Carl Walter is converting a pre-existing campaign over to Blade & Crown, and wrote me to ask several questions about how to do so. Rather than just replying to him, I asked if it’d be okay if I quoted his email and answered here, so that more people could see my responses. He happily agreed.
Carl’s first question:
I have a character in the game who is an artist with a lance and not only can I find no Lance skill, I cannot find any real way for him to specialize with the weapon in some way. I have considered using the Spear/Polearm skill, or creating a separate Lance skill at 3 or 4 to compensate, but there are no stats for the Lance to begin with so I would be using the polearm anyway. Do you have any suggestions that might help me in this?
I certainly do! First, though, I should explain a bit about my assumptions for Blade & Crown. The game presumes a technology level roughly similar to that of Anglo-Saxon or Norman England, so the armored cavalry charge is (in the presumptive B&C campaign world) still a novelty. For that reason, I didn’t include lances as a specific, predetermined type of weapon in Blade & Crown.
However, I did include spears, which would have nearly the same effects, and I allowed for bonuses when attacking from horseback (p. 96). You might allow a player to make a Riding skill roll and give an even higher bonus (probably +2) on a critical success.
What about specializing in Lance skill? Rather than creating it as a new skill, I’d recommend creating it as a specialization of the already extant Spear/Polearm skill. Perhaps “Charge from Horseback” or “Mounted Lance” would work as the two restrictions. That way, the character is still knowledgeable with other polearms, but gets the advantage of specializing in lance-like effects.
Carl’s second question:
Also, any thoughts on converting elves or dwarves of the Hârn or Tolkien variety?
Like lances, I designed B&C without playable elves or dwarves. This is partially because it’s hard to do an original take on them, but also because I wanted to keep them thoroughly mysterious when they do appear. So, in my B&C campaigns, many tales are told of elves and dwarves, but they have never yet been seen.
Yet that can be unsatisfying if you want your players to interact in the game with elves or dwarves. So how to handle them?
I suggest making heavy use of Traits. For example, you might say all elves have the Trait of Immortal. What positive and negative effects could this have? Positive effects are easy to imagine: advanced age & experience, first-hand knowledge of things most humans consider ancient history, being immune to poison and disease, etc. What about negative effects? Many things are possible here, too: coming across as uncaring, having flattened affect, being unable to see the trees for the forest (as it were).
Elves, at least by the standard depictions, could also be considered Proud, Fated, Attractive and World-Weary, among other things. Give the elves Traits at high enough ratings (3 or 4 or even higher) and those Traits suddenly become magically powerful tendencies.
What about dwarves? Many Traits describe the standard formula for them: Proud, Driven, Refined, Loyal, Irrepressible, Loud. Perhaps Stigmatized, and it’s easy to imagine a Short or Stocky Trait as appropriate, too. Again, giving them high ratings will evoke a sense of power and strength beyond human ken.
Should elves and dwarves have characteristics in the normal human range? Should they get the usual number of characteristic points and skill points? I suppose that depends on whether they’re going to be powerful but rarely-seen NPCs, full fledged members of the party or something else. Someone like Galadriel or Elrond, certainly, should be quite a bit beyond the level of a starting character. “Whatever’s dramatically appropriate” is the rule here. But if you’ve got a PC who resembles Legolas, for example, it seems fair to put them on the same playing field as the other PCs. You might give them slightly increased characteristic and skill points in exchange for requiring certain Traits. (After all, that is a strong theme about elves and dwarves in Tolkien’s writing: that their worldly power is balanced by not being masters of their own fates.)
And Carl’s last question:
Are there any supplements or additional works pending? I would love to see some additional works.
So would I! I’ve got a few B&C adventures written, but getting them into a form ready for publishing will take a while longer. And there’s the campaign world I developed for use with Blade & Crown, Calteir, but it’s even further from being ready for prime time. And there are other things on my to-do list: pre-filled in disposable NPC sheets and NPC cards; more characters; player handouts; and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought of doing a Kickstarter to publish an edition with better art. I know better than to guarantee any of this on a particular timeline yet — other RPG publishers have taught me that lesson — but I am curious what you’d like to see first. What would help you the most in play? What Blade & Crown possibilities interest you most?