Vow of Honor RPG

Uphold your vows to the Tenets of Honor and become a paragon of justice in a broken, cruel world.

The world of Sasara, your home, is broken and depraved. Despots rule over isolated city-states, indifferent to the suffering and squalor of the people. In the shadows of the enigmatic Ruins – the last vestiges of a prosperous era long forgotten – the vile terrorize the innocent few without fear of retribution. Until now.

You are an Arbiter, protector of all that is good in Sasara. Only as you embody the Tenets of Honor will you be empowered to protect the weak, avenge the victims of the wicked, and unlock the knowledge of the ancient Forebears to usher in a new age of peace. Will you take the Vow of Honor? Will you do what is necessary to save your home?

Vow of Honor is a tabletop roleplaying game focusing on the Arbiters of Fasann: icons of justice sworn to the Tenets of Honor.

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Primary Design Focus: Playing morally obligated characters in a world that makes moral obligations exceedingly difficult.

Why play Vow of Honor? It’s a game designed specifically for one reason: to play skilled warrior judges sworn to a strict honor code in a world full of dishonor. The system is fast and flexible, the setting is unique and supported by the rules, and playing as an Arbiter is an often resonating experience. You get to be a hero (fallen or not), and the game supports and encourages that.

Setting Highlights: Extremely distant dystopia focusing on humans living on the remnants of an artificial planet that has malfunctioned and decayed over thousands of years. The Arbiters emerged as the counter to a culture of brutal pragmatism and dishonor, surviving in the shadow of the Forebear Ruins.

System Focus: characters gain strength through a combination of skill and adherence to their code of Honor. The gameplay integrates with the narrative, guides character action, and creates morally charged scenarios.

Game Format: The game is about 40,000 words (256 6×9″ pages), professionally edited, laid out, and illustrated in full color.

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Deep integration with Honor

Vow of Honor’s system is focused on the characters’ ethical code, and how their actions reflect or ignore that code. Characters are empowered by acting in alignment with Honor. But the code is strict, and no Arbiter is perfect.

Far future setting with a well defined culture

Sasara, Vow of Honor’s setting, focuses on how human colonists have survived tens of thousands of years in the future, after their artificial planet malfunctioned and killed all but a few in the process. Sasara is both alien and familiar – beautiful, bizarre, but believable.

Arbiters: protectors, warriors, judges

You’ll play as powerful warrior judges inextricably bound to the Tenets of Honor and the dangerous world they love, hate, and try to enlighten. Vow of Honor’s system, setting, and focus on Arbiters connects to form a unique gaming experience.

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Honor is an integral part of the game’s system and setting. Your character’s moral journey is a major and rewarding aspect of play. You’ll be confronted with cold pragmatism and moral ambiguity, and have to make decisions that don’t violate your vows- all while trying to stay alive.

Arbiters take vows to the five Tenets of Honor:

  • Commitment: dedication to your cause and loyalty to your allies
  • Compassion: charity and kindness
  • Purity: cleanliness of mind, body, spirit, and action
  • Righteousness: valor, courage, and the will to mete justice
  • Understanding: empathy, comprehension, and dedication to truth
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Arbiter Nayakan feeding a Tasalian child, by Lee Che

Honor Dice

Arbiters face situations which have no simple solution. They’ll have to make difficult decisions and carry out dangerous quests. Arbiters gain Honor Dice (HD) if they keep their vows and behave Honorably. HD are used to perform Maneuvers and add dice to any roll. Characters lose Honor Dice if they break their vows or act with Dishonor.

Stained Tenets

Consistently violate your vows and the forsaken Tenets become Stained. Characters can’t improve once a Tenet is Stained, and must go on a Quest of Redemption to be absolved. Certain Arbiters enjoy the freedom a Stained Tenet allows, and take advantage of it.

Corruption

Arbiters can over-zealously pursue one Tenet to the point of Corruption. Righteousness is twisted into murder. Understanding is tainted through torture. Those who pervert the Tenets pervade the Order, and need to be brought to justice. Characters must be wary- as their obsessions can lead to Corruption.

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Sasara is embodied by stalwart heroes facing off against depraved marauders, monstrous creatures, misguided cults, and the insidious creep of dishonor endemic to Sasara.

  • A slate gray, sunless sky
  • A horizon that curves up and away instead of down
  • Heavily fortified city-states built to keep the strong in power and protected from the dangerous adabhuta that stalk the wilderness
  • Massive and misunderstood ruins of the ancient Forebear civilization
  • The Order of Fasann, comprised of Arbiters with a Vow of Honor, protecting the innocent and punishing the wicked
  • A vibrant and detailed culture

Read more in the Setting Details section below.

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Vow of Honor’s Task system seamlessly handles combat, social encounters, mental puzzles, and physical obstacles:

  • D6 dice pools represent your Arbiter’s aptitude in the eight Skills, covering everything from Might to Logic
  • Honorable deeds give you additional power, represented by Honor Dice
  • Thorough GM guidelines to create engaging obstacles and moral issues
  • The GM never rolls, allowing him or her to focus on the action and narrative
  • Rules for how Arbiters can Corrupt, Forsake, or Stain the Tenets of Honor
  • Further flesh out characters by swearing Oaths and defining their unique Talents
  • Make use of Maneuvers granted by your character’s dedication to a particular Tenet

Read more in the System Details section below.

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As an Arbiter, you’ll travel through the rugged landscape, defending and guiding those you encounter. It is your solemn vow to uphold the Tenets of Honor, demonstrate their benefits to Sasaran society, and gain strength and wisdom through adherence to their doctrine. Arbiters wear their vestments openly, calling upon the wicked to expose themselves and serving as a beacon of hope and good in the world.

You are respected as a champion of the people, as a lawful judge by the powerful, and as a zealous enemy to the unrighteous. Many Sasarans welcome the Order with open arms, grateful for its protection and nobility. Others plot its destruction and slit its Arbiters’ throats in their sleep.

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Vow of Honor is set on Sasara, a world many lightyears from Earth. It was the most advanced technology ever built by humankind, and the height of extrasolar colonization. Thousands of years later, the descendants of those colonists try to understand their forgotten history, and survive in the world left by the Forebears. Now, most Sasarans live in small, isolated city-states, with technology and scientific knowledge roughly equivalent to fourteenth century Earth. Most things are made carefully by hand. Resources are rarely squandered, and the world is large, dangerous, and unexplored.

One of the Arbiters’ main functions is to learn about Sasara, its history, and how its people came to be. All that the Order and its Arbiters know is that the Forebears once dominated Sasara’s surface, and wielded vast power. Now all that remains of their great society are the Ruins, massive sprawls of incomprehensible rubble infested byadabhuta: monstrous, humanoid creatures with unimaginable brutality and a taste for human flesh. Few who enter the Ruins and encounter a pack of adabhuta survive.

You, as a member of the Order of Fasann, will seek these dangerous places out. You will teach Honor to those who are willing to learn. You will pass judgment on the unrighteous, and place retribution on the wicked.

You are an Arbiter, and you are honor bound.

Order of Fasann Enclave in the Shenlin Forest, by Stephen Rusk
Order of Fasann Enclave in the Shenlin Forest, by Stephen Rusk

Daughters and sons of Sasara

While all Arbiters share the same Vows, they have come to the Order from a wide array of backgrounds and reasons. Arbiters must weigh their loyalty to the Order against their families, home, and personal wishes. All must be tested, hardened, and judged worthy to don the vestments of the Order.

For some, the wicked fall by the blade. For others, the path to Honor is through peace and compassion. It is up to you to decide how to improve your homeland, and the lives of those you care about.

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Action and Honor

The system focuses on competent people driven by their oaths. It highlights the dynamic between the characters’ strict moral code and the cruel realities of the world.

D6 dice pool

Vow of Honor uses a pool of d6 to resolve Tasks. Successes are counted based on the face value of each die (1-6), with the number determining success based on a character’s Skill. Poorly skilled characters succeed on a 6, while the most competent succeed on 3s or better.

Skill based competence

Characters’ abilities are defined by eight Skills (Awareness, Coordination, Influence, Knowledge, Logic, Might, Resistance, and Stealth). The better at a particular Skill, the more likely an action within that Skill will succeed.

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Universal task resolution

Players roll a relevant Skill to overcome a Task, and can add Honor Dice (HD) to their base roll. When characters fail to overcome Tasks, they suffer Consequences equal to the Task’s Severity. Combat, mental challenges, physical obstacles, and social interactions are all handled with the same Task system.

Oathsworn Tenets

Characters can become Oathsworn to a Tenet, earning extra HD when adhering to it, and granting correlated Maneuvers. A character Oathsworn to Righteousness can become immune to Fear, while one Oathsworn to Understanding can automatically solve a puzzle. Most Maneuvers are triggered by spending Honor Dice.

Self defined Talents

Each character has player defined Talents, freeform abilities that provide bonuses when relevant. A character could be especially Convincing, gaining a bonus to Influence when trying to persuade someone, or a Master Swordsman, and get an advantage when locked in melee combat.

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Can I play as someone other than an Arbiter?

Absolutely. There are character creation rules for playing an Ally, someone who’s decided to assist the Arbiters in their quest. Rather than make use of Honor and Honor Dice, Allies are compelled by their Motivations, things such as Vengeance or Acceptance or Love.

The Game Itself

  • Nearly 40,000 words (about 260 6×9″ pages)
  • Discusses the Setting, System, and the definitions of Honor in equal detail
  • Edited by Joshua Yearsley (a master wordsmith)
  • Laid out by Phillip Gessert (king of legibility)
  • Illustrated by Lee Che (cel-shading pro), Stephen Rusk (environmental guru), Winston Lew (dynamic action master), and Markus Lovadina (high-detail concept expert)

Vow of Honor has been professionally edited, laid out, and illustrated in full color. I’ve selected the best in the business, and I’ve tried to make the final product as aesthetically pleasing and easy to use as possible.

The Team

Ben Dutter has written and designed several roleplaying games: notably Forge of Valor. Ben’s been playing RPGs for twenty years and tinkering with their systems for nearly as long.

Joshua Yearsley is a seasoned editor specializing in roleplaying games. He’s worked on Nova Praxis and is now an editor for Evil Hat Publishing. His extensive experience and profound understanding of RPGs is invaluable to this project.

Phillip Gessert is a talented graphic designer and layout editor. He’s completed hundreds of manuscripts, books, magazines, and technical documents in a wide array of styles and mediums. His focus on high legibility will ensure Vow of Honor is easy to read and comprehend.

Lee Che is the game’s primary artist, specializing in cel-shading and clean linework. His creative vision and attention to detail has made the world of Sasara come to life.

Stephen Garrett Rusk is an expert environmental illustrator, specializing in landscapes and unique structures. His concept work and innovative vision has helped to define the world that the Arbiters operate in every day. Stephen has experience with other RPG illustrations, including the recently successful Book of Terniel adventure path.

Winston Lew is an excellent artist specializing in making dynamic characters appear unique and alive. His work in a variety of RPG industries and personal commissions is a perfect fit for the team.

Markus Lovadina is a talented artist that specializes in broad and beautiful scenes. He was contracted to complete a highly detailed cover piece for Vow of Honor.

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