Before I even knew that pen & paper RPGs existed I was a fan of computer RPGs like SSI’s Gold Box Series. My two favorite games from that series were actually the games based on TSR’s Buck Rogers XXVc game.
While doing some research in preparation to next week’s game I watched some “Let’s Play” videos of the first game in the series: Countdown to Doomsday. There I noticed a something which is missing from the pen & paper game: gear qualities (or it’s not mentioned in any of the books I own).
Gear qualities are basically the “magic weapons and armor” of the Buck Rogers game. Standard weapons have a +0 to hit and a –0 to AC. So far so good. Martian weapons on the other hand are +1 to hit and –1 to AC. I think you get the drill. So if you want to provide your players with a particular useful piece of treasure you can make use of this. I’ve added a table of the various Gear Qualities available in the Countdown to Doomsday game below.
You can use something similar in your D&D games as well. If you don’t want to hand out boring longswords +1 or daggers +2, think of more descriptive terms fitting your game world. For example Imperial plate mail sounds way better than plate mail +1, don’t you think?
After playing a couple of one-shots and my players yearned for a longer campaign, so I retreated into my GM cave and thought long and hard what I really wanted to run. In the end I had three games on my list: James Spahn’s The Hero’s Journey, Kevin Crawford’s Star Without Number and the venerable TSR Sci-Fi RPG Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (or XXVc for short). To my surprise the players voted for the latter.
Even though I totally love the game, I am no fan of descending ACs and the dreaded THAC0. I also hate the rather bland and much too small character sheet provided in the book. So I sat down at my PC and created a new one. Since I wanted to include all skills on the sheet and make it as user-friendly as possible … let’s just say, it got a bit more extensive than expected. While doing so I also decided to quickly convert the game to ascending ACs, which is luckily very easily done.
Eventually I ended up with a five-paged sheet which – at least in my humble opinion, looks sweet but also includes some helpful information for the players, like an armor table with both ascending and descending armor classes. The skill prerequisites are all listed, and last but not least there’s a handy attack bonus table on the sheet which I derived from the THAC0 table. Overall I am quite happy with the sheet, so I share it here.
If you find any errors, or if there’s anything missing, please let me know.
Shadow, Sword & Spell by Rogue Games is a game very dear to me. I still have fond memories of the game Zachary Houghton ran for us at GenCon 2010. Originally Richard Iorio II, the owner of Rogue Games, had planned to run the game for us, but unfortunately a very nasty cold stopped him from actually doing so. Shadow, Sword and Spell is – even in its 1st edition – a very easy to learn and to play sword & sorcery RPG with some interesting mechanics. The new mechanics which will power the 2nd edition of this fine game have been revised and now work better than ever. A Kickstarter project to fund the 2nd edition has just been started and at the moment of this writing has already reached more than a fifth of the goal of $5000.
For full disclosure I have to tell you that I worked with Richard on a couple of projects. I did nothing major, just some proofreading for several of his books, but this should be mentioned especially when I try to convince people to back his Kickstarter project. I also consider him a friend.
So, why should you invest some of your hard-earned money into this Kickstarter? For one Shadow, Sword & Spell is a great game which – in my opinion – is not as well-known as it should be. As I said before, the changes to the rules make the game even better. There will also be new artwork – which looks absolutely awesome by the way – and a completely new layout.
Did I mention that everything from the 1st edition’s Basic and Expert books will be combined into the new 2nd edition rulebook? For a pledge of just $10 you not only support this project but you’ll also get a PDF, ePub, or Kindle copy of the game including all of the funded stretch goals. If you are willing to invest more, you can get a softcover or hardcover version of the rules.
What I really like about the Shadow, Sword & Spell Kickstarter is that it has a reasonable goal of $5000 and is not going crazy with pledge levels and stretch goals. I have seen too many Kickstarter projects fail because the goals where to high or the stretch goals could never be fulfilled.
In my opinion Shadow, Sword & Spell is a game which should be in any gamer’s library, especially if said gamer has a soft spot for the swords & sorcery genre. If you haven’t checked out the game yet, you should definitely give the Kickstarter project a look, or get the 1st edition from your local store or via DriveThruRPG!