For My Ravening Wolves, Part III

Where’s My Preview?

I’ve got about 85% of it written, roughly. I have no idea what that comes out to in terms of pages, because I’m a little adrift in the graphic design department. But it does mean progress is being made and this 85% includes the Great Pronoun Shift of 2011, a necessary and laborious task.

How Do You Suggest I Spend My Time Waiting For This?

Adventuring! Get thee to the Unstore and check out Simon Carryer’s sword & sorcery game: On Mighty Thews. And then check out the Pulpy Primer he put up for free over here. Actually, it doesn’t matter the order, just buy the game and play it.

Okay, Fine, We’ll Be Off Adventuring While You Toil Away; But Throw Us a Sword Without Master Bone Here.

Okay, but seriously, just a bone. While whittling away at the text, I’ve also had the opportunity to play some Sw/oM with fellow game designers Emily Care Boss, Robert Bohl, and Joshua A.C. Newman. We’ve been testing out the novella rules.

Swords very specifically focuses on short-form fiction, both because most of its inspiration comes from a tradition of short stories and because the short story is unequivocally the pinnacle of fiction. To that end, every Sw/oM game should take only a few hours and contain a complete story arc, thus allowing you to complete your fiction in one sitting. But not every short story is short.

The novella dips into a slightly longer form that, conceivably, could be finished in a single sitting, but not without the threat of exhaustion. Especially in the case of a game like Sw/oM. So to accommodate those without the stamina, without the iron fortitude required to game for 6 to 12 hours–those lesser gamers among us–Sw/oM needs rules that let us carry the themes and threads of part of the story through our day-to-day reality and back into the world of Swords unbroken for the next part of the story. These rules are called the Campaigns.

Campaigns belong to a category of rule that also includes Styles and Rituals. These are agreements made by all the players to apply the rest of the rules a certain way or to ensure specific elements make it into the fiction. How they differ from one another is largely a function of scale.

  • A Ritual is something that takes place in the heat of the moment, during the game. It’s a way of informing your fellow players that you’re looking to handle something a certain way and giving them the tools to support that. For example, if I say I’m invoking the Ritual of the Long Spell, I’m telling my fellow players that my rogue is working on something that will deal with our current foe, but it’ll take some time. The Overplayer should focus our enemy on my rogue, my fellow Rogue Players should focus on keeping that enemy away from me, and when we’re ready to end this, hand me the dice.
  • A Style involves an entire game session, which often invoke a series of Rituals. Tonight, we’ll be playing with the Intrigue Style, which means that whenever we have a Discovery Phase, that phase cannot end unless we’ve revealed a hidden agenda or introduced someone with one.
  • A Campaign is a specific series of Styles (and Rituals) that are laid out for each session in the Campaign. Do not let the name fool you. They’re meant to be short compared to what we’d traditionally think of as a roleplaying game campaign. Two or three sessions worth, mostly. By way of example, on Monday night we played the second session of a trilogy which we all agreed should be a bit of a downbeat. So before we started playing we agreed that at some point before the story ended one of them had to be maim, lose something they love, or otherwise be permanently altered. A downbeat was had, as our drive towards this goal broke most of our rogues and left them imprisoned and worse.
I cannot wait for the final installment of this trilogy, but I also cannot wait until you get a chance to play this game as well. So I should stop prattling on and get to typing. And you should go buy On Mighty Thews.


  1. Evan Torner · May 11, 2011

    I’ve also had the opportunity to play some Sw/oM with fellow game designers Emily Care Boss, Robert Bohl, and Joshua A.C. Newman.

    …in which you fail to mention their mutual conspiracy to bury my master-killer bard Kendall in an ostentatious fashion. Oh, the funeral that I missed!

    Also, you should eventually release this game.

    • Epidiah · May 11, 2011

      Oh dear me, yes! My vision was focused a bit too narrowly on the events of the last two sessions, and I should not have forgotten the hero’s death that brought them about. We must adventure with Kendall the Traitor again!

  2. dimitkan · May 21, 2011

    Where is the preview chapter and the playable adventure of it? I’m waiting since Christmas for it.

  3. Scott Acker (@ASaintAndSinner) · August 14, 2011

    Any news?

    • Epidiah · August 15, 2011

      Not quite yet.

      • Bruce · January 20, 2012

        Not wanting to hassle you but…

        Any news yet?

      • Epidiah · January 23, 2012

        It’s good for me to get hassled on this from time to time. I can say that I’m working on it and expect to have something soon, but it keeps getting shoved out of the number one priority slot by real life incursions from the likes of my recent wedding and the accursed day job.

        I will say this, and I truly dread to let people know this, but every time someone asks, I find myself sneaking in an extra hour or two of work for Swords out of guilt.

  4. Bruce · January 24, 2012

    Darn those real life incursions!

    I sympathise entirely, having lost my grip on “free time” two years ago, when my daughter came into the world. She’s more than adorable and I give of myself freely but between her and the day job there’s little to no time left for anything else these days.

    Sw/oM is way too cool for me not to guilt you into getting it done though. You owe it to the community my friend. We’re all out here waiting.

    Hopefully that’s good for another couple of hours 🙂

    Massive congrats on getting hitched and all the best to you and Mrs Ravachol by the way.

    • Epidiah · January 24, 2012

      Thank you! And just for that, I’ll toss another couple hours on the pile.

  5. Bruce · March 15, 2012

    I’ll let you off if you’ve been working on it in the interim but if not then I reckon it’s well past time you put another couple of hours in 🙂

  6. William Gerke · April 29, 2012

    New to the party here. I was at PAX East this year and asked the Indie RPG panel what forthcoming game they were most looking forward to, and they practically shouted “Swords Without Master” in unison and proceeded to gush at great length.

    So keep squeezing in those hours. Based on their enthusiasm, you’ve made at least one sale already–me!

    • Epidiah · May 1, 2012

      Consider more hours squeezed in. I just moved into my new place and my new office, and I’m finding that I no longer have to squeeze hours in. They’re starting to fit in on their own.

      • Bruce · May 2, 2012

        Yay! Great to hear the hours are fitting in on their own now, that’s excellent news! Don’t think I’m going to stop badgering you though 🙂

        And by the way, that’s at least two sales 🙂

  7. Epidiah · June 26, 2012

    Dear Ravening Wolves,

    In case you missed it, “The City of Fire & Coin” preview adventure is now available:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s