Wednesday, March 1, 2023


I have been thinking more about my previous post on building a Righteous Blood Ruthless Blades sword and sorcery system and believe one easy way to divide things is by paths (like the ones in Strange Tales of Songling). That would make for an easy method to separate spell casting abilities from more combat oriented ones. It would also make keying skills to different paths easier, maybe simplify character creation a bit (which I think is handy in Sword and Sorcery). 

Art by Jackie Musto (From Servants of Gaius)

A lot of this will need to be changed. Originally I wanted to have the warrior simply be as identical as possible to a standard RBRB character. I may still change things and go this direction but for now I feel like the presence of other sword and sorcery elements like monsters and powerful magic, means the warrior path needs something to make them better at that. For example one thing I added was the warrior's ability to make two attacks each round. I also added in extra damage. This might present a problem with the Signature Attacks in the RBRB system. But I want to find out if it is feasible so I am putting it there (also because I haven't decided what to do with Aura in the game, and that level was for concealing your killing aura in RBRB, I wanted to avoid a dead level). 

A lot of what I am doing here is taking ideas and tools from Strange Tales of Songling and the Sertorius Fantasy Pack. I can't bring them in whole cloth but many of the concepts are proving transferable. 

One thing I should be clear about, this isn't for the Righteous Blood, Ruthless Blades supernatural expansion, rather this is in preparation for returning to work on it. I am hoping I will get a few ideas that can be pulled into that project however. And this Sword and Sorcery design series isn't with any intention to release something. It is purely to put some tools out there I can draw on if I want to run RBRB in that genre or so other people can. If it proves particularly playable, I might consider getting back to it at some point and talking with Jeremy about a Sword and Sorcery expansion. For now though this is largely me thinking out loud. 

Here are some of the changes to the system I have come up with, followed by the new paths (and judging by the amount of revision I did on paths in Strange Tales of Songling and Strange Tales of New England, these will see considerable alteration if I start play testing and revising them with any amount of seriousness). 

This definitely needs about twice the number of spells than are here, but that will likely require a follow-up entry. 


Defenses all have a base of 5 and can be increased at character creation or by path level ability to a max of 10. 


These will be divided into Signature Attacks, Signature Tricks and Signature Spells 


This will work as in RBRB, but it will be divided into Resist to Attack and Resist to Magic. A character with Resist 2 to Attack, reduces the damage from a normal attack from a mundane source by 2, a character with Resist 2 to Magic reduces damage from magical sources. 



Skill Point Allotments: Attack Skills (4 points), Specialist Skills (4 points), Unorthodox Skills (4 points), Mental Skills (3 points), Physical Skills (6 points), Knowledge Skills (3 points)

Defenses: 5 points

Starting Max Wounds: 3





Start with Signature Attack and Counter 


Skill Increase 


Defense Increase by 1 rank, All Attacks do +1 Extra Wound 


Gain new Signature Attack, Increase Max wounds to 4, Resist 1 to Attack


Can make 2 attacks each round 


Gain 1 Counter 


Gain new Signature Attack, Resist 2 to Attack, Increase Max Wounds to 5


Increase skill by 1 rank, Attacks do +2 Extra Wounds


Increase defense by 1 rank, resist 3 to Attack


Can make 3 attacks each round, Increase Max Wounds to 6


Skill Point Allotments: Attack Skills (2 points), Specialist Skills (6 points), Unorthodox Skills (6 points), Mental Skills (5 points), Physical Skills (4 points), Knowledge Skills (5 points)

Defenses: 5 points

Starting Max Wounds: 2





Start with Signature Trick, Pilfer 


Spot Trap, Increase Skill by 1 rank


Slink, Gain Signature Trick, Defense Increase by 1 rank 


Disarm Trap, Increase Skill by 1 rank 


Gain Signature Trick, Increase Max Wounds to 3


Survivor, Skill Increase by 1 rank 


Gain Signature Attack or Signature Spell


Increase Skill by 1 Rank


Gain Signature Trick, Increase Defense by 1 rank 


Increase Max Wounds to 4

Additional Burglar Abilities: 

Slink: With the Slink ability the Burglar can escape unseen at the first sign of violence or combat. Whenever combat is about to start, the Burglar can make a Reasoning Roll TN 6, on a Success they can move away from the area at their full movement. 

Spot Trap: The Burglar gains +2d10 to any Detect roll to spot a trap. 

Disarm Trap: The Burglar gains +2d10 to attempts to disarm traps. 

Pilfer: The Burglar gains +1d10 to all Theft Skill rolls. 

Survivor: Whenever the Burglar is about to be harmed by an environmental danger such as falling or being crushed by a collapsing wall, they can make an Athletics roll TN 8. On a Success they take 1 less wound. On a Total Success they take 2 less wounds. 


Skill Point Allotments: Attack Skills (1 point), Specialist Skills (6 points), Unorthodox Skills (4 points), Mental Skills (6 points), Physical Skills (3 points), Knowledge Skills (6 points)

Defenses: 5 points

Starting Max Wounds: 1





Start with signature spell


Skill Increase by 1 rank


Defense Increase by 1 rank, Gain new signature spell


Skill Increase by 1 Rank


Max Wounds increase to 2, Gain new signature spell 


Resist 1 to Magic 


Skill Increase by 1 Rank, Gain new signature spell 


Resist 2 to Magic


Increase Defense by 1 Rank, Gain new signature spell


Resist 3 to Magic, gain new signature spell 

These all function like the Signature Abilities in the original Righteous Blood Ruthless Blades rulebook, except they are grouped by path. You can only take abilities listed in your path table. Note that level requirement is often listed under the name, this is the minimum level one must be to take the ability. Many of these are simply taken from the Sertorius Fantasy packet and revised a bit. 

I also included the signature abilities from my previous post on this subject, and placed them in their appropriate group below. This just seemed better for ease of use.

The abilities are primarily available to the warrior, though the Burglar also has an opportunity to take one. 

Prerequisites: Devastation, 2 Ranks in Muscle; Characteristics: Melee, Muscle 
Required for: Bathe in Blood of Beasts 

You lop off the heads of your foes and slice them in two. When using a heavy bladed weapon, if you roll two 10s on your damage roll against any mundane humanoid opponent, you behead them or them them in half, resulting in instant death. If neither decapitation nor bisection are possible, you still do enough lethal damage to kill them. 

Prerequisite: Behead, Bisect or Dispatch, 3 Ranks in Muscle; Characteristics: Melee, Muscle 

You are accustomed to slaughtering monsters of enormous size and possess the will and ferocity to take their heads and carve their bodies. This functions like Behead, Bisect or Dispatch except it works on monsters and beasts of any size. 

Characteristics: Melee; Level Requirement: 3, Required for Behead or Dispatch 

Your weapon crashes down with a gods wrath upon your enemies. You can make one attack at tremendous power, reducing your Evade this round by 2, but delivering a blow that does open damage to the target. 

Characteristics: Melee

Perhaps you were once a butcher or maybe you enjoy war too much, but you can cut a man in ways he will never forget. On a successful attack and damage roll with a bladed weapon you twist the steel and rip your foe from the inside, draining 1 hardiness for a month. If you got a Total Success on your attack roll the Hardiness loss is permanent. 

Characteristics: Melee 

You shield yourself and those around you from deadly attacks. When you and/or any adjacent allies are attacked, you can use your attack roll to protect against the attack rather than your Evade. You effectively shield them and yourself from any incoming attack with a sweeping melee (this can be done with a shield as well). You must be next to your allies for this to work. 

Characteristics: Stealth 

You are skilled at leaping down on your foes and delivering a fatal blow. You can do this when you are above an opponent and they do not see you. When doing so you do open damage on your attack. Also if the opponent is much larger than you, on a Total Success you can cling onto their body (continuing to do so every Total Success on future attacks). If you fail in such an attack you should take appropriate damage for falling. 

Characteristics: Armed

You are good at a particular weapon. Pick one weapon upon acquiring this signature ability. You gain a permanent +1d10 bonus when using that weapon and a -1d10 when using other weapons. You also gain a +2 to Evade against this weapon. 


Characteristics: Theft and Athletics 

You are a master of escape. Even when fully bound or chained, or from within a tied sack, you can attempt to use Theft to pick locks or your Athletics skill to free yourself. 

Characteristics: Athletics 

You move softly without making a sound. Roll Athletics TN 6. On a success, the sounds of your movement are not detectable. 

Characteristics: Poison 

You have built an immunity to poisons and venoms. You are immune to any venom or poison effect unless stated otherwise in the entry for the substance. 

Characteristics: Poison 

You gain a +2d10 bonus to your herbalism skill when used to make poisons or antidotes. 

Characteristics: Athletics 

You are able to scale walls or climb sheer cliff faces with ease. You may use Athletics to move along such surfaces. In addition, you gain +2d10 to Athletics when doing so with the assistance of gear or proper footholds. 

Characteristics: Subterfuge, Required for: Stealth II

You are adept at trailing people without being seen and hiding in place. When doing so people must make a Detect Roll TN 10 to see you. 

Prerequisite: Stealth I; Characteristics: Subterfuge

This works like Stealth I except people must make two consecutive Detect TN 10 rolls to see you. 

Characteristics: Social 

You can draw conclusions about a persons background and social class by looking for cues. This enables you to use your Empathy skill to discern these qualities. 

Characteristics: Stealth Attack, Non-Combat 

You are adept at killing victims when they are most vulnerable. You strike while they are distracted by things like a loving embrace or enchanting melody. Outside combat, when your target is distracted, your Stealth Attack does +4 extra wounds (instead of +1). In Combat you suffer a -2d10 to your attacks. 

Characteristics: Deception 

You can make your voice sound as though it is coming from a different location (within reason). 


Signature Spells function like other abilities except they usually take longer to perform. Assume each one takes ten minutes unless otherwise stated. Note that all spells with the necromancy characteristic are subject to the affliction rules (see NECROMANCY RULES). 

Characteristics: Nature, Animals, Magical Arts 

You can transform yourself into a small animal of your choosing. Roll Magical Arts TN 7. On a success you assume the form of a small animal that you desire to be for up to 1 hour. On a Total Success you take the form of that animal for up to 1 day. On a Failure, you become a random animal (or one chosen by the GM) for a full week). 

Characteristics: Fire, Magical Arts 

Your gaze sets people ablaze with flame. Roll Magical Arts against the Wits of a single target. On a Success the person take 4d10 Damage. On a Total Success they take 3d10 Damage followed by 2d10 damage, the next round, then 1d10 Damage the round after that. On a Failure you take 3d10 damage as the spell's energy is reversed upon you. This takes second to cast and can be done as a skill roll in combat. 

Characteristics: Fear, Magical Arts, Level Requirement: 3

You whisper and mumble, weaving a poetry of of dread that descends upon an area, up to the size of a small town. Roll Magical arts against the Wits of all in the area affected. On a Success, victims are filled with dread for a full hour. On a Total Success this lasts a day. Their minds obsess over the words you utter, filling them with visions of doom and death. They cannot hear your voice, but it has power over their thoughts. The spell doesn't produce any actual mechanical effect, but the fear is very real and those affected act accordingly. 

Characteristics: Necromancy, Magical Arts 

You breathe forth a billowing mist that can fill up fifty foot wide and fifty foot deep area. You control where the fog settles. Roll Magical Arts against the Hardiness of any within the affected area. On a Success they suffer -1d10 to their Muscle. On a Total Success they suffer -1d10 to Muscle and to their Attacks. This can be cast during a combat round as part of your skill roll (it takes seconds to cast). This drains you of 1 Hardiness for an hour. 

Characteristics: Necromancy, Magical Arts 

You have the power to raise corpses from the grave. Make a Magical Arts roll against TN 8. On a success you animate the body of up to 1 corpse per rank of command you have. You must make a Command Roll against their wits each hour to control them, or they turn against you. You must make another Magical Arts roll TN 8 to end the spell and return them to harmless corpses (otherwise they remain animate indefinitely). 

I think a lot of the Signature Abilities from RBRB will work for Sword and Sorcery. It would largely be about adding in more for stealth and magic. 

Characteristics: Clairvoyance, Magical Arts 

You can trace a line in the air before you, slicing it like a curtail to reveal details of a person, event or thing elsewhere in real time. Make a Magical Arts Roll against TN 6 (+1 for every mile away to a max of TN 10). On a Success you can view through this veil for 1d10 minutes. On a Total Success you can view for 1d10 hours. On a failure the target can see you but you can't see them. 

Characteristics: Necromancy, Magical Arts, Level Requirement: 5

You can bring the dead back to life with a few words. However doing so comes at a cost as someone, somewhere must take their place in the underworld. Roll magical Arts TN 8. On a Success the person comes back from the dead with an affliction. On a Total Success, they come back without any issues. Whatever the result, someone else must die in the next week to compensate. If no one in the party dies within that time, roll 1d10. On a result of 1-8, it is a random person the party has never met. On a result of 9-10 it is an NPC they know (roll randomly to determine who). 


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