Sword & Scoundrel, an Open Beta looking for feedback.

I've been on here off and on throughout the years and done a lot more reading than posting. I've finally gotten my project in a playable state and now I'm looking for all the feedback I can get.

The Pitch:
Sword & Scoundrel is a player-driven tabletop role-playing game of passion, violence, and general skullduggery. Set against a gritty renaissance backdrop, Sword & Scoundrel is a morality play presented as an HBO character drama, where players declare what is most important to their character and see it challenged through play. It's a blood opera of intrigue and swordplay, exploring how far you will go, what lines you will cross, and what — or who — you are willing to sacrifice for what you hold most dear.


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The beta document is available at drivethrurpg, where it is and will remain free of charge. It currently contains everything needed for core gameplay: the core mechanics, a detailed and flexible character creation system, combat, and the weapon/armor customization rules. The GM material is under construction as we speak, but if you have any familiarity with Burning Wheel, The Riddle of Steel, or Apocalypse World, you can run it without missing a beat.

As the beta goes on, I also have plans on a sorcery system, social combat, faction support, and a few other goodies.

I'd love any feedback you want to give, or to answer any questions here you might have!

You can also check out the website, forums, or join our discord server, if that's your thing.

Comments

  • What are its highlights rules-wise?
  • The editing is beautiful to me. The font and all. That's the reason why the "BOOK IV (...)164" line in the Table of content must be fixed. Other erratum : The Core MEchanic appears in the electronic table of content (left hand in my viewer).
    It looks like I am focusing on errata, I am sorry ! Of course, I'll keep reading and tell you more about the content, but it's not my specialty.
  • The main selling points are in the character-driven motivation mechanics (think Burning Wheel) that give the player a direct say in where the story is going, rewards them for the pursuit of that direction, and then supports them in the conflicts that result.

    Combat is a big highlight for a lot of people as well. It follows a split-die pool gambling system (think the Riddle of Steel,) with melee combat being based on narratively-flavored maneuvers. It winds up requiring a little system mastery to use the whole thing, but the result is engaging enough that our discord community has duels for fun. The maneuvers themselves are all based heavily on Historical Medieval Martial Arts and the weapons and armor have been designed to work in a fashion that mimics the real-world results. Combine this with a location-based wound system (no HP involved) and you have a system that makes for fast, bloody, and cinematic fights that have a feel of historical authenticity.

    Character creation is also a big deal, as it's an incredibly flexible system that can support a huge variety of different character types, whether you want to play wandering adventurers or noble houses leading armies.

    Other details:
    • D6 pool system with difficulty based on number of successes.
    • Core design philosophy relies on a combination of "fail forward" and "let it ride." Rolls are only made when something important is at stake. A success must bring some kind of benefit, a failure always imposes some kind of complication.
    • Medium crunch overall, but with a concentric design that allows you to start with the simple core mechanics and add in subsystems as you want to use them.
    • Weapons handled in an interesting "build your own" method that allows you to customize and personalize your gear.
  • The editing is beautiful to me. The font and all. That's the reason why the "BOOK IV (...)164" line in the Table of content must be fixed. Other erratum : The Core MEchanic appears in the electronic table of content (left hand in my viewer).
    It looks like I am focusing on errata, I am sorry ! Of course, I'll keep reading and tell you more about the content, but it's not my specialty.
    Oh, please do! I have done basically all of the writing, layout, design, editing, etc etc myself. While I have a few volunteers who go over stuff before I release it, none of them are professional editors so the only way this stuff gets caught is when people point it out to me.

    Thanks!
  • @jacksonmalloy : looks promising, I have zo take a look! :)
  • This sounds a bit like a continuation of the Riddle of Steel tradition, from that description. Is that at all fair or accurate?
  • This sounds a bit like a continuation of the Riddle of Steel tradition, from that description. Is that at all fair or accurate?
    The major influences were Burning Wheel and The Riddle of Steel, though in both cases there has been substantial tweaking for streamlining/ease of play. You can also see some fingerprints of apocalypse world in the game, as well as a few other games. Game design is always equal parts iteration and creation.

    For TROS, the core concepts of combat were the major contribution - Split dice pools, maneuvers, location-based wounds, though a lot of other things have been changed and generally streamlined over time. The motivation mechanics are equal parts BW and TROS, I suspect, with a bit of Fate thrown in. Fate also appears to some degree in the way traits are handled.
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