Monday, April 24, 2017

Swords & Wizardry Legion

I got a very special surprise in the mail today. Michael Badolato was kind enough to send me the Swords & Wizardry Legion packet and it is Awesome! This thing is gorgeous and it makes me wish I were 9 years old again so that this could have been my first introduction to roleplaying. It is simple, elegant and just gorgeous to look at. You get two cards for each character class that has everything you need to know on them. It has two copies of S&W Light. It even has a small pad of graph paper. As a big fan of cartography, my favorite part is the map of The Gulf of Akados Region from Frog God Games' Lost Lands on the back of the folder. My Gamer ADD is in overdrive. This little packet is a goldmine of inspiration. Kudos to everyone involved!

I do, however, have one small complaint. Again, as a big fan of cartography, I take huge issue with the scale of the map of The Gulf of Akados Region. It declares that each hex is 50 miles! My first Lost Colonies campaign, which lasted about 3 years, took place largely in one 50 mile hex. This scale is grossly out of proportion.

To give some sense of context, the Gulf of Akados, which takes up about a third of the map, is larger than the Mediterranean Sea. Almost half again bigger. There are several Ruins on this map, giving potential Referees all kinds of opportunity to create dungeons and adventures of their own. Unfortunately, due to the scale of the map most of these ruins are between 150-200 miles away from the nearest town or village noted on the map. Swords & Wizardry movement rules state that a character can hike their base move in miles per day. Given the average burden of a typical 1st level character, that base move is most likely going to be 9. At nine miles per day, a party of adventurers would have to travel between 17 and 23 days in order to get to the ruins marked on this map.

In other words, as is, the map is useless. Fortunately, it is rather easy to erase that ‘0’ after the ‘5’ and reduce the travel time to 2 days and the size of the Gulf of Akados to about half the size of Lake Superior.

Other than that “typo” this is an incredibly cool little package.


jbeltman said...

If you kept the 'typo' in I feel like it would give the setting a very sword and sorcery feel. Each city would be its own city state. A ruin wouldn't simply be something that everyone knew about since it was only a short distance away. Instead it would be like in Red Nails or similar, where the ruin is something forgotten to human memory, with a truly alien mystery. Mistake or by design?!

FrDave said...

There are several problems with this map if you insist on having it at a 50 mile per hex scale. The easiest to fix is the labelling. Legion Bay is not a bay, it is a gulf or a sea. Akados Gulf is not a gulf but a sea or an ocean. The more difficult issue is the fact that the map labels Towns and Villages. On a map this scale, that strongly implies that these are the only towns and villages. If we assume that these towns and villages have populations around 5000 people (which is generous), and that fortresses have 20,000 people and cities 80,000 people and free cities 160,000 people the total population of this map sits at around 2 million. The land mass of this map is about the size of the continental United States. This means that the population density is about .5 people per square mile. To put that in context, that is about half the population density of Alaska and Wyoming is 12 times more densely populated than this entire map.

Classic Greece, the era of the City State, had a population density of about 80 people per square mile. To be generous, medieval England had about half that. This map is not a wasteland, therefore it can support a much higher population. Thus, those extra 30.5 beings per square mile is going to be filled by something. In context of an FRPG that generally means humanoids. If the human population is outnumbered by a factor of over 60, there aren’t going to be any villages or towns and even the City States are going to be hard pressed to eke out an existence.

IF this map only noted cities and not villages or towns, I would have less of an issue because I would have the freedom to place as many towns and villages as I pleased to accommodate a population density I desire. But they do label towns and villages.

The easiest solution to fixing all of these problems is dropping that ‘0.’