Saturday, January 5, 2019

Announcing Sword of Cepheus!

I am working now on a new project: Sword of Cepheus. This will be an all-out, no holds barred, sword & sorcery role-playing game based on Stellagama Publishing's Cepheus Light ruleset. Built as a toolkit, it will allow the Referee to build her own badass sword & sorcery setting!

Skyship-riding lizardfolk pillaging villages. A sorcerer in a flying saucer blasting his enemies with the power of his mind. A muscled barbarian wields a star-sword against the local tyrant’s thugs. A secret cabal of psions plotting to control the minds and souls of kings. A modern-day Earthman finding himself on a savage alien planet. A gladiator who freed himself from slavery wanders the land, righting wrongs and smashing villains. Big muscles, big swords, eldritch sorcery, powers of the mind, alien beasts, and remnant super-technology. From Burroughs to Howard to Moorcock to Italian Peplum films to those dreaming of outlandish post-apocalyptic worlds, heroes raise swords against corrupt nobles, inexplicable sorcerers, and alien monstrosities.

Mechanics, as in Cepheus Light, will be traditional 2D6 skill-based, with procedural character generation, straightforward task resolution, and personal and chase-based naval (and skyship!) combat. It will also contain rules for eldritch sorcery, psionics, a collection of fantastic alien beasts with a Lovecraftian flare, detailed low-tech and supertech equipment, and rules for what happens when your savage barbarian encounters magic or technology beyond anything he has ever imagined.

There are three main themes to Sword of Cepheus: Gritty Heroism, Dark Sorcery, and an Open World.

Gritty Heroism means that a skilled character is well above a normal man in power and ability. An expert swordsman (Melee-3) in good armor can best and defeat many lesser warriors in armed confrontation. He will parry their weapons and strike true at their bodies. With a good Tactics skill, he will also act well before them. However, he is still mortal. An ambush, a sneak attack, poison, or other underhanded tactics will put him in grave peril. A lucky arrow can still strike him, though good armor will mitigate part of the impact. Tactics and strategy matter. Even a so-called "high level" character must think before he acts, and lesser foes can still fell him if they play their cards right.

Dark Sorcery implies that magic is unreliable, and so are "magic items" and supertech. Psionics are safer but much weaker in most cases. Any spell can fail, and any ritual has a certain risk of dire consequences. Using black magic - such as necromancy - corrupts the sorcerer. There are no teleporting supermen throwing fireballs around in Sword of Cepheus. Rather, there are sorcerers weaving subtler spells and conducting risky arcane rituals. The same goes to monsters - while often easier (on paper) to slay than those of traditional D20 games, they pose a serious danger to those who try to confront them - even skilled heroes.

The worlds of adventure Sword of Cepheus envisions are Open Worlds. The world does not scale with the characters; a moderately skilled character can try and tackle horrible monsters, at a serious risk, while an expert adventurer can still face a challenge against "weaker" foes. The players chose the risk level; there are no scaling "challenge ratings" here. This also means that lightly or moderately skilled characters can adventure, shoulder to shoulder, with highly experienced veterans, and still make a difference both in combat and outside it without being totally overshadowed by their expert peers.

So a world of barbaric adventures awaits!

Tentatively - coming late 2019 or early 2020.


  1. This is the game I want to play! Yay!

  2. Looking forward to your work: please share design updates here as you go!

  3. Sounds like a plan to me! I look forward to seeing it when done!

  4. You've piqued my interest! Keep us updated.

  5. I will be more than happy to participate in the playtest

  6. Sword and Planet, here we come! I wish I had thought of this first. Looking forward to it. Please include in the rules somewhere the legend of Cepheus the Great, and his mighty sword!

  7. Bless you, Omer! I am so looking forward to this!

  8. Sounds good! Barbarians of Lemura turned me on to both 2D6 games and what real Sword and Sorcery games should feel like. Your description sounds right up the same ally. Looking forward to reading and playing the Sword of Cepheus!