Sunday, December 22, 2019

Strange Things Happen When You Sleep In Dungeons.....

Close to death.....out of spells.....out of potions.  Three levels down and 10 hours from the front.  There's no way out tonight.  This place is alive with the dead.  Going into that crypt was a bad idea.  Should have known.....  Those that remain can rest here.  Seems safe enough......  The door bars from the inside.  It's cold and damp; a mixture of mud, blood, and stone.  We try to sleep in the darkest of darks, haunted by sounds that would chill even the gods, blinking in and out of nightmares, regretting the decision to descend.  When morning comes it is still night.....

Sleeping in dungeons would SUCK.

So let's make it suck in an interesting way.....

This is about quality of sleep.  You need to determine every PC's Sleep-Factor, which is simply the percentage of hit points they have remaining.  Example:  PC-1 has 7 hit points remaining out of 22, 7 divided by 22 equals.318, so PC-1's Sleep-Factor is 32%.  PC-1 will have to roll 32 or under on d100 in order to have a successful night's rest.  More about this in a minute.....

Sleep-Factor = percentage of hit points remaining.

Healing Rules.  I think it's safe to say that most old school games award 1 hit point per night's rest, and probably include your constitution bonus if you have one.  Some may also include the PC's level as a bonus.  Some may allow them to roll one hit die.  Healing rules probably run the gamut.

I like: (1 hit point + constitution bonus + level) and will be using this as the assumption for these rules.

Back to Sleep-Factor.  Every PC makes a Sleep-Factor roll (it is essentially your saving throw against a very bad night's sleep.)  If they succeed on their roll, they rest well and gain the normal healing benefits.  If they roll doubles on their success, they get to roll one hit die and add that to their total hit points healed (or you can simply allow them to heal double their amount.)

If they fail their Sleep-Factor roll, they were haunted by restlessness and/or something strange happens, but they still get their healing.  If they fail and roll doubles, something strange happens and they DO NOT recover any hit points.  Roll 1d20 below for Restless Sleep & Strange Events.....

Restless Sleep & Strange Events

1.  Sleep-Walker:  Whether you've ever sleep-walked before or not, doesn't matter, you did tonight.  You wake up the next morning 1d4+1 rooms away to the (1d4) 1--North, 2--South, 3--East, 4--West.  Good luck.

2.  Infection:  Some cut or wound you received earlier has become infected.  You were tossing and turning and sweating all night.  In the morning you feel like crap and suffer disadvantage on all saving throws for the next 4d6 hours.

3.  Bug In Your Ear:  Madness and pain ensue as you awaken to the thunderous sound of an insect buzzing inside your inner ear canal.  Your screams are loud.  Until the bug is removed, check for wandering monsters every 1d4 rounds.  The players will have to get creative to solve this one.....

4.  Seduced By A Succubus:  In your weakened state, you've been targeted by a Succubus, see this post.....Succubus

5.  Gremlins:  You had the strangest dream of weird little goblins crawling all over you, giggling and snorting, poking and prodding.  Soon after waking, you realize your favorite weapon (or spell-book) is gone.  Unbeknownst to the PC, the item is hidden in a tiny secret chamber in some room in the dungeon.  There is a 1 in 6 chance that any particular room is that room.  They still have to find the secret door.....

6.  Thief:  You wake to discover a prized item of yours is now in the possession of one of your companions who insists it is theirs (they must save vs. spells to willingly give it back, otherwise they protect it as if it's their prized possession, in fact, they dreamed that you were trying to steal it from them.)  If you're a Thief the situation is reversed, whether you remember it or not, you're the one who took the item.

7.  Visions Of The Reaper:  During the night you wake up to the bone-chilling vision of The Grim Reaper standing over one of your companions (roll 1d6 and count leftward to determine the PC.)  That PC now has disadvantage on their next 2d4 death-saves.

8.  Your Future Corpse:  Your future rotting corpse (or the corpse of a best friend) visits your dreams (nightmares) and warns you never to leave this room.  You are convinced this was real (and maybe it was.)  In the morning, under no circumstances will you leave this room.  You are petrified with fear and have to save vs. fear (petrification) once an hour.  You need 3 consecutive saves in order to get a hold of yourself.  Only then can you willingly leave.  If forced to leave, you will resist and scream maniacally, forcing a check for wandering monsters every time.

9.  End Of The Road:  In the morning, your companions awaken to discover your corpse with an expression of indescribable terror locked on your face. (Optional of course, you may roll again and let this be someone else's nightmare, but you have to roll twice.)

10.  Revelation:  You dream of the exact location of a marvelous treasure located somewhere in this dungeon.  The DM must let you read the entire contents listed under that room.  And you thought you were leaving.....

11.  False Revelation:  Your dreams reveal that your hearts desire is in danger 2d6 rooms from here (a room you haven't been in yet.)  Your friends may have other plans, but that's where you're going.....and nothing will stop you.  Unfortunately, the room already contains something else.....Of course, you never know, if the DM wants to make things interesting.....

12.  Sabotage:  You don't remember doing this, but you gathered up all the party's rations (including water) and smeared them all over the walls in a nihilistic fit of utter frustration.  They know it was you because you're a mess of food particles.

13.  Preternaturally Tired:  You will sleep for 1d4+1 more days after which you will rise completely refreshed of all wounds and ailments.  Until then, you sleep.  No matter what.

14.  Murderer:  If you have henchmen or NPCs with you, one the strongest of them (as in level) is found dead in the morning from stab wounds.  You killed him.  You know this.  You vaguely remember the act and the cryptic voices emanating from the walls that commanded you.  The room is indeed haunted and this will happen every night the party sleeps here.  If there are no henchmen or NPCs, another PC (randomly determined) awakens to you holding a dagger to their throat.  You have to save vs. spells to avoid trying to kill.  If you fail, roll initiative.....

15.  Careless Mistake:  You get up and unlock the door or deconstruct whatever barricades the party set up.  Roll for wandering monsters.  If one is rolled, it's gets the benefit of surprise.  If there is no encounter, the party will surely ponder why the door is wide open.

16.  Tongues:  Everyone is roused by the sound of you speaking in tongues.  You utter this strange language for 3d10 minutes before falling silent.  Magic-Users can make a language roll (or save vs spells with advantage) to recognize the language.  It turns out that you are revealing something juicy about the dungeon and the DM should reveal something useful.  However, everyone is so unnerved by this experience that they all have to save vs. paralysis or fail to recover any hit points from their night's rest.

17.  Insomnia:  You didn't sleep a wink, or so it seemed.  You're exhausted and have disadvantage on all attack rolls for the next 4d6 hours (if you're a spell-caster, your targets have advantage on their saving throws.)

18.  Rodents:  You wake up to rodents nibbling on your fingers, toes, or ears.  You kill them easy enough, but now you have to save vs. disease (poison) or you will wake up deathly ill -- so weak you're unable to move.  If infected, you're beyond useless and need to save vs. disease every day, 2 failures in a row equals death, 2 successes in a row and you recover.

19.  Out Of Body Experience:  Your soul left your body and went on a little Astral Journey through the dungeon.  The DM must hand you the complete map of the dungeon and let you view it for a number of seconds equal to 3d6 + your level.  You're exhausted and recover no hit points, but, you have a percentage chance equal to your Sleep-Factor of knowing the contents and secrets of any room before you enter it for the entire next day, beyond which, this knowledge fades.  The DM's gonna love you.....

20.  Double Nightmare:  (DM rolls some dice as if checking for wandering monsters.)  A huge, 8HD, AC: as plate, 2d6 bite/poison or die Spider, smashes into the room.  Everyone wakes up, roll initiative and play the fight out as normal.  The spider keeps targeting you and just as you roll a poison save, you wake up!  Everyone is sleeping peacefully and all is well.....until the room begins filling with black water furiously fast.  Your companions won't wake up and if you get close enough to shake them, you notice they're skeletons!.....It's morning, your companions wake you from a screaming nightmare.  You get 1 hit point for your rest.

Have the players do the rolling, but as a DM, you must keep the contents of this list secret, because spoilers.  You probably don't want to over-use this idea.  Maybe once per dungeon. And maybe only for characters whose Sleep-Factor is below 50%.

Another thing, players will usually set watches throughout the night.  For wandering monsters, taking turns on watch can help prevent a surprise attack, but for the purposes of this exercise, watch doesn't matter.  These events are mysterious and can happen quickly, in the blink of an eye.  People on watch are notorious for nodding off, if even for a moment, and they never admit it (seriously!)

"It didn't happen on my watch!"

Sunday, December 15, 2019

I Don't Miss Perception Checks.

I don't miss perception checks, or let me say, I don't miss having to roll perception checks.  They damaged to the game.  Perception became a super-skill, almost a stat unto itself, an entitlement.  This is by no means unique to D&D as many games out there are designed to accommodate a character's Awareness.

I walk in......perception check.
I search the room......perception check.
Is he hiding something?......perception check.
What do I hear?......perception check.
I approach cautiously......perception check.
I check for secret doors......perception check...............

Perception damaged the game.  As far as D&D is concerned, it evolved from "search for secret doors" and "check for traps" and became "I roll to check for anything and everything under the sun that I can think of that could possibly be hidden from me at any given moment for any given reason."  The almighty Perception Skill.  And whether it's called, Perception, Sense Motive, or Investigation, it's all the same.  We can thank 3rd Edition for this super-skill (and I'm not hating on 3rd Edition, I had my share of fun with it, I just don't recall it being a issue before then.)

No class is hurt by this super-skill more than the Thief/Rogue.  Their whole shtick is, not being perceived.  Perception steps on their toes by putting them in double-jeopardy.  Not only do they have to roll well to succeed, but their foe has to roll poorly.

Screw that.

Whether it's Move Silently or Hide in Shadows or plain old Stealth, if the old-school Thief makes her roll then she does what she wants to do, period.  It has nothing to do with her opponents "perception" but rather, her own personal skill and dice luck.

A fighter tries to hit you based on his skill alone -- one roll.  A wizard casts a spell on you based on your resistance (or lack of) still, one roll.  A thief tries to sneak past you, she rolls, you roll.  A thief tries to pick your pocket, she rolls, you roll.  Several of the modern thief's key abilities are contested.  You could argue that any class trying these actions face contested rolls, but these things used to be the SOLE domain of the thief.  (And I'm not against contested rolls at all, I love the notion of contested combat: Strike, parry, dodge.....)

Double Jeopardy for thieves isn't really a problem in old-school D&D, but there's one aspect to how early thieves are handled that I don't like, and that is, when the DM rolls secretly for the player.  It's their skill, their roll.   So how do I ref these rolls?  Not until the point of no return and not a moment sooner.  Example.....

The Thief is Hiding in Shadows in someone's room, waiting to spy or kill.  If her intention is simply to spy, she will roll shortly after her target enters the room, and just before he does anything important.  If she fails, he spots her, she learns nothing.  If she succeeds, he doesn't spot her and she gets to watch for as long as she wants.....even if someone else enters the room, she has successfully hidden, period.  Her gambit as a lone thief is one of life and death, if she makes her roll, let her enjoy it.

If she's hiding for an attempted "Back-Stab," she could lay in wait for minutes or hours, doesn't matter, the "Hide" roll doesn't occur until the point of no return.  Rolling secretly for the player creates the same level of suspense, but strips them of active involvement (imagine gambling at a casino with someone else rolling the dice for you.....)   Don't have her roll Hide in Shadows until she's ready to make her move and it's do-or-die.  If she fails, she's been spotted, roll initiative.  If she succeeds, here comes the dagger.  But, if her attack roll misses, that means her target saw her at the last moment and evaded.  Assassination is harder than spying.

K, that was a tangent.  Back to Perception, bottom line -- it kills the player's motivation to engage with the game world.  Rolling perception for everything is lazy and sterilizing. 

Something else I don't miss:  DC's.  DC:12, DC:15, DC:18, etc., etc.  Your character gets good at something, and then the goal-posts are moved, suddenly locks get tougher, traps get deadlier.  Everything around advances with you.  Why advance?  The beauty of old-school is that you actually get good at stuff and stay good at them.  You ARE a master-thief.  You can pick locks and disarm traps all day long, but, one failure can still kill you.

Not that I'm out to kill characters, anything but.  I've never rolled that way.  There is a way to give varying levels of difficulty without moving the goal-posts and that's by simply using advantage and disadvantage.  Anything can be easy/standard/hard.....advantage/normal/disadvantage.  You want a tough trap to find, link it with disadvantage.  Put it in a 1st level dungeon or a 15th level one, you're not changing the game much and you've added a hint of depth.  A master-thief will still probably succeed, but at least she'll sweat a little.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Have You Ever Subdued A Dragon?

Until recently, I forgot that subduing dragons was a thing.  Imagine fighting a gargantuan, pissed off, winged cat with a flame-thrower in it's throat, while trying not to seriously hurt it.  Good luck.  In years past, subduing dragons was largely a joke to us, but we lacked imagination.  By 3rd edition (and maybe even 2nd) this notion wasn't even a part of our lexicon.  The beauty of this thing we call the OSR lies in the rediscovery of such ideas, even if these ideas are rules that we kind of ignored in the first place.

It's much easier to subdue a dragon in AD&D than it is in BECMI.  AD&D gives you a growing percentage chance every round that the dragon is subdued.  BECMI requires that it be knocked down to zero hit points (non-lethal damage) before it capitulates.  Attacks must be made with the "flat-of-the-blade" thus no missile weapons and no spells.  Also, the subduing damage doesn't lower the damage of the dragon's breath weapon.

The results of the subduing vary.  Maybe the dragon forfeits it's treasure and tells you where to find more.  Maybe you capture it and sell it in some kind of black market (at 1,000 GP per hit point.)  Or maybe you make it serve you.  Why would a dragon serve you and not fry you to first chance it gets?  Is this an honor thing?  Is it broken will?  Where did this notion of subduing dragons actually come from?  Fiction?  Mythology?  I'm drawing a blank.  The Rules Cyclopedia states that a captured dragon will try to escape "if given a reasonable chance."  So, what's your plan for restraining this beast?  Consider this.....

Dragon-Sized Restraining Equipment

  • Iron Muzzle:  Prevents the dragon from speaking clearly, using their breath weapon, and casting spells.  Cost:  25 GP per hit point.
  • Collar and Chain:  For leading the beast around and/or anchoring it to a cell.  Cost:  35 GP per hit point.
  • Leg Irons (4 legs):  Only allows staggered movement and prevents the dragon from clawing/stomping.  Cost:  100 GP per hit point (25 GP per hit point, per leg.)
  • Wing Cuffs:  Keeps the dragon grounded.  Cost: 40 GP per hit point.
  • Tail Iron:  Prevents a tail slap as this cuff is usually attached to leg irons.  Cost:  25 GP per hit point. 

So, a large 80 hit point dragon would cost 18,000 GP to fully restrain and would sell for 80,000 GP at market, and a small 30 hit point dragon would cost 6,750 GP to fully restrain and fetch 30,000 GP at market.  Obviously these numbers can be tweaked as per your campaign.  Then you need to find a buyer if you don't already have one lined up.  Locating a black market and how such a place operates is a topic all to itself, but assuming you already know of one, how about a Black Market reaction roll to represent the bargaining process.....

Black Market Reaction Roll.....roll 2d6 +/- Charisma Bonus (only 1 roll allowed per sale.)
    2-3.   -30%   (700 GP per hit point)
    4-6.   -15%   (850 GP per hit point)
    7-9.   Standard market price (1,000 GP per hit point)
10-11.   +15%  (1,150 GP per hit point)
     12.   +30%  (1,300 GP per hit point)

It seems that dragon-slavers would target young dragons as much as possible as there's less risk involved and still plenty of profit.  Dragon-slaving would still be hella dangerous, though, as some parent dragons would show ZERO mercy to those who took their young and to those communities that harbored them, annihilation would follow.....

There's also the question of where you would hold the dragon.  You could use a cave, ruins, a keep, etc.  Regardless, you need a strong anchor for the chains, so figure that might cost an additional 15 GP per hit point.

Anyway, I love the notion.  So many possibilities here.  It's an adventure waiting to happen.  Hunt the dragon.  Capture it.  Bring it to justice.  Sell it.  Break it.  Imagine a party of Chaos trying to subdue a Gold or Silver.  I would rule that if a PC managed to single-handedly subdue a dragon, then that dragon, regardless of alignment, would serve that PC for life.  Instant dragon-rider.

Mechanically, I would add this:

  • A critical failure on an attack roll means that you cause actual damage to the beast, nullifying an amount of non-lethal damage done equal to the real damage inflicted, thus prolonging your gambit of subduing. 

So, what's your experience with this subject, have you ever subdued a dragon???

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Somebody Made A Generator...

Just a quick post (and an excuse to draw a dragon.....)

Somebody out there created a generator based on my 10/24/19 post on customizing dragons.  Whoever you are............very cool! 

So, I must be in the mood for dragons seeing as I have another post on them coming up.....

Monday, November 18, 2019

Add Gems.

For this post, I drew heavily from the "reputed magical properties of gems" listed in the 1E DMs Guide and turned those suggestions into mechanics.   Use these tables to turn any weapon, armor, or mundane item into a treasure (perhaps magical) based on the gem or gems that are encrusted upon it.

Roll 1d6 to determine how many gems are on the item (or multiple d6's if you really wanna go nuts.)  There is a 15% chance, for each gem, that it possesses the magical property listed next to it.  Multiple gems do stack.

Category of Gem....Roll 1d4

1.  Ornamental Stones
2.  Semi-Precious Stones
3.  Fancy Stones
4.  Gem Stones

Ornamental Stones (value is 1d4 x 10 GP).....Roll 1d6

1.  Hematite  (+1 to hit bonus)
2.  Lapis Lazuli  (+1 or 5% to retainer morale checks)
3.  Obsidian  (+1 or +5% on stealth checks)
4.  Blue Quartz  (light sources last twice as long)
5.  Tiger Eye  (+1 to initiative rolls)
6.  Turquoise  (25% more distanced traveled in a day)

Semi-Precious Stones (value is 1d4 x 50 GP).....Roll 1d6

1.  Bloodstone  (+1 to AC)
2.  Jasper  (+1 save vs. poison)
3.  Onyx  (-1 or -5% to enemy morale checks)
4.  Zircon  (+1 save vs. energy drain)
5.  Carnelian  (protection from evil lasts twice as long)
6.  Moonstone  (+1 to saves vs. lycanthropy)

Fancy Stones (value is 1d4 x 250 GP).....Roll 1d6

1.  Jade  (+1 to reaction rolls)
2.  Peridot  (+1 save vs. magic)
3.  Amethyst  (+1 on save vs. intoxication)
4.  Amber  (+1 save vs. disease)
5.  Topaz  (+1 save vs. evil)
6.  Garnet  (take 1/2 damage from fire)

Gem Stones (value is 1d4 x 1,000 GP).....Roll 1d6

1.  Diamond  (+2 on turn udead rolls)
2.  Ruby  (+2 on all saves)
3.  Emerald  (+2 hit points healed per die with curing spells)
4.  Sapphire  (targets of your spells save at -2)
5.  Opal  (+2 save vs. petrification/paralyze/polymorph)
6.  Jacinth  (+2 to damage rolls)

Just for the hell of it, let's say there is a 10% chance that the gem has even greater magical properties.....Roll 1d6  

1.  +1d4 to AC
2.  +1d4 to-hit
3.  +1d4 to all saves
4.  +3d4 hit points
5.  Can cast 1 randomly determined magic-user spell 1d4 times per day (spell level 1-4.)
6.  Can cast 1 randomly determined cleric spell 1d4 times per day (spell level 1-4.)

Let's say there's a 5% chance that a gem is cursed causing the owner to suffer ability loss while the item's in their possession....Roll 1d6

1.  -1d4 strength
2.  -1d4 constitution
3.  -1d4 intelligence
4.  -1d4 charisma
5.  -1d4 dexterity
6.  -1d4 wisdom

Wednesday, November 13, 2019


Just wanted to share a little trick that I used in Praise the Fallen to make finding and using keys a little more interesting for both DMs and players.

"A note on Keys.  Anytime the PCs encounter cultists, there is a 2 in 6 chance that one of the cultists has a key.  Anytime the PCs encounter a locked door, there is a 2 in 6 chance that a key that they have found will open that door, so long as that key has not been matched up with another door.  If a key opens a door, then that’s the only door it can open.  If you’re feeling generous, there is a 1 in 6 chance that a key is a Master-Key that opens all locks."                   
-- Praise the Fallen, pg. 2.

The reason I love this is that it adds a little excitement for everyone.  I love not knowing what's going to happen next even though I wrote the damn thing.   Let the players roll to see if a key fits a door/lock, this give them the illusion (at least) of having a little bit of control over the fate of the adventure.  You can always place specific keys in specific places, but throw in a couple using the rules above, it adds a little suspense to the game.

To help individual Keys stand out, roll to see what it's made of.....Roll 1d12

  1.  Iron
  2.  Brass
  3.  Silver*
  4.  Steel
  5.  Bronze
  6.  Gold*
  7.  Bone
  8.  Platinum*
  9.  Copper*
10.  Lead
11.  Tin
12.  Stone

*If the key is made of precious metal, it's safe to assume the key is worth 2d4 coins of that metal.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Customize Your Dragons!

Use these tables to customize Dragons and make them unique to your campaign world.

Note:  The first descriptor is regional and that's primarily up to you----It's your game, where are they from?  Real-world regional examples are:  English, Mongolian, Scandinavian, Saharan, Pacific, Carpathian, Himalayan, Atlantic, etc. The first table has generic regions if you prefer.  Choose which tables to roll on or roll on them all.  Don't be afraid to re-roll results you don't like.  In a matter of moments you should have something much more interesting than say, blue.

Results will look something like this:

Desert Gray Razor-Back (similar to a Young White, +2 Hit Dice; breathes an Acidic Cloud, animal-intelligence, chaotic, hoards only coins, 400 years old, Lairs in Ruins.)

Solamnian Yellow Mud-Mane (similar to an Adult Red, +1 Hit Dice; breathes Lines of Fire or Acid, average-intelligence, neutral, half the standard treasure, 700 years old, never sleeps, Lairs near Rivers.)

Coastal Copper-Fang (similar to a Young Green, -1 Hit Dice, breathes a Cone of Lightning, low-intelligence, chaotic, hoards only bones, 600 years old, has a tail like a Manticore, Lairs in a Swamp.)

Generic Regions, Roll 1d12...
1.  Northern
2.  Polar
3.  Desert
4.  Southern
5.  Eastern
6.  Highland
7.  Western
8.  Coastal
9.  Lowland
10.  Astral
11.  Abyssal
12.  Celestial

Color, Roll d%...
    1-3.  White
    4-6.  Golden
    7-9.  Gray
10-12.  Albino
13-15.  Red
16-18.  Silver
19-21.  Dark
22-24.  Tanned
25-27.  Bronze
28-30.  Brown
31-33.  Yellow
34-36.  Purple
37-39.  Cyan
40-42.  Black
43-45.  Bright
46-48.  Onyx
49-51.  Blue
52-54.  Spotted
55-57.  Jade
58-60.  Ebon
61-63.  Pink
64-66.  Amber
67-69.  Brass
70-72.  Orange
73-75.  Striped
76-78.  Copper
79-81.  Green
82-84.  Ivory
85-87.  Ochre
88-90.  Pale
91-93.  Azure
94-96.  Violet
97-99.  Rustic
   100.  Platinum

Descriptive Features, Roll 1d20 Once or Twice (the first column is optional)...
1.  Ridge- /  Claw
2.  Razor-/  Tail
3.  Shadow- /  Thrasher
4.  Great- /  Wing
5.  Long- /  Wyrm
6.  Mud- /  Scale
7.  Blood- /  Back
8.  Hook- /  Biter
9.  Saber- /  Neck
10.  Day- /  Glider
11.  Swift- /  Horn
12.  King- /  Mane
13.  Thunder- /  Serpent
14.  Doom- /  Drake
15.  Sin- /  Raker
16.  Lean- /  Screamer
17.  Sky- /  Stalker
18.  Iron- /  Fang
19.  Moon- /  Cutter
20.  Night- /  Tooth

Stats Similar To, Roll 1d20...
1.  Red, Young
2.           Adult
3.           Ancient
4.  Green, Young
5.              Adult
6.              Ancient
7.  Black, Young
8.              Adult
9.              Ancient
10.  White, Young
11.              Adult
12.              Ancient
13.  Blue, Young
14.            Adult
15.            Ancient
16.  Gold, Young
17.            Adult
18.            Ancient
19-20.  Choose

Hit Dice Adjustment, Roll 1d4...
1.  -2
2.  -1
3.  +1
4.  +2

Breath Weapon, Roll 1d6...
1.  Fire
2.  Poison Gas
3.  Ice
4.  Lightning
5.  Acid
6.  Fire + Another Roll

Breath Shape, Roll 1d6...
1-2.  Line
3.4.  Cone
5-6.  Cloud

Alignment, Roll 1d6...
1-2.  Lawful
3-4.  Neutral
5-6.  Chaotic

Intelligence, Roll 1d8...
1.  Animal
2.  Low
3-5.  Average
6.  High  (Magic-User level 1-4, roll 1d4)
7.  Genius  (Magic-User level 5-8, roll 1d4)
8.  Supra-Genius  (Magic-User level 5-8, roll 1d4, and Cleric level 1d4.)

Unusual Features, Roll 1d12...
1.  Arm-less, it's wings are it's arms, no claw attacks, wing attacks do an extra damage die.
2.  Two sets of wings, can fly twice as fast.
3.  1d6 extra eyes, has advantage on initiative and stealth against it has disadvantage.
4.  Extra pair of arms, gets twice the number of claw attacks.
5.  Two tails, two tail attacks.
6.  Manticore tail.
7.  Serpentine body, agile, +2 to Armor Class.
8.  Wingless (50% chance it can still fly.)
9.  Gaze petrifies.
10.  Wyvern tail.
11.  Displaced in space/time, +4 to Armor Class.
12.  Never sleeps.

Treasure Hoard, Roll 1d20...
1.  None, doesn't hoard, could care less.
2.  Only Coins.
3.  Only Gems and Jewelry
4.  Only Weapons and Armor.
5.  Only Mundane Items.
6.  Only Art Objects.
7.  Only Magic Items.
8.  Only Books.
9.  Only Bones.
10.  Half Standard Treasure.
11.  Double Standard Treasure.
12-20.  Standard Treasure.

Lairs in/on/near, Roll 1d20...
1.  Mountaintop
2.  Colossal Web
3.  Cloud
4.  Swamp
5.  Dungeon
6.  Waterfall
7.  Ruins
8.  Jungle
9.  Canyon
10.  Island
11.  Glacier
12.  River
13.  Forest
14.  Cliff
15.  Lake
16.  Moon
17.  Dune
18.  Sea
19.  God Corpse
20.  Volcano

To determine the dragon's age roll 2d6 x 100.

Remember to adjust XP based on additional Hit Dice and abilities.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

How About a Little Nightbane?

I have this love for Palladium and every now and then I must toy with it.  Here's a character I rolled up for Palladium's Nightbane.  She has bio-mechanical, plated, plastic skin and a bio-mechanical limb gun.  The creation process also produced insectoid wings (and potentially much more as Palladium's creation process is often generous, but I prefer more grounded characters with only a few powers and skills) which I completely forgot about when drawing the picture, perhaps they unfold out of her plated shoulders.....

The rules for the gun-limb state that you have to find real bullets and jam them into your flesh doing 1d6 S.D.C. (Structural Damage Capacity of which she has 154) damage per bullet(!) storing up to 100 rounds.  Cool, gritty.  She has to constantly scavenge for ammo and fully loading is detrimental to her health.  In a game of survival, this is a nice touch.

Nightbane is a horror/superhero game where, like mutants, one day (Dark Day, as it's called) the characters (all orphans) transform into something potentially horrific with a connection to another place called the Nightlands, which is ruled by Nightlords who now secretly dominate Earth.  In the game, you're supposed to be able to transform back and forth between your human form (Facade) and your monstrous form (Morphus), but I prefer the notion that your transformation is permanent; you are what you are, now deal with it.  And it might be truly weird and/or grotesque.

So how about some stats...

O.C.C.(Occupational Character Class): Nightbane
Level: 1
Alignment: Scrupulous

I.Q.(Intelligence): 9
M.E. (Mental Endurance): 7
M.A.(Mental Affinity): 15
P.S. (Physical Strength): 19 -- Supernatural Strength
P.P. (Physical Prowess): 14
P.E. (Physical Endurance): 27
P.B. (Physical Beauty): 15
SPD (Speed): 22

H.F. (Horror Factor): 9

S.D.C. (Structural Damage Capacity): 154
H.P. (Hit Points): 54
P.P.E. (Potential Psychic Energy): 119

Initiative: +1 (optionally I like to give a bonus for a high Speed score using the P.P. bonus line which would raise this to +5.  You can see this option on my Rifts Character Sheet on the blog sidebar which is otherwise formatted 99.99% by-the-book.)

Hand-To-Hand: Basic
Attacks: 4
Strike: +2
Parry: +2
Dodge: +2/+3 when flying
Roll with punch: +5

Restrained Punch: 1d6+4
Punch: 2d6+4
Power Punch: 4d6+4

Insectoid Wings: +15 S.D.C., +1 H.F., +1 Dodge, Speed:40 (about 30 mph)

Bio-mechanical Plastic Skin: +20 S.D.C., +1 H.F.

Bio-mechanical gun-limb: +1 H.F., +3 to strike (+1 for a burst) 6d6 damage.

Saves: Coma/Death: +24%, Disease: +4, Horror: +4, Magic: +12, Poison: +6, Psionics: +3

For the purposes of this character I kept skills to a bare minimum.  She has no Physical Skills and no Weapon Proficiencies (other than her gun-limb) having only Computer Operation: 50%, and Programming: 35%.  Anyone who knows Palladium knows how bogged down you can get with skills, I feel (usually) that most characters have plenty going on without them.  I love Palladium, but I'm definitely a minimalist with it.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Dream Goes Like This...

Night time in the city, here in Detroit, maybe, I don't know.  Walking up fire-escape style stairs between buildings.  There is a girl with me, both of us mid-20's.  We come to a rooftop directly attached to other buildings.  People, maybe a dozen, hanging out, some leaning up against brick walls.  The place seems semi-secret.  Not somewhere I would normally go.

Then, a rabid, Nosferatu looking vampire comes up the stairs and starts savaging people.  The girl and I keep to the shadows.  Several people fall before something else shows up, materializing out of the darkness near a wall.  He's dressed nicely, tuxedo, top-hat and cloak.  Pale skin, long black hair, kind of like Vampire Hunter D, floating, you can't see his feet.  His fancy cloak opens up and a dozen long tendrils shoot out and latch onto the vampire, sucking it dry of all the blood it just leeched.  The vampire collapses dead and the well-dressed stranger floats away.

Had that dream about 20 years ago.

Blood Stalker

AC:  as plate +2 (can't be harmed by non-magical weapons)

HD:  9

Attacks:  1d6+6 tendrils (+9 to hit, long reach) each one does 1d4 damage and heals the Blood Stalker the same amount.

Stealth:  5 in 6 (in low lighting the Blood Stalker can use stealth to practically disappear)

Save As:  Fighter: 9

Move:  standard (hovers)

AL:  chaotic

Morale:  11

XP:  3,000

Sunday, August 18, 2019

The Succubus...

We all know what a Succubus does.....

D&D has never done this demon justice (nor has any other game that I'm aware of.)  They're essentially just "pretty" monsters.   Maybe they "charm" you into not attacking that round, and maybe they "kiss" you to drain some levels or hit points.  Sure, they should have those capabilities, but only as a last resort.  In fact, if you are awake and face to face with a Succubus, then things have gone terribly wrong.....for the Succubus.

One thing D&D kind of lacks, is demonic possession.  And while the Succubus doesn't exactly "possess," it certainly "haunts," but not a place, rather, a dream.  For this reason, it's one of those classic demons of fantasy and horror that's hard to get right.  How often do you focus on the PCs while they're sleeping?  But, you don't have to.  It's not about the sultry details of the dreams, it's about how they affect the PC during the days that follow.

Succubus should behave like a demonic spirit, "haunting" and feeding off a victim until that victim expires.  Why they do this is up to you, but a common theme seems to involve the creation of Cambions.  Encountering a Succubus should be like catching a disease or a curse.  It's an affliction, and one that should haunt and ultimately kill you.

Using a Succubus

A Succubus strikes when the target sleeps, usually at night, but not necessarily.  This is best used when the PCs remain in a certain area for extended periods, such as in town, or during wilderness travel.  Designate an area (such as a group of hexes) as the demon's hunting grounds.   When the PCs have entered the danger zone, at some point during the day have all the PCs save vs. spells.  Have them make this save every day that they're in the danger zone until someone fails.  The PC that fails the worst will be the target.  

That night, the Succubus does her thing and the PC is essentially under her spell.  All you're going to tell the PC is that they wake up feeling like shit.  Any healing, spell slots, or abilities they expected to gain from their rest doesn't occur, nor will it while they're under this spell/curse.  

The second night, everything from the first night applies, plus the PC loses 1d4 hit points.  All healing spells on the PC only heal half the amount and the PC cannot be healed beyond the hit point total that they woke up with.

The third night and all subsequent nights, everything from the first two nights applies, plus the PC now has disadvantage (or -4) on all attack rolls, if the PC is a spell-caster, their targets make saving throws with advantage (or +4) or get a save where none was before (such as with sleep.)

On any given morning, you may grant the PC an un-penalized save vs spells to see if they remember "haunting erotic dreams."  Once they make this save, they should realize what's going on.

 Keep it clean, keep it vague, don't get graphic,

Hopefully, the PCs will start brainstorming a solution, because if this is a low-level character, they're going to die soon.  The PCs may have already used some sort of Divination spell to figure it out.  The PCs may have also decided to observe the afflicted PC while they sleep, in which case they'll simply witness the PC having some sort of nightmare.  Forcefully waking them up doesn't change anything, as with any dream, the whole thing could have occurred in mere seconds.

Exorcising the Succubus

Exorcising the Succubus must be done while the target is sleeping, first by casting a Bless spell on the target followed by a Remove Curse spell.  Seeing as the Succubus is the curse, she gets a saving throw to resist but initially does so at disadvantage because of the Bless spell.

Note: At this point the Succubus is still a spirit and cannot be seen, but you may want to have her vocally taunt those trying to exorcise her.  Describe her voice as a mixture of whispers and screams, both angry and seductive, coming from all directions, sometimes right in a person's ear.

If the Succubus saves successfully, another Remove Curse spell can be attempted, but the Succubus no longer saves at disadvantage unless the victim is once again Blessed.  So it goes:  Bless, Remove Curse, Saving Throw.  A Succubus is highly resistant to magic so this exorcism could go on for awhile.  In fact, you could run out of spells and have to try again the next night, that is, if the PC is still alive.  

If the Succubus fails her saving throw, she is ripped away from her victim (who remains in a state of sleep paralysis, waking up only when the Succubus is finally driven off) and now becomes visible in a physical or semi-corporeal form (your choice, it's just aesthetics.)  At this point she may flee or she may be so enraged that she actually attacks.  In any case, she almost certainly won't fight to the death so check morale at 1/2 and 1/4 hit points.  For Turning purposes, I suggest treating Succubi like Vampires.

Keep in mind that the PCs might not have access to the required spells and may have to hire a relatively high level cleric, perhaps at 500 GP per level of the cleric plus 200 GP per Bless spell cast and 1,000 GP per Remove Curse spellYou can use whatever rates that you deem fit, but it should not be cheap.

When all is said and done, the afflicted PC may now begin the normal healing process for your campaign.  If you want this ordeal to have lasting effects, you can have the PC make a save vs. paralysis and for every 5 points of failure, they permanently lose 1 point of constitution.  However, you can balance this out by giving them an equal bonus to charisma, as perhaps they now have, just a touch, of diabolical charm.

So, what if the target of the Succubus is female?  Use an Incubus, or not.  KNOW YOUR PLAYERS and once again DON'T BE WEIRD. 

Sample Succubus Stats

AC:  as plate  (can't be harmed by non-magical weapons)

HD:  6d8+6

Attacks:  2 claws, 1d4 each, or special (see below)

Special:  Can cast charm and shape-change at will.  Can also become ethereal at will, but must materialize to attack or use abilities.  On a successful "hit" she can kiss her target doing 1d4+1 damage, healing herself an equal amount of hit points.

Save As:  Fighter: 7 (+5 vs. magic)

Move:  standard (flight)

AL:  chaotic

Morale:  8

XP:  1,050

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Abstract Settings: Zeti-Nocularus.


Abstract works of art remind me of fractured memories.....

Zeti-Nocularus started out as a sketch for something else that wasn't quite working.  It's a fragment of some place, floating through the Astral Plane, destined to collide with the petrified remains of a forgotten goddess.  Its cities are geographically reminiscent of Sigil, in such that when you look skyward you see rooftops miles above. I see Black plate-mail as the dominant form of armor with halberds and crossbows featured prominently.  It's a surreal place of odd angles, strange landmarks, and underground trench-warfare.

I've planted some seeds here.....

Fully armored Nuvians and Zetites clash underground.

Listening to:  "Bayreuth Return" by Klaus Schulz on Timewind.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Liven Up Those Corridors!

Dungeons are a thing of beauty, but too often I see empty, endless looping corridors where nothing ever happens save for the occasional wandering monster.  Mazes are awesome, options are great, but what is beautiful, isn't always playable.

Take Map A above.  All good right?  Nothing you haven't seen before.  But unless something happens in those passageways, you're going to waste a lot of time slogging from room 1 to 2 (especially if someone's mapping.)  It might look cool, might be fun to draw, might look fun to play, but it kind of isn't.  You could just do this.....

Map B might seem dull, but it's gonna make your session run a lot smoother.  You just saved about 20 minutes of unnecessary slog.  But that's no fun.  You want that dungeon to be a labyrinth.  You want that sense of exploration.  You want those players cautiously peeking around every corner.  You want them interested in the entire place.....not just the rooms.  Too often, hallways are just time-killers.

They shouldn't be.

Almost every time the players turn a corner something interesting should happen.  This doesn't have to be a fight, just something interesting.  Dungeons should not only be places of danger, but places of wonder.

Now look at Map C below.  I've added a fountain, a one-way door, an alter, a statue, a portcullis, a curtain, some stairs, and a huge pile of rubble -- all outside of rooms.   Not everything will be dangerous or meaningful, but the players sure as hell don't know that.  Every turn of a corner becomes interesting now.

Many of these objects should do something.  There should be a trick, something hidden, a treasure, a trap, a penalty, or a perk.  At a minimum on Map C, the players will have 2 encounters while traveling between the two rooms. These encounters can make sense or not make sense, but most of them should adhere to the theme of the dungeon.

And that's all it takes to liven up the place.  Now that small, 2-room section of dungeon is packed full of goodness.

Side note Your map doesn't have to be so finished -- you're the only one looking at it!  Consider  Map D, it took a minute to draw.  Fill in the margins with notes and stats and doodles and you'll be good to go with a dungeon just as fascinating to behold as the most professionally drawn piece!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

...And Hear the Lamentations of The Flame Princess

This has to be one of my better drawings.....4 years ago, wow.

Lamentations of the Flame Princess.  When I first encountered this game I wasn't quite in tune with the OSR.  I remember flipping through the Grindhouse Edition and thinking WTF???

I didn't buy it.

Later, I flipped through A Red and Pleasant Land and thought, WTF???

I didn't buy it.

Eventually the genius and creativity of the OSR hit me.  Many years, in vain, I spent searching for the perfect system (not limited to D&D) when I realized that anything I wanted to do, can be done with some version of an earlier system.  All of those thick tomes I'd been collecting, collectively became obsolete.

The OSR is packed with awesome stuff.  It has changed how I view (and purchase) RPGs.  If all gaming companies suddenly disappeared, gaming would not.  The OSR would thrive.  The DIY genie was out of the bottle long before I ever took notice.

What I like about LotFP:

  • D6 skills.  While LotFP didn't exactly invent this, it utilizes it nicely.
  • Turn Undead as a spell.  I didn't like this at first, but now I do. 
  • No fireball or lightning bolt.  Magic-Users feel more like practitioners of Black Magic as opposed to super-heroes blasting their way through the dungeon.
  • An Encumbrance system that you might actually use.
  • A cool Language system.  You don't know what languages you speak until you encounter them (a little meta-gamey, but cool.)
  • Truly dangerous Summoning rules.
  • Incredible Books (ok, some are strange as fuck.)   I now own many of them after initially saying, WTF.

The official LotFP character sheet is a good one and so is the modified Veins of the Earth sheet.  (I consider Veins of the Earth to be one of the best gaming books ever made.)   For the hell of it, I modified my Rynath OSR sheet to LotFP specs.  It's incomplete -- no encumbrance stuff, but that's ok.  I did this awhile ago as more of a tribute.

Been blogging for a year now.

Good times.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Boba Peck!

So, the other day a friend misheard me.

The result was...........

Boba Peck!

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Clerics and Ascension

Would you play a character if you knew there was an ever increasing chance, when leveling up, that something "off-screen" could remove that character from play?

I've been toying with the notion that as a character levels up, background (campaign) forces would ultimately retire that character from play.  High level characters would fade away (or burn out) into myth and legend.  The campaign would remain relatively low powered and gritty.  Granted, most campaigns fizzle out long before this anyway; most aren't much more than one-shots.  But damn, if you knew your character might have a bad-ass ending, you might actually look forward to it.

Fighters may become generals or lords of a realm or simply disappear, fate unknown, or suffer a sad, crippling injury.  Thieves could become guild-masters, or finally get "taken out" by assassins.  Wizards vanish to other worlds or transform into something not human and not playable or their tower explodes due to some mystical experiment, or they go mad.  Clerics could ascend...

What if, starting at say, 5th level??, 9th level??, your Cleric had a certain percentage chance of ascending, being called home to their deity to serve a higher purpose?  So you roll the dice...5%, 10%???...and if you roll below that number, you now begin your path to Ascension.  First, you become a Saint, for whatever you want that to mean--you glow, have a halo, etc., perhaps gain an ability.  Every level thereafter, you have an ever increasing chance of Ascension.

If you roll Ascension you don't immediately ascend; it will be triggered during play.  You could maybe set a target of 3 critical rolls.  The third time that you happen to roll a 20 during an intense, most likely combat situation, something thoroughly dramatic happens, such as all foes present are immediately struck down by your holy magnificence, after which, the rest of the party watches stunned, as you gloriously rise up and away, disappearing from the mortal world forever.

It would be memorable.

But now you have to roll up a new character.

Players would have to agree, from the beginning, that such a thing is possible.

This sort of reminds me of the Juicer Class from Rifts.  If you're not familiar, Juicers are chemically enhanced super-soldiers that live a maximum of 8 years (as a Juicer) -- no exceptions.  Rifts never came up with a mechanic for this though (at least not that I'm aware of, perhaps it's in the book, Juicer Uprising), but Savage Rifts has a mechanic for it.  The notion of playing a character with a limited life-span, by default, adds a certain level of excitement to the game.

Of course, one could argue that every character in the OSR already has a limited life-span......

Here's an example focusing on Lawful Clerics (I'll address Chaotic Clerics Descending Damnation some other time and perhaps similar rules for the other classes)


Starting at 7th level, roll for Sainthood (15% chance which increases by 10% per level thereafter)
If Sainthood is attained, roll 1d6 on the following table for something beneficial:

  1. Gain 1d6 extra Hit Points.
  2. Gain +2 Charisma (is that a Halo I see...?).
  3. Heal and extra 2d4 Hit Points when casting cure spells.
  4. Turn Undead as 2 level higher.
  5. +2 to all Saving Throws
  6. +3 to all damage vs. Chaos(evil).

Once Sainthood is attained, you have a 10% chance when you reach your next level for Ascension to take place.  The chance of Ascension increases by 10% per level thereafter.  Once Ascension occurs roll 1d6 on the following table for something beneficial:

  1. Your attacks count as magic.
  2. Your blood heals.  For every 1d4 Hit Points you sacrifice, 2 Hit Points or 1 Condition/Disease is healed.  
  3. Your can sprout ethereal, angelic wings allowing you to fly a number of rounds equal to your level per day.
  4. Your presence inspires, all those within 10' of you can attempt to Turn Undead as a 1st level cleric so long as they have a Holy Symbol.
  5. You are immune to fear.
  6. Roll twice on the Sainthood table, results are cumulative.

As stated above, actual Ascension is triggered during play.  You now have a time-clock of rolling 3 natural 20's during combat (or some other situation deemed "stressful")  This could theoretically happen in one session, but will most likely take several.  You could also raise the number of crits needed if you feel 3 is too few.  Just imagine finally getting to that point, knowing that the next 20 you roll is the end...

When Ascension occurs, you dramatically achieve victory over your current dilemma -- all foes immediately present are destroyed as Holy Light radiates from your body.  Then you rise up into the sky (even in a dungeon) and disappear from play forever.  Perhaps they return one day as an Avatar???

This is all theory-crafting. Tinker with fact I'm interested to see what other people come up with.

And now a friendly reminder, if you haven't already, be sure to check out my dark, angelic themed modules below.  Both received very positive reviews...

Sision Tower Reviews:

Sision Tower

Praise the Fallen Review:

Praise the Fallen

I've done some art for my next project, but true inspiration hasn't yet hit.

It will.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

New Kickstarter From Knight Owl Publishing

Knight Owl Publishing has launched their first kickstarter...

From Knight Owl Publishing...

"The book is packed full of awesome role-playing goodies including:

  • Annalida: a complete island setting with maps, descriptions, encounters, NPCs, treasure, and more!
  • Two brand new OSR classes: the Worm Witch and the Worm Warden!
  • A comprehensive section on Worm Magic, with 42 spells!
  • A mini-bestiary full of worms!
  • Tons of the most amazing artwork we've ever done!

In addition, we are super excited to announce that Worm Witch: The Life and Death of Belinda Blood will be the first ever official third-party sourcebook for Necrotic Gnome's insanely awesome Old School Essentials ruleset."

For those not familiar with Knight Owl Publishing, here's a link to their product page on DriveThruRPG.

And here they are on Facebook:

Looks pretty cool, check it out!

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Luridian Assassin

Luridian Assassin

AC: as chain (breast plate, gorget, and face-plate)
HD: 5d8 (30 hp)
  • 2 with a Luridian long-sword+7 to hit, 
  • Damage: 1d8+2
  • Critical Hit on a natural 1819 or 20

Initiative: +4
Stealth: 4 in 6.
Save As: fighter 10
AL: neutral 
Morale: 11
XP: 350  
If the Luridian wins initiative she will size-up her opponent, letting them act first, thus gaining advantage on her first strike.

Luridian Assassins have their eyes burned out at birth, yet somehow they can see…

They will never use magic or poison.

Nobody seems to know why or how they choose their targets.

About the drawing  
The more I draw in ink, the more I want to.  This was a pure ink sketch, no pencils or digital altering (except to remove my signature; didn't like the way it looked for some reason, and I've been experimenting with a new signature involving GP for Graphite Prime.)  Anyhow, I'm beginning to love the chaos of drawing ONLY in ink.

R.I.P. James Smith.

Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game Part Two: Cap vs Spidey -- Fight!

Fresh off my review of the Marvel Multiverse Role-Playing Game I'm testing the combat rules with a fight between Captain America and Sp...