By Howard Andrew Jones
Copyright Ã‚Â© 2008 by New Epoch Press. All rights Reserved.
This week marks the inaugural entry in a new monthly Black Gate column. Who knows — I’ve found so much overlooked (or underappreciated) gaming material I might occasionally cover the subject more than once a month.
Mejia and Stubbs, $3.95, 17 Pages
The World of Broadsword
Jeff Mejia, $3.95, 31 pages
I’m launching the column with a look at a spirited little sword-and-sorcery game titled Broadsword. Broadsword, written by Jeff Mejia and James Stubbs, is a 1PG game, and like all 1PG games, the idea is that the rules fit on one page. Let me clarify — the rules for an entire game don’t fit on one page, but all the rules for character creation fit on one page, all the possible character advantages fit on another, and all the rules for running the game fit on a third. In this day and age, when we’re faced with fantasy role-playing games that require hundreds of pages of rules found over multiple volumes, Broadsword is refreshingly simple. Of course, Broadsword isn’t a game for the long haul. Its stated purpose is to simulate the feel of a sword-and-sorcery movie and to make it possible to throw a game night together on the spur of a moment. The rules succeed admirably. In a few moments you distribute your points, pick your fighting skills and pick up an advantage or two (like Beast Buddy — you’ve got a dog, monkey, ferret, or some other kind of animal sidekick, or sharpened senses, which means “your character can see and hear farther than average… He can also discern poisons by flavor and smell.”) Then you’re honestly ready to go.
To aid the game master, Broadsword comes with four standalone sword-and-sorcery adventures — each complete on one page, each evocative of the genre and perfect for a single night of gaming. It closes out with six connected adventures I didn’t like quite as well because the characters are required to get captured a little too frequently at the convenience of the plot — something all players I’ve ever gamed with have rather disliked — but a little plot doctoring can solve what’s essentially a minor problem in a fine little product.
Broadsword has been out for about a year and has already developed a following, and fans have been clamoring for more. Last week principal Broadsword creator Jeff Mejia answered the call with the World of Broadsword expansion. It includes a few more advantages, a bestiary with statistics for monsters sword-and-sorcery heroes typically get to face, a fifteen-page world gazetteer with plot-hooks galore (one country/region on each page), a small but useful selection of fantasy gods, and a five page sword-and-sorcery adventure.
Sure, you may say, I’ve got game books aplenty. But the price and the flavor and the wonderful simplicity of Broadsword and its expansion are hard to beat. And if you’re one of those who finds yourself strapped for time and rarely gets to roleplay, or who misses gaming but hasn’t wanted to mess with relearning all the rules, well, get yourself a copy of Broadsword. You’ll be playing in no time.