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Books as Treasure - SS&SS 2e Preview

Time for another quick preview of what is coming in Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells.

I always liked the concept of questing for knowledge. Trying to rob that forbidden tome from the Tower of Scrolls to learn the secrets the powerful want to keep hidden from our eyes. So I made a tool to transform Books into treasure and making them useful in the game!

Books are a great treasure, both for those who seek wealth and for those who want knowledge and secrets. They can contain all kinds of information and knowledge, from the records of past civilizations, to recipes, to magical formulas written by the powerful Sorcerer-Kings. The table below helps determine what the book contains.

d66 Book Subjects  d66 Book Subjects  11 Astrology 41 Jewelry  12 Astromancy 42 Prophecy 13 Biology
Recent posts

Social and Intellectua Challenges in Old School RPGs

I was asked by a friend of mine to include a little more guidance on how to run Social Encounters in my games, since they advocate for not rolling dice in these situations. I already have written something in SB&CS but I decided to try to improve that text a little bit to make things a little clearer. Let's see if it works. Let me know what you all thing!

Social and Intellectual Challenges
There are rules governing many aspects of the game, but for some of them, we left blanks (such is the way of Old School gaming). You roll dice to see if you hit your enemy with your sword, if you managed to dodge the scythe trap, or to see if you find the right scrolls on the Overlord’s library, but  we suggest you don’t roll dice for every challenge, especially social and intellectual ones.

When the player characters decide to interact with someone, the Referee asks them what they are saying.

What are they hoping to get out this interaction? How are they trying to accomplish this? If they a…

Sword and Sorcery Adventures - Preview of SS&SS 2e

Let's get back with the previews of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells second edition, shall we? It's been a few months, but I am back with something I wrote about Sword and Sorcery genre and how to explore this in the game.

Sword and Sorcery Adventures
This is a sword and sorcery RPG, inspired by pulp literature and comics. Although this falls into the fantasy games category, there are a few key differences that might be worth mentioning between generic or high fantasy and sword and sorcery. This section will briefly outline some of the core themes of sword and sorcery stories and how to apply them to the game.

Ancient Worlds The settings of sword and sorcery adventures are usually very old, with dozens of ancient civilizations, hundreds of ruins and many mysteries lost to history. Cities are built above the ruins of previous cities. Crumbling monuments can be found in the wilderness, signaling that there was once something in that location. Broken statues can be found in th…

Good Referee Practices - Preview of SS&SS 2e Chapter - Part III

Now for the last part of this preview of Good Referee Principles that will be part of the Running the Game chapter of the revised edition of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells to be published in the near future! For the first post go here, and for the second here.

Surprise Them We all have expectations in our games. The majority of people who will sit down to play SS&SS with you have probably already played other fantasy roleplaying games, read fantasy books, watched dozens of fictional movies or even played hours and hours of fantasy games in their consoles or computers. And that means they have preconceived notions of what magic is, what a monster do, what powers a magic sword has and things like this. Surprise them. Make monsters do things they don’t usually do in the fiction. Makes what initially seems to be bad actually be good in the end. Make the magic sword actually work as a vehicle somehow. Take their expectations and turn them around.

Adventuring is Perilous Player char…

Good Referee Practices - Preview of SS&SS 2e Chapter - Part II

Continuing with the previews of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells second edtion, now the second part of the Good Referee Practices I began sharing on this post.

Set Them Free Let the players explore the game and the world as they please. Don’t force them into any path you think it's more appropriate or that you have prepared in advance. If you need to improvise something due to their choices, look into the practice above this one. Use random tables or use one of the thousands of ready made material that’s available either for free or for very reasonable price all around (look for the One Page Dungeon entries). Doing this will not only allow players to have fun as they prefer, but will make the game exciting and surprising for you too.

Reward Exploration and Ingenuity This game has many ways to reward player characters, such as points of Luck, Coins, Daring and even the accomplishment of goals that are necessary to advance Levels of experience. Find a way to reward exploration of …

Good Referee Practices - Preview of SS&SS 2e Chapter - Part I

This section on the new edition of Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells is intended to function as a quick guidance reference for Referees that are unfamiliar with the Old School style of play, or even more experienced Referees that like to keep these practices in their immediate mind. This was inspired by many resources such as the Quick Primer for Old School Gaming by Matt Finch, the Principia Apocrypha by David Perry and the Referee Book for Lamentations of the Flame Princess by James Raggi IV.

These principles outlined below are not absolute however. As the first principles outlines, this game is yours now, and you should play it the way you feel more comfortable and have more fun with it. If you don’t like one or some of them, just ignore them. Take what you want and leave the rest.

Make the Game Your Own This game has almost everything you need to play adventures inspired by the pulp literature of sword and sorcery. However, your vision of how the world and the game should work m…

More Challenging Combat for SS&SS, SB&CS and DS&DS

In my games, which use a system I am tentatively calling Old Skull System, the main Mechanic involves rolling a d20 and scoring a value equal to or under than the Attribute Score and above a Difficulty score. In combat, the Difficulty is determined by subtracting the Opponent's HD from the character's Level. If the Opponent's HD is lower than the character's Level, there is no Difficulty and it's only a roll equal to or under test.

However, this mechanic of lowering the Difficulty with the character's Level doesn't really happen in other Attribute Tests. Characters become more competent as they manage to increase their scores, and acquire new abilities, but jumping a 20 feet wide chasm is as difficult to do in the first level as it is in the 5th level. Characters may increase their Attributes and become more competent, or their Archetype Abilities might be able to help them more, but the Difficulty is the same.

So if you want to make combat even more chall…