Wednesday, June 5, 2024


Westlands is an interesting 2d6 game. It does traditional fantasy fantastic, but it has a few issues.

The Unskilled penalty, a significant minus 3, can be challenging to locate as it's only mentioned in the sorcery chapter in an example. This needed to be mentioned early on when skills were discussed.

The character creation lays out a Stamina and Lifeblood statistic (Stamina taking damage first and healing the fastest, then Lifeblood), and the damage system talks about subtracting damage from END first, then STR and DEX. Then, the monsters have no Stamina or Lifeblood values. The game started with this new life pool resource (STA + LB); it sort of wasn't edited cleanly in the damage chapter (and both systems were included), and by the end of the book, it was forgotten, and things fell back to the three-stat damage tracking system.

To avoid confusion, ignore Stamina and Lifeblood and use the three statistic damage tracks laid out more clearly in Sword of Cepheus.

This is a bizarre game. It seems like a game created to patch issues in Sword of Cepheus since it is very similar, but it does its own thing in some places. It is not a waste of money since many areas, such as new talents and races, are expanded. So, if you play Sword of Cepheus and want house-rule expansion material, this is a solid book.

The game works well with Sword of Cepheus, and SoC seems better proofread and tested. At times, Westlands feels like the author's notes on how their group played SoC, and at other times, it doesn't. A second edition of SoC is coming out very soon (July-August 2024), and here is the Kickstarter to track progress:

Westlands has more traits and better monster statistics, which SoC 2 is also implementing. The original SoC rules do monster stats in a very hard-to-use UPP, such as C7G456, where Westlands lists the easier-to-use statistics.

Westlands does more straightforward sorcery (skill checks), whereas SoC relies on Talismans (casting bonus) and Foci (spell charges). If you don't like either system, mod it to something you like, such as having magic drain a mana statistic you calculate (INT + Sorcery skill level) at 1 point per circle level. Then, it damages the character after that pool is drained.

In comments on the DTRPG page, the Westlands author says he is demoralized by the OGL disaster. It is tough when games like this, which people poured their hearts into, are destroyed because of Wizards and their greed - for games far removed from any d20 ruleset! This is a 2d6 system and has nothing to do with Wizards or the SRD, yet it used the OGL and here we are. SoC 2 looks like the way forward once the Kickstarter is done, but WL is still an excellent game that needs a lot of love and fixing. I don't know if it will ever get it.

The OGL issue caused actual harm to many people and communities. It was far worse than any "words cause hurt" issue and wrecked the dreams of thousands of creators and even more people in those communities.

D&D died the day they pulled the OGL.

I have moved on to better things.

Wizards can put anything into the Creative Commons, and I thank them for being so generous. It will be a long road back, but the hurt is still here. What needs to happen is an OGL 1b license that adds two words - perpetual and un-revokable, and grandfather in everything published under 1.0a.

This needs to be fixed to heal that hurt. Even if Wizards abandoned the OGL forever, they should set it free, along with every work of art that used it. This one thing would end the OGL hurt forever and make it right. And they have no reason to hold onto the OGL anymore, they are moving on with what they do best.

And this would unlock the door for me to look at books from Wizards again.

The world of 2d6 gaming is like Linux, you have dozens of great games, all with the same base, and they keep revising and coming up with new ones all the time.

Foci are strange in the Sword of Cepheus game. Still, if you remember the old AD&D "spell components," this could just be said: "foci are components" and then allow for the rechargeable foci that SoC has added to the game, while the one-use ones are traditional components. A fireball spell in AD&D needs sulfur and saltpeter as spell components, so in SoC, you could say that one-use foci for fire spells are the same.

Westlands is like a "reaction game" to the original Sword of Cepheus, trying to expand and patch the first version into a more traditional fantasy game. Sword of Cepheus 2 is the next game coming down the road, and it looks to one-up them both with the lessons learned. I still like Westlands, flaws, missing rules, inconsistencies, and blemishes regardless.

Both work together well and are great inspiration and source material for 2d6 fantasy gaming.

Again, like Linux, 2D6 gaming is what it is: all compatible with minor differences here and there. Pick a distro and play.

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