Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two Guys With Swords

My friend Clark was contemplating a one shot, but was hesitant to use Leverage because he knows it well (Clark wrote a big chunk of it). That got me thinking about how to do speedy starts for other Leverage-derived games, which in turn lead to some thoughts on the "Two Guys With Swords" game, which is intensely derivative in a way that is goofy and fun. Guys, in this case, is intended as gender neutral, as it encompasses both men and women, but certainly not gentlemen or ladies.

Chargen for a 2 player game
  • Both Guys get Hitter d10
  • Hacker is now Tinkerer. It covers gadgets, alchemy and locks.
  • Each player picks one more d10 role for himself
  • Each player picks on d4 role for the other guy
  • Each player then assigns a d6 and a d8 to the remaining roles
  • No stats.
  • Characters get 6 distinctions, at least 3 of which must be chosen now, others can be chosen in play.
  • Swords are d6 assets, unless they have names, in which case they are d8s. A named sword does not always need to be the same sword. All that matters is the name.
  • Pick 2 talents for your guy, one talent for the other guy.

Next, Get Into Trouble
Where you Are Now
  1. A caravan camp at an oasis
  2. At a crossroads far from civilization
  3. Atop an icy mountain peak
  4. Strapped to the altar of something best unnamed
  5. Wretched hive of scum and villainy (small)
  6. Wretched hive of scum and villainy (large)
  7. At sea, in a lifeboat
  8. Miles underground
  9. Falling from an unreasonable height
  10. Surrounded by fire on three sides

What Brought You to This
  1. The alternative was getting married
  2. Treasure turns out to have been fake
  3. The guild's assassin's are in pursuit
  4. Angry husbands are entirely unreasonable
  5. A terrible curse haunts you
  6. The gods demanded, wheedled and pushed
  7. Swore an oath while drunk
  8. Temple apparently objected to you doing that with their matriarch
  9. Still hungover, the rest is a blur
  10. Snakes

How It Is About To Get Worse
  1. Woke something that should stay slumbering
  2. Reasonably sure those men with curved swords have taken offense
  3. Wizard who, for no apparent reason, lives in that tower
  4. Gods are miffed
  5. Assassins have found you
  6. Currently naked
  7. These people aren't speaking any kind of recognizable language. And may not be people.
  8. You're bait
  9. Someone has just been scorned.
  10. Tremendous success attracts unwanted attention.

Ok, yes, this is kind of minimalistic, but I admit, I have a strong temptation to take it for a spin.


  1. I love both of you and want to have your mutant Leiber babies.

  2. This whole thing just sounds like a fun-factory, but there's just something about "Two Guys with Swords ... falling from an unreasonable height ... still hungover the rest is a blur ... currently naked" that DEMANDS I go out RIGHT NOW and find some people to play with. Excuse me, gotta run, bye!

  3. This applies to not only this post but the whole series of Leverage hacks posts - but now seems a good time to comment:

    I really like the notion of "Tinkerer" as a stand-in term for Hacker because it cuts right to the heart of the role in question - someone who subverts or bypasses the natural state of the environment by manipulating the environment itself in ways that are not typically possible. Whether you're a hacker, an alchemist, a gadgeteer or a wizard, you're accomplishing your goals by making reality/physics/chemistry/technology work in ways it normally doesn't. So yeah, I think "Tinkering" is a good universal term for that role.

  4. "Yes, all right, I admit it: We're strapped to the altar of something best unnamed. Still, though... s'better than getting married, right?"

    I may find the time and opportunity to run this on the weekend. Here's hoping.

  5. Wow, this thought provoking, I especially like choosing 2 Talents for your guy and 1 for the other... the tables feel a little Fiasco-esque (this is a good thing)

  6. At the risk of spoiling a bit of what I'm hoping to run next Gameday:
    How set in stone are the Roles? If I wanted to run "normal ordinary law-abiding folk trying to fix it themselves" as the basic concept of the team, could I eliminate Thief as a role? Same with Tinkerer - it might fit, it might not... so could I just eliminate it? Or simplify the Attributes further to Power-Finesse-Resistance?
    And Cam was right - I needed to actually read the rules instead of the skim over I gave it under the excuse of "it's Cortex." And in the vein of such "roll X, keep 2"... When there's multiple dice to a contest (2dN v 2dN is just that), the dice that would be dropped become Wagers, high dropped die decides who starts the cycle of "yes and." The actual roll stands - there's no negation of that - but the fallout can get wider. Obvious application of this? Critical hits... ;)

  7. @EKB The roles are set in stone only insofar as you want to capture a certain criminal feel. For other styles and Genres, other roles would be entirely appropriate (and similarly, no rule says there needs to be exactly 5 of them).

    To give an example, it would be very easy to use the list of Roles from my Tempo game, which are designed to handle Cold War spies:


    Those are maybe a bit narrow for a direct port, but they are hopefully illustrative. You could do other tricks too: for example a swashbuckling game's roles might be:


    Or a cop game might just implicitly let everyone have "Cop d8" and then have the roles be specialties like:

    That help?

    -Rob D.

  8. I'm not certain I've said this of game mechanics before, so duly note my remark, please:

    Hawt. Very hawt.

  9. Sounds splendid. Simple story-inspiring mechanics like this are right up my alley. And widely creative but manageable random tables are great inspiration. Reminds me of Second Hand Lions and Indiana Jones and other cinematic adventure thrillers.

  10. I would totally play Two Guys With Swords.

  11. Rob this looks terrific. One question though, by No Stats I assume you mean no Attributes. Is this Correct? And if so is there a reason for this?

  12. @Morgan Short answer is laziness. Longer answer is that if you really want the existing attributes, they may perfectly fine distinction, but ditching the fixed lists allows for my 'stats' to be "Hulking" "Northern Barbarian" and "Skald" to much the same effect.

    -Rob D.

  13. We played Two Men With Swords last Thursday and had a smashingly good time with it. I had an impulsive, vainglorious Thief type. Andrew played a unflappable alchemist type with sticky fingers. The game opened with us falling from an unreasonable height, getting chased by assassins of the Eyeless gods, breaking into their temple and interupting the preparations for a love potion which we used on their deity and whose statues started chasing Andrew's character in an obsessive attempt to consummate the marriage. There was much sword fighting and even explosions.

  14. Somewhere out there Fritz Leiber is smiling.


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