Tag Archives: Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery

Barbaric!

I’ve had my eye on this every since it was announced and I have a new found appreciation for the Cepheus Engine overall.

So what is Barbaric!? In a nutshell, take the Sword of Cepheus with the Non-Humans supplement and put it through the lens of Cepheus Quantum. In case that doesn’t make too much sense to you, let me further explain. Barbaric! is a rules light Sword & Sorcery RPG based on the the old-school 2d6 Traveler style rules.

Character generation under the Cepheus Engine is one of those things that I’ve had a love/hate relationship with. It’s not so much the chance of character death during generation, it’s just that it can take a pretty big chunk of time which in this day and age is at premium. Character generation for Barbaric is quick and easy. Roll for your two stats, Endurance and Lifeblood. These are both a bit like your Hit Points. Think of Endurance as stun, bumps, bruises, and scratches. While Lifeblood is wounds. Then you spend 5 Skill Points with no more than 3 into any one Skill. And there only seven skills which cover pretty much every situation that most characters will come across. Then pick a Trait. Traits are sort of like Feats from the d20 rules. Instead of choosing a Trait, the player may decide to have a non-human character. The races are the usual with some interesting extras races added in. Roll your money. Buy equipment. And start adventuring. It is simple and to the point. Heck, most characters could easily fit on 3×5 index card.

Combat can be quick and brutal. Armor acts as Damage Reduction but the crit charts make up for any sense of security a heavily armored character may have. Like I said, Endurance and Lifeblood are like Hit Points. Take damage and reduce Endurance and when that’s gone then it comes off Lifeblood.

Magic is skilled based where more powerful spells require a higher roll in order to successfully cast them. Like Sword of Cepheus, it takes 10 minutes to cast a spell but a character can hastily cast with a penalty to their skill role. Of course, if you blow it then there’s Magical Mishaps. Most spells are pretty much the standard array that would find in most fantasy games. The same goes for magic items which have all the things that most gamers are used to.

If you’ve read this blog long enough then you know I hate complicated monster stat blocks. This is another area where Barbaric! rocks. Monster stat blocks are to the point and easy read. They follow much the same pattern of characters but the lighter rules make them easier for the GM to handle at the table.

Overall, I love Barbaric. The rules are clean and efficient without a lot extra unnecessary crunch. Character generation is quick and easy and still each character can be unique. This definitely goes on my list of games that I plan to propose to my group.

Since I’m working on my own Sword & Sorcery game right now, I can’t but help start mixing the two in my head. Fortunately, there is also a Compatibility License for Barbaric! As I was reading through Barbaric!, I was scribbling down various notes. So who knows what I’m going to do? Maybe a rules variant, setting, or a whole new game. I just have to see where those notes lead me.

For more information on Sword of Cepheus, you can check out my previous post on that.

You can pick up the PDF (POD coming soon) or Barbaric! on DrivethruRPG. And there’s a free character sheet too.

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.