D&D 5E A huge new sword & sorcery adventure is now available for 5th Edition

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
We just published The Doom that Came to Astreas, a sword & sorcery flavored setting primer and complete adventure for 5E!

Set against the backdrop of a cursed isle in a savage age, the Doom that Came to Astreas sees a party of legendary heroes strike out to unshackle the land from the thrall of a dark Sorceress Queen. Take up the mantles of pre-written kings and queens of Astreas, or, choosing from four distinct races, make your own flavorful hero. Eldritch abominations, cursed catacombs, and unceasing hordes of bestial monsters await you as you navigate the wastelands of Astreas... and you're running out of time!

Like the Chronicles of Aeres, "Doom" is a love letter to all the sword & sorcery/pulp fantasy media we grew up with, and an homage to some of the 2nd Edition AD&D games we played as teenagers. It was written to help introduce old-school sword & sorcery concepts to a modern 5E audience, and thus, it's a combination of a structured, epic quest with light hexcrawling, a bit of open-world exploration, and a few new rules to help complement the theme (like morale for all monsters).

Check it out here! The Chronicles of Aeres: The Doom that Came to Astreas - Dueling Dragon Adventures | DriveThruRPG.com Our previous books have also been slashed in price if you want to get caught up!

(This is the first release, and there could be a few minor tweaks over time, but it's more or less edited to the best of our ability. Print copies are coming soon!)

astreas cover.jpg
 

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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Just -look- at it.

That is a cover that belongs to Amazing Stories and Weird Tales.

The interior art? Follows the same style. The whole book is just -dripping- with the power and majesty of Conan and Kull and more than a little Elric.

The SORCERY.

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Sickly green flames and purple tinted darkness clash with noble fire's lively orange hues representing the natural against the unnatural in stunning visual form.

The CHARACTERS

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Evocative titles hearkening back to an earlier era of fantasy, their style and identity following suit while maintaining clean modern character blocks.

I'm picking up my copy, now.

When are you getting yours?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
To be 100% clear:

I am not being paid for this endorsement. I'm not being cajoled. This won't put a scrap of paper in my pocket or a chance at a writing job on my plate.

I just -sincerely- believe that this is freaking cool and want to see more of it, so I'm encouraging everyone I can to buy it so we get more of it in time.

And now that I get to see what's really inside? My opinion remains the same. The story itself is dripping with High Adventure style. There's full page art-prints which bear a first person retelling of events or dreams or thoughts in beautiful purple prose. Everything about it -feels- Epic and Fantastical.

The guide to creating thematic characters in the setting is pretty great, too.

The adventure itself takes up about half the book (the middle half!) and is a fairly straightforward story that's pretty much laid out like a 1980s Sword and Sorcery film. Lots of lurid descriptions, thick history that worldbuilds behind the DM Screen, and not a lot of specific scripted encounters.

Sure, you have to reach X location to do Y thing, but there's a lot of expectation on the DM to fill in the travel sequences with interesting encounters and cool concepts that the setting and adventure provide the framework for. This isn't a hand-holding train-ride through the countryside, even though it has specific goals to achieve.

No spoilers... but your players will take on titles just as cool as the NPCs, and the NPCs in the game specifically (Scripted) refer to the party by titles which gives some weight to the PCs being as important to the world, which is so simple but also great. None of this "Adventurer" nonsense where you're some interchangeable face from a guild.

This adventure? Looks like a ton of fun. Might run it for some friends in an A5e game. Might just keep it to mine for ideas for my own adventures... but it is glorious.
 
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Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
Thanks! In the adventure, I basically want you to play as Conan or Elric, and not be relegated to just a wimpy adventurer in a tavern. But it's not a super-hero adventure, there should still be plenty of dangerous encounters.
 

dave2008

Legend
This looks interesting. I do have a questions: Are there any new rules or mechanics to reflect the S&S feel or is it just story and fluff?
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
This looks interesting. I do have a questions: Are there any new rules or mechanics to reflect the S&S feel or is it just story and fluff?
There are! I don't break the core 5E mechanics too much, that's not what it's about, but:

-We have strict time keeping requirements. Every day, inside or outside the game, a marauding army of pig-faced orc-like monsters invades the continent. The DM populates these invasion zones by hexgrid. Eventually, the party could have nowhere else to turn, and they'd be overrun. We include a special worksheet for the DM to keep track of this invasion throughout the campaign.
-Hireling(s). We include a fleshed out henchman/hireling that the players can send to accomplish tasks for them, with random charts to determine the result. The players can also potentially step into his shoes during downtime for off-schedule roleplaying opportunities.
-Permanent death. If a character dies in Astreas, due to an intense corruption of the spirit, no resurrection is possible.
-Wilderness travel. The players will disembark on foot into a harsh wasteland upon the start of the adventure. Keeping track of things like food and water might be important!

Just a few examples.
 

dave2008

Legend
There are! I don't break the core 5E mechanics too much, that's not what it's about, but:

-We have strict time keeping requirements. Every day, inside or outside the game, a marauding army of pig-faced orc-like monsters invades the continent. The DM populates these invasion zones by hexgrid. Eventually, the party could have nowhere else to turn, and they'd be overrun. We include a special worksheet for the DM to keep track of this invasion throughout the campaign.
-Hireling(s). We include a fleshed out henchman/hireling that the players can send to accomplish tasks for them, with random charts to determine the result. The players can also potentially step into his shoes during downtime for off-schedule roleplaying opportunities.
-Permanent death. If a character dies in Astreas, due to an intense corruption of the spirit, no resurrection is possible.
-Wilderness travel. The players will disembark on foot into a harsh wasteland upon the start of the adventure. Keeping track of things like food and water might be important!

Just a few examples.
Thanks for the reply!
 

It's not a comment of this adventure, but I don't really understand why people associate Sword and Sorcery with increased lethality. I've read all the Conan stories, and never felt he was in serious danger of dying, even fighting Not-Cthulhu. Elric may have died a few times, but he always managed to come back.
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
It's not a comment of this adventure, but I don't really understand why people associate Sword and Sorcery with increased lethality. I've read all the Conan stories, and never felt he was in serious danger of dying, even fighting Not-Cthulhu. Elric may have died a few times, but he always managed to come back.
I mostly agree, but there's a certain logic behind this, especially from the OSR crowd. Early D&D was inspired by sword & sorcery -> early D&D was more lethal -> sword & sorcery as a theme must be more lethal.

Conan was a superhero. In fact, he inspired a lot of early Marvel superhero comics. He wasn't a hapless toadie who would die to a bandit's poking stick. But he wasn't a character in a wargame, either. If the average medieval warrior were thrust into Conan's world, they probably would die, and very quickly at that.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I wouldn't say that Conan -was- a Superhero... he is, now, obviously.

But in the actual works he's often terrified and incredibly lucky. Take the Scarlet Citadel, for example.

Trapped in a magical dungeon full of demons and weirdness, A guy who secretly hates Conan for getting his brother killed during Conan's pirating days (Under the name Amra) brings the keys and toys with Conan, offering him the keys for a price. There's no price. He's just being cruel before killing the chained up Conan who can't escape. As he's preparing to kill Conan a giant snake appears from deeper in the dungeon, wraps the guy up, and snaps his bones. Conan snags the dropped keys and unshackles himself as the constrictor consumes his would be killer.

Shruekli, the Sorcerer's servant, tries to bar Conan in but gets stabbed through the bars when Conan grabs the dead guy's sword, so he lucks out there, grabs a torch, and tries to find his way out. He hears weeping and figures there must be a buxom babe in the dungeon so he follows it and finds a tentacle monster gooball.

In classic Conan fashion, armed with a sword and torch, Conan flees in terror, trips, drops his torch, gets up, runs blindly into the darkness in a wild panic, then realizes he's utterly lost.

This is -not- a Superhero, folks.

He wanders through the darkness and feels an invisible presence coming up from a pit in the darkness, so he runs away. Then in the darkness he feels the invisible presence engulfing him. So he runs away.

Then he manages to find the torch he dropped, still burning embers, relights it, and finds the Sorcerer Pelias making out with a demon-plant that is slowly siphoning his life away. He cuts the plant's stem and frees the sorcerer who helps lead him to safety by summoning a Bat Demon.

Conan kills precisely four (4) people in the entire story. The servant who tried to slam the door on him, a false-king who tries to take Aquilonia from him, the Kothian king who tried to put the usurper on the throne, and a sorcerer who is frail and weak aside from his magic.

Each fight is essentially one-hit kills, just like the Serpent killing the guy who wanted to kill Conan. He stabs the servant, he pushes the usurper off a wall, he stabs the king, and he beheads the sorcerer.

Yeah, in the end, he kills three dudes back to back with little effort, but none of them are warriors. It's like a 5th level barbarian killing some CR 1/2 bandits.
 


GuyBoy

Hero
One of the great S&S combinations of lucking out and warrior badass-ery was in (IIRC) “a witch shall be born” where crucified Conan bites the head off an attacking vulture, but would have died had Olgerd Vladislav not happened by with his bandits.
 

That's funny, because I'm pretty sure I watched Ms Marvel running in terror and lucking out only last night.

Even superheroes face things they can't handle once in a while. ;)

I think the original point is valid, though--Conan is a human in peak physical condition (with a fair amount of guile and common sense, often forgotten) with no supernatural powers. He's a hero, not a superhero, in common parlance.

And, that's part of the fantasy--you could be Conan, theoretically, if you spent all day working out at the gym and didn't have to make a living. ;)

(As opposed to the ancient Greek conception where he'd have some divine parentage, or the little brown book one where he never made it past 4th level. ;) )
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
One of the great S&S combinations of lucking out and warrior badass-ery was in (IIRC) “a witch shall be born” where crucified Conan bites the head off an attacking vulture, but would have died had Olgerd Vladislav not happened by with his bandits.
A scene repeated in the movie! The same story has this passage:

“I never saw a man fight as Conan fought. He put his back to the courtyard wall, and before they overpowered him the dead men were strewn in heaps thigh-deep about him. But at last they dragged him down, a hundred against one.”
 

It's not a comment of this adventure, but I don't really understand why people associate Sword and Sorcery with increased lethality. I've read all the Conan stories, and never felt he was in serious danger of dying, even fighting Not-Cthulhu. Elric may have died a few times, but he always managed to come back.

I think part of it's a reaction against the decreased lethality of modern D&D. People who don't like that tend to be people who have played the older versions, and those tend to be people who have read the source material due to generational factors. But those are tendencies and demographic averages--there are definitely younger people who have discovered Howard and want to play OSR games. Basically, age, desire for a higher-risk version of D&D, and taste for the old S&S fiction are correlated, but they don't always go together. There are always people who don't fit the stereotypes.
 

Even superheroes face things they can't handle once in a while. ;)

I think the original point is valid, though--Conan is a human in peak physical condition (with a fair amount of guile and common sense, often forgotten) with no supernatural powers. He's a hero, not a superhero, in common parlance.

And, that's part of the fantasy--you could be Conan, theoretically, if you spent all day working out at the gym and didn't have to make a living. ;)

(As opposed to the ancient Greek conception where he'd have some divine parentage, or the little brown book one where he never made it past 4th level. ;) )
The thing that sets Conan apart is not his strength or combat skills, it's his ridiculous luck and plot armour of invulnerability. The same stuff some guy who is good at building stuff uses to defeat Thanos.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
You're largely right about that, @Blue Orange! But also: He's a Philosopher and a poet.

Because Howard was an early pioneer of Existential philosophy in an easily communicable format he was written to be a great many things. Slap a utility belt on that bad boy and he could be Batman minus the actually being good at solving mysteries and acrobatics and... nevermind.

But.

There is a second reason that Conan could never truly be a Superhero in the original works: He lacks Super Morality.

There's a reason Batman stopped killing people when he got his own comic book line, and it was the big concept that separated Superheroes from regular heroes, war heroes, and other characters from comics at the time. The idea of being super-moral. It's why Supes didn't kill, either. Green Lantern, Spider-Man, all of 'em.

Conan can't be a Superhero for real because he lacks that. He kills, he chews black lotus, he commits acts of sexual assault. He unleashes his rage and kills a Magistrate and Guards just doing their duty because he doesn't wanna go to jail for covering for his criminal buddy.
 

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