Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quick Peek at Astonishing Swordsmen and Sorcerers of Hyperborea

I figured I need to cleanse myself by looking at a legit, newly released, OSR game. Doesn't hurt that I got the PDF of Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea last night by being a supporter of the project when it was running on Kickstarter (I'll be waiting for the boxed set).

What can I say after my quick perusal of the Player's Book but "wow". Sure, we get the 4 core classes, the standard fare. We also get a fairly large selection of human races to choose from (as this is a game where demi-humans need not apply.

But then we get the sub classes. Damn but there's some classes I'd love to play.

Barbarian: an outland warrior possessed of feral instincts
Berserker: a rampaging shock trooper renowned for unbridled battle rage
Cataphract (Knight): a mail-clad horseman and warrior elite
Paladin: a champion who crusades for justice and Law
Ranger: a borderland fighter, frontiersman, and wilderness warrior
Warlock: a spell-weaving fighter who wields steel and sorcery interchangeably

Illusionist: a sorcerer who evokes phantasms and manipulates shadows and light
Necromancer: a sorcerer who practices black magic and communicates with the dead
Pyromancer: a sorcerer who manipulates the elemental power of fire
Witch: a sorceress who brews potions, divines portents, and lays curses

Druid: a mystic sorcerer empowered by ancestral, elemental, and animistic spirits
Monk: a warrior-priest who strives for physical and mental mastery
Priest: a chaplain mystic of prodigious spell casting capacity
Shaman (Witch Doctor): a primal sorcerer who confers with ancestral and totem spirits

Assassin: a thief who specializes in murder and intrigue
Bard (Skald): a warrior, scholar, and weaver of enchanted lyrics and/or music
Legerdemainist: an adept thief who also commands the power of sorcery
Scout: a lightly armed explorer, intelligence gatherer, and stealth master

I think some of these will be making their way as NPC classes in my ACKS game ;)

Heck, I've barely scratched the surface of the Player's Book's 256 pages, and the Referee's Book is about as long. Good reading for the weekend :)


  1. It's just D&D with added sword and sorcery tropes. Magic system is still high fantasy and not good for Conan type world, because magic users are not dreadful sorcerers but some petty spell mongers casting silly magic/fire missiles all the time. It is fine in high fantasy, but not in S&S. There are priests - healing machines further contributing to high fantasy feel. At this rate it should be released just as supplement to basic or original D&D, such minor changes that this game provides could be easily made by anyone and they don't differentiate the game from standard D&D much. If magic system were completely remade from D&D it would be something.

  2. I bought it and while I did like what I saw, I was quite saddened by the inclusion of the cleric class (and subclasses). I felt the subclasses of the magic-user to be more interesting and if I were to run it (not likely) they would be used instead. It is a good system, but missing many S&S tropes. Still feels too much like high fantasy for me. I was quite happy to see no demi-humans though :D

    I understand it is difficult to have S&S magic-users in a D&Desque game, but I do feel as if they could have gone a little further. The campaign setting, bestiary and map were the main reason I bought this, so I have no complaints from those sections.

  3. I will also agree that this (along with ACKS) really could have been released as just a small supplement for B/X, LL, S&W, OSRIC, etc. There are only so many D&D clones.

    I am also aware I am probably one of 10 people who do not like ACKS at all.

  4. Dude, why not post an actual review? These mini-reviews and "quick peeks" seem not representative of the actual product at all. Especially in this case, it seems more like a blurb to the game.

  5. For those of you seeking a true swords & sorcery remix of S&W (without clerics and with reworked magic for mages to include white/grey/black magic) check out D101 Games' Crypts & Things.


  6. I am downloading it now as we speak. err type.

    Anyway I am looking forward to checking it out.

  7. @Nerzenjager - Dude! Uhm, lets see. This is a blog. There are many like it, but this one is mine ;)

    I post about things that interest me and / or excite me. I happened to enjoy reading some of this after the pile of thieving poo I looked at prior.

    It also over 500 pages long. As the RQ6 multipart review I've been working on stalled after a handful of posts, don't hold your breath on me getting around to this one.

    If you are looking for long, drawn out reviews, I suggest RPG.net. I usually leave somewhere around the third paragraph.

    @Tim Knight - Crypts & Things is sitting on my desk at home. I'm waiting on OpenQuest2 myself ;)

  8. I'll heartily second the Crypts & Things game! It's pretty spot-on when it comes to a S&S game derived from D&D rules (well, D&D rules by way of Swords & Wizardry!)

  9. New reader here. For me, I actually think ASSH might be my cup of tea. Sure, S&S has brutality in it, but often I don't like the extremely high death/injury rate. Sometimes, I just want to play D&D with some Lovecraft thrown in, and it seems ASSH caters to that pretty well.


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