Worlds Without Master Vol 01 Issue 07_Page_01

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, 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:

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:

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.


A Year of Sword & Sorcery

Over on the Worlds Without Master site, I posted a retrospective on the first year of publishing the ezine.

It’s a lot of numbers, but it gives some idea of where the money’s coming from and where it is going and the barest hint of future plans for the ezine.

An Official Worlds Without Master Website

Worlds-Without-Master-AdWhen you’re looking for your sword and sorcery fix, you have no further to look than

It’s got it all . . .

And between now and the full moon, if you use the coupon code “WizardsEyrie” you’ll get 25% off all those back issues you’ve missed. Then visit Patreon and join the Patron Horde so you don’t miss another.

It’s Tricky

Patron Horde member Jon Cole has whipped up a nice little reference sheet of all the tricks in Swords Without Master.

It now joins the Rogue Sheets, the Lore Phase & Thread, and Ritual of the Neophyte in the growing library of Swords Without Master material.

Swords Without Master was published in the third issue of Worlds Without Master:

You can purchase a PDF of this issue from me for $3.99.

Or you can purchase it at DriveThruRPG.

Welcoming New Wolves to the Pack


Thanks to Stras Acimovic for the photos and the impetus!

At the behest of a member of the Patron Horde, I have put together some handy cards to help spread the word should you find yourself playing Wolfspell or Swords Without Master with someone who has never played before.

You can find the whole set here as individual cards, sheets designed for use with scissors and sheets for those of us wielding paper cutters.

Some disassembly required.

The Swords Without Master card comes with its own ritual: The Ritual of the Neophyte–Give the card to someone playing Swords Without Master for the first time and you may celebrate by changing the Overtone to Jovial.

IMG_20140410_012406The Wolfspell card also has a rules modification: The Way of Fang & Claw–Give the card to someone playing Wolfspell for the first time to turn a Blood result they just rolled into a Wolf result of the same value.

Feel free to print, share and use these however you wish. They are slightly classier than getting a QR code of tattooed across your back and then insisting people take pictures of it with their phones. I have been told that that is not acceptable and that if I don’t put my shirt back on, I’ll get kicked out of the pub.

Vernal WwoM Cover-1280-x-1024

Wherein Demands Are Made & Answered

As you may or may not have heard, Swords Without Master was released earlier this week in the latest issue of Worlds Without Master. (If you haven’t picked up a copy for your very own, you can do that here.) Since then, there has been a few requests for ancillary material. Because there is no material quite as exquisite as ancillary material, I had no choice but to oblige.

Rogue Sheets

Behold! A sheet for each one of the Swords Without Master primary character classes, including all the necessary progression tables.

The Lore Phase & Thread

The Lore Phase was intentionally written entirely on one page so that resourceful players could print it out and always have a copy of it on hand should a lore question strike them at an inopportune time. In fact, examples of each tone were put in the summary, just for those moments when you could only find neophytes for Lore Players.

Desktop Backgrounds

The Patron Horde is damn close to reaching its color cover art funding goal. The days of our ever faithful skull & sword are numbered! These desktop backgrounds are provided in an anticipatory memorial.

Classic Cover

Winter Cover

Vernal Cover

The Sage, the Rover & the Roasted Bean

Photo courtesy of Renato Ramonda.

Photo courtesy of Renato Ramonda.

Speaking of funding goals, a few months back the ranks of the Patron Horde made it possible for me to purchase a cup of coffee and an official Worlds Without Master coffee mug was born in the resulting celebratory fire.

You can purchase this handsome mug for your very own coffee break over at Society6.

Swords Without Master in Issue 3 of Worlds Without Master

It is out! Issue three of Worlds Without Master contains Swords Without Master I will be forthcoming with more details once I get a meal in me and a little rest.

In the meantime, if you’re not a member of the Patron Horde and you want to get your hands on the latest issue, here are some ways to do that.

Purchase a PDF of Worlds Without Master Volume 1, Issue 3 from me for $3.99.

Or you can purchase it at DriveThruRPG.

A Sword in the World


It has been a long, strange journey that has led us to this moment . . .



. . . after all those years of toil . . .



. . . the hour of fate is finally at hand . . .



. . . this upcoming issue of Worlds Without Master will contain within its pages the very game that set me on this path . . .



. . . Swords Without Master.

What treasures await me within?

As with the free introductory adventure “The City of Fire & Coin,” this next issue of Worlds Without Master will have rules for:

  • The Perilous, Discovery and Rogue Phases;
  • The Moral, Mystery and Motif Threads;
  • And the tones, the thunder and the storm, and the end game.

As well as new delights:

  • The Respite and Lore Phases;
  • The Mark and Lore Threads;
  • At least one set of rules for creating your own rogues;
  • A complete set of Tricks to enable those rogues to steal the story;
  • And Rituals, Tales and Campaigns–rules for Overplayers or Rogue Players to design adventures that fit on a note card.

And perhaps a few more secrets to uncover.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about my usual allotment of swords & sorceries in Worlds Without Master?

Yes, indeed! This next issue will also bring with it:

  • Another fully illustrated Jakko Orange and Tam-tam tale by Vincent Baker, “In Taruve: the Merchant Train.”
  • Another installment of Bryant Johnson‘s comic “Oh, the Beating Drum!”
  • “A Slaying in Smoke,” an illustrated tale of falchion and fashion featuring Muaphet Raum by yours truly.
  • And as always, a yet to be determined miscellany.

How can I get my hands on this trove?

You can either lie in wait, watching this space for the moment it springs up and then pounce on it with your $3.99.

Or you can save yourself some coin and trouble by joining the Patron Horde today–paying only $2.99 per issue, and paying only when those issues are released.

Geeking Out About the Dice in Wolfspell

If you aren’t a part of the Patron Horde, you may not know it yet, but the latest issue of Worlds Without Master includes my latest game: Wolfspell, a game about hard-bitten adventurers taking on a grim, perilous task that they can only accomplish by becoming puppies.

Or something of that nature.

I’m going to geek out about the dice in the game now, and if you’d like to read along at home, you can get issue two of Worlds Without Master right here.

Wolfspell is something of an amalgamation of design elements from the two most important post-apocalyptic games of our day: Apocalypse World and MonkeyDome. But all of the innovation stolen from these two games pales, pales I tell you! What really matters is that I finally found an excuse to use the dice mechanic from the Time Lord roleplaying game. This is a die trick I’ve been admiring for-almost-ever: roll two six-sided dice and you subtract the lower die from the higher die.

Read More

I’m On Theory from the Closet!

Theory from the Closet

Over at Geeky & Genki, I’m on the latest episode of the illustrious Theory from the Closet podcast chatting with Clyde Rhoer and shooting my mouth off about all things Words Without Master, Swords Without Master, PatreonVast & StarlitWhat is a Roleplaying Game? and probably a lot more. I mean, I go on and on for just over two hours. Whew. I simply will not shut up.