Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Chivalry & Sorcery 2e
The second edition of Chivalry & Sorcery comes as a box set. It divides the rules into three staple bound books (and increases the font size slightly). The second edition retains much of the spirit and feel of C&S 1e and is presented in a somewhat more user friendly format. The focus remains on role-playing in a realistic interpretation of a medieval feudal society with an emphasis on knighthood and chivalry. The fantasy elements (elves, dwarves and haeflings/hobbits) rely heavily on Tolkien for inspiration. Magick draws primarily from several historic traditions, such as alchemy, astrology, necromancy and witchcraft. Mythological beasts, including centaurs, minotaurs and harpies, are included to add a fantastical element to play. Role-play is defined as taking place inside a fictional society with rules and consequences and what one does between adventures is almost as import as the adventuring itself. One may play a thief or brigand in C&S, but should expect to be pursued by the forces of law and order.
The random table is a staple of old school games and Sourcebook 2 contains many. An article on how to determine what spells a non-player magician knows includes a number of them. Weaponsmithing, alchemical materials and magical items are the subject of their own articles and here I find some interesting and usable content, although much of it pertains to down-time between adventure. Sourcebook 2 also contains a couple useful articles on peasant revolts and how news and mail would be conveyed in a feudal society which can generate several ideas for adventure or can just form part of the background for PCs running a manor. Sourcebook 2 concludes with Phil McGregor's pen and paper strategic warfare system which allows for large-scale battle, siege and naval to be part of the campaign without the use of miniature figures.
I like C&S 2e almost as much as C&S 1e. C&S 2e is more accessible with its larger font (still small-ish by today's standards), better binding (Red Book tends to shed pages) and generally lower second hand prices. C&S has a very different "feel" to it when compared to White Box and most other FRPGs old and new. Red Book C&S talks about what the authors term "the Grand Campaign", which perhaps is an idea unique to C&S. The way I understand the Grand Campaign is that it sets out to immerse the players in a make-believe world through their imaginary characters who lead realistic lives from birth to death including a detailed down-time between adventures. The alliances and chivalric honor the PC amasses is at least as important as the fights and adventures one encounters during exploration of the imaginary world based on a feudal model. The fact that C&S provides very little mechanical reward for acting in character seems consistent with the design philosophy that this immersion in play is its own reward.
C&S is one of the "reaction RPGs" that were part of the zeitgeist of its 2nd generation era. It sets out to "fix" the problems the authors perceive to exist in other games (and states so quite clearly in several 1e passages). The details discussed and the general point of view expressed by the C&S authors are inspiring and I feel that in some ways I am more informed and equipped to referee and play all other games including White Box after a careful reading of C&S.