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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Mullin

Tabletop Review: Daggerheart v1.2

Welcome, Adventurers to the world of Daggerheart, Darrington Press’, of Critical Role fame, newest entry into the Tabletop Roleplaying Game (TTRPG) genre. The core mechanic of this new system is the use of Duality Dice, represented by two 12-sided dice (d12s) that generate player and Game Master (GM) currency.   


Players wield Hope by playing one of nine classes, each including two subclasses, 18 ancestries, nine communities, and can create experiences unique to their character. Included in the character-creation process is the ability to make connections with other players. This feature alone makes jumping into gameplay much faster while skipping the whole awkward first date phase that usually takes place in a tavern.


The Duality Dice is represented by two different colored d12s, one for Hope, which fuels Player Character moves, and one for Fear, the currency for GM moves. The most interesting aspect of using this system is that it allows for multiple levels of success or failure. These levels include Critical success (the numbers on both d12s match), success with Hope, success with Fear, failure with hope, and the most devastating of the failures, a failure with Fear. These varying degrees of success or failure allow for fluid storytelling that is much more satisfying than simple pass/fail mechanics found in some other systems. 


Another standout feature of Daggerheart is the lack of initiative for combat. Players are free to collaborate and use actions as they see fit until they roll with Fear or fail a roll. The GM can spend Fear to interrupt Player actions as well which balances encounters quite well. Having the ability to free-form combat allows for interesting and powerful Player actions.  


Speaking of combat, Daggerheart Players also have Armor slots, Stress points, and a revamped Hit Point system that utilizes damage thresholds to simplify a lot of math at their disposal. Armor in this game allows players to expend armor slots to reduce incoming damage to dropping the total damage taken below a given threshold. Your damage thresholds represent Minor, Major, and Severe damage which correlates to the loss of one, two, or three hit points. A Stress point may be to fuel certain abilities or as a consequence of gameplay. Dropping to zero hit points presents the Players with even more opportunities. 


Death, as an Adventurer, is an always present threat. In Daggerheart, you have options should the unfortunate befall you. A Player can choose to go out in a Blaze of Glory which allows them to get one last automatic critical hit before passing on. Alternatively, you can Avoid Death which may give your character a scar, but they’ll live on to fight another day. The last option is to Risk it All, gambling that your Duality Dice will allow the downed Player the ability to jump back up with full health and no Stress instead of having them pass beyond the veil forever. 

After combat, Players may choose to take a Short or Long Rest. This allows them the ability to repair armor, regain hit points or Hope, or blow off some Stress. Players also can help their party members who may have taken more than their fair share of damage in the last battle get back on their feet.  


Game Masters can rejoice as running adversaries has been greatly simplified. Enemies are organized by tier level, have Motives and Tactics as part of their description, and a difficulty class, damage thresholds, and an organized catalogue of abilities and types including costs and triggers for GM moves. These changes allow the GM to easily run encounters and buff or nerf enemies as needed on the fly. There is also an included table for improvising adversaries based on tier level to throw at the party. 


Included in the playtest material, available for free at,, and, is the complete ruleset, character sheets, printable cards for player characters, printable standees, battle maps, a quick start adventure, and a GM guide. The art in the early materials is quite good and future versions promise to only improve upon it. The Demiplane Nexus contains a user-friendly digital character creator and a searchable playtest document for quickly looking up rules and abilities. 


I had the opportunity to GM Daggerheart for six hours with three players who, while new to Daggerheart, were veterans in the TTRPG scene. While the lack of initiative made early encounters a little awkward at first, by the end of the session, the Players were coordinating like professional adventurers. We tested mostly combat mechanics while the next session will include more roleplay-centric themes. Throughout the session, we had a handful of critical successes which are quite powerful in Daggerheart, including one for our Simiah (ape/monkey folk) Bard who chose the Risk it All feature after being knocked down to zero hit points.  

Overall, Daggerheart shows a lot of promise as one of the next great TTRPGs. The mechanics, the highly variable storytelling, and the accessibility of the game are sure to cement this title as a fan favorite. Version 1.3 has already landed and has implemented Player and GM feedback. I know my players are chomping at the bit to get back into the world of Daggerheart and I’m excited to run more sessions for them. For the low price of free, you too can jump into Daggerheart, have an adventure, and possibly shape the future of the game. Stay tuned for a Version 1.3 review coming soon. 

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