Someone Else’s Great Big Wall

So I’m giving another listen to Dr. Kenneth Harl’s Barbarian Empire of the Steppes series from the Great Courses. This is maybe my fourth listen-through. Especially with Dr. Harl, I can listen to these series over and over again.

In episode three, Dr. Harl discusses early Chinese contact with the steppe nomads, and he talks about the Warring States period. He mentions how many of the northern states started building the kind of defensive structures that evolved into the Great Wall, and as is my wont, I started thinking about how cool that would be as a setting.

I can imagine a group of soldiers overseeing such a construction. The workers are peasants with whom the soldiers might have a lot in common, but the PCs saw that there was social mobility in the military. Some might be mercenaries, and some might be “auxiliary” troops, soldiers from neighbouring cultures hired into the military. The base of operations would be a fortified camp.

This could actually be something similar to the Hell on Wheels TV series which is a Western action-adventure retelling of the construction of the railroad. Like that, there would be characters conflict, cultural friction, and fights within the camp, with actual incursion by the steppe nomads a rare occurrence.

The easy over-arching plot is the rise of a leader that could unite the steppe nomads. The first hints would come from defectors, leaders from assimilated tribes unwilling to bend the knee to this new ruler. Attacks might become more coordinated and the PCs notice troops from different tribes/cultures raiding together. The PCs might be trying to get a warning up the chain of command but – as always seems to be the case – no one listens. And then the camp is overrun. The PCs are behind enemy lines, trying to link up with another military unit, possibly also trying to protect civilians.

A different narrative might see sickness spreading through the civilized lands and news keeps reaching the camp of this town or this village succumbing to the sickness. The reports are wildly exaggerated – as happens – but no one in the camp knows that. A local nomad leader comes with their shaman and warns the camp that unless they abandon the wall and come to join the nomads, the sickness will consume them to. The shaman has seen it in the oracle bones.

In both these cases, the chain of command is focused on the wall above all else. More raids? Not our problem. But you’re behind schedule on the wall. The village where you purchase supplies lost half of its population to the plague? Not our problem. You know you’re behind schedule on the wall, right?

This could also be a framework for a more traditional adventure, with ancient sites near the camp disgorging supernatural threats that the PCs are then sent to investigate. There might be a big evil rising from its slumber, attempting to bring the steppe nomads under its control so it can re-conquer its ancient empire – basically the plot of the Sword’s Edge campaign I just wrapped up.

Education, great on its own but also awesome for inspiring RPGs!

You can find out more about Barbarian Empires of the Steppes here.

I’ve discussed Hell on Wheels elsewhere.

Please support my Patreon.

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Getting In the Spotlight

One of the challenges for designing an adventure is to have it both appeal to the players and insure their characters have a chance for the spotlight. Even when one know how to provide a character with a spotlight, the chances for the spotlight can become an issue.

Most of my home games run three to four hours, and to be honest, only about 3/4 of that is actual play time – on a good night. I get through maybe four scenes, sometimes up to six if the players are focused. Depending on attendance, I have three to five players at the table. If it’s a good night with a couple of players missing, there’s the chance for each character to get the spotlight. When everyone’s attending – usually the nights when the lowest percentage of time is devoted to the game – it’s unlikely each character will get the spotlight in a session.

In home games, this isn’t too much of an issue as long as characters regularly get the spotlight. Anecdotal information makes me think that players really remember spotlight moments for their characters, and if their character gets to shine once every couple of games, that keeps most players happy.

To be honest, if it doesn’t, the solution isn’t at the table, it’s away from the table. The GM and the player need to have a discussion about sharing the spotlight. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter that the player doesn’t understand the logistics. If the player isn’t really keeping track, it might feel like everyone else’s characters are regularly getting the spotlight while the player’s character is overlooked every other game. It might simply be an explanation of numbers – X scenes vs Y players means 1 spotlight every other game.

If that’s not it, if the player just thinks they deserve the spotlight regularly even if other character don’t get their turn, then that player needs to understand that sharing at the table is a part of the game, as important as any rule in any rulebook. If the player cannot accept that, I don’t believe that’s a player you want at your table. Try to explain the importance of everyone having fun, of not allowing one player to dominate in anything. In the end you’ve got to be a Vulcan about this: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one.

But what about at conventions, where you are running a one-shot for players you don’t know? My convention games are generally designed to run for about 3 hours and 30 minutes of a four hour block. You have to expect about 15 minutes at the outset for introductions and a quick rundown of the system. I usually have a 10 minute bio-break half-way through the four hours, and then I plan to end about 10-15 minutes before the end of the block, so that we can clean up and be away from the table to allow the next GM at least 5 minutes to prep the table.

In that 3 1/2 hours, I generally get in about six to eight scenes. These include one or two short scenes – either because they are designed for that or because the players just bull through them. All good. I never run a con game with more than six players, and four is the sweet spot, so there is no problem allowing each character a scene in which to shine.

Because I use pre-gen characters when I run con games, it’s actually super easy to design the adventure with the characters in mind so that each character has a scene designed around them. It doesn’t always work out – the player doesn’t play the character as expected or simply misses the cues that this is their scene – but because there are extra scenes, one can always alter a later scene to provide that spotlight. Not as easy on the fly, but totally do-able.

It’s also much more difficult – but super important – to control players that want their characters to constantly be in the spotlight. This is when I get heavy-handed and start pointing out that this scene with the computer that needs to be hacked should probably be focused on the hacker, and the soldier should probably be guarding the door rather than working the keyboard. I don’t like to do this because I like the players to have the freedom to adapt the character to their play style, but the point is for everyone to have fun, and I will pull someone aside to remind them of that if necessary.

Spotlight, to me, is very important because it is one of the ways to create strong memories and provide positive feedback to players. Players generally love a spotlight moment for their character, and creating spotlights for characters – in my experience – gets the players to invest more in the game and have more fun.

And please don’t forget I’ve got a Patreon, and the first adventure – “Lawless Heaven” – has been released on it. I would appreciate your support.

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Angling Away from Saxon Britain

So, D&D happened last night (as I write this). We took up a lot of time getting characters ready. D&D is at its most complex with character choices, especially if you come at the game as a complete novice. Without preconceptions and assumptions, nothing is apparent and everything is mysterious. Two of the players had no exposure to D&D5E and had not had played D&D for ages – for at least one of them it was pre-3E.

But in the end, the delay in getting the game going wasn’t the biggest problem for me. The biggest problem for me were the setting assumptions hardwired into the system. I should have known this – I did know this at one time, but distance had made me forget. I had not run D&D for a decade and had not run anything even d20 adjacent since 2010 (save for a con game using D&D Next).

I knew how magic heavy D&D was. That was really the issue. The demihumans all became versions of the Fey, matters of belief to those around them, but very few actually interacting in society so figures of prejudice and suspicion. That’s cool. We could work with that. It could fit into early 6th century CE Britain. It was the flashy magic fired like bullets from an AK that gave me pause.

My intent had always been to address the system-setting clashes in the narrative. Give a narrative explanation for the spells. Address the prejudice to the Aelfar through role-playing. The latter works. The former?

And let me say that I very much believe system matters. That is to say that one’s play experience will degrade if one uses the wrong system. I knew this going in, but accepted it because – honestly – I wanted to play D&D again.

All of my games have very specific design goals. Even Sword’s Edge, a generic/genre-free system was built to deliver a specific kind of game, one in which the mechanics serve the narrative. Once again, I knew in my head the mistake I was making, but in my nostalgic heart, I thought I could paper over the cracks.

It just ain’t so. The narrative stretch to cover a cantrip like Fire Bolt in Anglo-Saxon Britain is extreme. And I don’t just mean historical Britain at that time. That kind of magic is not terribly apparent in the worldview and folklore of the time. The Ango-Saxons believed in magic, sure, but not like that. It might fit into the folklore of many places in Asia, but not Europe.

So, in the end, the setting will bend to the system. I am recompiling the setting as a second-world, a place inspired by early Anglo-Saxon Britain, but not tied to it. There will be names and places, cultures and events that are all based on early 6th century Britain, but it will not be that locale, because Fire Bolts and Flaming Strikes have no place there.

Thankfully, the other D&D game that I will be running is built specifically on the setting assumptions of the system. Let’s hope the narrative is strong.

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The Sword at the Edge of Wuxia

A good friend of mine (hey JJ!) asked about creating characters from a genre like wuxia using Sword’s Edge. Would one do it mechanically or narratively? Would one use SFX? I didn’t really give an answer, but I’d like to now.

For this example, I’m going to use the character of Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. This should provide a kind of objective target from which to draw Qualities.

Okay, so we have our character, but before I can create Li Mu Bai mechanically, I need to know the setting in which he exists, and this is why I would say the kind of qi powers seen in wire-fu and wuxia stories can be replicated both narratively and mechanically.

If we are playing in a setting similar to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, there is no need to mechanically represent Li Mu Bai’s more fantastical abilities, like walking along the top of a bamboo forest, flying, or bouncing off of water. These are all accepted parts of the genre, and so I would expect that I could relate how Li Mu Bai acts using those factors narratively rather than mechanically. If Li Mu Bai were instead to be part of a story in which such powers are not common, then I would need to create a Quality that could explain them.

In creating Li My Bai in a fantastic, wire-fu setting, I’d be looking more to his character than to his powers. To me, the key part of the character is his fight against injustice. He arrives, seeks out the wrong, and attempts to right it. So I would make his Concept “Knight Errant.” That touches on both his martial skills but also his questing nature. I think his training would be his Background, and so I would make that “Warrior Monk.” I’m tempted to make his Faculty “Martial Arts,” but in this setting, most characters would be martial artists, so I’m going to call his Faculty “Sword Mastery” – this reflects the style that we see him use through the movie.

Here’s where I would deviate from the expected. To me, it is neither Li Mu Bai’s physical power nor his intelligence that drives his martial arts, but his force of will and sense of justice. I’m linking his “Sword Mastery” to Charisma. I’m also going to throw in an Element there, which is probably sub-optimal, but I think his “Arcane Medicine” is important, but that needs to be linked to his Cunning – I have a really hard time justifying it as a Charisma Quality, even though mechanically that would make sense.

As for Pivots, I believe his Goal would be “Justice for All,” his Quirk would be “Doomed Romantic,” and his Style would be “Contemplative Tornado of Violence.”

So Li Mu Bai in a fantastical, kung fu setting would be:
Concept: Knight Errant +4
Background: Warrior Monk +2
Faculty: Sword Mastery +4 (Charisma)
Phy +0; Cha +6; Cun +0
Arcane Medicine (Cun) +2
Justice for All; Doomed Romantic; Contemplative Tornado of Violence.

Were Li Mu Bai in a more common setting, like a straight-up fantasy, or semi-historical adventure, I might need to add more mechanics to justify his more “magical” abilities. I think in such a case, his Qualities would be about his abilities while his core character is expressed in his Pivots. I would change his Concept to “Mystical Sword Master,” and his Background to “Warrior Monk.” To really hit this on the nose, I might go with “Supernatural Sword Master” for Concept and “Mystical Martial Arts Monk” for Background. For Faculty, I think I would use “Perfect Balance,” but would still link it to his Charisma for the same reason. I could mark this as an SFX Quality, as something that allows him to do actions outside of the laws of physics. I would also have the Element “Leap of Faith,” as he doesn’t really fly, more jumps really well. This time, I can link it to his Charisma since it is powered by his qi energy.

I think his Pivots all still work really well, but I would replace “Doomed Romantic,” with “Knight Errant.” I think it’s important that the GM understand that this is important to the character – and that’s the role of the Pivot. I would love to work the doomed romance in there, but I think that could be done through the level of narrative control a player has. I could insert it into the story and link it back to his Knight Errant, many of whom – in European lore – were part of tragic love affairs.

So to insert Li Mu Bai into a more conventional fantasy, the character would look like:
Concept: Mystical Sword Master +4
Background: Warrior Monk +4
Faculty: Perfect Balance, SFX +2 (Charisma)
Phy +0; Cha +6; Cun +0
Leap of Faith, SFX (Cha) +2
Justice for All; Knight Errant; Contemplative Tornado of Violence.

So that’s how one could create a wire-fu, qi-powered warrior like Li Mu Bai both for a game that is specifically set in a wuxia environment or in a game that is in a Western-style fantasy. In the end, I prefer the former version, because it is much more about the character than his abilities. I think characters are more evocative when players can reveal their cores through their Qualities, but everyone enjoys something different. The beauty of light systems is they tend to be able to be flexible and hit a variety of targets.

At least, that was the plan with Sword’s Edge.

If this sounds cool, please check out my Patreon, for more adventures and games.

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The Patreon Is Live

The Patreon is now live. You can find it here. The first three releases are complete and ready to go. First, later this month, I’ll release “Lawless Heaven,” an adventure for Sword’s Edge based on Korean action cinema. In October, it’ll be “Face ‘Splosion,” a Sword’s Edge adventure sci-fi actioner that’s an homage to the Borderlands video games. November’s release will be “Judged,” an adventure for Nefertiti Overdrive that bridges the adventure in the Quickstart Rules and in the main book.

I hope this is something you can support. Have a look and decide.


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Building a Non-Combat Challenge in Sword’s Edge

In the last post, I shared with you some of the thoughts I had about building binary challenges. This and the other recent posts grew from discussions with a friend in the UK, Bruce. Much of this sprung from a question about representing a spaceship crash-landing and how to best represent that. And that’s what I want to share this time, how I would create a crash-landing scene as the mechanical component of a scene.

USS Vengeance Crash from Star Trek Into Darkness.

Now, it is possible to do this as a binary challenge, as discussed in the last post. If this isn’t supposed to be a major scene, more like a speedbump or a reminder how dangerous the adventure is, it could be created like a binary challenge, a minion Narrative Character (NC) – hit the emergency gravity compensator and the ship will right itself.

If I wanted it to be a bigger scene, something that has impact on the characters and their narrative, I’d likely set up multiple NCs, one for each PC and probably create them all as regulars. So, for example, you might have the piloting challenge of keeping the ship on course, an engineering NC of the engines overheating, and a navigation challenge of finding a soft landing spot. Depending on the situation, maybe there are enemy fighters on the ship’s tail and another character is gunning for them (in this case, maybe three enemy fighters, an easy explanation for a Regular).

Let’s take piloting as an example. It might look like:

Keep Her On Course (good regular) TN 17
Concept: Rough re-entry +2
Phy +0, Cun -2, Cha +2

You’ll notice that Charisma is an option as a Trait to use against this NC. To be honest, the only way one could really use Charisma in such a way is if there is a crew one is commanding. If this were Star Trek, that would fit. The PC needn’t be the captain, it might be the helmsman working with other crewmates to get the ship levelled out and under control. If it were something like Serenity and the PC is Wash, it might look like:

Keep Her On Course (good regular) TN 17
Concept: Rough re-entry +2
Phy +2, Cun +0, Cha
Note: Charisma cannot be used for this NC

So, why is Physique +2 and Cunning +0? Because in my mind, wrestling the ship’s control to keep her flying isn’t as good as the knowledge and alertness to choose the best options and methods to keep the ship on the course the navigator provides, when the navigator provides it.

This NC is a regular, so the PC needs three successes to overcome it and remove it from the scene. In creating it, I would imagine what each success might mean. I think for piloting, that’s pretty easy. First success gets the ship basically under control. She’s bucking and not flying straight, but the pilot is wrestling to get her on course rather than lacking any control at all. The second success has her pointed in the right direction, but she’s bucking and the controls are sluggish. The pilot feels like they could lose it at any moment. That third success is what finally bring the pilot relief. The ship is going where she should go, with some bumps and shimmy, but that’s normal for a rough re-entry. The pilot has done it!

Then I would do something similar for each other challenge, keeping all the PCs busy, because if it is one NC, they can work as a group to beat it, and unless it’s a great hero, they’ll likely do that without much effort. These NCs should be tailored to the PCs – these should provide spotlights for each PC and showcase how each has a role in the team and on the ship.

That’s how I would approach building a non-combat challenge that is supposed to be an important scene providing character’s spotlight and moving the story forward in an exciting fashion.

In case you were wondering, I would estimate that with four players (and therefore four PCs) this scene would likely last between ten and twenty minutes. Some groups are all business, working through the scene mechanically with some narrative but not a lot of extraneous discussions. Other groups like to discuss possible responses, what would look best, often bringing in character personality and backstory. But if you are running this at a convention, a scene like this would likely take about fifteen minutes.

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The Binary Challenge in Sword’s Edge

In the last couple of posts, I’ve written about some of the perceptions and ideas that helped design Sword’s Edge, how I view failure and the purpose of Momentum. Let’s now look at an example of a binary challenge and how SE replicates it . . . or fails to do so.

By a binary challenge I mean something that is generally seen as a “do it or don’t.” The example I want to use is jumping over a chasm. In general, when viewing this, it looks binary – one gets over the chasm or one does not. How does a binary action work with Momentum and then Action.

To be honest, when I run a game, this isn’t something I would make a mechanical challenge. There would need to be something significant about it to justify making it a mechanical challenge – a Narrative Character (NC). Does a PC have fear of heights? Is there something about the challenge that touches on a PC’s pivots or other qualities? Generally, things like climbing trees (or buildings), jumping, or smashing through doors are part of a scene, but aren’t the heart of a scene (the goal or purpose of the scene), so I don’t really bother with them.

Let’s say we do. Let’s say there is a good reason to make this an NC, I would then ask myself: “Is this a prelude to something?” For example, to see the sniper before the sniper takes the shot or notice the warriors waiting in ambush. If it is, I would give the NCs a Quality (generally an Element) specific for Momentum that reflects this. The success or failure of Momentum then tells us if the PCs succeeded or failed.

In the case of jumping the chasm, is it to get into a fight? To rescue an individual? Is it in pursuit of a villain? In some of these cases, I would build it into the NC as above. In the case of pursuit, I would represent it as an Element for special use – something like “Using ground for advantage (Physical) +4.” This provides a mechanical replication of the chasm to be jumped over which remains binary for that round, but then does not follow through to the next – the PC either overcomes it or is delayed by it.

What if there is a good reason to create this NC all on its own. It doesn’t matter then reason, but let’s say there is a good story or character reason to create a binary challenge – a do it or not kind of challenge.

In this case, I would definitely make it a minion – one success is all that is needed. I would make sure its rank represented the difficulty of accomplishing the task, and give it a fitting Concept. Still, looking at something like jumping over a chasm and considering how I have described Momentum, one might wonder how it fits together. What happens when the PC has Momentum but fails in the Action Test? What happens when the PC fails Momentum? What happens if the PC fails both Momentum and Action?

Okay, in general I allow the players to narrate the results of their Test. Leading up to the Test, I ask, what they are trying to do, and when we have a result I ask what happened. Sometimes, the player asks for input, so this would be my input.

What happens when the PC has Momentum but fails in the Action Test? The PC makes it across but doesn’t land well on the other side. They barely made it and are hanging over the edge. Think of Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, at the beginning when Alfred Molina leaves the whip on the other side of the chasm. Indy jumps, doesn’t quite make it and is hanging there. Another failure? Starts losing handholds. Another failure? Falls for a bit but catches a root or outstretched rock. Etc.

What happens if the player fails Momentum but succeeds in Action? The PC thought they were ready to make the jump but realizes, as they reach the edge, that they aren’t going to make and skid to a halt before going over. Catching their breath, the PC can try again – they can try to Seize Momentum – or maybe they realize there’s no way they can simply leap over this chasm, and they stop to consider alternatives.

Failing Momentum and the Test? I would use a narrative similar to the one above about landing badly and scrambling for handholds, but in this case, the bad landing knocks the wind out of them – or worse. Since this would likely be Physical Stress and therefore Penalty Ranks to Physical, I would continue to represent failures as things that would hurt, like a the slipping down the side and grabbing something wrenches out the character’s arm, and then fall they lose their grip and fall, only to land hard on an outcropping of rock or protruding root.

To be honest, SE doesn’t work great for binary challenges. It’s not really designed for that. As with any generic system, it has its weaknesses, and this is one of them. SE was designed to run the kind of games I like to run, and in those kinds of games, most binary challenges are part of a greater action scene and so rarely stand alone as an NC.

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Representing Momentum in Sword’s Edge

In my last post, I tried to illustrate some of the thinking regarding success and failure in Sword’s Edge, and specifically with Momentum. This time, I want to talk about how one can represent that in the narrative.

To reiterate, Momentum is about who controls the conflict – who is in the driver’s seat. The winner of the Momentum Test is considered “active” and the loser “passive,” but this is only because the terms “attacker” and “defender” have the context of combat whereas Tests in Sword’s Edge can be about anything. In this article, let’s agree that the active character is attempting to change the status quo in a manner that benefits them and the passive character is attempting to stop that change. Both might be active, but only one is acting on the status quo – the passive character is instead acting on the active character.

How does this relate to the narrative of the game? What does this look like? Consider a fight scene in a movie: while the protagonist might generally be shown succeeding – especially when facing mooks – there is often a point at which there is some kind of setback (especially in a Jackie Chan movie!). The character is momentarily thwarted, but this generally leads to a new and different attempt that succeeds in some way. The character in this case did not lose Momentum – they really still controlled the fight – but they did not succeed in that particular action.

Now, this is different from the big fight scenes when the protagonist is fighting a boss or mini-boss, as this is much more like a fight against a regular or hero – a success doesn’t result in an outright win, merely progression towards a win. Sometimes, in such a scene, you can actually see where the opponent Seizes the Momentum. This usually leads to another moment where the protagonist steals it back, but there is often a moment when the tables turn on the protagonist until they can reassert control of the fight.

But what about other situations in which the visual of controlling a situation is not so obvious. Let’s take the example of a starship crash-landing on an alien planet. In such a situation, what does failing to control the situation look like? To me, that would be the PC unable to concentrate, unable to focus, forgetting the processes or lacking a real solution to the problem. Failing Momentum means that the situation is out of the PC’s control. She’s flailing about, maybe doing something, but not doing anything right.

And then a failure when the PC is the passive party – on the defensive – means that the PC has done exactly the wrong thing due to this lack of confidence or confusion. I’d likely narrate this as the PC having a crisis of confidence, questioning her ability and knowledge (a Penalty Rank to Cunning).

I think we can all think of examples in our own lives in which we did not have control of a situation. We were faced with a problem and lacked a way forward. We did not have Momentum. But then we took a chance, took a stab at a solution – uncertain if it would work but unwilling to allow the situation to persist or even degrade. That was us Seizing Momentum. Get it right, you have control of the situation and can now influence the status quo in your favour. Get it wrong? Yeah, really bad things can happen.

So that’s how I think about representing Momentum and failure in the game. It can be more clear when one is representing combat, but the same dynamics carry over into all resolutions.

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Failure in Sword’s Edge: A Consideration

My buddy Bruce in the UK asks the best questions, questions that make me really think about my game and why it does what it does. From those conversations, I’m cribbing some thoughts to share in order to help give people a better idea of the philosophy behind Sword’s Edge design.

I want to start off by discussing failure. A component of the philosophy of failure in Sword’s Edge is if a player character (PC) is unable to succeed, it generally means the narrative character (NC) can Seize Momentum, which is what the NC should do. This is not the case if the player is simply getting bad die rolls. That’s frustrating but it doesn’t highlight a power disparity on which the NC can capitalize. Bad runs of dice rolling can be frustrating, but there are no real ill effects for the PC. In the case where the PC and NC are pretty evenly matched, it’s kind of up to the GM if they want to risk a Seize Momentum which could end the scene very quick.

I generally have NCs attempt to Seize Momentum whenever it appears at all likely to succeed.

So that’s the idea behind Momentum, but how does one narrate failure on a Momentum Test?

Here’s the thing with Momentum – it’s controlling the situation. That’s kind of easy to see in a fight, especially something like fencing or martial arts. In both of these cases, once that kind of control is established, the controlling party generally ends up winning the exchange. That’s the idea of Momentum.

While I tend to use the terms “passive” and “active” actors, Momentum and Action in SE is really about attacker and defender, if we define attackers as the character attempting to change the status quo and the defender as the character attempting to counter the attacker. Both are active, but one is attempting to change the status quo to gain an advantage (attacker) and the other is attempting to obstruct or redefine that change (defender). The defender is not affecting the status quo, only affecting the attacker.

So, a Momentum failure means that the character does not have control of the situation and is trying to counter the actions of the attacker. In the Action Test that follows, a success by the defender means that the character has foiled the attacker somehow. The character does effect the action, but not in a way that moves the character toward completion of a goal. The character’s success in this case is directly related to the actions of the attacker.

The case of a Momentum win followed by an Action failure is the reverse of this, where the PC is the one attempting to redefine the status quo to their benefit and the NC foils this attempt somehow. The PC may even succeed at their action, but the outcome does not benefit them in the way they had hoped and this is due to the interference or other action of the NC.

That’s a kind of dive into how Sword’s Edge envisions success and failure, and how Momentum is intended to feed into that. It is somewhat different than many other games, so I hope this helps give players and GMs a better idea of the mechanics and narratives of Tests.



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All Quiet On The . . Wait, No It Isn’t!

It may have been quiet in the internet-facing portion of Sword’s Edge Publishing, but there’s been lots of work behind the scenes. The files for the Sword’s Edge books are with the printers and I’m awaiting a proof. Once that has been approved, the final PDF will be available to Kickstarter backers and I’ll be in contact with Magpie Games to take care of the shipments.

Plans continue apace for the Patreon which will go live in September. Both “Lawless Heaven” and “Face ‘Splosion” are ready to go. The third release looks like it will be an adventure for Nefertiti Overdrive which bridges the period between “Rumours of War,” presented in the Nefertiti Overdrive Quickstart Rules and “Get Netiqret,” which was presented in Nefertiti Overdrive. December will see “Swords & Searchers,” a revision of “the Nor’Westers” as I believe a sword & sorcery setting will work better than early 19th century Canada. Swords & Searchers” will be a mini-campaign and depending on how many pages it encompasses, it might end up being two releases. It uses the Sword’s Edge rules.

At that point, I’ll be taking stock of the Patreon. I have two stories in the sword noir genre ready to go, and I may also be releasing the Wall RPG, depending on the backers and their preferences. I also have “Gang War,” a take on the Warriors – which was itself an update on Anabasis by Xenophon – using Sword’s Edge. I’m going to keep working on possible releases as I want to make sure the Patreon is stacked for at least a year. Once that first year is done, I’ll review and adjust accordingly.

So rest assured, I am busy working. I want to make sure I have a buffer of product for the Patreon just in case real life happens, as it always does.

Until the Patreon launches, if you haven’t picked up Sword’s Edge, the pre-order is open but will close once the books start shipping, so this is your chance to get it at Canadian rather than US prices.

You can find the Sword’s Edge pre-order page here.

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