Let's Read Sword World 2.5!


Continuing the Magic section of the Data chapter...

Holy Magic
This is your typical cleric support and healing magic, in Sword World wielded only by those with the Priest skill package. Although not as distinct as the domains of 5e, depending on which deity the Priest is a devotee of, they get Special Holy Magic: spells unique to that deity.

Level 1: Sanity (removes the effect of spells affecting the mind), Banish (random ill effects for Barboros and undead), Field Protection (area effect; those who receive it take -1 damage for 18 rounds)

Level 2: Awaken (awakens unconscious 0 or negative HP characters with 1 HP), Cure Wounds (medium power healing), Detect Faith (caster learns who a priest is a devotee to, and the characteristics of that deity)

Level 3: Cure Blindness (self-explanatory), Cure Poison (self-explanatory), Field Resist (-3 damage from a specified property), Force (basic damage spell)

Level 4: Sacred Weapon (cast on 1 targer for +1 to-hit, +2 damage vs Barboros and undead), Sacred Shield (-3 physical damage from Barboros and undead), Faith Indicate (suppresses Special Holy Magic)

Level 5: Cure Disease (self-explanatory), Cure Hurt (most powerful healing magic in Rulebook I), Transfer Mana Points (transfers casters own mana points to another), Holy Light (damage spell vs undead)

Level 6: Bless (temporary +6 to one of Dexterity, Agility, Strength, or Constitution), Holy Cradle (target recovers from a 3 hour sleep as much as from a 6 hour sleep), Remove Curse (self-explanatory)

Special Holy Magic
Lyfos, the Ancestor God

Level 2: Search Barbaros (detects Barbaros in a 30 m radius)

Level 4: Mind Sending (telepathy for 10 seconds with 1 target)

Tidan, the Sun God
Level 2: Sunlight (Lights up 20 m radius; the 1st level Sorcerer spell is only 10 m)

Level 4: Ray (damage spell, +3 damage to undead)

Kilhir, the God of Cleverness
Level 2: Penetrate (+2 to one Monster Knowledge Check)

Level 4: Weakpoint (lowers the crit value for damage to the target)

Siene, the Moon Goddess
Level 2: Night Walker (gives darkvision to the target)

Level 4: Blindness (blinds a target for three minutes)

Miltabal, the Nimble-Fingered God
Level 2: Retry (once a day, can re-roll a Skill Check Package check that takes 1 minute or more)

Level 4: Appraisal (gives a +4 to a Treasure Appraisal check)

Eev, God Shield of the Abyss
Level 2: Counter Demon (+2 Life and Spirit Resistance against effects by demons)

Level 4: Sacred Aura (adds demons to monsters affected by Sacred Weapon and Sacred Shield)

Harula, God of the Guide Star
Level 2: Star Guide (shooting star indicates location of nearest church)

Level 4: Disclose Demon (+2 to Monster Knowledge Checks for demons)

Fulsil, Goddess of Wind and Rain
Level 2: Wind Circulation (reduces affect of high or low temperatures within area)

Level 4: Cold Rain (area affect damage spell, reduces Evasion by -1)

Magitec spells come in three general types: the magisphere alters an object (such as bullets), the magisphere alters itself into some kind of device, or rarely, the magisphere acts on a target to provide some kind of buff or nerf.

Level 1: Solid Bullet (increases bullet Impact Rating), Target Sight (magisphere transforms into a gun-sight to improve to-hit +1), Flashlight (magisphere transforms to provide light), Mana Search (magisphere transforms into a magic item detector)

Level 2: Explorer Aid (magisphere transforms into visual and audio sensors to provide +2 to Search and Disable checks), Critical Bullet (increased damage and lower crit value), Healing Bullet (provides low-level healing), Knocker Bomb (transforms object into a lock-disabling bomb)

Level 3: Effect Bullet (high damage with optional damage property), Effect Weapon (gives a weapon a damage property, and boosts damage +1), Jump Boots (magisphere transforms into jump-boosting boots), Shock Bomb (transforms an object into a bomb that reduces target's Agility by -12)

Level 4: Analyze (provides information about magitec and magitec monsters), Quick-loader (loads up to the maximum for ammunition), Automobile (a large magisphere transforms into a motorcycle), Smoke Bomb (blinds any creature using the five senses, even those with darkvision)

Level 5: Shotgun Bullet (medium damage area effect), Grenade (higher damage spell), Wire Anchor (magisphere hook and lead restrains a target)

Level 6: Burst Shot (allows burst of three shots, with +2 to-hit, for medium damage), Create Weapon (magisphere transforms into a normal A-class weapon), Disguise Set (disguises target into known character or creature), Resist Bomb (damage of specified property is reduced by -4).

That concludes the Magic section. We've already looked SCAs in detail, so next time we will take a closer look at Items.

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So, Items! I've been looking forward to this because I think this is one of the strengths of Sword World. There is just such a wealth of options.

The Items chapter is split into Weapons, Armor, Common Equipment & Consumables, Living Expenses & Accommodations, Poultices & Potions, Adventurer Skill Package Items, Adventure Tools, and Accoutrements.

Weapons are split into four ranks: B-rank, A-rank, S-rank, and SS-rank. Rulebook I only deals with B- and A-rank weapons. All characters start out able to use B-rank weapons, but need successive levels of Weapon Mastery (for each category of weapon) to get access to the higher ranks. With the exception of guns, weapons are classified as either sharp or blunt, and either one-handed, two-handed (or both). Some provide to-hit bonuses, some provide armor protection, still others provide additional damage.

Because SW uses Power Tables for damage instead of damage dice, they can create a wide variety of weapons: light, medium, heavy, historic, fantastic, Western European, Eastern European, Middle East, North American (the axe list includes the tomahawk), cheap, affordable, expensive, and exhorbitantly expensive. It's just a mash of variety. 25 different swords are listed, 13 kinds of axes, 8 kinds of spears, 10 different maces, 5 kinds of staves, 7 types of flail, 6 types of warhammer, 16 Grappler weapons, 15 different thrown weapons, 7 kinds of bows, 7 kinds of crossbows, and 6 different guns. For ammo, there are regular and silver versions of bullets, arrows, and crossbow bolts, as well as armor piercing arrows and bolts, and "flash-fang" arrows or bolts, which are always retrievable unless they crit.

Here's taste of the variety: the sword lists consists of (in order of strength requirement) knife, fast-spike, stiletto, dagger, kukri, shortsword, épée, Katzbalger, rapier, flyssa, saber, estoc, schiavona, defender, longsword, broadsword, talwar, bastard sword, falchion, steelblade, two-handed sword, shamshir, flamberge, greatsword, and dragonslayer.

Not the slightest attention is paid to historical accuracy or simulation. There's no reason why a shamshir should require more strength than a two-handed sword, and I suspect the image of the longsword and the broadsword are more popular fantasy than expert classification. For the most part, the differences come down to Power Table damage, handedness, and cost. I would say that choice largely comes down to what weapons you have the minimum Strength for, whether you want to go one-handed or two-handed, and then ultimately, what you can afford. From estoc on, the swords get more and more expensive. And, of course, image. Since the game aesthetic is less Lord of the Rings, and more anime/manga/Final Fantasy, just about any sword will go with any look. After all, that oversized monstrosity the Human Fighter sample character is holding is technically supposed to be a bastard sword.

Armor is split into non-metal armor (7 types), metal armor (9 types), and shields (9 types). As you might expect, the heaviest, most protective armor give you penalties to Evasion. But some Grappler-only armor actually raises it. Shields are quite interesting. A buckler provides no armor protection, but gives a +1 to Evasion, a kite shield provides both armor protection and bonus to Evasion. Some A-rank shields can even be used as a weapon.

The Common Equipment & Consumables list is the bog standard D&D equipment list. The very first thing listed is "Adventurer's Set", containing a backpack, waterskin, blanket, six torches, tinder box, 10 m of rope, and a utility knife. Pshaw! Boring. The inclusion of this list feels perfunctory.

The Living Expenses & Accommodations list has prices for rations, meals, drinks, and the like. The price for each item is the minimum, and then the Notes section for each item lists more expensive options. Perhaps the only interesting thing here is the presence of tobacco, cigarettes, and a pipe.

Poultices & Potions covers methods of HP and MP recovery. I write "poultice" for convenience, but according to the book, the use of HP restorative herbs can take many forms: making poultices, burning and inhaling the smoke, or mixing with water or alcohol. The only thing is that takes 10 minutes to prepare and take effect. At 30 G, poultices are the most cost-effective methods of party healing (without using MP), since healing potions cost a minimum of 100 G. There is also Magical Perfume, which is sprinkled on the target to restore MP. Interesting note! The effects of poultices is explicitly marked as having the poison property. Which means that if you have immunity from the poison property, these poultices don't work! In addition to three levels of healing potion, there are awaken potions, which act like a Priest's Awaken magic, and finally poison antidotes. Each item on the Poultices & Potions list has a Power Table to determine its effect. However, if administered by a Ranger, the Ranger's level and Wisdom bonus is added. This is a pretty good reason to have someone with a level or two of Ranger in the party!

Adventurer Skill Package Items are the items pretty essential to each particular Skill Package (aside from weapons and armor for the Warrior Skill Packages). Magical foci, holy symbols, magispheres, Scout tools, and ammo holders like quivers and gunbelts. The Adventure Tools list has just four items, all somewhat expensive magic items. These are ways to reduce damage or boost resistances.

The biggest list, outside Weapons, is Accoutrements. These are items, both mundane and magical, than can be equipped to various locations on the character: head, face, neck, ears, back, arms/hands, waist, and legs. You don't have to buy any of these, but they can be great for creating the image of your character.

For the head, there are 12 items that include various hats, helms and other headdress. None of them have any affect on armor. Among these are also three magic item hair accessories that can be thrown for fire, ice, or lightning damage, and a conical hat that boosts Monster Knowledge Checks.

For the face, 9 items that include masks, glasses (including sunglasses!) and two kinds of magical spectacles (one can be crushed to turn a failed save vs a sleep effect into a success, the other gives bonuses search checks).

For the ears, 5 various kinds of earrings (and a pair of earmuffs). There are two magic items: spotter doll, which is a doll-shaped earring that gives spotting advice when taking an aimed shot, and bat-shaped earrings that provide echolocation when you can't see.

For the neck, 7 items, including scarves, chokers, necklaces, and the like. There are two magic items: a charm that hangs around your neck and gives a +1 to Spoils rolls, and a necklace that gives a +1 to resistance against poison and illness effects.

For the back, 5 items that include a short cloak, a long cloak, a poncho, and two magic items: little wings that reduce falling damage, and a thermal cloak that protects against extreme temperatures.

For the arms/hands, 8 items that include rings, bracelets, gloves, and three kinds of magic rings.

For the waist, 5 items: belt, garter belt, corset, a magic belt that provides armor protection, and a magic buckle that can cast Lightning for 10 MP.

For the legs, 6 items: toe-rings, anklets, fancy shoes, boots, and for magic items, sandals that detect traps underfoot, and silent shoes that give a +2 to stealth checks.

Finally, there are 6 miscellaneous items that can be worn anywhere: scarves, bandanas, piercings, and chains. No magic items here.

I hope that gives you an idea of the rich variety of the Items section. This concludes the Data chapter of Rulebook I. Next, we get into the World of Raxia.

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
The similarities, both to earlier editions of D&D and, oddly enough, sometimes later ones are interesting. The extra spells per god seem like an earlier version of 5e's cleric domains, and rather than knowledge, life, light, nature, tempest, trickery, and war, we've got...ancestor, sun, knowledge, cleverness, nimble-fingered, shield, guide, and wind/rain.

If True Speech=wizard and Divine=cleric, Manipulation is kind of between a druid ('earth heal' etc) and the 'gray magic' we may remember from FF6 or time/space magic from FF5 and FFTactics. Magitec is its own thing.

Sword World adventurers certainly know how to accessorize.

Overall, the game seems to deprioritize any sense of realism in order to prioritize giving as many options as possible--thus the technological character classes and the weapons from around the world. It seems much more gamist and narrativist as opposed to simulationist. I kind of like it.


If True Speech=wizard and Divine=cleric, Manipulation is kind of between a druid ('earth heal' etc) and the 'gray magic' we may remember from FF6 or time/space magic from FF5 and FFTactics. Magitec is its own thing.
I've been looking over Rulebooks II and III, and the Manipulation magic-user takes an interesting turn in those. At third level they get access to "Create Golem" and (with GM's approval) "Create Undead." There remains some pseudo-elemental magic and party support magic, but they essentially become Sword World animators and necromancers. In fact, Resurrection is Manipulation magic, rather than Divine/Holy.
Overall, the game seems to deprioritize any sense of realism in order to prioritize giving as many options as possible--thus the technological character classes and the weapons from around the world. It seems much more gamist and narrativist as opposed to simulationist. I kind of like it.
Yes, very much agreed. Its one nod to simulationism is the way martial attacks work (attack yes or no, evade yes or no, then armor ablates damage), which I believe is a legacy mechanic from the first edition, a definitely more gritty, if not more simulationist, type of game. (As I understand it, in 1st edition your HP was set as equal to your Constitution score, so HP went up little, if at all.)

What I find interesting is how it all holds together. Which is a subjective conclusion, to be sure; I would not be surprised if some people found it too much of a hodgepodge. But to me, the artwork helps tie it all together. There is not much art in the book, and unfortunately I could not find much of that online to include in this thread. But you can see it in the sample character artwork. I was listening to a Japanese podcast discussing 2.0, and they made the point: Sword World RPG is Dragon Quest. Sword World 2.0 (and thus 2.5) is Final Fantasy. If you're familiar with, and accepting of, the Final Fantasy design aesthetic, it's very easy to get on board with the "anything goes" vibe of SW 2.5.


So what exactly is the World of Sword World?

The original setting of Sword World was Forcelia, which was the setting for Lodoss, Crystania, and a number of other properties across various media. But with the change to a new edition with Sword World 2.0, they made a clean break with Forcelia and introduced an entirely different world: Raxia. Sword World 2.0 focused on the continent of Terastier, and after 10 years of setting supplements covering every region of that, the setting of 2.5 turned to the continent of Alfleim. (Incidentally, I got that spelling by tweeting directly to Kei Kitazawa, the writer/designer of 2.0 and 2.5. Nice guy!)

The World chapter is split into three main parts: Sword World Raxia, which covers the creation, gods, and history of Raxia, Adventurers, which covers how PCs fit into that world, and the Stage for Adventure, which goes into detail about Alfleim, in particular the region of Burlight. The first two parts are essentially ported over directly from the 2.0 rules.

The Three Swords
It seems like in the run-up to 2.0, the designers said to themselves, "Okay, we've got a game called 'Sword World.' But why is it called that? What kind of setting could justifiably be called a sword world?" And the answer is, a world created by swords, of course. In this case, three godlike swords of unknown provenance: Lumiere, Sword of Harmony; Ignis, Sword of Release; and Caldier, Sword of Wisdom. Hoping to be needed by somebody, to be wielded by somebody, these three Swords of Genesis spread life on the barren world. Humans were the first to become aware of the Swords. One human took hold of Lumiere, and made powerful by it, began shaping the world. This human began to be revered by the other humans as one chosen by the Sword, and became Lyfos, the Ancestor God. Lyfos shared the power of Lumiere with others, who in their turn also became as gods, and through their actions the races of the Elves and Dwarves came about.

Another human found Ignis, and because he was self-centered and bellicose, he decided to make war on the other gods. This human became Dalkrem, the God of War. He raised massive armies, and experimented with creating various monsters for his war. Thus began the War of the Gods. However, neither the wielders of Lumiere nor the wielders of Ignis were more powerful than the other, creating a stalemate. Whoever could get Caldier to join their side would get the upper-hand. But Caldier, not wanting to be part of the war, burst itself into millions of pieces scattered around the world. With no way to break the stalemate, the war continued, until Lumiere and Ignis were lost, and the gods went into slumber to heal their wounds. And that left the world to the mortals, "the small people."

Though the gods no longer wage their war, still among the "small people" there is a division between the "good peoples" who desire Harmony (humans, elves, dwarves, etc.) and the "Barbaros" who desire Release, and the battles continue.

The Magic Swords
In the mythic age, copies of Lumiere were made, and then copies of the copies, and copies of those copies, and so on. The magic swords (and other weapons) that can be obtained by adventurers today have but a sliver of the power of the original. It is said that a third-generation copy was enough to bestow godhood onto a human. These lesser swords, though not able to speak, nevertheless had wills, and like the Swords of Genesis, desired to be wielded. So through the centuries, these magic swords would bury themselves in deep labyrinths, awaiting a tested and worthy hand. Various monsters would be summoned to guard the labyrinths, and irrational traps would be set. And adventurers would come to try and obtain the swords. Some of these labyrinths still exist, with magic swords awaiting in their bowels. Others have had their magic sword retrieved long ago, and now new occupants have taken residence in the mazes. Some of these known Magic Sword Labyrinths go down 50 levels or more, and have hundreds of adventurers trying to reach the treasures within. And some towns or cities have sprung up at the site of these labyrinths.

And so, Sword World thus explains why there are crazy dungeons, making no sense, full of monsters to fight and treasures to find. GMs don't even have to try and justify what any particular dungeon once was, why it became the way it is, and why it's designed to defy all logic and reason. "Magic sword," is all they have to say, and the players will go, "Right, sounds legit."

Is this World sword-y enough for you? If not, there's more! Some magic swords are called Guardian Swords, and during the age of the Magitec Civilization, many were of these were made. These swords cannot be approached by those with Impurity in their soul. The more Impurity they have, the stronger the effect. Many of these guardian swords were lost in the Diabolic Triumph, but some still remain, guarding nations and cities from the Barbaros.

But these Guardian Swords need Sword Shards to be maintained. No one knows exactly what they are, but because they are small, sharp metal objects in appearance, they are called this. They are found in the bodies of powerful and leader-level monsters, and they float up and appear after those monsters are defeated. Adventurers retrieve these shards and donate them to their cities (through their guild) in exchange for status and renown.

A Fourth Sword?
Though the most widely believed legends talk of the three Swords of Genesis, some theories say there were actually four, or even more, swords. The fourth sword is said to be called Fortona, and it is also known as the "Sword of Destiny," or the "God-Breaker Sword." If one were to find this Sword, one might even be able to kill a god, or to have one's most earnest wish granted, after which the Sword would again disappear...

At this point, I've typed "sword" so much that the word has practically lost all meaning, so I'll stop here. Next time, we'll take a closer look at the races of Raxia, and its four ages.
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Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Anyone translated the 1st edition Sword World RPG? I guess it would be even more of a niche interest.

The sword thing is kind of funny to me too. Again, realism isn't really a consideration. I wonder how different the cultural symbolism is over there--Americans were obsessed with the magical powers of Japanese katanas a few decades back, but from what I can gather it's just another kind of sword over there. Japan actually sounds more similar to Europe than its neighbor China with the feuding feudal samurai pushing around and occasionally beheading the peasants, rather than a big bureaucracy of scholar-officials (which I am sure was just as bad).

It's interesting they've kept up the division between good and bad races (Barbaros) D&D is backpedaling away from for the past 20 years. My best guess is Japan, being more homogenous, is a lot less worried about the real-life interpretations of such things.


Anyone translated the 1st edition Sword World RPG? I guess it would be even more of a niche interest.
I've looked around and have found exactly zero hits for English discussion about 1st edition. Which is a little funny, because it came out in 1989, and there was a whole lotta Internet between that and 2008 when 2.0 came out. But no, a mention by Andy Kitkowski in 2003 blog post, an RPG.net post in 2007 mentioning the Lodoss War connection, but no actual gameplay discussion.

The sword thing is kind of funny to me too. Again, realism isn't really a consideration. I wonder how different the cultural symbolism is over there--Americans were obsessed with the magical powers of Japanese katanas a few decades back, but from what I can gather it's just another kind of sword over there.
The katana is so blase to the designers of Sword World that in three core rulebooks, containing weapons from all over the world, it doesn't get even one mention. But then, there is a veneer of exoticness to the setting. I mean, the book writes "hajimari no ken" for the Three Swords, but says that this is pronounced "Swords of Genesis." (lit. soozu obu jeneshisu). So I can see them refraining from putting clearly Japanese cultural markers in the game, not because of realism, but just for consistency. (In the replay I've read, the characters are naturally completely Japanese, even bowing when saying thanks.)
Japan actually sounds more similar to Europe than its neighbor China with the feuding feudal samurai pushing around and occasionally beheading the peasants, rather than a big bureaucracy of scholar-officials (which I am sure was just as bad).
Okay, this is pretty far afield, so I'm putting it in spoiler blocks, but you've hit on something of a pet peeve with the popular perception of kirisute-gomen, the putative right of samurai to behead commoners. (It's also copy-paste of another post I made long ago on another forum, so please don't take it as directly addressing you, @Blue Orange.)
[A} samurai cutting down a peasant for a slight provocation....never happened. When I say "never" I mean, it wasn't the done thing by law abiding samurai living their lives. Samurai who cut down peasants for no reason were psychopaths and murderers -- they were definitely not sanctioned by the domains and the Shogunate. The kirisute-gomen was permission by the samurai, as a representative of the Shogunate (as all samurai were) to render summary judgment in the event a person challenged the authority of the Shogunate (represented in the person of the samurai). It was not carte blanche to kill commoners at will.

A samurai who did burei-uchi (striking for insult) was required to immediately go to the local authorities and report his action in writing. His sword would then be confiscated as evidence. He would be under house arrest for at least 20 days while the matter was investigated. He required one witness to attest that the matter was grave enough to merit burei-uchi. If he did not fulfill the above conditions, he was beheaded. He was not given the honorable execution of seppuku, but beheaded as a criminal. His property would be confiscated and his family would lose [samurai] status. Even if he did fulfill all the conditions, if the investigation found that burei-uchi was not warranted (because the samurai instigated the altercation, or because it was felt the offense could have been beared, etc), he still faced punishment ranging from demotion from rank, to stripping of [samurai] status, to being ordered to commit seppuku.

If the samurai drew his sword for burei-uchi, but his intended target escaped, he could be charged and punished for needlessly drawing his sword and causing a disturbance. Further, the commoner in question had an absolute right of self-defense, and if he in turn killed the samurai he would not be punished. And in the event that the burei-uchi was successful, and found justified, there was still a chance that the samurai in question would find himself in hot water with the domain in which it happened, and while he might not be punished, there would be non-legal repercussions.

As a result, there are very, very few, if any, records of samurai using the kirisute-gomen.

It's interesting they've kept up the division between good and bad races (Barbaros) D&D is backpedaling away from for the past 20 years. My best guess is Japan, being more homogenous, is a lot less worried about the real-life interpretations of such things.
There is certainly that. And change comes slowly in Japan in any case. But, (and I'm kinda skipping ahead to the next section here), it does say of the "good peoples", "while these people are basically of a warm and peaceful nature, after many long years of war, there are an increasing number of individuals who have warlike personalities." And of the Barbaros, it writes, "While most consider the good peoples as the finest treats, and try to capture and eat them, there are some starting to appear who have warm and peaceful personalities." Monster and monster-adjacent PC races were introduced in supplements late in 2.0's life, and it's expected that similar races will released for 2.5 eventually, as well.

I don't feel this has anything to do with social change, but just comes from the need for content, and player interest asking for it.


Further exploration of the World of Sword World...

This next section is called the People and Things that Make Up the World. It starts with a description of the jinzoku. This word is something of a translation trap. I've been translating it as "the good peoples," and occasionally "humankind." Literally, it's a neologism that means "people-tribe", and refers to "the general term for the intelligent lifeforms brought about and guided by Lyfos and the other gods of 'harmony.'" In other words, the PC races. As I noted in the previous post, it says, "While these people are basically of a warm and peaceful nature, after many long years of war, there are an increasing number of individuals who have warlike personalities."

Next are the banzoku, another translation trap. Literally, this means "barbarian tribes." Therefore, the designers thought it would be clever for their in-world name to be "Barbaros," (barubarosu) the Greek word from which "barbarian" comes. Because even if the Japanese audience might know the English word "barbarian", they're not likely to know the Greek word it comes from! Which kinda puts the translator in a tough spot: translate banzoku as "barbarians" and the name "Barbaros" is going to be a bit on-the-nose. (The fan translation translates both banzoku and "Barbaros" as "barbarous", which I dislike because it uses a regular English adjective as a non-capitalized proper noun.) What I've done is just always use "Barbaros," which naturally suggests "barbarian" to English-speakers, for both banzoku and Barubaros, even though in-world the former is humankind's name for them, and the latter is their name for themselves. The game defines this group as "the races, such as bolg, ogres, and drakes, transformed into fiendish forms by the power of the savage gods of 'release' wielding the Second Sword." As a class of monsters, banzoku refers to the monstrous humanoids of that world.

The game next describes "mana" as the magic element scattered through the world when the Third Sword, Caldier, destroyed itself. Mana is all around and cannot be seen, except in that it powers magical effects. Underground, however, it crystalizes. These mana crystals can be used to augment one's personal supply of mana. From this, some believe that the Swords of Genesis were mana crystals of the highest purity.

Next are Runefolk and Generators. Runefolk were created by the Magitec Civilization, using Generators that combined tissue (hair, nails, blood) of living creatures with a special culture solution, magic and technology. If a Generator is working right, the Runefolk can choose their appearance and gender, but if it is malfunctioning, the Runefolk end up resembling their "parents", that is, the people who contributed the tissue. There is not large amounts of the culture solution remaining, so generally one generator only makes one Runefolk in a year. The Runefolk tend to settle around these generators to protect them, and the one's who have been operating them longest become the community leaders. After a few years of education, Runefolk leave to travel and find their own way of life.

Next comes a small passage on "souls" and "Impurity." "Souls" is pretty straightforward, but "impurity" translates kegare, which can mean, along with that, "uncleanliness," or "defilement." (Fan translation calls it "soulscar.") In Sword World, souls were spread among the living things by the gods, and when a soul's body dies, the soul goes to the gods to be a warrior in the coming battle among the gods. But weaker souls are sent back to the world of the living, in order to accrue more power through life experience. So, Sword World cosmology is something of Buddhism through Norse myth: reincarnation, but also dying to became a warrior for the gods.

However, if a soul breaks this cycle by being resurrected, then the soul takes on some amount of "impurity." A small amount of impurity can be washed away by going through the cycle, but a great deal of impurity will require many turns through the cycle to deal with. And if the impurity becomes too much, the soul will become undead. The Barbaros already have a heavy amount of impurity, given to them by the savage gods to "release" their innate power. So if they die, they aren't resurrected, as they will immediately become undead. Because the humankind societies avoid "impurity", they have a tendency to put distance between them and the resurrected and Nightmares.

Astronomically, Raxia is a world like our own, of essentially the same size, with twelve 30-day months, and 24 hours in a day, one sun, one moon, and stars at night. During the Magitec Civilization, it was known that Raxia was one of a number of celestial bodies, but now it's widely believed that there's nothing but a expanse of nothingness outside of Raxia, and its status as a planet is now known only by a few sages.

Raxia history is split into four ages. The Shunelua Age, over 10,000 years ago, was the time of the Divine Civilization. A time of peace when the gods walked the earth, and many wondrous things were made. This civilization ended when Dalkrem started the God War. Then came the Durandil Age, the time of the Magic Civilization. This was when the first advancements in magic as we now know it were begun, and the civilization was ruled by powerful Mage Kings. Many powerful artifacts were created in this age. It fell 3,000 years ago. In most of Raxia, it is not known why, but in Alfleim it is believed that this was when the Abyss was opened. (The Abyss is a portal to another dimension which we will discuss later.) After this civilization came the Al Menas Age, the time of the Magitec Civilization. This civilization fell 300 years ago, with the advent of the Diabolic Triumph.

The Barbaros had been hiding underground for hundreds of years, gathering their strength. Then they suddenly attacked with extreme force and ferocity. There were terrible changes in the weather, lands split apart, the seas were turbulent, and there were great disasters that changed the face of continents. Due to this, it is thought that the king of the Barbaros has obtained Ignis, the Second Sword. Many nations, and much of civilization was destroyed as the Barbaros expanded their domains. Then the war ended when the king of the Barbaros was slain. No one now knows exactly how this happened. The most common theory is that it was done by a single hero wielding a Magic Sword, possibly Lumiere itself, or perhaps Fortona. Another, less widely believed theory is that there is no way this could have been done by a single hero, and it was the result of a surprise counterattack by some nation.

Now, 300 years later, many nations have been lost, and many of the links between surviving nations have been severed. But humankind civilization was barely saved. Now many are hard at work at restoration. There are many projects to excavate ruins, and find the treasures of the old civilization. And then there are still areas where the Barbaros hold sway, or try to invade. It is now an age of adventurers, who are highly valued as they search for old treasures and fight off the invading hordes.

Next time, the role of Adventurers in Sword World.

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
Thanks for clearing that up about random beheadings and kirisute-gomen. I guess it was kind of like 'right of the first night' on this side of the Urals--one of those stories about the aristocracy told by later eras to make themselves look better.

The translation bits are also fascinating--it's really hard to translate a document written by a completely different culture, with completely different cultural touchstones, and find something analogous. Spiritual taint can carry forward into later incarnations, as in Buddhism, rather than giving you a binary (or trinary) outcome at death, as in the West. There's also something amusing about seeing bits of your own culture used as 'exotic flavor'. (Perhaps it's only amusing because my country won WW2, though.)

The four ages seem positively Tolkienian though. The 'lost civilization with advanced technology' trope seems inspired by the old Victorian one (think H. Rider Haggard's 'She' and more familiar to most, Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains of Madness'), but there may be local legends of which I am unaware!

Thanks so much for this fascinating window into a game I will probably never get to play!


This post will be mostly about the game's concept of Adventurers, but first a little clean up on the gods.
The gods are split into three groups: Ancient Gods are those who originally wielded one of the Three Swords. They are:
Lyfos (lai-fohs) - the Ancestor--no, wait, really this should be translated as the Progenitor God. As the god of Harmony and Friendship, he promotes peace and conflict avoidance, but is willing to proactively battle the Barbaros and demons.
Tidan (tee-dahn) - the Sun God. Lyfos's right-hand man during the age of the Divine Civilization. Also peace loving, but very much very much against the undead.
Dalkrem - the God of War. Likes war and the breaking of strictures. Mostly worshiped by Barbaros, but with a few humans.
Kilhir - God of Cleverness and Neutrality. The only ancient God to attain godhood by touching Caldier.
Noted in passing but not described in Rulebook I are Asteria, Fairy Goddess and progenitor of the Elves, and Grendahl, Martial Emperor of Fire, a god of destruction and rebuilding worshiped by both Dwarf warriors and Barbaros.

The Major Gods were later gods brought to godhood by the Ancient Gods. Some date back to the Divine Civilization, but others are from later periods. They are:
Siene (seen) - The Moon Goddess. Wife of Tidan, and made a god by him. As goddess of the night, often favored by drinking establishments and brothels.
Miltabal - the Nimble-Fingered God. A god of wisdom and skill, made into a god by Kilhir. Often worshiped by adventurers (who pray to him when trying to detect traps!).
Eev - God Shield of the Abyss. A relatively recent god, since the Abyss was opened only 3,000 years ago. Protects people from the Abyss.
Harula - God of the Guide Star. The younger sister of Eev. Represented by the Pole Star.

The Minor Gods have become gods relatively recently, and as yet only have a few followers, usually tied to a particular region. There is only one mentioned in the book:
Fulsil - Goddess of Wind and Rain. A god local to Burlight region of Alfleim. Thought to be the daughter of Tidan and Siene.

So, the concept of Adventurers. These arose after the Diabolic Triumph, when warriors and armies were busy pushing back the Barbaros hordes, and adventurers took up the slack by becoming freelance troubleshooters. There is a network of Adventurers Guilds throughout Alfleim, which compete with each other while also being tied together by the regional and city Guild Branches. Aspiring adventurers can register with a guild, and get jobs off its job board. (If you feel you've seen this kind of thing in various fantasy anime and light novels, this is where they get it from.)

The origins of this guild network are said to lie in the opening of the Abyss 3,000 years ago. Although the Abyss itself was sealed, it continued to emanate what are called "Shallow Abyss". These are magical zones that can appear anywhere on the continent, and need to be dealt with swiftly before they grow. Thus, from the Wall Guardians (those who guard the Wall of the Abyss) came the Adventurers Guilds network, designed to quickly find and dispose of these Shallow Abyss. But they also take other work as needed, primarily exploring ruins and monster fighting.

There is a code among adventurers, unwritten rules that go as follows:
Adventurers don't fight each other. Because adventurers should work together, fighting with other adventurers is considered the greatest taboo.
No two adventurers (adventurer parties) can take on the same job. Once taken on, a job can be taken on by another adventuring group only if the first one gives up or is killed without completing.
Ruin exploration is first come, first served. If ancient ruins are discovered, the discoverers get the right to explore it. But the discoverers may forfeit this right, or allow other adventuring groups to explore it, something which often happens for large-scale ruins.
Adventurers help other adventurers. Adventurers are encouraged to help other adventurers in need as much as possible, and if they come across fallen adventurers, should bring the bodies home.

We can see that his basic set-up, laid out very clearly in the core rules, plays to the standard style of play in Japan. Among the adult population, at least, on-going weekly games are not really a thing, due to houses being too small to host many people at once, and work schedules being hard to line up, with overtime often required. So what is more common are monthly games of 5+ hours at time, in which one-shots are played. Sometimes characters are carried over from session to session, but it's also not unusual for a GM to just say, "This will be an adventure for X-level adventurers, so bring characters for that level." And then players might make entirely new characters at that level for that session. So these setting conceits fit nicely in with this style. The goals of the adventure come from the guild, you already have a ready-made reason for a diverse group of characters working together, and you can usually wrap up the adventure in one session.

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