Those skilled in the Arts of the Arcane Spells are able to perform feats only the Gods can match. Though the power that a sorcerer is able to call upon is great, the price he must pay is even greater. Unlike Common Spells, which can cause a Caster harm if they are miscast, Arcane Spells cost you more than your Sanity – they have the potential to cost you your life.
So what type of spells should you expect with Arcane Spells? Here is one example:
Range: Within circle
Duration: Rounds equal to half the Caster’s Will
Performed On: Others
Vitality Cost: 12
Sanity Cost: 24
This is a powerful Spell in that it contacts an Elder God, and allows the Caster to commune with and seek advice from this Elder God. This Spell can be taken multiple times, allowing the Caster to contact other Elder Gods. Thus the Caster must have the spell separately for each Elder God.
To cast this Spell requires much from the Caster. First, he must fast for a period of 24 hours, and during that time meditate and prepare himself mentally and physically for the casting. During this time, the Caster must inscribe the appropriate circle for the God he wishes to contact, and this circle must be made from the appropriate components, or the Spell will not work. In addition, the Caster must know the summoning circle for the God he wishes to contact; if he does not, he cannot contact the God. Once the circle is inscribed, the Caster must chant for 10 Rounds, and in that time do nothing but chant. If the chanting is stopped for any reason, either by the Caster or someone else, the spell automatically fails. Once the chanting is over, and the Spell Test is successfully made, the image of the God appears in front of the Caster. The Caster is then able to ask the God for advice, seek their aid, or ask for some boon. The God remains for a number of Rounds equal to half the Caster’s Will (Dramatic Success has the duration last for a number of Rounds equal to the Caster’s Will). Failing to cast the Spell results in the God not appearing, and a Dramatic Failure has dire consequences. First, the Caster has their Sanity permanently reduced by a number of points equal to their Will. In addition, the God, as per the Curse Spell, curses the Caster, the effects of which last until the God deems the Caster has learned their lesson.
Table 4:2 The Elder Gods
Elder God Summoning Circle Component
Azathoth Blood of a lizard
Cthulhu Ink from a squid
Shub-Niggurath Bile of a goat
Hastur Blood of a rooster
Nodens Blood of a raven
Nyarlathotep Bile of an owl, blood of a hawk, and the eye of a cat
Nyogtha Blood of a ram
Tsathoggua The Caster’s blood
Yig Blood of a snake
Yog-Sothoth Blood of a squid and a rabbit
As have been stated many times, Basic covers the early adventures of your heroes, and Expert covers the end game.
So, if Expert is covering the end game, the book has to cover certain things. Like what? Here’s the list:
- Domain Rules
- Henchmen and Retainers
- Merchant Rules
- Spell and Alchemical Art Creation
- Ancient Tomes
- Mass Combat
Expert contains all of this, as well as other things. This post, however, is about the Mass Combat rules.
My goal in designing these rules were simple: allow for large scale army conflict that has the player characters able to take a role. You can quickly run mass combat with these rules, and in playtests I have seen engagements go for no longer than 15 minutes. The criteria mass combat have in regards to a roleplaying game, is much different when you are doing a wargame. Mass combat must be fast, it must allow for a more descriptive nature of things, and more importantly, it must be fast.
Those who play roleplaying games, for the most part, are not wargammers. Rolepayers do not have the desire to push counters, measure distances, and deal with the complexity wargaming has. I am a wargammer, and for me, more so than roleplaying, wargamming is my favorite thing to do. Just because I enjoy it, does not mean, others will.
So in designing the rules, I worked hard to strip wargaming down to something that can be done in a few minutes. Here is just a small example.
Chapter Seven: Mass Combat
As your Hero grows in fame and prestige, she will eventually come into contact with armies. The world of Shadow, Sword & Spell is a violent one, and various powers clash in battle. The rules governing Mass Combat are straightforward and allow you to quickly run mass combat on the table top. These rules cover small squads as well as large armies. These simple rules are designed to allow both the Gamemaster and players to fight out battles involving these armies quickly and easily.
The first thing to keep in mind is that this system is narrative in scope, and this has been done intentionally. Mass Combat is very complex, and typically involves miniatures, counters, and terrain, as well as a lot of time. This is not a knock against wargames and miniatures. Hell, growing up, wargames and miniature wargaming consumed a lot of my free time. However, for a roleplaying game, the needs are quite different. Often war, or a clash of armies, is just one small facet of an adventure. There isn’t a need to have a detailed, drawn out battle. Instead, Mass Combat for Shadow, Sword & Spell has been reduced down to a few simple dice rolls. This system is designed to allow not only armies but small units to clash. It allows the Gamemaster and players to deal with Mass Combat quickly and efficiently.
Before going into detail, it’s important to note that all armies have six basic elements. No matter the type of troops, these common elements quickly allow you to assess the strength or weakness of various troops. These elements are: Unit Type, Unit Rating, Quality, Size, Engagement Rating, and Hooks.
Unit Type is simply the type of unit with which one is dealing. The Unit Type can be infantry, cavalry, and the like.
Unit Rating is a simple stat which takes into account a unit’s training, skills, abilities, and the like. Over time, this stat can and does improve.
Quality is not only partially based on the Unit Rating, but it takes into account the weapons, armor, mounts, and any other type of special abilities that the unit might have.
Size is a simple concept, and is mainly comes down to the number of soldiers found in the unit.
Engagement Rating is the number used to see if you win or lose a battle.
Hooks are well, hooks. They are similar to the Hooks that individual Heroes have.
Combat involves two armies declaring tactics, taking the calculated Engagement Scores, a few other factors, and then rolling 2d12. This result is added to the Engagement Score, and whichever side has the highest number, wins. Combat continues until one side is destroyed, retreats or surrenders.
With the basics out of the way, let’s go into detail about how the system works.
There is more to this, but this should give you an idea where we are going.
endgame |ˈen(d)ˌgām| (also end game)
the final stage of a game such as chess or bridge, when few pieces or cards remain : the knight was trapped in the endgame | figurative the retaliatory endgame of nuclear warfare.
As long as fantasy games have existed, players and Gamemasters have looked for the endgame. For roleplaying games, especially fantasy ones, the concept of the endgame has been there since the hobby’s beginnings. After all, when playing your hero, they grow in stature as well as power and influence. It is only a natural desire for a player to want their character to lead mercenary companies, sit on thrones, and work their influence within merchant circles. Many attempts to define the endgame have occurred in the roleplaying game industry, some of these attempts divorcing the slow build and growth of the hero, and instead focusing on the immediate. Two ready examples of this are TSR’s Birthright setting, and REIGN. Both of these games center around rulership, and are great at what they set out to accomplish. However, what has always been difficult is to find games that contain rules or advice centered on taking your own hero and having them rule their own domains, band of cut throats, or... well you get the point.
Shadow Sword & Spell: Expert builds upon the rules found in Basic. In Basic, you created your character. You have braved numerous dangers, made many enemies, and probably killed a few of your foes as well. You have gone from not having any or little influence or prestige, to now being a person of renown or infamy. You have survived the trials and ordeals before you.
Through your wits, guile, and fortitude, you have fought back the hordes of unholy terror. You have saved countless men and women from the bonds of slavery. You have discovered hidden treasures, long forgotten tombs, and tomes of arcane knowledge. You have become a hero, an outlaw, even a thorn in the side of the powers that be. Your trials have prepared you, and now, you are ready to inscribe your name in the rolls of history. The world will feel your justice. Your enemies will know your vengeance. Those with the power will now have no choice but to share it with you. You will be a king, and the dynasty you found will endure for centuries.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert answers the question: What’s next? Your hero has grown in power, and now they are ready to tame the world. Building upon the rules found in Basic, Expert adds new opportunities for your game. What you will find here are new options and rules that you can use to expand your current Shadow, Sword & Spell game, as well as allow you to run games grander in scope.
Shadow, Sword & Spell is a game influenced by The Three – H.P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith and Robert E. Howard – and the game works as an homage to, and to pay respect to them. Expert, perhaps more than Basic, is heavily influenced by Howard’s (By this axe I Rule) and the later stories of Conan as king. Howard, more than the others, had a firm grasp of showing the possibilities offered in this vein by heroes who rule kingdoms. In his stories, even though the hero is a leader, they still have just as many dangers to face. The stakes become even higher when you have to fight to protect your throne. In addition, Expert focuses on other type of characters who might not be a warriors, and instead make a living through thievery.
What if you are not ready to run a game centered around politics? Have no fear, Expert contains items that are easily added to Basic. New magic, relics, monsters, and the like, are all found here. Think of Expert as your inspiration. Take from it what you want, and ignore areas you are not ready for; this is your game after all, and make of it what you will.
So here is a small section straight from Chapter 3. Enjoy.
Henchman & Hirelings
As characters grow and gain experience, their reputations grow as well. Because of this increased reputation they might often be asked to undertake missions, or perform tasks, that are too big for just themselves. Some characters might have their own goals, and in order to accomplish these goals, they might need to hire extra help. Conversely the characters reputation might have others seek them out in hope of joining their cause or swearing allegiance to their banner.
Henchmen and hirelings come from all walks of life and offer characters access to skills that they might nov, or the time time to use. Henchmen and hirelings are more than just tools – however some characters might view them as this – they are trusted confidents, loyal followers or even well respected friends.
Exactly when a hero, or a villain, attracts followers is left up to the Gamemaster. Acquiring followers is an organic outgrowth that follows through play and deeds. A rough rule of thumb is that a hero begins to attract followers once they have made a name for themselves. This can be done after numerous adventures, or after performing tasks that bring them prestige.
How many henchmen can a hero have? A number equal to the hero’s Resolve. For example, your Hero has a Resolve 40. This means that they can easily lead a group of henchmen that numbers up to 40. Keep in mind that just because your hero can have henchmen, it means that they acquire them automatically. They must hire them, persuade them to join their cause, or have a reputation which attracts people to them.
Case in point. Let’s use an example. Growing up on the mean streets and canals of Gravina, Johan the Black took to thieving to survive. As a young lad he became a pickpocket, and eventually learned the skills enabling him to be a burglar. Over time his reputation grows, and because of this, one, then two, partners in crime seek him out to join his “gang.” Johan, whose Resolve is 30, soon finds himself leading a band of 15 thieves. To keep his band together, Johan’s player constantly seeks ways to keep them happy.
So, can you have more henchmen than your Resolve allows? Yes, but to do so requires the hero to make a Diplomacy, Tactics, or Intimidation Test every time he wishes to have his henchmen undertake something. This Test has a penalty depending on how many henchman over their usual maximum total they are leading.
Table 3:1 Leadership Penalty
# Over Resolve Penalty
Note, that the number of henchmen your character has is not the same as the number of families attached in their domain (see below). Henchmen are a whole different beast when compared to ruling a kingdom. Think of Henchmen as trusted agents, lieutenants and people who have been with your hero as they have gained in power and infamy.
Unlike hirelings who get paid (see below), henchmen are not covered by a set pay rate. That does not mean that henchmen do not cost anything, or that they work out of gratitude. Their is an exception among henchmen that they are to be given a place to live, food to eat and a chance to gain wealth via a percentage of spoils. Character who do not take care of their henchmen needs soon find themselves with henchmen harder to lead, prove to leaving, or worse wanting to mutiny.
As a general rule of thumb payment for henchmen can use Tables 2:9 and 2:10 (see pages XXX) as a rough guideline when it comes to henchmen pay.
Hirelings are those who are loyal to your hero due to one fact — they are being paid. Hirelings work for the hero and perform jobs, and it cost a number of Crowns per day to employ a hireling (see Chapter 2).
Henchmen and Hirelings are collectively known as Retainers, and they have Retainer Resolve, which is a measure of how happy, or angry, they are. Retainer Resolve covers both henchmen and hirelings as a a means to keep track of all retainers moral. The initial Resolve rating is equal to the sum of the the characters’ Resolve multiplied by 5. In addition to Resolve, retainers also have a Resolve Level which is based on the rating, and periodically a Resolve check is made. Whenever a Resolve Check is made, look up the current Resolve rating on the Resolve Level Table which indicates the new Resolve. Remember although Resolve changes frequently, the Resolve Level only changes when a Resolve Check is made — even if the rating moves into a different range between checks.
Table 3:2 Resolve Level
Resolve Resolve Level
19 or less Turbulent
20 to 49 Belligerent
50 to 100 Rebellious
101 to 150 Defiant
151 to 200 Unsteady
201 to 250 Average
251 to 300 Steady
301 to 350 Healthy
351 to 400 Prosperous
401 to 450 Thriving
I might be bias, but this is a good book. There is a lot of cool additions and options found here. Areas have been expanded, as well as added to. I am really pleased with the rules I’ve created for Domains, Henchmen and War. There are a lot of new spells -- including Arcana -- as well as new monsters. Here is just one example of one of the new monsters.
Brawn 8, Quickness 10, Toughness 8, Wits 7, Will 11, Fear -4, Resolve 55, Vitality 57
Skills: Brawl [+10], Dodge [+10], Shoot [+11]
Traits: Breath: Fire [DV 2(30), R 5/15/30, ROF 1/1], Claws, Fierce, Fear, Gaze [R 50’, ROF 1/1, successful hit, target must make a Toughness Test, with Failure resulting in their being paralyzed for 1 day, Dramatic Failure target dies], Moan — Hiss [Effective only against animals, any animal within a 50-foot radius of Basilisk must make a Toughness Test with Failure causing them to lose half their Vitality, and a Dramatic Failure causes them to instantly die], Weakness — Weasels [a weasel’s attacks cause double damage].
The basilisk looks like a rooster, with the tail of a snake. A fierce creature, it is a danger to all life, and has been known to attack with no regard for itself or its surroundings. Like the scorpion, it prefers dry places, and thus they are native to The Shimmering Sands. Though some think this creature is able to turn a person to stone, that is just a myth. A Basilisk is hatched from a cock's egg — a rare occurrence — and they are susceptible to the attacks of weasels.
Coming March 2011 -- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert
Through your wits, guile, and fortitude, you have fought back the hordes of unholy terror. You have saved countless men and women from the bonds of slavery. You have discovered hidden treasures, long forgotten tombs, and tomes of arcane knowledge. You have become a hero, an outlaw, a thorn in the side of the powers that be.
Your trials have prepared you, and now, you are ready to inscribe your name in the rolls of history. The world will feel your justice. Your enemies will know your vengeance. Those with the power will now have no choice but to share it with you. You will be a king and the dynasty you found will endure for centuries.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert answers the question: What’s next? Your hero has grown in power, and now they are ready to tame the world. Building upon the rules found in Basic, Expert adds new options and opportunities for your game.
SKU RGG 3001
Release Date March 2011
I’ve been busy, here is the rundown.
Colonial Gothic: New France is in layout. I love this book.
A new Colonial Gothic PDF is in editing.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic reedit is moving along. All goes well this will be in layout in a few weeks. I plan on sending this to some proofreaders, but the editing has been very tight.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert is almost done. News on that in a day.
I have to get back to work.
That is one bad ass unicorn.
Even better is how unicorns are created.
Just to put everyone's fears at ease, the game is doing well. James and I are following the same plan that we had set up for Colonial Gothic and Thousand Suns. That plan is a simple one: slow build.
We strongly believe that the main reason most games "fail" is that they are not given time to grow. The market gets flooded with product, and soon, fans become overwhelmed by the amount of "things" they need to play a game. Also, as you pump out more and more product, the product suffers in that, it might not be all good. Or worse, it might be half-assed and not fully thought out. We take a different approach, and that is, take our time, get it right, and release product when it is ready. This is a good and bad thing. It is good, because you do not over promise, and you do not miss deadlines. It is bad, because you need to feed the beast of demand -- if you will -- which is always there.
We've made a lot of mistakes since starting Rogue Games, but we have learned from them all. In addition, for the most part, it is just James and I doing all the writing. There are only so many things we can write, and only so many hours in the day before we get burned out. This is not a complaint, just the truth.
"Get freelancers!" I hear you say. We are and do, but sadly, freelancers flake out, miss deadlines, or worse, fail to even deliver a final product. This is the downside of freelancers, but there is an upside. When you find ones who can hit deadlines, who deliver the work they promise, when they promise, you are happy. You also might be tempted to give them more work then they can handle, so you have to weigh their time as well.
Could we work faster? Sure, but, by working faster, you make more mistakes and really do not give the product a chance to grow.
That being said, we are working, and working hard. How hard, here is the run down for things in the work for Shadow, Sword & Spell:
- Next PDF. It is a supplement, and the writer is doing revisions. Once it is done, it goes to editing. It will hopefully be out in a few weeks.
- New adventure. I just got a proposal, and rough draft by a writer for a new adventure. It is good. Once I go through it and give him notes, he will get to work finishing it.
- SS&S Expert. John is editing it as I write this, and is nearly done with the first pass. I am waiting for a writer to finish a chapter he is writing, but they are on track. Once I finish the Colonial Gothic book I am writing (this week) I will turn my attention to finishing the draft. The book will be out in March.
- SS&S Basic Reedit. See above about freelancers. John is on this. This has gone much slower than I would like, but it is what it is.
- SS&S Threats. Will be out August 2011. Manuscript needs to be typed, but this will be done by the end of next month.
- New adventure/Quickstart. I finished the adventure and it is being play tested now.
- SS&S Templates. PDF release, writing it within the next two weeks.
- New adventure. I am writing this, adventure is roughed out.
- SS&S City. Outline done. Writing, 50%. Due out end of 2011, and manuscript will be done early next year.
So that is the immediate future.
Now I need your help. If you are a writer, or have even thought about trying your hand at this, I am looking for submissions. Said submissions could be for The Scroll, or they could be for adventures. We have two types of submissions: fan submissions and submissions.
Fan submissions are for The Scroll. Details for this are here.
Submissions are submissions for PDF or print releases, and are paid. Details are here.
So what do we pay?
Typically $.02/word payable 60-days upon acceptance for the first contract, 30-days for any other contracts with us.
Ok, so there you go.
Questions? Ask away.
Cities are big (I know, no shock there) and they can be intimidating for GMs when using them. What I have done is rethink the approach, and boil down what is important, and what not is important. Thus, there are sections dealing with Inns, Taverns & Coffee Houses, as well as the City Watch, Streets, Education and the like. I like this, because it enables the GM to take these bits, and use them for their own work.
The good thing about this, is that while I am working on the ending points on this manuscript, I am also working on Shadow, Sword & Spell: City. As I think about cities in the colonial period, I am also thinking about them in the pulp fantasy sense. It is strange to be working on cites as much as I have.
Written by Richard Iorio II (Colonial Gothic & Shadow, Sword & Spell), The Stew is a descent into cooking, legacy, and a strange cult. Set in a remote region of the Spineback Mountains, the adventure is just one example of the type of adventures you can run with Shadow, Sword & Spell.
You can purchase a copy from the Rogue Games Online Store.
RGG 3010 6"x9" 50 pages
The pulps, from which much of Shadow, Sword & Spell’s inspiration comes from is rich in the tradition of exploring the world. Think of Howard’s Conan, or Kull and the stories where his heroes explore the larger world and discover adventure. Even in more “modern” works such as Moorcock’s in which Elrich wanders the Young Kingdoms in such of his lost love (Cymoril), his peace (Tanelorn), and for opportunities. World spanning is important, especially if the hero is searching for land to claim as their own, a throne to take, or new markets to buy and sell goods.
Unlike SS&S: Basic, Expert has a setting. Unlike Basic, Expert’s setting is larger and offers many opportunities for GMs to use. Like Basic this setting is only barely detailed. A lot is left blank so you can take it and create what you want. Where we describe aspects of the setting, this is done in broad strokes. We do this for a few reasons.
First a fantasy game without a setting is not useful. A setting helps give context to the rules, but also serves as an example for Gamemasters when creating their own. In addition a setting helps give a tone to a game. Think of Game Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy Role Play, TSR’s Greyhawk, Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, or even Judge’s Guild City State of the Overlord (as I type this I realize I have just dated myself). These settings stand the test of time, because of not only the tone, but the hook. The hook for a setting is important, and should be summed up in one succinct sentence. For example, let’s use Warhammer Fantasy Role Play. What is the hook? A grim world of perilous of adventure. That hook is a perfect descriptive element and when kept in mind, helps you create adventures and other items for your players.
Another reason a setting is useful is that it helps set a baseline that players ad Gamemasters can use in their games. This baseline provides not only inspiration for players in creating their characters, as well as for GMs in creating their own adventures.
Finally the other reason to provide a setting is that it is fun top create a world, no matter how large or small it is.
Before diving into the setting let’s talk about the nuts and bolts of setting design. Setting design is easy, as well as offers numerous rewards. However when faced with a blank piece of paper, many world builders fall into two groups:
1. World builders with stage of fight
2. World builders with too many ideas
There might be other groups, but over the years these are the two groups that commonly appear. What follows are the guidelines and lessons we’ve learned over the years. There might be other ways to approach setting design, and our methods are not the only way to follow, but through the years this method has worked for us. Before writing any history, drawing any map, or naming any feature, you need to ask yourself a simple question: What type of campaign do I want?
The answer to this question is important and the answering of it helps guide you in the building of your world.
Is your campaign going to be centered on exploration? if so is it trekking across massive landmasses like some fantastical Marco Polo or Lewis & Clark?
Is this going to center on oceanic exploration where new lands are discovered?
Is war going to be the focus?
Are two kingdoms at war? Cities? Tribes?
The answer to this help guides your in the creation? How? For two kingdoms, you need to come up with the bare bones of who rules, why they are fighting, and what the two kingdoms look like geographically. For two cities, these same questions are useful as well, but you are more confide to the area. For tribes, the area is even smaller.
With the answer to what type of campaign you want, the process of creation begins. Often this is seen as a daunting task. It isn’t. World building is just as enjoyable as creating adventurers, running a weekly game, and devising clever encounters to pit against the player’s characters. where the struggle comes in, is the type of campaign you create. when you boil all the advice down, all the options, and the possibilities, you are left with two types of settings: encyclopedia and sandbox. each has their plusses and minuses, and both are very rewarding.
Encyclopedic settings are setting where you strive to detail everything. Encyclopedic settings are the one that show off the creativity of a Gamemaster and the thought that goes into one often serves as a springboard for other ideas. Another advantage is that the Gamemaster is ready for any question a player asks, and creates a richness of detail that makes the world seem alive. The downside of this is that often the bulk of this material never comes into play.
Though nothing goes to waste, per-say, the details do go to waste if they never leave the confines of note filled notebooks. Players might not even care to ask what the lineage of a certain ruler is. Their concerns are more primal like who is paying them, how do they afford a new sword, or how they can learn a new spell. Examples of Encyclopedic Settings are found in sprawling multi-volume fantasy epics such as Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Raymond E. Feist’s work, and TSR/Wizard of the Coast Forgotten Realms (originally created by Ed Greenwood). These settings are rich and brimming with detail, however, most of this detail is not needed. So, should not create a setting like this? No. Go for it, but keep in mind that often the bulk of your creation is for your own enjoyment.
So if an Encyclopedic Setting is one of the spectrum, a Sandbox is the other.
What is a Sandbox Setting? It is a setting where you purposely leave areas empty. Instead you think about the area where you plan to have your adventures take place, and you flesh it out in broad strokes. One example of this is The Merchant League found in Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic. That is a sandbox. Only the bare minimum is written up and as your adventurers explore details are figured out. Growth is more spontaneous and details are created as players ask question, or as you need them.
Sandbox campaigns are rewarding in that everyone has a hand in shaping the growth. However some GMs find them daunting because they often have to “wing it.” This is a good thing, because some of the best creations are the ones you make up as you go along. The key to a sandbox is that all you need are a few notes, as well as a notebook which you can jot down what you create.
Shadow, Sword & Spell is a sandbox. It is designed this way to serve not only as an example, but because we want you to make it your own.
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 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.
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.
So as I work on Expert, I realize that I have more freedom then I thought. Expert is all about possibilities, and now I find myself coming up with the final versions of rules dealing with creating Items of Magic, powerful magic, and dimensional travel. This then leads me to realize this book will not be as large as I thought, and because of this I have more room for other ideas. Freedom is a nice thing.
Let’s get this one out of the way first. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here is a picture:
Yeah, Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic will be in the booth and this is the first time you will have a chance to not only buy a copy, but look at it. This book will set you back $13, but everything you need is here.
Besides this game, copies of James’ The Cursed Chateau will be there as well. This is the first Old School adventure we released for d20 based fantasy games (*cough* D&D *cough* *cough* Swords & Wizardry *cough*). Stop by the booth and ask me about the upcoming Dwimmermount.
Basic has a setting in the book, and the setting is very slim and the idea behind it is that a GM gas enough of information on the setting to create their own campaigns. The setting’s goal is a simple one: provide an example on how the rules work and how a pulp fantasy setting behaves. Setting information is found through out the rulebook, and serves as the examples for concepts. The setting chapter is a small, concise chapter that presents you a small slice of the much larger world. When Expert is released, there will be another setting chapter and it will show you a larger slice of the world.
Is this like Thousand Suns meta-setting?
In a way, but what we want to do is build the setting in releases and use it as the example for everything we do. Case in point the two future releases I am writing.
Shadow, Sword & Spell: City
This is a book I have been thinking on and working on even before we settled on the Shadow, Sword & Spell. I have always loved running urban adventures and most of my games revolve around urban adventures. My current Colonial Gothic campaign is set in Philadelphia, and the playtesting I have done for Shadow, Sword & Spell takes place in a city as well. For me, nothing is more than pulp fantasy then urban adventures. So this book is going to center on this type of campaign. From advice and guidance in creating your own cities, to how to make the city come alive, this is the book that deals with it. In order to highlight and provide concrete examples, the book includes a city ready for play. This is how the setting comes into play. You can ignore the city, or use the city, but the book is structured that all the material is useable.
Shadow, Sword & Spell’s Campaign
There is no title for this, but there is a very detailed outline that breaks this campaign up into three parts. The campaign will come out once Expert is released, and the reason, is that this is when the whole world is revealed. The campaign is designed to be sprawling when it comes to travel. Think of some of the best Conan stores, and travel plays a role. The campaign needs a setting, and though it will have one, it can easily be used in the GMs own world. The goal with this campaign is to provide a fun and interesting adventure, not build a mega world.
Feeding the Urge
Ok, so the above two titles are in the works, and will have setting information, the urge is always there to create more material than you need. World building is fun, and sometimes the fun forces you to write and design things that you do not need, nor you want to publish. That is is why there will a wiki designed for Shadow, Sword & Spell, similar to the New World Almanack and the Encyclopedia Galactica this wiki will be the place where a lot of the smaller setting ideas James and I have will end up. For those who are interested in this setting, this is going to be the spot to visit. Some of this material might end up in releases, but who knows. In the end this will be the repository for ideas we have that do not fit in the books.
So that is where we stand as of today. As always a lot of this might change over time. Yet, the above is solid enough in place I feel safe in sharing it.
I know, a bit over the top, but this has been a very stressful few weeks. During this time, there has been a job lost, sick family members, and a lot of “stuff” going on that was distracting. The fact that we got not one, not two, but three books done and out during that time amazes me.
So Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic exists and it will be at Rogue Games’ booth at GenCon 2010.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: City
- Shadow, Sword & Spell’s campaign
Yeah, that is a lot of projects, but I enjoy the work. What amuses me that if it was five years ago I would not be dealing with fantasy at all. I was burned out. Then I begun working on Colonial Gothic and Thousand Suns, and I found myself longing for some fantasy. So for the past few days I have once again immersed myself in the realms of fantasy.
Today I’ve done a lot of work and thinking about magic. Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert is going to have new spells as well as alchemical arts. In terms of spells, there are new Common ones, as well as Arcane ones. The Arcane ones are powerful and fit the scope of the source material we pull from. As far as alchemy goes, I am doing some things that I could not get away with in Colonial Gothic.
The thing is, I stress about magic in this game. The reason is that pulp fantasy has magic, but the magic found there is powerful and typical out of the scope of most people. Now as much as I would love to have no magic in the player’s hands, I realize that this would not make a fun game. So I worry about making magic too powerful, but not powerful enough.
So I stressed about this for about a week, making magic magical. Then I get hit with the idea and make a break through. I call James to bounce the ideas off of him, and, like what always happens the talk makes me rethink the ideas. However, the ideas are now better.
The point of all of this?
It is nice having friends.
The Primer was put up on our Scribd site, as well as blogged about earlier this week.
So with Shadow, Sword & Spell: Basic I argued that a setting was needed, and it was needed for a reason. The reason? To show how the rules work, and what the game should be. This is what I learned with Colonial Gothic, gamers need guidance in what the game should be, and the best way to do this is give as many setting examples as possible. This is one reason I pulled the trigger on Colonial Gothic’s Flames of Freedom campaign, and this is why I argued that we needed some form of a setting in SS&S.
SS&S has the same problem James faces with Thousand Suns. That problem is that a setting of some type needs to be crafted. This, from a distance seems like not that big of a problem, but it is. You need to have a sense of what you want to create. You need to make sure it is not a derivative and is original. More importantly you need to create it. The pressure for this is great, because you are doing it in front of gamers. You do not have the luxury to tweak with it in the background and keep it to yourself. In addition, you have to get it right out of the gates. You do not have the luxury of hiding your design mistakes or you missing internal consistency.
In some ways with the Colonial Gothic process is easier. Why? Because I have history to work with it, and I can use the history to inspire the setting. When you have a historical period to deal with, the temptation is to play it loose and fall back on the belief that the game is not historical but is just a game. When you deal with history, you owe it to not only the gamer, but the history, to get it right. That is why I do m research, and spend more time on it, then the writing. I want to get it right.
So that is why I have the pile of research in the picture. That is just the research for the Philadelphia portion of Flames of Freedom. That is why I’ve been doing this research for close to a year, and have already begun the process for Part Three and Part Four.
- Dwimmermount PDFs: I am going to be doing the layout and art direction for these. I’m already sketching ideas out. These are James’ babies and I am doing what he tells me.
- Colonial Gothic PDFs: Not only am I researching one, but I am overseeing the creation of three news written by others. The one I am researching and planning on writing deals with Freemasons. I have no plan idea when this will be ready, but I am shooting for the end of the year. As for the other three, Graeme is writing on and this one will deal with another secret society. This will be a fall release. The other two are setting PDFs similar to Elizabethtown and Plymouth. Why no new adventurers? Two reasons:
- No one has sent in any proposals to write them.
- I’ve been busy writing the Flames of Freedom campaign.
- Flames of Freedom: I am working on a lot of things for this. The campaign is going to be in four parts (part one is due out September) and I am either researching or writing two of the next parts. Part 2 is going to be in Philadelphia. The adventure portion is done (I still need to revise it and tie up loose ends, but the guts are there. I am researching the sourcebook portion now and that will be written in the fall. Part three is in outline stage, and I know where the adventure is going to go. The third part will take place in New York. The fourth, and final part, is sketched out, but not solid yet. I know it will take place in the south, but I need to see where the adventure goes as I write it.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Expert: 50% written, but I need to rethink a few things. Expert is growing a little bit, as far as scope, but the book is still what it was planed to be -- end game. I have two writers working on a portion of the book (the mass combat system) and James is working on his portions. This is going to be a very nice addition, and in many ways it is easier to work on than Basic. Basic required a lot of research and reading (wait till you see the Bibliography), and Expert is not going to require as much.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: City: This is one of the first supplements for the game, and it deals with urban pulp fantasy. The supplement is in outline stage, and I should have that done in a week or so. Once done, I will start writing it.
- Shadow, Sword & Spell: Campaign: James and I talked about this for awhile, and we decided to pull the trigger. There is going to be a campaign for SS&S and I have outlined it three times. I am almost happy with where it is, and once we agree, we’ll get to writing.
- Thousand Suns: This is James’ and whatever help he needs, he gets. I’ve helped already on the revision, and I plan on doing some more.
There you go. It seems like a lot, but I am currently unemployed from my day job, so I have more time to devote to projects. There might be other things I’ve forgotten, but the above is what is filling my time now. Well, what is filling my time now is GenCon prep, but you get the point.