Vagabonds of Dyfed is designed to emulate the skullduggery and thrill of old-school rpgs with updated mechanics. It takes the hardcore ideals of emergent storytelling and fictional positioning, and slots into an atomically small Powered by the Apocalypse mechanic.
Our design goals were simple: make a game that's mechanically compatible with OSR retroclones (and their mountains of content) while leveraging the compact but non-binary PbtA system.
- A single PbtA "move" core: 2d6 + mod, tiered results
- Player-generated character traits instead of predefined playbooks or attributes
- High character lethality
- Strong GM authority
Vagabonds picks the pockets of greater games: World of Dungeons, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, Barbarians of Lemuria, Blades in the Dark, City of Mist, the Black Hack and the White Hack, and of course the grandaddy of them all: Moldvay's venerable Basic.
The game itself is as lean as we can make it, clocking in at around 120 pages jam-packed with rules and examples. It's written and laid out specifically to be easy to comprehend with a single skim or quickly referenced at the table. We've even gone so far as to make distinct layouts for print and PDF to make each format as useful as possible.
People've been rehashing dungeon-crawlers for over forty years; rather than try to reinvent the wheel, Vagabonds takes advantage of all that existing material.
There are literally thousands of adventures and modules that we want to tap into, but there's room for mechanical improvement in both OSR and PbtA. Vagabonds unifies the feel of B/X with the benefit of flexible characters and gradient outcomes.
Basically, Vagabonds is a collection of components from games that fit together well and align with our preference for old-school dungeon crawlers. No fuss, no real innovation, just a game that makes OSR adventures even more enjoyable.
If you liked World of Dungeons but wanted more heft, or you thought Dungeon World was too close to new-school story games, or you wished there was some more variability in characters and outcomes from LotFP, then Vagabonds is designed for you.
- Player-defined traits
- A list of PbtA-move-inspired techniques
- Linear, shallow power curve
- No classes, playbooks, or attributes
Vagabonds' largest departure from OSR and PbtA games is in the way characters are constructed. Each character is a collection of trait tags -- short player-written phrases that describe aspects of their character. This is similar to the recently released City of Mist or to Barbarians of Lemuria's use of careers as skills.
There are five starting traits you define for your character:
- Approach: the way you solve conflict
- Gimmick: a memorable or noteworthy quirk
- Background: what you used to do or be
- Foreground: your current skillset or field
- Weakness: something you struggle to do well with
These traits not only inform your roleplaying decisions but actually provide a mechanical bonus any time they're relevant. Each relevant trait tag applies a +1 (or a -1 if detrimental) to your roll, with a max of +3 or -3.
You create more trait tags as you level up; these new traits don't have to fall into one of the five starting categories. Characters develop in organic and convoluted ways.
But characters are more than just the sum of a handful of traits, as they'll have specific abilities granted to them through their history or expertise:
- Lineages: a character's bloodline or cultural background (such as elf or beastkin). Lineages provide passive benefits as well as some unique abilities.
- Techniques: a catch-all for maneuvers, feats, spells, and PbtA-style moves -- dozens of techniques offer a wide variety of choices to help flesh out a character.
- Sum 2d6 + modifier
- The results determine a gradient between failure and complete success
- The players do all of the rolling (usually)
Those familiar with PbtA games will see a familiar setup and split here. Every roll is pretty much the same: you roll two six-sided dice and add your character's aptitude (the sum of all relevant tags, be they trait tags, injury tags, or item tags). The total result of the roll determines the outcome:
- A result of 6 or less is a failure and triggers some kind of calamity or consequence.
- A result of 7 to 9 is a partial success, or one with some wrinkle or complication.
- A result of 10 to 12 is just a flat success; you do the thing.
- Anything 13 or higher is a success with an added benefit; it's a critical success or some knock-on win that occurred because of how capable you are.
We've followed World of Dungeons' suit in eschewing the complexity of many different "basic moves" or "core moves." Instead, everything boils down to the outcomes above, though certain techniques or niche actions might have specific outcomes determined by the rules rather than GM fiat.
Vagabonds of Dyfed comes with 30 must-have enemies, complete with statblocks designed for expediency and at-the-table efficiency.
We've included tools for building your own monsters (utilizing special abilities and tags) and for converting OSR classics. Few calculations are necessary, and most monsters from other B/X-compatible games can be run as-is. Because Vagabonds does away with much of the rigorous uniformity of PbtA games, it doesn't crumble when you introduce mechanics from, say, DCC or LotFP.
Vagabonds incorporates a multitude of other plug-and-play subsystems to suit your group's playstyle:
- Plan and Prep rolls: speed up play if you don't have time to plan every detail and stow every torch
- Tool kits: packets of role-specific items
- Travel turns: track and trigger random dungeon or wilderness encounters over distances
- Hirelings: allies, mercenaries, even warhounds
- One-roll attack and damage: quicken your damage calculations using the core 2d6 roll, both for PCs and enemy attacks
- Easy but interesting equipment rules: equipment functions like a combination of tags and techniques, sometimes granting permissions or bonuses, othertimes entire abilities or spells
- Downtime scenes: cribbed and simplified from Blades in the Dark, but works surprisingly well in an OSR context
- Decays and hazards: weather, poison, spell-mutations, and looming threats
- Premade archetypes: want to get started in five minutes? Grab an archetype and start slayin'
- Written and designed by Ben Dutter
- Art by Per Folmer and Dean Spencer
- Layout by Evan Rowland
- Editing by Joshua Yearsley
The book's completely written and 100% edited. Layout is well underway (as you've seen on this page). Art is nearly final. The interior is in a modern black and white aesthetic with OSR-style ink art, laid out in a dual-column 8.5" x 8.5" square format.
The PDF has been laid out separately from the print book to allow for ease of use on a phone or tablet. A comprehensive table of contents with internal linking makes it easy to reference.
We're sticking with POD this time around, as our foray into offset printing in recent Kickstarters has met with dissatisfactory delays and shipping issues. This project is clean and simple -- you'll get a link to DriveThru RPG and can download the PDF for free or pay the hardcosts for a print book.
Wait, how do I get my book?
When you pledge to this Kickstarter at the $10 level, you get the PDF copy and "at-cost" print-on-demand from DriveThru RPG. At-cost POD basically means that you, the backer, have to pay another company (DriveThru, in this case) a few more bucks in order for them to print and ship a black and white book to you.
So you pay me, through Kickstarter, $10 and I send you the PDF and a link. You click the link, pay DriveThru some more money (est. $5 + shipping) and get your PDF and print copy. The reason is it's "at-cost" is basically I make no additional money off the sale of those print copies, all of my revenue comes from the $10 pledge. DTRPG takes what's left (they have to cover the costs of printing).
If you don't want the POD, no problem, you never have to use it. Give it to a friend or just ignore it for eternity.
Every $2,000 beyond the initial funding goal unlocks a new stretch goal (up to $10,000). Each goal is a unique piece of content that will be for sale after the Kickstarter ends (but you clever Kickstarter backers get for your $10 pledge).
- Stjernheim: Siege at Deepknell Barrow. Unlocked at $6,000 is a ~40 page adventure supplement that focuses on three unique factions battling over the control of an ancient Dwarven Ruin. Inspired by nordic fantasy (think D&Disms + Skyrim) and includes new lineages, techniques, and monsters.
- More to be revealed!
Risks and challenges
This is our eighth Kickstarter. Our very first failed to fund, and our second-to-most recent (Clash of Steel, a card game) is still in the final stages of fulfillment. Clash of Steel is the only project that was delivered late, and it was due to the very unfortunate and untimely death of Stewart Wieck, who was handling distribution and logistics.
The fact that we still managed to print 10,000 decks and get them largely shipped to all of our backers -- admittedly late -- is a testament to the team's dedication to completing our projects.
This game and project is FAR simpler; art's pretty much done, writing is 100% done, layout is nearly done. Even if one of the principal contributors met with some calamity I'm confident that we'd be able to deliver without much issue and on time. Furthermore, this game is essentially a digital PDF and link to an at-cost print on demand code, so there's far fewer logistics than in some of our more recent (and ambitious) projects.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)