Game: B+
From 50 reviews

Honor + Intrigue

First Edition


Publisher Description

Honor + Intrigue is a new, standalone game from Basic Action Games. Inspired as much by Hollywood as by history, Honor + Intrigue pays homage to the swashbucklers of the silver screen as well as great works such as those of Dumas and Sabatini. Game Masters should feel free to use history as a source of inspiration, not a restriction. True to its inspiration, Honor + Intrigue plays fast and cinematic, leaving the focus on drama and action unfolding.  Read more about the game below.

What is Honor + Intrigue?

The game engine is based on Simon Washbourne's acclaimed"Barbarians of Lemuria" rpg, and also contains a number of new features as well, designed for the swashbuckling theme.


A 17th Century RPG Without Any Fantasy Elements [ edit ]

Honor + Intrigue was first released in 2012 from Basic Action Games, a company best known for their generic RPG, BASH ... but Honor and Intrigue doesn't use that system.  Instead, it's based of Barbarians of Lemuria, a fantasy RPG from Simon Washbourne.  Barbarians of Lemuria won runner up for Most Innovative Game in the 2008 Indie RPG awards, and is currently ranked 115th on RPG Geek (out of every RPG on the site), so it's easy to see why Honor + Intrigue was inspired by it.

Barbarians is a relatively light-weight RPG system with a flexible character creation system, and therefore so is Honor + Intrigue.  However, H+I has also augmented BoL's rules, to bring in more swashbuckling maneuvers and other elements.

Honor + Intrigue, First Edition - Rules SummaryCollapse

Character Creation [ edit ]

To create a character in Honor + Intrigue, you first divide four points between four attributes, with a 0 being an "average" score, -1 being the minimum, and 3 being the max.  Instead of the four attributes from Barbarians of Lemuria (Strength, Agility, Mind, and Appeal), characters in Honor + Intrigue have a more swashbuckling set, called "Qualities": Might, Daring, Savvy, and Flair.

After that you again divide four points, but this time between combat abilities.  Again, there are four of these: Brawl, Melee, Ranged, and Defense.

Next, you select your four Heroic Careers (which can rank from 0 to 3).  Careers are similar to skills in other RPGs, but instead of individual skills they represent careers the character has had, and so they describe broad categories of skills.  For instance, a character with the Thief career would know stealth, lock-picking, how to find a fence, etc. while a Hunter can also move stealthily, but can also track and skin animal pelts.

Next you pick your character's free Boon, which is a bit like a D&D feat or Savage Worlds Edge in that they provide some sort of advantage.  You can opt to take up to  two extra boons, but each one beyond the first requires taking a flaw (similar to GURPS disadvantages or Savage Worlds hindrances).

Finally, the player selects their character's Motivation, languages, backstory, friends and enemies, and starting possessions.  Most of that is purely descriptive text, with motivation simply being a 1-2 word description of what the character strives for (eg. wealth, fame, or freedom for their people).

Core Mechanics [ edit ]

The core mechanic of Honor + Intrigue is called a "task roll", and it's used to resolve most things in the game.

To make a task roll you simply roll 2d6, add the relevant quality, add any modifiers, and finally add the relevant combat ability (if fighting), or the relevant career (if not).  If the dice both roll 6 (ie. 12 total) the roll is an "Mighty Success" (eg. it does more damage in combat), and if the dice roll snake eyes (ie. 2 total) the roll is an Calamitous Failure (ie. critical failure: something bad happens).

If the character has a relevant Boon or spends a Fortune Point (a reserve of "luck points" characters have), they can add an extra die to one die's roll, and then take the better of the two rolls.  Similarly if a Flaw applies to the roll, an extra die is rolled and the lower of the two is kept.

Combat [ edit ]

In combat on their turn each character and major villain gets a major and a minor action (more minor NPCs only get a single major action).  Minor actions include things like moving, feinting, aiming, or loading a weapon, while major actions are mainly attacks and specialized attacks (eg. disarms, dirty fighting, etc.)

Combat is divided into rounds, and each round all combatants roll d6 and add their Savvy quality.  Ties go to the character with the most relevant career for the situation (or the highest career rank, or a die if still tied).

Honor + Intrigue is not intended to be played a grid map, so it handles movement in a more abstract way, relying largely on the GM to allow "reasonable" movement, with a Daring roll being made if it's important to see who gets where first.

To attack a character makes task roll using the appropriate combat ability, with the defender's Defense rating becoming a modifier to the number needed to hit (which starts at a base of 9).  If the defender still has an action they can use it to react and actively defend.  If they can't do that they can yield ground to avoid taking a  hit, and if that's not possible they simply take the hit.

Each attack does an amount of "Lifeblood" (ie. hit point) damage based on the weapon used, and if a character is reduced below 0 Lifesblood they pass out (dying when they reach -6).

Although the above description may sound simple, the game has a variety of combat modifiers from varying circumstances, called shots, and a (very) wide variety of custom maneuvers, ranging from Shove to Riposte to Cloak Parry.  There are also a wide variety of duel styles, most of which (like 7th Sea) are tied to specific regions (eg. there is the "French Style", "Italian Style", etc.).

But Should You Buy It? [ edit ]

Aggregated Review Scores

SourceAverage Score# of ReviewsAs Of
Drive Thru RPG4.7 / 5391/21/2022
RPG Geek7.36 / 10111/21/2022

Ultimately if what you're looking for is crunchy rules, fantasy races, or magic, Honor + Intrigue probably won't be the best option for your pirate RPG campaign.  But if you're looking for fast-playing rules, flexible character creation, and a ton of combat options for swashbuckling maneuvering ... all set in regular old (no fantasy) 17th century Earth ... Honor + Intrigue may just be the perfect swashbuckling pirate game for you.

And with a rating of 7.36/10 on RPG Geek, and 4.7/5 on Drive Thru RPG, you can be confident that plenty of other gamers have successfully run great pirate campaigns using the system.  In fact, while other pirate RPGs like 7th Sea might be ranked higher, there are multiple reports of gamers converting their 7th Sea campaigns to Honor + Intrigue ... proving that there's no one perfect Pirate RPG for everyone.