Legend for a Sword and Sorcery game

strega

Mongoose
After recent posts about how a game or scenario should be set up for Sword and Sorcery style play I threw together some notes. Firstly, I set out to determine what Sword and Sorcery actually is and then next I shall make some suggestions on how I think Legend should be used to run such a game. So firstly what makes a setting Sword and Sorcery?

Wikipedia describes Sword and Sorcery as 'a sub-genre of fantasy and historical fantasy, generally characterized by sword-wielding heroes engaged in exciting and violent conflicts. An element of romance is often present, as is an element of magic and the supernatural. Unlike works of high fantasy, the tales, though dramatic, focus mainly on personal battles rather than world-endangering matters.'

Wikipedia also lists the seminal works which define the genre:
The work of Robert E. Howard, particularly his tales of Conan the Barbarian and Kull of Atlantis.
Other authors that defined the genre of sword-and-sorcery include: Clark Ashton Smith, C. L. Moore and Fritz Leiber from the 1930's. Then overlapping with Leiber, a new generation in the 1960's, Michael Moorcock and L. Sprague de Camp. There are later, more recent, authors writing in the genre, but the definitive material dates from the mid-century pulps.

So how do we set up a campaign defined as 'Sword and Sorcery'?
Generally the world of a Sword & Sorcery epic is a mix of civilised and uncivilised areas, towns and cities to be plundered or a source of wine and women, jungles and icy northern wastes. So we can start by defining our characters as being civilised or uncivilised. Anyone using magic is either an antagonist or a non-player character, usually minor or in a supporting role. So we have our first set of parameters – choose civilised or uncivilised backgrounds. That also defines family and relations, contacts, enemies and allies in the Legend system.

Previous employment is next on the agenda. Sword and Sorcery protagonists are usually ex-mercenaries, ex-thieves or ex-pirates, sometimes all three. Occasionally they might be of noble birth or even disguised or unknown royalty. Anyone else is background and used to support the heroes. So there's our second set of parameters – choose one profession that you used to be. That sets up your list of boosted skills (those starting at higher than base). It also adds extra combat styles/weapon usage skills to those gained from your background. Legend as written may offer too many possible professions for a Sword and Sorcery game. They could be limited by GM fiat or new tables drawn up.
Some of the tropes of the genre are male heroes, despite Jirel of Joiry, mostly in a breech cloth with bulging muscles and wielding a sword. Females in supporting roles, also mostly in not much clothing, although some of the published literature from the 1980's and later has empowered women. A co-hero or sidekick is more common in later material, only the Gray Mouser in Leiber's 1939 'Two Sought Adventure' and Valeria of the Brotherhood in Howard's Red Nails stand out in my memory. However one lead and the other players as sidekicks is not fun So we need to make sure everyone can contribute equally even if it's a non-combat role. The split between combat and non-combat needs to be roughly 50-50 to allow everyone spotlight time.

Magic is almost solely confined to evil Sorcerers, usually of exotic appearance or origin, that exist to stymie the hero in whatever quest he's undertaking. Magic in Sword and Sorcery fiction is often flashy and may involve summoning of other-worldly creatures or demons. So we need a magic system that contains these elements – flashy magic and rules for summoning and necromancy.

Poison is another thing that crops up frequently, either deadly or sleep inducing, sometimes narcotic that could change the hero or an NPC into a type of drugged zombie. The narcotic version often involves weird flowers, usually vines, as the source of the drug.

So there's a third set of parameters – no magic except Sorcery (or Necromancy). Although any number of magical items might be found, some of which could be supernatural in origin. These are mostly artefacts designed to carry the story forward and minor items such as potions, scrolls and the like are usually not used in the best interests of the heroes. There are no magic items to be found in most Sword and Sorcery fiction except as muguffin's, certainly none to provide an increase in skills, defences or combat proficiencies. Legend offers rules for Sorcery and Necromancy (in Necromantic Arts published for MRQII) and Demon Summoning rules in Arcania of Legend, Blood Magic, although Sorcery could be described as being more flash-bang.

The archetypical fantasy races of Elves, Dwarves, Halflings, Orcs and Goblins are notable for their absence in most Sword and Sorcery fiction. Natural animals including anachronistic dinosaurs, giant snakes and sea monsters are common. The only major race of non, semi- or demi-humans are mostly described as 'degenerate' members of a race of serpent people, often from Valusia. These are mostly found behind the scenes disguised as humans, often as Sorcerers, sometimes as scientists, but always plotting their return to power. So fourth set of parameters – no non-human heroes and only serpent people as humanoid, rather than human, opponents and those not obvious in appearance or position. No weird creatures made up from the imagination, except as something summoned and thus mostly solo and powerful in design.

In another post I'll make some suggestions on how to modify character generation and suggest how to use the various parts of the Legend rules to make a Sword and Sorcery game.

Let's have some commentary on may first thoughts.
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
strega said:
After recent posts about how a game or scenario should be set up for Sword and Sorcery style play I threw together some notes ... Let's have some commentary on my first thoughts.
Gladiators of Legend for scenes where a captured hero might have to fight in an arena; Pirates of Legend for Duels and mass combat with large numbers of combatants (Crew Combat). Reputation and Vices in Pirates of Legend, if your character is to carve out a name for himself among the Kingdoms of Man.

And until they put Serpent People and Lizard Folk into some sequel to Monsters of Legend, you could do with looking up my treatment on those walking sentient poikilotherms here.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
I see the relationship between the Swords and Sorcery fiction that developed in America and the British tradition of High Fantasy as directly analagous to the distinction between the hard-boiled detective stories that informed American film noir sensibilities and the more genteel British crime novels of Agatha Christie and her successors. In American noir fiction, the institutions that run society are often corrupt or controlled by amoral forces. The private investigator who acts as the protagonist is typically an outsider to the social order and is often at odds with the authorities. By contrast, in cosy British detective stories the detective works with the authorities to resolve a crime that challenges the social order (have you ever thought about what the cliche that 'the butler did it' says about relationships between the social classes in pre-WWII England?). Usually the social order is restored and the wisdom of the authorities is vindicated...

Similarly, in Swords and Sorcery fiction, the protagonist is often an outsider with few ties to the social order - a barbarian (Conan / Fafhrd), a thief (The Grey Mouser / Cugel), a female warrior rebelling against social roles (Jirel of Joiry / Red Sonja / Robert E. Howard's Black Agnes), or a practitioner of the black arts (Elric). With a few noteworthy exceptions, in British high fantasy the social order is essentially just - look at the way that authority figures are portrayed in Tolkien or C.S. Lewis or E.R. Eddison. But in Swords and Sorcery fiction, the rules that govern the social order are arbitrary and often unjust. There is a good reason why Robert E. Howard, Clark Ashton Smith, and Fritz Leiber often depict authority figures as mad, paranoid, or deluded...or dabbling in things better left undisturbed. Indeed, the Swords and Sorcery fiction of the pulp era is often suspicious of the whole project of civilisation - there is an implied cycle where civilisation arises out of savagery, flourishes for a while, gives way to decadence, and then falls back into savagery. Remember that much of this fiction was written at a time when the shadow of totalitarianism was lengthening and the activities of figures such as Hitler, Stalin, and Franco increasingly dominated global news. Whereas Tolkien often (but not always) projected the totalitarian impulse on an external enemy, many of the classic Swords and Sorcery authors suspected that wealth and power always corrupted their owners.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
In his introduction to Flashing Swords! Vol. 1 (Granada, 1973) Lin Carter wrote:
“We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale derived from the traditions of pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land, age, or world of the author's invention – a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real – a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil.”
In my own opinion, the best examples of Swords and Sorcery tend to be fast-paced adventure stories seasoned with elements of cosmic horror. Swords and Sorcery fiction has a sense of eeriness and dread lacking in most of the fantasy that fills bookshops today. It often highly visceral and incorporates graphic descriptions of violence, brutality, sexuality, and horror. There is a good reason why the subgenre is dominated by short fiction rather than novels and why the adventures of the protagonists are recounted in episodic form rather than forming a coherent narrative.

Here are a few rough notes that I assembled ages ago for considerations that might be incorporated into Swords and Sorcery games:

Variety is the Spice of Life
Most published RPG campaign settings tend to be built around a single theme or hook. This is the antithesis of the approach taken by Swords and Sorcery fiction, which tends to emphasize the importance of variety. Pulp fantasy is peppered with exotic locations and diverse cultures. It has a deep fascination with the exotic and the mysterious. Robert E. Howard’s Hyborian age is an obvious example of this tendency, mixing cultures and historical periods without minimal regard for internal consistency. In his introduction to the 1950’s edition of Conan the Conquerer, Dr. Clark wrote:
“Robert E. Howard was a first-rate teller of tales, with a remarkable technical command of his tools and with a complete lack of inhibitions. With a fine and free hand he took what he liked from the more spectacular aspects of all ages and climes: proper names of every conceivable linguistic derivation, weapons from everywhere and everywhen, customs and classes from the whole ancient and medieval world . . . and the result was a purple and golden and crimson universe where anything can happen -- except the tedious.”
Michael Moorcock took up this theme in his article “The Heroes of Heroic Fantasy” (Dragonfields Vol. 1, No. 3, Summer 1980, p. 53):
Michael Moorcock said:
“It is as if Conan is trapped in a movie studio, or a movie library of old clips, shifting from Seventeenth century Russia, to Rome in the first century B.C., to Nineteenth century Afghanistan, to the Spanish Main of the Eighteenth century, to the court of Lorenzo the Magnificent, all the way back to the Stone Age. This melange of influences was scarcely digested before Howard was, as it were, pouring it back onto the page"
This hints at the way that the pulp fantasy genre approaches the task of worldbuilding. One of the best examples of this approach is L. Sprague De Camp’s ‘Unbeheaded King’ trilogy, with its complex mixture of cultural archetypes.

Moral Ambiguity and Individual Freedom
Fritz Leiber said:
“Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are rogues through and through, though each has in him a lot of humanity and at least a diamond chip of the spirit of true adventure. They drink, they feast, they brawl, they steal, they gamble, and surely they hire out their swords to powers that are only a shade better, if that, than the villains. It strikes me (and something might be made of this), that Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser are almost at the opposite extreme from the heroes of Tolkien. My stuff is at least equally as fantastic as his, but it’s an earthier sort of fantasy with a strong seasoning of ‘black fantasy’ – or of black humour, to use the current phrase….Although with their vitality, appetites, warm sympathies, and imagination, Fafhrd and the Mouser are anything but ‘sick’ heroes.”
-- Fritz Leiber, Author’s Note to “The Swords of Lankhmar
The protagonists of sword and sorcery fiction are rarely paragons of moral virtue -- they drink, gamble, carouse, and brawl with the best of them. They tend to be motivated by self-interest and an insatiable hunger for adventure rather than a commitment to abstract notions of ‘good’ and ‘evil’.
Instead, the focus on individual freedom. The ideal is to live life to the fullest… what makes life worth living is drinking wine, beer, wenching, and violence. In this genre, heroism is not defined by moral rectitude, but by human courage and determination in the face of an uncaring universe. It is the strong focus on individual achievement that gives Swords and Sorcery fiction its powerful narrative drive….

A Sense of Transience
Robert E. Howard said:
“There comes, even to kings, the time of great weariness. Then the gold of the throne is brass, the silk of the palace becomes drab. The gems in the diadem sparkle drearily like the ice of the white seas; the speech of men is as the empty rattle of a jester’s bell and the feel comes of things unreal; even the sun is copper in the sky, and the breath of the green ocean is no longer fresh.”
-- Robert E. Howard “The Halls of Tuzun Thune”.

H.P. Lovecraft said:
“He could not help seeing how shallow, fickle, and meaningless all human aspirations are, and how emptily our real impulses contrast with those pompous ideals we profess to hold. Then he would have recourse to the polite laughter they had taught him to use against the extravagance and artificiality of dreams; for he saw that the daily life of our world was every inch as shallow and artificial, and far less worthy of respect because of its poverty in beauty and its silly reluctance to admit its own lack of reason and purpose”
-- H. P. Lovecraft, “The Silver Key”

Swords and Sorcery fiction has a keen sense of life’s transience. It celebrates the fierce joys of life lived to the fullest in the knowledge that death is inevitable and that all achievements must fade into oblivion. In his Annotated Guide to Robert E. Howard's Sword and Sorcery” (1976), Robert Weinberg notes:
Robert Weinberg said:
“Grimness is the word. . . . The best of the Conan stories have an undercurrent of moody despair that makes them more than a mere sword and sorcery adventure. Howard believed in this philosophy, this dark and despondent outlook on life, and anyone not using this background as a basis for Conan stories can never achieve the results that made Howard's work great"

The Fragility of Civilisation
Robert E. Howard said:
“Barbarism is the natural state of mankind. Civilization is unnatural. It is a whim of circumstance. And barbarism must always ultimately triumph.”
-- Robert E. Howard “Beyond the Black River”.

Poul Anderson said:
“Twentieth Century civilisation has doubtless fallen from humanistic grace, but it has a long way to go before it strikes that absolute bottom which (God help us) may after all be the norm in history”
-- Poul Anderson, “The Broken Sword” (Revised Edition, 1971).

Swords and Sorcery fiction assumes that barbarism is the natural state of humanity and that civilisation is always a precarious state. It is permeated by a cynical view of human nature. Left to their own devices, most people would succumb to dark impulses such as greed, lust, avarice, and jealousy. Civilisation can suppress these selfish impulses for a time, but it can never eliminate them entirely. The trappings of civilisation often conceal corruption. It is no accident that the most ‘civilised’ realms are often depicted as having fallen into decadence or as slowly rotting from within.

Ultimately, the accomplishments of human civilisation are of little account when faced with the darker side of human nature. Beyond the borders, the unquiet surge of barbarism ever threatens to sweep away the works of civilization. The benefits of civilisation are won at great cost, and can be lost just as easily. The status quo is at best shaky.
 

Rasbec

Mongoose
What about Vikings of Legend?

Vikings were barbarians, traveled all around the world and were the scour of civilization.

Suppressing magic wielding professions for PCs and adding some Cthulhu mythos and you get what you want.

Go to Vinland and fight atavistic ape-men, visit Constantinople and have a look at the decadence of civilization, Raid Seville and go to Cordova to see the magnificent of Al-Andalus...
 

strega

Mongoose
Some excellent concepts for making a Sword and Sorcery game being offered here. Thanks.

Some of the material is more relevant to world building and plotting than what Legend needs mechanically to move it into S&S territory and certainly bears thinking about when designing an S&S plot.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
strega said:
Some of the material is more relevant to world building and plotting than what Legend needs mechanically to move it into S&S territory and certainly bears thinking about when designing an S&S plot.

Sorry about that...I just had an old collection of thoughts on running S&S games that I raided for ideas. And there's plenty more where that came from.... ;)

So how's this for a quick idea....instead of the standard cultural backgrounds, why not introduce ones that mimic the cycle of civilisation in S&S fiction - Savage > Barbarian > Civilised > Decadent > Corrupted > Savage or something similar. I imagine that Decadent and Corrupted cultures would grant you access to interesting skills such as Lore (Poisons) or Art (Torture)...or even Lore (Specific Theology) in various types of demon worship or deviltry!
 

strega

Mongoose
No problem Prime Evil. It's more literary discussion than I was looking for though :)

The idea of a rising and falling civilisation cycle is interesting. I'd certainly think that adding Decadent and Corrupted as Background types fits into the sort of thing Clark ahston Smith was writing about.

Personally I'm a big fan of his Hyperboria and Zothique cycles. His Averoigne material fits nicely with the Jirel of Joiry stuff the C.L. Moore was writing and could easily be turned into a more medieval S&S compared to the barbarian based Howard stories.
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
Prime_Evil said:
“We call a story Sword & Sorcery when it is an action tale derived from the traditions of pulp magazine adventure story, set in a land, age, or world of the author's invention – a milieu in which magic actually works and the gods are real – a story, moreover, which pits a stalwart warrior in direct conflict with the forces of supernatural evil.”
In my own opinion, the best examples of Swords and Sorcery tend to be fast-paced adventure stories seasoned with elements of cosmic horror. Swords and Sorcery fiction has a sense of eeriness and dread lacking in most of the fantasy that fills bookshops today. It often highly visceral and incorporates graphic descriptions of violence, brutality, sexuality, and horror. There is a good reason why the subgenre is dominated by short fiction rather than novels and why the adventures of the protagonists are recounted in episodic form rather than forming a coherent narrative.

Here are a few rough notes that I assembled ages ago for considerations that might be incorporated into Swords and Sorcery games ... Ultimately, the accomplishments of human civilisation are of little account when faced with the darker side of human nature. Beyond the borders, the unquiet surge of barbarism ever threatens to sweep away the works of civilization. The benefits of civilisation are won at great cost, and can be lost just as easily. The status quo is at best shaky.
A breathtaking analysis, which rightly belongs in the "Recommended Reading?" thread, but which is welcome here.

The surrounding discussion, by comparison, including my own contribution, feels like "People are not wearing enough hats."

Edit: What am I saying, "including" my own contribution. Particularly my own contribution. :D
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
Thanks! Keep in mind that Swords and Sorcery is as much a matter of style as substance. You shouldn't need to change the game rules much to support this style of play, but you need to apply them in different ways. Youi may need to mix things up a bit if you want to run a SWords & Planets game though in the tradition of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett and C.L. Moore's Northwest Smith - if nothing else you need rules for Radium Pistols and similar items of ancient super-science....
 

rust

Mongoose
Prime_Evil said:
The Fragility of Civilisation
Many authors of Sword and Sorcery stories were strongly influenced
by the horror stories of H. P. Lovecraft, Howard even considered his
Conan stories to be his contribution to Lovecraft's mythos, and Leiber
also acknowledged a connection between some of his stories and Lo-
vecraft's works. The theme of a civilisation endangered by, and finally
doomed by, human weakness exploited by uncaring or even hostile
supernatural forces is typical for this kind of literature, which was writ-
ten when the real world civilisation seemed bound to fail because of
forces many people found impossible to comprehend.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
rust said:
Prime_Evil said:
The Fragility of Civilisation
Many authors of Sword and Sorcery stories were strongly influenced
by the horror stories of H. P. Lovecraft, Howard even considered his
Conan stories to be his contribution to Lovecraft's mythos, and Leiber
also acknowledged a connection between some of his stories and Lo-
vecraft's works. The theme of a civilisation endangered by, and finally
doomed by, human weakness exploited by uncaring or even hostile
supernatural forces is typical for this kind of literature, which was writ-
ten when the real world civilisation seemed bound to fail because of
forces many people found impossible to comprehend.

Also, Swords and Sorcery fiction typically posits a mechanistic universe that doesn't care about human desires or ambitions. As H.P. Lovecraft puts it in "The Silver Key":

H.P. Lovecraft said:
“The blind cosmos grinds aimlessly on from nothing to something and from something back to nothing again, neither heeding nor knowing the wishes of the minds that flicker for a second now and then in the darkness”

The classic 1874 essay "Conan the Existentialist" by Chuck Hoffman points out that Robert E. Howard prefigures later philosophical trends by having a hero (Conan) who imposes his own meaning on a meaningless universe through action. Other authors respond to the concept of a blind, mechanistic cosmos differently - for Lovecraft it was a source of horror, for Robert E. Howard it provided a grand stage for his heroes to stride against, and for Clark Ashton Smith the solution was to use aesthetics rather than metaphysics or ethics as the basis for civilisation.

All of them used a cosmic perspective to place human actions into their proper context - vain, empty, and ultimately meaningless. One interesting thing to note is that all of them used imagery of lost civilisations and vanished aeons to imply the notion of deep time - the idea that the current era was ephemeral and ultimately transitory as the cycle of barbarism, civilisation, and decadence grinds ever onwards. The influence of the theosophical movement on this approach should not be underestimated.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
Out of curiosity, would people be interested in a sourcebook that outlines how to adapt Legend to the Swords and Sorcery genre - covering everything from thematic concerns to changes to game mechanics? Think of something like Pirates of Legend or Samurai of Legend, but covering ways to apply the game to a specific subgenre?
 

alex_greene

Cosmic Mongoose
If you have the time and wherewithal, and no projects currently in your inbox, why wait for the nod from the fans? You have demonstrated that you have a grasp for the subgenre, its subtexts, motifs and ethos - so why not?

And if you were looking for someone to give you the nod ... consider it given. If you want to throw in degenerate Snake People, feel free to be inspired by my article to work on your own. Or otherwise dig up Serpent People from Call of Cthulhu ... :)
 

strega

Mongoose
Prime_Evil said:
Out of curiosity, would people be interested in a sourcebook that outlines how to adapt Legend to the Swords and Sorcery genre - covering everything from thematic concerns to changes to game mechanics? Think of something like Pirates of Legend or Samurai of Legend, but covering ways to apply the game to a specific subgenre?

Since my OP I've been making a lot of notes concerning the mechanical nature of the running of Legend for a S&S game. I think I have most of that covered - there isn't much to do as its mostly some changes to how character generation is done and some pointers/tips about what to allow or disallow in the way of equipment and/or city/social rules for wandering around in heavy armour in towns with big swords and missile weapons. Some attention to Italian Renaissance city states ordinances might be appropriate there.

I'm now thinking about the style of opponents and their magic, perhaps developing some ideas for typical plot lines - a lot of reading of Howard, Ashton Smith etc., there I think.

As WOTC are now selling PDFs of old modules I might see if I can pick one that is fairly pulpy/Sword and Sorcery-y and write up a conversion document as a sort of guide. I'd draw up the monsters in Legend format or replace some of them with Legend alternatives that are more S&S in style, add in their motivations (often sketchy in those old modules) and provide a document like the one done for MGP Conan for the Spider God's Bride.
 

Prime_Evil

Mongoose
strega said:
Since my OP I've been making a lot of notes concerning the mechanical nature of the running of Legend for a S&S game. I think I have most of that covered - there isn't much to do as its mostly some changes to how character generation is done and some pointers/tips about what to allow or disallow in the way of equipment and/or city/social rules for wandering around in heavy armour in towns with big swords and missile weapons. Some attention to Italian Renaissance city states ordinances might be appropriate there.

I look forward to seeing your ideas in this area :)

strega said:
I'm now thinking about the style of opponents and their magic, perhaps developing some ideas for typical plot lines - a lot of reading of Howard, Ashton Smith etc., there I think.

You might also want to think about typical adversaries for a S&S game.

strega said:
As WOTC are now selling PDFs of old modules I might see if I can pick one that is fairly pulpy/Sword and Sorcery-y and write up a conversion document as a sort of guide. I'd draw up the monsters in Legend format or replace some of them with Legend alternatives that are more S&S in style, add in their motivations (often sketchy in those old modules) and provide a document like the one done for MGP Conan for the Spider God's Bride.

Has somebody done an unofficial conversion of MGP Conan to Legend? If so, where can I get it :)
 

DamonJynx

Mongoose
Take a good, hard look at MRQII Elric of Melnibone and Chaosiums Elric & Stormbringer games. I use EoM almost exclusively (with the inclusion of RQ6 combat manoeuvres) and it works fine. Remove the non-human races and re-skin the cultures/professions, use the summoning and rune magic as is, introduce necromancy from Necromantic Arts and I'd say the job is all but done.

For non-human monsters make giant versions of real world animals or combine species, something Howard & Moorcock dd a lot.
 

strega

Mongoose
Sorry guys, slight misunderstanding. There is XP1 Spider God's Bride to D20 Conan conversion about, Xoth.net I think. No conversion of anything to Legend.
 

strega

Mongoose
Here are some of my notes/thoughts about making a game with a more S&S feel trhan standard Legend.

Races
Only human characters qualify for Sword and Sorcery games as the heroes.

Backgrounds
Choose civilised or barbarian backgrounds (p17 Legend core rules). That defines family and relations, contacts, enemies and allies in the Legend system. Not much to alter there but a thread on the Mongoose forum suggested that adding Corrupt and Decadent backgrounds could provide some interesting choices. I suggest using one or the other for your game rather than both.

For Corrputed backgrounds I added +10% to Sleight to common skills and an extra D6 for money.
For Decadent backgrounds I changed Common skills to +10% to Dance, Sing, Evaluate and Influence, and Seduction to Advanced skills.

Profession
Choose one profession that you used to be. The list is limited to Bard, Champion, Courtier, Explorer, Mercenary, Soldier, Thief. I'd give 4 Hero points to starting out characters. It might be more in line with the literature to go for 350 skill points without using any other option from page 26 for Advanced Adventurers to get some heroic player characters.

Combat Styles
Militia/Town Guard Combat style with short spear, short sword, dagger, sling and shield.
Soldier Combat style with sword (short, long or war), shield and dagger.
Archer Combat style with short bow, short sword and dagger.
Back-streets Combat style with short sword, dagger, off-hand weapon (variable), club, sling, unarmed.
Barbarian Combat style with 1 or 2-handed axe, hatchet (hand-axe, used in off-hand or thrown), dagger (used as main weapon or off-hand), great sword, long sword and unarmed.
Duellist Combat style with longsword, rapier, sabre, dagger (used in off-hand or thrown).

Generally I am less concerned with any historical anomalies regarding weapons and equipment that providing a good story in the style of the pulps. Similarly balance between the various styles is less important than a great character concept.

Weapons other than swords or daggers are forbidden in cities, as are shields and bows, as being likely to give rise to outbreaks of disorder.

Dagger is synonymous with dagger, dirk, knife, main-gauche, poniard (all being held in melée or thrown, if appropriate).

Shield is buckler, target or kite shield (usually round rather than kite shaped though).
City guards use the Town Guard style and may have some members armed with bows, light crossbows or slings to deal with people on rooftops or a troublesome crowd. I don't remember many stories having crossbow armed enemies however.

Arms of Legend adds the following weapons which could be used in a Sword and Sorcery game.
Archer's Blade, Bastard Sword, Cutlass, Rondel, Stiletto and a Hoplite shield which can substitute for the kite shield from the core rules. Note that the restrictions on the weapons apply to the heroes, naturally their enemies use whatever sounds most appropriate for the plot.

Armour
Many Sword and Sorcery stories have the heroes in not much clothing, let alone armour although even Conan uses it in formal battles, especially when leading an army. Allow linen or leather armour to the heroes with metal armour limited to formal battles with thousands of troops on each side. Have cities forbid the wearing of armour within city walls except for the City Guard/Town Watch as being likely to give rise to outbreaks of disorder.

I'd allow some of the specialised armour from Arms of Legend; Archer's armlet, duellist's cape, the light and medium gauntlet's, maybe the plated cloak or coat as none of it really makes much difference but does provide flavour for the character's.

Combat
To compensate for the lack of armour have heroes get a one step size increase when parrying with two weapons (i.e. using sword and dagger to parry, a successful parry allows either weapon to be used for any CM) or allow them to use Athletics when Evading to avoid being hit, a success on the Evade roll and also being below their Athletics skill allows them to remain standing. This skill based dodge should be restricted to those having a Strike Rank Armour Penalty of 1 or less. The addition of extra Hero Points will allow re-rolls to avoid hits which will alleviate some damage.
The Mook rules (p146 Legend core rules) and Underlings rules (p148 Legend core rules) are ideal for many Sword and Sorcery combats where hordes of evil minions try to halt the progress of the heroes towards their leader.

Require the extra CA for an off-hand weapon/shield to only be used with that weapon i.e. as a parrying tool or thrown. Note specifically the extra CA when using a shield as well as a weapon.

Skills
Three new skills have been introduced in various books in the older Mongoose RQ line. Renown is often something found in S&S stories where the hero declaims his lineage or history. Renown uses Charisma as it's starting value and it is augmented by circumstances and feats of heroism or nefarious deeds. It affects Influence, but makes it harder to get away with a Disguise skill check and can be used to intimidate people in a skill check. This is certainly worth adding in a Sword and Sorcery game.

Passions come from Pendragon originally and was added to RQ with the Guilds, Factions and Cults book in MRQI. It involves both positive negative feelings about people, places and things. It is used to provide drivers for a character's actions. It is derived from 30+POW+CHA with the POW and CHA attributes being those of either the player character or that of the object of the passion depending upon the type of passion. Again worth adding to an S&S game.

Fear can be used to generate responses to sights and sounds by player characters but may be regarded as taking a player's free-will away. While characters in various stories do feel fear on occasions they usually overcome the feeling and get on with the job so having a Fear skill may be taking the game a little too far.

Magic
Legend has Sorcery and Theist (Divine) magic and Arcania of Legend, Blood Magic has Demon Summoning material as well as sorcery and divine magic based on blood. I'm looking at the BGB (MRP 4e) for details of Demon Summoning to see what that can offer. For Necromancy we have to dip into older material with Necromantic Arts originally written for MRQII but very compatible. I'd still only have Magic use by NPC's despite the possibility of player characters from decadent or corrupt backgrounds wanting to play in the style of Elric or other Melnibonean sorcerers.

So Evil Priests or Sorcerers are the major enemies with wicked Viziers (who could also be Sorcerers) in a power behind the throne plot.

We need a bunch of semi-sentient or just poisonous/drug producing plants like the black lotus favoured in Conan stories. The old D&D Yellow Musk Creeper is this type of plant although I don't remember if it is from a pulp story or made for D&D in the style of pulp flora.
 
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