Monday, May 29, 2023

Swords Against Sorcery: Wizard's Challenge!

 Last night, I did the first playtest of the Bronze Age comic book Swords & Sorcery system I have been working on. I made a few pregens and this was the line up:

  • Oriax the Red, Gladiator Champion (Aaron)
  • Thunda, Barbarian Acolyte (Andrea)
  • Korag, Primitive Warrior (Jason)
  • Kharron, Cursed Warrior (Paul)

The adventure began with the heroes all at a seedy tavern in the city of Djadishar. They are surprised by the sudden appearance of a robed sorcerer with a brass dome over his head like Mysterio. He said he was Narznn Gath and he was here to cause the death of the heroes as his divinations had showed they would thwart his plans in the future. The other tavern patrons rise up, seemingly under the sorcerer's control to take.

Bronze Age Sword & Sorcery comics tend to get to the action very quickly, typically with foes the heroes can deal with relatively easily. Here it also serve the purpose of giving everybody a try with the basic mechanics.

The heroes fairly easily dispatch the unfortunate tavern lowlifes. They figure they had better take the fight to Narznn Gath or he'll keep coming after them. Thunda and Kharron, with their combined occult knowledge, know that he is reputed to dwell in the Tower of Eyes deep within the hellish Desert of Urrd. The heroes aren't eager to cross the desert with a wizard waiting for them. They want to try for the element of surprise. Maybe swifter mounts of some sort or magical transport?

Kharron knows a sorceress who lives in a villa on the outskirts of Djadishar who might be able to help. The decide to seek out Yasheeng of the Gossamer Veil. 

Kharron actually failed his roll here, but with a "fail forward" sort of mentality, this just means a complication down the road.

Yasheeng agrees to see them and even his an idea that might help, but there's a catch. She has a magical mirror which can allow them access to the idyll plane where Zaarzog the Demon dwells. There grows a tree whose fruit can secure the cooperation of the winged creatures than nest in the caves of the Vestari Mountains nearby. However, in return for her aid she wants the large opal at the bottom of the pool near the tree--and she wants a few drops of Kharron's magical blood to ensure they don't double cross her. The party agrees, and jump threw the mirror.

They are greeted to the scene of glade with a small hill and a huge, gnarled tree with strangely fleshy leaves. At the center of the glade is a limpid pool with a giant statue of a seated demon on the far side. While Korag climbs the tree to gather fruit, Kharron dives into the pool after the mikly-colored, potato-sized, gem. Thunda investigates the statue and notes one of its eye sockets is empty, but the other has a white gem in it.

When Korag picks the large, pear-shaped fruit, thick juice drips from the sap. When it hits the ground, wriggling creatures began to grow, ultimately to two-foot tall goblin-things. When Oriax cuts down a few, more grow from the spilt blood.

Meanwhile, Kharron as emerged from the water with the jewel which feels strangely warm in his hand, but then, the statue comes to life with a grinding of it's stone joints. Thunda calls upon her gods and the demon is transfixed for a moment, buying them a little extra time.

Oriax runs to their aid, while Korag jumps from the tree and kicks his way past goblins to the portal. Kharron taunts the demon with the stone--perhaps unwisely, as it snatches him up. 

Oriax attacks but his blade is no match for stone. Kharron manages to pry himself loose. They all try to make for the portal, but Kharron is tripped and pulled down by goblins. Thunda comes to his aid, and everyone runs through the portal, a grasping horde of goblins on their heels.


James Mishler said...

Sweet! How did your system's combat flow in game? How well did action flow with the system?

Trey said...

I think it went pretty well, and the player's seem to agree. There are a few tweaks and refinements need to be made, but I thought it went very well for the first time the rules were used. It's a dice pool system inspired by Broken Compass and Year Zero Engine, so it wasn't exactly charting wholly new territory.

Dick McGee said...

Sounds like it went well. Certainly a very genre-appropriate opening session - just about the perfect blend of weirdness and action.

Wonder if they'll have to break Yasheeng's mirror to stop pursuit, and if so how mad she'll be about it?

Also can't help but think my players would have been trying to save some tree sap once they'd seen what it does, with an eye toward being able to produce an mob of replicating gremlins as a distraction in the future. The people I play with are monsters, and the words "invasive species" are not in their lexicon. :)

Narmer said...

Sounds excellent! Can't wait to hear more.