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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells €3,22
Average Rating:4.6 / 5
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Nathaniel M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 08/11/2022 16:59:48

I really like some of the things about this game, the simplicy, how quick it plays, how easy it is to remember the rules, and improvise rulings. I also really like the magic system. And the artwork. It has great potential.

However in my honest opinion, it has some serious flaws, at least in the current edition. Which unfortunately means I can't rate it more highly. I have spent much of my time since purchasing it, re-reading the book, and seaching for FAQ's or opinions of other players, to try and understand some of the basics that aren't very well explained.

Initiative: The rules as written are simply unclear. It says that initiative is determined by the order of Hit Die. It doesn't says what this means - whether this means the number of HD, or the type of Hit Die. I have seen this variously interpreted - as the type of HD (e.g Fighters with 1d10 always go first), and the number of Hit Die. E.g An oponent with 2 HD will always go before a 1st level player who has 1HD. I can't see anywheere it defines hit dice, except variously as the type of dice, and the number of hit dice.

It also doesn't mention anywhere what happens after the first round ends. Does the iniative order continue as before? Fair enough if it's set based on number or type of dice. But ties are resovled through rolling. In fact it dosn't mention what a Round is. We can assume it has a similar meaning to in D and D, but it's not stated.

Unarmed combat: There are no rules for unarmed combat. The lowest damaging (small) weapons such as daggers do 1d4. How much do fists do, presumably it has to be less. 1d3, 1d2? Fists are a "small" weapon but it seems a stretch to think they do as much damage as a dagger, or a short swords.

Maneuvers: It doesn't mention maneuvers anywhere in the rules, except that Warriors have Improved Maneuvers - and can make a combat maneuver "disarming, pushing, tripping" as well as an attack. Nowhere else including in the combat chapter. does it mentioned "maneuvers, or their effects. Confusing things further it also says in the combat chapter that in a Player's Turn, they can perform "any feasible action". No where does it define what an Action is. Or what a Turn is. Or how a Turn ends.

Luck Die: It says that the referee can call for a Luck Roll. Nowhere does it explain why a referee might call for a luck roll - as opposed to say an agility or physique check. Presumably this is to see if they can do something that effects the narrative, outside of their abilities, but I'm unclear on this. If Luck is a core mechanic, it needs to be explained why it is exists and what it is for, even as a general priciple.

Status Effects: There is are no rules for falling, yet there are rules for suffocation.

There are no rules for opponents fighting other opponents. Maybe not a biggy, it can be GM'd. But sometimes two oponents may fight -for example an opponent sorceror summons a monster and it breaks free and attacks him. I appreciate the desire not to have any monster stats, but it would be nice to have a rule of thumb.

Things like the degree of success are only mentioned in one line. This seems to me to be core to the system, but I missed it on the first couple of readings, and it seems other readers have to.

Lastly, there is no FAQ, despite this being out for quite a few years now.

It feels like this game has great ideas, but either for the sake of brevity, or because it is made in reponse to other systems, which it assumes the reader already knows, it doesn't define key terms - like Turns, Maneuvers and Hit Dice.

I think it has potential enough, that I would consider purchasing a second edition, but these things could easily be addressed sooner. I have actually purchased Solar Blades, to see if it explains the rules better. Which isn't ideal, but you can't say I haven't given it a chance! It also poins to the fact of how much I want to like and use this system in my games despite the points I raised. I would like to see some of these issues addressed in a second edition, along with:

  • FAQ as mentioned previously.

  • An index.

  • Glossay of key terms.

  • One example of at least one combat round.

  • Some expanded examples of monsters, and rules of thumb to use when creating their abilities on the fly.

  • Some more information on levelling up and progression. The suplliment recommends players dictate this by expressing a desire to earn a particular ability, which they receive through in-world questing. I like the looseness of this, but it would be be useful to have a guide on how to determine what is level appropriate.

  • It would also be great to have a small section on how to adapt the rules for different settings, say you want to play more traditional high fantasy with healing and magic weapons which give attack bonuses. I have no idea if this would "break" the game if I house rule this.

  • Related to this, it would be nice to have rules on improved or superior version of weapons - I believe this is in Solar Blades. But as written there is no indication a character can ever improve their equipment beyond the light, medium or heavy damage dice, no matter if they are wielding the Sword of Kings, or a rusty blade.

  • A guide on creating new Archeypes. I appreciate vocations add possibilities, but it would be fantastic to give some pointers at creating your own, if only the special abilities should not exceed "X".


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Mike I. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/16/2021 23:44:40

It's very nearly everything I want in an OSR game. If I combine this with the magic system from Maze Rats or something like Whitehack, it might be my favorite game ever! I am also keen on reading the expansion book for this game. Might change my rating for the game as a whole even. In any case, it is well written and well conceived. Give it a read!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Christopher L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/04/2021 16:08:44

From my blog: https://sisypheantales.wordpress.com/2021/02/04/sharp-swords-sinister-spells/

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells, by Diogo Nogueira, is an OSR style, swords and sorcery game all about minimalist rules, quick play, and giving Referees and Game Masters the tools to craft adventures, locations and items on the fly with plenty of tables and idea generators.

It is 46 pages of easy to learn, quick to practice medieval fantasy roleplaying goodness. The layout is digestible. Paragraphs are not cluttered together, each topic and section is given space for the reader to take in the information without distraction from art or a blurring of tightly bound paragraphs. Keywords in the rules are put in bold print to make them easier to reference. In three pages, an aspiring Game Master or player can become familiarized with the basic rules of the game and be ready to play.

In this game, character creation is broken down to 3 Archetypes ( Warrior, Specialist, Magic User) using 4 Attributes (Physique, Agility, Intellect, Willpower). Sharp Swords uses a roll under d20 system with some additional bells and whistles like luck and usage die for adding an additional layer of chance and simplifying inventory respectively.

While the base game is simple and easy to pick up, what makes Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells great is the GM tools in the back. The first 24 pages of the book get players and the GM ready to start play and the last 13 give the GM the tools to keep the good times coming. It has what you’d expect any good Game Master section to have, a bestiary, reaction table, morale rules, and how to reward players with XP and treasure. One of my favorite things to see are the tables and kit designed to give GMs longevity. There are tables for goals, locations, NPCs, adversaries, complications and rewards. All of which are system agnostic and can be used in any other game, as a result is a simple 2d6 roll away.

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells is an ideal addition to any Game Master, Referee, DM, etc. that enjoys light, hackable, sword & sorcery roleplaying games that not only aim to provide a solid rule set for play but a competent tool kit as well.

Post Script

There is also an Addendum to Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells that offers an expanded tool kit with optional rules for expanded vocations, handling zero level characters, sanity and madness rules, monster generators, forgotten artifacts and random life events. It, like the GM section in the core book, is just as valuable to anyone looking to run Sharp Swords or any other sword and sorcery RPG.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Calin T. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/08/2019 01:40:13

Buy this! The simplicity and versatality is awesome! Have enjoyed many sessions of thisgame and their other titles as well. SOLAR BLADES & COSMIC SPELLS or DARK STREETS & DARKER SECRETS. I recommend them all. Two thumbs up!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Cameron M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/02/2018 01:04:21

SHARP SWORDS & SINISTER SPELLS (This comment is for this gameline, and I suggest buying both the Core Book and the Addendum)

This is the best little game I've played for a while. It's got that OSR flavour to the mechanics, yet it's more streamlined and logical than most OSR games. Very much influenced by more recent games, I would sum it up by saying OD&D + D&D 5E +FATE, then trim it all down to bare basics. It's not D&D, yet it sure feels like how we wanted OD&D to run.

I'm a rpg GM who often runs more serious systems, but in recent years have had a bit of fun with D&D 5E and OSR games due to the simplicity of them. In many ways this little unassuming game stands heads and shoulders above all of those.

The whole vibe is very old school pulpy Sword & Sorcery, very much early OD&D before the High Fantasy sanitisation that came after the God Mod hysteria of the mid 1980s. Closer to Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG than anything else, although not quite a much as meatgrinder, and the rules just play very smoothly, none of that DCC intentional clunkiness. This game is perfect for a classic fantasy old school dungeon crawl, very simple, feels like D&D 5E went back to the late 70s & early 80s and said 'Let's do it this way!"

Love the great black and white artwork, really evocative of games like OD&D, Tunnels & Trolls, Fighting Fantasy, Dragon Warriors, etc with a touch of Vance, Moorcock, Howard, and Carter thrown in. The whole vibe is great.

So much info has been thrown into these two books, it's amazingly good value. My only gripe is that I would love to see both books complied (the Core rulebook and the Addendum) in one little digest size hardcover volume. These rules are slim and I recommend buying both the core book (approx 50pages) and the Addendum (approx 100 pages). If this was one hardcover volume, then the product would get 5+ stars from me (if such a thing existed). Really, this is that good.

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells is favourite new game, and out of a huge collection I would go so far to say that this is probably one of my best purchases so far. I paid only a few dollars for the pdfs, and went back and book the books. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Creator Reply:
Thanks so much for the kind review! It made my day! And I am working on compiling SS&SS and its Addendum in a singular hardback book. And working on a setting toolkit for it. The rules will see a slight revision which should put it similarly to my Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells Sci-Fi game.
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Adrian B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/13/2018 00:33:40

This is like a dream system for me! Simple, brutal, elegant.

I just finished reading this book through, constantly flipping backwards and forwards to make sure what I was reading was real. Magic-users can cast their spells multiple times a day (if their dice are nice), warriors generally beat the stuffing out of opponents, specialists are lucky and skillful, monsters aren't stat blocks, spells are variable in power and only a line or two of text. Love it all!

SS&SS distills and synthesizes some of the best parts of my favorite old school games, and it is glorious to behold!

And the tables at the end to create adventure ideas is really great. Extremely inspirational.

Also, just for fun, the art in the book is incredible. It really puts the reader in the right headspace for the awesome and simple rules they are reading.

Get this book and pay for it! You'll be happy you did.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by James H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/11/2018 05:49:08

There is a lot of meat here for the asking price of Pay What You Want (so, potentially free, but I'm here to tell you it's worth paying for). Despite some rough edges (particularly with regard to determining acting order in combat), Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells has a lot to recommend it if you're looking for a rules-medium fantasy RPG and especially if you're looking for a rules-medium Open Game Licence RPG. That's right! Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells is released under the OGL, meaning that you can hack it to your heart's content, legally! Seriously, give this game a look.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Todor P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:32:25

This is arguably the best pure sword & sorcery RPG out there. There are a handful of other systems that claim to do S&S better but none of them are as light as this one and being light is a very big thing when it comes to fast and dirty, puply S&S. Congratulations, Mr. Nogueira on creating this great, tasty mix of the best parts of a few other systems and producing a coherent whole!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Creator Reply:
Thanks a lot for the kind words! That was exactly my goal when making SS&SS. I liked many different games for many reasons, but none had everything I wanted. So I combined the elements that would make me a fast and flexible game that would allow to run sword and sorcery without worrying too much for preparations, rules, tables and all that, while also giving me a strong framework from where I could create new stuff on the fly easily! I hope you enjoy the Addendum too! :)
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Jose L F C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/03/2017 10:09:26

(From my blog: http://lonelygm.blogspot.com.br/2016/11/a-review-for-sharp-swords-sinister.html)

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells (SS&SS) is a "rules light sword and sorcery role playing game with Old School spirit", which is a very accurate description of this new RPG. It isn't a retroclone (maybe you could call it a “second” or “third generation” retroclone) but it does attempt to capture the general OSR feel and style (in fact, it borrows mechanics from others famous games, especially The Black Hack). My main interest with the SS&SS is because it is – as far as I know – the only OSR game published by brazilian authors in english. This review is based on the PDF offered through DriveThruRPG/RPGNow.

SS&SS's core mechanic is quite simple: roll a d20 against an Attribute. You succeed if roll equal or lower. This is like The Black Hack and it is an approach that I enjoy – simple and very easy to teach.

SS&SS also employs Usage Die (again from The Black Hack). The Usage Die is a clever mechanic used to keep track of ammo, food and other expandable resources. Basically, you roll a die and if you get a 1 or 2, that resource is spent. Otherwise, you just keep rolling.

SS&SS also uses Positive and Negative Dice, which is a just different name of D&D 5E's Advantage and Disadvantage mechanics (at the first, the new nomenclature caused a bit of confusion for me – I thought it would be something like Shadow of the Demon Lord's Bane/Boon Die).

Other core mechanics is Pushing the Roll – a gambit mechanic where you ask for a second chance, but if you fail the referee can choose something particular nasty to happen to your PC. Again, simple and very easy to implement.

The last core mechanic is the Luck Roll. This mechanic is basically SS&SS's take on Luck Points/Attribute - it’s determined by the chosen Archetype (Class) and it works like Usage Die. It kinds of overlaps with the Pushing the Roll rule, although Luck offer a few twists to the PCs.

SS&SS uses 4 Attributes (generated by rolling 3d6): Physique, Agility, Intellect and Willpower; and 3 Archetypes (Classes): Warrior, Specialist and Magic User (cool, no Clerics!).

Each Archetype determines your Hit Dice (and thus Hit Points), Luck Die and Special Abilities.

The Archetypes' Special Abilities are iconic and seem to me be partly inspired by DCC RPG (like the Warrior's Improved Maneuvers, the Specialist's Luckiest of Them All and the Magic User's Blood Sacrifice). They are short, easy to use and just flavorful (in other words: I loved them).

After picking an Archetype, you must define your Vocation (for example, you're a Warrior with the Berserker Vocation or a Magic User with a Necromancer Vocation). Vocations are open-ended backgrounds/concepts that are used by the PCs to gain Positive Dice

The next step is rolling a Complication for your PC, which is a nice way to spice the character's background (in part explaining why you’re an adventurer). “Nice” stuff like been addicted to Sorcery, in debt to a corrupt noble or hunted by the Assassin's Guild. The cool part about Complications is that you can trigger them, once per session, to improve your Luck Die (in exchange, the referee is given free rein to place the Complication somewhere in your near/far future).

Weapons in SS&SS are simplified and divided in 3 categories. Armor reduce damage and shield (my favorite rule here) gives you a number of Negative Die to use on a roundly basis against attacks.

SS&SS has an interesting approach to Initiative. If I got it right, it's based on the Hit Dice size (which usually means Warriors go first). Ties are settled by an Agility checks. Agility also works as AC here, since armors reduce damage. SS&SS employs simple critical and fumble rules. Healing uses a Short/Long Rest dynamic. The game also uses a Powerful Enemy rule, also taken from The Black Hack.

Spellcasting in SS&SS requires a Willpower check. SS&SS has a simple but evocative rule for failing at spellcasting: the magic doesn’t work and the Magic User can choose between losing access to the spell for the day or not. If he chooses to keep the spell available, he suffers a complication devised by the GM. The book offers some guidelines, but this is by far may favorite part of SS&SS as it kind of allows you to run a "light version" of games like DCC RPG or Warhammer Fantasy. And yes, things get better (or should I see worse?): if the Magic User rolls a natural 20, he must check on a Spell Catastrophe table (sweet!).

SS&SS Spell List is short on description but more than enough for any referee running such light games. We're also offered guidelines on how magic item should work (and the price that PCs must pay to use them).

The next part deals with Opponents, with a short list of adversaries and basic rules for creating them (again we see a strong influence of The Black Hack).

Leveling Up is based on the number of adventurers survived and employs an Improvement Roll rule (can you guess from which game?).

SS&SS closes with an adventure generator appendix and a (very good looking) character sheet.

In end, SS&SS presents an interesting variant on The Black Hack, with more crunch and a stronger flavor toward Sword & Sorcery and Dark Fantasy. You can use it with minimum effort to run Warhammer Fantasy, DCC RPG adventures, Conan, Lankhmar, The Black Company and similar settings… I see myself using even for The Witcher and with minimal fuss it’s easily adaptable to other low magic genres, like Lord of the Rings.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by douglas f. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/20/2017 08:15:36

Muito bom! Ótimo para "chegar e jogar". Parabéns Diogo Nogueira!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Elton E. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/13/2017 12:59:56

I was able to read the content and assimilate the rules in less than thirty minutes. The book was written in an elegant way with solid rules and easy to understand. The inside pictures are excellent! A great product!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by John A. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/06/2017 18:25:11

I really like Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells rpg. It is easy and fun to play. It runs on just a few simple and fast mechanics and requires very little preparation. I also enjoy the art. Both mechanics and art are a great fit to the Swords & Sorcery genre. This a perfect little rpg. It is what I run at my gaming table now.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Sophia B. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/03/2017 12:56:18

Sword & Sorcery Turned up to 11 http://dieheart.net/sharp-swords-sinister-spells-review/

Excerpt:

Mighty thews power Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells. You’ll get everything you need to play. It doesn’t come with batteries (a.k.a. its own campaign world) though. The game will be familiar to D&D old-schoolers and is laser-focused on the Sword & Sorcery genre. SS&SS has excellent character options, distilled rules and an elegant magic system. Plus, it stays consistent in its workings. That makes it easy to learn and easy to run.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by Luca C. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/13/2016 17:42:55

Also this one goes directly on my top 5 of its kind, and I've read dozens of them during the last weeks. Very good in all its aspects, and I love the magic system so much! I also hope in a physical release and more adventures and monsters ...maybe in Europe to avoid the horrible high shipment costs! :)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Creator Reply:
Hi, thanks for the review. I would like to let you know there is actually a print version on another PoD website that I don't think I can mention here, but it's a pretty well known one. And we have a G+ community where I post about future releases for the game!
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Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells
Publisher: Old Skull Publishing
by alexander m. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 12/11/2016 14:19:34

I'm mostly reviewing the quick but cute {1d6}{1d6} tables: one d36 for a PC background detail hook that'll be a recurring complication, and the adventure idea creator (6 tables of d36) (I skimmed past the core mechanics themselves to read later; I've already got a few favorite engines, but I'm always interested in good idea-tables.)

Also, I typically spend no words on art as it has no effect on gameplay, but not only is the art/layout and excellent example of how to publish an RPG, many pieces not only can, but are begging me to be used as player handouts.

As a quick show-n-tell, here's an off the cuff PC and first adventure: stats are straight 3d6 in order, with four stats instead of the classic 6: 11,11,6,9 -- Bob now has a dump stat of INT and is otherwise average. 3 classes, I'll go for "totally not a thief" and get this engine's version of the industry standard perks. Vocation: player spins their PC however they want and mechanically get a die-boost when it's justifiable -- I declare Bob's a failed wizard's apprentice who spent years cleaning up after toxic and reality-corrosive experiments at the Unseen University.

first table! "Why...?", {1,6} Bob has a debt to a supernatural entity. Heh; how about Bob's department's master wizard was expecting to still have a corporeal body at the end of the experiment, and after Bob's poor handling of a task leads to disaster, Monsieur Suddenly Immaterial's teeth grating can be heard from the astral plane. the wizard's rage is only kept in check by the fact that only Bob can restore him to his body.

Game effect: whenever Bob's player invokes Bob's complication for a die-boost, the GM has this fuming poltergeist will at some point make a demand that makes Bob & friends' life difficult.

On to the adventure generator! goal {4,3} "guard/protect an important person" important location to the plot {1,2} "ruins of ... a sorcerer's tower" antagonist {5,3} "intelligent monster... an alien" supporting character {4,4} "a mythological creature" complication {1,4} "the characters' weapons are useless" quest reward {1,2} "giant precious gem"

Going with the first idea that ties the above together: Guard S.I.'s body from a body-jumping Yith, while the competent apprentices go find and recover the Gem of Ultimate Shiny from the "Tower of Arrrgh..." so S.I. can use it as the lens for a soul-bind. "Team A" never returns, so it falls to our PCs to pick up the pieces: the gem is (a) the size of a table and (b) all of Team A have been astrally trapped in the gem upon laying a finger on it. So the PCs have to convince a Daoist golem to carry the untouchable gem, but it's holding up a load bearing wall in the Tower.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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