SwanCon 17 – November 1991 Progress Report – Lace & Steel – Part 1

According to the table of contents of this progress report the summary of the rules for Lace & Steel start on page 14 of this progress report, and continue until page 18. In order to keep this post reasonable I shall do pages 14-15 here (character creation and skills) and do combat in a later post.

Lace & Steel Rules Summary

Lace & Steel will be the featured system at PARSEC/SwanCon. It is an Australian Roleplaying Game with a Renaissance feel and its designer, Paul Kidd, will be a guest at the Convention. A tournament scenario will be run at the Con, suitable for people with at least modest roleplaying experience. If you are planning to play in the Lace & Steel game (“Blood Magic”) at PARSEC, the following rules summary should be of some interest. The game is not particularly well-known (what Australian RPGs are?) and a knowledge of the rules, however basic, will make life a lot easier for both you and the referees at the Con.

As “Blood Magic” is intended for moderately experienced role players, some of the terminology below won’t mean a lot to some of you. “Dreamers in the Net” will provide an opportunity for everyone to participate in a fast-paced imaginative and fascinating roleplaying scenario, so if you’re inexperienced, that’s the one for you.

There is an inset with the cover from Blood Magic at this point on the left half way down the page. The image is a sword and a rose. The Tagline is: In the tradition of Indiana Jones & Errol Flynn and Tim Powers’ “On Stranger Tides” comes … Blood Magic – The Seventeenth Century Will Never Be The Same.


Lace & Steel has eight rolled stats and a number of factored stats, all of which will have been worked out on the pre-rolled character sheets you’ll be receiving at the start of the tournament. The rolled stats are Strength (STR), Endurance (END), Dexterity (DEX), Reason (RES), Intuition (INT), Drive (DRV), Charisma (CHR) and Magical Aptitude (MAG). Of these, STR, END, DEX, CHR and MAG should be familiar to most gamers. RES is the capacity for logic, memory and planning, INT is the innate perception and “sixth sense” of the character (gut feeling, if you like) and DRV is the measure of motivation and willpower. The factored stats are applicable mostly to combat, so they will be dealt with in the Combat section. Rolled stats range from 5-15 in normal humans.


Skills in the game range upwards from zero (0). All rolls are made on 2d6 – the lower the better. You must have a skill of at least level 0 in order to attempt a Skill Check (see below) in a specialist area (e.g. anyone can merely sit on a horse, but the skill of Riding would be required to take a horse over jumps). A Skill Level of 0 indicates a fair knowledge of the skill, 1 or 2 shows competence, 3 or 4 significant expertise, and higher levels indicate mastery of the skill. Skills can be opened or increased during play. Opening is at the referee’s discretion – there will be instructions in the scenario for the Con game. Successful skill use gains a chance for an experience increase roll; a Skill Roll with certain modifiers. A successful roll gains you skill points to increase that skill. The referee will explain how many skill points are needed to increase any particular skill.

Skill Checks

Skill checks are the method of resolving success or failure when performing an action. On ruling that an action requires a Skill Check, the referee will decide the stat that is most appropriate to that action, assess the feat’s Task Difficulty, and compare the two on the Comparison Chart. This will produce a number which must be rolled at or under 2d6 for the feat to succeed. This roll is modified by Dice Roll Modifiers (DRMs), which are decided upon by the referee. A Skill Level is a negative DRM (Negative DRMs work in the roller’s favour) and there are others which will be applied by the referee when the situation arises. Rolls failed by more than 2 points can have dire (or hilarious) consequences for the player.

Eg. Richard, a lesser noble, is trying to impress some court ladies with stories of his adventures. His Spin Yarn skill is 2, and his CHR is 13. The referee rules that this is an Average Task Difficulty Number of 10. The roll indicated on the chart (13 vs 10) is 9, minus 2 for his skill. Richard rolls a 6, manages to impress the ladies, and gets possible experience increase to his Spin Yarn skill.

If the Skill Check required is against another character, the roll required is determined by comparison of the relevant characteristics of the two characters.

Eg. Richard seems to have impressed the aging and rather plain Lady Angela a little too well, and she makes an attempt to get him home for the evening by use of her Flirtation skill of 1. Angela’s CHR of 7 vs Richards DRV of 12 gives a roll of 4, minus 1 for her skill. Angela rolls 9, trips over her words and leaves in tears, having failed to impress Richard one little bit.

Self Image Modifier

The SIM is a modifier applied to Skill Checks involving Charisma and Drive. SIMs are basically a measure of how a character feels about himself or herself. Negative SIMs are good, positive SIMs are harmful. SIMs will only last for a few days at most; you can’t stay happy forever. The referee will determine the gain and extent of SIMs.

Eg.. The referee determines that Richard’s storytelling earns him a -2 SIM for the rest of the night. This would apply only to rolls involving CHR and DRV made by him, and thus would not have applied in the second example.

Ties and Antipathies

These represent the relationships between the character and the outside world. A tie is a loyalty, friendship or duty to a person or idea. An antipathy is a feeling of disgust, aversion or hatred of the same. These will be determined before play and will develop as the game continues. Ties and antipathies are not trivial things – one has a tie with a country or a loved one, not with a favourite food or drink. The referee will determine when a roll for increase/decrease of a tie or antipathy is appropriate. These stats can reach any level, but much above 4 becomes unplayable.

Eg. Lady Julia de Burgh has been listening to Richard’s stories with interest. Suddenly, Richard notices her and is captivated by her beauty. The referee rules that a tie roll is in order. Richard’s roll of 2 is an extreme reaction, and he immediately develops a tie of 2d2, rolling 3. Julia rolls for a tie with Richard (his CHR vs her DRV, yielding 7) and her 5 indicates a tie also. She rolls 2d2, scoring 2. Isn’t love at first sight wonderful?

Combat rules will be covered in the second part.

About australian sf-history

ASFDAP was set up in 2011 after the rediscovery by the wider SF community of an impressive hoard of Australian SF community related ephemera, fanzines and other materials in the Murdoch University basement.
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