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Jay Wolf, editor of the anthology here!

One of the reasons we think Sword & Sorcery & Romantic Fantasy go together so nicely is they both have genre-defining tropes, but those tropes can also be used to great effect to subvert reader expectations and surprise them as well.

Here are a few of my favorites--and many of them have overlap between both of these genres!

Enemies or Rivals to Lovers
Ahem.
Love it or hate it, it's a classic for a reason.
My favorite comic, ElfQuest, my first love in this world of bare-chested sword-wielding adventurers, does this one really well multiple times over multiple storylines.
Often, one of the ways it stays fresh and surprising is the nature of the rivalry or enmity and how our lovers are able to overcome it.

The Tragic Hero
Okay, listen. The reason I am really insistent on the wording "romantic fantasy" and not "fantasy romance" is that you can stick the word "tragic" in front of the former and not the latter. While we've managed to muster a roster of endings I think are overall the Sword & Sorcery ideal of a happy ending, I am an absolute sucker for a romantic and tragic figure like Elric of Melniboné, another of my first loves in this beautiful weird subgenre of ours.

Just to round things out, one of my favorite goofy ones that tends to materialize on the fandom side of things:

Only One Bed!
Good grief, do I love a solid Only One Bed moment. While the function of this trope is forced proximity or closeness, I think it's also a fun way to dig deeper into a character's psyche. I have written an only one bed moment in a tragic fix-it fic, and one of my favorite Tumblr jokes that occasionally makes the meme rounds ends with the punchline "this bed ain't big enough for the two of us," so there are lots of ways to use it to subvert sexual or romantic tension between characters.


  • What are some of your favorite tropes of sword & sorcery or romantic fantasy?

  • How might those be subverted in a fun or interesting way, especially in the context of mixing genres?
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I was on a Discord server that was chatting about the anthology and someone said "I love the premise but I know nothing about sword & sorcery". If you were trying to create a Beginner's Guide to S&S, where would you start? In the cases of "long series/characters", is there a particular short story or volume you'd point someone at? Classics OR newer authors/stories in the genre welcome. I think I'd start mine with _People of the Black Circle_ and _The God in the Bowl_ by Robert E. Howard, plus _The Black God's Kiss_ by CL Moore on for starters.

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PROJECT UPDATE
Wild Earth Dice
CREATOR
1 day ago

Project Update: New super chonk -CATACLYSMIC AMETHYST + Potential new 7pcs set design

Dice lovers

We have had 2 polls to decide on a new name for this chonk. The latest poll to finalise the name resulted in a draw. What are the chances, haha? I am pleased to announce that we have two winners due to a tie. To avoid further voting and to ensure equity, I am making an executive decision. The new Super chonk will be named Cataclysmic Amethyst. Additionally, the user who suggested Event Horizon will also receive the chonk as part of their pledge: 0. I hope this decision is agreeable to everyone.


This began as an experiment, testing different pigments. We fell in love with this color. I hope you all like it.

 

THE CATACLYSMIC AMETHYST SUPER CHONK

"Amidst the profound darkness of the universe lies a mesmerizing cosmic chasm, a breathtaking sight that captures the essence of the stunning amethyst nebula. This celestial marvel intertwines celestial hues with an intriguing hint of enigma, drawing the observer into its mysterious beauty."

NEW DESIGN


 We've been pouring our hearts into a special secret design. I absolutely love how this design has turned out. What do you all think?  Would you all like to see this as part of the campaign?

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Grim Oak Press
CREATOR
3 days ago
414 votes
15
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We've all done it; finished a story imagining the what ifs and if-onlies of a potential romantic coupling(s) that never was/were. What was that one rousing good tale which still haunts your hopelessly romantic thoughts? For me, well... It's a bit of (pretty much entirely) a crackship, I admit, but I have never gotten over the potential of King Conan and Rinaldo the Minstrel. I know how this sounds, but hear me out. Yes, they barely interact, it's incredibly generous to call their exchanges a 'relationship', and the latter tries to murder the former... B-but have you even heard the way Conan talks about him? The way he stays his axe when he is among his would-be assassins? Does that sound at all like someone who isn't down bad? To say nothing of Rinaldo's brief mention in 'The Scarlet Citadel', which implies he might've been under the influence of Tsotha-lanti. What if there was a STRONG and RUGGED Cimmerian to— Ahem, anyways, what about yourselves?

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PROJECT UPDATE
Chant (Hollows Producer)
CREATOR
about 24 hours ago

Project Update: Hollows Weapons: the Bludgeon

“You are strong. You are the strongest. The alpha. A perfect machine. An irresistible force. The world breaks around you. Don’t hesitate. Don’t think. Destroy those who would try to slow you down.”

The Bludgeon doesn’t consider itself technology. Technology is unpredictable, fragile, and - honestly - an unfair advantage. It wants you to grab something heavy and mash anyone who would stand against you into a mewling pile of meat and splintered bone.

Art by Sam Lamont (moonskinned)


What is the Bludgeon?

The Bludgeon’s a simple weapon to use. It can be Vicious (more dangerous when you’re flanking or behind an Entity), Brutal (gain extra damage each time you roll a critical success), or Massive (do a lot of damage, but take a little Resolve damage each time). It’s a huge Weapon, and it changes the way you interact with terrain. You can’t benefit from Sheltered terrain in the normal way, but you can claim terrain at the end of your turn then discard it to ignore more damage than usual. 

Bludgeon wielders charge directly at the enemy and deal large amounts of reliable damage. Heal when you hurt the Entity, or draw power from your own pain to restore Resolve. Burst out of cover and close rapidly with the enemy. Scare it even when you miss. You’re a superlative tank.

At Tier 2, you become vindictive and murderous. Get extra actions when you’re badly injured, deal extra damage to the Entity when you break it or when you attack from terrain. When you reach Tier 3, you can beat the enemy into a bloody paste, though you’ll take damage in the process. You can smash up the terrain to deal damage to the Entity, and you can deal as much Resolve damage when you miss as some Weapons can on a hit.

What is the Bludgeon Really?

The Bludgeon speaks of a golden age, long ago, where men were unconcerned with petty squabbles and senseless politicking; an age where the pursuit of physical brilliance was not only expected but celebrated, honoured, and adored. Every technological and societal advancement since then, it says, has been a watering down of a fundamental concept. The world has grown too complicated, and the expectations and restrictions placed upon us have rendered us weak and immoral and less than we used to be.

The Bludgeon tells you: you are already perfect. The instincts that you’ve been told to stamp down were right all along. Your soul, the core of you, wants to be free. It wants to stand on its own two feet. It wants to eat raw meat, bellow at the top of its lungs, and rut until it passes out. 

The Bludgeon is unconcerned with the past or the future, but only the frantic present and the fulfilling of its desperate needs. It has one trick: hit it until it stops moving.
In truth, the Bludgeon is scared everyone thinks it’s stupid, and worse, that everyone is right. Let’s see how stupid they sound, it says, when we knock out all their fucking teeth.
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PROJECT UPDATE
Chant (Hollows Producer)
CREATOR
2 days ago

Project Update: Hollows Weapons: the Spear

“There is a line between us and them. Across that line is the Spear, keeping them away from us. Protecting the sacred from the profane. Defending right and killing wrong. The world is trying to swallow you and those you care about, but it’ll have to get through you first.”

The Spear is, in all likelihood, the oldest human-made weapon in existence. It’s archaic and unfashionable, but it doesn’t mind. The Spear predates machines, structures, clothing, the written word, language, and numeracy. It will be here long after the cities have crumbled to dust and the last bullet has been fired.

Art by Sam Lamont (moonskinned)

What is the Spear?

The Spear’s a tool of control, and its uses in a Hunt reflect that. The Spear’s core ability is keeping an Entity at bay: at the cost of some of the wielder’s own Resolve, they can reduce the amount of Threat on the combat grid. That denies an Entity crucial Interrupt actions and prevents it adding extra damage to its attacks.

The Spear can be Light (making you faster), Long (better at keeping Entities at arm’s length, distracting, and harrying them), or Heavy (dealing more damage). Whatever form it takes, a lot of the Spear’s early abilities are Threat control: move Threat from one area, remove it entirely, or attack with Advantage when you’re the centre of the Entity’s attention. 

At Tier 2, you can throw yourself in front of allies to protect them or dig in alongside them and grant Terrain tags. Your control of the battlefield increases: reposition your allies or drive the Entity off and prevent them making Interrupt or Reposition actions. By the time you reach Tier 3, the battlefield is your home and the Entity’s an outsider. Prevent it from spending Threat to hurt you, or force it to counterattack you - which only makes you stronger. 

What is the Spear Really?

The Spear knows that the home – the hearth, the space you claim as your own – is sacred, and it wants to help you keep it sacred by ensuring the profane (which is to say, anything you don’t like,) is excluded by force. To breach the sacred is unthinkable, and anyone who would consider it must be destroyed.

“Home” is a malleable concept. It can mean one’s house, church, town, or kingdom – or an entire plane of reality besieged by parasite godlings. It always means that anything the Spear does is defence, no matter how pre-emptive it might seem or if it has to be carried over borders and jammed in some poor bastard’s guts to do it.

The Spear is a simple Weapon, and its lies are different to the ones the other Weapons tell. It tells you it can protect you and those you value. That it can help you control them. (They owe you their lives, after all.) It brags of sole mastery over its domain – of permissions granted and contracts bestowed, of sworn oaths and kind allowances – but dreads the day that its power is found wanting and those under its protection are killed, or worse, decide to leave before it is ready to let them go.

That’s the truth of the Spear: it keeps enemies out. It can’t keep allies in.


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Wild Earth Dice
CREATOR
2 days ago
245 votes • Final results
1
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PROJECT UPDATE
The Snarky Company
CREATOR
2 days ago
3
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PROJECT UPDATE
Chant (Hollows Producer)
CREATOR
3 days ago

Project Update: Hollows Weapon: the Staff

“The world is riddled with power that roils and pushes at the seams of the real, and it is yours for the taking. You were born for this. The world is your birthright. You draw chaos up from the roots and it is shaped by your hand, your mind, and your will. The world is stumbling, primitive, blind – you are sharp. You are aware. You are in control. No one is ready for what you can do.”

The Staff is of the old blood. It is steeped in old magic: gore and gristle, stone and stars, root and bone. It is the herald of old gods, long-slumbering, now awakened. It is the first and greatest tool designed by humans, and the lever upon which they lean to exert their will on the world.

Art by Sam Lamont (moonskinned)


What is the Staff?

The Staff changes the world around it. In game terms, it’s really good at manipulating terrain. It gives its wielder access to a special type of terrain, the Briar token, that many of the Staff’s abilities utilise.

Even at Tier 1, the Staff’s abilities indicate power in excess; unnatural vigour and overflowing power. Hunters with Briar get a screen of living plants that reduces Threat, are infused with will and energy (Resolve) at the cost of a little health (Wounds), or can draw strength from the Briar to boost their attacks. Not all the Staff’s powers are linked to Briar, though. You can destroy terrain to replenish your health, or restore others’ Resolve from the overspill of power when you miss with an attack.

At Tier 2, you can travel to wherever your Briar is (an excellent trick for Book and Staff wielding healers), change your Staff’s form, create a simulacrum of a useful piece of equipment, or manipulate your Briar to make an extra attack in your turn. By Tier 3, you’re the ultimate master of the land. You can sacrifice terrain, including your Briar, to resurrect a dead or dying Hunter or deal massive damage to an Entity.

Art by Sam Lamont (moonskinned)

What is the Staff Really?

The Staff knows that humans, for all their ingenuity, are nothing but meat. Meat rots away, but symbols endure far beyond the reach of the most powerful. Some meat is lucky enough to bear those symbols and carry them onwards to the future – a small link in a chain that extends back before the dawn of history.

No Weapon’s relationship with its wielders is more fraught and fragile than that of the Staff; it rides a razor-edge balance of abuse and reward, hoping to keep those it ensnares enticed by the promise of power.

It knows it’s lying. The Staff is useless without a hand to hold it. It is entirely reliant on humans – it wouldn’t exist without them – but it postures and pontificates and spins tales of ancient power, of unknowable secrets buried in the mouldering tears between worlds, of its absolute majesty and the artless grasping hands that sully its surface. 

The Staff’s secret truth is this: the world is not as complex and mysterious as it makes it out to be; it just needs you to believe that it is.

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