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Sunday, December 30, 2012

OSR - still no Swords and Sorcery game

There has yet to be a swords and sorcery game published through the OSR. I'm really surprised by this.

Some games claim to be S&S, but are really just D&D with some S&S trappings. Seriously, if your "Swords and Sorcery" game has PC clerics and requires a group, then it's not S&S. You may pretend it is, but you are lying to yourself and your customers.

What an S&S game needs:
1. One or maybe two players. No more than that.
2. Fighters and rogues are normal, and they should have a good chance of defeating a powerful NPC mage.
3. Fighters and rogues "heal" between encounters. They don't have to stop just because they've been in a big swordfight and got stabbed a couple times. 
4. No clerics!
5. No paladins!
6. You can have a mage as your character, but he should be a fighter-mage, in armor and wielding a sword, NOT a robe-wearing wimp with a spellbook.
7. Magic should be evil and corrupting. There may be some "good" magic, but the vast majority of it requires the mage to be evil as heck.
8. Humans are the majority race, by a long shot. If an elf is seen, he's going to be the only elf the locals see in their entire lifetimes, and legends will arise about him, even if all he did was ride through town and not even stop.
9. Lots of giant toads, giant snakes, and other giant critters. Many of whom will be worshiped as gods, even though they are just dumb animals.


Brutorz Bill said...

What about Crypts & Things?

Dan said...

Maybe. Is it even released yet? It still keeps clerics around, so that makes it a tough sell (even if they are renamed, they are still clerics).

tarotgames said...

Expanding OSR a bit, you have Sorceror (notably Sorcery & Sword), On Mighty Thews (s&s flavored build of DungeonSquad), and Agon (magic is the purview of NPCs, everyone can heal, best in small competitive groups of players). It's also feasible to house rule a game into the flavor you want.

tarotgames said...

C&T has been out for a while... I do have a houserule for it using CthulhuDice for representing corruption for *all* magic, but it's houserule.

Dan said...

tarotgames: None of those games are OSR games. You know that, you're just advertising for them.

tarotgames said...

Define OSR, then.

If it's a matter of age, then Sorceror being over 20 years old gives it some mileage as being part of the older school of games. DungeonSquad was designed to replicate the simplicity of 0e in way that could be picked up in 30 seconds or less, with OMT really capturing S&S feel you're asking for. Agon even explicitly references OSR and old school games as part of the design basis (John Harper was one of the hands responsible for keeping Talislanta around, even).

Since the war-game derived systems you've been disappointed with aren't giving you what you want, maybe you should consider other options. Or write your own houserules for the games you do like.

I have no connections to any of the games I mentioned, so calling it "advertising"is off base a bit. I just thought that if you were willing to open your experience beyond strict retro-clones, you might find something like what you're looking for. Or not.

Dan said...

Stop trolling, or I'll just delete all your comments. You damn well know OSR refers to D&D-derived games.

zerohero said...

You said 'Some games claim to be S&S, but are really just D&D with some S&S trappings'

Then someone lists some games that aren't just D&D with S&S trappings. And you brush it aside as 'trolling' because the examples aren't D&D with S&S trappings?

David Macauley said...

C&T has been out since February. It's based on the Swords & Wizardry rules. It doesn't have clerics. You can read what makes it different from standard D&D here. It ticks some of your boxes Dan, but perhaps not enough to be classed as pure S&S for you, although I think most people will feel that Newt has got it just about as right as you can using D&D (or its clones).

Jeremy Deram said...

The Age of Conan OD&D Supplement seems pretty legit.

There's also ZeFRS, although I have no experience with it.

Chris Wellings said...

I don't think OSR is as narrowly defined as that; it's a broad church including d100 games (Runequest), and games that evoke an old school feel. I really don't think he's trolling. ZeFRS would work really well.

mikemonaco said...

I was going to mention Grey Elf's Age of Conan too. But I'd also take issue with point 1 -- yes S&S stories (like most fiction) tends to focus on one or two protagonists, but isn't that more because of literary conventions than the genre itself? I mean most stories in any genre tend to have one or two main characters. And RPGs are a social thing, so limiting a game to a couple of players + GM doesn't seem like a good idea. More players usually means more fun (I think the tipping point where more players slow the game and make it less fun is around 6 players, but that varies).

Dan said...

zerohero: Stop twisting my words to suit your own bad faith argument. Pretty much everyone except you and tarotgames knows that OSR refers to games based upon D&D.

Dan said...

David, C&T does sound interesting. I might have to pick it up, though it certainly still has issues (large group required and clerics renamed to magicians using white magic - they're still clerics).

Hamel™ said...

I'd say Microlite74: Swords & Sorcery, an OGL Game.

BlUsKrEEm said...

Excepting #8 on your list Carcosa fits the bill pretty well.

zerohero said...

I think you know that your definition of OSR doesn't fit comfortably with a sizable portion of people who would consider themselves to be part of the OSR.

You state 'OSR refers to D&D-derived games'. This would include Pathfinder as an OSR game. But i'm guessing you don't believe that to be true.

I'm not impressed by someone raising an interesting topic, then insulting people (Tarot) who comment on the topic.

But hey, it's your blog, do what you like.

David Macauley said...

clerics renamed to magicians using white magic - they're still clerics

Again I need to correct you Dan. There is no cleric class in C&T, nor has the cleric class simply been renamed to Magician. The D&D spell lists of clerics and magic-users have been merged and then divided into white, grey and black, with some clerical spells dumped for being not very S&S. The magician can then cast from any of these colours and is not limited to say, just white. While theoretically a player could choose to have his character cast only white spells, it is highly unlikely any player would so greatly limit his character to that.

Brutorz Bill said...

I've ran Crypts & Things for my group and they said it felt very Sword & Sorceryesque, course your mileage may very.

Omlet said...

SHIT I saw that there's 19 comments here so I thought I'll find some advice how to create some "S&S dnd hacks".

And what I found? Some shitty trolling and yet another discussion about OSR definition.

Omlet said...

BTW, this may be handy (or may be not):

Ynas Midgard said...

One could theoretically make all these changes to the system still looking a lot like D&D (class, level, attributes, monsters, dungeons, loot). However, one of the most important elements of D&D, the autonomous group of adventurers (and the social part of the game) would be lost as well.

All of the changes you mentioned, except this one, are present in both Crypts & Things and Age of Conan (most of them in Carcosa, too), or can be house ruled in less than five minutes.

There are differences between movies and novels of any genre; likewise there are differences between gaming and short stories. In our case, it's the focus on one single protagonist vs. a group of variables, set loose in the DM's setting.

gnombient said...

Late to the party, but hope no one minds me adding my 2 coppers.

My current go-to nouveau-old-school game for S&S is Barbarians of Lemuria. It's not D&D-based so maybe it doesn't meet certain narrow definitions of the OSR, but this OSR guy loves it for S&S and sword & planet one-on-one games.

For D&D-based OSR S&S, I really like Doug Easterly's Savage Swords of Athanor. It's a S&W:White Box variant that could work well for sword & sorcery, although the setting is more sword & planet/dying earth than S&S. Three classes (Fighter, Magic-User, and Rogue -- sort of a combo F/MU), simple skill system, mutations, some weird new sword & planet-y PC races. No clerics or vanilla demihumans.

I'm not familiar with Crypts & Things, I'll check it out!