Chivalry & Sorcery

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Chivalry & Sorcery
Designer(s)Edward E. Simbalist, Wilf K. Backhaus
Publisher(s)Fantasy Games Unlimited (1st and 2nd edition)
Highlander Games (3rd edition)
Brittannia Game Designs (Light, Rebirth, Essence v1.1, and 5th edition)
Publication date1977 (1st edition)
1983 (2nd edition)
1996 (3rd edition)
1999 (Light edition)
2000 (Rebirth edition)
2011 (Essence v1.1)
2020 (5th edition)
System(s)Custom, Skillscape (since 3rd edition), Essence

Chivalry & Sorcery is a fantasy role-playing game that was first published in 1977 by Fantasy Games Unlimited. Created by Edward E. Simbalist and Wilf K. Backhaus in 1977, Chivalry & Sorcery (C&S) was an early competitor to Dungeons & Dragons (D&D).[1] Historically, the two designers of the game were dissatisfied with the lack of realism in D&D and created a gaming system derived from it,[2] which they named Chevalier. They intended to present it to Gary Gygax at Gen Con in 1977,[2] but changed their minds once at the Con, where they met Scott Bizar who wrote out a letter of intent.[3] After some final changes to get rid of the last remnants of D&D[3] (e.g. the game contained a table of "Saving-throws" similar to D&D), Simbalist and Backhaus published the first edition of their game - now renamed Chivalry & Sorcery - shortly after the release of the first edition Advanced D&D Monster Manual.

According to Michael Tresca, Chivalry & Sorcery "embraced a realistic approach to medieval France in the 12th century, complete with feudalism and the Catholic Church..." and "was most noteworthy for creating the term "game master." (Actually though, that term had already previously been used in Tunnels & Trolls and Bunnies & Burrows.) "It was one of the first games to place the setting at utmost importance over the mechanics of the game."[1] More focused on medieval chivalry than fantasy, Chivalry & Sorcery had from its first version a sophisticated and complex set of rules. The game has been published four times to improve its presentation and to modernize its game mechanics. C&S was the first to introduce new concepts like levels for monsters.[citation needed] Players could adventure in a variety of locations instead of being confined to a dark underground dungeon. The action taking place outside the framework of an adventure became very important, especially for magicians, who had to spend many days to learn their spells and enchant their materials.


First edition (C&S1)[edit]

The first edition of Chivalry & Sorcery, also called the Red Book was published by Fantasy Games Unlimited in 1977. To reduce the printing cost, the FGU edition was printed by photo-reducing four pages onto each page of the rule book with the consequent loss of readability.[citation needed]

The rulebook not only contained rules for character creation (including Monster player characters), combat, and magic but also wargames rules for battles and sieges. The background was heavily influenced by medieval France and Christianity, with Knights (tournaments, courtly love, fiefs, political influence), a hierarchical priesthood who could perform miracles, and a large section on monsters that included the Infernal Court of demons. In addition to ideas taken from Arthurian myth, the first edition also incorporated elements of J. R. R. Tolkien including hobbits and balrogs. These references have disappeared in subsequent editions for reasons of copyright. Thus, C&S has less of a modern literary influence than D&D,[note 1] which was not only heavily influenced by Tolkien but also other major fantasy authors such as Robert E. Howard, Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp and Michael Moorcock.

Creating a character[edit]

Creating a character begins with the random selection of their race. These show the influence of the literary works of J. R. R. Tolkien as the player may choose from among a human, elf,[note 2] dwarf, hobbit, or monster. Some non-humans races are superior to humans (sometimes possessing innate magical abilities, considerable longevity or immortality, racial bonuses to certain skills, etc.). Unlike D&D, non-human races are not restricted with a level cap. Once the race is specified, the player randomly draws "primary" characteristics, as well as size, weight and astral sign.

The Primary Characteristics are seven in number: Dexterity, Strength, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Appearance, and Bardic Voice. This is similar to Dungeons & Dragon's six Attributes, except the Attribute of Charisma is split into the two Primary Characteristics of Appearance (physical attractiveness) and Bardic Voice (oration and persuasiveness).[note 3]

The Secondary Characteristics are derived from the primary characteristics and modified by the character's size and weight. They consist of Body points (BP, or how much damage their body can take before dying), Fatigue points (FP, or how much exertion their body can take before collapsing), Charisma (CHA, or leadership), Carrying Capacity (CC, how much weight they can lift or carry), Personal Combat Factor (PCF, fighting skill and proficiency with melee weapons), Military Ability Factor (MAF, or ability to command and direct an army) and Command Level (CL, or ability to lead an army).

The character's alignment is different than that of Dungeons & Dragons. The alignment of a character in Chivalry & Sorcery is either selected or rolled randomly on a d20 (20-sided die) table and is scored from 1 to 20. This corresponds to Lawful (1-7), Neutral (8-15) or Chaotic (16–20), with the number indicating a named level within that alignment (for examples: 1 is Lawful-Saintly, 11 is Neutral-Worldly, and 20 is Chaotic-Diabolical). The system is heavily influenced by the values and teachings of the Christian religion.[4] A Lawful character would be very respectful of the sacred texts and behave like an honest citizen of good morals. A Lawful-Saintly character sees everything in a fanatical black-or-white morality, in which there is absolute Good and absolute Evil. A Neutral character would be self-serving and secular, obeying the rules as they see fit. A Neutral-Worldly character would see moral or ethical quandaries in shades of gray and would deal with them in a case-by-case manner. A Chaotic character considers religion and moral principles as secondary or even devoid of any significance and will deliver the worst abuses that morality condemns. A Chaotic-Diabolical character would be so horrible and immoral that even the Devil and his minions are shocked by them.

The astral sign, accompanied by auspices (favorable, unfavorable or neutral), determines if the character is more or less born under a lucky star regarding their vocation. For example, the sign Leo is a good sign for warriors while the sign Scorpio is a good sign for magicians. This results primarily (but not only) in a gain greater or lesser experience in the tasks performed. A character can also have one or more phobias or a mental illness,[5] which allows the player to give a little more depth to the character. In C&S social status is very important and a random drawing determines the origin and social rank of the character. Finally, taking into account the characteristics, the astral sign, social background, race and natural inclination, the player decides what role the character will follow.

Depending on Social background, Fighters range from the peasant soldier, through the belted knight, to the members of Religious Fighting Orders (fighters who have taken monastic vows). A magician can choose among 4 major classes (Natural Magic Users, Minor Arcanes, Major Arcanes, and Mystics) that divide into 19 sub-classes. Clerics are also present, but are almost exclusively of a monotheistic faith with a Christian-like hierarchy (as the game was intended as a simulation of an essentially medieval Christian Europe).[6] They can be Priests (ordained clergy who can ask for divine interventions or cast miracles), Monastics (monks who are trained in a craft or trade and can make healing potions).,[note 4] Friars (who are dual-classed fighter-monks), and Paladins (who are dual-classed fighter-priests). Clerics can raise their Social level through advancing up the Church's hierarchy to become Lords Spiritual (like Bishops, Abbots, Knight-Commanders, or even the Pope). Finally, there are three classes of thieves.[7] Thieves are organized criminals very similar to the Lankhmar-style Thieves' Guild of D&D), Brigands are itinerant armed robbers most often encountered on the roadside as NPCs, and Assassins are stealthy paid killers and muscle-for-hire.

The creation of a character in C&S1 is complex and may require several hours in the company of a Game Master,[original research?] but the characters have their creation story, an experience that gives them a head start in creating a back-story for the character and assisting the player's role. For this reason, it is common to have a few alternate or backup characters ready, as creating a character is not a matter of a few dice and a few minutes. This certainly influenced the game to campaigns in which the mortality figures are considerably lower than in other role-playing,[original research?] which has the effect of requiring a lot of attention in preparation of C&S scenarios and difficulty level by the Game Master, especially as returning from the dead is not common in C&S, compared to other games like D&D.[original research?]


Combat in C&S attempts to be more realistic than the abstract systems of games such as D&D, though it still has the Armour Class and Hit table concepts. C&S introduced concepts such as fatigue being separate from damage and the "Bash" (a strong blow that can cause the target to be knocked to the ground). This means that level differentials between combatants are less prone to make one invulnerable to the other if one outmatches their opponent in level.[original research?]


The magic system of C&S was very sophisticated and complex. It was created by Wilf Backhaus and inspired mainly by Real Magic by Isaac Bonewits. The rules of magic, being scattered over several chapters of the rule book, made it difficult to follow.[original research?] A magician's capability is defined by their Concentration Level (which depends on their characteristics, bonus astral and experience) which determines their Magick Level (MKL, the 'k' of Magick is emphasized by C&S). The MKL determines what level of spells will be available (a new level of spells are available both MKL). The highest MKL a magician can have is 22 (as the 22 "Major Arcana" cards of occult tarot). On the other hand, the Personal Magick Factor (PMF) of a magician depends on its characteristics and its MKL and defines its ability to affect the world around them. In practice, PMF determines the scope and duration of spells and the number of volumes of materials used by the Magick User (see below on Magic Basic). This aspect of magic is questionable because the power of a spell will depend in some cases the level of the spell (spells the highest levels being most powerful) but for Basic Magic spells will no longer depend on the level of the spell but the magician PMF is to say its power. This ambiguity persisted until the third edition of the game.

Basic Magick[edit]

Alongside "classic" spells, charms, illusions, black magick, there is a special class of magic, Basic Magick (BM) dealing with spells manipulating the four elements (water, air, fire, earth) and their derivatives (ice, cold, heat, light, dark, sand, dust, rain, etc..) All sorts of BM are the result of mixing of at least one spell of creation / manipulation (and up to three) and an element. There are eight creation / manipulation spells: Create, Remove, Detach (Move), Accelerate, Amplify, Intensify, Concentrate and Affix (Fix). Thus creating a fireball requires the following formula: Create Fire. If the magician wishes to launch the fireball at an enemy, they must use Detach Fire. A magician who wants to create and launch a fireball at the same time uses a spell with the formula Detach Create Fire. Knowing that we can combine up to three spells of creation / manipulation with an item, the number of possible combinations is immense. A magician will generally focus on one or two elements and attempt to optimize combinations using them.[original research?] BM is much more dangerous than the magic commonly found in other games.[original research?] For example, an intermediate magician (e.g. MKL9, which is the level at which teachers become magicians and can take a student) can cast a fireball that causes 130 to 240 Body points of damage, with an average damage of 180. An average man has 30 body points and an athletic one rarely exceeds 50 points. In contrast, in AD&D the fireball spell is unlikely to kill a character of the same average level as the caster.[original research?]

Different classes of Magick Users[edit]

When a player decides to play a Magick User, the class to which the character will belong must be determined randomly (or selected if the game master agrees). There are 21 classes of Magick Users are available, divided into four main categories: Magicians Nature, Arcana Minor Arcana Major and Mystics.

  • The Natural Magick Users have inborn powers. Primitive Talent Magick Users make their magic instinctively and are unable to learn spells from a book or to enchant magic items. The others draw their power from their meditative technique. The Drug Trance Magick User learn and cast spells after entering into an altered state of consciousness through drugs they prepare. The Dance & Chant Magick User draws power from Totem animal spirits. The Medium Magick User draws knowledge and powers from spirit-guides and ghosts. The Shaman Magick User draws power from pagan nature spirits to perform invocations and miracle effects like a Christian Cleric.
  • The Minor Arcana consist of highly skilled craftsmen-magicians. The Alchemist seeks the Philosopher's Stone and the potion of immortality. The Jewelsmith Artificer manufactures protective amulets and rings enchanted with Powers.[note 5] Mechanician Artificers make clockwork mechanisms, statues that come alive, and magical traps. The Weaponsmith Artificer manufactures enchanted weapons and armor (a class in which Dwarves particularly excel). The Astrologer reads the future in the stars and the Diviner reads the future in Tarot cards. The last category is the Minor Arcana's Stone (Hex Masters) which itself comprises several types of magicians. There are Witches and Warlocks who live in convens, specialize in Black Magic and demonology, and are able not only do magic but to ask invocations and miracles of Lucifer and his angels. Finally, the Solitary Hex Master uses their knowledge of black magic and demons to fight evil, which requires a Lawful alignment.
  • The Major Arcana are closer to traditional magicians found in fantasy fiction or other RPGs. The Conjurer specializes in potions that they prepare in their magic cauldron. The Enchanter hides their spells in songs and tunes and often takes the disguise of a minstrel who goes from castle to castle. The Necromancer animates and commands the undead. All their life they search for the Secret of Life and Death which will create a being of flesh animated entirely at their command, in the style of Frankenstein's monster. When the reach a high enough MKL, they may make the Rings of Power and One Ring that allows great power, as did Sauron of Mordor. The Necromancer often plays the villain in the adventures of C&S and is a formidable opponent. The last class of the Major Arcana is Thaumaturgist, who produces powders and perfumes and is the undisputed master of illusions.
  • The Mystics are three in number and practice more esoteric forms of magic, even than their colleagues in other classes. The Kabbalist (Cabbala-Symbolist) practices their art by the use of symbols that they can draw in the air or carve on objects. They often work with other magicians, especially the Artificiers. This form of magic is sufficiently distant from the Jewish Kabbalah, but rather a kind of "generic" cabalist, which can be adapted to different cultures (Judeo-Christian, Nordic, etc.). Power Word Mystics are the masters of words and commands. They have learned many languages and seek to discover and learn the Words of Power.[note 6] Finally the Mystic Square Mystics, perhaps the most mysterious of all magicians, use numbers and numerology to perform magic. At very high level, their knowledge of the fundamentals of magic is such that they are able to cancel any magic in a wide radius around them, whatever power of magic they meet. Their knowledge is the most hermetic and difficult to teach, which may explain why this Magick Users class is very uncommon in C&S campaigns.

The magic system itself is based on the premise that the world is resistant to magic (much like in Lion Rampant's Ars Magica and White Wolf's Mage: The Ascension). A magician must lower the resistance (Basic Magick Resistance or BMR) to "0" in order to learn or cast a spell or enchant an item. Spells and materials have a BMR varies from 1 to 10; the highest BMRs make spells and materials more durable and therefore more difficult to learn or enchant. A magician will then study so they can learn to cast their spells or make it easier to enchant materials. The time spent on these purely magical activities is going to bring in experience, although it can also be earned on an adventure or expedition from killing monsters and finding treasure.

In practice, to cast a spell, the caster must first pass the Casting phase (make the spell happen or come into being). This is automatic if the spell has a BMR 0; otherwise it requires a throw of the dice. Then the caster's spell must enter the Targeting phase (reach its target correctly). The effectiveness of the spell depends on the caster's experience and the size of its target. Some spells do not need to be targeted, as they act on an Area of Effect. Finally, if the spell is an Illusion or Charm, the target is allowed an attribute-based Saving Throw to resist its effects, using either Intelligence (for illusions) or Wisdom (for command or charm). This three-stage system makes magic less automatic, more random, but not less dangerous because the effects of high level spells are often terribly fatal.

Magical devices[edit]

The process of making magic items was particularly detailed and far more advanced than other games of the moment.[original research?] Magic items were classified into three categories:

  • Simple magical items: Items that require a limited number of different materials (under 10) and contain a limited number of charges, these charges being worn or when the spells contained in it are used. They are classically simple rings, potions, scrolls etc.
  • Magical items of Power: More complex and time-consuming to make, they require consulting an astrologer who should determine what the astral sign of the object. The Magick User will then enchant the 22 corresponding materials to the sign of the object and end the spell during the 30 days covered by the sign of the object, without anyone coming to interrupt this period of time. These objects are much longer and difficult to manufacture, but contain more spells, more loads and feature a power recharge allowing them to return every day some of the loads.
  • Focus: These are enchanted like Magical items of Power, but each class of Magick User produces a type of Focus of its own. For examples, the Medium has a crystal ball, the Artificer Blacksmith has a hammer and anvil, the Conjuror has a cauldron, etc. The Focus is essential to the Magick User who wants to practice their art in good condition. It will store a huge number of spells in and they can use their Focus for their personal magic defense. From MKL1, any self-respecting magician will undertake the manufacture of a Focus, a long-term undertaking that can last several years of game time.

The demons of C&S have clear origins in mythology, occultism, and prior works of fantasy fiction.[note 7] They include (in ascending order of power): Gargoyles, Imps, Balrogs, Elementary of four elements, Jinn of the Ring, Jinn of the Lamp and Efreet, Knights of Hell, Fallen Angels, Powers, Principalities and Lords of Hell at the top of the demonic hierarchy. There is a spell of invocation to the demons of each circle of power; the most powerful demons require a black mass and a sacrifice for their invocation. The Magick User who wants to invoke a demon must first succeed in drawing a protective circle, then the devil appears and it can then be ordered to request a service or be bound for a period of time. The most powerful demons can not be bound but they know many secrets they can teach the Mage. Despite the interest and realism of the system, which makes a case demonic invocations no Mage can not afford to treat lightly, this part of the system has not been well integrated with the rules of magic and is confined to the end of the rules.

Guilds and secret societies of magicians[edit]

One of the most interesting details of the game is an opportunity for a Magick User to be part of a guild or society, more or less secret, including members of their class, and sometimes other classes of magicians pursuing the same ideals and animated by the same designs. Thus, there are secret societies of sorcerers and witches, which may or may not be persecuted for their beliefs. But there are also guilds of Artificers and Blacksmiths who sell magic items to those fortunate enough to encounter them. The advantage of belonging to a guild or society for a Magick User is to have access to knowledge of the guild, which is sometimes overwhelming and made available to members only. Often, the Mage will be on a mission by their guild, which provides the game master opportunities for scenarios. Within the guild, the young Mage will have to prove their abilities and is framed in their infancy by a master who taught them their first spell and ensure its training and its protection. Then, when it reaches the MKL9, the student becomes the master and can in turn take an apprentice, thus perpetuating the spread of the knowledge and traditions of the guild. Among the many secret societies, are the very powerful Great White Lodge, inspired other esoteric secret societies like the Rosicrucians, or Freemasonry. The avowed purpose of the Great White Lodge is to ensure that magicians do not use their powers to increase their influence, wealth or social position and does not harm the balance of the world through the use of magic. The members of such an order, very limited and highly selective, are the natural enemies of sorcerers, Necromancers and by extension any user of black magick which aims to get more power through knowledge and use of magic.


Two reviews of Chivalry & Sorcery appeared in Ares Magazine. In the inaugural issue of March 1980, Greg Costikyan gave the game an average score of 6 out of 9, saying, "Although the lack of world-design rules and poor organization are sorely felt, C&S remains the best full-scale complicated frp game published to date."[8] In the September 1980 edition (Issue #4), Eric Goldberg liked the well-researched information on the medieval period — particularly heraldry — presented in the rules, but bemoaned the complexity, saying, "The worst problem arises when the game is actually played — it can move as awkwardly as an octopus on dry land." Goldberg called the production values primitive — "The text consists of reduced reproductuions of typewritten pages, and the illustrations are fair to mediocre." He also found the extensive rules extremely disorganized. Although Goldberg admitted that "No FRP system has since matched the quantity and quality of its technical system design", he did not recommend the game: "C&S is a poor game for all but the serious devotee of fantasy. It is a worthy purchase for he who wishes a reference work from which to authenticate FRP rules; it is a terrible investment for he who wishes one FRP system upon which to base a campaign."[9]

In the October 1981 edition of The Space Gamer (Issue No. 44), Jon Tindel agreed that the rules were complex and extensive, but thought that the investment of time to learn them was worth it: "It has been said that C&S is unplayable, that it is better as a work of reference, but that is emphatically untrue. I know many people who play C&S and enjoy the game very much [...] It all comes down to one question: are you willing to spend the time to learn the complicated rules? If you are, by all means buy C&S; your reward will be many hours of joy. If you are not, stay away, it is not for you."[10]

Second edition (C&S2)[edit]

The second edition, released in 1983, was presented in a cardboard box containing three booklets of rules, showing greatly improved presentation in comparison to C&S1. The text is lighter and more concise and there is a tendency towards greater consistency in the organization of the rules. There are no fundamental mechanical changes as compared with C&S1; but multiple changes intended mostly to clarify or simplify some points in the rules. The medieval setting was clearly divided into three distinct periods: Early Feudal, High and Late Chivalric Feudal, each period having a distinct technology. For example: Heavy plate armor and two-handed swords only become available in Late Feudal (14th - 15th centuries). This avoids the anachronisms and gives a useful indication of technological advances at each period, allowing campaigns to be made more realistic; an ongoing concern to which the authors, Ed Simbalist and Wilf Backhaus, were very attached.

One addition in this second edition (which would subsequently be extended to the whole system of rules in the later editions) is the appearance of Skills, mainly—but not exclusively—for thieves, murderers and affiliated professions. A character can learn skills by spending experience points, some talents are more expensive than others. Alongside the skills of "traditional" thieves are—for example—cooking skill. This system of skills (very popular in the roleplaying of the vintage, including in particular Chaosium's) diversifies the characters away from rigid traditional stereotypes.

The mass combat system was removed from the second edition, but could be found in various forms in extensions of the game, especially Swords & Sorcerers and the two Sourcebooks. C&S refocused on the roleplaying aspect and its wargame aspect was set aside, presumably both to reduce the size and complexity system of basic rules and to mark the distinction between genres.

With C&S2, the system was designed as a complete simulation of the Middle Ages in all its aspects: Political, economic, and military; enhanced by a strong fantasy element, derived mainly from the world of J. R. R. Tolkien, giving a strong sense of realism, much stronger than in most other games in the same period.


In the October 1983 edition of White Dwarf (Issue 46), Marcus Rowland gave the improved production values of the second edition a 10 out of 10, but found various aspects were still overly complex: "Overall, character generation in C&S is still extremely complicated and might take inexperienced players several hours, especially if they make the fatal mistake of working in the wrong order... Skill acquisition in C&S is almost indescribably complex and involves at least three distinct systems." Rowland did admit that some of the complexity allowed for very unique characters. "Probably the best feature of these rules is their attention to detail... expressed in such minutiae as the table used to develop the exact culinary skills, and... tables for Eye and Hair colour." Rowland concluded by scoring the complexity of the game 10 out of 10 and its playability only 6 out of 10, and expressed reservations about the suitability for new gamers: "I cannot recommend this game to inexperienced referees or players, but anyone with some knowledge of roleplaying games who is looking for a complex system for a prolonged campaign will probably find Chivalry & Sorcery ideal. If the rules were slightly better organised and the set gave more aid in character generation and setting up campaigns, I would not have these reservations."[11]

Paul Mason reviewed Chivalry & Sorcery 2nd Edition for Imagine magazine, and stated that "Chivalry & Sorcery mistakenly attempts to compete with the AD&D game in terms of detail – a hopeless task which can only produce a fragmented and complex set of rules. As a reference work, and as a source of ideas for incorporation into other games, Chivalry & Sorcery is still excellent, but I doubt it will shake its popular image as a cult game on the fringes of the hobby mainstream."[12]

In the April 1984 edition of Dragon (Issue 84), Ken Rolston found the overhauled rules of the second edition were still too complicated, saying, "The game was revised to broaden its appeal, but the presentation still shows problems, and the audience is still limited, because of the bulk and detail involved. This game is committed to comprehensiveness, at the expense of comprehensibility... C&S is still the most difficult and time-consuming FRP system on the market, when played at a level that fully exploits its virtues." Rolston warns that even the revised edition still is not meant for newcomers and part-time players: "This is the wrong product for the beginning or casual FRP gamer. For the intermediate gamer, it may be useful as a supplement and sourcebook. But as a complete campaign system, the virtues of C&S are only fully realized in the hands of the superior gamer — one who’s serious, sophisticated, dedicated, and familiar with medieval history, legend, and fantasy literature."[13]

After the relative success of the second edition C&S sank into obscurity for a number of years, mainly from the lack of support from Fantasy Games Unlimited (FGU).[citation needed]


Third edition (C&S3)[edit]

The game was finally revised and reissued in a Third Edition (dubbed The Green Book, from its color) by Highlander Designs (HD), an American publishing house founded by G. W. Thompson. The authors of the third edition were Ed Simbalist, Wilf Backhaus and G. W. Thompson. C&S3 features the almost complete disappearance of medieval references.[note 8] The game was now very orientated more toward fantasy and less near the historical realism and medieval European culture of the previous editions. The magic has been significantly simplified. There was a new class of "general" magician, akin to the archetype of the "classic fantasy" magicians found in other RPGs like AD&D. C&S3 sold well enough,[citation needed] given the reputation of the game and its base of loyal fans.[original research?]

C&S3 established a system of "skills" which covers all areas of the game, including fighting, magic, knowledge of geography, languages, dances and songs, and other things a person is able to do or know. The talent system (called "Skillscape") uses a percentile die and a 10-sided die (D10) for all actions determined by talent, the D10 determining if the success (or failure) of talent is "critical" or not. This flexible and efficient system is a decisive contribution to C&S, and led to both a simpler single resolution system for all aspects of the game and a modernistic game with an operating system talent.

The game, however, was unable to gain an increase in its already small market share and player base, in large part because of the lack of a coordinated release of supplemental products such as modules, source books, and campaign settings- most especially during the months after release.[citation needed] While a variety of products were released years after the game launched at retailers (as C&S4), those products were too often thought to be lacking in material and production quality,[citation needed] and a very few were released in a timely fashion to allow for C&S3 or C&S4 to interest new players, who generally saw the lack of materials as a barrier to entry into the game.[citation needed] The "Bestiary", a collection of monsters and mundane creatures, was considered by many of the players to be an example of what they wanted and needed for their campaigns;[citation needed] unfortunately, it was released almost a year after the game launched.


The reviewer from Pyramid #29 (Jan./Feb., 1998) stated that "It definitely uses some modern production features (though the layout is a bit busy and plagued by typos), but the defining aspects of most '90s games - quick character generation, rules-lightness, storytelling not dice-rolling - aren't a part of this game. Instead, C&S3 recalls the early days of gaming with an emphasis on rules and charts to cover just about any conceivable situation."[14]


Fourth edition (C&S4)[edit]

Highlander Designs went bankrupt and was bought by Brittannia Game Designs Ltd. (BGD), a company based in England and directed by Steve Turner. The fourth edition of C&S, called "The Rebirth" was born a few months later. The result was the return of some medieval references and some gameplay mechanics (such as "bash" or "Targeting" for spells) adding this degree of realism that was lacking in the previous edition. Moreover, many additions to the rules (such as "Laws of Magick") brought novelty to the game.

The core rules had several extensions, including the "Knights Companion", "Armourers Companion," "Dwarves Companion" and "Elves Companion". BGD also wanted to develop their own world "Marakush". Despite the interest of a certain segment of the population for a type of game that is realistic and that C&S has been an example of, sales of C&S4 were not sufficient to ensure the continuity of the game and stopped producing.

Fifth edition (C&S5)[edit]

Brittannia Game Designs Ltd. launched a Kickstarter campaign to launch the Fifth Edition of the game that successfully completed on July 31, 2019 with 273% of their target goal. The game shipped on February 2020.

The major differences between 4th and 5th edition include the change to the crit die so that 1 is always small and 10 is always big. More material on the medieval period. The introduction of Judaism and Islam as well as background for Jewish characters. The inclusion of a blows system for combat and dueling matrix. The inclusion of Profane Acts of Faith (was known as Black Magick in 2nd). Expansion of the religion rules and character generation. There has been many more historical elements added to 5th edition than were present in 4th.



Core rules[edit]

  • Chevalier (1976) : self-published precursor to C&S self-published (40 copies printed).
  • Chivalry & Sorcery (1977)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 2nd Ed. (1983)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 3rd Ed. (1997)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery Light (1999)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 4th Ed. Deluxe (2000)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 4th Ed. Core Rules (2000)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 4th Ed. Magick & Miracles (2000)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 4th Ed. Gamemaster's Companion (2000)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery Essence v1.1 (2011)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery 5th Ed. (2020)

Rules supplements[edit]

1st edition

2nd edition

  • Chivalry & Sorcery Sourcebook (1983)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery Sourcebook 2 (1983)
  • Swords & Sorcerers (1983)

3rd edition

  • Game Master's Handbook (1997)
  • Creatures Bestiary (1998)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery Gamemaster's Shield (1998)
  • Chivalry & Sorcery Magical Devices (1997)

4th edition

  • Knights' Companion (1999)
  • Armourers' Companion (2000)
  • Dwarves' Companion (2000)
  • Elves' Companion (2000)
  • The Book of Items, Vol 1 (2002) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Book of Vocations, Spells & Skills Vol. 1 (2002) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Book of Vocations, Spells & Skills Vol. 2 (2003) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Book of Vocations, Spells & Skills Vol. 3 (2004) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • C&S Player's Pack (2004) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • C&S Player's Pack Volume 2 (2006) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Game Master's Toolkit Vol. 1 (2002) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Game Master's toolkit Vol. 2 (2003) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Game Master's Toolkit Vol. 3 (2004) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Game Master's Toolkit Vol. 4 (2006) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Library of Spells (2006) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • Psionics for SkillSkape (2004) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • Great Cats for SkillSkape (2002) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • Creatures for SkillSkape Vol. 1 (2004) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Book of Enchanted Beings and Unusual Creatures Vol. 1 (2006) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Library of Spells Volume 1 (2008) - published by Mystic Station Designs
  • The Book of Additional Magick (2009) - published by Mystic Station Designs


1st edition

3rd edition

  • The Dragon Reaches of Marakush (1998)
  • Anderia (1998)

5th edition

  • Nightwalkers (2020)
  • Goblins, Orcs and Trolls (2020)
  • Ars Bellica (2020)


1st edition

2nd edition

3rd edition

  • Stormwatch (1998)

4th edition

  • Where Heroes Fear to Tread (1999)
  • Marakush Treachery (2002)

C&S Light

  • Under the Castle Gates (2000)

5th edition

  • Treason (5th)
  • Creag Hill (5th)

Concept Album[edit]

  • The King and Dragon (2020)


There have been six settings for Chivalry & Sorcery to date.

First edition[edit]

The historical world[edit]


  • Arden. A kingdom based on England set in a much larger game world called Archaeron (hinted at in an article printed in Different Worlds issue 1.)
  • The world of intelligent dinosaurs in the Saurians supplement (the section dealing with the saurian Hss'Taathi is however set within the world of Archaeron).

Third Edition[edit]

  • Tannoth
  • The World of the Dragon Reaches of Marakush by Britannia Game Designs, the current publishers of the 4th and 5th editions.
  • The Marakush Kingdom of Darken is the supplied setting for Chivalry & Sorcery Essence v1.1, a modified and simplified version of the rules that used a single d20 die.

Fifth edition[edit]

The historical world[edit]


None of these areas, with the exception of Marakush, have been explored in any great detail. Marakush more so than many others, with six books released as either world books or scenarios set directly in Marakush. There was a project to flesh out Tannoth, and another to recreate Arden and the other lands but they were not completed.

The overriding theme of Chivalry & Sorcery settings is a world where magic is rare, and whose societies mimic real-world medieval Europe. It places strong emphasis on nobility and family rank, as well as relegating magic and the supernatural to more mythical and arcane roles.


Chivalry & Sorcery won the H.G. Wells award for All Time Best Ancient Medieval Rules of 1979.[16]


  1. ^ a b Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 63, ISBN 078645895X
  2. ^ a b "Space Opera - Ed. E. Simbalist interview". Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  3. ^ a b "Places to Go, People to Be Issue 15: Forum". Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  4. ^ Backhaus, Wilf and Simbalist, Edward. Chivalry & Sorcery Red Book (Updated 1st Edition), (Gamestuff Inc., 2000), pp.23-24
  5. ^ Backhaus, Wilf and Simbalist, Edward. Chivalry & Sorcery Red Book (Updated 1st Edition), (Gamestuff Inc., 2000), pp.28-29
  6. ^ Backhaus, Wilf and Simbalist, Edward. Chivalry & Sorcery Red Book (Updated 1st Edition), (Gamestuff Inc., 2000), pp.166-167
  7. ^ Backhaus, Wilf and Simbalist, Edward. Chivalry & Sorcery Red Book (Updated 1st Edition), (Gamestuff Inc., 2000), pp.162-165
  8. ^ Costikyan, Greg (March 1980). "A Galaxy of Games". Ares Magazine. Simulations Publications, Inc. (1): 33.
  9. ^ Goldberg, Eric (September 1980). "Games". Ares Magazine. Simulations Publications, Inc. (4): 35–36.
  10. ^ Tindel, Jon (October 1981). "Capsule Reviews". The Space Gamer. Steve Jackson Games (44): 29.
  11. ^ Rowland, Marcus (October 1983). "Open Box...". White Dwarf. Games Workshop (46): 12–13.
  12. ^ Mason, Paul (March 1984). "Game Reviews". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (12): 13.
  13. ^ Rolston, Ken (April 1984). "FRP's gilded chestnuts: The older they get, the better they become". Dragon. TSR, Inc. (84): 66–67.
  14. ^ "Pyramid: Pyramid Pick: Chivalry & Sorcery, Third Edition". Retrieved 2020-02-06.
  15. ^ "Maple Leaf Games Ltd in Dudley, West Midlands, United Kingdom". Archived from the original on 2011-08-25. Retrieved 2010-01-17.
  16. ^ "1979 Origins Awards Winners". Archived from the original on December 16, 2012.
  1. ^ Dungeons & Dragons was heavily influenced by 20th century fantasy literature. Both the game's writers and most of its players had at least a passing familiarity with modern fantasy. Early editions of Dungeons & Dragons even had a reading list in the back with lists of authors and their works to expand upon that knowledge. The conceptualization of the races of Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Orcs, and Golblins were taken from J.R.R. Tolkien's writings. The alignment system (Law vs Chaos) was greatly influenced by Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle. The hyperbolic names for the magical system's spells were influenced by Jack Vance's Dying Earth stories; the "Excellent Prismatic Sphere" spell was completely lifted from the source material. The original first edition of D&D's Deities and Demigods mythological cyclopedia had unlicensed sections on H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos cycle, Fritz Leiber's Lankmar series, and Michael Moorcock's Elric series to allow campaigns set in their fictional worlds.
  2. ^ The elves, especially the "High Elves" are by far the most powerful race in C&S1 as they are both fighters and Magick Users.
  3. ^ Appearance is like Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Comeliness and Bardic Voice is like Dungeons & Dragons Charisma. The C&S version of Charisma (leadership) is a derived Secondary Characteristic used for leading and inspiring retainers.
  4. ^ They differ from Monks in Dungeons & Dragons, which are based on Shaolin monks from Chinese martial arts movies.
  5. ^ They are similar to the Elven smiths of Eregion who were manipulated by Sauron to make the Three (Elvish), Seven (Dwarvish), and Nine (Mannish) Rings of Power in J.R.R. Tolkien's Silmarillion.
  6. ^ A good example of this type of character would be Ged (Sparrowhawk), in Ursula K. Le Guin's Earthsea saga
  7. ^ Imps are dark faeries, lesser demons, or magic users' magical familiars, drawn from Germanic folklore. The Knights-, Lords-, Powers-, and Principalities of Hell of the Infernal Court are based on cabalistic grimoires like The Lesser Key of Solomon and the Fallen Angels are from the apocryphic Testament of Solomon. The Balrog is from J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. The orders of Jinns and the Efreet are drawn from the One Thousand and One Nights.
  8. ^ The Third Edition removed the integral gritty medieval French historical and cultural background to make it more flexible and customizable. Basically it was trying to be like their biggest competitor, the more mainstream Dungeons & Dragons, but with a different rules system.