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City of Fire and Coin

City of Fire and Coin is an introductory scenario or playkit for the Swords without Master game. It is written by Emily Boss who also wrote Shooting the Moon.

The literary style of the demo is florid and amazingly over the top. Going to the effort to declaim it as best I could it also worked really well.

It has a good pulpy atmosphere, action is big, bold and uncompromising. The players are really always in control so it the job of the Overplayer to set hard goals and obstacles to challenge the creativity of the players.

It is a free short scenario so I am not going to spend a lot of time reviewing its content but instead I am going to highlight a few things I thought were interesting.

One thing that was really intriguing about the system as presented in this scenario is the information gathering phase. Player characters notice things that are happening in the scene and then ask the GM a question about the meaning of the detail.

So for example a watchman walks into the tavern where the adventurers are drinking and a player can say that their character sees the watchman has two swords at his belt.

The player asks: “Why would a watchman carry two swords?”; to which the GM might answer: “He is a warrior of the Unuto tribe, a mercenary in the hire of the city, one of the swords belongs to an honourable opponent that the watchman has defeated. This unfortunate now lies mouldering in a jail cell while his fine blade is the property of a tribesman.”.

Getting this scene right really propelled the game forward. If players were not interested in the offered threads they can simply continue to investigate the scene until they find something of interest to them. This gives much more engagement later when the GM builds on the initial hints of the adventure.

The other interesting thing is the deliberate re-incorporation mechanic at the end where by Morals not only define how long the game is but also serve to provide a wrap-up summary of the game in its final scenes.

I really enjoyed my play through of the scenario and excited to see the final game. At the moment it is not quite yet pipping out On Mighty Thews in my affections but I am intrigued.