Monday, March 11, 2013

Backswords & Bucklers Actual Play Report

Supplanter at Big Purple posted an actual play report after running Backswords & Bucklers - the first OSR game to really capture my attention - as a pick-up game at a con. Here's a little excerpt -
Rafe calls an alert to Sondra, but has to concentrate on the fight he's in. Now Sondra knows the spies are escaping, and the spies know she knows they are escaping. They row like hell and Sondra tries to pick them off with her trusty sling. She actually manages to conk out the other bravo, and when the Spymaster himself finally seizes the oars, she even smacks him one. But she doesn't take him out before darkness swallows the little skiff. "Of course Sondra hit both of them in the dark at ever-increasing range," we agreed. "She's a Wise Woman!"

Rafe gets in a serious hit on his opponent, who has no interest in fighting to the death, so he turns on his heels and flees. Rafe chases after him. There are no explicit mechanics for attacking a fleeing but aware opponent, so I just flipped B&B's -4 penalty for attacking invisible opponents around and made it a bonus to hit. It does take two rounds before Rafe's strikes did enough damage to puncture the bravo's leather jack, so it will be that much longer until he and Sondra reunite to deal with the fleeing boat. He of course searches the corpse too, because Scoundrel.
Good times.

Check it out, both the game and the post.


  1. There are no explicit mechanics for attacking a fleeing but aware opponent, so I just flipped B&B's -4 penalty for attacking invisible opponents around and made it a bonus to hit.

    Love it! Sounds like a great game.

  2. That's what Mike said in his post as well... I'm curious, why does this ruling attract so much praise? It's consistent and logical, sure, but maybe it's me who's not seeing what makes it praise-worthy.

    1. Because typically it's the sort of comment that would arouse all sorts of sturm und drang around place like Big Purple - instead it's offered up as a simple virtue of the system, of not trying to cover every corner case and leaving it to the referee to decide on the fly, working from the framework of the rules.

      It's a step forward in attitudes.

    2. This just resonates with the way I like to play -- "Rulings Not Rules," having a small set of broadly applicable, genre-appropriate rules that provide a manageable framework for improvisation, rather than explicit mechanics for every last possibility.

      Also, for me, the spirit of swashbuckling adventure is better served by a seat-of-the-pants, improvisational GM style working, as the Cap'n said, from the framework of the rules.

    3. Thank you, and this proves once again I just don't get the whole "divide". I mean, I like games that have enough rules to cover multiple situations, but I'd also expect such a ruling in any game that didn't have the situation covered!
      And I actually ran into this situation in my Backswrods'n'Bucklers one-shot, and gave him a +2 modifier. My reasoning was "same as the opponent having a Dexterity of 3", effectively making him unable to react.
      Granted, most games have backstab modifiers, but there's always something that comes up. And yes, I'm likely to be the first to suggest a ruling if the Referee is taking up his or her time, but then I'm often among the people with best rule familiarity.
      And either way, I expect the Referee to make a ruling when necessary. I also expect the Referee not to make rulings when there is a rule already that fits the situation.
      So, am I in my own Rules-and-Rulings school or what?

  3. Where does one obtain this game?

    1. PDF is free on Lulu, and I can recommend it if you like OSR games, as one of the 5 best ones I'm aware of.