Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack

  • 5 Replies
Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« on: June 06, 2017, 09:57:38 PM »

I'm working on an AW hack for a Sword & Sorcery game I'm going to run at Gencon this summer, and I'd love feedback.

The link to my work in progress is here:

It doesn't include playbooks yet; I'm working on the basic moves and system outline stuff.

The game is intended specifically to mirror the feel of some of the Howard Conan stories later in Conan's life -- the ones where he is a king and deposed for whatever reason and has to retake his throne.  In my focused story, the king is dead, and the playbooks will represent his heir and allies as they try to retake the throne.

Here are some specific questions I am working through:

1.) I have three traits (compare to AW's five.) Is that too few? I have five players.

2.) Inspired by World of Dungeons, I have written a mechanic called 'Skills'. You can see it in the WIP document, but essentially, if you don't have a relevant skill -- and playbooks will grant skills -- then you treat 10+ results on my Act Under Fire equivalent (called Take A Risk) as 7-9 results. Are there unintended consequences there?

3.) I have written an "Allies" mechanic, also granted by playbooks. (I have gone back and forth between calling them 'Allies' and 'Contacts'.) In the game, the players will be gathering support to retake the throne, and the allies they select as part of character generation in their playbooks -- one character might have Allies among the nobility and the temples, another might have Allies among the thieves and the seafarers, etc -- should sort of signpost places for them to go. Right now, the primary mechanical impact of that is that it can act as a 'reason' -- the old 1E leverage -- for the Seduce/Manipulate move. Is that enough?

4.) More specifically on Allies, I have considered writing a more expansive Move, something like 'Gather Support', one where you ask a group for support -- on 10+, they help you, no problem, and on a 7-9, they need something first. If they aren't already your Allies, treat 10+ as a 7-9. I think maybe that's covered already by Seduce/etc, but perhaps it would benefit to be called out. Anyone have any thoughts on that topic?

I've also reworded a few things in some of the Moves from vanilla AW, which might provoke opinions. I'm not sure.

Anyways, tell me what you think!

Re: Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2017, 08:45:22 AM »
OK, so if something needs a formal Skill - I can never get about a 7-9 result?
I can see it making sense mechanically, but I don't know if it sucks the fun out of a good roll. Pbta games often end up with Advanced versions of basic moves with the 12+ result for a reason...

Does helping and hindering stack? can three people help the fourth?
Can someone help me Take the Risk to help him?

Ironic for the setting, but Might is barely used by the basic moves. Intentional?

I'd super recommend reading Sword and Sorcerer by Ron Edwards - it's the kind of game expansion that comes with a literature review, and it really boils down the genre into the underlying themes and conflicts.

Re: Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2017, 10:04:18 PM »
So, Skills is something I'm on the fence about generally. It's a mechanic I wrote for a different hack I was thinking of, one where Skills essentially replace most moves -- like in combat, you wouldn't be able to hit 10+ without a 'Aim' or 'Melee' skill, or you couldn't hit 10+ on Seduce/Manipulate without a 'Persuade' skill or what have you. There, it was a way to capture some of the character-building feeling of more traditional RPGs with the mechanical philosophy of AW, but that may not be appropriate here.

It is not my intention that helping and hindering stack, and I should clarify that. (I guess I don't have a mechanical objection to one level of nesting helping and hindering -- if the rule is "only one person can help with a move", that still means Person A could help Person B help Person C, where Person A gives Person B a +1, making it more likely for Person C to get a +1 -- but it's kind of silly.)

I wish, frankly, that there was a better system for multiple PCs helping or hindering another, but just straight stacking causes issues, I think.

It's not intentional that Might is barely used. I suppose I imagine 'Take A Risk' to be the Ur-move, and many of the things heroes are going to want to do that are risky are physical things that take Might.

Still, there is a risk that Cunning becomes too many things; it may be that I should eliminate Skills but add in 'Finesse' or something like it as a fourth Trait.

Re: Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2017, 01:35:18 AM »
And I've got a considerably updated draft:

Please tell me what you think.

Re: Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« Reply #4 on: August 19, 2017, 05:47:06 AM »
thoughts as I read through it.

Oh. A map. That's unexpected. Is this a locked setting, or just inspiration fodder? Never mind, I'm going to change the setting anyway to this thing I want to run..

page 3.
Basic moves.
Traits and modifieiers. I'm going to assume stats are called traits in this game...

Take a Risk - can always use your best trait (as long as you can justify it) - awesome. Play to your strengths, do what you should...
(also, don't let the brute player 'take a risk' when trying to charm the lord into paying us instead of killing us. Again, that apprehension fits the genre.)

See the Truth - again, feels really genre approrpaite questions, and focus on socail interaction, not things like traps and loot. Conan the leader. I like. Need to see it on the table, but it feels right on first read, which after all is the first battle.

Seduce ect. - hmm. Looks like Contact and Reputation will turn up again in the rules. Lots of words, but good clarifications. Mind if I copy them?

Do Battle - I understand exhange harm from other games. I don't know how apparent it is here. Good Variations. Nice way to expand the move but keep the bullet point list short. Now I realise the variations on Take A Risk have naturally captured all the help and hinder, and it's a simple +1/-1. Elegant.

Ambuscade? - spelling intentional?. This feels weaker than a straight Do Battle. I can't reduce the harm i take on 7-9, I can't knock them off balance or seize their purse or rescue a captive. Suitable for an honourable hero perhaps, but what if I want to be a dirty villian?

The Hunt - odd paragrpah alignment on the options.  The hunted and Hunting options mirror each other, so perhaps could be condensed?
"If two PCs are hunting each other, they both roll,
and the MC says who catches whom, and how
much the other gets to say about it."

WOAH - this is a big change in a pbta game. Opposed rolls is a very different dynamic to the 'conversation'.

Magic Moves - Conpanions typo. Also, first appearace of Companions as a player character caterogory name type. Says a lot about the mood and ethos of player interaction intended. Or the typo is Champions, in which case the same applies, but its a very different mood (and perhaps more Conan? Champion is a more Id driving force,)

Hedge Magic and High Magic - based on the Monster of the Week magic?

Establishing Harm - huh. ok weapons in caterogries. What sort of weapon isn't 'deadly' ? (and by Apocalypse world, NPCs only have 2 health, so I'm mildy confuzzzled at this point. Examples would be good. What is a dagger? a weapon or a deadly weapon?)
"Melee weapons are deadly at a specific distance" - so I immedetly asked, "what about ranged weapons?"
Examples make sense. Presuambly a dagger is is good for "infighting" as well as the more spacious situations? Can a weapon be used outside of it's range slot with the GM able to drop bad fiction on you? (You close but his reach with the spear means you can't get close enough for your dagger, you're too busy trying to stay alive vs The fighting in the barn is intense. Coming down for a heavy two handed blow, his longsword gets caught in a rafter, What do you do?)

Take a blow: Oooh, sheilds compplicate the rules. and no rolling for very low harm when you are wearing heavy armour - is that thematic, or just to make the game run faster with less 'very low chance of things happening 'rolls?

Harm Boxes - Day and Night are capitislaed. Are they specific game phases? I note that wounds don't get worse if untreated, and even the near dead can keep going util they find a healer. I guess that's thematic.

More later.

Re: Road of Kings - Sword & Sorcery Hack
« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2017, 01:18:12 AM »
Very Awesome! I like it! I'm the guy who did the Conan reskin of AW back in the day, "Hyborian Saga". I love the simplified traits basic moves. Also the way Weapons and Harm work is exactly what I was looking for. Cool that this is a compact setting in an pre-gen scenario. But I, of course, would like to see these rules for the broader playbook archetypes I made for my hack. IE: Sellsword, Barbarian, Ruler, Horseman, etc.
Oh and dude, I LOVE the Princess Consort playbook. Very cool.

I like what what you have done. I am one of the ones who felt that AW 2ed took too many steps away from the simplified streamlined mechanics of AW 1ed. And I like that you have condensed the basic moves in such a simple fashion ("See the Truth", lol, my move was called, "Divine the Truth"). And the nods to the Conan movie are great with the options under the "Do Battle" move.