I do it for you.
Sale information first because we expect there are some of you out there who've been waiting for it - tomorrow, for one day only, we're putting the Spycraft 2.0: Second Printing PDF on sale for $19.95. That's five dollars off the regular price! Sale extends from midnight to midnight Pacific Time, Friday December 21. If you've been looking for that perfect time to pick up your own copy of the award-winning Second Edition Spycraft rules, or if you're looking for the perfect Christmas gift for someone Crafty, now's your chance!
Now, on with today's festivities! This time we take you a little off the typically beaten fantasy path with a preview of the fifth Fantasy Craft setting: Swords of the Zodiac! (You may notice that we've only got one more setting preview and yet more four days of gifts... The sixth setting's in there - it's one we've only ever mentioned on the boards once, and not by name... What do you think we have planned for the other three days? Hm....)
Swords of the Zodiac
Every legend has two sides, and both are right…
Tonight, my brothers, we must choose.
Our spears have served the emperor and the regent both. We have fought for good causes and for great ones. We have taken our pay in coin and paid our tolls in blood. This company is known… and feared.
Far beyond the middle kingdoms the barbarians are stirring. This is not the usual drunken tale of a merchant come home from the wastes. A new chieftain has started a campaign to unite the tribes and I for one think he has the salt to do it. If he succeeds, the horsemen of the Great Steppes will ride again and the emperor’s coin will flow for men like us. Or we might side with the raiders and drink our fill of Zhou’s riches, earning the good graces of this new aggressor. Don’t point your spear at me! We’ve served the Emperor of Zhou before but I know that there is no love lost between our fine band and his ministers. Who here believes that the likes of him holds the Mandate of Heaven? I thought not. We have scores and debts to settle all across the west and such a war would end many things, no matter the side we take.
You all know I’ve received correspondence from the Princess of Chu… yes, even the Dragon Eye puts her brush to paper like you or I some days. I’ll wager many of you guessed its contents, or close enough. An offer of employment. She is a firebrand, and she has a widowmaker at her side. Yes, a genuine warrior monk of the Eastern Order. How she got one of those monsters to swear to her service I’d love to know. But she will need more than that if she truly hopes to lead a rebellion against her uncle the Regent. And there is no doubt that if she wins, her ideas will overturn all customs and cast all fates to the wind. I for one want a home to come back to when I finish my time as your captain, and the Regent of Chu... Well, at least he’s managed that.
You all know of these struggles. They are on the lips of every traveler, whispered over tea in the shadows of every inn. But a third door has opened before us. The Sons of the Feast, those touched by Buddha’s twelve animal spirits, defy the Guardians of the Eight Gates. We’ve done well to keep our noses clear of such sorcerous business in the Shattered Lands, but my agents have brought me news. Buddha has returned from his long pilgrimage. Even now he walks across the middle kingdoms, journeying south to that bloody field. My eyes and ears who are close to him tell me that he’s to meet with Sun Goku, the Monkey King, and put an end to the conflict.
I know that there would be little coin in it, but we have the chance to march at Buddha’s side, and that has to be worth something in the eyes of Heaven! Am I right, boys? If we march south we can stop in the Valley of 100,000 Graves and pay our respects to the Sun Yin, the Daughters of The General. There are still a few green recruits in our company who could stand to learn their lessons at the Daughters’ hands. And who knows? Maybe the Guardians make us an offer too… and only a fool fails to consider the words of a wizard. After all, should the Guardians fall, who will watch over the Gates and hold the Dwellers at bay?
There is war brewing in every Quarter of the World. These are interesting times. You are brave and true my brothers, the finest I have ever fought beside, and now is our moment. We have a choice to make...
Tonight, point your spears to the east, the west, or the south and by show of blades, choose a road to glory!
Stories of feudal kingdoms, strange monsters, and wandering heroes are not confined to western civilization. The mysterious East offers a tremendous source of inspirations, tales, and legends, making it the perfect soil for building memorable fantasy roleplaying campaigns. Swords of the Zodiac taps this storehouse of myth, introducing famous characters directly into play. Match wits with the Monkey King or walk a mile with Buddha himself!
Many roleplayers have seen glimpses of this exotic world, primarily through film. Movies like Iron Monkey, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and House of Flying Daggers reveal a world of amazing fighting skills where sophisticated warriors of rival styles meet in quiet alleyways and on the open field of battle to engage in amazing duels and challenges. Swords of the Zodiac takes full advantage of Spycraft’s powerful feats system to emulate this genre, letting you create diverse and memorable characters and foes for every occasion.
The ancient cultures of the East also offer a model for complex political intrigue where a well-placed word in the courts of emperors spells life or death for millions. Intrigue abounds and characters can seize their place in the limelight with wisdom, guile, or subtle charm. Swords of the Zodiac presents several kingdoms with a shared past that lets players to take their place on the political stage as well as the battlefield.
Finally, the East offers fundamentally different philosophies and storytelling themes. Here resides a powerful sense of duality, an equal force in opposition being necessary to create true harmony. Heroes find themselves torn between the dictates of duty and the prospect of love. The central conflicts of Swords of the Zodiac reflect these complex dilemmas on a deeply personal level, offering noble causes where trying to do what is proper and just could put you on either side of the fight.