It’s been a while since I did an update and the play test goes on. I’ve got my scribbled notes on the print outs and things keep changing. And that’s why I haven’t put too many crunchy bits in these posts. But this post I want to talk to talk about races. This isn’t to be confused with cultures that I posted about last time.
By races, I mean in the traditional fantasy RPG sense. But since this more Sword & Sorcery, I didn’t go with any of the standard one(elf, dwarf, or halfling). These races are specific to the world but as always, the GM can do what they want. Another different twist that I took, was that all of the “non-human” races were one human. Some turn of events changed them forever.
Another thing I wanted to do is keep them in line with the philosophy of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. So it will be up to the game master to decided if they want to do the races as a Vocation or an Archetype or even use the multi-Archetype rules from the Addendum (which one of the play testers is having a blast with).
So onto the Races: Beast Kin: In ancient times, a primitive tribe dare defy the will of the gods. The gods cursed the tribe to be half-man and half-beast. Beast Kin have a feral beast-like appearance. Some many even have feline, canine, ursine, or simian features. They are still defiant and strong-willed mixed with the cunning natural instincts and senses. Lemurians: There is a legend that an alien eldritch race were stranded on the world. This race interbreed with a local tribe and gave rise to the Lemurians. The chaos and corruption of magic flows through their blood. They can attempt to manipulate and bend to their will magic that is cast against them. They can easily sense the presence of magic and can occasionally see through illusions or invisibility. Lemurians are humanoids with oddly colored skin, hair, and/or eyes. They often have other worldly features. Most have two to four tentacles. (Yep. Tentacles.) Tuatarans: When mankind still lived in caves and barely understood fire, the Serpent Folk ruled the world. The Serpent Folk used the primitive humans as slaves and their Lizard Man army to enforce their rule. Then a plague struck the Serpentine Empire. It killed many of the Serpent Folk and worse yet it drove the disciplined Lizard Man legions into primitive savages hell-bent on destruction. In a desperate attempt to save their empire, Serpent Folk sorcerers performed vile arcane experiments on humans in order to create a better and plague resistant army. Unfortunately, it made things worse. While the resulting hybrids were resistant to disease, they also had independent spirit of the humans. Tuatrans have human features (and usually dark or black hair) with reptilian skin and eyes. A few even have forked tongues and/or tails. Tuatrans heal quickly and are resistant to poison and disease. As a side effect of their arcane origin, many can consume the life force of the dying to heal themselves.
So there you go. An overview of the nonhuman races. Next up will be a little rant about some new Archetypes. Man. I so want to call them classes. And like I said, everything is still in play test to the actual crunchy bits are in still in flux and changing every couple of weeks.
The play test continues. I’ll be posting these little updates and rants on a weekly or biweekly basis depending on time and if I have something to say. Won’t bore you with blah, blah posts. So I figure the best place to start is a little overview of the world.
What are my inspirations? Well, pretty standard I’d say. You probably know the usuals. Conan (and his clones, Clonans?), Lankmhar, and Elric. Pretty normal for a Sword and Sorcery type game. Well, I also drew from things like Kull of Atlantis, Elak of Atlantis, and John Carter of Mars. Yeah, I know sword and planet is a little off the track. And I didn’t go too far away from the Sword & Sorcery vibe. But the slightly alien feel of Barsoom just had to work it’s way in there. And of course the totally awesome movies of Ray Harryhausen. Man I grew up on those things and I’ll still watch them when ever I can. So onto the World of Skarynth and brief overview of it.
Skarynth is brutal and wild world. There are no kingdoms but a few city-states that wield power of their respective territories. Most of the world is unexplored wilderness, wastelands, and lawless territories. The gods are petty and cruel. There is no god of the harvest for farmers to pray to. But there is a God of Famine to appease to keep from starving.
There are six major culture groups and a very brief overview of each:
Aklonians: Some call the merchants, sailors, and explorers. Most call them pirates, con artists, and thieves.
Caedorians: Bold, brave and pragmatic warrior culture. Makers of the finest swords in the world.
Chesk Tribesmen: Mounted nomads who wander the wastelands. Know for the horsemanship, archery, and ability to survive in the worst of environments.
Jahdorans: Driven by honor and pride. Their society is highly regulated and relies on a strict caste system.
Tzwali: Warrior culture living in the jungle ruins of an ancient civilization. They control many secrets and artifacts of the ancient and powerful sorcerer kings but rarely use such power.
Zygurians: They’re decadent and have fully embraced arcane power. Zygurian politics are blood sport routinely employing assassination or arcane power.
Yes, I do have much more detailed write ups. And of course, there are few things that might change. Yeah, a couple little things might get moved around.
So more to come soon. Like some nonhuman races, the gods and few other bits.
Tonight is the second session of my Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells game! I didn’t write anything on the first session because it was mostly character generation and getting the player’s used to the rules. And a little bit of getting the GM used to the rules too.
Overall, a good time was had. Still kicking the tires on few house rules and new classes. The game did play a lot quicker than I thought. The deadliness was right on track. The PC’s felt threatened by even the weakest of opponents. We did notice that spell casters with crappy stats are really crappy. But such it the price of arcane power. As I’ve mentioned, this is play test and there already have been a few tweaks to the new classes and races. The spells and monsters have been good so far.
So far the PC’s were hired as caravan guards and have fought off some bandits and degenerate Trogs (a new monster coming soon!) And one PC had a midnight fling with the merchant’s wife. Now they’ve “volunteered” to go into a dungeon during a suspicious stop on the caravan’s route. Things are going to interesting.
Yeah, I know this is short post and not much on substance. I got to get back to work and do a little more prep for tonight. Don’t worry, more details will follow.
Keep those dice rolling, folks!
Yep, I’ve ranted a lot about this game. Time for another one. Something that hasn’t been ranted about too much but does need to get a little shout out. And that’s Vocations.
Tracing the origin of this mechanic is pretty easy. And I’m pretty sure I’m on track here. The idea comes from FATE. One of its better ideas. Basically, there’s a thing called High Concept. You use it describe your character overall. And it works for SS&SS and can work for other games as well especially some OSR games.
In the case of SS&SS, it replaces the need for a long list of skills. But is should be for much more than that. And that’s how I’m going to use it in my game. Going back to FATE (and that time I ran the Dresden Files RPG), I learned a lot about dealing with this. So here’s what I’ve learned and how I’m going to apply it.
First, the Expanded Vocation should describe the character overall. This can include culture, “job”, personality, appearance, quirks and so on. Keeping with mechanics of SS&SS, the Expanded Vocation will not help the character in combat, to cast spells or do something that it the “thing” for another class. It sounds like there isn’t much left but there is. You’ve got the whole range of non-combat and professional skills, social interactions, reputation and so on. And here’s a hint for players and GM’s, take the Vocation both literally and figuratively.
Not only should the Vocation give the character a Positive Die when doing things, it should give a Negative Die for doing some things as well. I’m pull this basically straight from FATE. When the player (with the GM’s or other player’s assistance) designs a character’s Expanded Vocation, they should be able to think of three different ways they could use it to their advantage and three different ways it could be used to the character’s disadvantage. Now, I admit that this may take more time than it takes for the rest of character creation. That’s OK. One of our standard house rules is the Three Session Rule. Basically, you can change up your character if you don’t like but you can do that only for the first three sessions of a campaign. Like I said, the player doesn’t have to do it alone. The GM and the player’s should give some advice. Just don’t tell the player what they have to do. You know what I mean.
Moving right along on to bigger things. My campaign//play test begins on Thursday. Yep, you heard that right play test. I figure it’s time to let this cat out of the bag. I had a brief email exchange with Diogo and he gave a thumbs up. So after a couple years (my god has it been that long), I’m going to get something up on RPGNow. Don’t worry folks. Keeping with the tradition of SS&SS the pdf will be PWYW. The World of Skarynth is making a come back. I’ve played with this setting for a long time and SS&SS fits it and works (hopefully). I have faith that it’s going to work. Let me put it that way. Right now, we’re going to be play testing the new classes, races, spells, and monsters plus giving the setting a chance for contact with some players. So it’s play test, edit, lay out and publish. That’s the plan any way. So now that I’ve said it, I’m crossing my fingers. And don’t worry. More details will follow as things get finalized.
I had this thought a long time ago when I was playing around with some ideas about hacking Swords & Wizardry and since I’m messing around with Sharp Swords and Sinister Spells the idea came back to me again. This time a little more thought out. So mixing that up, let’s play around a bit. Initiative: This is lifted from SS&SS. Use HD for initiative. However, I like things a little random. So roll it. (I added this as house rule to the upcoming SS&SS game). Now there may be some disparity with OSR Thieves and Monks since they had d4 HD. For them, I’d probably let them add their Dex Mod or for initiative let them roll a larger die type. Natural Healing: This is also from SS&SS and I played around with the idea when I working on the failed YARC (Yet Another Retroclone) project. Roll your HD for healing at whatever rate you use for your game. Weapon Damage: Er what? This goes back to Damage by Class idea and doing weapons by “type”. So use the character’s HD as a base for medium weapons then use a larger die for “heavy”, and a smaller die for “light”. For the basic classes, it look something like this: Fighter: d6/d8/d10; Cleric: d4/d6/d8; Magic-User: d3/d4/d6; Thief: d3/d4/d6 (but for back stab: d6/d8/d10). Armor Class: Huh? Yeah why not? If you’re doing Weapon Damage by class why not Armor Class too? Like weapons, do armor by type (Light, Medium Heavy). Use the Weapon Damage as above and divide the highest number on the die by two to get bonuses like this: Fighter: 3/4/5; Cleric: 2/3/4; Magic-User: 1/2/3; Thief: 1/2/3. Of course, this also depends on who can where what armor in your game. Thieves and Magic-Users in plate mail just don’t quite work so adjust to your rules of choice.
So yes. This is another of those posts to file under random ideas that I may or may not use and will probably mess around again with in the future sometime. And of course, YMMV.
It’s a time for one THOSE posts. I really like to do just content. You know something gameable like a monster, magic item or some sort of house rule. But now and then, I have to do one those mental cleansings that keep things on track. Especially, since just started doing some podcasting on Anchor.fm.
So what’s up? Well, I’m getting ready to wrap up another Dungeon Crawl Classics game. And it’s been fun. We had some fantastic sessions. Like the time everyone was down but the thief and the elf and they were going against an evil wizard. Things were bad for the party. Until those two characters crited said evil wizard in the same round. But in true DCC, there was a player epiphany. He hated the character he ended up with after the funnel but then after surviving a few close calls and surviving some adventures, the player started to really enjoy the character. So yeah that was cool.
Up next is Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. This is going to fun little campaign and I’ve got all the cool stuff planned out but more on that later. Then I’m going to take a little break from the DM seat. But that time isn’t going to idle. I’ve a hankering and the players of the group are interested in old school game. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to Swords & Wizardry White Box and use so much of the cool add ons for especially the White Box Omnibus. But every once in a while I get the urge to play with it even more. Something crazy like actually used the “advanced” HD and weapons damage but still keep the simpler classes in White Box. Or just do more tweaks on White Box. I dunno. Brainstorming time. Plus I know I’ve got to put a little flesh on to Zoong. That’s the crazy world I’ve been using with DCC and 5E but there’s a few odds and ends that need to added.Since it’s just a bunch or random notes scrawled out during game sessions. Yeah, literally making it up as I go along. As bonus, I plan to start it off with Keep on the Border Lands. Give the kids a field trip back to the days of youre.
So not much substance. Lots rant. Keep Rolling Dice. Killing Monsters. Taking Their Stuff. And Having Fun.