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Wandering Blades RPG Quickstart

Lethal wuxia melodrama in an old school tabletop RPG package by Daniel Kwan & Drew Quon! · By Daniel Kwan

5/5 Review

A topic by kumada1 created Jan 17, 2024 Views: 110 Replies: 1
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Wandering Blades is a low fantasy wuxia osr ttrpg. It pulls from a host of indie osr like Runecairn, Vaults Of Vaarn, and Sharp Swords And Sinister Spells, but walks its own path. On the wuxia side, it draws on Jin Yong novels, Sword Of The Stranger, Wu Shan Wu Xing, Biao Ren, and more. To put this another way, the central element is gorgeous violence.

The PDF is 25 pages, with a frankly jaw-dropping cover and a clean, readable, but otherwise unornamented interior.

Core mechanics are d20 + stat, with a lot of elements that may be familiar to players who have spent time with 5e (such as long rest, reaction, and disadvantage.) There's also the really, really cool Fast Turn/Slow Turn rules from Shadow Of The Demon Lord, where you can put yourself into a lower initiative bracket in combat in order to get more actions per turn.

Character creation is class-based, with only one class currently implemented. However, that class is very detailed and versatile, and core gameplay runs deep enough to keep the game being single class from being a problem. In addition to some medium complexity slot-based inventory rules, and the HP and roll to hit systems you'd expect from an osr title, every character has martial arts techniques and a Qi pool to use them. This pool scales off of a wildcard stat, Focus, and learning new techniques is a separate process from leveling up, giving players and GMs a little more flexibility to calibrate gameplay.

Combat is designed around loose zones of engagement, allowing it to stay entirely theater of the mind or snap to grid, whichever you prefer. Weapons have complex properties and strong, clear situational bonuses that befit particular playstyles. Armor provides high amounts of flat damage soak, but weapons have tons of ways to play past that. General stances allow everyone to slightly adjust their stats based on how confident they're feeling. Dual wielding is easy and versatile. Characters have Reactions with techniques and equipment that allow them to respond to specific triggers outside of turn, giving fights a more precise feel, and tricks like feinting and grappling are both good, cleanly explained, and available to everyone. PCs specifically can stay up past 0 HP, taking status effects instead until they collapse.

For GMs, the game is clearly explained, and there's an example of play section, but there's no starter adventure or bestiary or anything like that. You'll need to brew your own material, and this might not be a perfect pick for first time GMs. Also, though perfectly playable in its current state, the game is currently under active development. You can support it by buying it here on itchio or more directly through the creators' patreon.

Overall, I don't think I've seen another osr title nail the fundamentals of combat as cleanly as Wandering Blades. Most of what's currently here is the core rules, and most of those core rules are for fights, but they're absolutely golden. If you like wuxia and osr I would strongly advise keeping an eye on Wandering Blades, and supporting it if you have the chance.


Minor Issues:

-Page 13, Misdirect And Strike, this can turn into a pretty strong own side aoe debuff unless you have a very specific team comp. Changing to "may be rolled with Intellect" would mitigate this.

Developer(+1)

Thank you so much for your thoughtful review of the quickstart!!! I just got home from Japan and am currently making edits to the next PDF update and have made that change to Misdirect & Strike!