Category Archives: My Gaming Projects

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: The Home Stretch

Wow. What a trip this has been. I’m hitting the home stretch on Forgotten Tales. That means that the final editing and lay out has begun. I’ve no idea how long this will take but I will say it’s down hill from here on out.

The rules are basically done. And may say a lot has changed since I started this. A few things that started off as optional rules worked their way into the core rules. Thank god for feedback. Since there have been a few changes I decided to redo the example characters from scratch. Yes, the came out a little different but that’s cool. And I did them as 1st level characters so they’d be handy for pregens or full blown NPC’s.

NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.

And here’s some late breaking inspiration that just showed up on Youtube in case you haven’t seen it yet.

The best news is that while I’m nearly done with this, I’ve already got a couple of ideas for the future but we’ll gave to see where those lead. Stay tuned.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Inspiration

I didn’t do many blog posts last week. I was still recovering from the catastrophic computer failure. But good news. Files are recovered and I’m starting the editing and layout for Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery. So I figured it’s a good time to share some inspiration.

One of the things that I said early on is that I’m not trying to emulate the literary works. I’m going back to what first grabbed my attention in my youth. And that’s the tales of Conan, Thongor, Red Sonja, Marda the She Wolf and many that graced the pages of many a comic book.

And there was also a slew of movies. Let’s face it the original the original Conan the Barbarian with Arnie, was great.

There’s even more movies out there including Beastmaster, Kull, and even the Scorpion King. And don’t ever forget the classic Harryhausen Jason and the Argonauts and Sinbad movies. But those low budget flicks were fun too and yes many were very bad too.

I don’t keep this post just to inspiration from media. There’s gaming inspiration too. And some great resources out there that are worth checking out and mining for inspiration for your game.

Barbarians of Lemuria: This is the granddaddy of all Sword & Sorcery RPG’s. Just about every “What’s a good Sword & Sorcery RPG?” thread you see on the Internet mentions Barbarians of Lemuria. There’s lots of versions of this game, the Mythic and Legendary editions are the latest. And the BoL Hack is pretty darned good too.

Crypts & Things: The original edition of Crypts & Things was very close to Swords & Wizardry. The Remastered Edition does make some changes. And there’s some fine adventures especially Life & Death Zarth Edition is a good source.

Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea: There’s a lot here to inspire you. All of their adventures are great. As a bonus there’s a host a free resources that are really handy. I regularly use the Drunken Debauchery table and the Random Adventure generator in my other games.

The World of Xoth: Originally, this made for Pathfinder but there are some other conversions out there. The adventures and setting material are so solidly placed in the Sword & Sorcery genre. On the Xoth website, there is slew of resources and many of their titles are available on Drivethru. Really, check these out.

I know that there are many more resources and inspirations out there but I think I’ve ranted enough here and given you enough to ponder in one day.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Options!

It’s no secret that everybody plays differently especially when it comes to old school games. I love that and embrace it. That’s why I added lots of options for Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery.

I admit that these aren’t as play tested as the core rules and may need a little tweaking to fit your individual tastes but it gives GM’s a starting point and/or some inspiration to tailor the game to their group.

The attached examples don’t have all of the optional rules. I only added the ones that I personally found kind of cool. And if you’ve been following closely, there have been a few minor changes to the core rules since I started sharing previews. Here’s the optional rules used on these characters:

Static HD: Instead of the White Box staggered HP system, these characters us a HD as later editions but still some what faithful to the White Box philosophy. Warriors: d6+1, Wanderers: d6, and Sorcerers: d6-1.

Improved Prime Ability Score Modifiers: This only affects a character’s Prime Ability Score Modifiers based on their class. This makes them a little better at the things that they are supposed to be good at.

Five Saving Throws: I personally like the Single Saving Throw but some people don’t. That’s OK. So I added the option. For the example, I did use the five “new” categories that I created to better emulate the genre. Most are self explanatory except Luck which I’m billing as a When In Doubt/Catch All Save. Who has the bad thing happen? Who steps on the trap trigger? That sort of thing. And the Traditional Five Saves are in the core book.

Checks As Percentages: I was inspired by the original Thief class and its percentage based skills. There are a few places where the math works out differently but I still think that it’s a fun option and offers more granularity than the x in d6 method.

Here’s how it works. Checks begin at 3 x the Ability Score. At first level, increase one Prime Ability Check by 2d6. Each level after that increase one Prime Ability Check and one non-Prime Ability Check by 1d6. Specializations can be either a re-roll at 30% or act as +20% bonus to the Check depending on which option the GM wants to use. If you remember, Ability Checks also have other uses in the game. A character’s score in an Ability Check can be used as modifier in some cases. Under the percentage system, it’s an easy conversion. Divide the tens digit by two. So a 35% Check would mean +2 modifier. (3 dived by 2). There are also cases where the result of a successful Check is the effect. For example, a CON Check is used to bind wounds. Under the X in d6 system, if the Check is successful then the number rolled is how many HP are healed. For the percentage system, a similar mechanic is used. Simply divide the tens digit by two for the effect with one slight exception. For really good rolls like 03% count the 0 as 10 (or 10/2=5).

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Monsters

This week I’m going to talk about monsters a little and where I took a couple of twists and turns on them.

First, I want to talk about game mechanics. You already have a lot to handle as a GM so I wanted to make monsters as easy to run as possible. I played a lot of 3.x but vowed never to run it and the main reason was those crazy monster stat blocks.

If you remember back to the early posts, I mentioned that I was taking inspiration from Swords & Wizardry Light and Continual Light. These two games have some of the simplest monster stat blocks around. A monster’s HD not only determines HP but also attack bonus and Saving Throw. And it does it without having to reference a table. It also codifies the common monster special abilities so you don’t have to add an entire explanation to each monster plus you can combine similar effects into one special ability. I like that.

Second, I dropped many of the standard monsters from the core book. So I dropped orcs, goblins, trolls, giants, unicorns and bunch of others. Sure you can add them to your game but I really don’t think you need another set of stats for them. I did focus on monsters I felt had a more Sword & Sorcery vibe. Serpent folk, lizard men, giant snakes, giant spiders, and undead.

Every one knows about the connection between Robert E Howard, HP Lovecraft, and Clark Ashton Smith. So I decided to add some Mythos and Mythos inspired creatures. But they are monsters. Remember, this isn’t a game about cosmic horror or existential dread. This is about brave adventurers hacking their way through an indifferent world. It’s a bit cinematic. So while those monsters are there, they aren’t mind wrenching horrors but they still are things that can rip you limb from limb.

So here’s a Shoggoth.

Armor Class: 4[15]

Hit Dice: 9

Attacks: 2 Pseudopods (2d6)

Move: Slow

Special: Regenerate, Damage Resistance, Engulf, Confusion Aura*

*Confusion Aura: Any character within 10 ft of the Shoggoth must succeed on a Saving Throw or come under the effects of the Confusion Spell.

And in case you are wondering, I am working on “Supplement 1” and that will contain optional rules for Insanity (plus a bunch of other cool stuff).

You can grab up Swords & Wizardry Light on DrivethruRPG and on Frog God Games site for free. You can get Swords & Wizardry Continual Light on DrivethruRPG for dirt cheap.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Spells

This week I decided to preview a couple of spells. One that’s an old standard to see how I’ve changed it and a couple of new ones. Not only did I change the way magic worked, I changed some of the spells as well.

First, I kicked out the “artillery” spells. You know Fireball and Lightning Bolt. These just didn’t seem to fit my view of a low magic setting. You want to do some massive damage? Summon something weird. I also dropped spells that seemed to emulate more mundane effects like Light (Just light a damned torch) and Knock. And finally I combined a few spells that had similar effects. Remove Curse is an effect added to Dispel Magic. Commune, Augury, and Contact Other Plane are mixed together into a single spell.

And here’s the spells:

Magic Missile

Spell Level: 1

Range: 150 Feet

Casting Time: 1 Round

Duration: Instant

The spell caster conjures arcane power to destroy his foes. The character launches a missile that does 1d6+the caster’s Arcanum score in damage. Each +4 of damage becomes an extra d6 of damage as with weapons. The caster must succeed on a Ranged Attack roll.

So the first thing you might notice is that it takes an attack roll to hit. This may seem a bit extreme of a take but I really wanted to direct damage spells to be the least efficient way of causing damage to opponents. So one of other things I did was toss out the area affect damage spells (Lightning Bolt and Fire Ball). There plenty of other ways that a spell caster can damage an opponent but there’s some risk or something else they have to do like an attack roll. You might also notice that I interjected another rule into the spell’s description. The +4 Damage rule. You many have noticed it if you started doing the math on the preview NPC’s. In a nutshell, each +4 modifier on damage becomes an extra d6. So, 1d6+5 would become 2d6+1.

Spirit Fog

Spell Level: 3

Range: 30 foot radius centered on Caster

Duration: 1 round/Point of Arcanum

The caster surrounds themselves with an eerie green fog. Any ghost, spirit or immaterial creature that enters the area becomes susceptible to mundane attacks. Additionally, any invisible creatures are outlined with an unearthly green glow.

Spirit Fog is a new spell. As you may have noticed, there’s no Clerics. So many of their magical tasks would fall to the Sorcerers. But I didn’t want to just copy and paste Cleric Class abilities into the Sorcerer class. Additionally, Sword & Sorcery is low magic. The chance that characters have magic weapons is slim. But they still should have a way to encounter and possibly overcome such opponents.

Control Undead

Spell Level: 2

Range: 60 Feet Radius centered on caster

Duration: 10 minutes per Point of Arcanum of the Caster.

This spell affects only mindless undead. Each creature within the area of effect of the spell are allowed to resist with a Saving Throw. Those who fail come under the caster’s control for the duration. Since these are mindless undead any complex commands will likely be misunderstood by them.

Since I mentioned Clerics, their Turn Undead is their key ability. Something like that was needed but it needed to be different. And that leads us to Control Undead. Of course, it only affects mindless undead. Free willed undead should be scary. Having no way of controlling or turning them makes them even scarier.

Don’t worry there’s also various tweaks to monsters to follow along with over all concepts that I talked about. That preview is coming up.