Tag Archives: White Box

Forgotten Tales of Sword & sorcery: Wanderers

Last time it was the Warriors and combat. This time, I talk about Wanderers and skills.
The Wanderer replaces the Thief class in many aspects. It’s the so-called Skill Monkey class. As I look at so many Sword and Sorcery characters, they often have a wide range of abilities and skills. There’s not such an implied niche for what a character can do. So many of those things that were considered things that just the Thief did, are things that any character can try. Anybody can back stab with bonuses, anybody can check for traps or try to open locks.
The system for this is pretty simple. You’ve probably noticed that each of the pre-gens has a check next to each Attribute (x in d6). The GM picks the appropriate Ability for the task and the player rolls for success. Pretty easy. You may have also noticed that the Checks don’t seem consistent. That’s because a character’s Checks improve based on their level and class.
But some characters are better at certain things than other characters. That’s where the Specializations come in. Specializations, as you can see on the examples, aren’t specific skills but much broader categories of knowledge and abilities. You might think of them as careers or professions.
Specializations work very simply. When a character attempts a task and fails their initial roll, if they have an appropriate Specialization then they can re-roll the Check but with a 2 in d6 chance for success. This gives them an edge over other characters but still keeps the probabilities on a more heroic rather than super heroic scale. It’s simple and flexible.
So how are Wanderers the Skill Monkeys? First, each character gains one Specialization plus more based on their Intelligence score. Wanderers gain an additional Specialization at 1st level and are the only class that gains more Specializations as they advance in level. Forgotten Tales doesn’t take an approach where characters achieve “mythic” or “epic” skill levels. Instead, a character can have a broad range of abilities which when used imaginatively create that heroic feel.

NPC Portraits created with ePic Character Generator.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Archetypes & Vices

I know it’s a short week for most folks and that they’ve got a lot happening this week. So we’re doing only a little preview this week.

If you’ve been keeping up with the previews and looking at the example characters then might have notice a couple of “odd” things; Archetypes & Vices.

Archetypes: This is another way that characters are customized. We’ve to name them as adjectives that are added onto a class like Savage Warrior or Lucky Sorcerer. Each one of the Archetypes is codified in the rules and kept as simple as possible. For example, Savage means the character gains an additional HP each level. Lucky means the character gains a +1 bonus to all Saving Throws. The Archetypes are completely independent of the character’s class. So you could have a Savage Sorcerer or even Lucky Warrior or a Learned Warrior and so on. Another way to look at it is that Archetypes are a little bit like Feats in later editions but there some major differences. There is no long chain to get better and better bonuses and the player chooses one Archetype for their character at 1st Level and that’s it.

Vices: Sword & Sorcery tales and heroes tend to morally gray. The villains and monsters are just down right evil or alien. Because of this, we decided to completely drop Alignments but still felt we needed something to fill that void. There is no set list of Vices and the “Vices” don’t even have to actual vices. It can be an adjective or even a short phrase. A character’s Vice is what gets them into trouble or what urges them to make those decisions that may not always be in their best interests. There isn’t any codified game mechanic around Vices but a GM could award some bonus XP for good play. The Vices are intended as a quick and easy guideline for the player about how the character might act in certain situations. The GM could remind a player or suggest but still the final decision is still the player’s.

Thanks for stopping by and more previews are coming up.

Forgotten Tales OF Sword & Sorcery

I’ve been saying that I’ve been working on a big project (well, big for me anyway) and I’m at a point where I think I announce it publicly. So here you go.

The current working title is Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery. It’s built around the White Box set of rules and leans towards a Savage Sword of Conan style campaign with a little bit of Lovecraftian influence. I’m not trying emulate the literary works of Robert E Howard nor am I making it a game about cosmic horror. And it’s not a grim dark art haus type game.

The bigest influences in my youth were  things like the Savage Tales of Conan, Frank Frazzetta and other genre artists, and all those B Sword & Sorcery movies from the 70’s, 80’s  and 90’s.  The goal is to make a game filled with a lot pulp style action .

I’ve made some major  tweaks to the Combat and Magic systems and few other things here and there without losing the feel of the original rules. And if you like later old school rules, I’m adding some notes to help folks convert it.

Right now, it’s  just over 90 pages and there’s a few more sections that I still need to finish writing but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. More previews, design notes and other goodies are coming soon.

If you want to see those updates early, I’ll be posting the previews and design notes on Patreon and Locals first.

Thinking About White Box

Somebody says that you can’t wear white after Labor Day. Whatever. Nobody says you can’t play White Box after Labor Day. So yes. It’s been a long weekend and for some strange reason my mind has wandered into White Box territory. Sure I touched on it a bit on my Swords & Wizardry Retrospective post but I want to rant a little more about it.

I think there’s a couple of things driving my mental wanderlust. First of all the retro-clones out there this (IMHO) has the easiest and most flexible rules which means fast play and fast character generation. A lot of times I look at games as a blank canvas that let’s me tweak to whatever happens to strike my fancy at the time. When the rules are efficient, the possibilities are nearly endless.
Part of the ease of the game is that it doesn’t use a lot of dice. Only d20’s and d6’s. How simple is that? Of course, there’s nothing that says the DM can’t use others if the situation applies.
Another thing that makes it a fun alternative, the light rules means that it’s a breeze to run and if you’re experienced with old-school games then it’s even easier. And if you’re breaking in a new player. Well, they don’t have to fumble around with a pile of strange dice and the rules for their character are pretty straight forward. A long time ago, I had this crazy idea for a campaign. Just start with a city or village for an adventuring base and just make up the rest as we went along like we did in the days of yore.
I may be preaching to the choir here but hopefully this post might snag a few new fans or at least draw a little bit of interest in the White Box style games.
You can find more over on Seattle Hills Game’s site, pick a hard copy of Swords & Wizardry White Box on Lulu, or if you just want to dip your toes a bit into it then grab up Swords & Wizardry Light which is available for free on DrivethruRPG and Frog God Games.

Eldritch Tales White Box Insanity

Well, I picked this up during Christmas in July and am finally getting around to rant about. OH boy! Wow! Cool. Yeah, I like it. Now let me talk about a few reasons why.
Eldritch Tales: Lovecraftian White Box Role-Playing is as advertised. It takes the well known White Box mechanics and puts them into the setting of Lovecraftian horror. If you’re used to all the core mechanics of D&D then you pretty much get how the game works. Since it is White Box for most game mechanics, you are either using a d20 or a d6. That’s it. Skill checks are resolved on an x in d6 chance. But unlike most other White Box where you want to roll low, Eldritch Tales is set up to roll high. Actual skills and “occupations” modify the character’s chances of success.
Another way that it deviates from the standard is an awesome magic system. It is skill based (x in d6) and modified by the difficulty of the spell. There isn’t a spell casting class. Any one can learn a spell. There isn’t a specific limit on the number of spells. It all depends on how much you want to risk. There’s usually a cost and most spells take some time to cast. But the real catch is that something bad always happens if you fail the casting roll. Of course, there’s a list of spells. And I shouldn’t have to say this but just in case, there is good bestiary as well as plenty tome of forbidden knowledge and weird artifacts.
I’ve said this before. I’m not really that fond of the current edition of Call of Cthulhu. The most annoying thing is that flow chart for wounds. I do like the old editions and even think that current Delta Green is much more fun to play. I have this philosophy that character life expectancy should be inversely proportional to character generation time. So if there’s a high body count, character generation should quick. Eldritch Tales has much quicker character generation time than either Call of Cthulhu or Delta Green. Overall, you don’t lose that much of the feel of the other games but you’ve got faster and easier character generation mixed with a set game mechanics that most players already are familiar with.
As a default “setting”, the game is set in the 1920’s but since the White Box mechanics are so simple it’s no problem to use it for other time periods without that much conversion and you can easily reference other material for White Box games for inspiration. Hmm.

My Favorite White Box Cover

Speaking of inspiration… Throwing these two together seems like a great and natural idea. White Box Fantasy Cthulhu? Why the hell not? It is mentioned in the back of Eldritch Tales. Now, I’ve got some crazy ideas in my head. Excuse me while insanely type away. The voices in my head are really loud right now.