Spellbound Kingdoms

Spellbound Kingdoms, Revised Now Available!

Spellbound Kingdoms, one of my favorite small press Fantasy RPGs has just come out with a revised edition with a whole bunch of changes to refine an already impressive game.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for this since I’d heard that it was in production and now that the revised edition is out, and now that it is, I won’t be able to forgive myself if I didn’t plug it here on my blog:

This is the revised core rulebook for the Spellbound Kingdoms RPG. 300 pages of zeppelins, courtesans, feral children, alchemy, sorcery, engineering, politics, dragons, and slavering undead.

Bound by magic, haunted by fear, and clinging to love, the people of the Kingdoms live in a world on the brink of a new age. Whether that is an age of Enlightenment or a new dark age is up to you.

Spellbound Kingdoms is a traditional RPG with innovative rules for:

* Tactical combat where your fighting style matters.
* Storytelling support.
* Mass combat as an integral part of the game.
* Dramatic and tactical dialogue. Fashion as a weapon. Improv-style drama scenes!
* Emotional depth.
* Players can play nobles, peasants, soldiers, generals, or anyone in between.
* A fast pace. Blazing pace, really.
* A world and an economy that are consistent with the rules.
* Combat that is easy to learn, difficult to master, fast, fun, and not a pain in the GM’s butt.
* Cooperative worldbuilding.
* NPC relationships that matter.

Spellbound Kingdoms offers dark Renaissance fantasy gameplay with rules that support swashbuckling action, courtly intrigue, and insidious magic.

New for the revision are over 70 spells, dozens of monsters, a new Talent system, rules for multiple PCs in the same thieves guild or other organization, new combat styles including Mounted and Black Powder & Crimson Blade, many new monster combat styles, advice for creating your own combat styles and spell schools, new alchemical and engineering items, a printer-friendly version of the pdf, and a lot more.

Welcome to the Kingdoms.

Here, love and fear are the most powerful forces in the world. You only have to ask yourself one question: is that a good thing?


Spellbound Kingdoms, Revised  is now available on DriveThruRPG for $9.99 or roughly Php 440.

Games To Look Out For In 2011

My sudden absence from blogging came from an unfortunate combination of a sudden deluge of work, and the fact that my home internet connection died.  That said, I’m back, and blogging, and today we’re looking at several game lines that I’m keeping an eye on that will hopefully be coming out this year.

I’ll be doing a run-through of the games that I know of by company as it seems to be the best way to go about it at the moment:

Crafty-Games has two game lines and several supplements coming out this year, and I’ll definitely be looking out to reviewing them on the blog:

  • Spycraft Third Edition – Spycraft was the original flagship property of Crafty-Games, and I’m very happy to see that we’re getting a 3rd edition this year.  While Crafty-Games has a reputation for having a preference for heavy crunch, I’ve yet to see a game actually do Espionage as well or as thoroughly as Spycraft does.
  • Spellbound – A supplement for Crafty-Games’ Fantasy Craft game line, Spellbound promises to expand the base magic system even more with new Classes, Feats, Spells and other character options.  Some people felt that Fantasy Craft was pretty awesome, but the magic chapter was a little thin… Spellbound should fix that pretty well.
  • Ten Thousand Bullets – is a new Mastercraft line for Urban Adventure.  From Modern Crime to Police Procedurals, this game takes things to the mean streets instead of the life of glamor and intrigue of Spycraft.  I was initially concerned that there might be some overlap between the two games, but thinking about it, the two genres are distinct enough to stand on their own, and the overlaps will only enhance both games as opposed to diminishing them.

I’ve already gone into detail with the upcoming books from AEG for their Legend of the Five Rings RPG.  Lot’s of good potential in those books and the print quality is gorgeous.  Definitely worth keeping an eye out for those.

There’s some solid progress going on over at RedBrick LLC with regards to the 3rd edition of the much beloved Fading Suns space opera RPG.  Fellow Philippine rpg blog The Armchair Gamer has been watching any and all developments on this line like a hawk, so I’d make sure to check with him now and then.

Good news to early adapters to the innovative small press RPG Spellbound Kingdoms, as the author is looking to release an updated version, and he’s promised to have improved the already impressive effort he’s done.  I’ve yet to run this game, but I’m pretty sure that an opportunity to do so won’t be too far off now.

These aren’t the only games coming out of course but these are the ones that I currently have my eye on.  How about you guys?  Are there any new games that I ought to be paying attention to?  If so, bring it up, I’m pretty open to checking out new and interesting things and if I pick it up, I might review it here and give take it out for a spin for my group.

Roleplaying Games I’ve Yet to Play (But Desperately Want To)

After the past week of taking a vacation and stressing over two Typhoons that decided to visit the country one after the other, I find myself struggling with something to write about.  I think this is just inertia at work, and my brain desperately needs to get warmed up before I can start churning out good articles again.

That said let’s do something quick and easy:  Lists!

And for today, let’s take a quick look at Games I’ve yet to play (but desperately want to):

  • Mage: the Awakening – But wait, pointyman, don’t you already run a Mage game?  Well yes, but I’m eager to actually be on the playing side of things for once.  I’ve had a chance to play the new Mage once before, but that wasn’t a very long campaign either.
  • Changeling: The Lost – Ever since I’ve had the chance to play Changeling: the Dreaming under (the now Canadian) Zugzugtheorc, I’ve fallen in love with the concept of changeling.  The new title’s excellent writing, provocative themes and sheer amount of awesome crammed into the book doesn’t hurt either.  For kicks, I might actually translate my old Sluagh from C:tD to C:tL to see how well it translates.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters – White Wolf’s latest intrigues me.  With a new kind of supernatural that hasn’t been done before (like Promethean), this “Storytelling Game of Second Chances” strikes me as a remarkably positive tone as opposed to the defaults of some of the others like Vampire: the Requiem.  Definitely something I’m curious to play.
  • Spellbound Kingdoms – I was intrigued when I first saw this game, and even now I find the ideas espoused to be original and possibly quite fun… now if only I can get someone to run it for me.
  • Deadlands Reloaded! – I’m a sucker for Westerns, and pulp supernatural stuff.  Deadlands is chock-full of both.  I’d play this at a drop of a hat.
  • Fantasy Craft – I’ve been all over the system up down and sideways of this game.  All I need now is a GM to come up with a good campaign setting, and I’ll have a character within hours.
  • HERO System Supers – 5th edition, Revised or 6th Edition, I don’t really mind either way.  The last time I’ve actually played in a Supers campaign was so long ago that I’ve forgotten most of the plot.  Time to rectify that situation.
  • Eclipse Phase – I don’t know a thing about the system of Eclipse Phase, but the idea of Troubleshooters for Transhumanity has my interest piqued.
  • 7th Sea – Talk about late to the party. This game came, conquered and went out of print long before this blog even started, but I’m still stoked to trying this game out.

Each and every one of these games offers something different, and something interesting for me as a player.  Each one of them inspires me to build characters (something that I might be doing again soon with more Play This Character! articles on the horizon.)

[Spellbound Kingdoms] Campaign Concept

Been thinking of Spellbound Kingdoms lately when I’m not brainstorming on Exalted, and at the moment I’ve got a few ideas percolating in my head.  Nothing entirely concrete just yet, here’s what I’ve got.

Chronicles of the Penitent
Gothic Fantasy
3-5 Players, Only 1 Spellbound Character allowed

The Chronicles of the Penitent follow the deeds of the Confessor, the mysterious black-clad roaming agent of the Holy Church, and his band of Penitents, men and women snatched from the gallows and offered a second chance at life.  Together this grim band of churchmen roam the kingdoms, seeking out evil where it lurks and striking it down in the name of the Holy Church.

Character Composition
1 player takes the role of the Confessor, while the rest compose the Penitent.  They serve as a roaming investigative band, and should have a broad range of skills (both legal and illegal, and even borderline heretical in the case of magic.)

Episodic.  Ideally, each “arc” should take 1-3 sessions wherein the Penitent travel to a new area, discover evil in their midst, and then do something about it.  Preferably with blade and fire.  Alternately, this can be extended further to a full campaign in a region, with the Penitent fighting an entire Aristocracy or such.

Inspirations: Solomon Kane, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Wolfman, Frankenstein, Ravenloft, Brotherhood of the Wolf, The Eisenhorn Trilogy

[Spellbound Kingdoms] Implied Progression & Organizational Maneuvering

Now that I’ve made my first pass through this book, I was pleased to note that there is a certain amount of implied progression in this game.  Spellbound Kingdoms uses the familiar Class based leveling system, but what struck me about it is that the Player Characters progress from being individuals to leaders.

While this might not be a big (or new) thing, it’s good to see it back in action.  In Spellbound Kingdoms, a character that starts off as a common footpad may eventually gain the reputation and skill and contacts to eventually become the mastermind of his own Thieves Guild.  Likewise, a merchant could eventually be the head of his own trading company.

I found this interesting as compared to say… the standard implied progression of D&D 3.x or even 4e.  While there’s no doubt that the characters increase in power and capability, their influence is certainly something that’s left to the GM to figure out.  Spellbound Kingdoms addressed this idea directly, as characters gain reputations and eventually ranks in an organization (whether or not they’ve joined it, or made one.)

Not that Organizations are just bragging rights, real estate and taxes either.  Organizations in SK play a vital part in the large scale maneuvering that will become more common later on.  Organizations are useful because they can be used to attack other organizations, reducing their effectiveness and power in a region.  I can easily see several players in high positions of power coordinating their various organizations to take over a kingdom and depose of a tyrannical king.

Overall, this is some pretty exciting stuff!  Already I’ve got a few ideas of marrying 7th Sea or Ravenloft into this system.

[Spellbound Kingdoms] Liking what I see

So, having purchased Spellbound Kingdoms on PDF over at DrivethruRPG, I’ve been able to really sit down and read through only a fraction of it so far.  That said, what I -have- read is very impressive.

From what I’ve seen so far, Spellbound Kingdoms takes the same idea that Exalted had for Motivations and Intimacies and rolled them up into stat called Inspirations.  Inspirations are one sentence descriptions of the various loves and fears that define a character.  These can be things from “Love for wife and child (+3)” or “Sworn Vendetta against the Count (+2).”

These Inspirations can be used to add a bonus die to any given action as long as it’s justifiable.  Furthermore, if the player does the narrating of how such an Inspiration can be significant in that action, then he benefits from a further bonus.

I like this mechanic simply because it turns the “Who” part of a character into a mechanical benefit.  Suddenly, in order to be mechanically advantaged, you also need to be conceptually capable.

A man with petty aspirations and weak Inspirations won’t last long in Spellbound Kingdoms either, since Inspriations also serve another interesting purpose.  The only way to Permanently remove a character from play is to erode all his Inspirations before killing him.

This may not seem like a big deal, but it works from the point of view of a cinematic game.  Villains don’t just keel over and die.  Heroes have to take down the entire operation, ruining their plans, turning the people of the city against the evil dictator.  Only when Villain is truly demoralized, without his loyal minions and bereft of the love of his darling daughter will he finally die.

Of course, the same goes for the heroes.  The Villains and his agents will undoubtedly be hard at work trying to destroy the the PC’s Inspirations as well.  Whether through physical combat, social maneuvering or armies clashing in the field.


Already I’m considering the setting and how it might actually work if it were a little like Ravenloft.  Certainly the Dooms of each region, and the fact that the Kings of each Kingdom is capable of sowing fear among his populace just makes it more fitting.

I’m going to be reading through this book a lot more, and already I’m getting ideas on what to run with it.

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