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4/09/2014 2:52 pm  #21


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

flumph wrote:

I try to keep to the rule that with riches and wealth comes a grim downside.

I keep picturing being told this by an actual flumph! There's the sense of weird horror Jason mentioned!

 

4/09/2014 3:33 pm  #22


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

JasonZavoda wrote:

Is there something wrong with emmulating the literature? Am I having my fun wrong? I gotta say if this way is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

Wait, I think I said that to a girl once in 1987, but that's a story for another day.

I think we'll find a variety of styles and approaches here, but we find common ground in an enjoyment for the source literature, Gygaxian gaming, camaraderie with our peers, and so forth. For my own part, I enjoy tapping the source literature for inspiration, but there's never an attempt to follow it point-by-point. It's typically a vague similarity, modified to my tastes, subject to complete chaos based on the whims of my players.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

4/09/2014 5:45 pm  #23


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Handy Haversack wrote:

flumph wrote:

I try to keep to the rule that with riches and wealth comes a grim downside.

I keep picturing being told this by an actual flumph! There's the sense of weird horror Jason mentioned!

I blame this entirely on you.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

4/09/2014 7:42 pm  #24


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Yora wrote:

Handy Haversack wrote:

flumph wrote:

I try to keep to the rule that with riches and wealth comes a grim downside.

I keep picturing being told this by an actual flumph! There's the sense of weird horror Jason mentioned!

I blame this entirely on you.

It's one of the best things I've ever been blamed for.

 

4/10/2014 4:01 am  #25


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

For S&S module inspiration, the newer DCC modules are excellent. (Those would be anything numbered 67 and above.) Part of the DCC philosophy is that each monster is unique, which I think can fit a S&S style quite well. (Doesn't have to, of course. Conan fought lots of giant snakes, and clearly those aren't unique.) Also, each module is its own "thing" that doesn't have to hook up to any other "thing." It's episodic without having to force a major plot arc, which to me is very S&S a la Leiber and Howard.


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

4/10/2014 6:20 am  #26


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

First off, thanks everyone for the great answers/commentary!

JasonZavoda wrote:

I like to drink a lot of cough medicine first, and then I start the game.

I'll have to give that a try sometime...  Minor logistical issues, though, since my normal gaming location is at a gaming club with very strict "no alcohol" policies.

mabon5127 wrote:

I'm not much of a sandbox guy.  The social contract of gaming in the one room school in which I learned it was the GM prepped the adventure / dungeon and the players played it. 

Fair enough.  I know there are groups with that social contract and I've seen people on rpg.net saying that they feel like the GM is "being lazy" or even outright "cheating" if he improvises instead of prepping a storyline in advance.  Personally, though, I just find it more interesting to prep worlds than to prep storylines, partly because it's more reusable, but mostly because it means that, during the actual session, I get to spend as much time with no idea what's coming next as everyone else does.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png


finarvyn wrote:

Part of the DCC philosophy is that each monster is unique, which I think can fit a S&S style quite well.

True!  I should go back and reread DCC's "a minotaur vs. the minotaur" discussion a couple more times.

 

4/10/2014 9:14 am  #27


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

finarvyn wrote:

For S&S module inspiration, the newer DCC modules are excellent. (Those would be anything numbered 67 and above.) Part of the DCC philosophy is that each monster is unique, which I think can fit a S&S style quite well. (Doesn't have to, of course. Conan fought lots of giant snakes, and clearly those aren't unique.) Also, each module is its own "thing" that doesn't have to hook up to any other "thing." It's episodic without having to force a major plot arc, which to me is very S&S a la Leiber and Howard.

My wallet is getting lighter again.
 


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

4/10/2014 9:27 am  #28


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

mabon5127 wrote:

I'm not much of a sandbox guy.  The social contract of gaming in the one room school in which I learned it was the GM prepped the adventure / dungeon and the players played it. 

nDervish wrote:

Fair enough.  I know there are groups with that social contract and I've seen people on rpg.net saying that they feel like the GM is "being lazy" or even outright "cheating" if he improvises instead of prepping a storyline in advance.  Personally, though, I just find it more interesting to prep worlds than to prep storylines, partly because it's more reusable, but mostly because it means that, during the actual session, I get to spend as much time with no idea what's coming next as everyone else does.  http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/grin.png

I'm with ya.  Not knocking low prep just feel like a duck out of water when I try!  Some GM's think they can pull it off and can't.  Never thought of the lazy / cheating aspect. 

One week my prep consisted of a list of Hyperborean appropriate names so we used blackadders random S&S adventure generator.  The players made all the rolls, we put the adventure parameters on the white board and then gamed it!  A very enjoyable time was had it but tested my comfort zone.

If you haven't visited the free resource page on the website I would definitely recommend it!
 


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

4/11/2014 4:50 am  #29


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

What do you consider elements that are important in making a game setting feel like Sword & Sorcery?

- Heroes are often of questionable character and frequently ally or associate with people even more doubious or outright corrupted.
- Victory is never certain. It's a good idea for RPGs in general, but I think S&S just does not work at all if the players assume that the GM will quietly assist them if they can't defeat a monster and arrange for things getting back on track, if the PCs made a serious blunder.
- Heroes are frequently outnumbered and outmatched. Taking on a full dozen of guards or cultists is rarely an option and even at high levels PCs can still be burried by a mass of weak enemies.
- Both civilized and barbaric society is inherently corrupt. Heroes can kill a particularly brutal slaver or criminal guard captain, but they can't end slavery or make the whole city guard turn honest. When PCs help people, they help specific individuals, not trying to make the world a better place.
- Society is inherently unequal. Discrimination is everywhere and while heroes don't have to like it, it's something they have to deal with constantly.

Any others you would add?


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

4/11/2014 10:51 am  #30


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Yora wrote:

What do you consider elements that are important in making a game setting feel like Sword & Sorcery?

- Heroes are often of questionable character and frequently ally or associate with people even more doubious or outright corrupted.
- Victory is never certain. It's a good idea for RPGs in general, but I think S&S just does not work at all if the players assume that the GM will quietly assist them if they can't defeat a monster and arrange for things getting back on track, if the PCs made a serious blunder.
- Heroes are frequently outnumbered and outmatched. Taking on a full dozen of guards or cultists is rarely an option and even at high levels PCs can still be burried by a mass of weak enemies.
- Both civilized and barbaric society is inherently corrupt. Heroes can kill a particularly brutal slaver or criminal guard captain, but they can't end slavery or make the whole city guard turn honest. When PCs help people, they help specific individuals, not trying to make the world a better place.
- Society is inherently unequal. Discrimination is everywhere and while heroes don't have to like it, it's something they have to deal with constantly.

Any others you would add?

The Wyrd definitly need to sprinkle the game with the Wyrd.

The Heroic, and I don't mean that you have to rescue damsels in distress and loot them, but you can. Conan climbing the Tower of the Elephant, Fafhrd and Mouser confronting Death or releasing the Gods of Lanhkmar or fighting their way into the Thieves' Guild... 

The ugly, there needs to be some kind of ugly, anything from dank rooms that sweat blood, to thuggish degenrate brutes who are the servants of sorcerers or primordial beings from the outer dark.
 

 

4/11/2014 1:07 pm  #31


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

What Wyrd? Fate?


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

4/11/2014 4:59 pm  #32


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Yora wrote:

- Both civilized and barbaric society is inherently corrupt. Heroes can kill a particularly brutal slaver or criminal guard captain, but they can't end slavery or make the whole city guard turn honest. When PCs help people, they help specific individuals, not trying to make the world a better place.
- Society is inherently unequal. Discrimination is everywhere and while heroes don't have to like it, it's something they have to deal with constantly.

For my part i don't think societal inequality or corruption are inherent to S&S. They may be prevalent in a lot of S&S fiction, but i don't think they are inherent.

To me S&S is all about heroes (not necessarily virtuous, benevolent, dignified or even brave heroes) in a world that is not intrinsically good or evil. There is ethical nihilism on the metaphysical level.

There is no metaphysical force, no fate, that cannot be challenged. The heroes must confront fate, create their own way and make all the hard choices. There is no destiny to simply fullfill. Destiny is yours to make or perish in the attempt.

JasonZavoda wrote:

The ugly, there needs to be some kind of ugly, anything from dank rooms that sweat blood, to thuggish degenrate brutes who are the servants of sorcerers or primordial beings from the outer dark.

So true! Without inherent good or evil, ugly becomes what you fight.


Níu man ek heima, níu íviðjur,
mjötvið mæran fyr mold neðan.
(Völuspá)
(Nine worlds I knew,the nine in the tree with mighty roots beneath the mold)
Realmsofmelpomene
 

4/12/2014 2:59 am  #33


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Crisippo wrote:

To me S&S is all about heroes (not necessarily virtuous, benevolent, dignified or even brave heroes) in a world that is not intrinsically good or evil. There is ethical nihilism on the metaphysical level.

There is no metaphysical force, no fate, that cannot be challenged. The heroes must confront fate, create their own way and make all the hard choices. There is no destiny to simply fullfill. Destiny is yours to make or perish in the attempt.

I'd call it existentialism. But it's true. If there is anything like fate, it's merely overpowering circumstances, not the will of the cosmos. And any destiny there might be is merely being the right man in the wrong place. Heroes are not chosen, they chose.
 


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

4/12/2014 2:14 pm  #34


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Yora wrote:

What do you consider elements that are important in making a game setting feel like Sword & Sorcery?

I think answers to this will vary pretty considerably according to literary background, but I'm not sure there's a right answer, as you really need to do what's fun for you and your group, independent of the literature.

For me, here are some things that come to mind...

- Oppressive, corrupt rulers that care next to nothing about the people, other than seeing them as tools to empower themselves (outright slavery is not uncommon). Incidentally, this creates lots of reasons for NPCs to beg/hire PCs to go on missions for them (the local lord sure isn't helping them).
- Modern ideas about sexism, racism, equality, diversity etc do not exist. No one thinks it's weird or bad that race X is hated in land Y and race Y is hated in land X. Nevertheless, trade centers tend to have lots of diversity as people from different lands put their differences aside (mostly) when it comes to making a buck. The PCs, being pragmatic adventurers and survivors, comingle with anyone who has a good sword arm. Plus, they never judge a book by its cover because that gets you killed. 
- More mission-based than epic quest-based - saving the world simply isn't possible. Saving a city-state could happen, but you're not likely to get credit for it as there are always new, equally corrupt would-be rulers waiting to take the reigns and renew the cycle of oppression. They're generally not friendly to your crew because you are a threat, though they may temporarily tolerate you if you seem to have the favor of the mob. It's best to get your reward and hit the road before you find your throat slit while you sleep. 
- Ultimately, most PCs are primarily concerned with The Big Score - not being do-gooders and righting the social, political, economic and religious wrongs of the world. They're not bad guys at heart or anything, but they don't really conceptualize these things as a modern man and, even if the did, they are not naive about what they can accomplish (see cycle of corrupt rulers, above). Anyway, the problem is that The Big Score is incredibly elusive, slipping out of their grip even if they manage to grab it for a second. Maybe it's stolen, maybe it's wasted partying, maybe it draws the attention of more powerful people that force the PCs to haul ass, leaving most of it behind.
- Sorcery corrupts... but I usually ignore this concept at the PC level because it's fun to play magic-users. So, I generally represent the sorcery corruption angle by having lots of powerful evil wizards - and not any good ones. There are no Gandalfs, Elminsters, etc. 
- Lots of evil sorcerers
- Lots of unknown monsters (not exclusively so though)
- Lots of evil cults
- Lots of lotus
- Lots of ale
- Outside the city walls, it's pretty much a no man's land of bandits, monsters and "primordial" forests, swamps etc but you go out there anyway because you can't really hang in one city state too long. Plus, all the ruins from the last Great Civilization (collapsed because of being too arrogant, decadent, hedonistic of course) are out there and probably full of treasure (that you need).

So, that's kind of how I think about swords and sorcery.

Having said all of that, I don't think of Hyperborea as strictly swords and sorcery. The weird fantasy component allows you to shake things up and gives you some room to maneuver. REH is one influence, but CAS and HPL are there too. I would not feel overly constrained by the swords-and-sorcery conventions.


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

4/16/2014 12:44 pm  #35


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

It seems one line of your post doesn't appear : 
- Lots of wenches

http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


S&S tends, imha, to be more mature/adult than fantasy ala Tolkien.

 

4/16/2014 1:11 pm  #36


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

I'd like to think of it as not being afraid of overstepping the audiences boundaries. You don't have to go all exploitation, but I think it's actually an important aspect of the genre that characters encounter things and get involved with things that could be considered morally doubious. Because the world is not nice and custom fit to make everyone happy. Both characters and audiences need to learn to deal with it as a fact of Sword & Sorcery life.They don't have to support it, or even like it, but in Sword & Sorcery there is no pretending it doesn't exist.


"Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger. What is steel compared to the hand that wields it?"

Spriggan's Den
     Thread Starter
 

4/17/2014 10:13 pm  #37


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

JasonZavoda wrote:

Is there something wrong with emmulating the literature? Am I having my fun wrong? I gotta say if this way is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

 
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Hyperborea setting is the variety of literature one can emulate. We were actually just discussing this tonight; depending on what particular flavor of sword & sorcery one favored, individual games could be run using the same rules and the same setting but be flavored much different.


My own Hyperborea game, when I actually run one, would borrow much from Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. So: very not serious, very much get rich, ale and whores.

 

4/17/2014 10:41 pm  #38


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Also: town guards are jerks. This is crucial.

 

4/18/2014 6:31 am  #39


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

Just wanted to chime in to say that the lists of Yora & Chainsaw earlier in this thread are awesome and really capture the feel of S&S. I's gonna copy-paste the list so I can keep a copy handy for my next campaign.

I like your contribution too, Odysseus, but only in the "good old days" of my gaming life. Back in high school we thoughts wenches were awesome, but now that I play a more family-oriented G-rated game (with wife and kids) the focus seems to have drifted away from wenches. Go figure. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/cute.png


Marv / Finarvyn
DCC playtester (2011), S&W WhiteBox Author (2009), C&C playtester (2003), Metamorphosis Alpha since 1976. OD&D Player since 1975
 

4/18/2014 7:35 am  #40


Re: Running games Sword & Sorcery style

capitalbill wrote:

JasonZavoda wrote:

Is there something wrong with emmulating the literature? Am I having my fun wrong? I gotta say if this way is wrong, I don't wanna be right.

 
One of the things I appreciate the most about the Hyperborea setting is the variety of literature one can emulate. We were actually just discussing this tonight; depending on what particular flavor of sword & sorcery one favored, individual games could be run using the same rules and the same setting but be flavored much different.


My own Hyperborea game, when I actually run one, would borrow much from Leiber's Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. So: very not serious, very much get rich, ale and whores.

I like this "Freebooting" style of play.  The players are not paragons of virtue but given the grim-ness of the world they shine as heroic. 
 


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

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