Showing posts with label spellcraft swordplay. Show all posts
Showing posts with label spellcraft swordplay. Show all posts

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Character Creation Challenge: Spellcraft & Swordplay

Spellcraft & Swordplay cover
Spellcraft & Swordplay was one of the very first retro-clones or near-clones on the market.  In my mind, it was always much closer to original D&D than say Swords & Wizardry was mostly because the core mechanic of S&S was a 2d6 like the original combat of Chainmail.  It was the "Alternate Combat" method in OD&D that gave us the d20.  I enjoyed the game so much in playtesting that I had to do a witch class for it. I also did a warlock, one of my first ever.

The Game: Spellcraft & Swordplay

Spellcraft & Swordplay was released in 2009 and it became one of my favorite games. Super easy to learn, and very fast to play it captured that "Oldest school D&D" feel better for me better than some of the clones on the market at the time.  S&S is powered by O.R.C.S. (Optimized Roleplaying Core System) which is the forerunner to the O.G.R.E.S. (Oldschool Generic Roleplaying Engine System) we use in NIGHT SHIFT. There is something like 90% compatibility between the two, but that 10% is a bit different. 

After I played the game I went to Jason and asked to do a witch book for it.  The result was Eldritch Witchery, which presented the witch and warlock as "Elite Paths" to the Cleric and Wizard respectively.

It remains one of my favorite books.

Spellcraft & Swordplay book

The Characters: Runu and Urnu

Runu and Urnu are characters in my game with a bit of history.  They began as drow elves, then shadow elves, and then Shadar-kai elves.  They are twins and I modeled them to be the "evil Wonder Twins."  In 3e they had drow working with my big bad necromancer Magnus.  I know they killed their parents and they are/were pariahs in drow society.  They might be half-drow, half-shadow elf or something.  In any case they are fairly evil and are steeped in the darkest necromancies.

For Spellcraft & Swordplay, they are elite paths. Runu is a warlock (wizard) and Urnu is the witch (cleric). In an inversion of drow norms, Runu is the warlock/wizard and her brother Urnu is the witch/cleric.   Since Spellcraft & Swordplay features a native Necromancer class (wizard elite path) in the core rules, S&S has a good number of Necromancer spells to choose from.

ePic character by Overhead Games
Female Dark Elf 1st level Warlock (Wizard), Fraternity of Bones Lodge
Alignment: Evil

S: 11
D: 12
C: 13
I: 17
W: 15
Ch: 17

HP: 4
AC: 7 (leather)
Attacks: 1

Familiar: Bat

Powers: Hexes, Arcane Blast, Occult Powers

1st: Bane

Runu considers herself the oldest, though the two twins were born so close together that no one knows for sure who was first. Since they caused their mother's death in childbirth no one can ask her.

Runu, like her brother, invert the norms of their society, so she is a warlock (wizard).  Her coven is small, only her, her brother, and their leader.

ePic character by Overhead Games
Male Dark Elf 1st level Witch (Cleric), Demonic Tradition
Alignment: Evil

S: 12
D: 11
C: 13
I: 15
W: 17
Ch: 17

HP: 5
AC: 7 (leather)
Attacks: 1

Familiar: Rat

Powers: Read Magic, Occult Powers, Coven Spells, Herbal Healing

1st: Ghostly Slashing

Urnu follows his twin sister, and like her, considers her the oldest.  He is a witch (cleric) dedicated to the Demon Lord of the Undead.  This makes them doubly rejected by their people.  Their devotion to undeath also makes them outcasts among other witches.

He is part of a small coven dedicated to the Demon Prince Orcus.  They dedicate kills to him and when they are higher level they will also create undead for him. 

Since S&S has a good number of necromancer spells I allow them to dip into those as well.

I like the way she turned out to be honest.  It's a shame that I think she might be dead! 

Character Creation Challenge

Tardis Captain is the originator of this idea and he is keeping a list of places participating.  When posting to Social Media don't forget the #CharacterCreationChallenge hashtag. 

RPG Blog Carnival

This month's RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by Plastic Polyhedra. They are doing Characters, Stories, and Worlds, so that fits right in with everything we are posting this month.

Check out all the posts going on this month at both of these sources.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

TBBYANR: The Wasted Lands

Whoa. A Best Blog You Are Not Reading post? 
Yes!  This is a feature I wanted to bring back for 2019 to give a shout out to some lesser know, lesser read blogs or at least ones people may not talk about much.

Today I want to feature a blog that has been around forever, out there doing his own thing.

Jason Vey runs the Wasted Lands blog

Now I have known Jason for years.  We worked at Eden together, worked on the Buffy RPG at the same time.  He playtested my Ghosts of Albion for Eden I playtested his All Flesh Must Be Eaten books for Eden.  I playtested his Spellcraft & Swordplay retro-game and many other games.
So we have been working together for nearly 20 years really.

Among other things Jason also is the author/designer of the Amazing Adventures game from Troll Lords and did a lot of work on various Castles & Crusades projects.  So he has a solid game design reputation and CV.

The Wasted Lands is his deep dive, scholarly work into older editions of D&D, in particular, OD&D and AD&D first edition

He covers a lot of OD&D topics.  In fact I bought my white box OD&D 5th printing off of him because he had an extra.
He covers AD&D First Edition, he is now up to Part 45 of his read through of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.
And more recently he did a long series of posts on Psionics in the OD&D and AD&D games.

And today, much closer to our shared roots, he posted stats for the cast of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for OD&D.

Jason is also something a legitimate Robert E. Howard and Conan scholar.

So do yourself a favor and check out his blog. Start with what I have linked above and don't ignore his Star Wars posts.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

OERAD: Spellcraft & Swordplay

Wellcome once again to the annual Original Edition RPG Appreciation Day!

Uh wait... isn't that supposed to be Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day?  Well, yes, but this year Gamers & Grognards, our host, has decided to expand the day to any old-school game that emulates the Original Edition, or (of course) the Original Edition itself.

This year I want to talk about one of my favorite Old-School games, Spellcraft & Swordplay.

Now, just I get this out of the way first.  Jason is a friend of mine and we worked on a lot of Unisystem games together.   Also, I worked on a supplement for S&S called Eldritch Witchery.  That all being said I developed my opinion of this game long before EW ever was thought of.

Spellcraft & Swordplay is not a retro-clone exactly.  It is more of a "near-clone" or as I often think of it as an alternate reality version of OD&D. This game was released in 2011 and it is much closer to the Original Edition feel than S&W.  How?  Well, it uses the original 2d6 means of combat resolution rather than the "alternate" method of the d20.

When D&D was starting out it grew out of the rules in Chainmail.  Using a d20 (twenty-sided die) was the "alternate" combat method that became the norm.  But the original combat method involved 2d6 (two six-sided dice), S&S (among other changes) explores that further.

There are other changes such as saving throws are made against the appropriate ability (which is not too far off to how 5th edition or Castles & Crusades does it). So you can make a Dexterity save to avoid getting hit with something, or a Constitution save to avoid the effects of a poison.

There are no skills, but ability rolls and some characters get bonuses due their classes.

S&S “feels” a lot like the old rules.

The first third of the book is dedicated to character creation. It is roughly analogous to “Men & Magic” and about the same size. We have our introduction that tells why this book is here. There is a section on ability scores and what they can do. There are entries for the four core races (humans, elves, dwarfs, and Halflings), Warriors (not Fighters or Fighting Men), Priests, Wizards, Thieves and Assassins, all the things we remember as kids or have been told about. Some things have been renamed (my OD&D had Clerics and Magic Users and it was not till 2nd Ed that I had Priests and Wizards) some oddly so (Crypto-Linguistics? I am going to need some more levels in Read Languages to figure that out!) but the spirit is there and that was the point.
Classes each have their own advancement tables as in days of old, though the hit point calculations are weird, they are in line with OD&D rules (I just had forgotten how it was done). Though I missed the level names. Spells are a simpler deal. Levels and description, that’s it.

Part 2, Combat and Confrontation is a little more modern than it’s old school counterpart, showing it’s modern sensibilities. It is, in fact, truer to a more modern concept, the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Ability checks, for the most part, replace all skills. Armor Classes though go up instead of down (so 7 is better than 3) and start at 1, not 10.

Part 3, Monsters and Magic is the “Monsters & Treasure” or “Monster Manual” portion. All stats are in a table at the beginning of the chapter, with descriptive text and some pictures following. It does make it awkward to read, but again this is the same as the OD&D books. Monsters are followed by a listing of magic items.

While there some differences from baseline D&D,  S&S is one of those systems that becomes systemless after a while.  The focus is less on rolling dice and more on adventure and role-playing.  For that reason, I find anything written for OD&D, Swords & Wizardry or Basic D&D can be translated and used in a snap.

In fact, as much as I enjoy Swords & Wizardry I find Spellcraft & Swordplay closer to OD&D in terms of gameplay and feel.

Spellcraft & Swordplay Books

Spellcraft & Swordplay Characters

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Conan and Roll-under systems

There is a new Conan game coming out.

While I am sure it will look great and have a lot of things going for it there are a couple of things that bug me off the start.

First I like my systems anymore to be simple. I like rules that "get out of the way" and let me play like I want.  Presently the only rules-heavy system I play is D&D and that is only because I have absorbed the rules to the level of abstraction.

Secondly I don't care for "roll under" mechanics either.  The new Conan is a 2d20, roll under system.  Generally speaking roll under games require lesser rolls to be considered better than higher ones.  There is an counter-intuitiveness to this.
Yes there are some great games out there that are roll under such as BESM 2r and anything using the Chaosim Basic Role-Playing (Call of Cthulhu, Runequest).
And there are some games where you need to roll high but still keep in under the targeted number.

I am just not a fan of those.

If I want to play a "Conan" game then I want something that has the right feel to it. Like Original D&D or better yet, something like Spellcraft & Swordplay.  Simple mechanics (2d6 roll over). It is both grim and cinematic at the same time.

What are your thoughts on Roll Under games?

Saturday, August 30, 2014

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

#RPGaDAY Day 30, Rarest RPG Owned

I honestly don't know.

I do have a copy of the original White Box rules of D&D, 3rd Printing.  But I think they had made a lot of those.  I also have a limited edition 1st Spellcraft & Swordplay which was not as expensive but far less were made.

I have Dracula RPG based on the 90s movie which is rare only because it is so bad.

But I collect things I like because I like them, not so much because they rare.  And all my games get played and/or used.  Even Dracula. It might be bad, but it has a great collection of Victorian era fire-arms.

Looking forward to seeing what gems everyone else has for this one.

Monday, December 9, 2013

EW doing Well!

I popped on to DriveThruRPG today and was greeted with a nice surprise!

Eldritch Witchery is now a Copper Best Seller!

That was faster than The Witch made it to Copper.  By the way, The Witch is now a Silver Best Seller!

Ghosts of Albion is still doing well too.

It's not gold or platinum, but I am not complaining.

Thanks everyone for continuing to support my work.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Elf Lair Games on Google+

Just a quick note today before gaming.

Elf Lair Games has a new Community on G+.

Come by to discuss Spellcraft & Swordplay, The Witch or Eldritch Witchery.  Or hear about new products they are working on.

It should be fun and they would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Books of Magic

I have been going over all the materials I have written over the years.

I have binders full of classes, spells, magic items.  For tons of different systems.

That "Ghosts of Albion" folder includes all my original notes from the play tests of Ghosts.  It has tons of spells on its own.  I wanted to hold on to them for a possible Ghosts update, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  It seems like a shame to let them all go to waste.

So I am thinking of gathering up all this stuff and getting it out to you all.  More spells, magic items, maybe a class or two. The classes would not be as detailed as the witch.

I would aim to have it compatible with any an all old-school games.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Skylla: Spellcraft & Swordplay: Eldritch Witchery

For my first conversion of Skylla I wanted to start as far back as I could while still using a proper "Witch" class.  Plus I want to do something that is more similar to a "wizard" class.  For those reasons I am choosing to use Spellcraft & Swordplay (since it is very much like OD&D) and the warlock class from Eldritch Witchery.

A few conceits.
- While the original Skylla was 6th level, I am going to stat all my versions as 7th level.  The reasoning is that a lot of my witch classes gain a power at 7th level and many others have at lease one power by that point.
- I am also working under the assumption that Skylla began as a good character, either as a good witch or a good magic-user/wizard and then soon became evil.  By 6th level she is unrepentant chaotic evil.  So her initial options as a character would be the ones a good character might choose.
- I am keeping her same stats, but I am going to rearrange them so her Prime Attribute always has the highest value (in this case 15).
- I am going to try to give her the same or similar spells from her original stats.

Skylla from Eldritch Witchery
I choose the Warlock class since it seems to fit my narrative of her. Warlocks are "betrayers" and evil typically, but they don't have to be.  You can use Eldritch Witchery to make a good Warlock.  Evil just happens to be easier.  Also Warlocks are an advanced class of Wizards (Magic-Users) so it fits.

She belongs to the Goetic Lodge. Figured that it was the best choice to fit a character that wanted to seek out more magic.

Skylla, 7th Level warlock (Goetic)
Strength: 9
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 15*
Wisdom: 12
Charisma: 11

Hit Points:  25
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
AC: 3 (Ring of Protection +1)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Elemental Sprit
7th level: Summon 6HD Elemental to do her bidding (typically she likes fire and air)

First: Charm Person, Light, Read Magic, Spirit Dart
Second: Detect Invisible, Knock, Levitate
Third: Bestow Curse, Slow, Wizard Lock
Fourth: Elemental Armor

Magic Items
Ring of Protection +1, Dagger +1, Staff of Enchantment, demon helm (+1 saves vs. demons and charming magic, +1 AC)

Some rearrangement of spells but still comes close.  There is no Staff of Commanding in S&S, but there is the Staff of Enchantment which fills the same niche.

Eldritch Witchery in Print

You can now get Eldritch Witchery in softcover print format.

Makes for a great Christmas gift!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Emirikol the Chaotic for Eldrtich Witchery

A while back I did stats for Emirikol the Chaotic for 4e.  Though lets be honest. Emirikol is an old-school bad guy.  The oldest.  Even before Bargel became Public Enemy #1 in the hearts and minds of D&D players, Emirikol was blasting people in the streets just because he could.

Here he is as a bad ass Eldritch Witchery Warlock.

Emirikol the Chaotic, Weaver of Chance, Harbinger of Doom
Human, 19th Level warlock (The Goetic Lodge)

Strength: 12
Dexterity: 16
Constitution: 15
Intelligence: 19
Wisdom: 14
Charisma: 17

Hit Points:  66
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral (evil) (yeah I know, not a proper S&S alignment)
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Arcane Blast: 1-3 hp, 19x per day
Familiar: Fire Elemental Horse
7th level: Summon Lesser Elemental (Chaotic)
13th level: Summon Demon (Type I or II)
19th level: Summon Greater Demon (Type III, IV or V)

First: Black Flames, Chil Ray, Detect Spirits, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Minor Fighting Prowess, Silver Togue, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second: Agony, Broca's Curse of Bable, Death Armor, Discord, Ghost Touch, Levitate, Mind Obscure, Phantasmal Spirit, Spell Missile
Third: Astral Sense, Cause Fear, Fly, Ghost Ward, Haste, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Liar's Curse, Protection from Normal Missiles, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Charm Monster, Confusion, Dance Macabre, Instant Karma, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee
Fifth: Bad Luck, Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Feeblemind, Teleport, Wave of Mutilation
Sixth: Anti-magic Shell, Death Blade, Disintegrate, Mass Agony, Primal Scream

While it could be argued that he is a Wizard or Warlock, I think this works well for him.

Monday, October 28, 2013

What is Spellcraft & Swordplay?

One of the questions I have been getting a lot this week is "How does Spellcraft & Swordplay play" followed by "What is Spellcraft & Swordplay".

Spellcraft & Swordplay is Jason Vey's old school game based on the Original edition of Dungeons & Dragons.  It is a retro-clone, or more precisely a "near clone".

The feel of S&S is extremely old-school and when I played it with my son when it first came out it reminded me so much of OD&D that I wanted to make it my old-old-school game of choice.
You can read my original review here if you like. But there some things about it that I would like amend.
Just like you can't judge a game by reading it, you get a totally different perspective when you write something for it.  Somethings I now like more than I did then.

Here are some quick tips to help you learn about S&S.
- Saving throws are based abilities. So you can make a Dexterity save to avoid getting hit with something, or a Constitution save to avoid the effects of a poison.  Keep in mind S&S did this YEARS before it became the newest feature of D&D Next.
- The die mechanics are based on a 2d6, not a d20.  Need an 18 to hit something? Better hope you have pluses because you can only roll a natural 12 at best!  This makes everything grittier.  The 2d6 produces a near normal curve (ok a pyramid) so it means you will roll a lot of 7s and almost no 2s (snake eyes) or 12s (box cars).  This by the way was the original mechanic used in D&D, the d20 is the alternate method.

While there some differences S&S is one of those systems that become systemless after a while.  The focus is less on rolling dice and more on adventure and roll playing.  For that reason I find anything written for OD&D, Swords & Wizardry or Basic D&D can be translated and used in a snap.
In fact, as much as I enjoy Swords & Wizardry I find Spellcraft & Swordplay closer to OD&D in terms of game play and feel.

If you want to try out Spellcraft & Swordplay for free, there is a "Basic Set" available and a free character sheet.
If you like that then the Spellcraft & Swordplay rules can be had for cheap.

I even have some character write-ups if you like:
Asa Vajda
Elizabeth Bathory (monster stats)
Hex (from Skylanders)
Red Sonja
Sir Gannon and Del The Necromancer
Xena & Gabrielle
Hope you enjoy this game as much as I do.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Spellcraft & Swordplay Character Sheet

Need a character sheet for your new witch character?

Here you go!
Spellcraft & Swordplay Character Sheet

Eldritch Witchery: Hex from Skylanders

It is no secret that I am a fan of the game Skylanders.  I even got caught up in all of the hype about collecting the figures and everything.  I am embarrassed (a little) to discuss the lengths I went too to get some of these figures.  There were other parents right there next to me, so I figured I was in good company.

Well just when we all though the madness was dying down, Activision released the new Skylanders Swapforce.  New game, new figures, and your old figures still work on it.  Here we go again.

I don’t think it is a stretch to  guess that my favorite character in the game is Hex, the dark elf witch of the “undead” element.  So given there is another new Skylanders game AND Eldritch Witchery is out I thought I would stat her up once again.

Here she is as an Eldritch Witchery warlock.

Hex, 13th Level warlock (Fraternity of Bones)

Strength: 10
Dexterity: 9
Constitution: 10
Intelligence: 18
Wisdom: 13
Charisma: 12

Hit Points:  30
Alignment: Unaligned Neutral
AC: 6 (talisman of protection)

Occult Powers
Familiar: Floating Skull (Spirit)
7th level: Necromantic Spell use, Hex can use Necromancer Spells
13th level: Summon Spirit (summons a skull spirit, 9HD Ghost)

First: Black Flames, Detect Spirits, Fey Sight, Ghostly Slashing, Minor Fighting Prowess, Sleep, Spirit Dart
Second: Agony, Death Armor, Discord, Ghost Touch, Levitate, Phantasmal Spirit
Third: Astral Sense, Cause Fear, Fly, Ghost Ward, Lesser Strengthening Rite, Speak with Dead
Fourth: Dance Macabre, Phantom Lacerations, Spiritual Dagger, Tears of the Banshee
Fifth: Death Curse, Dreadful Bloodletting, Teleport
Sixth: Death Blade, Wall of Bones

Originally posted here:
This one takes advantage of new rules written since then.

Other stats:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Coming Soon! Eldritch Witchery

Files have been sent off to the publisher and very, very soon Eldritch Witchery will be up on DriveThruRPG/RPGNow for sale.

Eldritch Witchery is my "love letter" to OD&D.

Designed for Spellcraft & Swordplay it could be used with just about any old-school game you like.  The older the better.

In its 206 pages you will find rules for witches, warlocks, new traditions (for witches) and new lodges (for warlocks).  Plus rules for all sorts of demons like the Calabim, the Shedim, Lilim and the Baalseraph.

Makes a good companion to The Witch, though there is some overlap.

The cover art is by Isra2007.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blogfest: The WIP It Good: EW Cover reveal!

Today is the The WIP It Good Blogfest

We are supposed to talk about our current WIP or Work in Progress.

I am going to be talking about Eldritch Witchery! big cover reveal.

Eldritch Witchery is my next book for role-playing Witches.  In this case the game is Spellcraft & Swordplay.  The book will include a Witch AND a Warlock class.

And without further ado here is the new cover!

Lilith by Isra2007
I was able to get this wonderful piece of art of Lilith from Isra2007.
It will be updated in the Spellcraft & Swordplay trade dress, but nothing else will be done to the image.  It is too perfect as is.

Like the Witch, Eldritch Witchery will have new spells, magic items and monsters.  It will have traditions, but all new ones, different from the Witch, so new Occult Powers too.   Warlocks also have Lodges they belong to.  The biggest addition is the inclusion of all the demons and devils to the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.  If you were around for my April A to Z posting then you have an idea what will be included.

The book is done, more or less.  The first part with the witches, spells and magic items is being reedited.  The demons and devils are wrapping up.  I know this one has been delayed, but we are looking for a Halloween or earlier release.

So yes if you have the Witch then there is still plenty of new material here even if you don't play Spellcraft & Swordplay.  It can be played with OD&D as well.

It is a big piece of work. Maybe larger than The Witch.  I hope you all enjoy it.

EDITED TO ADD: Forgot the template.  Been one of those weeks.

WIP Title: Eldritch Witchery
Word Count (projected/actual so far): 150,00 projected 117,588 right now
Genre: RPG
How long have you been working on it?:  Seriously about 2 years. Of on on though for only the first 6 months

Elevator Pitch (if you came across an agent in an elevator ride, what couple of lines would you use to summarize your book):  EW is the follow up to The Witch for the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.

Brief Synopsis (300 words or less):  The witch and warlock classes are detailed along with hundreds of new spells, magic items, monsters and tons of demons and devils.

Are you looking for a Critique Partner?  Not really that kind of book.

Are you looking for a Beta Reader? Same.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

May Monster Maddness: Monster Books

Monster Books

I can't beleive I almost forgot this today.  It is still Thursday where I am sitting.

So I am presently working three books with monsters.

Eldritch Witchery, which you all know about which includes all the demons and devils I have been talking about since February for the Spellcraft & Swordplay game.

Here There Be Dragons, is the book I am working on with my son.  It has all sorts of dragons, dragon like creatures and some new classes for Advanced Era Old School Games or OSRIC.

Lastly, and the one that I have been working on the most, is Darwin's Guide to Creatures.  It is for the Gaslight game, so both d20 (3.x era) and Savage Worlds.

Each one has a different focus, different feel and almost no overlap between the books.  I think there is one creature in both the Darwin's Guide and EW, but they are presented very differently.

So all in all I figure over the last 3 months I have written the stats and or backgrounds for some 400+ monsters.  I am getting a touch burned out by them to be honest!  But hey, you do what you can and I hope that all those years of reading monster books and my public library as a kid will now pay off.

Enjoy this? Please check out the other monster posts today!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

WIP it Good!

Ok so sue me.  I am participating in another blogfest.

The WIP It Good Blogfest

I am going to be talking about Eldritch Witchery!

I know, I have been talking about EW since before The Witch came out.
But on May 31st I am also going to do my new cover reveal! I got a new cover that I am just dying to share.

May is another busy month here.