Wednesday, July 8, 2020


Say goodbye to green-skinned Khal Drogo.

The following fragments, penned by the Sage, Avidian, were unearthed in the wastelands east of the Orith Mountains...

...pattern has been observed with the first sightings of the swine in any particular region is that they are unarmored and unclothed, in fact devoid of possessions.  A farmer near Turgath noted his pigs behaving in a manner most peculiar, stomping around the sty and snorting nervously.  When next he saw them they all lay deceased and slowly sinking in the mud...cannot be confirmed as the farmer is considered mad by the local Turgathians who claim he spins the same yarn every few years when he murders his own stock...within a fortnight that Turgath reported the first Orc sightings in over ten years... of Orc varies as wildly as does the pig, but initial outbreaks are almost universally of a similar type.  It is only after Orc droves meet in the wild that differences are reported...cloven hooves and three "fingers" appear to be a universal trait, with the presence of tusks inconsistent...unable to speak the common tongue or any civilized language, but apparently can understand words not unlike a hound...eyes that never lock directly onto yours which makes their intentions hard to read, but anyone who is still in doubt about said intentions...

...a feast of mud and blood as the Orcs created a sty of the slain Rendrik they rolled excitedly among the dead eating and bathing...nothing remained...never witnessed an Orc handle the delicate operation of donning armor, but the Orcs that stormed Brandelbrook were indeed armed like Rendrik foot soldiers...

...sites more terrifying than a frenzied Orc snorting loudly in one's face...stench is putrid, but not supernaturally so...

...scout reported that as he sat behind the Orcs in the dark cave, concealed under a cloak of elvenkind, the swine, who hitherto sat quietly as if in a calm trance, began snorting and oinking louder and louder as the Sarisian Knights came into view in the gorge below...leadership was for his life when the wind shifted and they could smell him...knights circled the remaining Orc who scraped it's cloven hooves restlessly in the dirt...

...savage undisciplined fighters stronger than the average man and sometimes much stronger...of Orcs riding large, fiendish wort-hogs, witness is now deceased...confirmed by the... that Elves are the group responsible for the Orc scourges throughout the realm...origin is from the land of the fairies...not related to goblins...chapter of the Chronicles of St. Jendimar that Orcs are the spawn of Orcus...questions this as ignorant...not a true scholar of indeed come from the mud, but no definitive link to black magic has been proven...

...most peculiar that mere days after the Penidar Orcs lay waste to the once proud city of Naris, the ruined city was abandoned and that particular breed of Orc was never witnessed again...many Narians never accounted for...remains of the nuns slaughtered at the nunnery outside of Vrindel, so atrocious, the site was condemned and razed, left alone to this day...cryptic scrawling on the walls sparked debate of a written Orc language, dismissed as outlandish...rituals in the dungeons below...rise of the Order of the Sisters Militant of Vrindel...swine-like mutations in the royal family of Heinmarc sparked a vicious inquisition in the year...more reports from peasants regarding curious behavior of domestic swine in the Tansula Valley... 

...and on it goes...

Slay them, by order of the King.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Orcs Are Evil.

The basic nature of the universe is kill or be killed, eat or be eaten.  Everything in this universe fights for it's place, from the largest star to the tiniest microbe.  Compromise exists only out of mutual convenience and is often fleeting... 

Orcs will always be evil to me.  I'm not interested in all the nuance, there's already plenty of that in humankind.  Why do orcs raid?  Because they're fucking hungry agents of Chaos and they want nothing more than to destroy the realms of men, elves, and dwarves.  They're not humans, they're not even humanoid.  They're monsters.  The stuff of nightmares.  Do orcs have babies?  HELL NO.  They don't farm and they don't build cities.  They rape and pillage and kill and eat.  If orcs are discovered in the hills near your town, you're in DEEP SHIT -- Achtung! Orcs.   It's like an infestation that has to be dealt with.  "Sire, orcs are raiding up and down the frontier, three villages have been lost!" -- "Muster your knights!!!"

Imagine seeing the remnants of an orc raid where it's clear the villagers were cooked and eaten.  And God knows what's happening to any that were taken alive...  The stakes are so much higher now aren't they?

Realm, The (Vol. 1) #9 VF ; Arrow comic book
Comic series from the 80's when orcs were like giant hogs.  Their image has since humanized and become more ethnic over time, which is partly why we are where we are.
   The Realm was classic D&D.

And then there are the subterranean, spider-demon worshiping, human sacrificing, slavers.  No, that's not evil.....  What if they were albinos?

Anyway, it's your game play it your way, whatever way that is.

The rest is noise.

Game on.

Friday, June 5, 2020

20 Minute Friday Night Ink Sketch And Conan.

Quick post.  I'm becoming addicted to drawing in ink only.  Dangerous.  Risky.  And sometimes better looking than something I took great care on.  Never know what it's going to be before, just make it up as I go.  Maybe save it for a project and add a story to it later.  This one just gets posted here.  It took me 20 minutes while I listened to a couple of techno songs by Suntree and Lyctum.

Reminds of Conan, which I've been reading lately.

I've been a Conan fan forever, yet I've still only read about half of Howard's stories.  Which is kinda cool because I still get to experience new original tales.  I used to absolutely love The Savage Sword of Conan magazine and I've read a few of the Tor books as well as some other Howard stuff.  I Just read Red Nails and The Vale of Lost Women.  As much as I love Howard, he can lose me sometimes because I don't find any other characters in a Conan story interesting.  I hate the scenes where villains are up to stuff.

The Vale of Lost Women is mercifully short.  Told from the perspective of some scientist brat enslaved in a savage land who just watched her brother get utterly mutilated (just seeing the word scientist in a Conan story almost breaks immersion.)  Conan's hardly in it.  I hate this character but powered through the tale by force of will.  My reading patience has all but disappeared.  If you don't get me in chapter one, I won't keep reading.  I find role-playing books easier to read than fiction these days.  Vale is definitely an odd little tale.

Red Nails was good and I can see why some call it the most D&D-like of the Conan tales.  But once again, I don't care about anyone else here except Conan.  Even Valeria wasn't as cool as I was hoping.  One scene though, was awesome:

"From wall to wall, from door to door rolled the waves of combat, spilling over into adjoining chambers.  And presently only Tecuhltli and their white-skinned allies stood upright in the great throneroom.  The survivors stared bleakly and blankly at each other, like survivors after Judgement Day or the destruction of the world.  On legs wide-braced, hands gripping notched and dripping swords, blood trickling down their arms, they stared at one another across the mangled corpses of friends and foes.  They had no breath left to shout, but a bestial mad howling rose from their lips.  It was not a human cry of triumph.  It was the howling of a rabid wolf-pack stalking among the bodies of its victims."
--Red Nails.

Every now and then Howard wrote a moment for the ages.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Dungeons of Grandeur.

I'm surprised I haven't shown these before now.  They're from my mid-teen years; late 80's.  Somewhere I came across poster-board sized graph paper and about a week later this dungeon was done.  I then glued it onto an actual poster-board.  Surprisingly, 30 years on and it's still in pretty good shape.

I never wrote it up as a dungeon.  Making 169 rooms interesting is a challenge now, let alone then -- I've never been a huge fan of empty rooms.  One curious thing, you can go from room 2 all the way to room 154 and only pass through 3 other rooms.  An unplanned feature for sure.

And then of course there's this bad-lad, four times the size.  Too bad I burned out.  It's much more dense than the one above and would have clocked in at around 800 rooms.  These sheets are in surprisingly good shape too.

They're now artifacts that make me want to put aside what I'm working on and attempt to draw the largest, most complex dungeon of all time.  Probably not gonna do that.  Besides, how would you scan such a thing?

I loved the concept of the Dungeon.  Still do.  Always will.  

Just saying.

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Combat Mechanics

The years I spent searching for the perfect system that doesn't exist.  And by system, I generally mean, combat system.

Only to discover the OSR and the notion that the older systems are all you really need, i.e, tweaked of course, but a solid foundation.  There's lots of cool little ideas and dice tricks in the OSR universe to spice up your games.  If you care about mechanics.  And I do.

D&D combat is illogical.  That's not exactly news.  It's always been an abstraction, one originally designed to simulate armies against armies, not necessarily man against man.

Two 1st level fighters should fight to a stand still.  Yes, maybe one's a little stronger or one's a little quicker, but they're basically evenly matched.  Their level is their fighting skill.  Two 5th level fighters should also fight to a stand still as should two 10th level fighters, and so on.  A 5th level fighter should whoop a 1st level fighter -- here the rules accurately account, if only because of hit points.

The main difference in these duels is that the 1st level fighters, though evenly matched, will see one of the fighters fall quickly do to a lack of hit points, were as the 5th & 10th level fighters toil on and on.  Two evenly matched fighters of any level should toil on and on.  So logically, should hit points change depending on your opponent?  That's not gonna happen.  If anything damage should change, which does happen somewhat.

My chances of defeating my opponent rest mainly on how good my fighting skills are compared to his.  Yes armor plays a roll, but it only delays my pummeling of a lesser opponent.  This dovetails directly into the notion of armor as damage reduction.

Armor Class.  It makes perfect sense for ranged combat.  Most people can't dodge arrows even if they know they're coming, so basically, distance and what armor your target wears are your primary obstacles to a successful hit.  Shields should factor more.  In fact, shields in general are way undervalued.  If entering combat and I had to choose sword or shield, I would strongly consider choosing shield.

One of my favorite representation of man to man combat was in the DC Heroes RPG by Mayfair Games.  A system referred to by some as, MEGS.  The system is 2d10.  On the Action table, cross reference your score vs. your opponent's score (usually Dex vs. Dex) to find the number you need to meet or beat.  If you roll doubles you get to roll another 2d10 (I would consider changing this to simply rolling another 1d10 to avoid ridiculous, if not rare, outcomes.)  Notice on the Action table that evenly matched foes of any power level have to roll an 11 to hit.

Then you cross reference your effect value (usually Strength) against your opponent's Body score (modified by armor) on the Result table, including any column shifts from your success to see the damage inflicted.  But once again, a fight between evenly matched "regular folk" won't last long because of low health values.  Still, it's elegant.  Buuutttt...CHARTS.  They slow the game down, or do they really?  We never had problems with charts when we used them. 

Charts were a thing in the 80's.  By the 90's they were pretty much obsolete.  The thing with charts though, is that they can provide fairly logical results for a system.  Marvel's FASERIP system used charts well.  The huge flaw in FASERIP though, is that your foe's fighting skill had no bearing on whether or not you could hit them.  The chart simply existed to determine how well you hit them.  Your average person, with Typical rank Fighting, has a 50% chance of hitting anyone.

Then there's Palladium.  Strike, Parry, Dodge, Roll with Punch....!  A very granular, opposed roll, chart-less system, love it or hate it.  I love it.  Ideal for one man vs. another.  Five on five?... good luck with that.  Palladium Fantasy uses the same system, but this type of combat takes far to long for a dungeon crawl (and ultimately, it's all about accommodating a dungeon crawl!)  This type of system almost requires a comic book (cinematic) style of action narration.

Notice how in comics and movies, when groups fight each other, they focus on one or two characters at a time.  You'll see a series of actions, strikes, and parries before switching to another character.  Often, the results of the first little scene will lead directly to the next, for example, the next two combatants will move into the background of someone else's scene before becoming the focus themselves.  This brings up a whole 'nother aspect -- initiative and turn order.

One of the reasons that D&D combat can be tedious and not dynamic, is that it's essentially a frame by frame narration, going from fastest to slowest.  You go first, swing and miss.  The scene immediately switches to the other side of the room where someone else acts.  Then the focus switches again.  You rarely get to see an immediate rebuttal from your foe.  Not very exciting.

What if, you focused on whoever acted first for a couple of rounds of give and take, and then switched to the next person for a couple of rounds.  Does everyone declare their intentions first and have to stick with them?  Or do you keep it fluid and let people choose their actions depending on the events of those that went before?  It gives everyone a bit of a spotlight for a few moments instead of the regular slow-motion chess game.  Of course it causes problems for spell durations and stun durations and rules-lawyers would absolutely lose their minds!  It would take a strong DM.

Another game system that had wild potential in my book is Iron Kingdoms.  Love its use of derived stats and the 2d6/3d6 resolution mechanic has all kinds of potential for cool little dice tricks.  But it's basically a glorified miniatures game, practically requires them.  I would do away with the FEAT point system entirely.  And magic would need modification as every spell is simply a different version of magic missile.  Man, this game could have been it.....

Where have I gone with this ramble???

Back to mano-a-mano and D&D.  Without rewriting the rules all together, the simplest solution for me has been to add a parry option.  An active parry option, not a +2 or +4 bonus to AC for fighting defensively -- far too passive for my taste.  You don't want to bog the game down with parries, so it's just an option.  If you haven't already acted, you can try to parry an incoming attack.  Meet or beat the attack roll with one of your own.  Perhaps a bonus if using a shield (or advantage.)  Then you can't attack that round.  If you're playing your character realistically, they would always choose to parry if they could (unless you really embrace hit points as endurance and fate, which they kind of are.)  Perhaps Barbarians (berserkers) don't ever get the option.  It slows combat down a bit because there will be successful parries, but that combat is more exciting, a touch more real.

Just some stuff I always think about.

And then there's the quest for the perfect, non-Vancian magic system...

Sunday, April 26, 2020

4th & Sewers.

So, here we have the only dungeon I ever made for 4th Edition.  It was designed for a single player running a couple of low-level characters.  Don't remember too much about it other than it involved the Shadar-Kai and sewers.  Its fairly linear in that it ultimately goes in one direction, but there are multiple choices on the way there -- wherever "there" is, as you see, I never finished it and I believe we only got as far as the second page.

Once upon a time, some friends and I explored the sewers under a Detroit suburb.  Some of the architecture I saw down there, I included on these maps (drawn some 15 years later.)*  Being the main drainage lines and the height of summer, we were basically walking through large concrete pipes with a bit of surprisingly clear water.  Summer was really the only time you could safely explore.  We never once saw, "sewage," or much debris of any kind other than the occasional planks of wood.  One night, we actually came out through a manhole cover on someone's front lawn.  Our individual exits had to be timed perfectly due to steady traffic.  We were miles away from the entrance.....and the car.  The walk back on the streets is a whole 'nother story.....

*The entrance room on page 1 has a passage that starts 12 ft. up a slippery wall.  We experienced a chamber that had something like this.  The wall was slightly sloped and slick with a trickle of water.  Our first time down, we couldn't climb it.  The next time, thanks to a home-made grappling hook, we made it up (I believe it only took us 2 throws.)   And after all that effort, that higher passage didn't amount to much (obviously we missed the secret door!)  The main double-passage that links page 1 to page 2, is modeled directly after the main double-passage we followed for about a mile before branching off and exploring miles of smaller side passages that we often had to duck-walk through.  I'm still in pretty good shape, but no way could I do that now.

We wore rubber boots & gloves.  Flashlights were essential, with spare batteries just in case.  The darkness was oppressive.  Had something happened to our light sources, we'd have been far beyond screwed.....

Been busy working on my next module, spent most of March just working on the map.  It is ....different.

Game on.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Castles & Crusades Character Sheet

First let me say, I am working on something.  Since, Sision Tower, I've had several ideas.  Drawn lots of cool pictures -- art I WANT to use, but nothing really stuck.  Until recently, that is.  I'd put up a preview, but it's too soon.   Anyhow, I paused my current project because I haven't posted in a while.  So, on to the topic at hand, a game that's been on my mind more and more lately.....

I've owned the 3 Core Rule-Books for awhile now and recently purchased 8 more.  These books are beautiful to my eyes.  I love the art -- something I always pay attention to.  For me, art is integral to gaming.  It sets the mood, it inspires and feeds the imagination (and it doesn't have to be traditional.)  The art in Castles & Crusades (mainly by Peter Bradley) screams D&D, it screams Sword & Sorcery.  It's sexy.  It's BAD-ASS!

The Siege Engine.  If you're not familiar, this is the saving throw and non-combat task resolution system that I think intimidates some people.  It's kind of like THAC0, in that you can make it sound more complicated than it actually is.  To sum it up:  Saving Throws are based on ability scores.  You will have 2 or 3 (Humans) Primary stats and the others will be Secondary stats.  Primary stat saves start at 12, Secondary stat saves start at 18.  Subtract your level.  Subtract a positive ability bonus (or a add a negative one.)  And maybe, subtract a bonus gained from your class.  That's your save.  Add the challenge level of any particular challenge to get your target number on a D20.  Challenge level is usually based on the level or hit dice of a monster, spell-caster, trap-setter, etc.

(The books go into complex examples of running Siege in a way that assumes you are hiding the challenge level from the player, kind of like hiding armor class in a THAC0 system.  I find it so much easier to have the math done on your character sheet beforehand and simply tell the players the challenge level.)

Here's an example.  A 3rd level Cleric with a 14 wisdom (which gives a +1 bonus.)  Wisdom is the primary stat for clerics, so the base number will be 12.  12 minus 3 (for 3rd level), and -1 ( for a +1 wisdom bonus) = 8.  All of this cleric's wisdom rolls are 8+, including Turn Undead (which would then be further modified by the Undead's hit dice, so turning a 5 HD undead would up this cleric's roll from 8 to 13.)  That's it, that's Siege.

Below is a sample of how to record this to speed up play.  This is a 1st level Illusionist.  Instead of just writing 12s and 18s for the saves and doing the calculations during play, I've recorded the final numbers below.  The reason for the 10/9 split for Intelligence is that Illusionists get a bonus vs. illusions that improves as they level up.  So, this Illusionist's save vs illusions is 9+.  If they were saving vs an illusion spell cast by a 4th level spell-caster, the save would jump to 13+.

It breaks down like this:

  • Str (secondary) 18 (-1 for 1st level) (+1 for a -1 Str mod) = 18
  • Dex (secondary) 18 (-1 for 1st level) (+1 for a -1 Dex mod) = 18
  • Con (secondary) 18 (-1 for 1st level) = 17
  • Int (primary) 12 (-1 for 1st level) (-1 for a +1 Int mod) = 10 (9 vs Illusions for an Illusionist)
  • Wis (primary) 12 (-1 for 1st level) (-1 for a +1 Wis mod) = 10 
  • Cha (primary) 12 (-1 for 1st level)  = 11

Those stats were rolled randomly, in order, switching Dex and Int.  Illusionists have Int as the primary stat and Humans get two more, where as the other races only get one.  I think it would be interesting if your other primary stat(s) had to be determined randomly.  Here, I chose them to be wisdom and charisma.

Anyhow, if this Illusionist was 15th level, the saves would read: 4,4,3,-4,-4,-3.  Seems crazy, but remember there will almost always be a challenge level added and a 15th level Illusionist will be dealing with 12, 15, 20+ level challenges.  So this 15th level Illusionist, with a Dex save of 4, springing a trap set by a 12th level Rogue, would have to roll 16+ (4 + 12.)

Also, Illusionists are cool in this game.  There are 13 core classes and 14 more in The Adventurers Backpack, not to mention the additional classes found in the various well researched historical Codexes.  All hack-able in true OSR fashion, in fact, some require hacking such as the Nekuomantis (Greek Necromancer) in the Codex Classicum.  A class where some class abilities are written in a mechanically vague way, encouraging you to interpret them as you will.  I know what I would do.....

The Codex Classicum also has an Oracle (Seer) class that is very heavy on the role-play side, recommending that it be played by experienced players.  It's cool, but I prefer mechanics and plan to share some ideas for a hack in the future.

Castles & Crusades also has one of the more user-friendly, yet realistic, encumbrance systems out there.

GREAT game that is capturing more and more of my attention, so naturally, here's a character sheet.  I borrowed thematically from my 5th Edition sheets and took away the Pathfinder-like math on the C&C official sheets.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Super Hero Campaigns: Patrolling The City

 As I've said before, my favorite superhero systems are Marvel FASERIP, DC Heroes (Mayfair Games), and Heroes Unlimited by Palladium Games, however, the following tables are system neutral.

What you will need for this to work are your own, ever-growing, random lists of villains and heroes (separate lists), perhaps columns of 10 each so that you can easily add future columns.  Results should include solo villains and villain groups the likes of:  Hydra, A.I.M., and The Hand, also Aliens and Monsters.  You should have stats for all results ready to go, including stats for thugs, cops, wild animals, etc.  If a villain is rolled who should be in jail, they've obviously escaped.

This is meant to emulate the classic trope of a single hero or super-team patrolling their city on the look-out for crime on any given day or night.  You do not need a city-map, but having one wouldn't hurt.  Every time you roll on these tables equals a comic book Issue (as in a 22 page monthly Issue.)  Every time you roll on these tables something will happen.  Results may need a little tweaking to make sense.  Take notes and switch between heroes and groups every so often to create your own comic book universe!

  • To simulate time passed between Issues, roll 2d6.  The result equals the number of days passed since something happened on patrol (for that Title.)  You may or may not have been patrolling during those days, either way, nothing of note occurred.

Location of Crime, d12
1.  Sewers
2.  Docks (shipping district)
3.  Mall (shopping district)
4.  Skyscraper (downtown)
5.  Warehouse District
6.  Airport
7.  Art District (museums, theaters)
8.  Slums
9.  Uptown (wealthy district)
10. College campus
11. Iconic bridge or Park (zoo, cemetery)
12. Subway system

Type of Crime or Incident, d20

1.  Kidnapping:  You witness this as it happens, someone is grabbed and thrown into a van or flown away (if a flying villain.) 1-2  child, 3-4  man, 5-6  woman.

2.  Assault:  A woman screams and is struggling with an assailant(s).

3.  Drug smuggling:  You witness a major drug transaction, 1d6+2 well-armed gangsters on both sides.

4.  Human trafficking:  2d6+10 people (usually immigrants but can be of any origin, even extra-terrestrial) being loaded onto a truck.

5.  Bank robbery:  The classic crime, you hear the alarms going off.

6.  Sniper:  Usually just a single psycho shooting from above, randomly targeting civilians.  By the time you arrive, you've heard 3d6 shots resulting in 2d6 casualties.

7.  Gang War:  2d6+6 well-armed gangsters on both sides shooting it out, why get invovled?--1d6+2 civilians are in harms way.

8.  Murder:  You heard the scream, but arrive to find the deed done with the perp(s) standing over the body.  Victim was a 1. lover, 2. rival, 3. cop, 4. thug, 5. politician, 6. john doe.

9.  Mugging:  Another classic crime, you hear the screams.

10. Arson/Vandalism:  Something is burning or being destroyed, perps are present.  

11. Hostage situation:  2d6+12 hostages are being kept inside a(n) 1. office (1d6 x 10 floors up), 2. church, 3. store, 4. school, 5. theater, 6. mansion.  They will terminate 1 hostage every hour if demands aren't met.

12. Riot, looting & destruction:  3d6 x 10 protesters/anarchists are venting, innocents are in danger, property is being destroyed.

13. Hero(s) fighting Villain(s):  You stumble across a fight between a fellow hero and a villain, or multiples 1d4 vs. 1d4.  

14. Rampage:  A monster or robot is tearing up the town.

15. Hero fighting Hero:  Fellow heroes are fighting, it's getting serious.  Why are they fighting?:  1.  lovers quarrel,  2. one is is being overly territorial,  3. one is trying to prevent the other from going bad,  4. one is being mind-controlled by a villain,  5. one is a cocky new kid on the block,  6. they are just sparring.  

16. Villain fighting Villain:  Two villains intent on ending each other.  Why are they fighting?:  1.  lovers quarrel,  2. one stole the others loot,  3. one is sick of being bad,  4. one murdered the other's friend,  5. one has a "hit" on the other,  6. they are just sparring.

17. Jail-Break:  5d6 inmates are spilling out onto the streets.  If this is a super-breakout, you're in trouble.

18. Serial-Killer strikes:  You hear screams, someone has found a body.  You need to make a difficult Intuition/Awareness/Perception check (e.g., Red result in Marvel) to catch the trail of the killer, otherwise they got away.  If this is rolled again it's the same killer if they haven't yet been caught.  Victim is: 1. a child,  2. a prostitute,  3. a hero,  4. a villain,  5. a random civilian,  6. an animal.  Victim type will be the same every time until caught.  

19. High speed car chase/shoot-out:  Multiple vehicles, could be gangsters or cops and robbers.

20. Power-outage, (riot plus 2 more rolls):  All hell has broken loose.

Criminal, d12
1.  Single thug
2.  1d4+1 thugs
3.  1d6+2 thugs  
4.  2d6+3 thugs
5.  Super Villain
6.  Super Villains, 2
7.  Super Villains: 1d4+2
8.  Super Hero gone bad (anti-hero)
9.  Super Villain with 1d4+1 thugs
10. Super Villain with 1d6+2 thugs
11. Super Villain with 1d10+3 thugs
12. Terrorists, 2d6+6

Complications, 1 in 6 chance
1.  A friend or dependent is in harms way.
2.  If you are hunted by someone, they show up.
3.  You have the flu and fight with some sort of disadvantage.
4.  A rival hero or arch-nemesis shows up.
5.  Bad weather, torrential rain or blizzard complicates rolls.
6.  Media is present and recording everything.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Esoteric Enterprises: Character Sheets

Mystic?  Mercenary?

Emmy Allen's Esoteric Enterprises arrived on my door-step about a week ago and after flipping through the book several times, I realized -- no character sheet.  I knew what I'd be doing for the next few days.

I like the cadence of Emmy's writing -- reminds me of my favorite Lamentations books.  What a cool game..... 

So, here are a few character sheets.  The first two are called Basic because they have wider lines to write on.  The Standard version has narrower information lines for smaller writing and potentially more info.  The Circuits version adds circuitry for flavor and a reminder of where certain bonuses are applied.  Each version has a sheet that uses dice pips for skills, and one that uses empty boxes.

Hopefully you find them useful as you seek black market treasures in the tunnels beneath the tunnels below.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Dungeoneer.

I love Class Systems and I love Race-As-Class.  But.....

For those of you out there that want a gritty, low-magic, Black Company style campaign, without having to switch to another system, try this.....

The Dungeoneer is a randomly rolled amalgamation of Fighter, Magic-User, Thief, and Cleric.  No two characters will be the same.  Some will be more fighter-like, some more thief-like.  Some will advance quicker, others will be tougher.  Each will be a jack-of-all-trades and a master of none.  All will feel like adventurers.

The Racial ability modifiers below are mere suggestions.  Feel free to differentiate the races however you like, or consider the Dungeoneer a human-only class.

The Dungeoneer

Choose or Roll 1d4 for Race, then determine your Stats...
1.  Human -- 3d6 down the line.
2.  Dwarf -- Con: 2d6+6, Randomly determine 1 other ability to be 2d6+1, the rest are 3d6.
3.  Elf -- Dex: 2d6+6, Randomly determine 1 other ability to be 2d6+1, the rest are 3d6.
4.  Halfling -- Str: 2d6+1, Randomly determine 1 other ability to be 2d6+6, the rest are 3d6.
  • For every +1 bonus you have from Intelligence, you get 1 free randomly rolled Thief skill every time you level up until your bonuses are used up.
  • For every +1 bonus from Wisdom, you get a bonus 1st-level spell any time you roll "Spell-Caster" until your bonuses are used up. 

You Make Saving Throws as a...Roll 1d4...
1.  Fighter
2.  Magic-User
3.  Cleric
4.  Thief

Your Hit Die is...Roll 1d6...(or you could just default to d6 for all Dungeoneers)
1-2.  d4
3-4.  d6
5-6.  d8

Class Abilities...Roll on this chart 4 times at 1st level and 2 times for every level gained there after (optional:  When you gain a level, you may forgo your 2 new class ability rolls to improve a class ability that you already have by 1 level)  ....Roll %
  1-25.  +1 To-Hit.
26-35.  Armor Training (everyone starts out trained in Leather armor.)  Every time you roll this you                      improve to better armor:  Scale, Chain, Banded, Plate, Full-Plate.  Anyone can use a                               shield.
36-50.  Weapon Training (everyone starts out trained in d4 & d6 weapons.)  The first time you roll                     this, you become trained in the use of d8 weapons.  The second time -- d10, the third and                       any subsequent time, you gain a +1 to damage rolls.
51-60.  Turn Undead as a 1st-level Cleric (turning level goes up by 1 every time you roll this.)
61-85.  Thief skills (Some Thief skills come in pairs.  They all start at 3rd level ability, increasing 2                      levels every time you roll them.....Roll 1d8...)
               1.  Open Locks
               2.  Find/Remove Traps
               3.  Climb Walls
               4.  Move Silently/Hide in Shadows
               5.  Pick Pockets
               6.  Hear Noise
               7.  Languages (you gain a new language, lucky you)
               8.  Back-Stab (standard Thief Back-Stab, +4 to-hit, damage of x2, multiplier or to-hit bonus                        increases by 1 every time you roll this ((multiplier can't go higher than x6.))

*For Lamentations of the Flame Princess style skills roll here.  The first time you roll a skill you have it at 2 in 6.  It increases by 1 every time you roll it....Roll 1d10...
               1.  Architecture
               2.  Bushcraft
               3.  Climb
               4.  Languages
               5.  Search
               6.  Sleight of Hand
               7.  Sneak Attack
               8.  Stealth
               9.  Tinker
             10.  Your Choice

86-95.  Spell-Caster. Use the Magic-User spell progression table.  You cast spells at 1st-level ability,                  your caster level goes up by 1 every time you roll this.  All spells must be determined                             randomly.  Roll 1d6 to see what kind of spells you gain each time you roll this, 1-3 you                             learn a Magic-User spell(s), 4-6 you learn a Cleric spell(s).  This is the only way that                               you can learn new spells.  You can also use scrolls.
96-00.  Find Secret Doors (starts as 2 in 6 when you roll this and goes up 1 every time it's rolled.)

Your XP Progression is like a...Roll 1d4...
1.  Fighter
2.  Magic-User
3.  Cleric
4.  Thief
  • If you don't like the idea of varied progression, a good default XP table for all Dungeoneers would be the Cleric. 

Starting Gold:  3d6

Thoughts and Forcasted Features of the Dungeoneer Class
  • Not all Dungeoneers are created equal.
  • Varying Hit Dice shows that Destiny has a different plan for us all.
  • Varying XP Progression shows that we don't all learn at the same rate.
  • More book-keeping -- you'll have a variety of abilities at different levels of competency. 
  • Mid-High level Undead will ALWAYS be a threat.
  • Eventually, everyone will be a minor spell-caster.
  • Mid-High level spells will be VERY RARE.
  • As written, a  group of Dungeoneers will be weaker than a normal group do to a lack of Spell Power and Armor Training.  To counter-act this, you can simply increase the number of ability rolls every level or increase the starting levels for thief skills and spell-casting. 
  • If you want "Spell-Caster" (or any other ability) to be rolled more often, simply tweak the % chances on the chart.
  • Using the Lamentations skills as opposed to the B/X skills will generally lead to more competent Dungeoneers (Climb is an obvious exception.) 
  • Don't use the Dungeoneer for NPCs, too much book-keeping.

Sample Dungeoneers
Gwyn, Human, 1st-level Dungeoneer
Str:  10
Dex:  12
Con:  10
Int:  13 (+1)
Wis:  11
Cha:  10

Hit Dice:  1d6
Hit Points:  5
Armor Class: 6 (14) Scale
Save as:  Thief
   D: 13
  W: 14
   P: 13
   B: 16
   S: 15

XP Progression as:  Cleric
Languages:  Common, Elven

  • Weapon Training: d8
  • Armor Training: Scale
  • +0 to-hit
  • Spell-Caster (1st level) spell: Resist Cold
  • Open Locks (3rd-level): 25%  (LotFP, Tinker:2 in 6)
  • Pick Pockets (3rd-level): 30% (LotFP, Sleight of Hand: 2 in 6)

Starting Gold: 140 (remaining: 11)

Scale Mail Armor
Short-Bow (+0 to-hit) 1d6, 20 arrows
Sword (+0 to-hit) 1d8
Dagger (+0 to-hit) 1d4
Iron Rations, 1 week
50' Rope with Grappling Hook

Gwyn at 5th-level 
Str:  10
Dex:  12
Con:  10
Int:  13 (+1)
Wis:  11
Cha:  10

Hit Dice:  5d6
Hit Points:  18
Armor Class: 6 (14) Scale
Save as:  Thief
   D: 11
  W: 12
   P: 11
   B: 14
   S: 13

XP Progression as:  Cleric
XP: 12,000  (6th-level: 25,000)
Languages:  Common, Elven

  • Weapon Training: d8
  • Armor Training: Scale
  • +3 to-hit
  • Spell-Caster (2nd level) spells: Resist Cold, Remove Fear
  • Open Locks (5th-level): 35%  (LotFP, Tinker:3 in 6) 
  • Pick Pockets (5th level): 40%  (LotFP, Sleight of Hand:3 in 6)
  • Back-Stab x2, +4 to-hit (total back-stab to-hit: +7)
  • Find/Remove Traps (3rd level):20%/20%  (LotFP, Tinker:2 in 6)

Starting Gold: N/A

Scale Mail Armor
Short-Bow (+3 to-hit) 1d6, 20 arrows
Sword (+3 to-hit) 1d8
Dagger (+3 to-hit) 1d4
Iron Rations, 1 week
50' Rope with Grappling Hook

Doro, Halfling, 1st-level Dungeoneer
Str:  8 (-1)
Dex:  13 (+1)
Con:  17 (+2)
Int:  13 (+1)
Wis:  14 (+1)
Cha:  13  (+1)

Hit Dice:  1d4+2
Hit Points:  4
Armor Class: 6 (14) Leather + Dex
Save as:  Fighter
   D: 12
  W: 13
   P: 14
   B: 15
   S: 16

XP Progression as:  Fighter
Languages:  Common, Goblin

  • Weapon Training: d6
  • Armor Training: Leather
  • +2 to-hit
  • Find Secret Doors (2 in 6)
  • Open Locks (3rd level): 25%  (LotFP, Tinker:2 in 6)
  • Climb Walls (3rd-level): 89%  (LotFP, Climb:2 in 6)

Starting Gold: 150 (remaining: 58)

Leather Armor
2 Daggers (+1 to-hit) 1d4-1
2 Slings (+3 to-hit) 1d4, 30 bullets
Short-Sword (+1 to-hit) 1d6-1
Iron Rations, 1 week
50' Rope with Grappling Hook

Doro at 5th-level
Str:  8 (-1)
Dex:  13 (+1)
Con:  17 (+2)
Int:  13 (+1)
Wis:  14 (+1)
Cha:  13  (+1)

Hit Dice:  5d4+10
Hit Points:  19
Armor Class: 6 (14) Leather + Dex
Save as:  Fighter
   D: 10
  W: 11
   P: 12
   B: 13
   S: 14

XP Progression as:  Fighter
XP:  16,000  (6th-level: 32,000)
Languages:  Common, Goblin

  • Weapon Training: d6
  • Armor Training: Leather
  • +6 to-hit
  • Find Secret Doors (2 in 6)
  • Open Locks (3rd level): 25%  (LotFP, Tinker:2 in 6)
  • Move Silently/Hide in Shadows (3rd-level): 30%/20%  (LotFP, Stealth:2 in 6)
  • Climb Walls (5th-level): 91%  (LotFP, Climb:3 in 6)
  • Back-Stab x2, +4 to-hit (total back-stab to-hit: +9)
  • Turn Undead (1st-level)
Starting Gold: N/A

Leather Armor
2 Daggers (+5 to-hit) 1d4-1
2 Slings (+7 to-hit) 1d4, 30 bullets
Short-Sword (+5 to-hit) 1d6-1
Iron Rations, 1 week
50' Rope with Grappling Hook
Holy Symbol


Say goodbye to green-skinned Khal Drogo. T he following fragments, penned by the Sage, Avidian, were unearthed in the wastelands east of the...