D&D 5E Less than 48 hours left! A huge sword & sorcery adventure for 5E is live on Kickstarter!

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
The Kickstarter for our next book has launched! The Doom that Came to Astreas, a huge new sword & sorcery adventure and setting guide! The Chronicles of Aeres: The Doom that Came to Astreas

Technically an expansion for our setting, the Chronicles of Aeres, the Doom that Came to Astreas is going to be a nearly 200-page end-to-end campaign for players starting at level 6-7. Half of the book will be devoted to the setting, a cursed wasteland of an island called Astreas, inhabited by strange beast-like races who were once human, and lorded over by the dominion of an indomitable Sorceress Queen. The other half is an adventure ready to run. Astreas will combine open-world exploration with clear objectives; as a mutant army sweeps across the land, players will need to be strategic about which destinations they explore (and for how long!)

Sword & sorcery roots are fully bared here, and we're including and encouraging many rules to help make the adventure a more old-school experience, like permanent death, strict timekeeping, and the use of henchmen. We're also including pre-generated heroes who are crucial to the saga, kings and queens of Astreas whom you can play as, or insert into the campaign as powerful NPCs!

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overgeeked

B/X Known World
The art does look fantastic. Definitely Sword & Sorcery.

I’m not sure 5E can do Sword & Sorcery justice without a lot of changes.

Any elevator pitch on the changes you’ve made to the core 5E mechanics to more closely emulate the Sword & Sorcery genre?
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
The art does look fantastic. Definitely Sword & Sorcery.

I’m not sure 5E can do Sword & Sorcery justice without a lot of changes.

Any elevator pitch on the changes you’ve made to the core 5E mechanics to more closely emulate the Sword & Sorcery genre?

Well, pulp fantasy (at least of the Conan and Elric variety) has always included larger-than-life, legendary heroes wading into battle against insurmountable odds, and winning with life and limb intact. So in this case, 5E is probably a suitable ruleset for it in many ways. ;P

However, we dedicate a segment of the book on emphasizing a variety of rules for making the campaign a deadlier experience a bit closer to the old school. It's no "5E Hardcode Mode," but we suggest:

  • Strict timekeeping: The players don't have unlimited time, since a perilous horde of bloodthirsty monsters is rampaging across the continent. Eventually, every free space will be overwhelmed and the campaign will be lost. So, the DM will need to keep track of how long the players are taking to do things. Loiter too long wasting time in one area, and it could have dangerous consequences. The DM can also freely move and expand the horde during downtime if they wish (an optional rule.) This helps add urgency. It also leads to:
  • Enforced travel rules: Although the PCs have a "home base" that they can return to, and an expedient way to do so, Astreas is mostly a deadly wasteland, so wilderness travel rules (including rations and rest) should be encouraged. The adventure is broken up by regions overlaid with hexgrids.
  • No Resurrection: Astreas is a cursed land and if you die, your spirit is corrupted. You cannot be resurrected. Even if one of the legendary heroes of the story dies, so be it.
  • Aether: Our original setting guide includes a rule for how "aether," an invisible miasma whose presence empowers magic, can be used to severely limit the capabilities of magic-users in the game. We reiterate those rules here.
  • Henchmen: The PCs will be immediately presented with a (seemingly loyal) minion whom they can use to perform tasks for them, even during downtime. In fact, his presence might help streamline downtime for the players and reduce the bloat of doing things like shopping for rations, munitions, etc. We have charts to help randomize what your henchman does (he might betray you), or you can treat him as an NPC fully at your command.
  • Alignment: The races of Astreas represent aspects of the alignment wheel explicitly and we encourage roleplaying to this effect. The barbarians, concerned with both glory and vengeance, are driven to conquering the evil that threatens Astreas, but only for their own freedom, and not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. The raptor-like Sliskvir, on the other hand, are burdened with instinctual bloodlust and act impulsively, often with cruelty and a disdain for weakness.
 
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overgeeked

B/X Known World
Well, pulp fantasy (at least of the Conan and Elric variety) has always included larger-than-life, legendary heroes wading into battle against insurmountable odds, and winning with life and limb intact. So in this case, 5E is probably a suitable ruleset for it in many ways. ;P

However, we dedicate a segment of the book on emphasizing a variety of rules for making the campaign a deadlier experience a bit closer to the old school. It's no "5E Hardcode Mode," but we suggest:

  • Strict timekeeping: The players don't have unlimited time, since a perilous horde of bloodthirsty monsters is rampaging across the continent. Eventually, every free space will be overwhelmed and the campaign will be lost. So, the DM will need to keep track of how long the players are taking to do things. Loiter too long wasting time in one area, and it could have dangerous consequences. The DM can also freely move and expand the horde during downtime if they wish (an optional rule.) This helps add urgency. It also leads to:
  • Enforced travel rules: Although the PCs have a "home base" that they can return to, and an expedient way to do so, Astreas is mostly a deadly wasteland, so wilderness travel rules (including rations and rest) should be encouraged. The adventure is broken up by regions overlaid with hexgrids.
  • No Resurrection: Astreas is a cursed land and if you die, your spirit is corrupted. You cannot be resurrected. Even if one of the legendary heroes of the story dies, so be it.
  • Aether: Our original setting guide includes a rule for how "aether," an invisible miasma whose presence empowers magic, can be used to severely limit the capabilities of magic-users in the game. We reiterate those rules here.
  • Henchmen: The PCs will be immediately presented with a (seemingly loyal) minion whom they can use to perform tasks for them, even during downtime. In fact, his presence might help streamline downtime for the players and reduce the bloat of doing things like shopping for rations, munitions, etc. We have charts to help randomize what your henchman does (he might betray you), or you can treat him as an NPC fully at your command.
  • Alignment: The races of Astreas represent aspects of the alignment wheel explicitly and we encourage roleplaying to this effect. The barbarians, concerned with both glory and vengeance, are driven to conquering the evil that threatens Astreas, but only for their own freedom, and not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. The raptor-like Sliskvir, on the other hand, are burdened with instinctual bloodlust and act impulsively, often with cruelty and a disdain for weakness.
Thanks for the summary.
 









Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
Is there a module that takes PCs from levels 1-7 to get to this adventure. Perhaps a stretch goal?
I don't think that'd be feasible to add with our timeframe and budget, unfortunately. There is a ton of history and backstory in the book, however. More than enough to help flesh out your PC, if you choose not to be one of the pre-written legendary heroes.
 

ART!

Legend
However, we dedicate a segment of the book on emphasizing a variety of rules for making the campaign a deadlier experience a bit closer to the old school. It's no "5E Hardcode Mode," but we suggest:

  • Strict timekeeping: The players don't have unlimited time, since a perilous horde of bloodthirsty monsters is rampaging across the continent. Eventually, every free space will be overwhelmed and the campaign will be lost. So, the DM will need to keep track of how long the players are taking to do things. Loiter too long wasting time in one area, and it could have dangerous consequences. The DM can also freely move and expand the horde during downtime if they wish (an optional rule.) This helps add urgency. It also leads to:
  • Enforced travel rules: Although the PCs have a "home base" that they can return to, and an expedient way to do so, Astreas is mostly a deadly wasteland, so wilderness travel rules (including rations and rest) should be encouraged. The adventure is broken up by regions overlaid with hexgrids.
  • No Resurrection: Astreas is a cursed land and if you die, your spirit is corrupted. You cannot be resurrected. Even if one of the legendary heroes of the story dies, so be it.
  • Aether: Our original setting guide includes a rule for how "aether," an invisible miasma whose presence empowers magic, can be used to severely limit the capabilities of magic-users in the game. We reiterate those rules here.
  • Henchmen: The PCs will be immediately presented with a (seemingly loyal) minion whom they can use to perform tasks for them, even during downtime. In fact, his presence might help streamline downtime for the players and reduce the bloat of doing things like shopping for rations, munitions, etc. We have charts to help randomize what your henchman does (he might betray you), or you can treat him as an NPC fully at your command.
  • Alignment: The races of Astreas represent aspects of the alignment wheel explicitly and we encourage roleplaying to this effect. The barbarians, concerned with both glory and vengeance, are driven to conquering the evil that threatens Astreas, but only for their own freedom, and not necessarily out of the goodness of their hearts. The raptor-like Sliskvir, on the other hand, are burdened with instinctual bloodlust and act impulsively, often with cruelty and a disdain for weakness.
@Accaris can you get into how or why you see these items as keys to capturing an S&S flavor? I'm not suggesting you're wrong for saying these are the things to focus on, but they don't make sense to me, and I want to understand your approach.
 

Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
@Accaris can you get into how or why you see these items as keys to capturing an S&S flavor? I'm not suggesting you're wrong for saying these are the things to focus on, but they don't make sense to me, and I want to understand your approach.
Well, they're certainly not essential by any means. These are optional rules in the book (with maybe the exception of the stricter timekeeping... the marauding horde is pretty central to this campaign).

The thing is, many people seem to equate "sword & sorcery" with a kind of "OSR" or B/X style of gameplay (because D&D was originally inspired by Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, etc.) So I wanted to add a few things to bring the gameplay closer to that style. Of course it's not completely possible to go "all the way" in 5th Edition without heavy modifications to the rules.

To me, sword & sorcery is really a specific flavor, atmosphere, and aesthetic combined with an internal worldview, mainly the idea of the decadence and downfall of civilization and characters carving their own paths in the world. Astreas captures an idea of a doomed land where kingdoms have been cursed and what little civilization remains is crumbling, opening the door for heroes to make a name for themselves. But in TTRPG terms, it's hard to divorce what has become the expectation of sword & sorcery gameplay from sword & sorcery flavor.

People accuse 5E of being a kind of "superhero" style of gameplay, like a Marvel movie, with the insinuation that such a thing is incompatible with sword & sorcery. But S&S pulp stories were rife with larger-than-life superheroes who waded into combat defeating scores of foes while suffering barely a scratch. Conan faced gods, demons, even death himself, and Elric was the most powerful sorcerer who ever lived.
 
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Accaris

Explorer
Publisher
A little late and not a lot, but I love your stuff, Greg. Backed.
Thanks a lot! It's very tough writing such a huge adventure! Our ratfolk book was 1/4 this size. I also want to mention that I read your "Existentialist Sword & Sorcery" topic, and I want to say that Astreas already includes some of these ideas, along with many more traditional, pulp-fiction ones!
 
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