I’ve been pretty much enamored by Fifth Edition for the last few weeks like so many folks (plus been really busy). But it’s great to see something come out for one of favorite retro-clones.
The Swords & Wizardry Player’s Companion from Barrel Rider Games is pretty handy little PDF and it’s only $2.99. And you guys know what a cheapskate I am.
Basically, it’s a few little add-ons for Swords & Wizardry.
Chapter One: Attributes. Cool things here are the modifiers for race. And (I know some don’t like it) the optional addition of Luck and Appearance Attributes. Those can be useful depending on your game. There’s also an extended chart for Attribute scores higher than 18.
Chapter Two: Classes. OK, now this is very handy! Alternate/additional abilities for the standard classes (from Swords & Wizardry Complete). This could be a real good add on for your game. There’s also the write ups for Anti-Paladins and Bards.
Chapter Three: Races. This chapter adds gnomes, half-orcs, and dark elves. They’re pretty standard and fit with the other races mechanically. Of course, fluff-wise in your campaign world it might be a little different.
Chapter Four: Equipment. You’ve got some stats for more types of weapons and armor. Because, the player characters want more ways to kill things and not get killed. Plus there’s some handy magic items in this section also.
Yes, I know. It’s a short little review. But hey, it’s a short book, only 35 pages. But it’s got a lot of things I like in product. It’s simple, inspirational, reusable, tweakable, and affordable (Do I need to say only $2.99 again?). So go ahead and pick it up.
Instead of doing another iconic for the upcoming Swords of a Forgotten Age, I figured I’d throw out one of the avatars of the gods. Let’s get the basics out of the way.
Kor the Sleeper Under the Mountains is the god of war, destruction and violence. Avalanches, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are all considered signs of Kor marking his displeasure. Like the rest of the gods of Skarynth, he really doesn’t give a damn about mortals.
Avatars are created when a devote Cultist dies or goes insane. The god warps the mortal into a hideous monster. And yes player characters can be Cultists. And yes they can become monsters.
Avatar of Kor, The Sleeper under the Mountains
Armor Class: 0
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: 4 Swords (1d8)
Saving Throw: 12
Special: Immune to non-magical weapons, Heals 1d4 HP per round while still alive, Immune to Fear, Massive Rend.
Challenge Level/XP: 10/1,400
Avatars of Kor appear as massive humanoids with gray stone-like skin and four arms. Each arm brandishes a razor sharp crystal sword. They are beings of pure violence and destruction.
Massive Rend: If the Avatar of The Sleeper concentrates all of its attacks on a single target, it does an additional 1d6 of damage per attack beyond the first that hits. So if the Avatar hits with all four attacks, it would cause 4d8+3d6 damage.
And the inconics continue. You can’t have swords & sorcery without barbarians. And it’s kind obvious that we let the dice fall where they may since the assassin is actually stronger than the barbarian but Migor does have a bunch of hit points.
Migor is hapless barbarian from Caerdoria. He’s tough and has good saves and that’s what I think a barbarian is all about. This is also an example of human character. And keep those questions coming. Stay tuned for more previews next week.
Migor the Barbarian
Well, I said I’d have more previews this week. I figured the easiest way to this to throw the “iconic” characters. So hello to the first one. Xaltha the Zygurian Assassin. A no nonsense Lemurian killer. Things you’ll probably note. First, I’m one of those heathens who prefer ascending AC. Second, there’s a few little game mechanics that may raise some questions. Go ahead ask away! And third (like I’ve mentioned in previous posts), Skarynth isn’t just humancentric. The world has various off shoots of humanity and this is your first glance at Lemurians.
Enjoy! Xaltha Zygurian Assassin.
I’m still pounding on the keyboard to get Swords of a Forgotten Age done. So it’s time I start talking about it more. My design goals were simple. I wanted more Sword & Sorcery style games. I admit it. I was reading Robert E. Howard and Fritz Leiber before I read any Tolkien. I’ll admit those kind of stories resonated with much more than than the One Ring. That’s just the kind of guy I am.
I’ve spent plenty of time ranting about the World of Skarynth in old posts and a lot has changed since those posts. But I want to take this post to talk more about the game mechanics. I really like both Swords & Wizardry and Crypts & Things and I highly recommend both of them. But there’s a few things I just felt the need to tweak and twist.
Combat: I mean it is called “Swords & Sorcery” not “Sorcery & Swords”. I wanted some variation in each character’s combat style. The Assassin, Barbarian and Fighter are the primary martial classes. Fighters rely on strength and training. Barbarians, will and instinct. Assassin, speed and accuracy. Each has their own tricks and abilities to go with the feel of the class. Don’t worry more about the classes will be coming soon. The other thing is Fighting Styles. This is something every character gets as they level. Of course, the class that gets the most is the Fighter. This totally replaces the standard attack bonus progression. I always thought it was silly that a Fighter got better at hitting things but never learned how to duck. So with Fighting Styles characters gain either bonuses to hit, damage, AC, or parry.
Characters can do stuff: Because one of the goals for Swords of a Forgotten Age is to also have it be compatible with Crypts & Things, I relied heavily on Araskia’s Swords and Sorcery House Rules. One of my favorite is the Saves as Skills task resolution mechanic. Well, I had to play with that too. Characters should be able to try any thing. Skills are just a list of things that a character just happens to be better at. This has been adapted into the Skill Check. It’s actually very simple and works the same as a Saving Throw. Base number is 16 and it goes down one every two levels. Skills are determined during character generation by class, race and background. For bonuses due to Attribute scores, just use the 8 and 13 rule (as I’m calling it). Score greater than 13 is +1, less than 8, -1.
Races: I mentioned the races previously. A lot of folks insist that Swords & Sorcery has to be humancentric. And I’ll be honest, when I started this project, it was. But as things progressed and more feedback started coming in, ideas merged. I figured what the heck why not allow some standard style races as options for player characters. So that gave rise to the Therianthropes, Tuatarans and Lemurians. Each one has their own unique little perks and flaws. Lemurian characters slowly go insane. Tuatarans are slowly devolving into savagery. And the Therianthropes are tough but vulnerable to magic.
Magic: Oh this was tough and still working on it to make sure that it’s just right. There are two magic using classes. The Cultist and the Sorcerer. The Cultist is real deviation from the norm. In a nutshell, due some annoying and possibly disturbing thing every day and your god gives blessings. The rest of the party may not like or be cool with it but that’s the price a Cultist pays. They gain point daily that can used for bonuses or to cast spells.
And speaking of spells, this has been the hardest and needless to say this one part that is still getting put through the wringer. The traditional Vancian magic just didn’t quite do it. Spell or Mana points just didn’t quite sing with me either. So like I said, this is still being put through the wringer to make sure it works right (It better it’s been re-designed half a dozen times) to get what I feel is going to be a magic system that feels more like Sword & Sorcery. So more on that later.
Yes, I know this post hasn’t been filled with nifty crunchy bits. But wanted folks to start to get a sense of where I was going with this. So if you all are nice, I might just start posting some of the “iconic” characters next week. But you got to ask nicely.
It’s been a long time since I’ve done a substantial update on how things are going on this project and it’s come a long way since then. I decided to do it here simply because there’s a little more traffic here and I’m trying to put out the word without being spammy. Because it’s been so long, let me back up a bit and go over what exactly Swords of a Forgotten Age is.
Swords of a Forgotten Age is an old-school Sword & Sorcery variant for Swords & Wizardry and Crypts & Things. I took a lot of inspiration not only from literary works but also from comic books, movies and what ever other media I could lay my hands on it. One thing I didn’t want to do it to make it just a Conan-esque game.
Being a fledgling game designer, I’m fascinated on how the project has evolved. Originally, it was meant to just be a setting for Crypts & Things but after feedback and tweaking, it grew into it’s own set of variant rules. At first, it was humancentric. That changed too. Nontraditional, nonhuman races were added. The magic system was tweaked about half a dozen times. Classes were rewritten. Notes on the world were expanded and things just grew.
So here you go a rough breakdown of the races and classes of the game as it stands now.
Assassin: A trained killer for hire.
Barbarian: A tough and resilient warrior.
Beast Master: Uh. pretty sure you can figure this one out.
Cultist: A fanatical servant of the gods.
Fighter: A skilled warrior.
Sorcerer: A wielder of great magic power.
Wanderer: A world traveler with a wide range of skills.
Human: Broken down into three cultures. The seafaring Aklonians, the barbaric Caerdorians, and the xenophobic Jahdorians.
Lemurians: An offshoot of humanity who entered into a dark pact in ancient times for arcane power. A corrupted race that is prone to insanity.
Therianthropes: Also known as Beastmen. They are another offshoot of humanity. Originally human subjects of vile arcane experiments, they evolved into a separate race.
Tuatarans: Also know as Lizardmen. They once wielded great magical power and controlled the world. Now, they are facing extinction as the race slowly devolves into savagery.
That’s it in a nutshell. There will be more updates and details in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!