Saturday, April 21, 2018

Optional Rules: Alcohol and Intoxicants I

Many game systems tend to studiously avoid the subjects of alcohol and other intoxicants in their rules. It's easy to understand why, as they do not wish to be seen to condone the use of such substances. However, as adults, we realize that there will come those times when we may need to adjudicate the effects of a night of drinking and carousing, or similar circumstances. And I have yet to ever meet a Game Master that hasn't had to rule on a drinking match between a player character and an NPC, at least once.

The following rules are not meant to reflect real life. They are not scientifically measured and meant to portray the actual effects of various substances on the human body. They are a simple metric for game purposes only. Nor is this blog article meant to be seen as condoning or encouraging the abuse of alcohol or intoxicating substance in the real world.

Intoxication Table I is a simple table that does not require the use of calculations , or record keeping during the game. A player simply states the level at which they which their character to reach and maintain. This avoids arguments, number crunching, and other problems during play. However, the DM is the final arbiter of the game and may apply a higher level of intoxication to a character if the role-playing actions of the player, or circumstances unknown to the player, should apply to the situation.

Right Click and Save, to download this table

Hit Points - The number of temporary hit points added to the character due to higher pain thresholds. These hit points are lost first when damage is taken, and can not be "healed" back through any means because they are not actual hit points.

Saves - Temporary benefit to die rolls when making Saving Throws. This is a reflection of how drunkards seemingly survive situations that harm most everyone else.

Mental - Temporary decrease in Intelligence and Wisdom scores, due to impaired judgement and mental faculties. Conversely, this adjustment is reversed and added to the Charisma of the opposite/preferred sex, thus making them seemingly more attractive than they actually are.

Dexterity - Temporary decrease in Dexterity while intoxicated. Lowered Dexterity may affect Armor Class, Initiative, and ranged combat attack rolls.

Memory - Recollection of events while the character was inebriated.

Liquid Courage - Self explanatory. Some people need to drink to develop the courage to do something they would not normally attempt.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Specialty Drinks For Your Fantasy Games

During a recent game session, I had an NPC introduce one of the players (my wife) to an alcoholic beverage, Sangwyvernis, Blood of the Wyvern. A specialty whiskey, aged with the venomous stinger of a wyvern's tail inside the bottle. It was meant to be a small, yet interesting detail dropped into the adventure, with no idea that it would spark my wife into asking me what other "interesting" concoctions where available in the campaign. Honestly, except for a few dwarven ales, I had never really given the subject matter much thought.

After the session, my wife immediately grabbed the AD&D Monster Manual (1st edition) and fired up Google. Armed with a few quick answers about exotic real-world drinks, she decided that she'd use tidbits from various spell components, and details from some likely monster descriptions, to create a list of original specialty drinks to be used in our campaign. The following drinks are just the tip of the iceberg to come.

Effects of Alcohol and Drugs can be found on pages 82-83 of the AD&D Dungeon Masters Guide. Feel free to use whatever other rules you prefer.

Specialty Drinks:

Essence of Will-O-(The)-Wisp: When imbibed, the drinker will be surrounded by a shimmering luminescent glow, similar to that of a Will-O-Wisp, for 70 - 120 minutes (60 minutes + 1d6 x 10). The user will also have a faint static electrical aura that will cause small, but not unpleasant, shocks to those who come into close physical contact. During this time, the drinker will naturally draw the attention of those around them.

Cost: 100 gold pieces per bottle
Contents: 6 glasses
Brightwine: A sweet tasting wine, made with enchanted powdered agate. Induces a light euphoric hallucinogenic state, that makes colors appear much more vibrant than they actually are.

Cost: 50 gold pieces per bottle
Contents: 6 glasses

Eel Wine: A strong rice wine, fermented with the body of a poisonous eel inside the bottle. The drinker suffers the debilitating effects of alcohol as if they have consumed twice as many drinks than normal. If the drinker passes out from drinking too much, a Save (+2 to the roll) vs Poison must be made or death occurs.

Cost: 30 gold pieces per bottle
Contents: 6 glasses

Sangwyvernis, (Blood of the Wyvern): A specialty whiskey, aged with the venomous tail stinger of a wyvern in the bottle. This drink is very smooth with a hell of a kick, and quickly numbs away any aches and pains.

Cost: 60 gold pieces per bottle
Contents: 25 normal shots, or 16 large shot glasses

Mo'shyugh:  A powerful drink made by orcs, not  meant for human consumption! This strong liquor is fermented from the dried dung of an Otyugh. Non-orcs can drink it, but it tastes vile, and requires a Save vs Poison (per drink) to not vomit. Each drink counts as three drinks for the purposes of inebriation effects. Often pickled Rot Grubs are added to the bottle during aging. Eating a grub will induce feelings of invulnerability and deaden pain for an hour (add +1d4 temporary hit points to the drinker, non-cumulative, for the next hour).

Cost: 50 gold pieces per gallon jug (usually unavailable to non-orcs)
Contents: 8 pint mugs

Fire Lizard Brandy: A strong brandy, mixed with the powdered fire-producing glands of a Fire Lizard, and aged for at least three years. It has a fierce burning flavor, with a smoky aftertaste. It must be sipped slowly and savored, or the drinker may end up with smoke coming from their mouth and nostrils.

Cost: 70 gold pieces per bottle
Contents: 6 glasses

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Optional Rules: Jousting

This article only covers tournament jousting, not combat jousting. General tournament rules will follow in a later article. These optional rules were written for Swords & Wizardry, using the single saving throw rules.

In a tournament joust, the normal rules for initiative are not used. Instead, both parties are considered attacking at the same time. One normal attack roll is made by each rider during a pass. These attack rolls may be modified by any Strength modifier "to-hit" bonuses. Armor class is NOT modified by Dexterity.

Any modified roll of 11 or better counts as a touch, for 1 Point. The lance does not shatter.

Any modified roll that hits the opponent proper (die roll hits AC 2 [17]), the lance does 2d6 (plus Strength modifier) non-lethal damage, and shatters, counting as 2 Points. Any attack roll that unhorses an opponent shatters the lance, but only counts as 4 Points, not 6.

Any roll of natural 1 unintentionally hits the opponent's horse, usually resulting in paying a monetary penalty to the opponent, and possible disqualification if deemed intentional.

Any roll of natural 20 automatically unhorses the target, no Saving Throw is used.

Riders that are properly hit must roll a Saving Throw, with failure resulting in being unhorsed. Falling from a mount does 1d6 non-lethal damage.

This Saving Throw is modified (up or down) by any difference between the rider's and the opponent's Strength "damage" modifiers, plus any difference between their mounts.

Mount Modifier:
+2   Heavy Warhorse - Destrier
+1   Medium Warhorse - Courser
+0   Light Warhorse - Hobby
-1    Poor Warhorse - Rouncey

Four passes (tilts) will be made, or until one or both riders are unhorsed, whichever is first. It is possible to tie during advancement, but the final challenge to determine champion must be settled.

1 Point - A hit upon the opponent's shield (touch)
2 Point - A proper hit upon an opponent, lance shatters
4 Point - Unhorsing  an opponent, lance shatters but still only counts as 4 Points

Disqualifications occur for the following:
  • Intentionally striking an opponent's mount
  • Intentionally using a non-blunted lance
  • Not bringing one's mount up to speed (moving too slow) during the pass
  • Not presenting a proper target (funny business in the saddle like "trick riding")
  • Striking an opponent that has dropped their lance
  • Intentionally striking an opponent to kill/harm
  • The use of magic at any time
  • Healing while on the field

Tournament rules are in place for the safety of participants. The games are a matter of honor and skill, with the risk of severe injury and death reduced when possible. Participants that intentionally cheat, reduce the status of the tournament and cheapen the affair.

The use of magic is prohibited. The use of unusual or enhanced mounts is prohibited, including a paladin's special warhorse. Magical healing during the tournament is prohibited.

Participants must wear plate mail, helmet, and shield. They must also use a warhorse. These rules ensure that only properly trained mounts are used, and the participants are protected.. with the unspoken understanding that the cost of such equipment also keeps "the rabble" out of competing.

The DM may create additional rules or change rules as they wish, but MUST announce the rules at the start of the tournament.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Optional Rules: Additional Armor Rules

This article is not a dissertation of the various types of armor used throughout history. It is only an additional expansion to the rules for use with OSR compatible and Swords & Wizardry games.

Note on Descending and Ascending armor class. As per normal Swords & Wizardry rules, all Ascending armor modifiers on the following table are in brackets [ ].

AC mod.
Helm, leather
-2 [+2]*
0.1 gp
Chainmail Coif
-3 [+3]*
5 gp
-4 [+4]*
5 gp
Helmet, great
-6 [+6]*
10 gp
Shield, small¹
-1 [+1]
1 gp
-1 [+1]
10 gp
Shield, great³
-2 [+2]
15 gp
-1 [+1]
2 gp
-2 [+2]
5 gp
-3 [+3]
30 gp
-4 [+4]
75 gp
Plate and Mail
-5 [+5]
85 gp
Plate, full
-6 [+6]
100 gp
* - For head only
¹ - Only vs 1 opponent
² - Only vs front and shield-side opponents
³ - Only vs front and shield-side opponents


The use of head protection is very important. In normal combat, 1 in 6 blows will target the character's head. Intelligent creatures will target an unprotected head 1 in 2 (50%) of the time. Of course, much smaller opponents and creatures with lower ground, will be unable to target an opponent's head.

Padded and Leather Caps - Cheap, yet effective against lighter blows. Does not hinder vision.

Chainmail Coif - A chainmail covering, over padded cap, for the head and neck. Comes standard with chainmail armor and above, otherwise it must be purchased separately.

Helmet - Metal construction, offering greater protection to the head. Does not hinder vision.

Greater Helmet - Offers superior protection, but limits peripheral vision and clear hearing.


Small Shield - Small lightly constructed protection. Effective against only one opponent in front of, or to the shield-side of the defender.

Shield - Larger and more substantial protection. Only adds to armor class for opponents in front of, and to the shield-side of the defender. May be used to form a shield wall.

Greater Shield - Any of the larger and heavier shield types. Only adds to armor class for opponents in front of, and to the shield-side of the defender. Provides greater protection than a normal shield. Lowers the user's movement down by one level lower, unless/until discarded. May be used to form a shield wall.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Game Aids: D30 Alphabet Dice

Sometimes, even the best of us, has a brain fart. We're going along without interruption and suddenly.. WHAM.. mental block. It doesn't even have to be a big blockage, just something simple, like needing to figure out the name of an NPC or a town. There are extensive lists and tables filled with names of such persons, places, and things, but sometimes all you really need is a first letter, or first few letters, to help jump start you along. That's where the, D30 Letter DieTable, comes in handy.

The above table is based on the two specialty alphabet d30's, from Koplow Dice. These are the two we have on our personal game table. We are making this table available here in case you don't have access to one of these specialty dice. Feel free to personalize and substitute your own preferred letter combinations for any Wild results rolled.

Use any method you want to roll names. You can roll the first letter, first and last letter, or any other combination. The reason I like to use the letter dice is because it forces me to break out of my normal mindset. I tend to favor some letters over others, when picking "random" names, which causes a lot of headaches when most names in my campaign begin to look and sound similar.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Game Aids: S&W Complete Combat and Save Tables

The following two tables are part of a DM Screen that we're making for our home campaign. They use the Base Attack Bonus (with Ascending Armor Class), and Single Saving Throw, rules options from Swords & Wizardry Complete

If you so desire, just click on the pictures to see them at full size, and save to your device for your convenience.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Optional Rules: Magnificient Mounts

OR, What Color Is My Horse?

"Young Wyatt's eyes were glued to the riders on either side of the jousting list. He couldn't believe how fast their mounts moved as they barreled towards each other, hooves thundering, their rider's armor flashing in the bright sunlight as their lances locked into place. It only took seconds for the horses to reach each other and the impact the lances made upon the opposing shields was tremendous, but the horses kept stride as if nothing had happened.
The 12 year old couldn't help but be fascinated by the horses. He started working with them at the age of 6 when he entered the service of Sir Aston Wyndham, a local knight. Because of his lowly birth, Sir Wyndham could not take Wyatt on as either paige nor squire. However, he did allow Wyatt to serve as a stable hand for Wyatt loved being around all the horses. He had a knack for getting them to behave. Especially Sir Wyndham's spirited Hobby, Shadow.
The cheers from the jousting field brought the boy's attention back to the riders. One of them had just been unhorsed and his squire was chasing after the knight's loose Courser. As the squire worked to get the wayward mount under control, the crowd started to murmur. Wyatt looked to the end of the field. He had only heard tales of how large and powerful a Destrier was, but he never imagined that he would see one. The horse was so big, the boy could have walked right under its belly without having to duck. His eyes were glued to the field as the riders lined up, the Destrier pawing at the ground, ready to charge. And then the thunder began. The rider urged the Destrier forward and Wyatt could feel the ground shake every time a hoof struck the dirt. He had to duck for cover as the rider's lances hit each other's shields. There was so much power behind the Destrier, that both lances exploded into splinters as the other rider was knocked off his horse, slamming into the dirt some feet away. Wyatt couldn't believe it! He had never seen anything like this before.
"Wyatt!" A voice called out. "Wyatt! Where are you? There is still work to be done!" Wyatt jumped. He was in for it now. He was supposed to be out getting water for Sir Wyndhams Courser. He had stopped to watch the joust instead. He climbed off of the fence that he had been using for a seat, dropped onto the bucket he had used as a step stool, then ran towards the trough as fast as his scrawny legs could carry him."

Horse breeding in medieval times was very different from modern horse breeding. Unlike modern times, where breeders keep track of breeds and bloodlines, medieval horse breeders did not. The animals were seen as transportation and tools for farming. But eventually, horses made their way on to the battlefield and people began to realize how essential a good horse was. They began to breed horses for selective traits. Most medieval horses were bred for a purpose and were classified into several categories. A break down of the various categories follows.

Destriers: Destriers were highly prized and admired for their war capabilities. They were well trained and required to be strong, fast, and agile. They were not very common and were well suited for jousting. While they were big, they weren't always as big as modern draft horses (ex. a Clydesdale). They were also encourage to be spirited and aggressive. These are the equivalent of a heavy war horse

Coursers: Coursers were light, fast, and strong. They were a cheaper version of a destrier and more common among poorer knights. While they were commonly used for battle, they were also used for hunting. They are classified as medium war horses.

Hobby: A hobby is a light weight war horse that is known for being quick and agile. It was commonly used by light cavalry for skirmishing or hit and run tactics.

Rouncey: A Rouncey was a general all-purpose horse. It could be used for riding or war. Commonly used by poor knights or squires. They can sometimes be used as pack horses, but never cart horses.

Palfrey: A Palfrey could be just as expensive as a Destrier. It was popular among Nobles and highly ranked knights for riding, hunting, and ceremonial use.

Jennet: A Jennet is a smaller horse or pony, favored by the ladies. They are easier to care for than a Palfrey and many ladies would use them for pilgrimages or traveling long distances. 

Cart Horse: These are horses that are not trained to handle a rider. They are only used for pulling carts.

Donkey : Mostly used as pack animals or work animals. They can be ridden, but only by light weight riders.

Mule: Mostly used as a pack animal. They are generally more docile and easier to handle than a horse, but it cannot be used to breed. They are bigger than donkeys.

Suggested pricing for horses:

  • Destrier 400g
  • Courser 200g
  • Hobby 100g
  • Rouncey 50g
  • Palfrey 150g
  • Jennet 40g
  • Cart Horse 20g
  • Mule 20g
  • Donkey 8g

A horse's coloring can be extremely varied. There are so many possible combinations of base colors, patterns, and markings that it became next to impossible to draw up a random horse table without it being 2 pages long. So after many failed attempts, and several moments where I ALMOST threw my computer out the window, I stripped it down to the most common markings and colorings. In order to use the table, first roll to determine your horse's color. Then roll to determine if the horse has any markings. Some results may increase the value of the horse. A lack of markings, or a pure white color, was really desirable. 
Colors: Roll 1d6 to determine the base color
1: Bay: Body color ranges from a light redish brown to a dark brown with black manes, tail, and lower legs. Can have Markings
2: Black: Solid black coat. Can have Markings.
3: Buckskin: The body coloring is similar to a tanned deer skin with a black mane and tail. No markings
4: Chestnut: Reddish body color with no black. The mane and tail are the same color. Can have Markings
5: Grey: Solid Grey coloring. Can have markings
6: White: Solid White Coloring. No Markings. Increase the horses value by 50% due to a rare coloring.

Type of Markings: Roll 1d6
1-2: No markings. Increase horses value by 10% 
3-4: Facial Marking
5-6: Leg Markings

Facial Markings: Roll 1d12
1: Blaze: Wide strip of white on the face that stops around the nostrils.
2: Stripe: A thinner version of the Blaze.
3: Stripe and Nose: Stripe that runs past the nose and across the lips.
4: Irregular Blaze: An oddly shaped stripe running across the face.
5: Interrupted Stripe: The stripe is broken on the horses face.
6: Bald Face: A wide Blaze that covers most of the horses face. The horse might have blue eyes because of this.
7: Faint Star: Horse have a very small white spot (usually shaped like a diamond) on its forehead.
8: Star: White spot on the forehead, usually shaped like a diamond.
9: Irregular Star: Oddly shaped white spot on the forehead.
10: Star and Stripe: Stripe on the face that blends into a star. The star must be wide than the stripe in order for this marking to be called a Star and Stripe.
11: Snip: Just a little white spot on the nose of the horse.
12: Lip Masking: White marking on one or both lips.

Leg Markings: How many legs are marked? Roll 1d8
1: Front Right
2: Front Left
3: Back Right
4: Back left
5: Front legs, both with the same marking
6: Back legs, both with the same markings
7: Front legs, both have different markings
8: Back legs, both have different markings

Type of Leg Markings: Roll 1d10
1-2 Stocking: white marking that extends at least to the bottom of the knee or hock, sometimes higher.
3-4 Sock: white marking that extends higher than the fetlock (ankle joint) but not as high as the knee or hock. This marking is sometimes called a "boot."
5-6 Fetlock: white marking that extends just over the fetlock(ankle joint), occasionally called a "boot."
7-8 Pastern: white marking that extends above the top of the hoof, but stops below the fetlock.
9-10 Coronet: white band just above the hoof , usually no more than 1 inch high

Age of Horse: Roll 1d6
1 Foal: A young horse that is under one year of age. It can be either male or female. Subtract 25% from the base price of the horse since it cannot be ridden until it becomes a yearling. Roll 1d6. 1-3 is Male. 4-6 is female
2 Yearling: A horse of either sex that is between one and two years old. Roll 1d6. 1-3 is Male. 4-6 is female
3 Colt: A male horse between the age of two and four.
4 Filly: A female horse between the age of two and four.
5 Mare: A female horse four years old and older.
6 Stallion: A non-castrated male horse four years old and older.

About the Author

Today's article is by our special guest contributor, Rachel Williams. Rachel is a manager at a popular national food franchise, and long-time gamer in both video and table-top media. She is an avid history buff and can often be found glued to the PBS channel and streaming documentaries.. usually far later into the night than she should.

She lives in Upstate New York, with her adorable cat and equally adorable husband (the Editior).