A tabletop role playing game for the young adventurer
In the world of Sword & Backpack you are a young explorer just beginning a career of high adventure in a fantastic and dangerous land. You live in a vast kingdom of boundless and supernatural wonder, of busy cities and sleepy villages, of gloomy dungeons and haunted ruins. You are eager to see and experience all of it, but because you are at the start of your adventure, you don’t have much to your name! You will set out with a only a sword (or spellbook or lockpicks), a roomy backpack and a group of like minded adventurers.
A tabletop role playing game is not like any other game. In a role playing game, you and your friends will tell the tales of great deeds and horrible evils while rolling dice to decide the outcome of your actions. For example if you decided you would like to sword fight a goblin, you must roll dice to determine if your sword hits or misses the evil beast. Remember there are no screens or graphics in this game, only creative imaginations!
To play you will need:
Twenty-sided dice are like regular dice, you roll them to decide a random number. However, the twenty-sided die, or d20, is numbered from 1 to 20.
After you have gathered your supplies, you must decide who will be the storyteller and who will be the adventurers.
The storyteller is just like a referee in any sport; he or she keeps track of the rules and ensures that every one is playing fairly. A game of Sword & Backpack starts when the storyteller comes up with the idea for the adventure. It could be anything from rescuing a princess from a wicked king, or finding the goblin hideout and bringing them to justice! The storyteller’s main role is to narrate the action and decide when the players must roll their d20s. If you like coming up with your own stories, or making up your own games then you would make an excellent storyteller, as the storyteller also creates the world in which the game is played.
It is a great responsibility to play the storyteller. You must be fair, and you must be creative! The storyteller is not playing AGAINST the adventurers, the storyteller is playing WITH the adventurers.
Even though it will be your job to roll dice against the other players, you should encourage them to do well and have fun! Above all else, remember to give everyone a turn and do not give the players a challenge they cannot possibly overcome. There is no winning and losing in Sword & Backpack, but no one wants to play a game that is too hard to enjoy.
Once the storyteller has come up with the adventure it will be time to play. Keep your story or adventure a secret, let it unfold as the game unfolds. Use your notebook to write down notes for your stories such as the names of towns and dungeons where the adventurers will explore. Write down the challenges the adventurers must face like opening secret locked doors, tricking a village mayor into giving up gold, or the kinds of enemies they will fight like trolls and bandits!
A good story has fun challenges, and a fun goal. Goals can be anything from saving the day, or finding a magic weapon. Be sure to reward the adventurers with gold and treasure (also known as loot!).
When deciding a challenge you must decide how difficult it is on a scale of 1 to 20. A challenge that is easy to overcome would be a low number, and a challenge that is difficult should be a high number. For example: An adventuring group has found a treasure chest but it is locked tight! A good rogue should be able to open the lock easily, so a rogue adventurer must roll higher than a 5 on their d20 to open the chest. Each adventurer gets a bonus to rolls based on their job, this is explained in the adventurer section.
A fighter isn’t skilled in picking locks, so the fighter must roll a 12 or more on their d20. If the treasure chest was locked with magic, a wizard would be able to open the lock with a low challenge number, and the other adventurers would need to roll a high challenge number. Remember to be fair when deciding the number for a challenge and not to make things too difficult, especially early in the story.
You should make the adventurers roll on challenges for some of these things: opening locked doors, jumping over large holes, finding and avoiding traps, or convincing the jail guards to release them! You can write challenges for almost anything.
Fighting is slightly different than challenges in Sword & Backpack. When an adventuring group decides to fight an enemy or monster, the storyteller will roll a d20 for the enemy and the players will roll their own d20. Whoever gets the highest number wins the round, and you must decide how many rounds a monster can lose before he is defeated. Easy monsters are defeated in just a couple of rounds, whereas difficult monsters, or boss fights, must be defeated many more rounds. Adventurers can lose five rounds before they are defeated.
Each adventure and monster must get a turn in each round! Have everyone roll a d20, including a d20 for the monster, whoever gets the highest number goes first.
The adventurers are the characters you will play while acting out the story. You may pick from one of three adventuring jobs: the fighter, the wizard, or the rogue. The fighters is physically strong, and is good at fighting with weapons like swords and axes. A wizard is adept at magic, and can cast spells to overcome challenges or defeat monsters. Rogues are sneaky tricksters who excel at getting into locked places and finding traps! After you pick your job, you should pick your adventurer’s name and your weapon, and then fill in your character sheet on the back of this book.
The adventurers are a team working together to overcome challenges in the face of great danger. In the world of Sword & Backpack adventurers usually travel in groups of three, one each of the adventuring jobs. Each member of the group should bring their own special talents to the table, but each member isn’t completely limited by their choice of job. If you choose to play a wizard you can use swords and bows but with no bonus, likewise a fighter can use a Scroll Of Fireball with no bonus, and only a rogue gets a bonus on picking locks or sneaking.
If you roll on a challenge that directly relates to your job, then you get a bonus of 5 that you get to add to your d20. For example, a fighter who swings a sword at an enemy will roll a d20, and then add 5 to the roll. If the fighter rolls a 10, it becomes 15. If a wizard decides to shoot a fireball at the same enemy then the wizard gains a bonus of 5 too. The storyteller must fairly decide when the adventurer gets a bonus.
As an adventurer you will be interacting with the storyteller’s world in any way you can imagine. Remember to bust open barrels, search under beds, work with the other adventurers like a team, and have fun!
Adventurers should take note of their quests and important details in their notebook.
The world of Sword & Backpack is full of intriguing magic! A good wizard has a three spells memorized when the adventurer starts. Whenever more magic scrolls are found, the wizard can learn new spells. Keep in mind, that such treasures are very rare! Young wizards can invent their own spells with the help of the storyteller, or choose from some of these spells:
A good fighter is good at using any weapon he or she can find, and has a sturdy leather belt to hold those weapons. If you decide to adventure as a fighter, choose from a sword, a battleaxe, or a bow and arrows. Any great weapon also has a great name, so be sure to name your weapon! If you drop your weapon during a heated battle, feel free to use a nearby object. For example, throw a rock at your enemy.
The rogue always starts with a dagger for fighting, but a smart rogue carries a tool kit in their adventuring backpack. The tool kit has lock picks for opening locked doors and chests, a couple of smoke bombs for hasty retreats, and a rope for climbing. Much like the fighter’s weapon, any adventuring rogue should have an adventuring title. For example a good rogue may be named Jeff The Sly.
Storyteller: “You enter the dark, gloomy dungeon in search of the Dread Wight’s treasure! What do you do?”
Rogue: “I light my torch and look for a door.”
Fighter: “I take my sword off my belt and prepare for any monsters!”
Wizard: “I will help the Rogue find any doors.”
Storyteller: “You find a door, but it is locked with a simple lock, roll a d20 to see if you open it, because you are good at opening locks then you must roll higher than a 7.”
Rogue: “I only rolled a 4, but because I am an expert lock picker, I add 5 for a total of 9!”
Storyteller: “Good job! You easily pick the lock and open the door, as you all walk in, the Dread Wight jumps out of the shadows! His bones are showing, and he is hurrying towards you with his arms out! Everyone roll a d20 to see who fights first.”
Fighter: “I rolled a 18!”
Wizard: “I rolled a 9.”
Rogue: “I only rolled a 6.”
Storyteller: “And I rolled a 11 for the Dread Wight. Fighter will go first, and then Dread Wight, then Wizard, and then Rogue.”
Fighter: “I want to attack this walking nightmare!”
Storyteller: “We will both roll d20s for the fight, the monster must lose 6 rounds to be defeated! Lets start, I rolled a 10”
Fighter: “I rolled a 10 also, but I get a bonus of 5 for using my sword, so I have a 15. I swing my sword at the Dread Wight and cut his chest!”
Storyteller: “Good job Fighter! The Dread Wight has a turn to attack now and he chooses to attack the Wizard! I roll a 16 this time.”
Wizard: “I rolled a 14, the Dread Wight slashes at me with his claws and knocks me to the ground.”
Rogue: “That’s okay Wizard! It is your turn next!”
Wizard: “That’s right! I get up and throw a fireball at the Dread Wight, and I rolled a 13 with a bonus of 5 for using magic, for an 18!”
Storyteller: “I rolled a 4. The Dread Wight tries to jump out of the way, but at the last minute the fireball bursts on him and knocks him down! He must lose 4 more rounds, let’s keep fighting!”
The adventurers would continue to fight the Dread Wight until they have defeated him and taken his treasure! Now you are ready to play Sword & Backpack!