RedDiceDiaries RPG Blog ğŸŽ²

⚔️ What I'm looking for when it comes to Swords & Sorcery

I've long been enamoured of the Swords & Sorcery genre ever since seeing the Conan films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger when I was younger and various other fantasy films such as Red Sonia, Krull, Beastmaster, etc and I've occasionally thought about running an RPG in the genre, however, most of the RPGs I would have expected to be emininently suitable for it just haven't clicking with me.

So why am I thinking about it again now ❓

Currently I'm running a Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition campaign, which is about as far from Swords & Sorcery as you can get, however, this campaign was designed as a finite "palette-cleanser" to give us a break from fantasy after a long-running Old-school Essentials campaign; my plan has always been to return to fantasy after the Vampire game has run it's course (probably after a year or two). However, fantasy has a lot of sub-genres and--although I want to use some variant of D&D--there is also a lot of choice where that is concerned.

I want to return to the same campaign world as we had for our Smoke & Snow OSE game but on a different continent, one where the tone of the fantasy is a little different, where mighty warriors clash with evil sorcerors against the backdrop of faded mystical empires and the dark mysticism of serpent-folk.

What makes a good Sword & Sorcery game? ğŸŽ²

As an attempt to narrow down my options I decided to list out here some of what I'm looking for in a Swords & Sorcery game and then--in future posts--I'm going to have a look at some of the fantasy games that I possess and see how they measure up to this (non-exhaustive) list I'm creating.

Hopefully the act of doing this and examining the game systems will get me to think more about what I want from a S&S system and will enable me to make a more informed choice when that time comes around.

The list 🗡️

Below is the list of things I think of when I ponder the sub-genre of Swords & Sorcery:

  1. Magic is rare, dangerous and possibly confined to evil NPCs.
  2. The gods are distant and do not regularly interfere in mortal lives.
  3. Ancient creatures of cosmic horror lurk just outside the bounds of perception.
  4. Whilst much ancient history is forgotten, decaying remnants of a cruel serpentine race that once ruled the land persist to the present day.
  5. Heroes are a little more self-serving, tending to be mighty warriors, faithful priests or sly rogues.
  6. Wild and savage societies struggle against the decadence and corruption of civilisation.
  7. The system must be able to support/encourage wild, swashbuckling action.

Going forward ⏩

Over the next few weeks and months I plan to go through the various fantasy RPGs that I have on my shelves and compare them to the list above to see if there are any that jump out at me as strong contenders for the future Swords & Sorcery game. The list above may flex and change as I think of new ideas and disgard old ones.

Getting in touch ✉️

If you have any ideas for fantasy games that have simple rulesets but that you think might be a good fit for a Swords & Sorcery game (or perhaps you have additional suggestions for my list) then please drop me an email at and let me know, you might get a mention in a future post.

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