Swords Without Master + Misspent Youth = ???

edited February 25 in Make Stuff!
My players are now making specific demands about what weird indie RPGs to mash together to make new games.

Specifically, they want the general play from Swords Without Master, but the struggle rules from Misspent Youth to replace the Perilous phase in SwoM.

I have no idea how that will work out, but I'm interested to try it and see.

Both games use 2d6 for all resolution, which is mechanically pleasing. But there are some other questions to resolve as to how the two games fit together.

Feats Heroic in SwoM work almost identically to selling out a conviction in MY. So those probably can serve that purpose. Feats Heroic might be a bit easier to spend than Convictions, since they'll come back next story, as opposed to MY's downward spiral of Selling Out. But it should be okay.

The biggest questions are how to deal with Stymies from SwoM and how the Authority claims numbers in MY. Perhaps I can combine those together?

Current plan: The Overplayer rolls the tone dice to start the struggle, and claims that number on the struggle chart (just a list of numbers from 2-12, really). Thereafter, only the rogue players roll the dice. If they roll a number claimed by the Overplayer, they lose the conflict. If they roll a number claimed by another rogue, they win. Roll an unclaimed number and they claim it. Same as MY.

Then the Overplayer claims a number. Like in MY, if 7 hasn't been claimed, they claim it.

If 7 has been claimed, the Overplayer claims the least likely number to be rolled that hasn't been claimed. So starting at 2 or 12, then working inward to more likely numbers like 6 or 8.

If the player rolls a match, then that's a stymie. They describe their character messing up. They still claim the number they rolled, but the Overplayer claims the most likely unclaimed number instead of the least.

I think that gives the players and Overplayer roughly equal chances of winning a conflict. I'm not entirely certain, but I simulated a couple dozen struggles with these rules and it came out roughly 50-50.

The players could, of course, use a Feat Heroic to override a bad die roll and win a conflict at any time, though (once per game anyway).

So: does anyone see a problem with this plan? Am I missing something about either game that would cause some problem here?

Can someone help me math this out to make sure the odds are roughly correct?


  • Fascinating little project.

    I'm not familiar enough with Misspent Youth to contribute, but will read along!
  • Looks good to me!

    When you say "odds are roughly correct," what do you mean? You have transplanted the "craps" dice system from MY without changes so it will work exactly the same way.

    MY changes which initial claims the GM gets at the start of a conflict, depending on where the conflict falls within the series of scenes, for dramatic effect, and you don't seem to have that kind of arc. To make things tougher, maybe start a conflict with 8 claimed. every single conflict.

  • MY has specific claims for each conflict, so that the Authority is likely to lose the certain conflicts and win other ones, because they claim weaker ones at certain times and stronger ones at other times. I don't have that.

    So I want to figure out a way for the opposition to claim numbers that gives roughly equal odds of the players and the opposition to win the conflict?

    Ideally, I don't want to be rolling the dice after the conflict begins (in keeping with both MY and SwoM). If I have the authority always start claiming the weakest numbers (2 or 12) then the craps mechanic is heavily weighted toward the PCs winning the conflict. If I start with the opposition claiming the best numbers and working out, then the odds are weighted in their favor. I want something in between.

    The current plan is for the opposition to claim the weakest spaces, unless the player rolls a stymie (matched dice). I think that will make it so the opposition usually has worse odds overall, but the occasional die roll will push things more in the opposition's favor.

    I think this system of claiming should push things so they aren't unbalanced in favor of the PCs so much, but I can't quite figure out how to calculate the odds easily.
  • The other thing I want this to do is make stymies (matches) matter. In SwoM, matching dice is a problem for the PC. But how do I make that matter in MY's struggle system without unbalancing things? MY is already a pretty tight system. Hence making the stymie have the opposition claim a stronger number. It pushes the odds in the opposition's favor, but not out of the bounds of MY's conflict resolution system.

    But I don't know exactly how far it pushes things in the opposition's favor. What percentage of the time will the opposition win this setup versus the PCs win? I'm not really sure.
  • How often do players lose conflicts in Swords?

    The GM in MY doesn't usually claim 7 (usually starts with 6 or 8, I think). A 7 comes up 6 times out of 36 (16.7%), and an 8 comes up 5 times out of 36 (13.9%). Claim them both in every conflict and you have 12/36 (33%) chance of the GM winning. Claim 6-7-8 and you have (5+6+5 / 36) = 44% chance of winning.

    I'm just talking odds of one roll. Over multiple rolls, the chances are much higher.

    You could create a little chart of possible Overplayer claims and then use them like a resource pool over the course of a game. For example, you always claim 7, but you have [ ]2 [ ]2 [ ]2 [ ]2 [ ]3 [ ]3 [ ]3 [ ]4 [ ]4 [ ]5 [ ]5 [ ]6 [ ]6 to use over the course of the game. You can tie it to the fiction ("This seems hard, so I'll claim my remaining 6") or to the dramatic arc ("This is the middle, climactic scene, so I'll claim 5 and 6").
  • How often do players lose conflicts in Swords?
    Players basically never lose conflicts in Swords. The dice don't dictate victory or failure at all, and only bring problems to the players if they roll a match (so, 1/6th of the time). It's very forgiving to the PCs. Which fits the source narrative (Conan is pure power fantasy) but left my players dissatisfied.
    The GM in MY doesn't usually claim 7 (usually starts with 6 or 8, I think).
    The Authority in MY claims a 7 space if the YOs don't claim it on the first exchange. So for most struggles (5/6 of the time) the Authority claims the 7. When we played MY, the players were always excited to steal the 7 from the Authority on that first roll.
  • Ah, I misremembered about the 7.

    Why not borrow the dramatic arc as well as the dice system? Frame scenes in an escalating level of difficulty, then taper off with a nice denouement, and use the MY claims as given?

    I think if you're just trying to introduce a more satisfy die mechanic (and risk of failure), MY should be good enough. Try that for a session and add more claims later if it feels too easy.
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