Axe for the Frozen Sea
A downloadable game
This is a lightweight ruleset for fantasy RPGs. Its goal is to be playable with minimal equipment or in a situation where dice aren't feasible, such as bushwalks, road trips, or in prison. Because of this it loses some of the texture of more complex rulesets. I don't expect it to be anyone's favourite or preferred ruleset, but perhaps it can help fill a neglected niche. Failing that, hopefully the included system-neutral random tables spark some creative, memorable play in your other games.
Because it is lightweight, it suits simple characters, common-sense adjudication and theatre-of-the-mind play over tactical miniatures, character builds, and leveling up a character over the course of a few dozen sessions.
Like most "old-school" RPGs, it has no mechanics designed to create an act structure, a hero's journey, or any similar storytelling devices. Unlike most old-school games, it's a little softer when it comes to character death. That said, hack this game into whatever suits your group.
An incomplete list of inspirations for this game:
- Whitehack by Christian Mehrstam (print)
- The Black Hack by David Black (pdf, print)
- Troika! by Daniel Sell (pdf, print)
- Sherpa by Steffan O'Sullivan (html)
- Maze Rats by Ben Milton (pdf)
- Fate: Accelerated Edition by Fred Hicks and Clark Valentine (pdf & print)
- The wealth of creative material written for OSR games and for games like Dungeon World that stress the principles of "prep situations, not plots" and/or "play to find out what happens".
- In particular, the luxuriant random tables of Brian L and Zedeck Siew, and the sprawling, anti-canon Pentola setting of Michael Lombardi.
- Many other blog posts and twitter threads, the nascent #sworddream, the massive influx of new D&D players changing the game, the accumulated wisdom of the old guard
In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $5 USD. You will get access to the following files:
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