Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Seven

June 23rd, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Chapter the Last in my exhausting — er, exhaustive — series of Sword World 2.5 articles, picking the bones of the English version by the Sword World Translation Project. Download their translationjoin their Discord, or peruse their sub-Reddit. And gyre and gimble in the wabe.)

The Translation

Biting the hand

Before TSR released the first Japanese version of D&D in 1985, unpaid Japanese game enthusiasts would receive copies of the English books and painstakingly translate them in their spare time. Bootleg copies of these translations were photocopied and mailed around between college campuses for groups to play this cool new thing from the States.

Sword World 2.5 is currently published by Fujimi Shobo, an imprint of Kadokawa Publishing. Anime and manga likers will instantly know that name, because they’re a juggernaut with their fingers in practically every media pie in Japan. TTRPG enthusiasts have been trying for years to get them to sell us SW in English, but the publishers apparently don’t really see the crowded US RPG market as anything worth competing in. So now we have the Sword World Translation Project, a group of unpaid English-speaking game enthusiasts who have received copies of the Japanese books and are painstakingly translating them in their spare time … hmm, this sounds familiar somehow.

I have zero affiliation with the SWTP besides greedily consuming their output and lurking on their Discord. It feels petty to criticize this whole entire mad project they’re slaving away on, laying books out in front of me free of charge. It’s really a fine translation and I have no qualms about recommending it.


This is not a professional, sponsored, paid translation, and it shows. The layout is occasionally janky. Sometimes items have the wrong title or text because the format’s been obviously copy-pasted from somewhere else. The phrasing is sometimes odd and unclear and would benefit from another editing pass or two. I wish they’d chosen a different body font than Baskerville Old Face, which always reminds me of a 1950’s schoolbook. Their kerning is a bit too tight, which makes the spacing stand out. I want someone to go through and add some frickin’ padding to the frickin’ boxes for the LOVE OF PETE.

But (again), I’ve been watching how they work on Discord, and they’re pretty good about fixing mistakes. They recommend waiting a few weeks after a book or supplement gets translated before downloading the PDF as a permanent copy, since they’ll be changing it constantly to iron out the mistakes. They claim they’ve picked up a sub-team of competent copy editors, so maybe some of my complaints about phrasing will clear up. Auquid, the SW2.5 main translator, is so responsive and prolific that I wonder what they do for a living. The text isn’t Engrish-y or anything. I’ve certainly seen worse design skills, on paid products even.

And they’re doing it for free, so, yeah. Worth every penny you’ll spend on it and more.

The Game Itself

Just gnawing away on that hand, really getting into it

There is a lot to Sword World 2.5. The three core books alone are around 1,300 pages of pure uncut content. (The books are physically small, so that’s not as much content as 1,300 pages would be in D&D-style books. It’s still a lot of pages to flip through.)

The game’s conceit of escalating complexity from Book I -> Book II -> Book III has consequences. For instance, Book I introduces Sorcerers, Conjurers, and Priests, with level 1-5 spell lists for each one. Fine. Book II adds Bards, Enhancers, and Fairy Tamers, and includes their full lists from levels 1-10, while only having the levels 6-10 lists for the other traditions. Book III adds Alchemists and Riders, with their full list of abilities from 1-15, but only has levels 11-15 for everything else.

This trickles down in other places too. Level 1 combat feats for Bards sit aside level 6 feats for everyone else in Book II. Low-level Alchemist items are in tables with the highest-level magic items. A level 3 monster meant to be an opponent for Riders resides in Book III next to all the level 10 critters. It makes sense in its way, but it can be a pain to keep everything straight, especially for GMs.

Supplements like Epic Treasury, Magus Arts, and Monstrous Lore alleviate all of this with their comprehensive lists of what’s in the core books, plus more. This comes at the expense of having more books to refer to (and buy, if you’re not reading an unofficial translation, heh heh, tug collar).

The GM has to work to keep encounters tuned to the party’s strength, since the 2d6 mechanic has a smallish challenge-to-pain window and monsters start hitting hard quickly. Getting new armor and equipment is sometimes more important than leveling up. It’s also easy for a character to spread their XP out too much and fall behind other, more specialized heroes. Players need to consult with one another when they level up to make sure the whole party stays in tune.

Some supplements add new classes and races, so the players and GM need to stay up on what everyone else has access to. If someone comes in wanting to play a Soleil Druid/Tactician, a GM with only the core books will either have to educate themselves quick or be ready to say no. It’s not quite splatbook-level but it’s reminiscent.

(I love the Soleil, by the way. They’re a race of big bronze himbos who are possibly direct mortal descendants of the Sun God.)

You’re welcome

The game plays quickly once the players and GM have their feet under them. It’s not as crufty as OSR but not as loose as 5e either. The structure of combat reminds me of Pathfinder a bit, but not quite as clockwork-regimented. The rules are mostly unambiguous. Monsters aren’t just bags of HP, and often take actual strategies to defeat. Side initiative makes every fight feel like a slugfest.

It’s fun despite its peccadilloes, is what I’m saying.


It is finished

Sword World 2.5 is a very robust game. The GM should definitely take the time to skim all three volumes before playing, and you should expect some minor jank in your first session or two until everybody can internalize the basics. Once everyone gets it, it’s pretty easy.

It’s also a surprisingly social game which emphasizes teamwork and synergy. As long as players make sure their characters cover everyone else’s gaps, the game works great. It’s also possible to make silly characters that don’t contribute, so some level of GM counsel may be needed. This is a difficult game to bring your one weird character to a new table and fit right in. The GM can find Fellows to bridge the gaps, but there’s a danger of them overshadowing the players and/or becoming a crutch for bad party structure, and that’s no fun.

The rudimentary tactical combat rules are a bummer. That may change in the future but there hasn’t been any indication of that from the publisher. The tactical systems it does have range from ehh to okay. If you love your miniatures and maps, prepare either to put in some elbow grease, or move along.

Sword World 2.5 has had nearly 40 years of refinement, and it shows. I wouldn’t write so much about it if I didn’t recommend it. It’s good and you should play it.

Review Index

Part 1: Intro to Sword World/Thumbnail History of Raxia
Part 2: Races and Classes
Part 3: Combat
Part 4: Gods and Spells
Part 5: Fellows
Part 6: Guilds and Monsters
Part 7: Conclusion

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Six

June 23rd, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Number six with a bullet in my persnickety series of Sword World 2.5 articles, as I obsess over the English version by the Sword World Translation Project. Download their translationjoin their Discord, or peruse their sub-Reddit. This is your penultimate warning.)

Guilds in Alfleim

The Guilded Age

Adventurer’s Guild: Originally a network of daemon-fighting warriors which formed after the Abyss disaster 3,000 years ago, this has evolved into a general-purpose troubleshooting group which responds to local emergencies. It receives requests for help, pays out rewards, and provides small loans, rescue and body recovery, and resurrection services to its members. Local branches often run taverns or dining halls with attached lodging.

The AG maintains an adventurer’s Reputation, a numeric approximation of an adventurer’s public fame as a hero. Characters can spend Reputation to gain access to exotic weapons and artifacts, but they always retain their cumulative score to get nifty titles as they ascend the Guild ladder.

Yeah, my level is Flamberge, I’m kind of a big deal

Magician’s Guild: Where the cool mages hang out. This guild provides training for sorcerers and conjurers. It’s also your best bet to find some of the more obscure magic items for sale. Most people think they’re mysterious and spooky. They do little to change that impression.

Temples: The go-to for all your priestly needs. Nearly all humanoid towns have temples to Lyphos of the First Sword and the sun god Tidan. Lesser gods’ representation may depend on the region. Barbarous cities have temples to Dhalkrem and his dark ilk. Grendal, god of fire, is worshiped by both sides.

Institute of Magitechnology: After the Diabolic Triumph destroyed the Magitech civilization, the Institute was formed to keep Magitech knowledge alive. They’re also a major financial backer of the Adventurer’s Guild and co-office with them sometimes. Artificers and alchemists often get their training here.

Rider’s Guild: Long-range transportation of goods is at a premium since the Diabolic Triumph, so these guys popped up to assist caravans. Riders can rent all kinds of mounts through this guild, from horses to giant lizards to flying bikes. You can be blacklisted if you get a lot of mounts lost or killed.

Ruins Guild: When you find interesting antiquities in forgotten ruins, the Ruins Guild is where you go to get them appraised by… okay, this is actually the Thieves Guild. Besides the usual shady rackets, they provide security in poor areas and have an extensive information-gathering network. The Ruins Guild sometimes works alongside the Adventurer’s Guild. Quietly, of course.


What do you want from us? We’re evil! EVIL!

Each book contains over a hundred monster listings of appropriate levels, divided into categories.

Barbarous: The OG and the most ubiquitous. Most every adventurer on Raxia will first wet their swords with Barbarous blood. Since Barbarous were humanoids many millennia ago, they will either be your usual bipedal monster (kobolds, goblins, ogres, minotaurs, giants, trolls, etc.) or are monstrous with an alternate human form (drakes and basilisks). Barbarous only respect strength, so drakes lord over ogres who lord over goblins who lord over kobolds.

Okay, maybe they’re not all bad

There are no orcs in this setting. Roughly in their place are bolgs, heavily muscled blue-skinned creatures with white fur. Any resemblance to Japanese oni is completely within your imagination.

Animals: Animals. Not a lot of oddities here besides the occasional giant bug or sea monster. Dinosaurs appear here and there. At higher levels you’ll find animals with inborn magic, like the Blazing Mammoth.

ice burn

Plants: Gotta have your carnivorous plants and poisoned vines. A few species specifically target other plants, like Meria Mistletoe, which is a bit like cordyceps but for Meria. Ents, here called “Entlets” and “Living Trees,” show up as well.

Undead: Creatures gain soulscars in various ways. Barbarous are monsters partly because of their heavy soulscarring. Nightmares are born with them. Adventurers who get repeatedly resurrected can also gain soulscars, which will cause increasing physical changes. But after five soulscars, anyone who gets resurrected becomes an undead.

Undead range from skeletons to nosferatu to zombie dragons. Pretty much anything that can die can return as an undead. Here we also find our old pal the Dullahan, staple of Japanese Western fantasy.

He’ll never get ahead in death

Conjurers of level 3 and up can create undead using any Humanoid or Barbarous corpse. This is generally frowned upon in polite society.

Constructs: Back during the Magic Civilization, wizards loved to create magical servants to guard their stuff, or trap intruders, or torture their enemies, or just because screw you, they’re wizards.

Anyway, a lot of these constructs continue to patrol their old haunts. In some cases they’ve taken on a life of their own and have figured out how to multiply themselves, and have to be hunted down.

A Conjurer’s golems count as constructs, though they only last a day instead of, you know, three thousand years. Modern-day wizards are still trying to figure out how the old guys did that.

Magitech: The Magitech Civilization left behind a lot of artifacts. Some of those artifacts will kill you. Magitech monsters are usually robot-like minions that roam the halls of ruined factories and storehouses. They all have techy sci-fi-ish names like “Zerlays” and “Kagners.”

Bonk bonk on the head

Magitech also has the best mounts, which are listed in this section. You haven’t lived until you’ve gone tearing across the plains on a magic motorcycle.


Mythical Beasts: Before humans, these were the Swords of Genesis’ best efforts to create someone to use them. Unfortunately they didn’t have the ambition necessary to take up the power and change the world.

I mean, look at this creampuff

These are your typical monsters from legend, like thunderbirds and gryphons and true dragons and stuff. Most humanoid monsters from Earth myth, like minotaurs and werewolves, are Barbarous instead.

Fairies: Whimsical beings from an alternate dimension of magic. Typical fairies are tiny Tinkerbell-like things, but more powerful fairy types have more diverse forms, like Cait Sith and nymphs. Efreet and titans also count as “fairies” in this cosmology (though SW’s “titans” are giant anime girls; not complaining, mind you, just pointing that out). Fairy Tamers can summon a significant percentage of these guys to do their dirty work for them.

Daemons: Eeeeevil beings from another dimension which were summoned by the Magic Civilization and ultimately caused its downfall. They have an “alternative” sense of morality which makes them see humanoids as things to corrupt, exploit, devour, and forget. They range from tiny imps to big ol’ horned monsters, with lots of variety in between.


The Warlock class, described in the Monstrous Lore supplement, has daemon summoning as its core ability. Considering the history humanoids have with daemons, this is EXTREMELY frowned upon in polite society. Like, “get strung up by a mob” frowned upon.

Humanoids: Bandits and such, yawn.

Next time: Wrapping it up

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Five

June 16th, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Fifth of its name in my janky series of Sword World 2.5 articles, dissembling upon the English version by the Sword World Translation Project. Download their translationjoin their Discord, or peruse their sub-Reddit. Your life, and theirs, do not depend upon in it any way.)


“I think that enemy got … the point!”

Look, we get it. Sometimes the sorcerer has to go to his stupid sister’s wedding, or your best fighter finally wheedled a date out of that girl in Class 2-A, or maybe you have a party of clumsy numbskulls who want to plunder the Razor-Filled Labyrinth of Mirrors and Tripwires and could use a hand. Where will you scare up another player at this time of night?

With Fellows, you don’t have to.

Fellows turns PCs into simplified, semi-autonomous NPCs that the party can use even if the player isn’t around. They also let you introduce helper characters into your own game, and send your own characters out into the world to be NPCs in other games around the world.

To make a Fellow, you must first create the Universe a PC. Then grab a Fellow sheet and fill in the character’s basic information: name, race, gender, age, Adventurer Level, classes, languages known, and MP.

Nothing unusual so far …

Next, choose four actions which you consider either the most useful, or most iconic, actions that your character might perform. They don’t all have to be combat actions, and the rules suggest that they probably shouldn’t be, lest playgroups think your character is a dull, one-note combat monster.

In Saffron’s case, I’m thinking of an interesting spread of her class talents, like a couple of Fairy Tamer spells, something Ranger-y like noticing things are amiss in the forest, and maybe her Bard spellsong.

Once per combat turn, or whenever the party thinks the Fellow’s skills would be useful, someone can roll 1d and check the action list to see what the Fellow tries to do. If it’s nonsensical or dumb, the Fellow instead does nothing of consequence that turn.

The “Result” column is the presumptive skill check roll for that action. Add that number to the Fellow’s skill and enter the total in the Value column. The GM will compare this Value to the difficulty of the action and tell the party if it succeeded.

Example: Your character has a big sword and you want to create an action for him smacking someone with it. The character’s Accuracy with the sword is +5. You put the action in the second row, which has 8 in the Result column. That gives the action a Value of 8 + 5, or 13. The Fellow will now automatically hit any enemy with an Evasion of 12 or less.

Generally you’ll want to put your most effective skills in the bottom two rows for the higher Results, with the understanding that those rows will be rolled less often.

If an action has a target, the party chooses the target after the roll. The party can also cancel an action if it’s not really needed, like if the Fellow rolls to heal someone who’s only slightly banged up.

To make your Fellow even more convenient to use, you should include the Effect of the roll (if there is one) in the last column. Continuing the big sword example, you’d include the weapon’s Power, Extra Damage, and Crit values, plus any other effects from either the weapon itself or any combat feats that you want to apply.

Best of all is the Dialogue column. Whenever the Fellow succeeds with an action, this is a little quip that the character says aloud. Every. Single. Time. This will make the Fellow either a charming temporary team mascot, or the most annoying being to ever exist. Probably both. Hopefully both.

“Wolves hunt in packs, Arisen.”

And now, finally, we can write our Fellow’s Introduction, a one- or two-liner that your character would say to an adventuring group at their initial meeting. If a GM grabs your Fellow sheet off the internet, the Introduction is what they’ll use to help sell your character to the group. The example Fellow in the book, a fighter/scout named Wolfe, has this Introduction: “I’m a hot-blooded guy who loves a good adventure. Nice to meet you!” I mean, like, yes, hello, Action Man, come hit things with us, let’s go.

The Introduction is both a brilliant way to encapsulate your character for new groups, and extremely Japanese. I half-expected the rules to tell the Fellow to bow while presenting their business card with both hands.

Hajime mashite

You might notice that our Fellow has no HP, armor, or equipment. That’s because a Fellow can never be harmed. They’re never targeted by enemies, and any calamity that affects the entire party somehow misses them by miraculous circumstance. In the event of a TPK, the Fellow is assumed to survive and return to civilization.

But immortality has its price: a Fellow must always be in the same area as one of the PCs (so no sending them down a deep dark hole to report back what they find) and can take no action* except what’s on their action chart. They will flatly refuse to do anything that takes advantage of their meta-invulnerability. Any consumables they use (healing herbs, potions, etc., but not ammo) must be provided by the party. They can’t be captured by enemies without their PC companion, and vice versa.

* They can perform other small actions if their companion PC does it too; the example given is crouching behind some rocks. But they can’t do anything unique.

After a group finishes a session with a Fellow, the rules encourage them to provide an after-action report back to the player. The book goes to great lengths to urge them to make their feedback positive, because they and we all know what people are like on the internet. It’s a fine sentiment but also has a bit of a CYA feel.

Nice try, grandpa

Players can also ask that their Fellow receive a share of in-game loot or XP. It’s entirely up to your GM to decide whether any percentage of that translates back to your campaign, but it can be a nice little bonus.

There’s no official Fellow repository mentioned in the books. Even a scan of the publisher’s website doesn’t find any mention of them. There are a couple of Japanese-language fansites with Fellow databases, though, and probably more on the handful of SW2.5 message boards. For English speakers, the Sword World Translation Project’s Discord has a Fellows channel with several entries already.

A Fellow is a way to offer more muscle and/or skills to a party when needed, plus a role-playing prompt, plus a way to feel like you’re contributing to the larger community. I enjoy this concept a lot, as you might expect considering how long I’ve gone on about it. It’s quick, simple, and a bit silly. Just how I like ‘em.

Next time: Guilds and Monsters

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Four

May 27th, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Number four in my dorky series of Sword World 2.5 articles, examining the English version churned out by the Sword World Translation Project. Download their translationjoin their Discord, or peruse their sub-Reddit. And like I always say, lay down that boogie and play that funky music ’til you die.)

The Gods of Raxia

Gods & ends

After the War of the Gods many thousands of years ago, the divinities of Raxia retreated to a distant realm which is essentially Heaven. There they wait and heal until a distant day of reckoning, when they will arise again and finish their business with each other once and for all. A CthulhuRagnarok, if you will.

Despite their recuperation, the gods remain aware of the world and provide assistance to their true believers. The collective thoughts and good will of humanoids will sometimes draw the gods’ attention to certain mortals. In extreme cases they will offer apotheosis to these mortals, creating latter-day godlings who may or may not gain enough power to become major gods themselves.

Gods are broadly categorized as Ancient, Major, and Minor. Ancient gods are worshiped worldwide. Major gods have a continental scope. Minor gods are usually local to a region. If a priest travels away from a god’s sphere of influence, they may incur spell penalties unless they can find a way to beef up the local worship of that god. It’s all rather fuzzy.

Worshiping a god isn’t just window dressing for a Priest. Though everyone’s spell lists are largely similar, each god has their own unique spells at levels 2, 4, 7, 10, and 13. Also, Priests of the First Sword gods tend to have spells that specifically target Barbarous (Banish, Detect, etc.). Priests of the Second Sword gods have similar spells that specifically target humanoids. The priests of Kilhia, God of Wisdom and wielder of the Third Sword, generally align with the First Sword guys.

The following gods are described in all three rulebooks, plus the Epic Treasury and Magus Arts supplements.

Ancient gods

Lyphos the Divine Ancestor: The first one. Mild-mannered, more inclined to talk than fight. His spells do things like make all hostiles non-hostile and give humanoids the special abilities of other humanoids for a while.

Tidan, God of the Sun: Lyphos’ best friend. All about fairness. Really hates undead. His spells are mostly light-based. He also has one that can clear up bad weather instantly.

Asteria, Goddess of Fairies: Creator of Elves and progenitor of fairy magic. Her spells are charm- and emotion-based.

Grendal, Blazing Emperor: God of fire, creator of Dwarves. Unique in that he’s as popular with Barbarous as he is with humanoids. His spells are all about … aww you guessed.

Gamel, God of Money: Given godhood by Lyphos for inventing capital, ensuring that he’ll be first against the wall when the revolution comes, comrades. His spells are mostly about finding the true value of things. He also has the spell [Life Insurance], which lets you sacrifice cash to get a bonus on your death check roll.

Kilhia, God of Wisdom: Found the Third Sword, Cardia, before it exploded. His spells inspire insight and knowledge. His highest-level unique spell allows a priest to cast a spell of any other tradition (Truespeech, Fairy Magic, etc.).

Dhalkrem, God of War: Wielder of the Sword of Freedom, Ignis, and starter of the god war. Boo this man. The creator and main god of the Barbarous, he’s sometimes worshiped by humanoid brigands and soldiers as well. His spells all have names like [Frenzy] and [Berserk].

Major gods

Sien, Goddess of the Moon: Tidan’s sweetheart in life. Supporter of people who work and worry at night, including wives, tavern keepers, and sex workers. Her spells are all about vision, darkness, and fortitude.

Mirtabar, the Divine Hand: God of thieves and adventurers. Scouts tend to whisper prayers to him while trying to disarm traps. His spells emphasize quick hands and accurate movement.

Eve, Shield Against the Abyss: Goddess of the Tiens and other guardians of the Wall of the Abyss. Her followers are always expected to defend the weak. Spells are mostly tuned against daemons.

Harula, the Guiding Star: Eve’s sister, who is all about finding your place in the world and bringing the lost back home. Her spells are generally designed to make Shallow Abysses easier to navigate.

Dalion, God of the Trees: The Lorax writ large. Worshiped by hunters and loggers. His spells get you through the forest easier and/or trip up pursuers.

Miritsa, Goddess of Love and Vengeance: Two-in-one special! Originally a Barbarous who learned compassion and got godmoded by Lyphos. Her priests are all women. Spells involve redirecting damage and turning public opinion.

Myles, Divine Chef: God of cooking and craftsmanship. Supposedly the first human to make food for more than survival. Spells have names like [Enticing Aroma] and [Adiposity], which makes your target super fat.

Aurmata, Armored Goddess: A latecomer divinity who gained fame for building Magitech Iron Man armor. Worshiped by soldiers, Artificers, and blacksmiths. Her spells give priests magi-mechanical body enhancements like wings and cannons.

Paro, Divine Herald: One of the few other people deified by the power of the Third Sword, Paro is the messenger god (and god of messengers). His spells mostly help Tacticians, a new class from the Magus Arts supplement.

Adeni, Weaver of Threads: Goddess of clothing, and by extension cleanliness and disease prevention. Her spells keep people clean and tidy, and cure or repel sickness.

Nivaceps, the Blood-Bathing Goddess: A former nosferatu who gained godhood. Mutilates maidens and bathes in their blood, so it’s not just a clever name. Not a nice lady. Spells are all “us against them” discord creators.

Eiryak, Sea Snatcher: A former Barbarous pirate. Hates the act of creation and espouses just taking what you want without mercy. Lots of water-based spells.

Zeides, Immortal Queen: Her quest for immortality made her the progenitor of the nosferatu. Her spells make vampiric life easier, like [Sunshade] and [Spirit Domination].

Laris, the Mad God: Nobody really knows where this guy came from or got his powers. Some speculate he’s from a different dimension entirely. Worshiped by daemons, which is kind of a giveaway. His spells summon insects and daemons.

Gurvazo, Trap God: Formerly a humanoid who really, really liked traps. Got so into it that he was committing war crimes, so Dhalkrem called him up. Really into EDM. Guess what his spells are about.

Zoras-Valles, Earth Storm: Zoras is an earth goddess and her twin brother Valles is a sky god. Though Barbarous gods, they’re more about forethought and preparation than hitting things. Worshiped by the architects of the Diabolic Triumph. Their spells involve prognostication and confusion.

Minor gods

Furusil, Goddess of Wind and Rain: Daughter of Tidan and Sien. Outwardly cool but secretly affectionate (y’know, kuudere). Worshiped in the southern part of the continent. Spells are all storm-based.

Strasford, God of Railroads: He’s the god. Of railroads. Who cares about anything else, there’s a friggin’ god of railroads in this game. A former Dwarf tinkerer in the Dorden Region, where trains still run today. Spells maintain and extend the capabilities of vehicles.

Sadur, Wandering God: Formerly an Elf noble in the Aurelm Region who spent his time walking around solving people’s problems. His spells involve travel, hiding, and enemy detection.

Meigal, Fraud God: Home of the fraud god. The first swindler, who appeared in the world almost the instant Gamel invented money. His spells are all misdirection and deceit.


We have such sights to show you

I’ve talked about spells a lot, so let’s see how they’re presented in the books.

Again, most of this is self-explanatory. The ⏭ symbol in the [Blink] spell means it can be cast as a minor action, and the △ means it can be cast during the combat prep phase. Occasionally you’ll see a ⭘, which indicates a permanent effect.

Most spells that cause damage will have the Power Table entry right in the description.

Resistance shows what happens on a successful Willpower roll to shake a spell off. This can be “Can’t,” “n/a”, “Neg,” “Half,” and “Optional.” Optional spells are usually meant to be beneficial for an ally, but if the target doesn’t want it on them for some reason, they can roll to negate it.

The little witch-hat icon indicates that these are level 8 Truespeech (Sorcerer) spells. Each tradition has its own icon. There are more in supplements for Geomancers and Druids, but these are the OG:

Spells for major classes cap out at level 15. Minor classes that let you pick and choose an effect every level (a Bard’s spellsongs, for instance, or an Alchemist’s Evocations) have a dozen or so that can be learned at level 1, another group with a minimum level of 5, and a third group at level 10.

Next time: Suppose they gave an adventure and nobody came?

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Three

May 24th, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Third in my idiotic series of Sword World 2.5 articles based on the English version churned out by the Sword World Translation Project, of which I am only a humble fanboy. Download their translationjoin their Discord, or peruse their sub-Reddit. Or don’t, I ain’t ya mama.)


I shall smite him roundly

The most succinct explanation of how SW2.5 combat works comes straight out of Book I:

It’s all pretty straightforward. The two sides are identified, characters pop off any feats or non-attack actions that may give their side an advantage, Sages roll to identify the weak points of the enemies, then players roll for Initiative. You’ll notice that SW2.5 uses side initiative instead of individual initiative; everyone from the winning side acts, in any order, then the other side does the same. Once everyone knows who goes first, combatants line up and away you go.

To hit an opponent with a weapon, roll 2d6 + your Dexterity modifier + your Warrior-type Class Level + the weapon’s Accuracy versus the enemy’s 2d6 + Evasion. (Monsters have an optional fixed Evasion value if the GM doesn’t want to roll so much.) If you beat the enemy’s Evasion or roll double 6’s, you hit!

Every weapon has a Power score. To determine the damage done, roll 2d6 on the corresponding line of the Power Table. If you roll equal to or higher than the weapon’s Crit Value, roll again and add. Keep rolling until you stop critting. Then add your weapon’s Extra Damage score + your Strength modifier + your Warrior-Type Class Level to find the total damage done. Subtract the enemy’s Defense, and voila!

I’ve got the power

In practice, this isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Your weapons’ total Accuracy and Extra Damage can be added up beforehand, and only change when you raise your stats or class level. There’s a spot on the character sheet for the full Power Table entry of every weapon you own.

Right there.

After a few rolls, once you know where to look, the process feels surprisingly quick and smooth. It is a bit roll-y if the GM wants to roll attacks and Evasion checks for players and enemies both. With the optional fixed scores for monsters, you can get through almost any attack with one to two rolls, plus crits.

Weirdly enough, most monsters don’t use the Power Table; their attacks all do 2d + (some number) damage. PCs have a somewhat larger pool of HP to compensate.

After combat ends, all that’s left is to go through your enemies’ pockets. Most all monsters have loot tables to simplify this process. If the GM enhanced any of the boss monsters with sword shards, those will also emerge from their bodies for the players to grab.

A brief and indulgent Power Table rant: The full Power Table, which appears in a Book III appendix, is 100 rows long and tops out at 30 damage (Power 100, roll 12). The increase between each level is so gradual as to be almost subliminal; going up 10 full levels is usually between +1 and +3 damage, depending on your roll. A lot of the time, the character’s own Extra Damage will be a bigger factor than their weapon’s Power score. Most bizarrely, power levels don’t progress by a formula; apparently the designer created the entire table by what feels right. IMHO, this table could be a fifth its length and readjusted for consistency and I doubt anyone would notice. It’s a cute bit of legacy design that kinda drags things down.

Marching Orders

The front lines are no place for a rabbit

SW2.5 has three different methods of managing battles, from “You’re either in melee or you’re not” all the way up to maps. Gosh.

Simplified Combat reduces every battle to three zones: the allied rearguard, the frontline, and the enemy rearguard. You start combat in your choice of the allied rearguard or the frontline. It takes one full action to move to an adjacent zone. Characters can’t move into their enemy’s rearguard as long as there are active enemy combatants on the frontline, unless they overwhelm the enemy’s numbers by at least double. Ranged characters (Marksmen, Sorcerers, etc.) can shoot from their zone to an adjacent zone, but can’t shoot from their rearguard through to the enemy rearguard unless they have the Hawk Eye combat feat.

Standard Combat puts all the characters on a single line and uses their movement scores to determine their distances from one another. If a party member enters the combat range of an enemy, a “skirmish” breaks out, and nobody can move freely through the skirmish zone. Skirmishes block line of sight for ranged characters unless, again, they have the Hawk Eye feat.

Gonna be honest, Standard Combat is a pain to manage. In a way it reminds me of “range bands” from old-school Traveller, but granular down to the meter. The GM would need a whiteboard or a ruler or something to keep everyone’s relative location straight, especially when you have skirmishes and areas of effect and blocking movement and ugh. If you want to try this, consider at least breaking the battlefield into 3-meter strips rather than nickel-and-diming every meter.

Do you see this shit Applejack

Advanced Combat … doesn’t appear in the core rulebooks. For that, you’ll need to pick up the Epic Treasury supplement. Advanced Combat is essentially a 2D version of Standard Combat with new rules about blocking and line-of-sight. For something called “Advanced,” it still feels simplified and abstract compared to the tactical rules of most RPGs these days. The rules even say straight out that vertical distance doesn’t matter “unless the GM thinks it should.” Well I think it should!

These abstracted battlefields may have cultural origins. Japanese living spaces are famously … let’s say “efficient,” and sitting with a bunch of friends around what is essentially an end table tends to limit your gaming options. A big surface with enough space for miniatures and a map is often a luxury for poor college-age people. SW2.5 came out right before the proliferation of VTTs, so it’ll be interesting to see if they take advantage of that in future supplements.

I will say that Simplified Combat provides more than enough detail when you have a small party mixing it up with goblins in a cave somewhere. But the more combatants you add, the more your players may long for some tactical variety. I’d skip right to Advanced Combat in that case.

Next time: Gods and ends

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part Two

May 22nd, 2023
Sword World 2.5

(Second in my dumb series of Sword World 2.5 articles based on the efforts of the Sword World Translation Project, which has nothing to do with me besides my voracious appetite for their work. Download their translation here, join their Discord there, or peruse their sub-Reddit over yonder.)

Monsters, Dungeons, and Even More Swords

A wild Dungeon approaches! Command?

Swords of Protection: These nth-generation copies of Lumiere give off long-range emanations which cause pain and paralysis in soulscarred creatures; the more scarred their souls, the worse the pain.

Any town with a Sword of Protection is kept mostly safe from Barbarous incursions. Swords of Protection also make any PC with several soulscars (for instance, a resurrected character) feel anywhere from vaguely unwelcome to bleeding eyeballs.

Swords of Protection slowly lose power over time. To keep them running, the town must use sword shards, small chunks of metal which sometimes appear out of the corpses of powerful boss monsters. This creates an ongoing bounty situation, as towns will pay for shards to keep their people safe, making it lucrative for adventurers to hunt monsters. (But it’s okay! They’re evil!)

Adventurers can also turn in sword shards for free, which helps increase their Reputations. In the game, Reputation is another type of currency, which gives characters access to unique items and perks that money alone can’t buy.

Sword Labyrinths: Even though magic swords have a desire to be wielded, they don’t want just any schmoe to swing them around willy-nilly. So the more powerful ones will transform the area around them, creating underground structures with twisting corridors and traps to test anyone who dares try to reach them. Many will summon nearby monsters to populate their ersatz dungeons. If an adventurer manages to make it to the bottom, only then will the sword deem them worthy.

Highly magical swords, left alone for a long time, can create gigantic dungeons dozens of levels deep. Often whole towns will spring up near the entrances of these dungeons to support parties of adventurers competing to get to the prize first.

Shallow Abysses: Even though the main Abyss is contained behind the Wall, swirls and eddies from that disaster still wander the continent of Alfleim, occasionally settling in one place as a Shallow Abyss.

Shallow Abysses are basically open-air sword dungeons without the sword. They alter the surroundings until the characters find themselves someplace totally nonsensical and have no recourse but to fight or puzzle their way to the core. The concept is reminiscent of a witch labyrinth from Puella Magi Madoka Magica. If a Shallow Abyss is allowed to exist for too long, it will even begin summoning daemons who will screw with the heads of anyone trapped inside.

Once you’re in, the only way out is to find the core. The core of a Shallow Abyss is a chunk of darkness shaped like a sword (naturally). If the PCs touch it, a portal opens that allows them to escape. A solved Abyss will soon collapse into interdimensional space, with the PCs still inside if they don’t get a move on.

The Races of Raxia

Hey, Tab-biiit!

This is Runefolk erasure and I won't stand for it
This is Runefolk erasure and I won’t stand for it

Human: Your standard “good at everything, not amazing at any one thing” RPG human. Their special ability is Change Fate: once per day, any time you roll 2d6, you can flip both your dice over and take the numbers on the opposite side. So a 1 becomes a 6, a 2 becomes a 5, etc. You have to flip both dice, though.

Elf: Tall, willowy, dexterous, magically inclined. They have thin pointed ears. Their special abilities are Darkvision and Gentle Water: they can move underwater without penalty and can hold their breath underwater for an hour. They also get a bonus against disease and poison.

Dwarf: Short, stocky, bearded. They have metallic-sheen hair in a variety of colors. Special abilities are Darkvision and Flame Body: immunity to fire and fire-based attacks. Like, completely. You can’t even set anything they carry on fire unless they allow it.

Tabbit: Now things get interesting. Tabbits are short, furry rabbit-people (think the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland). Awkward of body, but very intelligent and good at magic. Their special ability is Sixth Sense, a bonus to Danger Sense checks equal to their level. Tabbits claim that their origin dates back to the whims of a dead god; whatever the truth of the matter is, they can’t take the Priest class.

Runefolk: Quasi-artificial humanoids decanted fully grown from technomagical clone vats. Created during the Magitech Civilization as servants, but have their own culture nowadays. Very good at Magitech. Special abilities are Darkvision and HP Conversion, allowing them to trade HP for MP once per day. Runefolk can’t perceive spirits, so they can’t take the Priest or Fairy Tamer classes.

Nightmare: Humans, elves, dwarves, or lildraken born with soulscars. This makes them feared and shunned by polite society, though they’re no more evil than anyone else. Nightmares are pale, with small horns and/or odd markings on their bodies. Their special ability is Alternate Form: any time they wish, they can embrace their Nightmare-ness, ignore magical penalties for armor, and cast spells without verbal or somatic components. In this form their skin turns chalk white and their horns grow more pronounced. Either form is weak to silver weapons and various elemental damage types, depending on their parentage.

Lykant: Lykants (or sometimes “Lykans,” inconsistently) are humanoids with fur, tails, and animal ears. You knew they had to be in here somewhere. The original indigenous people of Alfleim. Their special ability is Beast Form, which turns their head entirely into an animal’s and strengthens their muscles. While in this form, they also have Darkvision and can’t speak any language but Lykant.

Lildraken: Dragonborn with wings and no breath weapon. Count as “humanoids” because Lumiere said so during the god war. Special abilities include Scaly Hide, Tail Whip, and Wings of the Wind, which gives them one minute of flight per day.

Grassrunner: Store-brand halflings, with a little kender thrown in. May not actually be from Raxia; first appeared right around the time the Abyss opened. Bit sus if you ask me. Special abilities are Mana Interference (don’t have MP at all, and spells cast on them can be completely negated with a Willpower check) and Natural Communication (ability to read the local vibe from plants). They have no explicit class restrictions, but magic classes would require a steady supply of mako stones.

Meria: Plant people. Leaves and/or flowers grow out of their heads or shoulders. Divided between short-lived flower-based and long-lived tree-based varieties. Good at fairy magic. Their special ability is Thriving Life: Meria don’t need to sleep, but every sunrise they heal 20% of their HP and all of their MP, just like, ping!

Tien: Larger-than-usual humanoids with gemstones in their heads and chests. Created during the Magic Civilization by magically fusing humans with daemons. Tiens live about 50 years, but can enter indefinite suspended animation, making them able to function over millennia. Their ability is Intercommunication: they can communicate with anyone within 10 meters even if they don’t have a language in common.

Leprechaun: Short, and the males have beards, but that’s where the similarities end from what you’re picturing. Leprechauns have huge furry ears and live underground, often in ruins of the Magitech Civilization. They have Darkvision, can equip more magical items than usual, and can turn invisible at will.

There are no half-elves etc. on Raxia. Any two humanoid races gettin’ it on will have children fully one type or the other, essentially at random. Tabbits, Lildraken, Meria, etc. can’t cross-breed with other humanoids. Runefolk can’t breed at all (though they are still, ahem, fully functional).


No. Class. (laugh track)

Classes in SW2.5 are more like skill packages, bought with XP. None of them are a be-all end-all, and characters are generally expected to have multiple classes as a matter of course. As characters gain XP, they spend them to increase levels in their existing classes, or buy new classes at level 1.

“Adventurer Level” is the highest class level a character has. Someone with Fighter 1, Scout 3 is Adventurer Level 3, for instance.

Classes are classified as “major” or “minor.” Major classes generally have more utility, and consequently cost more XP, than minor classes. You can make a character with only minor classes but you might have gaps in your effectiveness.

Classes are further split into Warrior-type, Wizard-type, and Other-type.


Fighter: I hit it with my axe (and can wield any weapon, wear any armor, and use any shield). Major class.

Grappler: Punchy-kicky, good at fighting multiple targets. The automatic Chain Attack feat is particularly nice if you want to just wail on a guy. Major class.

Fencer: Finesse fighters specializing in light weapons. Have a higher chance to inflict crits, making them potential one-shot powerhouses. Minor class.

Marksman: Ranged attackers, be it with bow or gun. Good for backrow characters, awful up close. Minor class.


Sorcerer: Master of Truespeech Magic, the sort of magic most familiar to D&D players. More damage output than other magic types. Major class.

Conjurer: Spiritualism Magic user. Has summoning and minion-creating shticks, including the ability to animate dolls and spy through them. Freaky. Major class.

Priest: Your basic Divine Magic class. Heal, keep monsters at bay, turn undead, that kind of thing. Utility is highly changeable depending on which god you worship. Major class.

Artificer: Magitech superuser, transforming magispheres into fun things like rocket boots and manabikes. Also able to fire guns with magic bullets. Major class.

Fairy Tamer: Uses magical gems to summon tiny spirits. Magical middle-men, in other words. Fairy magic is subdivided into multiple types (earth, fire, light, dark, etc.). Major class.


Scout: All the sneaking and trap-finding skills of a D&D rogue for a fraction of the cost. Scouts are the only class with the ability to increase your side’s Initiative roll. Minor class.

Ranger: Partial overlap with Scout, mostly in outdoor areas, but with added herbalism and first aid skills. Minor class.

Sage: Know-it-all. Has the extremely useful ability to identify the weak points of any monsters you’re fighting. For that alone, you should have at least one character with Sage in your party. It’s not even funny. Minor class.

Enhancer: Channels the magic in their bodies to enhance their physical abilities. Combine with the Grappler class to become Goku. Minor class.

Bard: Singer of spellsongs, which have minor ongoing effects, but also accrue different types of Rhythm which you expend to create spell-like Finales. Bards can have their pets sing along to increase the effect. Bit complicated but unique. Minor class.

Rider: Allows stunts and specialized fighting skills while on horseback or manabike. Jockeys can also ride exotic mounts and rent mounts from riding guilds. Minor class.

Alchemist: Breaks elemental essences down into easy-to-carry material cards, then recombines them using a portable alchemy kit to create new items or effects. Minor class.

Every time you advance a level in a Wizard-type class, you instantly learn every spell at that level. No pesky spell books or learning rolls. On the downside, there are only around four spells per level. But by the time you’re level 3-4, you’ll have plenty of options and it only gets better from there.

Casting spells costs Magic Points (MP), so your real limitation is the size of your magical gas tank. You can augment this with mako stones, which have their own small store of MP. If you totally drain a mako stone, it shatters.

Some Other-type classes (Bard, Enhancer, Rider, Alchemist) get one new “thing” per level. Bards get Spellsongs or Finales, Enhancers get Techniques, Riders get Stunts, and Alchemists get Evocations. Scouts, Rangers, and Sages get nothing except higher bonuses to skill checks. (Which is plenty, TBH.)

Next time: Can love bloom on the battlefield? (answer: no)

Sword World 2.5: An Overview, Part One

May 10th, 2023

Sword World 2.5
You have come to a World of Swords! ::swordcrack::

This is a review (more of an “opinionated overview,” really) of the Japanese role-playing game Sword World 2.5 (aka ソード・ワールド2.5). This review is based on the heroic work of the Sword World Translation Project who can be found on Reddit and Discord, if you so desire. I’m not any part of their project, but they’re pretty cool.

I thought when I started this that I was just gonna do a quick skim, since the full fan translation is already available for free online (Google Drive link). But the more I dug into it, the more I found to write about. Sigh. Please enjoy the following word salad, and I hope it makes you want to look at the real thing.

Chief translator Auquid’s YouTube channel has a lot of good beginner information about how to play, so check it out if you’re not put off by text-to-speech narration.

Beware: If you’re the sort of person who bounces off of anything with manga- or anime-style art, this one will springboard you into low orbit. Please read advisedly.

Game History

Flashback time! ::waving hands:: Deedlit Deedlit Deedlit

Sword World traces its lineage all the way back to the original Japanese printing of BECMI D&D in 1985. A Japanese gaming group called Syntax Error played a D&D campaign and transcribed their sessions, to demonstrate how those newfangled role-playing games work. These transcripts were serialized in a computer magazine from 1986 to 1988, proving that nerds know nerds.

The DM, a writer named Ryo Mizuno, thought, hey, this could work as a novel. So he wrote a fictionalized account of his games titled War Chronicles of Lodoss Island. Poor English translation turned this into Record of Lodoss War.

It was a giant hit. Western-style fantasy had never really gotten much popular traction in Japan before, so it hit Japanese culture in the late 80’s the way Tolkein hit the English-speaking world in the 60’s. The Lodoss series became a phenomenon, and many more successful novels, movies, manga, anime, video games, spinoffs, etc. followed.

Syntax Error, now Group SNE, pitched an official RoLW setting for D&D. TSR laughed them out of the room. Group SNE made up their own rules system with blackjack and hookers and published the Record of Lodoss War Companion in 1988. This version felt like a weird union of D&D and RuneQuest, with a stodgy percentile dice mechanic. Later, they invented a more streamlined 2d6 system and released Sword World TTRPG, still set in the world of RoLW, in 1989. It’s been the #1 Japanese-made fantasy role-playing game ever since.

In 2008, Group SNE threw out the aging RoLW-related setting for a new world called Raxia, added a whole slew of new races and abilities, and published Sword World 2.0. A decade later they released Sword World 2.5, which is mostly backward compatible with 2.0 but smooths out various exploits and power bumps.

The setting of SW2+ feels more whimsical and varied than SW1.0. I’ve seen SW2.0 described in tone as Final Fantasy to SW1.0’s DragonQuest.

The Books

The game as she is (dis)played

Sword World 2.5 Rulebooks
The Three Nakama

SW2.5 has three core rulebooks. Book I introduces the basics and gives enough info to play up to level 6. Book II eases in some more complex game concepts, adds new races and classes, and includes spells/techniques/feats/etc. up to level 10. Book III does the same up to level 15. Anyone who ever played BECMI D&D will immediately see parallels.

The physical books are published in bunko format, which is A6 size (about 4″ by 6″) and softcover, and cost 990 yen (about $7.50) apiece. All three books run over 400 pages each. Interior art is black-and-white and rather sparse. This lies in stark contrast to most Western publishers’ tendency to make core books big, slick, flashy, and expensive. The low economic bar to entry probably contributes to the game’s continued popularity.

Each book is divided into five parts: Characters, Game Rules, Data (spell lists, combat feats, weapons lists, etc.), World, and Game Mastery. There’s no separate MM/Bestiary or GM’s Handbook or anything like that. Books I and II complement each other very well, and together feel like a complete game. Book III, while still packed, feels more like a higher-level appendix.

The World part of each book deepens the lore with history and descriptions of the regions of the continent of Alfleim. Book I highlights the Burlight Region, which is pretty fantasy-generic. Book II introduces the Dorden Region, a prairie criss-crossed by magic-punk railroads. Book III adds several northern territories that were ravaged by a joint monster-daemon invasion called the Diabolic Triumph.

Game Mastery sections include a mini-adventure that highlights the new concepts introduced in that book, and a whole bunch of monster listings. There are over 280 monsters described across all three books, which doesn’t even include “bossified” versions the GM can create by infusing them with sword shards.

While it’s nice that a group can just grab the first book to get started, in practice there are problems. Some classes have gaps in Book I that only get backfilled when they introduce more advanced rules in later books. The most egregious example is the Conjurer class, which, if you only go by the information in Book I, is way underpowered compared to other magical traditions. When you get to Book II, only then do you discover that Conjurers can create golems and undead minions. Just, y’know, oh HERE’s the big deal with that class. Hope you haven’t been struggling to be useful!

The books do cram a lot of information in a small space, with plenty of examples and flowcharts. They also tend to explain everything very, very precisely. Every description feels like someone’s trying to head off rules lawyers at the pass. If you prefer loose, broad-stroke game systems, this one may not resonate with you.

The System

Pull out the Yahtzee box, it’s time to play Sword World

Characters have six ability scores: Dexterity, Agility, Strength, Vitality, Intelligence, and Spirit, on a roughly D&D-esque scaling. Each race generates scores in different ways, which we’ll get to later. For now, just know that some scores can go way above 18. Each ability score also has a Modifier, found by dividing by 6 and rounding down.

SW2.5 uses a super simple system for skill resolution: 2d6 + relevant Class Level + relevant Ability Modifier versus a Target Number provided by the GM. Ties always go to the passive side. Rolling 12 is an automatic success and 2 is an automatic failure. Anyone who rolls a 2 gains 50 XP instantly.

I just said that

Most skill checks are class-based. For instance, a Pickpocket check adds your Scout Class Level plus your Dexterity Modifier. You can attempt skill checks if you don’t have the requisite class, but you make the roll “flat,” with no modifiers at all. So even if you have a high Dexterity, you can’t add that modifier to Pickpocketing if you don’t also have the Scout class.

In some cases, even if you have the right class, you’ll still incur a penalty if you don’t have the right tools. A non-Scout trying to pick a lock without scout’s tools might as well just go ahead and hope to roll a 12. (At which point I as GM would probably say, “Oh hey, it wasn’t even latched! Whaddaya know!”)

NB: There are no social skills (negotiation, intimidation, etc.). Interactions of this nature are expected to be role-played at the table. The closest thing to a social skill is the Detect skill check, which can help identify if someone’s lying or faking a condition.

Intro to Raxia 101

Yo dawg, I heard you like swords

Reportedly, when Group SNE started working on SW2.0, they asked themselves, “So why is it called ‘Sword World’ anyway?” then went totally ham on the answer.

The personification of Lumiere looking out at the reader
What’re you lookin’ at?

Raxia was carved out of nothingness by the three Swords of Genesis. Who or what did this is lost to legend, but they must not have been too keen on the final product, because they dumped the swords in the barren world and skedaddled. These swords, which were of course intelligent and immensely magical, still longed to be wielded. They seeded the world with life, in hopes that eventually something might pick them up and make them useful again.

After creating plants, animals, and various mythical beings, they eventually hit on the bizarre combination of thoughts, senses, and limbs called “humans.” One of these humans, a dude named Lyphos, found Lumiere, the Genesis Sword of Harmony, and received enormous world-shaping powers like unto a god for his trouble.

Luckily for everyone, Lyphos was a good guy who used his powers to help turn the world into a paradise. He discovered he could make copies of Lumiere, which were less powerful than the original but still had enough oomph to turn their wielders into gods themselves. Even third- and fourth-generation copies were powerful enough to trigger apotheosis. Eventually there were several gods running around, each with powers over various aspects of the world, working together toward a better future. The God of Fairies turned her human followers into elves, the God of Fire did the same for dwarves, and everything was harmonious and happy.

So you can pretty much imagine what happened next: a human with the totally-not-evil name Dalkhrem found the Sword of Freedom, Ignis. Dalkhrem was a petty and greedy person, wanted to gain all the power in the world, etc. etc. villainous backstory. Thus began the War of the Gods. Dalkhrem managed to sway many humanoids to his side and used his evil powers to taint them with soulscars. In this world, scarring someone’s soul also causes physical mutations, turning them into goblins and ogres and the like. These became the Barbarous, who harried the humanoids, or “small people,” while the gods were busy fighting among themselves.

During the war, someone stumbled across Cardia, the Sword of Wisdom. Rather than allow itself to be wielded against its siblings, Cardia exploded and all its mana flowed out into Raxia. In some places the mana crystallized into mako stones, which wizards can use as mana batteries.

After who knows how many thousands of years, the god war petered out. The Swords of Genesis went lost again, and the remaining gods either died, withdrew from the world, or entered a deep slumber to heal their wounds. A dark age followed for humanity, who still had to deal with the Barbarous without divine help.

Then humanity discovered how to manipulate the magic that Cardia left behind. Only a small percentage of people could actually cast spells, but it was enough to force the Barbarous back. Mages became sorcerer-kings who built grand empires all across Raxia.

About 3,000 years ago, the Magic Civilization abruptly ended at its height. Nobody is certain why, though this ending coincides with the appearance of the Abyss: a botched summoning opened a portal to another plane, and daemons came pouring out. The magic kingdoms worked together to create the Wall in the North Wall of the Abyss, which (mostly) contains the Abyss and the daemons within. The Wall is tended by Tiens, a nearly immortal race created by fusing humans with daemons.

Another thousand-year dark age ensued, until someone invented technology that could control magic. This so-called “Magitech” allowed anyone to use magic through a device called a magisphere. The proliferation of Magitech forced the Barbarous underground. Humanoids created a civilization with magical trains and airships and huge shining cities and all sorts of cool magipunk/Buck Rogers stuff.

Alas, this was not to last. 300 years before the game begins, gigantic earthquakes suddenly toppled the Magitech cities. A Barbarous horde exploded out from underground and nearly wiped humanoids off the face of the planet. The huge, organized invasion of the surface became known as the Diabolic Triumph. Barbarous invaders also breached the Wall of the Abyss in several places, and much of northern Alfleim fell before a flood of daemons.

Things looked grim until a small adventuring party defeated the Beast King of the Barbarous in single combat, decapitating their leadership (not to mention the Beast King). Rumors say the party was either welding Lumiere, the First Sword, or a previously unknown fourth sword.

The invasion may be over, but the world remains in chaos. Most understanding of Magitech died with the cities, towns were isolated, and the countryside is still lousy with monsters. The world now needs explorers, researchers, and warriors, good people willing to beat back the darkness, despoil ruins, fight monsters, save princesses, and restore the world for humanoids everywhere.

But who, I wonder, would dare enter the dangerous wilds for gold and glory?

:: looks directly at the PCs ::


Next time: Who are we? Why are we here?

Not an update

March 9th, 2022

Hey, I wonder if the Ruby tag works in this here word (some) processor (gizmo).

Edit: Ha ha! Furigana (weeb crap) in English!

Alternate Fellowship campaigns

June 3rd, 2021

I’ve recently really REALLY gotten into Fellowship 2nd Edition, a PbtA-adjacent tabletop RPG published by Liberi Gothica Games. It’s fantastic and you should look at it. I hereby offer this post to the world to document just how obsessed I’ve become with it. Sorry. I can’t guarantee I’ll never do it again.

Super Mario Bros movie (1993)

Mario Mario: The Outlander (Alien World version)

Luigi Mario: The Squire (See the World version)

Daisy: The Heir (Lost Line of Kings version)

Toad: The Orc (Spawn of Darkness version)

Koopa: The Overlord (Generals: Lena, Iggy & Spike [who operate together in a Pair-like arrangement])
In the original version of this post, I considered Dinohattan to be The Empire. But on further reflection, Koopa’s plan to merge two dimensions means the story begins in a “peaceful” Brooklyn which is threatened by his schemes. Classic Overlord behavior. Also the necklace is so obviously a Source of Power that it hardly bears mentioning.

Hololive EN (HoloMyth)

Gawr Gura: The Elf (Merfolk ver.)

Ninomae Ina’nis: The Angel (Messengers from Beyond ver.)

Calliope Mori: The Heir (Forgotten Lands ver.)

Takanashi Kiara: The Dragon (Dragon, Reborn ver., searching and replacing “dragon” with “phoenix”)

Amelia Watson: The Exile (Thief ver., with forbidden element “time”)

Yagoo: The Overlord (Generals: Enma, Jenma, J-Chad)
Alternate idea: YouTube is The Empire, and Hololive is the Rebellion. They have to garner the fellowship of the Beasts (Mio, Fubuki, Botan, Watame, etc), the Harbingers (Shion, maybe Moona), the Remnants (Ollie), the Orcs (Haachama), the Spoiled Selfish Babies (Luna), and various others to overthrow the DMCA and restore freedom and peace. Or PEACE!, in Calli’s case.


Ronald: The Collector (Living ver., flinging Fry Guys and McNuggets at his enemies)

Grimace: The Spider (Well Armed ver.)

Birdie: The Angel (Eyes That See Truth ver.)

The Hamburglar: The Halfling (Mischievous Trickster ver.)

Mayor McCheese: The Overlord (Generals: Officer Big Mac, Mac Tonight)

Project: F • R • I • E • N • D • S

Ross: The Shattered (Crystalline ver.; he was ON A BREAK!)

Phoebe: The Beast (Mammalian ver.; a smelly catgirl)

Joey: The Spy (Fatale ver.; how YOU doin’?)

Monica: The Squire (For Your People ver.; keep them safe, keep them healthy, but most of all, keep them clean)

Chandler: The Construct (Steel and Wire ver.; could he BE any more robotic?)

Rachel: The Devil (Lying Snake ver., obviously)

Social security

October 31st, 2018

I’ve added an SSL certificate to my site just to see how easy it is. Pretty easy, as it turns out.

First my site, then the world. Bang *hiss* the worrrld.

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