Friday, November 17, 2017

Friday Freebie: Talislanta - Still NO Elves!

In 1987, every game was beginning to look a lot like another. Just about every fantasy game system was chock full of halflings, gnomes, dwarves, and of course.. elves! So when an ad appeared in Dragon Magazine that said, "No Elves!", many players new and old perked up.

Bard Games, published, The Chronicles of Talislanta, the first in a series of books about a role playing game called, Talislanta. The fantastic artwork of P.D. Breeding-Black and a quirky world setting influenced by the works of author Jack Vance soon earned the game something of a cult following in certain circles, as well as some pretty good reviews.

Since then, Talislanta has been through 5 different editions, including a D20 edition, and a 10th Year Anniversary edition. The background information for the setting is simply amazing. And now, celebrating its 30th year, every edition of the game rules has been made available to you, FREE of charge.

You can download everything from, HERE.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Optional Rules: Ability Checks and Fatigue


Not all OSR game systems have skill lists, or even formal rules for professions. Like the original game system they spawn from, the Referee usually makes a quick ruling and players then roll dice accordingly. Often these rulings are based upon the attributes of a given character, i.e. Strength, Intelligence, etc. However, this informal system can quickly degrade into a series of endless dice rolls, without taking into account the eventual fatigue and declining rate of returns for doing so. The following is a simple system proposed to help balance over-use, or even abuse, of rolling against attributes.

A character is considered to be able to perform any number of reasonably easy to moderate tasks throughout the day without rolling Checks against their attributes. Only when performing a task that requires concentrated effort that challenges a particular attribute will a Check need to be made. Basically, any task that requires major effort by a character, or one that has consequences should they fail, require a Check. 

Usually a character may roll a Check against a particular attribute with a score of 9 to 12, up to three times a day before becoming Fatigued. Characters with weaker attributes, ranging from 3 to 8, may only roll two such Checks. While characters with stronger attributes of 13 to 18, may Check up to four times per day. Once a character has used up their Checks for the day, or has failed a Check roll, they are considered Fatigued and any subsequent rolls will be made at a penalty (decided upon by the Referee) which will progressively get worse for every attempt that is made after.


A Referee may decide that any character making Checks against their Prime Requisite attribute (for their class), may do so an additional two times per day.

Once a character has become Fatigued from over-using any one attribute, they are considered Fatigued for any and all other Checks against other attributes for that day as well. Thus, a character that has spent the day lifting rocks, isn't going to have a clear head for figuring out riddles that evening. Or if a diplomat has had to spend all day in Court schmoozing (Checking against Charisma), they certainly will be too knackered to play a challenging game of darts later.

Fatigue lasts until a character has rested for eight (8) hours, after which they have recovered and may begin anew.

Referee's are encouraged to create their own Check system, but in our home campaign, we use the following:

Roll 2d6

  • Strenuous task requires an 8 or better to succeed
  • Difficult task requires a 10 or better to succeed
  • A very difficult task requires an 11 or better to succeed

Checks are made whenever the Referee decides that individual character is challenged. If a task does not challenge the character when performing it, there is no need for a Check roll to succeed. It is possible for some tasks to be considered a challenge for a character with a weaker attribute, but not one with a stronger attribute, and thus will not require a Check from the stronger character.

For example - Bob (Strength 9) is lifting hay bales for four hours. This is back breaking work for him, so the Referee asks Bob's player to roll a Check. Aragrond (Strength 15) is working beside Bob, the Referee decides Aragrond only needs to roll a Check at the end of eight hours.

Alternatively, some Referees may take a character's attribute score and use it as a percentage base to see if the character succeeds at a task. This alternative uses a sliding scale as follows:

Roll % Dice

  • Strenuous task requires a roll of Attribute Score x 4% or less to succeed
  • Difficult task requires a roll of Attribute Score x 3% or less to succeed
  • Very difficult task requires a roll of Attribute Score x 2% or less to succeed
  • Impossible task requires a roll of Attribute Score x 1% or less to succeed

Friday, November 10, 2017

Friday Freebie - Faster Monkey Games

Faster Monkey Games began operations in February of 2010, but sadly closed shop in November of 2016. However, the Sparks Brothers, were generous enough to make their entire Product line available FREE to the gaming community!

Originally these adventures and game aids were created for  the Labyrinth Lord system and Mutant Futures, but they can still be used with most OSR retro-clones of the original fantasy role-playing game system.

Detailed descriptions of each product are available at DriveThruRPG, where you may download them free of charge.


Ignore Free Gems and Free Jewels, as these are limited preview products for All The Treasures Of The World, Gems and Jewels.

A Mother's Touching Request

Recently, on social media, we came across the following message -

Julie Waggoner (Wyatt's Mother): "Last week my 17 year old son Wyatt Ferris took his own life after suffering a traumatic brain injury. He was very active in the gaming community, both as player and GM. In order to show our endless love for Wyatt and to honor his countless hours at the gaming tables, we're asking GMs and storytellers around the world to add Wyatt as an NPC in your games. Wyatt was a paladin, cavalier, war priest, rogue, swashbuckler, investigator, Hellknight bodyguard, and more. Please see the photos here of Wyatt and use the hashtags #Play4Wyatt #WyattNPC so we can follow his continued adventures. Thank you for helping this broken hearted mother mend after this tragic loss. I love the gaming community for starting this for my son. My Twitter is @baddicebad."

Well, Julie, we've heard your call, and are currently working on a character for Wyatt to place in our long-running campaign. It is always a tragedy losing someone, especially one so young. Our hearts and prayers go out to you and your loved ones during this difficult time. Rest assured that many of us in the gaming community will immortalize young Wyatt in our various ways, as tribute to his spirit and passion. Thank you for reaching out with your beautiful request. We are honored to participate

#Play4Wyatt #WyattNPC









Dear Readers, if you, or anyone you know, are in need of someone to talk to, please don't ignore the warning signs. Seek help. ALL calls are confidential. 1-800-273-8255


Thursday, November 2, 2017

DM's Toolbox: Polyhedral Results Using Only D6

Okay, you've grabbed everything for the big game and drive across town to where the group is gathered, only to find that you've left all your dice at home! Don't panic. We here at Portcullis, have you covered. All you'll need are two standard six-sided dice, commonly found in any board game.



Generating numbers 1-2 (1d2)

Roll one six-sided die (1d6)
A result of 1, 2, or 3 = 1
A result of 4, 5, or 6 = 2


Generating numbers 1-3 (1d3)

Roll one six-sided die (1d6)
A result of 1, or 2 = 1
A result of 3, or 4 = 2
A result of 5, or 6 = 3


Generating numbers 1-4 (1d4)

Roll one six-sided die (1d6)
A result of 1, 2, 3, or 4 = 1-4
A result of 5, or 6 = ignore and re-roll


Generating numbers 1-5 (1d5)

Roll one six-sided die (1d6)
A result of 1, 2, 3, 4,or 5 = 1-5
A result of 6 = ignore and re-roll


Generating numbers 1-6 (1d6)

Roll one six-sided die (1d6)


Generating numbers 1-8 (1d8)

Roll two six-sided dice separately (or two dice of different colors at the same time)


First die = 1d4



Second die =1d2

A result of 1 = +0 to first 1d4 result (1-4)
A result of 2 = +4 to first 1d4 result (5-8)


Generating numbers 1-10 (1d10)

Roll two six-sided dice separately (or two dice of different colors at the same time)


First die = 1d5



Second die =1d2

A result of 1 = +0 to first 1d5 result (1-5)
A result of 2 = +5 to first 1d5 result (6-10)


Generating numbers 1-12 (1d12)

Roll two six-sided dice separately (or two dice of different colors at the same time)


First die = 1d6



Second die =1d2

A result of 1 = +0 to first 1d6 result (1-6)
A result of 2 = +6 to first 1d6 result (6-10)


Generating numbers 1-20 (1d20)

Roll two six-sided dice separately (or two dice of different colors at the same time)


First die = 1d5



Second die =1d4

A result of 1 = +0 to first 1d5 result (1-5)
A result of 2 = +5 to first 1d5 result (6-10)
A result of 3 = +10 to first 1d5 result (11-15)
A result of 4 = +15 to first 1d5 result (16-20)


Generating numbers 1-100 (1d100)

Use 1d10 method twice


First 1d10, subtract 1 for 0-9

Multiply by 10 (0, 10, 20, 30, 40, 50,  60, 70, 80, 90)


Second 1d10 add to first 1d10 result (0-90)

Total 0-99 (0=100)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

A special Thanks goes out to, Joel Priddy, from over on, An Abominable Fancy, for laying this out in InDesign, and turning it into a downloadable PDF (HERE). Joel, also improved the original method of generating 1d100. Outstanding!

New Magic Item: Potion of Spell Holding

New Magic Item

Potion of Spell Holding

Unlike other potions, this potion acts as a storage medium. Simply cast, or have someone else cast, a spell upon the potion, and it will store that spell indefinitely, until used. Only one spell may ever be cast and stored by these potions. Casting another spell on a potion already holding another spell could be dangerous, depending upon the spell being cast. Now here's the tricky part.. anyone may use the potion, but that does not mean they know what spell is stored within it!

If the spell cast upon the potion is a personal spell, designed to affect the caster, then the potion must be opened and consumed. If the spelled stored is designed to affect another, or an object, the potion must be consumed by, poured upon, or shattered in the vicinity of the target.

Example: A potion storing the Shield spell must be drunk by the user. A potion of Polymorph Other must be consumed by the target, or otherwise expose the target to the bottle's contents. A potion storing Fireball would have to be thrown at a target, which will be engulfed by the explosion the moment the potion bottle breaks.

A Potion of Spell Holding, is indistinguishable from other potions. It must be properly identified by a knowledgeable source. When found randomly, there is a 75% chance (3 in 4) that the potion is free and not yet storing a spell within it. The Referee is encouraged to determine whatever spell is stored in the potion if it is determined it has already been used to do so.

Should a potion containing an attack spell be opened, that holder becomes ground zero for whatever effect occurs!!!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Myths & Monsters: The Ogre Magnus

The Ogre Magnus, is not a singular species, but a category of similar creatures that share certain characteristics. Found all over the known world, it is speculated that they share a common ancestry with one another. Despite their commonalities, they appear in almost endless varieties.

While Ogre Magnus are classified as a type of giant, they are not actually giants. Giants proper, are descended from ancient lineages with strong ties to the Elemental Planes of Power. Ogre Magnus are aberrations, infused with frightening and chaotic arcane powers. Their very existence would not be possible if not for the powerful mystical forces that permeate their very being.

All Ogre Magnus possess the ability to change into human form, even if only for a limited duration. When appearing human, they are nearly impossible to reveal without magical aid. Some individuals have lived for many years, disguised as humans, and even taking unsuspecting human wives. Eventually these long-held deceptions are discovered, either by accident or through carelessness.. at least, according to popular stories.

Legend has it that Ogre Magnus can accidentally be reverted back into their natural form, by exposure to simple circumstances particularly weakening to that specific creature. Some have been revealed after having consuming too much wine, or seeing their reflection in a silvered mirror, or upon hearing the wail of a crying infant, or tolling of church bells. The Referee is encouraged to be creative with these weaknesses, keeping in mind that each specific Ogre has only one such weakness apiece. An Ogre will attempt to flee if they feel their disguise slipping.

Curiously, there are no known instances where an Ogre Magni has ever taken the form of any other humanoid, or near-human species, other than human. Some can, and do, take the forms of common animals to move among people. These alternate forms are also subject to the Ogre's particular weakness that can force them back into their natural form.

All Ogre Magnus share certain common powers, as outlined in the Monster Section of whatever game system the Referee is using, but this does not mean that they can not possess additional powers. It is not unusual for these creatures to possess natural protections, or adaptations, that will allow them to live in dangerous and harmful environments, like the rim of a volcano, deep under the sea, in pitch black caverns, or even in castles where gravity is completely reversed and everything is upside down.

Particularly powerful, Ogre Magnus, are known as, Ogre Primus. These powerful beings will possess levels in magic-user, or cleric, with corresponding additional hit dice as well. It is not unknown for such Primes to rival Storm Giants in prowess and abilities.

Powerful Ogre Magnus, that have established strongholds, will often be served by a Djinn, or Efreet (never both). They do not accept lesser Ogres as servants, though they may allow such to serve in their armies.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Optional Rules: Wands

The wand and staff are two of the most commonly recognized symbols of the magic-user. Whether simple or ornate, they are a symbol of status and  education within the arcanist community. They also serve several more functional and practical purposes as well. This article will focus on Wands.

A wand is the first basic tool an apprentice ever learns to craft. It is both an educational and personal experience. It takes months for the student to research, gather materials, and create their first initial wand. There can be no shortcuts in this intense process. Failure to craft a wand has spelled the end of many hopeful arcanist's aspirations before their careers have even begun.

The particulars of crafting a wand are left to each individual Referee. Because wands factor into even the most rural and humble of magical traditions, it is suggested that monetary costs not be a factor, but focus more on study and difficulty procuring the necessary materials. Of course, this process is already considered to have been successful for any character of the first level.

If a Referee wishes, it is suggested that a character crafting their first wand, roll as though learning a new spell, on the Intelligence Table. A bonus may be granted for extra preparation and quality of materials used on the student's behalf.

An arcanist will use their wand throughout their studies. Without their personal wand, they will be unable to perform many of the important experiments or cast the basic cantrips and glamours which are necessary to advance in their craft.

A magic-user is able to focus ambient personal mystical energies through their wands, allowing them to cast an arcane bolt up to  30 feet, doing 1d3 points of damage. Each day, they may cast as many bolts as points of Intelligence as the character has. Due to long familiarity and habit, a caster can draw, or re-holster, their wand without use of an action, but must have their hand free to do so.This ruling was put in place to make casters a bit more "magical", so they wouldn't have to stand around basically throwing lawn darts at opponents. 

If the Referee allows magic-users to cast Cantrips in their campaign (See upcoming article.. hint.. hint), then their personal wand will the be the only component needed to cast these simple spells.

A wand can not be used by anyone but its original creator. The Referee may rule that another magic-user may use a wand that is not their own, but only to cast arcane bolts, and with the penalty of taking 1 hit point of damage for each bolt cast through the strange wand.

How ornate or elaborate a wand is, has no bearing on game mechanics, but simply reflects the personal tastes of the item's creator. Referees may allow a magic-user to sense the general distance and direction of their personal wand up to a predetermined range, if they so desire.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Myths & Monsters: Bonnacon


Bonnacon (also Bonacon)

HD 3
AC 7 [12]
Atk 1 headbutt (1d6)
Move 18
Save 14
AL N
CL/XP 4/120
Special: Caustic Spray - Cone 30' long x 20' wide


The Bonnacon resembles a great bull, but with a shaggy mane like a horse. Its horns curl backwards, making them all but useless for goring in defense.

When startled or attacked, a Bonnacon will turn and attempt to flee, releasing a putrid spray of liquid caustic manure. This spray will cause 3d4 points of acid damage, and if a victim fails their saving throw they will be incapacitated by the stench for 1d10 rounds.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Adventure Seed: The Wyvern & Gnome

The Wyvern & Gnome, is a fortified inn, situated along a stretch of prosperous trade road that comes into close proximity to a lucrative river route. The goods and services exchanged between these two routes pass directly through the area controlled by the garrison stationed at the Wyvern.

Image Copyright - Maciej Zagorski, The Forge Studios
Important NPCs:

Strega Hammerhand - The resident smith, Strega can make or repair, tools, weapons, and armor, made of iron or steel. His apprentice does the small stuff, like nails, chains, and horseshoes. His left hand was lost to a gator down by the river. It has since been replaced by a mount for various attachments, used for holding, and working on the forge.

Ssel Orm - One of the lizardmen river traders. Ssel, speaks very good common so he was chosen to broker deals between the warm-bloods and his own people. If anyone needs something moved along the river, Ssel, is the one to see. While the Lizardmen care little for the "legality" of items transported, they do charge accordingly.

Ozimondi the Alchemist - A human magic-user and alchemist, Ozimondi's duties include assaying the content and purity of metals, and appraising the value of rare and exotic items for tax and sale purposes.

Quetar the Collector - Secretly a cleric of the God of Thieves, Quetar, poses as buyer and seller of rare and valuable items. Aside from his illicit fencing of purloined items, he actually does a brisk business in legitimate antiquities and rarities. Thieves and smugglers know very well not to attempt to double-cross him.


Rai Ak the Necromancer - Exploiting a loophole in local laws, Rai Ak, deals in the sale of zombie and skeleton servants as laborers and servants. Because his business deals with the dead, it isn't considered slavery. Powerful merchants and nobles, that profit from the use of these workers, ensure that this unsavory trade is unhindered and remains completely legal in this region. (Recognizable local corpses are boiled to strip the flesh, and raised as skeletons.)

Mezgahn of the Purple Cloak - A failed magic-user apprentice, Mezgahn, turned to stage magic and thievery. He uses his "illusions" and trickery to pull of heists and con games. At no time does he bilk locals, maintaining a reputation of honesty and trustworthiness.

Tenam from Afar - A barbarian warrior from elsewhere, Tenam, has no filters. He doesn't sugar-coat anything, nor tolerate deception. 

Gaithkrac the Pious - Specializing in healing, curing, and removing various conditions, and even curses, Gaithkrac, can not use any other types of magic.

Philha Chor - Runs the local trading post within the Wyvern & Gnome.

Ael Ormo - Runs the tavern within the Wyvern.

Raylokra - Retired adventurer. Does the occasional odd job if it peaks his interest.

Ithsa - Retired adventuress. On and off again companion of Xorsa, she also occasionally keeps company with Raylokra. A powerful enchantment from a previous adventure keeps her Strength at 18 despite her advancing years.

Khailem Est - The local administrator. Khailem, oversees the orderly and honest collection of taxes on trade goods and large sums of money that pass through the region.

Xorsa Rin - The local garrison captain, stationed at the Wyvern. Xorsa (Zorsha), is a hardened veteran of numerous battles. Her garrison is made up entirely of dervishes. They are completely loyal unto death to their captain, and abstain from drinking, sex, and other worldly pursuits.

Local Garrison Troops:

  • One dozen light cavalry, with chain and shield, scimitars, crossbows and spears
  • One dozen footmen, with leather and shield, scimitars, crossbows and spears
  • Two additional cavalry Sergeants
  • Two additional footmen Sergeants
  • All dervishes fight with a fanatic focus, granting +1 to hit and damage in hand-to-hand.


The map and inspiration for this adventure location is brought to you courtesy of the good folks at, The Forge Studios (Click Here). If you like their work, please consider supporting their Patreon campaign, where you will gain access to further freebies and other benefits. The map used here is, The Wyvern & Gnome - Fortified Inn, available for free at DriveThruRPG (Click Here).

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with, The Forge Studios, or DriveThruRPG. Links provided are not affiliate links and I do not receive any remuneration or funds of any sort for providing them. This is simply my way of helping to support products I enjoy.


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Optional Rules: Benchmark Level Racial Abilities For Dwarves

The following rule options are written specifically for both Swords & Wizardry Complete and Core Edition.
Dwarven healers attend to a patient in need.

A common theme in OSR game systems, emulating early D&D, has been the split approach on non-human races available to Players. Either these races are treated as separate character classes, or they are presented as a straight package of initial stat adjustments, a few abilities, and then given limited class progression caps. Both systems have their pros, and cons. This article does away with either approach, and gives a third alternative.. benchmark level racial class abilities.

These benchmark racial class abilities rules are based on the standard rules, for non-human Player Characters (PCs) with limited level progressions, but with a few additional benefits and abilities granted at certain levels. This helps encourage players to pursue playing non-human races, and helps alleviate some of the sting of level caps.

Dwarves - The dwarf player character has a +4 on saving throws against any magic, and easily takes note of certain features of stonework: sloping corridors, moving walls, and traps made of stone – in particular: falling blocks, rigged ceilings, and tiny arrow slits designed to release poison gas or darts. They can also identify whether stonework is recent or not. There is no established die roll or rule for using these abilities; exactly what a Dwarf does or does not perceive is up to the Referee. Dwarfs can see in the dark (darkvision), to a limit of 60 feet. This vision is black and white only.

Dwarven player characters may be Fighters, Thieves, Clerics, or multi-class in any two, or all three of these classes. Multi-classed dwarves are limited to 6th level maximum in all three classes. Multi-classed dwarves may not take advantage of any XP bonuses due to high ability scores.

A dwarf that is purely a Fighter may advance beyond 6th level only if the dwarf has a Strength of 17 (maximum 7th level) or 18 (maximum 8th level). Such a fighter may also take advantage of any XP bonus due to a high Strength score to gain experience more quickly.

A dwarf that is purely a Thief may advance beyond 6th level only if the dwarf has a Dexterity of 17 (maximum 7th level) or 18 (maximum 8th level). Such a thief may also take advantage of any XP bonus due to a high Dexterity score to gain experience more quickly.

A dwarf that is purely a Cleric may advance beyond 6th level only if the dwarf has a Wisdom of 17 (maximum 7th level) or 18 (maximum 8th level). Such a cleric may also take advantage of any XP bonus due to a high Wisdom score to gain experience more quickly.


Racial Class Benchmarks:

Fighter:
  • At 2nd level, dwarven fighters do not count the weight of any armor worn towards encumbrance totals, nor does it count against them for movement purposes.
  • At 4th level, dwarven fighters battle with vigorous ferocity, granting them an additional +1 to hit and damage bonus in hand-to-hand combat.
  • At 6th level, dwarven fighters gain an additional +6 to their total hit points, and gain +1 additional hit point for each fighter level beyond 6th if applicable.
  • At 8th level, dwarven fighters may build a stronghold, instead of the usual 9th level as per the normal rules for fighters.

Cleric:

  • Dwarven clerics do not receive the standard clerical ability to turn the undead.
  • At 2nd level, dwarven clerics master powerful runes and may scribe one cleric spell on a scroll. This takes one week of time and costs 150 gold pieces per level of the spell inscribed. These scrolls are only usable by that particular character, and no more than three such scrolls may be carried at one time. The character may only scribe spells that they have access to be able to cast normally.
  • At 4th level, dwarven clerics may cast Detect Magic, Find Traps, and Light once per day. These are in addition to their normally allowed spells.
  • At 6th level, dwarven clerics add the following magic-user spells; Darkness, 15-foot Radius, Explosive Runes, and Locate Object, to their third level clerical spells list.
  • At 8th level, dwarven clerics may establish a religious stronghold, instead of the usual 9th level as per the normal rules.

Thief:

  • Dwarven thieves never gain the standard thief ability to Read Magical Writings.
  • At 2nd level, dwarven thieves gain an additional +1 (for a total of +3) on saving throws against devices, including traps, magical wands or staffs, and other magical devices.
  • At 4th level, dwarven thieves may make traps, recover traps, and set/re-set traps. The referee will decide on the particulars for their campaigns.
  • At 6th level, dwarven thieves gain an additional +10% to their chances of defeating magical traps.
  • At 8th level, dwarven thieves may establish a guild, instead of the usual 9th level as per the normal rules.
Future articles will feature similar rules for Elves, Half-Elves, and Halflings.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Optional Rules: Backstabbing Sonsabitches

Backstabbing, just the thought of it makes most players cringe. It's sneaky, lowdown, betrayal at its worst, used by the most despicable and dishonorable of scoundrels. On the other hand, it's also one of the best ways to take out sentries without raising an alarm.

Image in the Public Domain
While undoubtedly thieves and assassins are the most well-versed in this ungentlemanly art of betrayal, it's not something that they alone can perform. The following optional rules allow characters of other skill sets to attempt to backstab (now called Sneak Attack) should the necessity arise. Note, if these optional rules are used, discontinue using the ordinary backstab rules also.

A Sneak Attack may only be performed upon an unsuspecting target. If the target is reasonably suspicious of the character, and actively taking precautions to avoid a possible attack, then that target may not be sneak attacked. Of course, the target must be aware of the character, and keeping a close eye on them.

Only small to medium weapons may be used to perform a Sneak Attack. Large weapons, or weapons that require a lot of room to wield, do not lend themselves well to precision and speed, and may not be used. However, some reasonable exceptions can be made, such as stabbing with a spear, etc.

Ranged weapons may be used to perform a Sneak Attack, if the target is completely unaware of the attacker's actions.. such as performing a sniper attack from concealment. Such attacks are only allowed at short range for the weapon involved.

A Sneak Attack requires full concentration, allowing only one attack that round.

The target must have a physical form that the attacker can reasonably be expected to attack effectively with the weapon at hand. Normally the undead and certain other creatures are immune to Sneak Attack but exceptions can be made.. while using a dagger is worthless against a skeleton or zombie, using a sword or mace to crush their skulls is reasonable. Driving a stake through a vampire's chest is reasonable. Trying to "get the drop" on a Black Pudding is just silly.

Sneak Attacks gain a +4 to hit.

Non-thieves do full normal weapon damage (plus any bonuses) + 1 additional point of damage per character level. (A fourth level character would do an additional +4 points of damage.)

Thieves and assassins do full normal weapon damage (plus any bonuses) + 2 additional points of damage per character level. (A fourth level thief would do an additional +8 points of damage.)

If a Sneak Attack does more than half the target's total/full hit points, then the target must make a saving throw or drop to 0 hit points, and begin bleeding to death at the rate of 1 hit point per round if those rules are used, otherwise they simply die.

An additional side note here - Sneak Attack is applicable to hunting game.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Optional Rules: Large and In Charge

Playing In The Big Leagues

Giants, and giant-like creatures, are fearsome foes. Above and beyond their prodigious strength, their size and mass allows them to perform incredible feats.

Strength ratings are not given for giants. Their massive strength is already figured into hit and increased damage rolls. DMs are encouraged not to double dip.

Send 'em Flying: If a giant succeeds in an unarmed attack against a character, they may knock (kick, shove, or throw) that character away from them.. preferably into something or someone else. At the giant's discretion, the character may travel up to 5 feet for each die of damage the giant is capable of doing, and takes normal damage from the giant's attack.

Sweep: Instead of attacking a single target, a giant may choose to sweep all targets in front of them, with one massive swing. This attack only does half damage, but effects all targets within reach of their weapon. No attack roll is needed, but all targets are allowed a saving throw to escape the attack without taking damage.

Stomp 'em Flat: If the giant so chooses, they may use an unarmed attack to simply knock the character prone, doing full damage, and pin the character underfoot. Unless the character escapes next round, or help arrives, they will be crushed like a bug. A giant may only pin one character underfoot at a time.

Bull Rush: If a giant charges a smaller character, they may perform a free attack on that character, and continue up to their full movement. However, characters so charged, may set any spears or polearms to stop the rush. On a successful attack roll, they do double damage (roll twice the damage dice, any bonuses apply just once) and the giant is stopped from going further.

Now for the characters - 

Beware Stinging Gnats: Giants must be mindful of smaller creatures attacking their legs. If characters specifically attack a giant's legs and manage to do 1/3 the giant's hit points in cumulative damage, the giant will no longer be able to perform any of its special attacks.


"Q: Why do giants always throw boulders?
A: because they often engage numerous, smaller humanoids in conflict. Smaller humanoids don't like to be squished, so they stay at range if they can. Giants only carry giant-sized spears and other ranged weapons when expecting to fight other giants, so boulders become their weapons of choice. A giant will typically carry 0 to 5 (1d6-1) throwing rocks in a bag on their hip."


Saturday, October 21, 2017

Random Tables: Winding Streets Encounters

Winding Streets - 1d12 Random Table

  1. Someone empties a chamber pot from above.
  2. Object falls from above.. loose tile, body, etc
  3. Someone/thing has just slid a sewer grate closed from below.
  4. A zombie servant is on its way to deliver a message, package, etc.
  5. A woman approaches the group and throws her child into the arms of one of the party that is carrying anything. She will grab anything dropped and run. The "child", a halfling, will immediately attempt escape.
  6. A little monkey grabs something within reach from a character and escapes up a wall and through a window.
  7. A hungry puppy, or kitten, begs attention from one of the party.
  8. A scoundrel grabs a street urchin (child) and drags them kicking and screaming to sell them to a work house.
  9. A sketchy man approaches the party and offers to sell them Black Lotus. 1 in 3 chance it's Haga instead.
  10. An escaped bull is running rampant through the street! If not stopped, it breaks into a pottery shop and destroys everything.
  11. An Amazon shield maiden, of equal level, challenges one of the party to a duel for eyeballing her.
  12. The party is approached by a nondescript man and given a sealed scroll inviting them to participate in the local underground "Fight Club".

New Magic Item: Annulum de Immortuos

New Magic Item

Annulum de Immortuos (The Black Ring of Thanos)

"And so it came to pass that in a last bid to cheat Death itself, Thanos the Necromancer, poured his knowledge and power into the, Annulum de Immortuos, the Ring of Undeath. But in those last minutes, the Servants of Arawn, breached his sanctum and captured the wayward wizard for their master, but not before Thanos used the last of his power to send the ring away to safety. With their prize in hand, the Servants of Arawn, dragged Thanos screaming into the Underworld."

The Ring of Undeath, also called The Black Ring of Thanos, is an artifact. It should not be found by random chance, but placed carefully and deliberately into a campaign. Arawn, the Lord of Death himself, will seek after anyone known to possess the ring, sending his Servants to secure the ring and to capture those who would dare attempt to cheat him.

Minor Powers:

  • Animate dead (1 figure) (by touch) - 7 times/week
  • Speak With Dead - 1/day
  • Command/Turn Undead (and only Undead) as a 12th level Cleric - 3/day
  • Acts as an Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location
  • Wearer will not age, nor be affected by aging effects.
  • Acts as a Ring of Regeneration, can only be removed upon death or voluntarily.

Drawbacks:


  • Arawn seeks the wearer's capture and punishment.. and anyone with them.
  • Wearer can not be healed by Cure spells, though spells without "Cure" in the name will work.

How the ring may be destroyed is entirely up to the DM. Destruction of the ring will stop Arawn from taking vengeance upon the wearer and their companions.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Game Review: Blood Dark Thirst from Kort'thalis Publishing

Blood Dark Thirst
Kort'thalis Publishing
Rating: 5 out of 5
Complexity: Minimal
Maturity: Recommended for adults, deals with adult topics and horror
Value: A steal at $4

Okay, so received my copy of Blood Dark Thirst and printed out the Print Friendly version. It's not a huge book, only 12 double-sided pages, for a 24 page count, so it won't kill your printer or break the bank if you have to have it printed out elsewhere.

First, the fonts used print clear and dark. That's important, because if you have older eyes it helps you to read the material easier. This is often a peeve I run into with new products. Light print and small fonts make game material frustrating for older customers. Thankfully, the folks at Kort'thalis take this into account. Thank you!

I'm a newbie to the system, so I read the rules through as a first time player just learning the ropes. It didn't take long, the rules are pretty straight forward, and not complicated. If you're an experienced tabletop rpg player, then you'll be able to play with a minimum of setup. If you're a newblood (pun intended), you'll still be able to play the game, but it'll take a bit more prep work on your behalf. Not to worry though, the system is solid and laid out well, so you'll do fine.

You'll need one 20-sided die, and three 6-sided (normal) dice. If you don't have a twenty sider, you can find dice apps readily enough for your phone or online. Or simply use take a deck of cards, pull out two suits of cards from Ace (1) to 10, and shuffle them together. One suit will stand for 1-10, while the other suit represents 11-20. Replace and reshuffle the cards after each draw.

The art is amazing. It evokes the imagery of the game, both sensual and sinful. The quality of the artwork reflects the quality of the production value. Kort'thalis takes pride in their work. The customer is getting value for their dollar.

And best of all, the VSd6 system is similar to the other Kort'thalis game products, so you learn one, you'll be able to play them all. Or if you play other OSR products, you can add Blood Dark Thirst as a ready drop-in resource to your games without fuss. As either a stand alone game, or an added game resource, you can't fail with this title.


You can currently purchase this product at DriveThruRPG, for $4. Click Here.