The One About the Barbarian, the Giant Spider, and the Invisible Empire

Campfire tales, giant intelligent spiders, a particularly vindictive emperor, and of course the Worlds Without Master debut of Barbarian Lord!

Behold the treasures that await you with the pages of Worlds Without Master issue 7:

399-IconYou can get your copy for $3.99 at WorldsWithoutMaster.com, Payhip or DriveThruRPG.

Go get it now. I’ll wait. When you get back, let’s talk a bit about Invisible Empire.


This is the first of a trilogy of games designed to teach the fundamentals to the various Swords Without Master phases.

This first game is called Invisible Empire, which is an allusion to Italo Calvino’s Le città invisibili or Invisible Cities. They share some common ground. Both are about describing to rulers of vast empires the sights to be seen (or experienced) within those empires.

Invisible Empire is an exploration of the Discovery Phase from Swords Without Master. You don’t need to know Swords to play this game, but I want to talk to theSwords players for just a moment with a string of text that might not make sense to other folk. If haven’t readSwords, feel free to skip to the next paragraph.Invisible Empire is like an Overplayer-less Discovery Phase where Stymies and Mysteries make you look Suspicious, causing you to create a new thread called a Secret, and when you roll a Morale, you don’t create a thread but you do bore the Silent Emperor, which is not good. The threads produced in this game can be taken to a Swords game and used in tricks or overtricks.

Right, so that’s out of the way. Here’s what’s going on in that game. You all play explorers, emissaries, courtiers, wandering knights, astrologers, dancers, or whoever has an excuse to be in the court of the Silent Emperor. You will all stand before the throne and tell the court of the wonders and horrors you’ve seen in your travels through this massive empire. You start by rolling dice that will tell you whether your story should fill your audience with Awe or Dread. The dice will also tell you if you’re omitting something important—either through deception or ignorance—and if you might just be boring the Silent Emperor. Whatever you describe, even if you are omitting something, you will make one other person at court corroborate your account by asking them a leading question.

The whole game is a race between the players’ ability to describe the fantastic sites they’ve seen and the horrid fickleness of the Silent Emperor. As you give you accounts, the other players will be listening for moments of true wonder or horror, and they will record them. As you roll the dice, the Silent Emperor will be listening for lies, omissions and tedium. Characters who receive too many Black Marks of Displeasure this way are dispatched in ways design to entertain the Silent Emperor and the court.

You can get this puppy, along with two sword & sorcery tales and an episode of Barbarian Lord in issue 7 ofWorlds Without Master: http://www.worldswithoutmaster.com/bazaar/worlds-without-master-issue-7

You can also guarantee you won’t miss out on the next in the series, Beggars’ Night, by becoming a member of the Patron Horde: https://www.patreon.com/Epidiah

You can also increase the odds of finding someone else who will play the game with you by sharing the hell out of those links.

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