State of the Game Address: Physically speaking, if one can speak of the corporealness of a PDF, I’m about two-thirds of way done with “The City of Fire & Coin” preview. Which is to say, the art and the page count gets us almost there. But it feels as though most of the hurdles have been jumped.
It’s been an interesting exercise, writing this here version of the rules. Swords Without Master is not a game that is particularly burden with rules, but there is surprising depth to its mechanics. And this depth can be a little overwhelming for the new player. Since the goal for “The City of Fire & Coin” is to be a document any four new players could pick up and enjoy from the start, there was a tremendous amount of paring down that had to be done.
It’s a bit of a delicate operation. Too little paring, and the document would be too weighty as an instructional tool. Too much paring and “The City of Fire & Coin” might not be representative enough of the game to act as an effective preview. Every time I start writing about a procedure or rule for “The City of Fire & Coin,” I find that I have more to say than the space will allow. Which means I’ve been writing a hefty chunk of the rest of the book while I plug along with the preview chapter.
I’ll share more of these extended thoughts once the preview is out, so there’s a context for what I’m saying. I look forward to discussing the finer points of shield use and the Ritual of the Long Spell as well as some of the better methods for selecting a simulacrum and eidolon. Till then, however, I’ll just settle with introducing you to the rogues you’ll be playing in “The City of Fire & Coin.” (Apologies to those of you who haven’t yet had the opportunity to demo this game. These are their character sheets in their entirety and some of the specific rule details might not make a whole lot of sense to you quite yet.)
A wandering scholar of forbidden lore, sorcery & the physical arts.
Glum: Wrestling with his opponents as he whispers dark spells into their ears.
Jovial: Calling upon the heavens to witness the glory he’s about to bestow upon them.
Tricks (Choose One):
Secrets of the Worm Cult—After years of tracing the origins of this mysterious sect, Muaphet has located their lost library deep within the catacombs of the City. Once during the game, before a phase begins, you may demand the next phase is set in the Catacombs of the Worm.
Servant of the Worm Cult—After years of thwarting this mysterious sect, Muaphet has become a hunted man. Once during the game, before a phase begins, you may make the next phase a Perilous Phase & the make the Storm an assassin known as the Maw of the Worm.
A northern exile, stargazer & spearman. “Swords are too short to make useful spears & too cumbersome to make useful knives.”
Glum: Sardonically reciting the poetry of a homeland now lost to him.
Jovial: Boasting & betting on what he’s about to accomplish.
Tricks (Choose One):
The Hunter Descending—Snorri knows that destiny is dictated by the stars. Once during the game you can ignore a roll by accepting the following Mystery: “Why have the stars blinded my eyes?” You are stymied & the Overtone flips.
The Tireless Wolf—Snorri has never lost his prey. Once during the game, before a phase begins, you may make the next phase a Rogue Phase & the Overplayer must start it by demanding you demonstrate your uncanny tracking abilities.
A skilled thief & swordswoman doomed to see all the world.
Glum: Slaying with indifference & a wistful stare at the horizon.
Jovial: Bellowing with fiery rage or contagious delight.
Tricks (Choose One):
The Infectious Laugh—Manyara has a voice that lightens an enemy’s heart, even as her sword seeks it. Once during the game you can change a roll to a Jovial result with your laughing battle cry. Whenyou do, the Overtone immediately becomes Jovial.
The Well Traveled Warrior—Manyara has journeyed farther than the wind itself & learned much along the way. Once during the game, before a phase begins, you may make the next phase a Discovery Phase that will give you an opportunity to use this knowledge. This phase cannot end until you’ve had the dice at least once.
Preview Preview: Here’s a sneak peak at this cover for “The City of Fire & Coin” lushly illustrated by Scott LeMien.