Thursday, December 6, 2012

Blood of the Dragon for Sword & Sorcery Gaming

I downloaded this small scenario pdf from d101 games days ago and went looking to see what it had to pilfer for my introductory fantasy campaign I've been crafting.

Holding true to its Sword and Sorcery inspiration I quickly decided the module was unsuitable for Fantasy Campaign #1.

Nothing left to do but craft a new Sword & Sorcery campaign and make it available for players who wish to game the rich journeys brought to life by such fine writers as Edger Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, Lin Carter, Fritz Lieber, Robert H. Howard, August Derleth, etc.

Game mechanics will be Scott Malthouse's USR System, and your first "house rule" would be Human player characters only.

Sorcery is also not available to PC’s. This is not to say PC’s cannot attempt to learn the use of magic, or use enchanted items, or drink potions, or read the words off hide bound scrolls during game play. Just that starting PC's will be human and must use their skills and smarts to win glory in their deadly fantasy world.

Ripping off Thulsa's map for his World of Xoth should suffice to give my on the fly S&S homebrew campaign its physical underpinnings. Reviewing the gorgeous map I plop The Spires in a suitable location.

The Blood of the Dragon offers a small sandbox setting for your new PC's with one fleshed out small dungeon.The bleak landscape described is suitably sparse with frontier settlements inhabited by desperate and corrupt men. With the PC's background threads one should be able to get your players involved in desperate, dangerous situations.

Utilizing USR System I quickly generated a party of three warriors. Attribute set up was the same for all three characters; d10 Action, d8 Wit, and d6 Ego.

For specialisms they all had close combat and riding +2 in common. For each characters third specialism I mixed skulking, climbing, and ranged combat amongst the trio to give an overall roguish mix.

USR requires each starting character to have a background story. I've decided to use random rolls on background tables with guidance taken from the Fiasco rulebook to interpret the results. I'm using Chaosium's Elric! Background table for the first roll, and a long extinct optional background table which provides another layer of detail.

The Elric! Background Table; 

01-20 Warrior (Roll d10, 9-10 indicates Assassin as well).
21-30 Merchant (Roll d10, 8-10 means Trader, otherwise Shopkeeper).
31-45 Sailor (Roll d10, 9 indicates a Mate giving + 5% to all skills, 10 indicates a Captain, giving + 10% to all skills)
46-60 Hunter
61-65 Farmer
66-70 Priest
71-75 Noble
76-85 Thief
86-90 Beggar (Roll for afflictions).
91-00 Craftsman (specify Craft).

The second background table roll;

Remember that this is optional material for Elric...

Tables of Background

These tables are used after the adventurer occupation has been determined by the player. Simply roll 1d10 and refer to the descriptions given below. Not all the occupations are treated here (others will be published in a future issue of TATOU and maybe in the Chaosium Digest).

      Beggar             Craftperson          Hunter                   Merchant
1    Temple            City                        Kn: Area                Bad Associate
2    Spy                  Enemy Merchant Kn: Animal           Claim
3    Blackmail       Legacy                   Beasts' Curse        Antiquarian
4    Tout                Craft Secret          Hated by Baron     Slave Merchant
5    Catacombs    Embrss. Witness Kn: Treasure          Angered King
6    Corpses Tr.    Dexterity                Murder Witness   Caravaneer
7    Victim              Black Sheep         Resilient                 Ransomed
8    Kidnapper       Thief Murderer  Animal Companion War
9    Kn: City          Poverty                  Hunting site          Taxes
10  Free choice     Free choice            Free choice            Free choice

    Minor Noble                     Peasant Farmer                    Sailor     Slave
1    Duelist                             Tax Collector                       Pirate                      Scars
2    Bracelet                           Peasant revolt                      Ports Knowledge Free Man
3    Royal Court                   Peasant Defender                Corsair                   Torturer Master
4    Don Juan                        Mercenaries                          Mutilated              Wizard Master
5    Ancestral Weapon        No money                             Watch                    Marked
6    Successful Merc.           Looted                                   Galerian                 Murderer
7    Domain Seized              Very Healthy                        Treasure Island    Miner
8    Rescuer                           Lord's Right                          Shipwrecked         Rescuer
9    Gambling Father           Away                                     Bad Luck              Storm
10  Free choice Free choice Free Choice Free choice

Warrior                                  Thief

1    Gates Guard                   Last Survivor
2    Mercenary                    Secret Passage
3    Crusading Knight        Dexterity
4    Training                         Infamy mark
5    Executioner Grd.           Banned
6   Outcast                           Gangs War
7    Big Battle                        Sorcery
8    Temple Guard                Good Job
9    Desertion                         Ring
10  Free choice                     Free choice


My rolls came out very satisfactory for gaming in Blood of the Dragon's mini sandbox Sword & Sorcery world; Peasant - no money, Warriorr - executioner's guard, and Hunter - animal companion.

Most people capable of role play will be able to fashion a reason to be out on the ash plains of the Spires with a suspect crew just randomly rolled. The players and the game master should use these sparse details and create satisfying starting relations in which to launch the game session. The DM should use these story details and the NPC's own motivations to gin up a host of hoary problems for our grim faced adventurers.