#346 - Three Dragon Readings


Dragon Magazine General Discussion


I have to say that I've very much enjoyed the current issue of Dragon after the very long wait for a magazine (still waiting on 345 you evil ones), and the article on using a 3DA deck for resolving ability scores is fantastic.

While doing my inital magazine skim through, I assumed that the article would cover all aspects of creating a first level character. I thought that the idea was awesome. When i actually sat down and read the article I was upset I'd mis-understood, but not at the actual rules.

But, I do have a problem. Most of the players in the groups I'm in prefer a straight point buy for ability scores rather than the point buy system in the DMG. I'm curious if anyone has any idea's on modifying the rules for the number of tokens used to be able to let it be for just a straight point buy. (what I mean by a straight point buy is giving a number of points [ussually 78-90] to spend on a one for one ratio on ability scores.)

I'm sure I'll be working on this myself and if I succeed with a plausible theory, I will post my idea's for all to use (or berate).


I need to look through that article. Since I don't own 3DA, I'll have to figure out if I could do it with a normal deck of cards or a tarot deck.


Try tripling the numbers, so you'd have 75 tokens instead of 25 for a straight point buy. You'd get an average score of about 12, which I think is similar to the 4d6 drop lowest method that you use. The initial set up then, would be 6 tokens on all the ability cards, 27 on nature, 9 on the middle card (whose name I can't remember), and 3 on the nurture card.

When it says "Give one token" you would triple the number instead so it would read "Give three tokens". Since a lot of the methodology involved involves thirds, this sounds like it would be easier that a straight doubling of the tokens.

Chris, I'm pretty sure the article covers using a normal deck of cards rather than 3DA.


I am lost about something. In the Nurture section, it says that the card's # help's determine its age category. Some of the dragons' "old" categories include the number 11. How!?!? I love the system presented, but I am not sure if I am doing the calcs correctly.


Mirivor wrote:
I am lost about something. In the Nurture section, it says that the card's # help's determine its age category. Some of the dragons' "old" categories include the number 11. How!?!? I love the system presented, but I am not sure if I am doing the calcs correctly.

Not quite sure what you're trying to say (maybe I'm not reading it right), but the number they're likely referring to is the strength of the card, the number in the colored corners on the card.


In the Nurture section, each dragon is given a strength rating ranging from 1 to 11. Since there is no 11 in the deck, how are they calculating each dragon's strength rating? In the example layout (which I replicated, by the way), the player has a "strength-3 silver dragon". Threes are not silver dragons, nor could I find any way to correlate the number to the cards and counters in front of me. I followed the example to the letter. How are they coming up with the exact numbers involved? How do I get a strength 10-12 (Old) red dragon? I understand how to get the age category from the suite of the card, but how do you get the actual strength rating? Does it matter?


Mirivor wrote:
In the Nurture section, each dragon is given a strength rating ranging from 1 to 11. Since there is no 11 in the deck, how are they calculating each dragon's strength rating? In the example layout (which I replicated, by the way), the player has a "strength-3 silver dragon". Threes are not silver dragons, nor could I find any way to correlate the number to the cards and counters in front of me. I followed the example to the letter. How are they coming up with the exact numbers involved? How do I get a strength 10-12 (Old) red dragon? I understand how to get the age category from the suite of the card, but how do you get the actual strength rating? Does it matter?

I'll check out the article when I get home tonight for you, and see what's up. :D


One point point buy is a little open to cheese though, which is why nobody uses it. Of course players like it; it's simpler and more open to abuse. As an example, I used to do it in Baldur's Gate, wherein I'd reduce my Intelligence from 10 to 8 and use the points to increase my Strength from 16 to 18. (It was genius; I'd have 18 Str/Dex/Con, 3 Int, 9 Wis and the rest in Charisma, because under AD&D 2nd Edition rules, low Int was no penalty to a fighter and 9 Wis was as low as you could get without incurring any drawbacks.)

Increasing Strength from 16 to 18 is worth a lot more to a fighter than decreasing any other ability score from a 12 to a 10, so it should cost more.


Mirivor wrote:
In the Nurture section, each dragon is given a strength rating ranging from 1 to 11. Since there is no 11 in the deck, how are they calculating each dragon's strength rating? In the example layout (which I replicated, by the way), the player has a "strength-3 silver dragon". Threes are not silver dragons, nor could I find any way to correlate the number to the cards and counters in front of me. I followed the example to the letter. How are they coming up with the exact numbers involved? How do I get a strength 10-12 (Old) red dragon? I understand how to get the age category from the suite of the card, but how do you get the actual strength rating? Does it matter?

It sounds like you're trying to use a normal deck of cards instead of a 3-Dragon Ante deck. The 3DA deck has dragon cards with strengths up to 13. The strength is marked in the corners of each card. Strength 3 dragons are present in the black, bronze, copper, red, silver, and white suits. There's also a strength 3 mortal (The Fool).

Question: if the Druid is an ability card and it has the fewest tokens when it resolves, do I give tokens to the card with the next fewest tokens or do I do nothing and move on to the next ability card (if any)?


Where do I get a 3DA deck and how much are they?

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Doc_Outlands wrote:
Where do I get a 3DA deck and how much are they?

I would be remiss if I did not point out that you can order them through paizo.com

However, you can probably also one from your local game store.

Jason Bulmahn
Managing Editor of Dragon


LurkerBeneath wrote:


It sounds like you're trying to use a normal deck of cards instead of a 3-Dragon Ante deck. The 3DA deck has dragon cards with strengths up to 13. The strength is marked in the corners of each card. Strength 3 dragons are present in the black, bronze, copper, red, silver, and white suits. There's also a strength 3 mortal (The Fool).

Whoops. I completely missed the sidebar about using normal decks of cards. It looks like with normal cards you only get an age category instead of a strength rating. In most cases a threshold strength rating in the rules is followed by an age category in parentheses so I guess you need to use that instead. Or you could flip a coin, heads = high strength (for the age category), tails = low strength.

Of course none of this helps with mortal cards or the unique dragons, since their strengths and equivalent age categories are not listed in the article. There are two mortal cards that list strength thresholds without specifying an equivalent age category, so I don't know how you would resolve them if you're playing with regular cards.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

LurkerBeneath wrote:
LurkerBeneath wrote:


It sounds like you're trying to use a normal deck of cards instead of a 3-Dragon Ante deck. The 3DA deck has dragon cards with strengths up to 13. The strength is marked in the corners of each card. Strength 3 dragons are present in the black, bronze, copper, red, silver, and white suits. There's also a strength 3 mortal (The Fool).

Whoops. I completely missed the sidebar about using normal decks of cards. It looks like with normal cards you only get an age category instead of a strength rating. In most cases a threshold strength rating in the rules is followed by an age category in parentheses so I guess you need to use that instead. Or you could flip a coin, heads = high strength (for the age category), tails = low strength.

Of course none of this helps with mortal cards or the unique dragons, since their strengths and equivalent age categories are not listed in the article. There are two mortal cards that list strength thresholds without specifying an equivalent age category, so I don't know how you would resolve them if you're playing with regular cards.

For the Dragonslayers abilities line: "steal one token from each ability card that is a dragon of strength-7 and lower" add the text (young or adult).

For the Fools abilities line: "Give one token to every other ability card number higher than 3" add the text (adult and old).

That should solve your problems I think.. unless there were a few I missed.

Jason Bulmahn
Managing Editor of Dragon


Jason Bulmahn wrote:


For the Dragonslayers abilities line: "steal one token from each ability card that is a dragon of strength-7 and lower" add the text (young or adult).

For the Fools abilities line: "Give one token to every other ability card number higher than 3" add the text (adult and old).

That should solve your problems I think.. unless there were a few I missed.

Jason Bulmahn
Managing Editor of Dragon

Those were the two mortal cards I referred to. I just realized last night that the phrase "this card" always refers to the card being resolved and never to the card mentioned in the previous sentence (i.e., "the ability card <number> cards away clockwise"), so that addresses some of my concerns about unique cards with unlisted strengths.

http://www.wizards.com/dnd/files/ThreeAnte_rulebook.zip has a list of all 3DA cards and their strengths, so I guess I'm not revealing any secrets if I observe that all the unique cards (other than the Fool) have strengths higher than 3.

Sovereign Court Contributor

Jason Bulmahn wrote:

For the Dragonslayers abilities line: "steal one token from each ability card that is a dragon of strength-7 and lower" add the text (young or adult).

For the Fools abilities line: "Give one token to every other ability card number higher than 3" add the text (adult and old).

That should solve your problems I think.. unless there were a few I missed.

Jason Bulmahn
Managing Editor of Dragon

I think that should do it as well; I can't believe I missed that!

Craig Shackleton
The Rambling Scribe

Community / Forums / Archive / Paizo / Books & Magazines / Dragon Magazine / General Discussion / #346 - Three Dragon Readings All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.
Recent threads in General Discussion