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Friday, June 9, 2017

Simple Cantrip Rules For Swords & Wizardry and OD&D

Cantrip is an archaic word originally meant to define a trick performed by witchery. Later it was used to mean a malicious trick or a sham. In recent years (at least since the publication of the AD&D version of "Unearthed Arcana") it has come into usage in fantasy role playing to mean a bit of minor magic. This is typically in the form of 0 level spells in D&D and it's simulacra. I like the idea of a magic user having access to spells that are useful little utilitarian spells that do not have major effects. That said, I don't believe that these effects should be individual spells themselves. I like the idea that a Vancian mage could memorize a spell and siphon off some of it's power without releasing the spell. This does not work with divinely granted magic like that of a cleric or druid.
How are we going to make this work? Well, this takes bargaining between the referee and the player. A mage can attempt to cause a minor magical effect based upon the effect of any spell currently memorized (or known spells not expended in the case of my sorcerer class.) For example, a mage with fireball written may want to light a pipe from his finger. A witch being bothered by a would be suitor may want to make him drowsy, heading off to bed, without expending the full effect of the spell and making him not off there and then. Likewise a sorceress with telekinesis may want to cause a bell that she can see ring, or wind chimes sound, without using the full effect of her spell. Minor effects like this might be allowed without question (possibly allowing a saving throw for the chap that is getting drowsy.)
Occasionally a player may want to make a cantrip a little more powerful. If this is allowed it should only be allowed once prior to expending the spell, and be possible to fail at. For an example, let's look at the fellow who lit his pipe with a fireball based cantrip. He may want to use that fireball for other things. He may want it to deal damage with it, to a lesser extent, than normal. Perhaps he is in close quarters and wants to reduce it to a 1d6 "firebolt" cantrip focusing on one enemy? Or maybe he and his companions are in a cold region and cannot light a fire. In this instance, perhaps he wants to use it to generate heat? These things are more game affecting than using the cantrip to light a fire or pipe. The referee can, of course, just rule that these sorts of things are not possible. Alternatively this could be allowed, but making an attribute check based upon the caster's prime requisite. My Power attribute could be substituted, if it were being used. If the check were successful, the effect could go off. Note that as stated before, more powerful cantrips should be of limited use. If the check fails, however, a saving throw should be made at a penalty of the spell's level. If the save passes, the effect does not occur. If the save is failed, the spell is expended for the day as if it were cast normally.
Let me know what you think. I've been playing around with this for a while.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Picks From the OSR Extravaganza Sale

Seeing as I am a strong supporter of Swords & Wizardry in both it's "official" and third party formats, I thought I would drop a post to highlight some of the awesome products on sale during the OSR Extravaganza Sale! There is some good stuff, and some at a far deeper discount than the standard 15% that the sale is offering! So, what are my S&W picks?

First of all, let me highlight a couple of larger deals happening.

+James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games has the vast majority of his catalog marked at 20% off or better. That means that you can have a plethora of White Box and White Star goodness at a deep discount! Did I mention he just release issue #1 of Star Sword Magazine, the official magazine of White Star? You can see everything James has to offer right here!

The OTHER Spahn, that is to say +Pete Spahn, also has a really great deal in the White Box family of games right now. It's a great deal, if you have yet to pick up WWII: Operation White Box. If your itching for some World War II or Weird War II action, this is where you want to be. In this bundle, you Get OWB in hardcover, premium color along with a copy in softcover for table use, the pdf and three modules to kick off your campaign! About $65 of product for only $44.99. You can grab this deal here.

 Now let's take a look as some new classes for your S&W Game. These are pretty cool.

+Mark Chance, of Spes Magna Games, gives us The Magus, which I have been a fan of since it's release! It's a neat little class with some simple astrology rules to add into your campaign. It's well worth the look for only $0.84! You can nab it up right here.

Next up, +Timothy Brannan gives us his latest foray into the world of witchcraft. The Warlock  ports over the class from 3.X - 5E into S&W with Tim's special brand of witchcraft. With notes on using the class with Tim's other Witches, there is a real value here. The real value here is for those who want this in physical form, which is currently about 33% off. If you're looking for new spells or want to bring the Tiefling into your S&W Complete campaign, this is the book for you.

Next up is a full campaign setting, complete with some alternate rules.

Sherwood: The Legend of Robin Hood is a fantastic supplement/campaign setting. I backed this when it was a Kickstarter. I can tell you, it is well researched from a historical perspective, and that alone makes it worth the price of the book. You get a campaign setting, new classes, and some new options for your fighters. The historical data helps for setting the scene, even if you don't intend to use the book as written. The book contains information on running both a historical OR high fantasy version of the Robin Hood myth. Complete with historically based classes. This is a Swords & Wizardry book worth having!

Onward to Adventure!

The first adventure I would like to highlight is brought to us by Genius Loci Games. Pyramid of the Lost King is a low level campaign more than it is an adventure module! With a town, a plot and several dungeon/encounter regions, this could take months of regular play to get through. With professional looking layout and editing and terrific content, this is a steal at $8.50 for the pdf or $15.00 in softcover!

Ursined, Sealed and Delivered is a favorite of mine that I have both played and run. It's a great old school module that goes beyond just being a dungeon crawl. Published by the Frogs themselves and written by none other than veteran Dennis Sustare (creator of the OD&D Druid class!) and with a cover by Jennell Jaquays, this is an already an old school classic. In recent years it has become one of my all time favorite adventures along side the likes of Palace of the Vampire Queen and Dark Tower.

There you have it. Some of my top S&W picks from the massive sale that is soon to end! Remember, purchasing from my links helps Gamers & Grognards with a 5% commission from your sale.