Tag Archives: Sword & Sorcery

Primeval Thule for 5E

OK, yeah. I was a little rough on Primeval Thule for 5e in the last podcast. But there’s some good things too. And being forever the tinkerer of rules, I’ve got a few ideas for what may in the future become my next 5e campaign.
Off that bat. Races. It’s still a big no on Elves, Dwavres and Halflings. Just humans. That’s enough to keep things interesting. Use the normal human character rules.
Classes. OK. They threw the kitchen sink in there. But to keep to the low magic and Sword & Sorcery vibe. Reduce classes to Fighter, Barbarian, Rogue and Warlock. That’s it. Drop an class specializations that cast spells like the Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Knight. And there some good class specializations in the book. For the Rogue, there’s the Poisoner and for Barbarian, the Slayer. For the Warlock broaden the spell list and include many of the spells from the Wizard and Sorcerer lists plus many of the spells from Primeval Thule. I’d probably limit the Patrons to Fiend, Great Old One (which is awesomely augmented in Primeval Thule) and Hexblade. No I haven’t done THE spell list yet. That’s for the hurried campaign prep stage of things. What about healing? Now, those short rests are much more important. And with standard 5E healing, you get all your HP back overnight. I know this ain’t grimdark gritty but without Mr. Cleric Healbot along for the ride, it’s one of those things I could live with. Additionally, there a couple of ways to get some healing in Thule without the cleric.
Background from the Players’ Handbook. Drop them. Because Primeval Thule did it better with “Character Narratives”. Just what are Character Narratives? Like Background, you get a couple of skills. But in Thule, you also get some neat special level-based abilities. For most of them, the abilities at 6th and 10th levels aren’t that great. So I’d probably drop those. But the first level one’s are pretty cool. You notice there aren’t Rangers mentioned as a class. No prob. Take Hunter. No cleric. There’s a healer that gets 3 HP/level of healing sort of like a Paladin’s lay on hands. I’d say my two favorites are the Soothsayer and Bearer of the Black Book. So for Soothsayer, you can tell a character fortune. The mechanics are simple Roll 2d20 and write those numbers. Those numbers can each be used once to replace the character’s roll or an opponet’s attack roll. Bearer of the Black Book. Cool. You have an Artifact. You gain a spell slot. And there’s good chance somebody is going to try to pry it out your cold dead fingers.
For Feats, there’s some good one’s in the book that keep the vibe going. Use those too.
So overall. Inspirational and useful. But like so many things, I’d house rule the heck out it. Sure there are more cool bits and pieces but those are the highlights.
Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun.

Sharp Swords & Sinister Sorcery

Sharp Swords and Sinister Sorc ery

Getting back into the whole blogging thing.  And one of the things I like to do is go back and find really cool stuff that isn’t exactly that new or the flavor of the day. So enter Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells (and it’s Addendum).

So what is it?  First it’s a low magic game that leans more towards dark sword & sorcery than your usual high fantasy.  There’s no non-humans or clerics and magic is dangerous and not a sure thing.  So that’s the vibe. But if really wanted to you could add those.

Mechanically, it takes a lot from Black Hack (and its Hacks) as well as 5E D&D, DCC, and Fate. So it’s a simple light game that focuses on ruling not rules and “if you don’t like then don’t use it”. Those are two things that I just love.

There’s four Abilities: Physique, Agility, Intellect, and Willpower and three classes: Warrior, Specialist, and Magic-User. It uses the basic roll under an Ability score mechanic. Vocations are akin to “High Concept” in Fate and uses Positive and Negative Dice which is similar to 5E’s Advantage/Disadvantage mechanic. And the magic system becomes a push your luck type situation with player determining how powerful the spell will be and hoping to roll enough to pull it off. So yeah. That’s the basic stuff why I like this game and think it’s cool.

Now here’s the bonus content.  Or at least that’s what I’m calling it. Because even if you don’t play the game, there’s some handy resources no matter what game you’re running a GM could use. From the core book, I plan using Complications for the upcoming resurrection of my DCC game. Plus there’s a pretty cool, Adventure Idea Generator in there. The Addendum is just filled with various charts and tables handy for a GM no matter the rule set they happen to be using.

All this goodness is crammed into a couple of tiny books. the Core Book is under 46 pages (plus character sheet and OGL) and the Addendum is 87 pages. But wait there’s more.  The PDF’s are PWYW. The Core Book.  and for The Addendum.

I don’t often do this but shortly after I grabbed the PDF’s, I just had to have some hard copies from Lulu.  After lugging around various other tomes to play other games, it nice to have such robust but light and efficient game.  It’s get a big thumbs up from me.

Hugh Rankin: Oldest School Sword & Sorcery Inspiration

Before Frazetta and Boris, there was Hugh Rankin. I can’t find much out about him other than he was an artist who did many pieces of the original pulp artwork. I think he’s the first person to draw Conan. From what I can tell the works have also passed into the public domain. Pretty cool. The art does have a completely different tone than what us modern folk are used to. But it’s refreshing to see the original works.
I’ll a picture be worth 1,000 words. Enjoy and be inspired.

Queen of the Black Coast
Queen of the Black Coast

valleyoftheworm2

People of the Black Circle
People of the Black Circle

Here’s some more OSR Sword & Sorcery Resources

frazetta
It’s no secret that I’m a fan and backer (of the Kickstarter) of Crypts & Things Remastered and I’m a fan of Sword & Sorcery. Yes, I’m all in for a crazy gonzo game but I also like the gritty weird fantasy of the lower magic settings. If you’ve got Crypts & Things then cool and really back if you want to. But this post about other resources out there for Sword & Sorcery games.
How about some free stuff first?
Head on over to grey-elf.com then just scroll down to the Age of Conan and Secrets of Acheron. This one is an homage to the Little Brown Books and pretty darned cool.
This one is mix of free and for pay stuff. I’ve really good things about Xoth.net and their setting but I haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet and yes some of the material is Pathfinder/3.x but it’s easy to convert. Here’s the main page for the Hyborian Age but the real meat is here with the adventures. And here’s their shop. Order the PDF’s through them or dead tree versions thru Lulu.
Now, Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea is pretty damned cool but their adventures are also darn good fare. But let’s not forget their free resources on their website.
Lastly here’s another couple of adventures that comes with some neat house rules too. I’m talking about Liberation of the Demon Slayer and Revelry in Torth. Yes, there’s some little things that I’d tweak and they’re a bit racy. So you’ve been warned.
No I know there’s lots of other stuff out there and there’s plenty of retor-clones and hacks out there. It’s a big internet and I’m just one little guy with a hyper puppy bouncing around the office. Other resources and stuff go ahead and share.
Did I also mention that there’s only a few days left on the Kickstarter for Crypts & Things Remastered, and I really want that last stretch goal. By Crom, Kill monsters and take their stuff!

Crypts & Things Remastered More Thoughts

C&T-Remastered
So there’s the Kickstarter going on and it’s reached its goal. But then there’s always some cool Stretch Goals. And yes I’m a big fan of this game.
Here’s the basics:

It’s Old School
It’s Sword & Sorcery

But there’s a couple of new things in the Beta Version of the Remastered Rules (available to backers) that are just way cool.
The first is Luck. This a pretty cool take. SAVING THROWS are GONE. Yes, I did all caps to make it clear. Characters don’t have Saving Throws. Instead, you make a Luck Check. Fail, well, too bad. Succeed good for you but your Luck goes down so next time success will be more difficult. Of course, you also use Luck for anything random “Who does the rock land on?” type rolls. Also, each class has a special trick they can do with a successful Luck check. It’s a pretty cool little mechanic. But on the other side of this, monsters and NPC don’t have Luck nor do they have Saving Throws. I’ll admit I’m still a little on the fence about this part but I need to play with the new rules more I make a final judgement on that.
The second thing is the change in spell casting side effects. I won’t bore with the old version just elaborate on the new one. There’s the three colors of magic (Black, Gray, and White). You get the idea. Problems cone not only casting Black Magic but also White Magic. In the case of Black Magic, the character gains corruption. Roll each to see it bad things happen. It’s simple, cool, and very tweakable for whatever setting you happen to be using.
What’s really interesting is the danger of casting White Magic. But hey isn’t that supposed to be good magic? Yep, it is. It’s all white shining good. It’s so shiny and pure that it attracts the attention of undead and demons who just might be in the area. So maybe you the fighter doesn’t need that little bit of healing.
So there’s more thoughts. I really can’t wait until the final version of this hits the virtual streets. And may all the Stretch Goals be reached!