Time & Temp has been up on IPR since, well, since Time & Temp has been a thing. And Dread before that! But I’ve been embarrassingly slow at getting the rest of my catalog up on the Indie Press Revolution. That is, until now!
It’s a pleasure working with IPR. They’ve got a hands-on approach that sets them apart of some of the other sites I’ve join so far this year, which is both helpful and reassuring in a way that automated systems simply can’t be. They’re also really big on con support, and since I’m inching my way back to print products, that’s something I think I’m going to appreciate.
So here it is, Dig a Thousand Holes at Indie Press Revolution!
Go dig in!
Thanks to Richard Epistolary and Robert Carnel at the Across the Table podcast, I’ve had the opportunity to revisit my entire body of work, from Dread to The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku. Richard did a wonderful job of stitching together clips from podcasts I’ve done over this past decade or so my thoughts on my games around the time they were published. Check that episode out and don’t miss the following one entirely dedicated to a deep dive into Swords Without Master.
So, how complete is your Epidiah Ravachol collection?
Download the PDF of the checklist—front and back—print it out, trim it to wallet-size, and carry it next to your heart.
That way you can mark off the games as you meet new friends and play with them. Or just grab the image below, check the games off with MS Paint—or whatever your favorite image editor is—and proudly display it in your social media to make your friends jealous.
The Epidiah Ravachol Starter Kit
But wait, Eppy! You’ve already marred my perfect checklist with four check marks. What gives?
That’s cause I’m going to get you started with four free games!
- Trial & Terror: Supernatural Victims Unit—The first game I playstormed with the Imagination Sweatshop. Jason Keeley, Jim Sullivan and I sat down one Friday night with only the slightest inkling of a police procedural game set in a NYC where vampires and werewolves walk openly alongside mortals. By the next Friday we were on a train to JiffyCon with stacks of the complete, freshly printed game. Can your detectives build enough of a case in the first half for your district attorneys to argue in the second half? It’s a timed game and it’s free.
- MonkeyDome—Another rolls around, another JiffyCon looms just a week away, and the Imagination Sweatshop, this time including Emily Care Boss, Jason Keeley, Jim Sullivan, John Stavropolous and myself, spends a Friday evening whittling a list of 20 one-line game ideas down to MonkeyDome. A post-apocalyptic jaunt through tonal whiplash. This game set the stage for Swords Without Master, which in turn set the stage for so many of my other games at Worlds Without Master. Truly a pivotal moment in my own game design, and it’s free!
- Spaceknights—Inspired by Rom and Texas Hold’em, this game was made as part of a 24-hour, one-page front and back, game design contest. And it shows. But hey, it’s free!
- What is a Role-Playing Game?—An entire game in 463 words that teaches you what a roleplaying game is. Pound for pound, the best deal in tabletop roleplaying. Free to read. Free to play. Free to use.
Seek out the rest!
Update: Due to an unforeseen illness, I will not be attending Breakout Con this weekend. I promise, Canada, I will return as soon as I can!
I’ll be running The Dread Geas of Duke Vulku and a little #SundayAMSwords there, as well as talking about horror and games with these fine folks. And who knows, maybe I won’t be allowed back across the border. It’s an adventure!
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:
- “Three Came Upon a Fire,” a tale of fire, storm, and other tales by Epidiah Ravachol.
- “The Spider & the Forest Apes,” a tale of with a monstrous protagonist by Dylan Craine.
- Illustrations by Gennifer Bone, Chris L. Kimball, and Juan Ochoa.
- For the first time among these pages, Barbarian Lord, a comic byMatt Smith.
- Invisible Empire, a game of wondrous and horrifying geography by Epidiah Ravachol.
- A miscellany of ill-fates.
- And full-color cover art by Evan Rowland.
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.
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.
When you’re looking for your sword and sorcery fix, you have no further to look than www.WorldsWithoutMaster.com.
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.
Patron Horde member Jon Cole has whipped up a nice little reference sheet of all the tricks in Swords Without Master.
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.
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.
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.
The 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 www.WorldsWithoutMaster.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Sage, the Rover & the Roasted Bean
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.