Swordsfall: The RPG - What's In The Box??

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What to Expect from Swordsfall: The Tabletop RPG

So, something I get asked about often (by often, I mean all the time) is, will Swordsfall have a system? And if so, then what? It's something I've avoided for the most part. Largely because I know that once you talk about RPG components, it dominates the conversation. I want Swordsfall to be more than just a TTRPG so it's something I've avoided. However, for the sake of clarity, I feel like it's time to put some official info out there.

 

Based on Genesys

The first thing to mention is that the system is not based on traditional d20 game such as Dungeons and Dragons. Nor is it one that morphs the story and world itself like Dungeon World. Swordsfall is about the lore and the story. Everything attached to it is built on that lore and the game is no different.

To do that I wanted to pair it with a system that allows the players to act out their actions on Tikor. Not just pair a popular system with it just because. The tenants of design behind Genesys is closer to what I envision. However, don't run out and buy the core Genesys book just yet (or do it actually cause it’s a good book and fun system), because it's not USING it. It's just based on it.

I'm using the design philosophy is as my base inspiration and then modifying the shit out of it. The whole point is to make the players feel like they are playing out their character and story rather than just rolling dice and building stats.

 

Cinematic Play

The end result is a custom system that doesn't have a name. Swordsfall System or something, I don't know yet. But the style of play does have a name. The smoothly titled, Cinematic Play.

So, what the hell does that mean? Well, the intention of the system is to feel like you're playing through a cinema, movie or anime. The system uses a "Fail…but" and "Success...and" system that has gained popularity lately as well as the core of Genesys. That way it feels like every action, whether pass or fail, has some sort of outcome.

One of the things I hate the most is waiting for your action and all you can do is swing your weapon. You miss and then patiently wait 10 minutes to be useful again. That sucks, I hate it, and I don't want it in my game.

Sample LayoutThe current layout. Guaranteed to change

The Basics

Playing the game is pretty straightforward. You build your Positive Dice Pool from your mixture of character stats, skills, equipment, and environmental bonuses. Don't worry, there's not a lot of stat fluctuation so your pool will be consistent.

Then you'll build your Negative Dice Pool from a mixture of Difficulty, environmental negatives and if there is an opponent, their stats. You take that and roll it. Depending on what the dice number is will depend on whether it’s a straight-up fail/pass, or if it comes with advantages and disadvantages.

 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages and Disadvantages are the ways that a roll can lend complexity. Let's say you're hacking a safe, a success with a disadvantage would mean that you get into the safe...but something bad happens. This is where the player and the GM get to collaborate for a second.

Was it a backup alarm? Did a guard hear the safe opening? Did your tool break?

An advantage in the same example could mean something like you crack open the safe and find extra money. Or maybe the plans to a top-secret weapon. Or maybe a map to lost treasure.

You can also get an advantage AND a disadvantage. You open the safe, find extra money...that's owned by a powerful syndicate on Prime. Since the outcome is crunchy but also narrative it gives the feel of a concrete outcome with a nebulous outcome.

 

The Dice

The RPG will use D6, D8, and D12 dice. The average dice roll will be around 6 to 8 dice. There are six dice types.

Positive Dice

  • Skill Dice (d8) - Aptitude/skill. Determined by Character Stat
  • Luck Dice (d6) - Situational benefits, or advantages
  • Knack Dice (d12) - Innate and trained abilities. Natural 12 counts as a critical success

Negative Dice

  • Difficulty Dice (d8) - The inherent challenge or complexity of the task.
  • Complication Dice (d6) - Situational challenges or disadvantages
  • Disaster Dice (d12) - Extreme difficulty, situation or enemy
The Killer KrewThe Killer Krew

Character Stats

So, the first real thing to establish is, what exactly is a Character Stat, or shortened as just Stat. In Swordsfall there are six stats; Agility, Vigor, Cunning, Logic, Aura, and Determination.

Agility and Vigor represent your two body stats. One for the quickness of a body and the other for the strength and hardiness. Cunning and Logic make up the mind. For mental speed and the ability to use knowledge. Then lastly you have Aura and Determination, the two stats that represent the personality or soul of a person. One shows the natural gravity of a person can possess and the other for the sheer tenacity and will of a human.

 

Skills

Each skill is linked to a corresponding character stat. A skill represents the specialization of a stat. The end results of training and skill. For example, Athletics is linked to the Agility stat. The skill itself is associated with complex physical actions such as climbing or swimming. 

There are four types of Skills. General, Social, Combat, and Knowledge.

  • General Skills - Skills that can be generally used by anyone, no matter their technical level.
  • Social Skills - Skills used in social situations.
  • Combat Skills - Skills used during combat.
  • Knowledge Skills - Skills that employ the user’s knowledge of a subject

 

Currency

The world of Tikor does not use a standard currency. There are no credits or anything of the sort. Some nations do have their own special currency, such as Hawklore, but that's the exception and the not the rule. What the world does run on are Respect and Sway. These two components are responsible for how you barter and get things down in Swordsfall.

Respect - Respect is a measurement of standing your character has with the community or individual. This determines how people interact with your character personally. 
Sway - Sway is a measurement of your characters pull. The amount is always in flux depending on the characters last known actions.

The Deadquiver Profession
The Deadquiver Profession

Professions

Swordsfall does not have classes, instead, it has professions. And because it's a huge world, it has a large number of professions. In fact, there are over 30. Picking one at character creation isn't an arbitrary choice. It dictates the kind of upbringing they had and the skills they were forced to learn.

 

The Professions of Tikor

Divination

Possession

Invocation

Amatola Atoner Celestial Shield
Diviner Animalist Corsair
Dreamweaver Blighthound Crystal Priest
Emberpath Deadquiver Damenga
Griot Lamain Forgewhisperer
Jalen Masquerader Invoker
Mabar Soulcarver Land Raider
Saltiguine Spirit Investigator Minos
Sunu Spirit Medium Sentrylock
Trakker Soul Writ Shadowtail
Visionseeker Spellbinder

 

More in 2020

That's your taste of the RPG! There's quite a bit more, but that should give you a sense of what you're getting into. Once Welcome to Tikor and its suite of books ship then it'll be time to talk more about the RPG.

But for now, let's focus on all the sweet lore and amazing art coming out right now!

16 comments

  • Posted on by Jesse
    This sounds like A TON of fun. I really dig the improv-style success/failure mechanic. It reminds me of FFG Start Wars, but without having to interpret the weird dice 🤣

    Respect/Sway seems really interesting, too. You mentioned bartering, but I almost feel like you’d end up trading favors more than anything else, and that’s just RIPE with story hooks.

  • Posted on by Aaron Steele

    This is definitely a refreshing change of pace from most RPG systems I see! I really enjoy how you’ve made the focus on cinematic storytelling and have streamlined a lot of the dice rolling aspects of the game. I definitely look forward to playing it when it comes out.

  • Posted on by Katie Masonis

    This system combines many of my favorite tabletop mechanics in an elegant way… Very excited to play!

  • Posted on by Evan Arnold

    I love this, just a few thoughts.

    No D20 System – THANK YOU. I loathe the D20 system and only play games that feature it (D&D, Pathfinder, etc) rather begrudgingly. My biggest problem with it (as with most people, I think) is the combat. It’s slow and boring, with dmg stagnation at higher levels being a big issue, and the main focus centered around opponents standing around and smacking each other around.

    There are of course other things to do, but I’d argue it those options are a modification of the existing system (which in itself is stuck being that way since it was originally devised as the war game Chainmail back in the late 70s) and not inherently fluid in any meaningful way. The Cinematic Play system with not only a binary pass/fail but with the more nuanced ‘Fail…but’/‘Success…and’ is an elegant solution that should breathe life in combat and I look forward to experiencing it myself in Swordsfall. The negative/positive dice pool sounds like it would allow for all kinds of flexibility for a number of scenarios. I’m not familiar with Genesys but their system sounds like what I’ve been looking for in a TTRPG.

    The stats and skills sound great – super flexible and nonspecific. Overly specific skills and stats was always a headache with other systems I’ve played before. I dislike having scenarios where things like ‘athletics’ and ‘swim’ are two different skills, it feels arbitrary to me and just punishing to players for no good reason.

    I really like the idea of the Respect/Sway system. Its a better fit for PCs interacting with NPCs and frees you up from doing spreadsheets for imaginary currency, which might be fun for some people, but is pretty tedious for me. I’m interested in learning more about the Professions.

    Is it possible to have a former and current Profession? What happens if a player is fired from their Profession, if that is an option?

  • Posted on by Radiant

    Question: When you say the average dice roll will be around 6 to 8 dice, does that mean you’ll need 6 to 8 D12s or D8s? Those are some of the more uncommon dice hereabouts and are a little hard to simulate mathematically.

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