dark Eye we have two basic methods of controlling arcane power, Spellcasting and Rituals.

Now various spell-casting checks rely on different combinations of attributes, so no one mage is going to be great at everything unless all their attribute are high. Point-buy mostly assures this won't happen. Magic is a highly detailed affair, as to be expected. So one magic-using class is certainly not like the other.

There are rules for traditions, artifacts, illusions. Just tons of details here. It is certainly one of the most robust magic systems I have seen in a while. Even elves have a complete different set of magics.

And of course, there are spell listings.

Chapter 11: Works of the Gods

This is similar to the Magic chapter, but for the Blessed Ones. The magic here has different mechanics as to be expected really. While the "Spells" are largely similar format (for ease of reading) they feel very different.

Chapter 12: Detailed Rules

Covers all sorts of other rules. Healing, disease, poisons, heat and cold, and gaining experience. Also how Arcane Energy and Karma are replenished.

Chapter 13: Bestiary

Usually, my next favorite chapter after Magic and this one is great. We get all sorts of demons, elementals, animals, and familiars listed here. Obviously room for much more. The monsters are built like characters, so have similar statblocks.

Chapter 14: Equipment

All the gear your characters will need.

Chapter 15: Game Tips

Both tips for the Players and the GMs. Kudos to them showing apples as the game snack.

Appendix

This includes a checklist for optional rules (with page numbers), common abbreviations, and tables.

There is just SO MUCH with this game.

I am overjoyed AND overwhelmed with all the options. I can easily see why this game is so popular here and in Germany. It is a game I would love to do more with. There is just so much material to be had, both to buy and for free. There is even a Community Content section for fan-produced works.

I could spend another year with it and still be finding something new. My only regret is not having anyone I can play this one with.

Well. I suppose I will mine it for ideas.

This game will not be everyone's cup of tea, but it will be the perfect game out there for some groups.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Mikhail J. A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/27/2022 07:43:29

I normally loathe super crunchy systems but I really like the Dark Eye. Using three attributes for skill checks, in combination with quality levels, really helps determine why a character failed. The combat does also feel realistic enough, even though I think it's a bit too long.

According to germans, this game is usually never played as-is. I feel this is the only flaw the game has. It's so crunchy you will never understand it fully unless you play the game enough. It's so crunchy it's almost mandatory to hack the game to remove some of the crunch.

As primarily a solo roleplayer, the crunchiness is to its advantage. It lets me help decide what happens without my arbitrary choice.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Norbert P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/09/2018 13:34:14

I fell in love with this game back when it first came to the US in 1992 at GenCon and it has been one of my favs since...come check out my youtube review of The Dark Eye in its new edition for the US.

The Dark Eye rpg: https://youtu.be/2LpJvyBxaB0 The Dark Eye Followup: https://youtu.be/PaU23TKNTWk



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Blaine S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/28/2017 20:17:54

I first encountered this setting in the game Chains of Satinav by Daedalic Entertainment, and I mostly picked up the Corebook on a whim--and I'm so glad I did! This has quickly become one of my favorite RPGs. The learning curve is slightly steep, but I find the rules to be quite elegant. Character creation is unfortunately quite complex and comprises the biggest obstacle, but in play the rules are straightforward. I appreciate that this system has enough "crunch" to allow for a lot of character customization but is straightforward enough to not get in the way of the storytelling. I can see why this is the number one RPG in Germany; I'd call it far superior to DnD in both rules and setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Mark M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/30/2016 12:15:36

First of all this is the first time that Ive seen The Dark Eye in print or PDF format available to me. Ive played the game and seen a few games with this system, and thought they were fun.

The book is decently organized. I say this because the character generation system needs a better chapter.

  1. This is a points based system, there is no single table that will help you spend said points.
  2. Character sheets are 4 pages long or more if your a spell caster.
  3. Though the system, rolling checks, combat etc is realistic, and rather easy...character generation can take an immense amount of time.

The combat system and advanced rules system is very well organized and easy to follow, but again to spread out. Everything in the book, seems to me at least, to spread out.

That all being said, the system itself can be very smooth. With the right print outs at hand all the options are readily available and easily understood.

I like the mostly realistic view on combat, spell casting and so on. Even though it has a very much HP type DnD system, you lose ability to act as you lose Life Points.

Casting religious magic gives you negatives for other things, but positives for continuing to use religious magic. I just wish they had the same thing for arcane magic.

There are maybe 3 or 4 demons in the book, a horse, a cat and a few animals. That is particularly sad to see, there is not even ONE bad guy to use. There are no monsters really listed and this makes it so that if you just have this one book you have to make up everything on your own.

So to conclude I like the system, I like the magic and the advanced rules and such.

BUT theres to little here to actually run the game without a huge amount of work by the DM. And a huge learning curve by players to just make characters.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/24/2016 02:58:44

Good system, plenty of options for the players en GM. I hacked in it a bit to make an elder scrolls RPG, and it works just fine.

PDF quality is also great.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Joe A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/19/2016 16:20:37

Disclaimer I kickstarted the Dark Eye in the recent edition and had recently run a game and will be running one again in the future. I enjoyed it, and my players enjoyed it enough to insist on playing it again. My good experience with the game thus may colour my view

The Dark Eye

The Dark Eye, is a classic style fantasy RPG. It is the same genre of RPG as DnD, Palladium, Pathfinder, Rolemaster, Dragon Warriors et al. It is an excellent example of its kind. If that's not kind of RPG you're looking for, this isn't for you. If how ever it is then I heartily recommend it.

It shows the benefits of its 30 years of play and development, both regarding mechanics, presentation and the fact it has a rich and developed setting. Unlike the trend with Dnd and Pathfinder, there is extensive background information in the book. As I said above, Aventuria is a classic world; the kind fantasy games often define themselves by deviating from, it has its own unique flavour of classic,Classic does not mean bland! you can see how it and DnD sprang from the same cultural root, but produced roses of different colours.

Points are the rule ( adventure points or AP) for both character gen and progression. You get a dauntingly large amount of them at character gen, and there are no classes and no levels. Instead Cultural and profession 'packages' exist to simplify and guide character gen but these are highly modifiable. So you can spend your points in big chunks and generate the character quickly or take your time tinkering and perfecting depending on your needs and whims. You gain more AP to advance the character through play.

I enjoyed the skill mechanic, which worked well and easily in play. You roll against three attributes, spending skill points to ensure all three rolls succeed, left over skill points contribute to the quality of the success. It sounds (and read) a little complex but 'on the table' we found it quickly became intuitive and useful.

The combat system worked smoothly as well. I found its system of conditions and status much easier to use than pathfinders keyword. The accumulation of 'Pain' status added a little life and interest to a HP based damage system.

Throughout the rulebook, there are liberal examples of ways to simplify or complicate the rules to suit your style of play.

Conclusion, a well-written, well-produced game that stays faithful to and delivers on its key premise of classic fantasy RP.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Jonathan S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/10/2016 23:55:42

Love this system, as I love the PC RPGs made from it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by A customer [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2016 23:48:52

Excellent game, different from others but not unfamiliar becuse of this. Love it, get it, play it, share it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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The Dark Eye - Core Rules
Publisher: Ulisses Spiele
by Chris H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/17/2016 23:12:06

Very high quality in terms of both content and presentation. TDE is a relatively low-magic fantasy RPG setting with a detailed, consistent ruleset aiming to represent the game world with a pretty high degree of realism. Recommended for anyone who likes characters that feel like they're part of the world around them, rather than powerful beings who bend the world to their will.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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