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5E Free 60+ page Guide to Sword & Sorcery for 5E D&D

aramis erak

Adventurer
While the writing is, at first skim, good, I'd rather see less nudity.

I run in public space (at the FLGS) and kids routinely show up. To use it, I'd have to relayout the player facing sections.

Plus, lots of nipples, no phalluses (phalli?)... which would annoy my largely LGBTQ player base due to discriminatory objectification.
 

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CapnZapp

Legend
TBH, most everything about a genre emulating retrograde 1930's values would annoy someone expecting progressive, modern values.

The issue isn't even "but can't you design a Sword & Sorcery game that doesn't offend?"

Of course you can.

Just as long as you don't impose on others the requirement for their S&S games to be updated to modern sensibilities. To some S&S aficionados (many even, I would think) the throw-back to a decidedly not-modern age is precisely what draws you to the genre.

Xoth clearly likes his S&S where men are mighty, and women are voluptuous. How do I know that? Because that's literally the exact words used in the introduction. Not featuring illustrations that evoke the setting would have reduced the product in my mind.

This is, at least for me, a genre that is steeped in racism, sexism and elitism. Does this mean I'm objectively wrong and that the game should be withdrawn? Of course not. Just like someone might visit a S&M club, you don't have to. Just play another game, and problem solved! :)
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Crits double ALL damage dice, which includes things like Sneak Attack dice. I guess it's not as bad since paladins don't exist in the world but my concern it will cause unforeseen consequences and big swings in combat (especially boss battles).

Additionally, I don't believe there are any mechanics in the game that trigger automatic crits, aside from the paralyzed condition.
It's intended to "cause big swings in combat", that's the purpose of a Battle Cry! :)

That said, I'm going to adjust this so that Battle Cry has a range of 30 feet and only applies to each ally's first hit in the round, and Improved Battle Cry increases the range to 60 feet and applies to all hits in the round.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Thanks for all the input on the topic of "races" vs ethnicities, tribes, nations, etc. I've decided to keep the original term in the "Races of Xoth" chapter, as that's a term all D&D players are familiar with, and I trust the mature audience this book is intended for to understand that the term isn't used to promote racism.

I'll tweak the text in the chapter heading slightly to emphasize that these "races" are all (the same) humans with the same base statistics.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
This is, at least for me, a genre that is steeped in racism, sexism and elitism. Does this mean I'm objectively wrong and that the game should be withdrawn? Of course not. Just like someone might visit a S&M club, you don't have to. Just play another game, and problem solved! :)
For those of you who have access to one or more of the Xoth adventure modules (XP1 to XP4), you'll know that they contain a disclaimer under the heading "A word to the wise":

Disclaimer from previous Xoth books said:
This book makes occasional references to mature themes such as human sacrifice, slavery, drugs, racism and perverted sexuality. Such themes, which are staples of the sword and sorcery genre, are simply assumed to be unpleasant but undeniable facts of life in the grim fantasy world described.
The sensible reader should quickly note that these themes are not the focus of the book; they are not explored in-depth, nor are they used gratuitously.
Remember that this is a work of fiction, and stuff in this book should not be taken as an endorsement of these things in the real world. That said, let’s get on with the game.
I'm going to include the same disclaimer in the Player's Guide as well.
 

S'mon

Legend
Thanks for all the input on the topic of "races" vs ethnicities, tribes, nations, etc. I've decided to keep the original term in the "Races of Xoth" chapter, as that's a term all D&D players are familiar with, and I trust the mature audience this book is intended for to understand that the term isn't used to promote racism.

I'll tweak the text in the chapter heading slightly to emphasize that these "races" are all (the same) humans with the same base statistics.
Seems reasonable.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
I'm going to discuss that disclaimer of Xoth's, but out of respect that this is an aside, I'm again going to do so within spoiler tags.

Disclaimer from previous Xoth books said:
This book makes occasional references to mature themes such as human sacrifice, slavery, drugs, racism and perverted sexuality. Such themes, which are staples of the sword and sorcery genre, are simply assumed to be unpleasant but undeniable facts of life in the grim fantasy world described.
The sensible reader should quickly note that these themes are not the focus of the book; they are not explored in-depth, nor are they used gratuitously.
Remember that this is a work of fiction, and stuff in this book should not be taken as an endorsement of these things in the real world. That said, let’s get on with the game.
Well, sure, they're not the focus of the book. But, unlike regular fantasy, S&S sources visit these mature themes over and over again. As you say, they're staples of the genre. This should tell you something.

And now I'm gonna tell y'all what that is :)

To me it would come across as disingenuous to not simply admit that there is definite allure in exploring them; just like any other forbidden fruit. Intellectual honesty then demands that you admit that yes, you are prioritizing your foci in a way that would not sit well with someone with a personal history of slavery or sexism or prejudice.

I guess I just want it out in the open: you play S&S (as opposed to vanilla fantasy) for pretty much the same base reasons you watch a sleazy horror movie. Why otherwise include free availability of nekkid slave girls or feature busty snake godesses as frenemies, or what about the puerile power fantasy that is playing a muscle mountain that crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women?

What I'm getting is that instead of pretending this isn't motivating me ("these themes are not the focus of the book; they are not explored in-depth, nor are they used gratuitously") I instead make the very reasonable request that nobody get personally offended by me watching said sleazy horror movie. Or that said movie even exists. Just don't rent stream it!

Issues over sensitivity has gotten out of hand to the point where I likely wouldn't even be allowed to discuss this at a certain other rpg forum on the net. Because they would interpret my interest in a S&S game as personally insulting or belittling them, when that is absolutely not the case. Just as it's nobody's business what movies I stream.

Moreover, I feel I need to point out that a S&S game where everybody is treated equally regardless of gender, race or personal beliefs is... just not S&S for me. Those "staples" really make or break the genre.

That obviously does not mean I condone racism or slavery or violence against women. (Even having to say it is tiresome to say the least)

It only means I occasionally want to play a rpg without having to scrub out racism, slavery and NPCs suffering violence and degradation - all things that has happened, is happening, and things that are appropriate to create a gritty mature setting. Not as "the focus" of the game, as in "the PCs are hired to kidnap Princess Jasmine and then spend the session detailing the various debasing treatments they have in store for her."

But I can't say it's just scenery either. As I said, these mature themes aren't just mentioned once by the rulebook and then never visited again.

One of the featured adventures features a girl who actively wants to birth a spider god. I'm sorry for having to say it, but if that isn't a nod to allure, to forbidden fruits (read "tentacle porn"), I don't know what is.

Just dropping that fact and then moving on as if it was just "unpleasant but undeniable facts of life" is not telling the whole truth. The truth is that this IS the driver of, no not the game as a whole, but certainly that adventure - the players are asked to actively engage with it, take a stand and decide how they judge this girl.

So let us not pretend that S&S will not upset people that are sensitive to, say, crude depictions of "mighty" heroes and "voluptuous" heroines, and what this says about people that are neither mighty nor voluptuous - and more to the point: people that want to play heroes that are neither mighty or voluptuous, perhaps because they identify as neither. Yes, if you're LBGT (to pick an example from up-thread) you are asked to enter a world that does not explore or even acknowledge this. Some people can handle the separation, others can't. Or won't.

S&S is a lot of great things. S&S is larger than life. S&S is sweaty, colorful, unrestrained and wild. But let's rip off the band-aid and get it over with - let's simply admit S&S is not about sensitivity and inclusiveness!

"That said, let’s get on with the game." - Right on!
 
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Yaarel

Adventurer
Interesting perspective, I've never thought of it that way. But what do you do with the Druid then?

The way I've implemented it, by using the Bard as a basis for another "social" class, gives one more option for PCs, not one less.
The main difference between Bard and Druid is, the Druid will have more elemental magic − fire, lightning, stone, metal, water. This actually makes the Druid less like a shaman and more like an alchemist (whether a European, Arabian, or Chinese alchemist).

In comparison, the Bard magic is more subtle − and more shamanic − which is better for a low magic setting.

I would reserve the Druid for situations where you need its over-the-top flashy magic.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
The main difference between Bard and Druid is
Do you have an answer to Xoth's question: If the Bard is reskinned as the Shaman, what would you reskin the Druid as?

I mean, Xoth obviously prefers to "activate" both classes.

While I agree Bard > Shaman makes a certain sense, the advantage of Bard > Courtier (which certainly makes sense as well) is that you can have a role for the Druid too (even if I agree the Shaman isn't a perfect fit for a D&D Druid).
 

ZeroSum

Canadian Barbarian
To be frank, I'd say most 5e classes would need some tweaking to make them really fit a pure sword and sorcery setting as opposed to the more traditional high fantasy D&D world. But then again I'll be translating any future Xoth publications to Barbarians of Lemuria so it's not that important to me. :)
 

ZeroSum

Canadian Barbarian
Also, I would like to request that Crom spare you any and all Dooms he may have had in store for you in recognition of the fact that new Xoth stuff is on the way.
 

Yaarel

Adventurer
Do you have an answer to Xoth's question: If the Bard is reskinned as the Shaman, what would you reskin the Druid as?

I mean, Xoth obviously prefers to "activate" both classes.

While I agree Bard > Shaman makes a certain sense, the advantage of Bard > Courtier (which certainly makes sense as well) is that you can have a role for the Druid too (even if I agree the Shaman isn't a perfect fit for a D&D Druid).
Note, the Xoth pdf says there is no Bard class in the setting, and the Druid serves as a shaman. In this case, drop the Druid and use the Bard instead for the shaman. College of Lore is a decent choice of a Bard for a wiseone of a ‘Savage’ or ‘Nomadic’ indigenous community.



Keep in mind, the 5e Bard is a full caster and might be too magical for most kinds of courtiers. The Xoth pdf creates a new semi-magic class called a Courtier, including the Seducer subclass, that seems to me a reasonable amount of magic for this kind of character concept.

If there is some kind of powerfully magical leader or courtier, yeah, use a Bard here too. The College of Whispers seems great for ‘Decadent’, and a maybe a College of Swords for ‘Civilized’.



With regard to the Druid, reskin it as a kind of courtly alchemist in an ‘Enlightened’ technologically sophisticated culture. It can make sense that a powerful noble of a powerful city-state, would patron someone who knows the secrets of a flashy magic. And this courtly Druid might have apprentices who go on errands (to find ingredients, uncover magical secrets, test magical skills, or so on), who might be player characters. These Druids would be rare, but they would know who each other are.

There is no Wizard or Sorcerer. So the Druid and the Warlock are the two ‘high magic’ classes of the urbanized cultures. It can be interesting if their flavors contrast each other.

This is where the Warlock class fits in:
"Magic is generally feared, and most magicians are associated with dark curses, evil gods and unbearable secrets which «Man Was Not Meant To Know»."

This is where the Druid class can fit in:
"(but not all)"

The Druid can be more in tune with the processes of nature, perhaps even in a protoscientific way, whereas the Warlock is more in violation of nature.

In any case, this is true for both Warlock and Druid:
"The select few who are able to use magic and cast spells guard their secrets jealously and attempt to use it to their advantage, often to the detriment of others, and sometimes also to themselves."
 
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xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
the Druid will have more elemental magic − fire, lightning, stone, metal, water. This actually makes the Druid less like a shaman and more like an alchemist (whether a European, Arabian, or Chinese alchemist).
I'm not convinced that the actual druid spell list ( Druid Spells - 5th Edition SRD ) supports this viewpoint. Apart from a few fire-related spells such as flame blade, flaming sphere, etc. (which the GM is free to ban under the general rule against "artillery spells" if he feels they are too flashy, although I would not personally do that), the druid spells are mostly nature-related (dealing with animals, plants, weather), so that fits a shaman very well.

I don't see what pass without trace, call lightning, blight, insect plague, etc, etc have to do with alchemy, and even less with a "courtly, urbanized alchemist" ?
 

FXR

Explorer
Dear Xoth,

I've been a long-time fans of your products, having bought both XP1 and XP2. They all inspired to some extant my own S&S setting.

So here are my comments about some of the rules featured in your 5e edition guide.

On general

I humbly suggest you read again the 5e rules. Some of your rules seem to be based on how 3e &D worked and not on how 5e's actual rules, which are quite different.

Instant Death.

I would do away with this rule, which add nothing to the game and can actually goes against some of the usual themes of S&S.

The 5e rules already state that the GM decide if an NPC that hit 0 hp or lower dies or can survive. So no rule is necessary for that. As for PCs, many S&S protagonists take quite a beating and come back to life afterwards, which, in the context of D&D 5e, mean that they succeeded on their death saving throws.

You should replace it with the optional Massive Damage rule in the DM Guide.

Healing

Characters heal fast in S&S. To model this and not mess with the duration of short and long rests), I suggest that creatures who use a hit dice should regain the maximum value of the hit dice + their Con modifier.

Don't forget that hit points are not really meat points, but " a combination of physical and mental durability, the will to live, and luck" (see PHB), which S&S recover quite fast.

Races

I would keep the word which fits the historical context of the birth of S&S. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, races was often used as a synonym of "people of a certain ancestry" and didn't refer to skin color.

Cultures

I would replace the bow-legged disadvantage from the nomadic cultures. In many real nomadic cultures, which some inspired Xoth's races, people actually walked a lot.

Isn't there some overlap between Savage and Nomadic?

Classes

I don't see the Conqueror as necessary. The Purple Dragon Knight and a feat can attain the same result.

Weapons

The rapier in a S&S iron age setting? really?

D&D 5e use very small modifiers. A steel weapon should count as a magical weapon, not a +1 magical weapon. Unlike other editions, 5e doesn't tie the numeral bonus of a magic item to résistances and immunities.

I'll try to give additional comments when I get the time.
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
I've been a long-time fans of your products, having bought both XP1 and XP2. They all inspired to some extant my own S&S setting.
Thanks!

I humbly suggest you read again the 5e rules. Some of your rules seem to be based on how 3e &D worked and not on how 5e's actual rules, which are quite different.
Sure, the book was originally written for 3E/Pathfinder so there may still be some Pathfinder leftovers that need to be excised. That said, none of your comments below seem to indicate any actual violations of 5E rules as such, they seem more to be suggestions as to how you would handle things differently?

Instant Death:
I would do away with this rule, which add nothing to the game and can actually goes against some of the usual themes of S&S.
This has been discussed before in this thread, and the text has been revised to make it clear that this is indeed an optional rule and not assumed by default.

Characters heal fast in S&S. To model this and not mess with the duration of short and long rests), I suggest that creatures who use a hit dice should regain the maximum value of the hit dice + their Con modifier.
The Player's Guide states that the 5E healing should remain unchanged, because they already work well for S&S gaming with hit dice being used to heal during short rests. You as the GM can certainly boost that even more by maxing out the hit dice healing. A house rule I'm using myself is that a long rest will recover all spent hit dice (not just half as per the core rules), this is done both to reduce bookkeeping and to accelerate healing.

I would replace the bow-legged disadvantage from the nomadic cultures. In many real nomadic cultures, which some inspired Xoth's races, people actually walked a lot.

Isn't there some overlap between Savage and Nomadic?
The description of the Nomadic culture underscores how animals are important to the nomads, so these are assumed to be pastoral nomads who own livestock and are nomadic because they move around with their animals. For the purposes of the game, most are assumed to be mounted (on horses, camels, donkeys, zebras, giant lizards, whatever).

Hunter-gatherers (on foot) can also be nomadic, of course, but these would more likely use the Savage archetype rather than the Nomadic archetype.

Of course, nothing prevents a house rule from giving a different disadvantage to the Nomadic archetype.

I don't see the Conqueror as necessary. The Purple Dragon Knight and a feat can attain the same result.
Perhaps, but the Purple Dragon Knight is a fighter subtype from a Forgotten Realms supplement. It wouldn't be very helpful or appropriate for the Player's Guide to the World of Xoth to just say "use the Purple Dragon Knight and add a feat..."

The rapier in a S&S iron age setting? really?
That is a leftover from the bard, it will be removed from the text. Thanks for pointing that out.

D&D 5e use very small modifiers. A steel weapon should count as a magical weapon, not a +1 magical weapon. Unlike other editions, 5e doesn't tie the numeral bonus of a magic item to résistances and immunities.
I like the idea of "basic" steel weapons being equivalent to magic items without any bonuses. That means that special steel weapons (ie steel blades from Elder Kuth and other lost empires) could give the +1 bonus. Text will be revised.
 

CapnZapp

Legend
This has been discussed before in this thread, and the text has been revised to make it clear that this is indeed an optional rule and not assumed by default.
Add my vote to the notion that the actual improvement comes from removing the instant rule altogether, as opposed to merely making it optional. After all - any material in a specialist player's guide like comes with an inherent recommendation (why otherwise be there), and S&S isn't really gritty in the WFRP sense (at least not for the heroes).
 

ZeroSum

Canadian Barbarian
Odd nitpick: is there a reason the Fertility Charm spell doesn't give the 5e equivalent of the Endurance Feat like the PF version did? The idea of adventurers having stuff like this cast on them for reasons completely unrelated to the intended purpose just tickles my fancy. 😁
 

xoth.publishing

Swords against tentacles!
Odd nitpick: is there a reason the Fertility Charm spell doesn't give the 5e equivalent of the Endurance Feat like the PF version did?
No reason other than there not really being a direct 5E equivalent, and in the interest of simplifying the rules in the spirit of 5E. You could houserule it back in by giving advantage to relevant ability checks?
 


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