Monday, March 10, 2014

Gossamer & Shadow

Pick a Door, any Door (art by the amazing Jason Rainville)

Whew. Seven weeks into the semester, and I finally find some time to post here. My fantasy literature students just took their midterm (covering Dunsany, Tolkien, Vance, and Le Guin), and my global performance in the Middle Ages class has just started Yuan zaju after finishing medieval English drama. Had to give up running Tales of the 13th Age because I'm taking part in my daughter's dance recital: I'm playing the non-dancing part of the evil Spanish Governor in Pacquita, and rehearsals for the actors are on the one night all my 13th Age players could make it. Luckily, one of those players has assumed GM duties and is now running the game on Thursday nights; I'm playing a dragonspawn paladin named Sule whose One Unique Thing is a congenital allergy to god.

But the primary reason for this update is to discuss my latest RPG purchase, Rite Publishing's Lords of Gossamer & Shadow (LoG&S). I've been eyeing this system for some time, partially because it comes highly recommended by such respected folks as Rob Donoghue and Bruce Baugh and partially because its original setting removes the primary obstacle to my enjoyment of the late Erick Wujcik's Amber DRPGRoger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber setting. (Don't get me wrong—I have nothing against Zelazny's books; I just read them far too early in my adolescence to really appreciate them.) When DriveThruRPG's GM's Day Sale dropped the price of the PDF/softcover combo to $30, I decided to take the plunge.

Still making my way through the rulebook, but I like the overall cut of the game's jib. Mechnically, I appreciate the clarity of the rules and the utility of the worksheets for player-generated Artifacts, Companions, and Domains. As an old Everway hand, the diceless side of LoG&S doesn't bother me at all: between attribute ranks, Stuff, and player tactics, I have more than enough information to adjudicate conflicts. I still can't get my head around how to integrate PCs and NPCs on the Attribute Ladder (do I need to create all the NPCs at the start of the game? if not, how do new NPCs get worked into the ladder?). I'm also thinking that there's a bit of an Amber DRPG remnant in the strange advice on p. 15 that players not be able to establish their characters' parentage—that makes sense in the familial hothouse that is Amber, but not in the more wide-open environment of the Great Stair. So far these are my biggest problems with the game.

In fact, I liked LoG&S enough to go ahead and grab all of the game's mini-supplements while the sale was still ongoing. The Addendum: Blessings & Curses powers add-on is a particular favorite of mine; look for a follow-up post test-driving those rules. 


  1. Huh... I thought I posted a reply here, but it seems to have disappeared.

    Quick-and-easy way to handle the Attribute ladder:

    1. Let the players establish their Attribute ranks.
    2. Assign NPC Attribute values at your discretion.
    3. Organize accordingly into a ladder.
    4. Introduce new NPCs as desired into the ladder, adjust as needed.

    The easiest way to do this is via a table in a word processing program of your choice, or a spreadsheet.

  2. Two questions, then, Jason:

    1. If an NPC comes in at a higher rank than a PC, does the PC suddenly discover their rank has dropped? Or are we just comparing raw scores at that point?

    2. What if a PC dies? Does the player make up a new character however they want and then slot them into the ladder? I don't recall seeing this discussed in the PDF, but then I'm not all the way through it yet.

    Thanks again for a great game.

  3. Some quick answers!

    1. After the Attribute Auction, players never know their actual Ranks again. Only the 1st-ranked character can be sure she's still 1st among the other PCs.

    You're never comparing raw scores. Always Ranks.

    2. If a Ranked PC or NPC dies, everyone a Rank below them moves up one rung. Latecomers must fit into the ladder, and will need to purchase .5 Ranking if they want to be Ranked. That would include NPC Ranks, though a GM wishing to keep some things secret might only reveal PC Ranks.

    1. Thanks, Jason. I mostly grok your answers, although I suspect that I'll need to take part in an auction to fully get this. :)