Alternate Wound System for Cepheus Quantum

You know me, I have to play around with rules. I know I just put out Death Stalkers of Antediluvia but there’s some ideas that didn’t’ end up in the book but I still think are kind of cool.

I wanted to do something with the wounds that would make it easier for folks who aren’t used to the traditional Cepheus mechanics and wanted to do something that could be a little more cinematic. Of course, it had to simple and roughly compatible with existing material too.

Start off by rolling 6D for Lifeblood. (Hang on it will make sense in a second.)

Divide the total by three. Do NOT round and keep the remainder handy.

Each third is a “level” of wounds. First is Endurance just like the core rules. ADD that remainder, if any, to Endurance. Then you would have Wounds. Then finally Mortal Wounds.

Penalties follow roughly the same pattern as the regular core rules. When Endurance reaches 0 then -1 DM. When Wounds reach 0 then the character is out of action. When Mortal Wounds reach 0 then it’s time to make that Death Save.

Healing occurs at the same rate as the core rules.

When a character advances, roll 1D for Lifeblood and recalculate.

I know this isn’t any ground breaking sort of rule. But hope some folks find it handy.

Some More Thoughts on Sword & Sorcery

It’s been a while since I did rant about sword & sorcery as a genre. That last post Sword & Sorcery: It’s More Than Just No Elves was pretty popular and since I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about Barbaric! and other games, I figured it was time for another post. This time I want to talk a little more about characters and focus on the diversity of skills and abilities.

So let me get this part out of the way first. This is opinion. Some folks have a hard time understanding that.

I think the first thing to say is that very few people agree on what exactly Sword & Sorcery is and where the lines are between High Fantasy, Heroic Fantasy, and Sword & Sorcery. Sure there have been more scholarly articles written on the subject and don’t look for that sort of thing here. Instead, you’re getting just my silly opinion as it goes for gaming.

I’m going to jump right in and probably catch hell for this. Is D&D (any edition) Sword & Sorcery? Yes and no. And I think other games can do it better. As I posted before it’s more than just no elves. Sure you can have elves, dwarves, and halflings and still have a game be “Sword & Sorcery”. However, I feel these races still have a heavy Tolkien style connections (which I feel is more Heroic or High Fantasy) that give the players a preconceived notion of the game. And speaking of preconceived notions, when you sit down with D&D style rules, players will expect a D&D style game. And going even further out on a limb, IMHO, over the years D&D has become it’s own sub-genre somewhere between all the aforementioned sub-genres with elements of all of them wrapped and presented in different ways in different worlds. That’s all cool. But I feel characters get caught in a niche.

Sword & Sorcery characters tend to have a broader range of skills than characters normally have when they are tied to a class/level system. So I decided to some digging the ancient archives of D&D and see how some of the iconic characters were handled “officially”. I’m not do full stat blocks but just looking at class and level as a general idea.

Let’s look at the Barbarian to rule them all, Conan. According to the old TSR modules Conan Unchained and Conan Against Darkness, Conan is a 13th Level Fighter and 7th Level Thief. Conan Unchained, also gives us Valeria of the Red Brotherhood as 10th Level Fighter and 9th Level Thief. Pretty epic level characters and in the old days dual classing for humans was a pain. But other characters didn’t fair so well. In TSR’s Red Sonja Unconquered, Sonja is only an 11th fighter. According to Dragon No 57, Belit the Queen of the Black Coast is only a 10th level fighter (but has some special abilities). So in a way Red Sonja and Belit got short changed. And of course, Dragon No 36 has a more detailed write up of Conan at various ages/levels of experience. Compared to some other iconic characters, Howard’s Heroes are weaklings.

Next up let’s look at Deities & Demigods at that’s where things get really odd. Our favorite thieves of Lankhmar are stacked. Fafhrd has the abilities of a 15th Level Ranger/13th Level Thief/5th Level Bard. And Mouser; a 15th Level Thief/11th Level Fighter/3rd Level Magic-User. Also, we have a write up of Elric, a 19th Level Magic-User/15th Level Fighter/10th Level Cleric/10th Level Illusionist/10th Level Assassin/5th Level Druid. Wow.

Yes I know these are epic and iconic heroes. Your starting character isn’t going to be any where near that power level. The thing is your experienced or even “epic” character probably isn’t going to get any where near that power and diversity of abilities. I know why they are so amped up. Remember that guy back in the day? “I killed Elric and took Stormbringer. It’s a great match with Thor’s hammer. I killed him too.” Like I said, what I’m really looking at is diversity of skills and abilities.

It’s tough to do that diversity of skills without some odd dual classing/multiclassing. And that’s why I like RPG’s that are more skilled focused rather than class and level based for Sword & Sorcery. And yes. I did do my own little attempt to do this with Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery but still using the class/level system. But there’s plenty of other games to think about.

The grand daddy of Sword & Sorcery RPG’s is Barbarians of Lemuria. It’s a great game and plenty has been written about it. Up next, there’s Runequest. I personally like the older versions and dare I say the original MagicWorld and I’ve still got that crazy idea in my head. I know haven’t written about Savage Worlds in a long, long time. I think the best for Savage Worlds is Beast & Barbarians followed very closely by Legend of Steel. Of course, there’s also the Savage Worlds Lankhmar. And rounding out my top picks is of course, Barbaric! OK, I did mention Lankhmar so I need to mention the Dungeon Crawl Classics version. I like it and it’s got a lot of good things going for it and it’s a blast to play. But it still has a lot of the feel of a DCC game. (Note: I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. I love DCC and a whole lot of other games.) Of course, there’s also GURPS. A personal pet peeve that I’ve developed over the years is that I don’t like games where I need a spread sheet to run or create my character. Keep it simple.

This post is already pretty long and chances are that I’ve ticked off somebody (probably on Facebook). There’s a lot of factors that go into making a game “Sword & Sorcery”. Not every one agrees on what those factors are and which games are and aren’t “Sword & Sorcery”. That’s perfectly OK. And I also know I rambled a lot. So let me finish up with this. Play your game the way you want to.

Swords & Wizardry Boxed Set

I know I haven’t blogged about Swords & Wizardry in a long time. So in case you’ve missed my other rants, this is my go-to game for old school play. It just hits all the right marks for me. Clear rules and really easy to tweak and house rule. And converting stuff into it is a breeze.

So the boxed set isn’t anything new nor is it a new edition. It’s the Swords & Wizardry Complete rules broken down into smaller digest-sized books ala BX Essentials/Old School Essentials. It’s handy at the table and on the go.

And I grabbed up that Accessory Pack Add On. That’s Moar Monsters!, an adventure, and the above pictured GM Screen. Now I haven’t used GM screens in a long time. Most just get in the way. But this one is low enough to not get in the way and still tall enough to hide my notes. It’s just got the attack charts but I’ve never seen a GM screen for any game that had the charts that I wanted.

Now if you missed out on the Kickstarter, you might be out of luck. I think they may have a limited number of extra boxed sets available after fulfillment is completed. So you’re going to have to keep on eye Frog God Games for that.

Scandinavian Legendary Creatures for Barbaric!

Yes, it’s more stuff for Barbaric! Like I’ve said before, I’m really loving this simple and rules efficient games. So let’s get on with another cool supplement that’s out there.

Scandinavian Legendary Creatures is tight little PDF that’s gives you thirteen new monsters from Scandinavian folklore and 66 new spells plus a couple more optional rules for your game.

The monsters are familiar to most that have played fantasy games before so if you’re basing your campaign in an original setting then they are still useful. One good thing is that there’s a good variety of monsters and the author did a good take on many. I like how monsters use Traits for that extra bit of punch. The Draugar are especially nasty. And who doesn’t want to test their mettle against a Linworm. Like I said there’s a good variety of monsters that can be used no matter the setting.

For me, the big bonus is the spell list. Most of the spells are conversions from of the standard D&D spells that didn’t make it into the core Barbaric rules. Of course, many players will want access to something like those familiar spells like Magic Missile or Haste. There’s new one’s too. I like Bone Bow and Sticky Floor. The names pretty much say what they do. So this is a valuable resource for GM’s.

Rounding out the PDF are a couple of optional rules. One is Fame system. Since Barbaric doesn’t have an Alignment system this adds a way to reward characters for not being totally evil. Do good things and you get good things like reduction in prices or help from the locals. Do bad things and well get penalties for reaction and pay higher prices. Now, I don’t know if an average merchant who recognizes the character as soulless psychopath is going to charge them more. That might be a good way to end up being hacked into little pieces. There’s also a quick and very short rule to make combat even more dangerous by increasing the chance for character’s to score critical hits.

Overall, I’m pleased with material. It adds more tricks and options options for the game, especially the spells like I said. But I have to admit that there a few typos here and there. Yes, I’m guilty of the same. There’s also a couple of places where I think there was some minor hiccups on layout where a paragraph has odd line spacing. For me those aren’t a huge deal but I know they drive some folks crazy.

You can pick up Scandinavian Legendary Creatures on DrivethruRPG.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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