Sword and Magic: Adventures on Fomalhaut. Fantasy Roleplaying Game

by Gabor Lux

This 24 page document represents the distilled core rules of Kard és Mágia, my homebrew old school OGL variant. Published in 2008, the game has surprisingly attracted some attention outside Hungary, and some of my friends on international message boards have asked me if I could translate it some day. That was not possible: the original consists of altogether 190 pages of dense 9-point text, a tremendous task to recreate in English. I have also felt some of it would not be interesting for the English-speaking audience, since the game was written not just to present a way of playing games in the classical style while also retaining the elegance of the basic d20 rules framework, but also as an introduction to the concept of old school gaming (a style virtually unknown in Hungary) and, to an extent, a polemic against the state of the Hungarian gaming scene, where imagination, adventure and the primal strangeness of original fantasy have largely been suppressed by an inflexible and dogmatic preference for mundane detail.

Fomalhaut

Sword and Magic

Therefore, what I have made available is only the first component of the full game: my house rules to play fast and loose “adventure fantasy” campaigns without too much of a hassle, and synthesising the virtues of old school concepts with modern task resolution. The end result is not a “simulacrum game” or “retro-clone”, since it does not attempt to recreate any specific classical system. It is not necessarily old school by all definitions, and it does not strive to be. However, in the years we have spent playing it since early 2004, and since its open publication in October 2008, it has proved to be a simple, reliable platform for fantastic adventure gaming.

Contrary to the thoughts I held a few years ago, the idea of a light d20 game didn’t prove to be an obvious opportunity for small OGL publishers: even Castles&Crusades (from whose development process the first form of Sword and Magic also emerged) chose to stay close to emulating a previously existing ruleset, while others, such as True20 and Microlite74, departed significantly from the game many of us cherish. As nobody I know of is trying to fill this specific niche (except perhaps the forthcoming Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG, although even that seems to strive for greater differentiation), here is Sword and Magic for the people who would enjoy its specific kind of compromise, or those who would be inspired by someone’s collection of house rules, or even those who just like reading about others’ campaigns.

The document offered here does not strive for completeness. There is no “What is a role-playing game?” section (although the complete version has a pretty nifty one), readers are assumed to know what a class or a race is for, and spells are only listed in an ultra-brief format; for monsters and treasure, you will also have to rely on other publications. On the other hand, all the information required to create a character and run games is right here, along with a page of design notes outlining the implications of the rule changes, and another that serves as a primer for my vision of old school gaming.

For an opportunity to try out the rules (which otherwise accommodate modules from classical systems and OGL-based systems alike), three brief example scenarios are compiled in the companion publication, Towards Fomalhaut:
The Isle of Barzon is an island where the inhabitants toil under the reign of a repressive dictatorship, who in turn obey the Flying Gods, mysterious beings who hunt and kill according to their purpose. The scenario, suitable for any level, pits the characters against the island’s mystery whether they are castaways, thieves or prospective conquerors.
The Tower of Birds is a small dungeon set in an arid environment. Dangerous traps, implacable foes and the challenges of navigating the tower’s interior and exterior await those who would seek water or solace from the powers of the wasteland. Levels 3-5.
Pentastadion is a briefly outlined example city-state ruled by an oligarchy of the rich and devious, and populated by the best sailors of Fomalhaut. Here, adventure awaits in teeming ports, elegant villas and squalid slums; opportunities are open for swordplay, thuggery, but also in the hallways of power and the tangled web of intrigue.

Sword and Magic: Adventures on Fomalhaut — download (240 KB PDF)
Towards Fomalhaut — download (3.2 MB PDF)

Discussion:
TheRPGSite
Necromancer Games
Mythmere Games
Hofrat
Planet Algol
Beyond the Black Gate
Gorgonmilk
Original D&D Discussion
Akratic Wizardry
The Yaqqothl Grimoire

5 Responses to “Sword and Magic: Adventures on Fomalhaut. Fantasy Roleplaying Game”

  1. elgabor:

    Note: due to the regrettable spread of linkspam, comments are currently pre-moderated. I will try to approve everything as soon as Gmail notifies me, though.

  2. David Macauley:

    Absolutely fantastic, a quick glance through the Sword & Magic pdf and I can already see lots of inspiration for my recently started Fomalhaut campaign. Thank you Gabor.

  3. Alexey:

    Many thanks for sharing more of your game, Gabor. I’m a big fan of your creations and my players and I have enjoyed quite a bit of time playing in and around our own Pentastadion.

  4. elgabor:

    Thanks for your comments!

    Alexey: with a blog named http://wizardsmutantslaserpistols.blogspot.com/ , could you do wrong? Not in my book! :D

  5. Xoth Publishing:

    Thanks for sharing, this (and all your other stuff) is absolutely awesome!

    I’ve been reading your articles on Khosura in Fight On Magazine lately, as well as the Garden of Al-Astorion adventure. Lots of great material there!

    - thulsa

    The Spider-God’s Bride & Other Tales
    http://xoth.net/publishing/

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