Monday, November 27, 2017

Bazaar of the Bizarre: Merchants & Open Market Stalls

Sometimes my players decide to "go shopping" at the nearest open market, with very little warning. This forces me to generate a quick number of merchants and temporary shops on the go. Personally I suspect my players do this just to see if they can catch me unprepared, or to perhaps catch that momentary glimpse of panic in my eyes on the rare occasion.

The following tables are provided as a simple guide. You don't have to roll on all the tables for each stall visited, as some results will help you decide on other aspects of each shop yourself. Completely random results could easily contradict each other, so use common sense.

The merchant is selling from:
  1. A small foot drawn/push cart
  2. A wagon
  3. Under a tent
  4. Rugs on the ground
  5. A semi-permanent stall
  6. A permanent stall

Source of Merchandise:
  1. Merchant makes/grows themselves
  2. Merchant outsources
  3. Business partner - Legitimate
  4. Merchant buys and trades elsewhere
  5. Merchant buys and trades locally
  6. It's best not to ask

Quality of Merchandise/Consumables:
  1. New / fresh
  2. Like new / still good
  3. Used / still usable
  4. Poor / questionable
  5. Bad / barely usable
  6. Trash / unsafe

Initial Asking Prices:
  1. Fair market value
  2. Slightly high
  3. Slightly low
  4. Insultingly high
  5. Priced to sell quickly
  6. Reasonable offers accepted / Haggling welcome

Merchant is doing:
  1. Bustling, selling out quickly!
  2. Brisk business
  3. Average, as to be expected
  4. Slow day
  5. Very slow day, needs sales
  6. Practically being shunned

Merchant's Appearance:
  1. Well-dressed
  2. Modestly attired
  3. Plainly attired
  4. Obviously a hired worker
  5. A foreigner
  6. A beggar

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Friday Freebie: Marvel Super Heroes (FASERIP)

For all of you die-hard fans of the original, and advanced, Marvel Super Heroes RPG (FASERIP) system, we bring you.. everything.. FREE!

Yes, we know this is only Thursday, but as it's Thanksgiving, we thought we'd give you your treat early.

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.