An important part of any RPG character’s life is their equipment, and in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, this is a place where we can really show off some important aspects of the setting.
At a first glance, the list of weapons and armour for BEOWULF is slightly shorter than you might be used to. It is very much derived from the historical period of Beowulf. Because it’s a mythic, story-based world – meaning that the action is meant to take place in a half-remembered fireside tale about heroic ancestors, rather than any kind of “real” Europe – we can include things from a span of about 500 years while keeping the right feel. But the kinds of equipment used in those times also gives combat a real focus.
At the heart of Anglo-Saxon warfare is the shield. And we’ve given the shield a bit more love than it gets in standard 5e. Most shields will give a bigger boost to AC than you might be used to.
Which in turn means it’s possible to forego the time it would take to pull on your mail, and enter the fray with just a shield. Indeed, poorer warriors who lack armour are still challenging foes if they own a shield. And let’s be honest – anyone planning to fight owns a shield.
It also means that some weapons are favourable because they are designed to either circumvent shields – like the winged spear, with its lugs designed to pull down a foe’s shield, or an axe that can smash its way through a warboard, or an iron-hafted Angon, the javelin designed to piece a shield, then bend, rendering that shield impossible to use.
Break your opponent’s shield and you stand a good chance of breaking them. Indeed, using some of the special new rules found in BEOWULF: Age of Heroes many an opponent will gain the defeated condition when their shield is broken.
In a regular 5e game, it’d be awfully boring if everyone was using weapons with special rules for these things, and combat would be painfully slowed down. But this is where BEOWULF can capitalise on duet play. With just one player, having a few more tactical options derived from a limited set of weaponry and armour makes for a lot of fun!
Combine your era-specific weapons with the thematic abilities of your Followers, and you can start to create some marvellous “saga combat” moments as your Followers come to your aid in the heat of battle! Such steadfastness deserves rewards from the Hero.
The lands around the Whale Road, where BEOWULF: Age of Heroes takes place, is largely a gift-giving economy. Remain loyal to the local ruler, and he or she will provide for you. And a good host will provide ample hospitality. Day to day expenses we might recognise in our modern world are not of concern to a Hero!
And yet money still exists. In BEOWULF: Age of Heroes, wealth is measured in pounds of silver – a measurement of wealth that might be obliquely familiar to the Brits reading this: Pounds of sterling silver, Shillings and Pence all date back to the Anglo-Saxon world!
The upkeep of a ship, and maintaining the loyalty and good humour of one’s warband of followers is where a Hero’s money goes! And any Hero will frequently have need to set out in search of further “adventure” (silver) after all of one’s Followers are rewarded for their loyalty, and everything is mended aboard ship. Did we mention every Hero has a ship? Every Hero has a ship!
BEOWULF: Age of Heroes is coming soon to Kickstarter. You can check out the system by downloading our free preview, the Hermit’s Sanctuary at drivethrurpg.com