Swords under the Sun — Blades in the Dark meets Dungeon World


itch.io link (will come live at March the 30th)

The Men prospered in the incandescence of the Sun above, as Her light kept horrendous Beasts, spawns of the Dark at bay.

But at one point in time, so long ago that even the oldest of immortal elves don’t remember it, things have changed. The Sun above stopped to warm and started to burn, Men and Beasts indiscriminately.

Whatever sin was committed, it was great and now you must suffer to repent it.

Or, at least, the Temple says so.

This is the game of faith. This is the game of dangers, struggles, darkness and corruption. This is the game of hope, heroism, self-sacrifice and friendship, forged in blood and fire.

Players take on roles of the heroes, risking their life at every turn to make sure that their world, or even the world at large lives to see another day.

I was always puzzled why there’s no fleshed out fantasy hack of BitD, so I’ve decided to make one, but since I’m a damn hipster, I couldn’t be satisfied with just sword and sorcery — so, inspired with my own experience of losing faith, I’ve decided to expand it into sword and sorcery and faith.

As of now, the game is 70 pages long (the only thing is missing is a monster manual, but I’m working on it), and was extensively internally playtested — and now I’m getting ready to launch a public playtest at 30.03.2021.

Stay tuned!

10 Likes

Thanks for posting this. I’m looking forward to giving this a try!

1 Like

This sounds incredible, looking forward to checking it out!

1 Like

Oooh, excited to see this!

1 Like

Thanks to everyone! I really appreciate kind words (:

I’m finishing up last preparations – playtest evaluation forms, compiling changes from baseline BitD, all that jazz.

I’m really glad I’ve started talking about my game online, since now I have no way to chicken out haha

2 Likes

Okay, now I can exhale, finally.
I need a drink.

image

3 Likes

I registered just to tell you: I am looking forward to see your work :slight_smile: I was about to begin working on my own (more traditional) fantasy hack when I’ve ran into your post.

1 Like

It’s out. It’s PWYW. Grab it, play it, tell me what you think about it!

1 Like

Just snagged it. Not sure I’ll be able to start reading it until tomorrow, but really looking forward to it. Especially given that list of inspirations!

1 Like

Exciting! I popped on here to see if anyone had done a blades hack for DW as I am getting frustrated with those rules and wanted to try porting over to blades rules. And here this is :slight_smile:

Just downloaded and it’s a very interesting combination of DW and Blades.

Immedaiate reactions - the good

The action set looks good - that’s one I’d like to pay test to see how it holds up for urban, wilderness and delving adventures. I’m particularly impressed with the sorcerer as this is something of a departure from the Blades source. Another part I like is the specific darknesses that each playset has, making trauma more interesting.

Regardless of whether I play this directly or just take inspiration, it’s great to see some of my bug-bears with each system dealt with: Bonds work better for XP when expressed rather than resolved; harm is still severe and long-lasting, but mild harm goes away more easily; it’s possible to pick special abilities from other play-sets (though that will take away an important bardic ability if that gets added).

Another excellent addition that can be used with any FitD system is the work on NPCs. I recommend that every GM for Blades reads this section and how tier can be used to determine immediacy of effect - this is a great expansion of the idea of expert-enemies. It also builds iteratively, so is flexible to use on the fly or to build a complex enemy with depth. Really good work here.

Immediate Reaction - questions

So this has downtime actions like recover, supply etc., and there is space on the sheets for coin, but it looks like there is no such thing as Downtime vs. Score/action. The lack of “scores” makes sense in a DW-like setting, and restricting down-time actions to when they are in civilisation helps. What I wonder is if the lack on limits will means that all down-time actions get performed, stretching this part out as everyone gets healed, everyone finds peace? Probably one for a longer play-test.

Uncertain what happens in terms of coin. What amount of coin does the group get when finishing an adventure? I guess the range of 2-10 coin depending on size of adventure would make senes. However, if it’s not needed for adding down-time actions, is there a concept of stashing for later, or just get-money-buy-gear?

Rambling Thoughts - how I want to use this

The whole thing is infused with the faith narrative, which is both a strength and an issue for me, as I’m interested in whether it would be possible to use this for an existing DW adventure which I’m struggling with as I want the flexibility of the FitD action set over what I feel are more prescriptive DW moves. As such that would be missing the sun and dark parts of the setting. Sorry! I realise that these are integral to the theme of this piece, and I think these would be fascinating to explore, just not for my current campaign.

So thinking selfishly, what work do I need to do to make this closer to DW? Given my party I need to create a bard and druid. But more fundamentally, is it possible to get DW to work with BitD rules without the faith tensions between light and dark? The two issue I can see are:

  1. That the rules as written expect that life is struggle to keep head above… something. In Blades it is the stress of a life of crime. In Swords it is the doom of the encroaching dark. These feed into how trauma works, and the design of the characters. Possibly not a big issue as could be solved with adjusting the theme and colour - reverting back to the stress of delving into the dark parts of the work.
  2. Attune. This action verb assumes a spirit realm that overlaps ours and is a primary force in the world, able to effect it and infect us with possessing spirits. It’s possible one could keep it as attunement to the natural world, to some mystical force, or to the mind overlay.

But even if I don’t hack this about to make it work in this instance, I do love the idea of a campaign that focuses on discussions about faith. Like a lot of people I know, I lost my own faith in my teens, which seems not as traumatic as for those who question things after a long relationship with faith. Perhaps such themes will always be interesting to apostates like myself, but some of the rest experiences I’ve had with TTRPG has been when characters have to choose between opposing goals, and this looks like it highlights this.

3 Likes

So this has downtime actions like recover, supply etc., and there is space on the sheets for coin, but it looks like there is no such thing as Downtime vs. Score/action. The lack of “scores” makes sense in a DW-like setting, and restricting down-time actions to when they are in civilisation helps. What I wonder is if the lack on limits will means that all down-time actions get performed, stretching this part out as everyone gets healed, everyone finds peace? Probably one for a longer play-test.

The main limiting factor on downtime, is, well, time. In my experience, players tend to not take downtime, instead of taking too much – after all, an evil Sorcerer-King isn’t going to wait for you.

Uncertain what happens in terms of coin. What amount of coin does the group get when finishing an adventure? I guess the range of 2-10 coin depending on size of adventure would make senes. However, if it’s not needed for adding down-time actions, is there a concept of stashing for later, or just get-money-buy-gear?

At this point, coins work on “figure it out” basis. A reference sheet with service prices, costs of retaining hirelings, etc. is under work, but it’s kinda low in my priority list.

Attune. This action verb assumes a spirit realm that overlaps ours and is a primary force in the world, able to effect it and infect us with possessing spirits. It’s possible one could keep it as attunement to the natural world, to some mystical force, or to the mind overlay.

My suggestion would be to get rid of a “magic” action entirely – it’s not like in DW there’s any form of raw magic available to everyone.

Maybe split Observe into Recon and Investigate, or Charm into Consort and Sway, or replace Attune with “Recall lore” (though that’s something I personally didn’t want).

2 Likes

Thanks so much for your thoughts on my questions.

Where do you want nitpicking feedback like spelling, grammar etc, or are you going to do a proof-read sweep after the beta is concluded?

Hi Alice, I agree that a fantasy FitD setting hhas been a long time coming and you’ve done great work here. The rules look solid and they’re close enough to Blades that I feel like my players and I could jump right in.

One thing that makes me a little hesitant to start a game of Swords is the lack of lore. I’m all for world building myself, but I’d really love to know more about the world as you envision it. Like, what exactly is going on with the sun, etc. The little bits of detail I get from the rules are pretty tantalizing and I want more. I’m getting kind of a Dark Sun vibe. Is that at all accurate?

Also, as someone else mentioned, the lack of clear use for coin leaves me wondering a little. The use of coin as fuel to buy downtime actions is one of the best and most elegant ideas in Blades and it feels like there could be some version of that in Swords. Do you think it would be fair to charge coin for things like recovery or finding peace, etc?

Anyway, kudos again on the work you’ve done here. I’m really looking forward to trying it out.

1 Like

@xabth hey! Sorry I didn’t reply earlier, was busy as hell.

There is a big update on its way with factions, and some expansion of the lore (basically, I’m “canonizing” some stuff established while running playtest campaigns), but I don’t have an ETA. I hope it will be out sometime in May, but don’t hold your breath.

I don’t know much about Dark Sun, so I can’t say for sure about it, but several people have said that they get Dark Sun vibes from my game.

Recovery already costs Coins :slight_smile: Though I made it a little more expensive in a new update.

I’m toying with several ideas for coins right now, but I don’t think that buying downtime actions works particularly well for brave heroes, at least, not the same way as it works for criminals of Doskvol.

4 Likes

Thanks for the reply! I look forward to learning more about the world. I’m hoping to get a playtest going with my group in the near future.

Hello again Alice. I hope you’ll forgive me for pestering you but I’ve managed to generate some interest in my rpg group to give SUtS a playtest in the near future. To that end, two of my players and I got together tonight to make characters and do a bit of Dungeon World style world building. We scoured the rulebook for any hints of lore and built on those to flesh out a world to play in, but of course this sparked quite a few questions. Even though we’re ok with making it up as we go, I’m still curious if you have any quick answers you can give if you have time. I’ll list them here.

A rules question first: Can PC’s take special abilities from other classes ala BitD veteran abilities?

On to some world questions.

One thing I’m struggling with is the concept of faith as a cornerstone of the game. I really like it, but I’m having trouble coming up with ways to implement it in game in ways that force characters to struggle with their faith. Some of this comes from not quite knowing what the religion of the world looks like. You refer often to “The Temple” and at least once to the Temple of the Incandesce of the Sun, which I assume are one in the same. Is this religion human based? Do the other races follow it as well, or are there competing religions? Is it a pantheon, or is the Sun worshiped as a singular entity?

My players and I decided that The Temple of the Incandesce of the Sun is a monotheistic religion of human design and that at least the Dwarves and orcs have their own religions and mythology surrounding the Sun and it’s behavior. The dwarves also follow a monotheistic religion, while the orcs believe the sun to represent a singular evil while the moon is queen of a host of benevolent deities. One way we see the subject of faith making itself known is that humans are aggressive in their proselytizing which makes for tension between the races. This will work for our purposes, but I’d love to hear your official version.

Speaking of the sun, can you shed any more light on this ancient solar event and it’s effects? It sounds like the world is getting hotter which makes me assume that most of the world is a desert hellscape. How true is that? If it is accurate, are there still forests and the like?

You mention the Schism War in one line and we did our best to run with that. We decided that the war was a result of a split in the human race over the issue of how much voice the church would have in government. This rift led to war, with the dwarves largely sitting it out while orcish converts to the Church of the Incandesce joined it’s cause. We judged that the church won the battle and that human government is now mostly theocratic. Again, this will work for us, but any input you can give would be very interesting.

Are elves, in fact, immortal? We decided to make them fairly rare, chalking it up to a low birth rate combined with the newly hostile sun being particularly destructive to them.

Back to a rules question, do you have any plans to make the PC party it’s own entity ala Crews in BitD? We were thinking it might be cool to have the party enjoy specific upgrades or special abilities so long as the party is a cohesive unit, which we also felt would promote a bond and a further reason for the heroes to stay together. Just a thought.

I think that’s plenty for now. We will probably begin play next weekend. I’ll let you know how it goes, and no doubt will have more questions for you.

Hello again, Alice. I’m back with some more rules related questions.

I’m having a hard time figuring out if you’re using Position and Effect in the same way that Blades does. Your notations on this are a little scattered and not explicitly laid out. You do mention Controlled, Risky, and Desperate over the course of the rules, but I can’t find an exact breakdown of how a given Position affects Effect. For the time being I’ll assume an exact port of Position/Effect from Blades, but if you have a tweak in mind I’d like to try to understand it well enough to implement it in my playtest.

In the rulebook the Sun-Speaker’s Terrifying Armor is listed at 3 load, while the character sheet marks it as 2 load. For now I’ll defer to the rulebook, but maybe you can give me the definite number on that.

Thanks again for any light you can shed. I’ve explained to my players that this game is a work in progress and that we might have to come up with our own answers to some things until you have time to address all the details and we’re all fine with that. I’m seriously happy to finally have the oppertunity to get into some swords and sorcery Blades style.

Position does not affect Effect in vanilla Blades, so why should it do so in a hack? It would be contrary to the whole concept of Position/Effect.

Yes. Poor wording on my part. I guess what I was trying to ask was how Position affects the outcome of a roll. Like, a 4-5 means something different for a controlled position vs a desperate position. The differences in Position are not explicitly spelled out in the current rules so I wanted to make sure if it’s handled exactly like BitD or not.