Tequendria Fantastical Roleplaying - The Dunsany RPG
I’m a great fan of rules-light systems (hey, I’m an OSR guy! And I usually associate that movement with rules-light and practical RPG systems). More than that, I’m a total Lord Dunsany fan! You don’t know Lord Dunsany (a.k.a. Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany)?! Google it! But to make it short: Dunsany is an amazing fantasy author who was an important inspiration to other 2 authors that I really like (and you probably know): Tolkien and Lovecraft. If you want to start Dunsany my suggestion would be The Gods of Pegana (and also this post and this post).
OK, what I’m talking about is Tequendria Fantastical Roleplaying. This is an awesome PWYW RPG, with 77 pages, by Scott Malthouse (with art by Sidney Sime and Ivan Bilibin!), from The Trollish Delver. It is powered by the Unbelievably Simple Roleplaying system (USR) and has cool OSR-flavor (minimalist but oozing flavor).
You distribute a d10, d8 and d6 between your 3 stats (Action, Wits and Ego) and pick one of the 20 Archetypes, which give you Starting Specialism (skills and knacks), Starting Equipment and an Ability (kind like a Feat from d20 Fantasy games).
The Archetypes are amazing and tell you a lot about the surrealist and weird flavor of Tequendria: Aethership Pilot, Bathraka Cloudmind, Celador Knight, Doomgaunt, Ember Goblin, Fallen Monarch, Gravekeeper of Zum, Hand of the Blue Court, Icur Sorcerer, Jewellery Thief, Khartoov Griot, Long Wizard, Moonblade, Necronaut, Priest of Mana-Yood-Sushai, Questing Dwarf, Reapermancer, Savage Elf of Allathuria, Tulthian Warrior and Vunsa Mystic.
Each Archetype is cool and gives so many ideas and images that you practically want to focus an adventure on each one (they also are great seeds for NPCs organizations and factions, easily used in other RPGs… I wanted to change a lot of them into 5E backgrounds or d20 prestige classes). For example:
Aethership Pilot - “As a young lad, he dreamed of soaring through the aether, feeling the rumble of the star engine and the wind in his hair. Now he lives the dream, his face blackened by aether dust and a grin across his face. Whether it’s soaring over the Bounds of Leng or sailing over the vast Kuth Nebula, he is at home in the Aether.”
Doomgaunt - “Born from the skeleton of the last goliath, Doomgaunts are blackened constructs of bone and marrow. Their blue eyes piece through a dark visage, a rumbling voice that few soon forget - the Doomgaunt is an abomination to some and a saviour to others.”
Long Wizard - “Stretched and distorted, the Long Wizards of Buckfast Reach are 8ft goliaths, their beards swaying by their ankles. They smoke pipes of crushed drake horn, feeling a high that powers their magical abilities. In the small hours they can often be heard singing the traditional song of the Long Wizards - a low, ghostly hum, a tale of ancient ships crossing the aether and the birth of stars in the firmament.”
Some archetypes are so “Dunsanyian” that make me want to open a book from author right away - like the Fallen Monarch and Priest of Mana-Yood-Sushai. Other plants the seed for the setting, telling us about the fairy-like Blue Court, the violet moon, the grand thief Thangobrind, the people of Khartoov and their battled against the otherwordly demonic Kaido, the purple-skinned and horned Tulthian.
The next chapters are small and right to the point, showing us equipment, spells, treasure, magic items and the USR rules (with are intuitive and light, easily fading in the background during the game).
After that we reach the World of Tequendria itself - these are all short entries on a lot of cities, realms and famous locations. The game doesn’t lose time with minutiae and useless details. Tequendria reminds me of Lovecraft’s Dreamlands, which were based on the work of Dunsany. We learn about the glass palaces of Babbulkund, seat of Queen Faria, dark-skinned and green-eyed; about the forest of Allathurion, lair of the Gnomes of Zuf and of Savage Elves, who live inside the hollow trunks of Gulgar trees; about the coastal City of Durl, where the Hand of Iyfer emerges from the water to crush fleets; about Vunsa, a city that moves through the desert; the Tower Unvanquishable; the Dim City of Carcosa; the red dwarf of Xoth (who are astronomers of the Aether); etc. The setting is a wonderful read.
The next part of the PDF is the Bestiary, full not only of animals and famous monsters (like dragons, giant eagles and the Yellow King itself), but also of Dunsanyian creations such as Gibbelins and Gnoles.
Tequendria closes with guidelines for creating or reskinning monsters and “Selected Works of Lord Dunsany” (Idle Days on the Yann; Distressing Tale of Thangobrind the Jeweller; and The Fortress Unvanquishable, save for Sacnoth).