Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Free OSR Retroclone System - The Sabres & Witchery RPG By Simon Washbourne For Your Old School Campaigns

So I'm quietly looking around The Beyond Belief Games website for their free fan based Blake Seven rpg and came across a monster hunter style retro clone based on the Swords and Wizardry engine called  Sabres & Witchery. Described as "an 18th Century supernatural horror roleplayiong game based on the Swords & Wizardry (Whitebox) fantasy role playing rules." The game takes the usual tropes of monster hunting ala Solomon Kane and relaunches them into a slick little system of horror role playing.

Your players play several different alternative PC classes from the usual magic user, fighter, cleric, thief party combination. Instead you have a complete wrap around of the PC classes with more of touch of the pulpy horror swashbuckler and sword fighter style of party; the classes are the Fighter, the Magus, the Scoundrel, the Woodsman and the Hunter (a Witchfinder or Vampire Hunter type). While this is based on the Swords and Wizardry engine there's something rather unique about the game, it has a more grounded pulpy swords and sorcery style in the tradition of Robert Howard's Solomon Kane. The fighter is based around the usual professional soldier of the 1600's to early 1800's. The magus is the wizard of supernatural horror and witchcraft history with appropriate spell modifications and twists. The woodsmen is a ranger type but with overtones of the OD&D optional hunter class seen in Dragon Magazine. And then finally there's the Hunter which is akin to a combination of a cleric and a witch finder general type. The game really revels in its source material with an Appendix N right at the very beginning of the book. There are rules that play fast and loose with the material as it should be. Spells have been modified to fit the pulpy supernatural horror setting of the game. Magic is ancient and dangerous here with prices to be paid in blood and more then a hint of corruption. The monsters are reworked from the usual Swords and Wizardry denizens into creatures that are dark and dangerous yet at once very strange. Horrors that have crawled out of myth and legend, these misbegotten horrors from beyond are really the center of the game. There is a good use of public domain artwork which is also at once familiar and yet never overdone. The layout is easy on the eyes and the material both familiar and yet different enough to keep my interest.

There are two mini adventures to round out the horror game and the first is based on Robert Howard's "Rattle of Bones", found in The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane and it well lives up to its horror roots. The mini adventure contains the barest outline of an adventure but it's waiting for the DM to inject life into it. Korred Table is next up and is based on events in history with a good smattering of horror mythology thrown into the mix. 
There is plenty of material here to basically run these adventures with a little DYI preparation work on the DM's part and really make them memorable as well as direly dangerous.
So is the game worth the download? Well yes on a number of levels. First off this is a free game but its a well done free retroclone system and its based off of Swords and Wizardry which has a proven track record. This game is also a retro clone variation of OD&D meaning that it will work very with other games out there in the market place. As a stand lone product it can really be made to shine. As an addition to other games on the market this retroclone system brings several things to the table additional PC classes, new takes on spells, brand new re imagining of the classic monsters of D&D.  The Sabres & Witchery game makes a excellent counter point to Lamentations of the Flame Princess an add on resource. With the additional PC classes and monsters this game could take campaigns to another level. In addition this game could be used as an additional counter piece to Dark Albion enabling a DM to add' time lost' PC's or other monstrous elements to that dark brooding horror laced game. All in all I really liked having another resource to pull from for OD&D style games and Swords and Wizardry. I give  Sabres & Witchery RPG a four out of five. 
If you really like the game there is a Lulu printing option of it available right over HERE

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