Friday, July 6, 2018

Empress (4th edition)

OK, so having editions for my own personal heartbreaker (much less using them here) is a little silly, but it helps me keep track of it for my own reference.  So when I glance at this post in the future, I can instantly determine exactly how out-of-date it is.

Follow the link in the caption below!

She's back!

I'm not going to assume that you're familiar with the first three editions, so why don't I summarize what makes Empress a little different from a D&D retroclone?


  • There are four abilities instead of six; they are Strength, Agility, Mind and Spirit.  Strength encompasses physical toughness and Agility includes physical stamina (i.e. athleticism).  Spirit marries charisma with spiritual fortitude.  Mind folds perception into intelligence.
  • Each PC has a Luck Die.  You can roll this to boost your own rolls, but that causes it to temporarily drop to a lower die face.
  • Strength affects AC instead of HP, and Agility modifies HP instead of AC!
  • Rolling high above AC let's an attacker apply combat feats, and they don't sacrifice the damage from the attack...sort of like Special Effects in Mythras.

Race and Class

  • The only PC "race" is human, and there are only three classes: Warrior, Magician and Specialist.
  • Instead of skills, characters choose specializations.  These are broad areas of expertise, and provide a big one-time bonus to all activities that are governed.
  • Example specializations: Animal Handling, Stealth, Bushcraft, Athletics, Tinkering, Languages, Lore, Contacts.  Note that even the last three are not differentiated by sub-skills - they are all-encompassing.
  • Most characters only have one or two specializations, but Specialists get a lot more.  Plus, they choose one specialization to keep improving as they gain levels.
  • Warriors gets lots of HP as usual, but also, they are the only class to get better at hitting things as they level up.


  • Any character can learn magic, but Magicians are much better at it.
  • There are three types of spells: Mystical, Sorcery and Alchemy.
  • Any spell may be of any type; the type determines the cost of magic.
  • Mystical spells can be cast very quickly with concentration, but they are very fatiguing.
  • Sorcery spells take a very long time to cast.  A small number of castings may be stored in foci, like wands or amulets, for instant release.
  • Alchemical spells take a long time and a lot of resources to cast.  What they produce are agents - potions, powders and other gizmos - that can be used to produce a magical effect at a later time.
Exhaustive, or exhausting?  You be the judge!  Feel free to make comments or ask questions here.

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