Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Rynath and the OSR

OSR:  Old School Renaissance (Revival). This is where I am now.  After collecting (and still collecting) many games and exploring many different systems, I'm back at the beginning...sort of.  Too many rules are starting to get in the way.   Nothing against new games, many are fine and many still have my interest -- see the adventure I recently posted for Numenera:  X'actori

But, there is something about the RED BOX.  The B in BECMI.  For me, the ALPHA PRODUCT.  The one that still stands the test of time.  One that is forever burned into my brain as the ultimate representation of D&D.  Of course that was MY introduction and first impressions matter; every generation has their version of it...I think.  But, I'm not just talking about rules here, I'm also talking about presentation and art.  Larry Elmore's BECMI art was MEDIEVAL, you know, the Middle Ages, knights, feudalism, castles.  D&D art has never been as good as that (though Dragonlance, Planescape and Darksun all had great art.)  OK, settle down grognard, to each their own...

I'm back at the beginning...sort of.  Meaning as much as I love the old ways, they can, and have been improved upon.  Many people have already done it and done it well.   Many people have their own particular OSR twist.  What I'm calling Rynath is my constantly evolving collection of OSR rules, ideas, and character class redesigns.

Rynath is simply the name of my homebrew fantasy world...nothing radical there.  Rynath is capitol M MEDIEVAL, no gunpowder, no flying ships, no multi-fantasy-race metropolises, etc.  Sometimes I've used the name Dungeoneer for my fantasy (projects), but for now I'm going with RynathRynath - OSR, Rynath - 2d6, Rynath - Traveller,-- three separate, yet related projects I need to blog about.  See end of this post for examples...

Rynath OSR System HighLights

Below is the Rynath Character Sheet.  Right away you'll notice there are only four ability scores.  I've rolled constitution into strength, intelligence into wisdom, and added resolve.  I thought about keeping charisma, but it's kinda pointless unless you're using retainers which is now driven by resolve.

Strength:  Melee Strike Bonus, Damage Bonus, and Hit Point Bonus. Physical saves.

Wisdom:  Number of starting Languages Known, starting Skill Points (no matter the class), and Bonus 1st Level Spells.  Intellect saves (illusions and such.)

Dexterity:  Missile Strike Bonus, Armor Class Bonus, and Initiative Bonus.  Agility saves.

Resolve:  Reaction/ Retainer Bonus.  Willpower saves. 

Skills are the old-school d6 roll and presented similar to how LotFP  (Lamentations of the Flame Princess) does it with some changes.  Every Class gets some skill points eventually.  Every skill starts at 1 for every character and for some skills, ability bonuses are added.  Using a skill takes a variable amount of time and failure can have consequences such as mandatory wandering monster checks. If you succeed at your skill roll then you've done what you wanted to do....period (tired of the Perception check super-skill that stands in the way of everything.)

Some classes have different Critical Hit thresholds as they level up, eg. Fighters start with a critical hit on 19-20, by 13th level it's 16-20.  Why?  Helps make combat more interesting and dynamic.  Prevents combat slog and helps Fighters stand out.  Fighters also get 1 free parry every round, where-as every other class has to sacrifice their attack to parry.  (See Parry rules below.)

Strike Bonus ("To-Hit" bonus, I like the word "Strike") caps out at level 10.

Hit Dice cap out at level 9, just like B/X, but characters starts with a few more Hit Points at level one.  The game is still deadly enough.

I incorporate the ever-popular Advantage/Disadvantage.  

If you use a Weapon your are not trained in, you attack with Disadvantage.  If you wear Armor you are not trained in you do EVERYTHING with Disadvantage and if you're a spell-caster, targets have Advantage on their saves.

XP (experience) is gained by killing monsters and finding treasure.  Nothing new there, except I would give a little more for XP for monsters and hand out less treasure.  Character advancement should be slow.

I've thought about doing an Encumbrance System that limits everyone to 10 slots with armor taking up 1-3 and each weapon taking up 1-2.  This would realistically limit what is carried through the Dungeon ( and lets face it, it's all about the Dungeon.)  Being over this limit would penalize you with Disadvantage on rolls.

The chart below lists the Armor Classes and armor costs.  Weapons are fairly standard for B/X, BECMI.  Though I feel that a staff should only do 1d4.  Weapons are double the classic prices.  I've thought about giving weapons "qualities", but I haven't....for this system.  I don't want to stray too far...


SAVING THROWS  are based on ability scores and level (not class and level).  I have three charts to choose from.  Why three?  Because I haven't decided which one is standard.  Probably the first one.  So a 5th level character with a DEX of 13 would have a DEX save of 11 or higher.  The other two charts break the game into 5 tiers of three levels (Rynath classes max out at 15th level) one is a more difficult progression.  These are just other options.  

Monsters would base their save on Hit Die and the 9-12 ability score slot.  Treat all Hit Dice lower than 1 as 1.  Of Course I would like to rewrite the monsters in more detail, but this is a quick fix.


MAGIC is my other main innovation next to saving throws and ascending crits.  I've never liked Vancian magic, even when I was younger.  Having read Jack Vance since then, I certainly have more appreciation for that magic system, but, I still don't prefer it.  Spell points are closer to what I like, but not quite.  I view magic as something dangerous that should physically drain, exhaust, and potentially kill you if you abuse it.  An experienced Wizard should be warped, mutated, or simply aged beyond their years.  You play with powerful forces (Black Magic) and you pay a powerful price.

So the magic (and prayer) system is basically this:

  • The spells you know are determined randomly (Clerics inlcluded -- you don't know the role your deity has for you.) 
  • You can cast any spell you know.
  • As you level up, higher level spell charts become available to you.  When you roll for a new spell, you can roll on any chart up to your maximum spell-level allowed.
  • When you cast a spell you make a resolve save with a penalty equal to the spell level (eg. a 1st level spell worsens your resolve save by 1, as second level spell worsens it by 2, etc.)
  • If you fail the save you take x-amount of Hit Point damage per spell level (this depends on Class, Wizards have it the easiest and this curbs the power-level of Elves.)  If you succeed there is no Hit Point loss.  Critical successes and failures worsen or better this verdict -- explained on each Class description.
  • All harmful spells allow for a saving throw even sleep and magic missile and such.
Those are the basics of spell-casting.  And it's still something of an experiment.  But this system allows for that unexpected Wizard's sacrifice for the party.  It gives "magic-users" more flexibility, yet the risk of losing hit points causes them to choose wisely when to cast spells. More often than not, you will lose hit points when casting a spell.

Clerics basically work the same way.

You can use just about any OSR spell list that you want, but Cleric spells don't go higher than 7th-level and Turn Undead has to be a first level spell under this system. See LotFP for that version or simply treat the use of any Turn Undead ruleset as a 1st-level spell.

Magic Items have a Usage-Die (except things like weapons and armor and other special or one-use items) so every time you use a magic item is one use closer to it's last.  Usage-Die rules for those who don't know:  You roll a die when you use an item.  Lets say a d8. If you roll a 1 or 2 on the die, the d8 becomes a d6.  If you roll a 1 or 2 on your next use, the d6 becomes a d4.  If you roll a 1 or 2 on a d4, the item becomes useless; crumbles to dust or something. Usage Die starting Die is typically d12 but sometimes d20.  I've never really liked the traditional "charges" system.

Sample Magic Item

Ring of Invisibility:  This ring grants you invisibility, but every round you wear it, you take 1 point of damage that can not be magically healed and only heals naturally at a rate of 1 point per week.  Also, you must pass a Resolve Save in order to remove the ring from your finger — failure means that you succumb to the ring and can’t try to remove it again for another 1d4 rounds.  If you die from wearing the ring, you turn into a Wraith.  If you die from other means while wearing the ring, the ring slips from your finger and you become visible.

Ammo could also use the Usage Die system.  Optional.


Parry:  During a combat round, if you have not acted yet, you can use your action to Parry a successful Strike made against you by making Strike roll that is equal to or greater than the incoming Strike roll.  Success means you have knocked the attack aside and suffer no damage.  If you choose to Parry, then you can not Strike that Round (unless you’re a Fighter.)  You can not Parry without a weapon or a Shield (unless you’re a Monk.)  Armed with a Shield, you may use your action to Parry an attack made against an adjacent ally — you make this roll with  Disadvantage (unless you’re a Knight).  A Shield can also be used to parry missiles (using your regular Strike Bonus.)  You can never Parry more than once per round.

--If you successfully Parry a Critical Hit, there may still be consequences.  You must make a Strength Save — failure means that you roll on the Critical Miss Table

--If you score a Critical Hit with your Parry, then you can Strike that Round.   Fighters force their opponent to roll on the Critical Miss Table.

--If you score a Critical Miss with your Parry, then the incoming Strike becomes a Critical Hit and you roll on the Critical Miss Table.

Critical Hit:  If the actual die roll falls in your Crit Range, you’ve scored a Critical Hit and your damage is doubled as follows: 1d8+3 becomes (11 + 1d8+3).  Tripled would be (22 + 1d8+3). 
 Also, any time you take damage from a Critical Hit, your Armor is damaged and loses 1 point of Armor Class.  You can choose to take this damage to your Shield instead.  A Forge* roll can be attempted later to repair the damage.
        *Forge Skill:  One roll equals 1 full day of work.  If the roll succeeds, 1 point of armor is restored, or a weapon improves by 1 Die Type back up to it's maximum.  If the roll fails, try again tomorrow.

Critical Miss:  A natural 1 is always Critical Miss.  Roll 1d6 to see what just happened to you.

1.  You Drop Your Weapon and it is out of your reach.  On your next turn you can draw a new weapon and Strike with  Disadvantage, or you can attempt to recover your lost weapon (if no one else has) by making a successful Dexterity Save — attempting to pick up an item during combat takes up your entire action and requires a Dexterity Save.

2.  You’ve been Knocked Down — all Strikes against you are made with Advantage while you are prone.  You Strike with Disadvantage until you regain your footing which only happens after a Dexterity Save — which takes up your entire action.

3.  Your Weapon is Damaged — it becomes the next lowest Die Type (1d4 weapons are destroyed).

4.  You’ve left yourself wide open and your opponent gets a Free Strike against you.

5.  You Drop an Item of Value (determined randomly from your most valuable possessions).

6.  Your Weapon Shatters even if it's magical (nothing lasts forever, and this creates legendary moments.)

Healing:  After an 8 hour rest, you recover Hit Die your Level.

Mounted Combat:  If you take damage while mounted, you need to make a Strength Save or fall from your steed taking 1d4 damage.

--Missile Strikes while mounted are made with Disadvantage.
--Combatants on foot have Disadvantage while Striking mounted opponents.


The Classes I designed for Rynath are on the following list.  Why include classes like Dark-Elf, Monk, Ninja, Pixie, Samurai?  Just because.  Classes are fun to design, so having only 7 wasn't gonna cut it.  Also, Knight, Witch, Assassin, and Seer had to be Classes.  Again, just because I love the concepts.

Bard / Jester
Elf / Warlock
Wizard / Sorcerer

Here are the seven core (B/X, BECMI) classes.  This should give an idea of how it all comes together.  I will post more over time...

Rynath - Traveller -- 1st Attempt

Rynath - Traveller -- Revised

Rynath - 2d6 -- In Progress

For Rynath Traveller, I have a total of 13 career charts each with 3 sub-careers.  My first attempt is a straight up Traveller - Fantasy conversion.  My revived attempt streamlines character creation, but is basically the same system.  Rynath 2d6 takes my 21 OSR classes and converts them to a Traveller-ish 2d6 system with very quick/random character creation. 

More on all of this later....

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