Yes, that is the name of the landmass that Shadow, Sword & Spell is set on. Take a look:
Oh yeah, this is a big land mass.
What do the numbers mean?
Those are the locations talked about in Expert. A lot of space is being left open. A lot.
So what are those location’s names?
I will give you one.
1 is The League of Merchants.
As for the others?
I am not telling.
I tend to be very loose in the descriptions I write. I do this because I want the artist to feel that they have freedom. Also, I do not want to describe something that is overly complicated. I simply give a few words, maybe a sentence. This works great, because over time, when working with the same artists, they begin to trust and well feel free to let their skill take them to where ever they want to go.
So, for that one piece, I knew whoever would get it would draw something awesome. I rolled, the number came up, and the artist got the piece.
What is the piece?
Here is the description in all of its’ detail:
Cthulhu: Ok, go for it on this one. I want a fucking big ass bad ass Cthulhu looming over a mountain, or emerging from the sea. Go crazy with this one.
Short. To the point.
I love my job.
Clarity on Skills or, those damn Skills
What follows is official. From here on out, this is how Skills work in Shadow, Sword & Spell.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, here are a few things that should be kept in mind.
The stats that measure a character (which are typically called Attributes in other roleplaying games) do not have Ranks, they simply have a value.
The term Ranks is used only with Skills, and is a measure of how skilled a character is with a specific Skill. When a Skill is first purchased, it is said to have been purchased at the Base Rank.
Base Rank is defined as the starting rank of a Skill's starting rank, which is equal to the governing Ability at the time the Skill was first purchased. This is a number that a player wants to keep track of, as it will determine the cost of Skill Rank increases in the future. One cannot automatically assume that a Skill’s Base Rank will always be equal to the governing Ability, as it is possible for an Ability to change in value during the course of a game.
A Skill cannot have more than 12 Ranks. Characters with Abilities at 10-12 are damn near demi-gods, therefore, when they buy a Skill at Base Rank they are very near to, or at the top of their game. Period.
If a character starts with an Ability at 10, this means that the player character cannot add more than 2 additional Ranks to give his character a Skill with a Rank of 12.
All characters begin with 35 Points which are used to purchase the five Abilities (Brawn, Quickness, Toughness, Wits and Will).
All characters have 45 Skill Points which are used to buy Skills.
The reason for the lower total is due to the core assumption of SS&S: Basic: this is a game about starting out; you create competent people that still have room for improvement.
A design goal underlying all 12° System games is that characters will have only a handful of Skills in which they are truly formidable, and a number of Skills in which they are of average proficiency. Keep this in mind.
There are two types of Skills in the games, Untrained (marked as such in the rulebook) and Trained (there is no such category as Trained in the game, but it helps for the purpose of the following explanation, so it is best to think of them as such).
Untrained Skills can be used by anyone without the need to spend Skill Points on them.
Trained Skills can only be used by spending Skill Points on them.
An Untrained Skill for which a player has purchased Skill Ranks also can be called a Trained Skill.
A Skill's Target Number (TN) equals the Skill's governing Ability + the Skill’s Rank.
See the above definition above for a Skill’s Base Rank.
Any character may use an Untrained Skill at any time, but with a -4 modifier to the Target Number. Trained Skills may only be used by those who have purchased Ranks in them (therefore they never suffer the -4 Untrained modifier to the Target Number).
Untrained Skills have a Base Rank equal in number to the governing Ability without the need to spend Skill Points minus the Untrained of -4 (e.g. Brawn 10 = Melee 6 as an Untrained Skill)
Trained Skills have a Base Rank equal in number to the governing Ability only after the player has spent a number of Skill Points equal to the governing Ability (e.g. Quickness 7 = Acrobatics 7 as a Trained Skill only after spending 7 Skill Points).
A player may spend Skill Points on an Untrained Skill to increase the number of Ranks in it (effectively making it a Trained skill). To do this, the player spends a number of Skill Points equal to the governing Ability to purchase the Base Rank. In my the example above, I would spend 10 Skill Points to make Melee a Trained skill, and its Rank would remain 10, the same as when it was Untrained, with the difference being that the -4 modifier does not apply anymore as this is no longer an Untrained Skill.
A player may spend Skill Points on a Trained Skill to increase the number of Ranks in it beyond the Base Rank. Remember that Trained Skills can only be used after being purchased at Base Rank.
To increase a Skill's rank by +1, a player spends a number of Skill Points equal to half the Base Rank for that skill (this is why it's important to record what a skill's Base Rank is). Note that multiple Rank increases may be purchased at the same time, each costing the same.
To illustrate this, let's create a character.
I decide to create a new character, Johan the Dark, a young thief off the canals of Gravinia. I spend my 35 Ability Points as follows:
My Background is Civilized and my Modifier is Mercantile. From these two, I derive the following bonuses:
Bureaucracy at Base Rank, Study at Base Rank, Native Language at Base Rank, +1 Action Point, Bargain +1 and Diplomacy +1.
I now spend my 45 Skill Points to buy skills as follows (skills marked * can be used Untrained):
- Bargain (8 Base Rank [8 Skill Points Spent] + 1 Rank [Bonus from Mercantile] + 2 Ranks [4 Skill Points for each Rank for a total of 8 Skill Points spent]) = 11 Skill Ranks
- Bureaucracy (4 Base Rank [Free from Background] + 3 Ranks [2 Skill Points for each Rank for a total of 6 Skill Points spent]) = 7 Skill Ranks
- Diplomacy (8 Base Rank [8 Points Spent)] + 1 Rank [Bonus from Mercantile] + 2 Ranks (4 Skill Points for each Rank for a total of 8 Skill Points spent) = 11 Skill Ranks
- Study (4 Base Rank [Free from Background]) = 4 Skill Ranks
- Subterfuge (10 Base Rank [10 Skill Points Spent]) = 10 Skill Ranks
- Native Language (4 Base Rank [Free from Background]) = 4 Skill Ranks
After all the math, my Skills and their Ranks look like this.
- Bargain [+11]
- Bureaucracy [+7]
- Diplomacy [+11]
- Study [+4]
- Subterfuge [+10]
- Native Language [+4]
So what would the Target Number ([TN)] for each Skill be?
Remember the formula = Ability + Skill Rank = [Target Number]
- Bargain (8+11) = 
- Bureaucracy (4+7) = 
- Diplomacy (8+11) = 
- Study (4+4) = 
- Subterfuge (10+10) = 
- Native Language (4+4) = 
Now, to compare, here are three Untrained Skills, with the TN already factoring in the -4 modifier for Untrained use:
- Dodge (10+6) = 
- Melee (6+2) = 
- Throw (10+6) = 
I got a lot on my plate, writing wise, and I will be busy writing various manuscripts for not only Shadow, Sword & Spell, but Colonial Gothic and something else which will remain a mystery for a time. I am not complaining about this, I love to write and design, so this is all fun for me.
Today I want to share with you one of the projects filling my time. That project is SS&S: Expert. The book is about 75% done. I am really excited about this book, and I like what we have here. Here is the outline, and it will show you where Expert is going.
I. Chapter One: Skills and Scheming
a. New Options for Skill Buying
b. Schemes and Scheming
II. Chapter Two: New Gear
III. Chapter Three: Followers and Domains
a. Hirelings & Henchmen
vi. Income & Expenses
x. Natural Disasters
IV. Chapter Four: Magic
a. New Common Spells
b. Arcane Spells
c. New Alchemy Arts
V. Chapter Five: Relics
a. Why Relics?
b. Possibilities of relics in adventures
c. When can you have too many?
d. What is the difference between Relics and items characters create?
e. Should characters be able to create relics?
f. Sample Relics
i. Claw of Crowtan
iii. Roland’s Finger
VI. Chapter Six: Ancient Tomes & Books
VII. Chapter Seven: Mass Combat
VIII. Chapter Eight: Other Worlds & Dimensions
IX. Chapter Nine: Setting
a. Creating your own Setting
b. Setting – The World
X. Chapter Ten: Creatures Great & Small
a. Monster Creation
b. New Creatures
The key to Expert is pretty simple, keep it simple and show the possibilities. Though the book deals with the “endgame” if you will, what James and I really want to do is give you more options and ideas that you can use in your games, even if you do not want to play the “endgame.” Examples of this is with the new gear in Chapter Two and the magic in Chapter Four. For us, SS&S is about options and possibilities, and this is what this book will be.
I’ve been sick for the past week, and I am just feeling better now. Now that I am getting my strength back, I have more time to clear up my SS&S To Do List.
Today is H.P. Lovecraft’s 120 birthday. I wanted to make an epic post about this, but I am currently sick so there goes my plans.
Lovecraft, for me (and I know for James) is probably one of the biggest influences on our writing. Two of our games -- Colonial Gothic and Shadow, Sword & Spell -- were heavily influenced by him. Say what you will about the man, but when he was on, his words were some of the best ever put on to paper.
So raise a glass and toast the man.
Like the New World Almanack and the Encyclopedia Galactica, The Tome, is your online source for new rules, options and creations for Shadow, Sword & Spell. This is a place to share ideas, as well as learn more about the world the game is set in. This sourcebook will be updated on a regular basis, and we encourage all to take part. To learn how you can submit your own creations to The Tome, please read our Submission Guidelines.
Right now The Tome is small. This will change over the weeks and months to come.
In the weeks to come there will be a lot more support rolling out for Shadow, Sword & Spell, namely a wiki.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic is now available for purchase.
(Chicago, IL) August 12, 2010: Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic is now available for purchase.
Beginning today, August 12, 2010, you can now order Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic direct from the Rogue Games Online Store.
You hail from a world awash in conflict, danger, and threats. You might be a thief due to your knack for picking the pockets of rich merchants in Gravinia while evading the blades of the competition. You might be a raider selling your sword to the highest bidder and fight for any or all as long as the silver flows. You might even hail from mysterious Cal’athar and have an affinity for arcane forces, using them to work spells outside the realm of Man.
In Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic, you create a character embarking on an adventuring career. Some event or desire, drives you to thumb your nose at your lot in life and seek out a destiny of your choosing. Society holds no bounds for you and you choose the life you want to live. Why should the only wealthy be wealthy? Why should only the baron own his own land? You want that — and more — and by Azathoth’s Radiance, you will!
In Basic, your character adventures and grows, becoming not only stronger, but more influential. Over time, a character can acquire not only wealth but power. Your influence and fame enables you to command armies, rule a kingdom, influence society — but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Basic gets you to this point, if you survive it…
Written by Richard Iorio II (Colonial Gothic) and James Maliszewski (Thousand Suns) as well as powered by 12°, Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic has everything you need to run games inspired by the greatest pulp writers of our time.
Price: $12.99 (print)/$6.99 (eBook/PDF)
Page Count: 142 page
RGG 3000 Size: 6"x9" b&w softcover
To purchase a copy of Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic visit the Rogue Games Online Store today.
Starting today, right now, you can order Shadow, Sword & Spell from the Rogues. You can buy the print version for $12.99 or buy the PDF for $6.99. Kindle version and ePub versions are coming, but the book is ready.
So what are you waiting for, get a copy now.
From the Online Bookstore.
First off, let me say, I got sick at GenCon on Friday (8/6). I woke up not feeling well, and got progressively worse throughout the day. This pissed me off, because I had a lot of meetings as well as was going to run Shadow, Sword & Spell for Zachary Houghton and his friends and I couldn’t. As the con went on, I got worse. Being sick stinks, but being sick at a con sucks.
I mention this fact of being sick as a way to explain why this might not be as long, or a little less in depth as I like.
Ok, so another GenCon comes and goes, and like the past three, I find myself with the same sense of being overwhelmed and humbled. I know I say this a lot, but it is true. My hobby (as well as James’ hobby) is designing games for people to play for their hobby. We design games. We are passionate about the games that we design. We are passionate about games period. So when you go to a con such as GenCon, you are not ready for the press of people who not only want to buy the things you design, but are enthused by what you design.
As in year’s past, GenCon is the start of Rogue Games’ design year. Our entire schedule and operations revolve around kicking off the year at this show. Why? It is the one place where we can spread the news and show the world what we have in store. GenCon is thus the time to look back and look forward.
We released Flames of Freedom: Boston Besieged at the show. I came with 50 copies and we sold out on Sunday. If I was not sure about gamers wanting more published adventures, then I would be sure now. Everyone who bought was happy to see it, and many came back to the booth gushing their praise about it. All I kept thinking was: “If you think Boston is good, wait until you see Philadelphia.”
The rest of the books were in the booth, and sales were very strong. I nearly sold out of everything else, and what really made me smile was people who like the game for the history. Working on Colonial Gothic is fun but draining and that is due to the research. It felt nice for people to notice the effort put in. Another interesting fact is that one of the people who bought the game (every book) is an American Revolution Reenacter. She invited me to a reenact in October and they have promised (or threatened) to get me in period dress. This is something my wife is dying to see.
The big hit was the full color 11”x17” maps of Boston and the Colonies I had for sale. I did not think these would be as much as a hit as they were, and I sold out of Boston and almost all of the colony maps. I plan on doing a reprint of these and getting them up for sale on the website. I am also working on getting some done for retail stores for give aways.
As for the future books, here is the news that everyone found out at the show:
- Colonial Gothic: New France -- Next book and this is due out January 2011
- Colonial Gothic: French Indian War -- Due out in Spring 2011
- Flames of Freedom: Philadelphia -- Due out Summer 2011 (title not set in stone)
- There will be a pirate book but not until 2012.
- There are more PDFs coming, and Jennifer Brozek (Elizabethtown, Plymouth and Ross-Allen Letters) wants to write more of them.
- There is a plan in place to explore the period backward in time, as well as other areas of the world. My goal, and it is one Graeme shares with me, is to show how history can be the spring board.
I came to GenCon with 48 copies of Starships and I left with 5. Not only was this book selling, but everything was selling. The big topic of conversation was what the revision is going to be like. I will let James take this over:
When I first conceived of the idea, I mostly wanted to fix some typos, clean up some vague rules, and give the whole thing a new layout and art, because I wasn't happy with the way the original turned out esthetically. This revision was planned to be finished in time for May 2010.
As I worked on it, though, I realized that what the game really needed was to be rewritten. Not *changed* -- I still want a revision that's 95+% compatible with the original -- but more clearly and evocatively written. The original rulebook is longer and more verbose than it needs to be. It's also badly organized and includes more detail than is needed in some areas and not enough in others. So, I decided that rather than just tweak the rulebook I'd rebuild it from the bottom up and that's taking more time than I'd originally thought it would.
Again, let me reiterate that the revision will be 95+% compatible with the original. I'm not creating a new game but I am creating a new rulebook, one that I hope will be easier to understand and to use, as well as nicer looking overall. Fortunately, I've got a lot of ideas on how to do this and the art I've commissioned for the new book is awesome, as is the layout we have in mind. Take a look at the recently released Starships book to get a small taste of my new approach to the game.
The revision will likely come out in early 2011, but I can't set a specific date yet, because this is one of those "it's done when it's done" projects. The current rulebook does what it needs to do and the new book isn't going to change much (aside from the starship rules, which you now have access to through Starships), so there's no rush. On the other hand, I really do want to get a new rulebook out there, because I think Thousand Suns is a great game that's not yet reached its full potential due to poor layout and organization and writing that's not as good as it should be. So I expect we'll see it sooner rather than later.
Ok, so there you go. James is working on it now, and it is moving along really well. My hope is that it will be out next summer. Do not hold me to this, however.
Still, all is not lost. Greg Videll (Starships) and I talked about a Thousand Suns Campaign. We hit upon a good idea and work on this will soon start. In addition Jennifer Brozek and I talked about the game and she is keen on doing some writing as well and we are talking about some PDFs that will be setting specific. James is working on a number of PDFs as well. There is a lot going on behind the scenes.
Shadow, Sword & Spell
Basic is due out next month. Expert is being written now and will be out within 6 months. I am also working on the first supplement City which will deal with urban fantasy in a pulp vein. We will be ramping up support for this game once the game is out, and this includes PDFs. In fact the first adventure is being edited now, and should be out the same time the game is released.
Oh, and we sold out at the con.
(Way to bury the lead).
I came with 50 and left with 0. To say the reaction to this game was intense would be an understatement. I was not really prepared for the reaction the game got. For $12.99 you can have a complete fantasy game. I should have thought about this. I am really proud of this game and I cannot wait to work on it some more.
Coming December 2010 is the following:
Oh and original PDFs are coming soon as well.
Bits and Mortar
I mentioned this briefly yesterday, and I will have a lot more to say in the days to come, but let me say this. I am really proud of this. Bits and Mortar is something both James and I believe in, and I am passionate about making the PDF Guarantee that we do available to as many retailers as possible. I jokingly called our Friday meeting as the Meeting of the Seven Families (yes I know there are six, it was a joke), but it is very cool to be working with others who share the vision.
Other News and Thoughts
I saw a lot of cool things, bought a lot of cool things, and have a few thoughts that I am still mulling over. I will post them on my personal blog. I will say this, James and I have a lot of plans, and we are as committed to our plans as ever before. We are passionate about what we do, and we both feel very lucky that we can do this.
I ran a pick up game of Colonial Gothic and it was a blast. One of the player’s wife played, and she learned the game within 5 minutes. It was a deadly adventure, but it was fun. Next year I will do more, and I am working on having demos in the booth. Period. It will happen, and there will not be another GenCon without everyone having a chance to play in a demo.
It has been a long four years. We’ve made mistakes, we learned a lot, but in the end we have had nothing but fun. We cannot thank you enough for your support, and for reaction you bring to what we do. We truly are humbled by the reaction to our work. Thank you.
This is something I am very proud to be part of, and helped get started. More on this tomorrow.