Let Thrones Beware Free Open Beta

The Let Thrones Beware Free Open Beta is officially on!

I’m excited to announce that the free open beta of Let Thrones Beware is officially a go!

Let Thrones Beware is a role-playing game about rediscovering hope in a traumatic fantasy world

Despite its strength, the eternal Kingdom of Man is no more, accidental victim of the very power it wielded to conquer your world. Bowed but not broken, those who survived the Kingdoms brutal thousand-year occupation fled to the far corners of Ceyenus.

Despite your freedom, there is danger. Horrors stalk the Deep Wood in which you and your kin shelter. Isolated, vulnerable villages quake in the darkness, hoping they are overlooked by what lurks in the trees.

Despite the danger, you must end Age of Despair. The rebirth of Ceyenus awaits and now is the time for you to step forward and restore what was lost.

Features of Let Thrones Beware include:

  • A setting that challenges heroes to restore their world, shattered and broken by an otherworldly invasion
  • A universal resolution mechanic that uses attack/counter/interrupt powers
  • Gridded tactical combat and abstracted non-combat systems
  • A codified adventure cycle where success and failure have meaningful effects on the campaign
  • Stronghold and Domain management
  • Mass combat
  • Character portability between tables

You want to take a look at this if…

  • … you enjoy tactical combat, but dislike having nothing to do in between taking your turns
  • … you want a mechanically interesting non-combat resolution system
  • … you enjoy gradated success in games, but want a tactical component to your gameplay
  • … you like character building, but dislike item treadmills and fiddly feat choices

Game Principles

  • All players are equally capable of affecting the game narrative, no matter the combination of choices they make
  • Choices must be purposeful; a decision must have a significant mechanical impact, otherwise the details should be considered fluff and left to the player to define
  • The game should run on a unified mechanic that is simple, but allows for progression as characters develop
  • Combat and skill challenges must be crunchy but fast to run – and easy to adjudicate

This open beta includes the Let Thrones Beware core rulebook, a printable character sheet, and Bells of War, an introductory adventure for your table.

Download the free open beta now!

Playtest 007: Adventures and Primordial Forces

It’s been a few months since I’ve last posted about the Let Thrones Beware playtest. How’s it doing, you ask? Great, I’ll reply; and then I’ll go on to explain some of what we can expect in the 007 iteration (no British spies will be included). There are two major highlights for today’s post: Bells of War, a Let Thrones Beware adventure and Primordial Forces.

Playtest Addition: Bells of War: A Let Thrones Beware Adventure

Bells of War is an introductory adventure for 3-5 players (plus GM). It is intended for groups who are new to the system, and was designed with several goals in mind:

First, Bells of War serves as introduction for everyone at the table to the core concepts, mechanics, and style of Let Thrones Beware. Through a series of encounters, players will learn how the non-combat and combat challenge system works. GMs will learn how (and why) the system works the way it does, how to build effective and challenging encounters, and how to respond to player decisions.

Second, Bells of War establishes the groundwork for a long-term campaign spanning the hero, champion, and legend tiers of play. Primordial forces, mythic foes, and settlement management are all introduced to the groups who complete this adventure.

Third, this adventure is a template for anyone who’s interested in designing their own quest for Let Thrones Beware heroes. The challenges, decisions, and structure of the quest contained herein are representative of the system. Following the example set out by Bells of War will allow you to construct balanced adventures that challenge players and take advantage of all of the functionality Let Thrones Beware has on offer.

Playtest Addition: Primordial Forces

Primordial Forces are a new addition to Let Thrones Beware. The Kingdom of Man’s invasion, enslavement, and eventual destruction has left Ceyenus a fractured, broken world . The Primordial Forces of Trauma are the anguish of Ceyenus manifested. Four forces exist: Malice, Greed, Despair, and Disorder. Each of these forces stands in opposition to the heroes and their efforts to repair the world. Mechanically, each Traumatic Force provides the GM will a set of obstacles and complications that are inserted into combat and non-combat challenges. The ability of the Primordial Forces of Trauma to influence Ceyenus will be reduced as players progress through an adventure combating evil and righting wrongs.

Future iterations of the playtest will introduce new options for the players. Heroes will be able to align themselves with Heroic Primordial Forces that seek to bring Ceyenus back into balance: Hope, Compassion, Love, and Harmony. As characters gain experience, their connections to these Heroic forces will deepen. This will provide them with advantages which they can exploit to counter the machinations of Trauma.

 

Play by Post – Adventure Online From Anywhere!

The Play by Post format is a great way to combine pen and paper rpgs with the play-anywhere style of the internet. Sadly, playing online by posting to a message board is a bit more complicated than sitting down in person. Regular pdf and printed sheets don’t work. Everyone hacking at their own best guess to share character status makes things confusing and unwieldy. Fortunately, there’s a solution available!

A BBCode-formatted character sheet for play by post forum games

I’ve created a special BBCode-formatted character sheet. This will allow you to bring the adventures of Let Thrones Beware to your favourite online forum. Simply download the form from the link below, plug in your character’s stats and gear, and off to the races you go.

 

Play by Post character sheet (136 downloads)

Sneak Peek – Knight to Remember – Enriched Merchant

Next up in our examination of the Knight to Remember adventure is the merchant background. There have been some changes to the skill system; you’ll notice that the skill powers attached to this background have a new descriptor – skill damage, and that this background has a new item included – skill equipment. We’ll get to how this system works in a forthcoming update (and Rogue in the Woods will be updated to describe how it works at the same time), but for now just be aware of the changes.

 

Merchants are the lifeblood of the Deep Wood, the sole way in which goods vital to the survival of the denizens of the forest circulate between the fortified hamlets. It is a hard life, full of danger and risk, but for those who undertake the perilous journeys every Passage, it is one that surpasses all other professions.

More than just purveyors of goods, traveling Merchants are held in high regard for their knowledge of the goings-on of the Deep Wood. Their travel from settlement to settlement provides them with unique insight into the forest, and can often be found serving as guides and navigators when they are not leading caravans themselves.

Merchants are among the rare few from the forest who have ever visited the Gate of Thorns, a fortified redoubt built upon ancient ruins which guards the solitary mountain pass connecting the Deep Wood to the wide-open plains of the east.

 

Merchants gain +1 to Presence due to all their wheeling and dealing.

Influences

Inventory 3, Knowledge 0, Contact 1

 

Merchants also have the following combat and non-combat powers:

Trading Fortune

Skill Attack – SFRWP 1

Skill Damage: 1S

For every two Inventory influences spent, you can provide an ally with a +1 modifier in the same contest

 

A Wise Investment

Skill Counter – SFRWP 3

Skill Damage: 1S

You may trade two Inventory Influence for a use of a Contact influence

 

Glitter of Gold

Melee Counterattack – SFRWP 3

Damage 1W

You may move one square after attacking. This movement is not subject to Reprisal.

 

The Merchant begins with the following equipment:

Prodigious Research

Knowledge

Circumstance: The Deep Wood

Skill Damage 1S

 

Motivation

Adventurers with this background are often motivated by a desire to find wealth beyond what they were able to obtain as peddlers. Merchants may also be inspired to take up a life of heroics by the banditry and violence that plague the winding trails connecting the refuge villages. A Merchant adventurer may also be driven to take up adventuring to supplement a flagging business.

Why Play a Merchant

The Merchant background is a good choice for players who want to have a character who gave up a lucrative (or not) past to pursue something greater than themselves. When adventuring, Merchants always seem to have just the thing to overcome the obstacle confronting them.

Sneak Peek – Knight to Remember – The Insectoids

The Insectoid is the other race included in the Knight to Remember tutorial adventure. We’ve encountered an Insectoid in the adventure path before – Vruxyx sought you out in Rogue in the Woods. Insectoids are the fast, mobile counterpart to the Formians; their great size belies surprising speed and quickness. Insectoids also have an unusual history; once an innumerable race of drones controlled by a hivemind, the destruction of their central intelligence inflicted individuality and consciousness upon each individual member of the race.

 

Before the coming of Man, the Insectoid race was as one, unified under the great hiveminds of Xzzryxy. Thinking as one, acting as one, existing as one, Insectoids spread across the whole of Ceyenus. The enormity of their civilization made their shattering all the more tragic. Where there had only been one voice, suddenly a cacophony. The shock of sudden individuality was too much for most, killing many and driving others mad. Those who survived did not fare better, being immediately enslaved by Man.

The descendants of those survivors have made a life for themselves within the Deep Wood. Insectoids do not have family units, preferring instead individual lives lived in close proximity to others of their kind. Despite this preference, Insectoids lack the territoriality that one might expect from such a large race, and it is commonplace for a group of Insectoids to live amongst other races.

The shattering of the Hivemind bestowed the curse of individual consciousness upon the Insectoid race, and the sudden realization of Man’s infliction of mortality means that few Insectoids intentionally seek out adventure and glory.

Insectoids receive +1 to Wit or Response.

Insectoids have a Speed of 7.

 

All Insectoids have the following power:

Springy Leap

“From the Heavens

Move Action

Move up to your speed. At any point during the move, you may leap up to three squares, bypassing terrain (and adversaries) underfoot. This does not extend your movement range.

Physical traits

Insectoids are typically 6’1” – 7’10” tall and weigh between 170 and 220 lbs. They have six legs, four lower legs which they use for locomotion, and two upper appendages with complex claws for grasping and manipulation.

Their large mandibles mean that Insectoids lack the physiological means to speak. Instead, they communicate by broadcasting their thoughts into nearby minds. Though it is unsettling to those unaccustomed to it, this is not a subtle act; much like spoken word, everyone within range will receive the transmission.

Insectoids live an average of 50-70 years

Motivation

Reluctant heroes, those Insectoids found adventuring are driven by a force which outweighs their tendency toward self-preservation. This motivation might be personal in nature, such as a friend in need, or it might be larger than life, like seeking to reforge the hivemind.

Why Play an Insectoid

Insectoids are great for players who want a character who wrestles with their inner nature, who becomes a hero in spite of themselves, not because of who they are.

Sneak Peek – Knight to Remember – Stalwart Guard

Welcome Heroes, to the next instalment of the Knight to Remember preview. In today’s post, we get to see the Stalwart Guard, a background for characters in Let Thrones Beware. The Guard is a great background for players who like to cooperate with their commrades, and a a character with this background who’s able to coordinate will see some real benefits. This background is also our first introduction to Influences, which represent the people, knowledge, and possessions that you character has which will be useful while adventuring. We’ll take a look at exactly how Influences work in a future preview, but for now, just know that the non-combat challenge system has a whole mechanical component that supports the skill powers.

Lastly, the background describes some sample motivations that might drive a character who has the Stalwart Guard background and reasons why a player might want to pick this background over others.

Until next time!

 

Characters: Background: Stalwart Guard

The Stalwart Guard is a familiar sight to all who dwell in the Deep Wood. Whether escorting merchant convoys during the Passage, keeping a watchful eye on the forest from atop a fortified village tower, or holding the Gate of Thorns against terrors that seek the verdant greens beyond the mountains, guards are essential to continued existence within the Deep Wood.

The training and experience of guards is varied; those who enlist at the Gate of Thorns benefit from a rich and storied martial tradition, while those born deep within the forest who volunteer to protect their home are considerably less well off. Competent guards, no matter where they served, are not only formidable in battle, but also observant and quick to bring down the might of their comrades in order to confront an obstacle.

 

Guards gain +1 to Strength due to all the marching they do.

 

As a guard, you possess certain Influences, which can be used to help you succeed in non-combat challenges (you’ll learn exactly how to make use of Influences later in the adventure). Influences represent the people that you know, the knowledge that you’ve acquired, and the possessions you own that can help with a particular challenge. Unlike the powers your character has, when you use an Influence, it is expended rather than exhausted; you will not regain it. Through the course of your travels, you will be rewarded with additional Influences.

Your starting Influences are as follows (remember these values, as you will often reset your Influences to their starting values at the beginning of an adventure):

Inventory 1, Knowledge 1, Contact 2

 

Guards also have the following combat and non-combat powers:

Good Cop, Bad Cop

Skill Attack – SFRWP 1

An ally assisting you provides grants you Edge and causes the Obstacle you’re confronting to lose an Edge

The Guard is never wrong

Skill Attack – SFRWP 2

GM draws two more Obstacles. Look at all three, pick one to discard. GM may use either of the other two.

A Right Cudgelling

Melee Attack – SFRWP 1

Damage 1W

Target is Stunned until the end of its next turn.

 

Motivation

Adventurers with the Guard background are often motivated by a desire to bring order to the wild and dangerous Deep Wood. They might also be looking to escape the regimented, routine life and find some adventure.

Why Play a Guard

The Guard background is a good choice for players who want to have a character with a formal, quasi-military past. Guards have deep insight into the workings of their jurisdictions, whether they be castles, sprawling estates, or small villages. Guards can be grizzled old veterans, eager young recruits, or anything in between.

Sneak Peek – Knight to Remember – The Formians

As I’ve touched on in previous posts, the second Let Thrones Beware introductory adventure, Knight to Remember, will cover two complete character workups (that’s race, background, and class). This morning we take a look at the race of the first character – the Formian. The first Formian we encountered was Telchal, who hired your rogue to retrieve a precious family heirloom. You encountered another in the market, where you learned that Formians are drawn to large cities where they utilize their experience in working with stone and earth.

 

Characters: Race: Formian

It is said that the Formians sprang from the very cradle of Ceyenus itself, earth given breath to defend the planet from the races set upon its surface by the gods. To be sure, were that the case, not only would it explain the brilliant metallic colour of their hair, the mottled, stonelike appearance of their skin and features, and their affinity for rock and earth. Formians tend to be deliberate and considered in their dealings and have been described as “slow as the mountains themselves.”

Most Formians place great emphasis on familial ties, and Formian families, when unchecked, grow to be quite large in comparison to other races. These linkages, as well as the connection they feel to the land, may be why the Formians are generally reluctant to escape the Deep Wood.

Within refuge villages, Formians are typically farmers, using their connection with Ceyenus to nurture crops in the less than ideal environment. In some exceptional cases, the link to the earth is so strong that they are able to manipulate the very rock itself. The fortunate villages which possess such extraordinary Formians are encircled by sturdy stone walls, deterring many of the dangers of the Deep Woood.

 

Formians receive +1 to Fortitude or Wit.

Formians have a Speed of 5

 

All Formians have the following power:

Stone Song

Melee – Free Action

Remove difficult terrain in Gout 2

 

Physical traits

Formians are typically 4’6” – 5’6” tall and weigh between 170 and 220 lbs.

Formians live an average of 90-100 years, are usually quite averse to adventuring, preferring instead to stay with their kin. In those cases where a Formian does take up heroics as a career, the Formian generally departs in their 40s, after they have raised their children. It is unusual for one to set out before founding a family, and rare for a Formian adventurer to be absent for extended periods; most will find excuses to return home on a regular basis.

Formian skin tones resemble rock and mineral. They are hairless, and have prominent veins of metallic in colour lacing their skin, which range from copper and bronze to shining gold and brilliant platinum.

Unlike most, Formians do not require food or drink; however, they must remain stationary with their feet touching fresh earth or rock for several hours a day as they replenish nutrients from Ceyenus itself.

 

Motivation

While they are not the most adventurous of the races of Ceyenus, Formians are fierce protectors of their homes and family; many a Formian adventurer has ventured out to right a perceived wrong or defend their loved ones from danger.

 

Why Play a Formian

Formians are great for players who want a character with family history and extensive, meaningful ties to a home.

 

 

Sneak Peek – Knight to Remember – An Abridged History of Ceyenus

The ultimate goal of the adventure series I’m writing is to equip a group of 5 players with the tools they need to sit down and play Let Thrones Beware – play without having to first page through several hundred dense pages of reference material. Each adventure begins with a thematic overview of a pertinent part of the Let Thrones Beware world.  In Rogue in the Woods: A Let Thrones Beware Adventure, players were introduced to the world of Ceyenus for the first time, read about the incursion of Man, and learned about the cataclysm that destroyed Man’s kingdom. In the second adventure, Knight to Remember, we learn more about the Deep Wood, the refuge villages that have been established by those who managed to escape the end of Man, and catch a first glimpse of the horrors that lurk within the forest.

 

For your enjoyment, here’s the opening of our next adventure.

 

Given the paucity of Man’s presence in the Deep Wood, it was only natural that cataclysm which was his undoing sent the races of Ceyenus hurrying for shelter under its foreboding canopy. Though it was the Fey who Man first ripped from forests centuries ago, the flood of refugees encompassed all those who were close enough to reach the massive trunks of the Wood before the lands of Man were completely consumed by the conflagration that brought low his kingdom. Insectoid, Formian, Ipotane, and Fey, all released from the domineering hand of Man, found themselves alone in an isolated and primeval land. While freed, their civilizations and cultures had been lain to waste, and all found themselves facing the daunting prospect of forging a new destiny in a strange and unfamiliar place.

Spirits buoyed by their freedom, the refugees set about claiming the Deep Wood. Sprawling settlements were established, open to all those that desired to make a home for themselves. It was not an easy life; food, tools, and comfort were in short supply, but compared to the atrocities that came before, it was good living. Sadly, hope of a tranquil existence was short-lived. While there was little internecine violence between the refugees, they soon discovered that Man had avoided the Wood with good reason. The Deep Wood, remote and isolated, had never been cultivated by the Fey, and in their absence, darker, more insidious forces had taken hold. The presence which lurked behind the trees fed off the Cataclysm, and its hunger was to be insatiable.

Absent the threat of Man, the refugees had given scant thought to protection, and the communities which they had founded were largely indefensible. When the Deep Wood first was inundated by fog, they thought little of it, even when the concealing vapour lingered, refusing to dissipate for weeks at a time. Wild animals were blamed for the first disappearances, as was getting lost in the mist, but as the vanishings increased in both number and frequency, it became clear that something more insidious was at work.

The first walls were erected shortly after the fifteenth year, a too-late response to the realization of the true threat. In what is known as the First Reaping, Watcher’s Redoubt, a 300-person farming community saw its population cut by a third in a single night. Thatched roofs staved in and doors shattered, the town saw its populace reduced by a third in a single night of carnage and bloodshed. It was only then that the true nature of the Deep Wood was realized. With haste, the survivors constructed rudimentary defences; wooden palisades, shallow trenches, and rickety towers went up across the hamlets and villages of the Deep Wood.

In time, a connection was made between the attacks and the thick, rolling fog that blanketed the forest; when the fog receded, so too did the savage slaughter of anyone who dared venture into the trees abate. When the fog poured back from between the trees, it meant certain doom for anyone unlucky enough to remain outside the relative safety of the refuge villages. The times without fog, the longest of which occurred like clockwork at the end of each season, came to be known as the Passage. During these respites, merchants and peddlers took to plying their trade between the refuge villages, performing a vital service at tremendous personal risk. As years churned by, trade between the villages increased, and the Passage gradually took on shades of ritual. The scourge of bandits has grown in recent years, and merchants have begun to band together in caravans for safety.

One such Passage has just begun, and the death of Summer is heralded at your guard post by the creak of wooden carts and the grunts of oxen.

 

What’s coming down the pipe next – Let Thrones Beware Adventures

With Rogue in the Woods nominally complete, it’s time to talk about what’s next for Let Thrones Beware

 

The next adventure, A Knight to Remember, will focus on:

  • Two sets of new races, backgrounds, and classes – the Formian Guard Knight and the Insectoid Merchant Hedge Wizard
  • Character inventory
  • Advantage & disadvantage
  • Edge
  • Working with teammates
  • Advanced combat
  • Interactive battlefields

 

The third, as of yet unnamed adventure, will focus on:

  • New race, background, and class – the Echthroi Noble Oracle
  • Creating an adventuring party
  • Legendary opponents
  • Upgrading the town

 

The fourth and final (also unnamed) adventure will detail:

  • Setting up a game
  • Use of rumour
  • Adjudicating tough decisions
  • Difficult players
  • Adventures and campaigns
  • Levelling up characters
  • Final battles

 

Rogue in the Woods: A Let Thrones Beware Adventure

When I was little, I was a big fan of the 1991 New Easy-to-Master Dungeons & Dragons Game – it came with this really clever introductory adventure on flashcards that introduced newcomers to Dungeons & Dragons and role-playing games in general one step at a time. Playing through a series of quests taught me everything I needed to know about the game, and equipped me with the knowledge to play in and run my own adventures with friends. Since then, I’ve never found an RPG that opens with a more accessible, easy-to-use adventure. In crafting an introduction to Let Thrones Beware, I wanted to design something that does more than merely list the mechanics players use – I wanted to convey a sense of the world of the game and how the game actually plays out, while also explaining the game’s mechanics and how they interact in play.

My ultimate goal is to develop a series of linked adventures, guiding people from knowing nothing about the game, its mechanics, or rpgs in general to experienced players capable of GMing for an entire table of friends.

A Rogue in the Woods Covers the following subjects, and while it doesn’t have the layout or graphics finished yet, it’s feature-complete and ready to be evaluated.

  • Making Decisions & Interacting Fairly
  • Character Attributes
  • Character Race
  • Character Background
  • Character Class
  • Trivial Challenges
  • Introduction to Skill Checks
  • Introduction to Combat
  • Skill Checks and Tests
  • Complete Combat

Download Rogue in the Woods: A Let Thrones Beware Adventure!