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4/14/2019 10:16 am  #1


Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

I see that Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e is supposed to be a sword & sorcery setting but I am wondering how magic is treated in the game. One trope that is VERY important to the sword & sorcery genre is that magic is rare, dangerous and that its practitioners must pay a terrible price for power. The Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG does a great job with this with its Mercurial Nature of Magic tables where even successfully casting a spell can have unintended things occur and with the more powerful you become in magic the more it corrupts your mortal body. Is there anything in AS&SH 2e like this for magic users? Can you tattoo yourself with ancient imagery and/or sacrifice virgins to some evil outer realm entity to empower your spells like you can in Barbarians of Lemuria Mythic Edition?

I just hope magic is not treated identically to Dungeons & Dragons or I am not sure how this game can claim it is a sword and sorcery setting.

 

4/14/2019 2:44 pm  #2


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

We have had a few threads on this topic and related topics where people share their opinions and ideas. You may find them of interest (see below). I would also remind you that AS&SH bills itself as a Sword, Sorcery and Weird Fantasy game with rules and conventions informed by Gygax and Arneson and literary inspiration from Howard, Lovecraft, Smith, Burroughs, Leiber, Merritt, Moorcock, Vance, and Wagner, among others. There's no single literary source here that necessitates a strict, narrow interpretation of how magic works or should work in Jeff's fictional world of Hyperborea or, more importantly, in your own home campaign. 

Sorcery in the original Conan stories

How to make the game... Less magic

Magical Corruption for ASSH and other Retroclone RPGs

Corruption from spellcasting

Corruption


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

4/14/2019 3:24 pm  #3


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

What Chainsaw said.


What? Me worry?
 

4/14/2019 3:40 pm  #4


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Spellbinder wrote:

I just hope magic is not treated identically to Dungeons & Dragons or I am not sure how this game can claim it is a sword and sorcery setting.

This is funny given OD&D drew its inspiration from Sword and Sorcery literature.

I have run AS&SH for seven years and for me, not only is it a Swords and Sorcery setting it is THE Swords and Sorcery setting and game.

I have run dozens of one-shots of BOL.  It is very S&S. For me, the magic system limits the viability of sorcerers in a campaign setting. You likely will not have an adventuring wizard casting more than first magnitude spells.

The magic systems that slowly change wizards into tentacled, multi-colored, lizards aren't my idea of S&S or my idea of fun. This also limits sorcerers as a viable long term character IMO.

I think to include these types of mechanics in the ruleset is a limiter to my vision of the world and I'm glad it was not done.

I hope you look past the Vancian magic as a limit and see the incredible S&S influences in the classes, the setting, the spell descriptions, magic items, and history of Hyperborea!  Make the world your own and add the mechanics you speak of! It won't break the game.
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

4/14/2019 3:42 pm  #5


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Some (e.g., Gary Gygax, who uses the term "sword and sorcery adventure game" in the introduction to the 1e hardbacks) would claim that D&D is already an S&S game, so any game using its magic system would presumably be as well. Still, I understand that what precisely should be defined as "sword and sorcery" is a somewhat contentious matter. About the only thing everyone agrees on is that Conan existed in an S&S milieu. That being the case, I would love to hear some examples of sorcerers in Howard's stories who have had "their mortal bodies corrupted" by their use of powerful magic.

On the off chance that no such sorcerers exist in Howard's stories - if indeed the sorcerers in his stories look pretty much exactly like everyone else - I might be forced to conclude that the DCC magical corruption system was yanked directly out of the lower digestive tract of some game designer (who likely never read any Conan stories, if indeed he's read any books at all) and might not be the best yardstick for what qualifies as "sword and sorcery". https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

4/14/2019 6:47 pm  #6


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

What Gizmo said about what Chainsaw said.

 

4/14/2019 6:48 pm  #7


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

And what Mabon said.

 

4/14/2019 6:50 pm  #8


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Blackadder23 wrote:

I might be forced to conclude that the DCC magical corruption system was yanked directly out of the lower digestive tract of some game designer (who likely never read any Conan stories, if indeed he's read any books at all) and might not be the best yardstick for what qualifies as "sword and sorcery". https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png

And ESPECIALLY what Ben said!

 

4/14/2019 7:07 pm  #9


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JAMrBLAkRMM

Specifically the 3:53 mark.[/url]

Last edited by Spellbinder (4/14/2019 7:13 pm)

     Thread Starter
 

4/14/2019 7:21 pm  #10


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

There is room for variation within the genre I guess.

     Thread Starter
 

4/14/2019 7:25 pm  #11


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Spellbinder wrote:

There is room for variation within the genre I guess.

I agree! As often happens with this topic, I think we have co-mingled at least a few questions:

- What is "swords and sorcery"? Based on what you wrote initially, I'm not sure we will agree on a definition that meets your expectations.

- Is AS&SH meant to emulate "swords and sorcery"? In my opinion, it's meant to be a playable game with content and tone inspired by numerous authors (some mentioned above).

- Can you alter AS&SH's Vancian magic system and Hyperborea's default amount of magic to suit your tastes? Sure, some people in the threads above share their methods and experiences.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

4/15/2019 6:10 am  #12


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

I'll add my voice to the chorus above: can't really restate it any better, but will only provide anecdotal evidence below.
I've been running AS&SH as my preferred rules and setting* for fantasy since the 1e came out, and it takes the path of a weird S&S milieu and marries it to a very familiar set of older-style rules, and so satisfies the claim of being a S&S game, IMO. The rules are simple enough to add whatever the Ref sees fit to achieve the tone in the video. Don't like the bog-standard fireball spell in AS&SH? Remove, redescribe, or redact as you see fit (e.g. Scythe of the Reaper = Spiritual Hammer, but described very differently).

*My Hyperborea is literally "beyond the North Wind", and sits at the northern extremity of my Old Terra, and not exactly as described in the game. But mostly.


"My own concepts in this regard are easy and clear, and I am sure that the word 'simplistic' will be used by my critics. These folk are callow and turgid of intellect; I am reassured by their howls and yelps."
Jack Vance, The Face
 

4/15/2019 9:05 am  #13


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

This is very helpful! I am glad there are smart folks here that can gather this info at a moments notice while I go on a simple rant!
 


“How can I wear the harness of toil
And sweat at the daily round,
While in my soul forever
The drums of Pictdom sound?” 
 

4/15/2019 1:06 pm  #14


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

There is no differentiation between arcane and divine magic. Sorcery doesn't come from gods or the outer planes. Sorcery draws upon alien science, extradimensional mathematics, and cosmic forces beyond mortal comprehension.
 

Last edited by Brock Savage (4/15/2019 1:19 pm)

 

4/15/2019 3:07 pm  #15


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Spellbinder wrote:

There is room for variation within the genre I guess.

I agree! And thank you for the interesting video link. I admire his passion for the subject.

Still, in the final analysis, it's a series of bald statements by Some Random Guy. "Sword and sorcery is this." "Sword and sorcery is that." According to whom? Based on what? Some Random Guy namechecks Conan at the beginning of the video (as well he might, since Howard is widely credited with creating the genre) but it's clear to me that he's never read a Conan story in his life*; he probably thinks watching pitiful garbage like the "Ahnuld" movies while smoking a skull-shaped bong is an adequate substitute. Really, I could refute pretty much everything he says in the video using Howard's stories to find counterexamples (now that Some Random Guy has been so kind as to reference - if not actually read - them as an example of S&S), but that would be a little like sandblasting a soup cracker.

I'll just briefly touch on what he says at the point you highlighted: that all magic in S&S is dark and dangerous, and all of its practitioners are evil. This is not borne out by the Conan stories. In the very first Conan story, "The Phoenix on the Sword", Conan encounters the sage Epemitreus, a long-dead priest of Mitra who has continued to fight the cult of Set from beyond the grave. (For those who haven't read Howard's stories - such as Some Random Guy - Mitra as described is roughly as Lawful Good as Pelor, which is somewhat of a blow to another standard canard that all S&S gods are evil.) Though clearly very powerful, there is no indication Epemitreus is anything but benevolent. In the only Conan novel written by Howard, The Hour of the Dragon, Conan receives magical aid from the apparently benign witch Zelata and the priests of the god Asura. Though some of Conan's subjects believe the Asura-worshippers are evil, nothing in the story actually suggests this and Conan explicitly doesn't believe it himself. Now, are most of the sorcerers in the Conan stories in fact evil? Yes. But Conan has a very bad attitude toward magic and the stories are told from his viewpoint, so it's questionable how much his experience can or should be generalized to all magic in his milieu. In fact, even given his strong hatred of magic, Conan still encounters such benevolent sorcerers as I have mentioned above, so clearly all practitioners of magic aren't evil in S&S.

Does this mean that Some Random Guy is wrong in this assertion, as in others I could dissect in detail, or that he isn't entitled to his opinion? He is wrong to the extent that he believes (as I suspect he does) that he is correctly describing Conan's world with his series of cliches and canards, but he is certainly entitled to his opinion about S&S in any event. One does wonder where, if not in the literature he rather carelessly mentions at the beginning of the video, he actually got these ideas? But the answer to that is obvious enough: from Some Other Random Guy. And Some Other Random Guy got the ideas from Some Third Random Guy, and so on back - not to the foundational literature of our hobby - but to the howling emptiness where all idle rumors and baseless canards are born.

Some Random Guy could be wrong about the vague ideas he inherited from countless other Random Guys, or the founder of the genre could be wrong about the actual ideas in his stories. I know where I'm inclined to place my support. This probably also answers your original question - i.e., how can this game claim it is a sword and sorcery setting, when it doesn't meet the strict requirements set forth by the learned Some Random Guy? It's probably because the author of the game has actually read and understood S&S literature, while Some Random Guy... clearly hasn't.

* - For example, early in the video he repeats the standard uninformed canard that an S&S setting is more like the ancient world than the medieval period. This is amusing to anyone who's actually read Howard's stories (i.e., someone who is not Some Random Guy) because the Hyborian kingdoms in Conan's world are as medieval as anything in Greyhawk - right down to knights in plate pinning tokens from ladies to their arms. Likewise, other portions of Conan's world resemble the ancient world, the American frontier, the milieu of early modern piracy, the steppes, and so forth. This is because Howard didn't set out with the object of circumscribing his imagination as narrowly as possible; he left that exercise in the hands of such wise gentlemen as Some Random Guy.


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

4/16/2019 9:29 am  #16


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

OK, but what about the "Sword" part? And the "&"?

 

4/16/2019 10:12 am  #17


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Handy Haversack wrote:

OK, but what about the "Sword" part? And the "&"?

It's a +0 sword, of course. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png

 


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

4/16/2019 10:51 am  #18


Re: Magic in Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea 2e

Blackadder23 wrote:

Handy Haversack wrote:

OK, but what about the "Sword" part? And the "&"?

It's a +0 sword, of course. https://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png

 

I'm in!

 

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