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Game Type: Paper and Pencil Roleplaying

Developer's Website

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DragonRaid is a Discipleship role playing game designed to help teach Christian leadership and help Christians learn more about the scriptures and Christian life.  The game was originally developed in the early 1980s by Dick Wulf and achieved some modest initial success.  This success was short lived, however, as DragonRaid became a victim of some well meaning but mistaken Christian organizations that condemned it as having evil content.

Those that used the game claimed that it was an extremely effective way of reaching youth with the message of the Bible.  A few of these kept the game alive over the years, trying to re-vitalize the game as a discipling tool.  Lately, this group has formed a presence on the web and are working on a "2nd edition," trying to improve upon the initial game while maintaining the integrity and intent of the original.  The entire contents of the game system can be found on the web.  The 2nd edition rules are planned to be published on the web as well.

The game itself is a straight forward and simple role playing experience.  Avid gamers of RPGs will immediately recognize the medieval setting, complete with evil dragons,  trolls and goblins.  However, instead of killing creatures to rob them of their gold and precious objects, the goal of the game is to spread the good news of the OverLord of Many Names.

The OverLord of Many Names represents Jesus in the fictional world in which this game is set.  It's very much an allegory of the Christian life.  Most things represent real Christian counterparts.  Demons are represented by Dragons, sins are represented by evil monsters.  Humans, however, are represented as fallen creatures needing redemption.  Players are not allowed to kill humans. Instead they must try to bring the fallen humans to salvation.

The game uses scripture memorization as a source of spiritual power.  It does not have magic, per say, even though it occasionally throws in elements that might be considered magical.  In nearly all cases, however, that magic is represented as being evil and associated with sin, oppressive behaviors and bad consequences.  Scripture is used to break the power of sin and fight demons. It is also used to help the players (called LightRaiders) accomplish their goals.

The goals for the LightRaiders is something that sets itself apart from many other similar games.  The goals for a LightRaider "Raid" in the DragonLands is to accomplish some good deed, such as rescuing a lost soul, helping a fellow LightRaider, retrieving a stolen object, bringing a message of redemption and hope to a group of oppressed humans, helping defeat the evil intentions of the demon dragons, etc.  

The LightRaiders must accomplish this in a world that's hostile to the very notion of a LightRaider and under the control of the dragons.  In short, it's a hostile place out there and from time to time words aren't enough and the player must do direct battle with the enemy.  

Battle in DragonRaid consists of two things, spiritual battle and physical battle.  Spiritual battle is accomplished using the character's knowledge of the scriptures (called WordRunes) in an appropriate and convincing manner against the arguments of the Dragons or the Sin-Monsters.  The LightRaiders (the characters run by the players) must resist using their strengths in the fruits of the Spirit.  Failure in this kind of battle results in the player being spiritually damaged or overcome by a sin enchantment that must be broken by the other LIghtRaiders using WordRunes or other means.

Most creatures start out trying to overcome LightRaiders in a spiritual battle.  If that fails, the monsters will generally try to use the point of their weapon to remove the LightRaiders as a threat to their plans.  Some monsters don't bother to argue with the LightRaiders at all and will try to kill them on-sight.  At this point the players engage in physical combat.  This involves the throwing of some dice and the application of damage that results in the defeat of the monsters or the death of the LightRaider.  

Such a death represents (in the DragonRaid allegory) a martyr's death.  In this eventuality, the LightRaider joins the OverLord of Many Names in heaven.  This is done in a separate module at the end of the adventure and is a mini adventure in itself allowing players to explore what heaven might be like for the faithful.

As a game system, there is nothing overly remarkable about DragonRaid. It's rather basic and simple in its approach.  And yet, it's this simplicity of approach that has been its strength.  By avoiding the complexity of the more modern RPGs, DragonRaid makes itself very accessible by beginners to this type of game.  There are a few "advanced" rules but they are not complete enough to give the game the depth that experience roleplayers often desire.  The 2nd edition is expected to address some of these concerns but the game, itself, will remain relatively basic.

But the goal of DragonRaid wasn't to be the most complex, in depth roleplaying experience out there.  It was intended to be a platform to instruct people about the Bible, Christian living and Christian leadership.  In this it has proven to be very effective according to those who've used it in this manner.  This writer has seen bashful teens boldly witnessing to an in-game character and avidly memorizing scripture to help them get through the next adventure.

So, should you go out and get a copy of DragonRaid?  If an effective discipling game is what you're looking for then we think you can't do any better than DragonRaid.  If you want a complex and in-depth roleplaying experience, you might be better served to check out one of the other roleplaying systems available for Christians.

Final Score

Highlights: Straight forward, fun and effective as a discipling game.

Lowlights: It's simple approach may turn off those wanting a more in-depth or realistic experience.

Recommendation: If complexity and depth of game play are not your primary concern, this one is a winner.

Age Appropriateness: Young teens through adults.

Christian Sense (CS): 4

Game Mechanics (GM): 3.5

Game Play (GP): 4

Overall: 4