Wednesday, 20 April 2016

The Dragoon. LL compatible class.

Another class today, also inspired by Final Fantasy. 
For the historically minded, yes, Dragoons are a form of cavalry. I kept the name to match the video game class.

This is intended for Labyrinth Lord/BX and compatible games. Modify as appropriate.

Prime requisite: DEX
Hit dice: As Fighter
Advances as: Fighter
Attacks as: Fighter
Saves as: Fighter
Weapons permitted: Single handed melee weapons using D4 and D6 for damage. Any polearm.
Armour permitted: All.
Magical items permitted: Any permitted to fighters and any utilizing lightning.

Zerian eyed the flying beast. Soaring over the party, scaly wings flapping in the wind, this was what her order trained for.
She leapt.

The Dragoon is an old order, dedicated to gods of lightning and wind. 
In ancient times, when monsters ruled the sky, the order rose to take back the sky and help forge the claim of man.

These warriors specialize in fighting aerial opponents.

Bolt strike:
When using a polearm and charging, Dragoons may leap towards the target. 
This leap negates any armour class penalties or damage increases that normally applies to enemy attacks against a charging character, ensures the Dragoon strikes first and increases damage by +1D6.

Only one bolt-strike can be done per battle and the Dragoon must begin the combat at least 20 feet from the enemy and have at least 10 feet of overhead space.

Affinity of storms:
When using any weapon, device or magical item that deals lightning or wind damage, any damage die that rolls a 1 is counted and rolled again.

Punish the defiant:
When battling any flying monster (defined as any non-natural animal), dragoons receive a +2 bonus to hit, +1 bonus to damage and may ignore all penalties due to uncertain or unsafe footing, balance or movement.

Fighting skills:
Dragoons use all Fighter combat options present in your rules. 
Any abilities or bonuses that are level dependent will be delayed by 1 level.

Upon reaching level 9, a Dragoon that establishes a fortress or keep on a mountain will attract 2D6 followers which will be Fighters, Paladins or other Dragoons. 
They will be level 1 with a level 3 Fighter leading them.

Monday, 18 April 2016

Freelancer. A LL compatible class

Long long time no see. Well, here you go.

Inspired by Final Fantasy 3, a new character class to try out.


Prime requisite: CHA
Hit dice: D6
Advances as: Thief
Attacks as: Fighter
Saves as: Thief
Weapons permitted: Any weapon that has a maximum damage total of 8.
Armour permitted: Leather, Chain, Shield
Magical items permitted: Any permitted to fighters or thieves.

Crawling through dank caves and decrepit labyrinths has taught you a wide range of skills.
Some adventurers insist on purity of purpose and the benefits of specialization but you'd rather have practical survival today than theoretical benefits tomorrow.

A light touch:
Starting at level 3, Freelancers receive the abilities of a thief 2 levels below their current level of experience.
Exceptions are Backstab (which they never acquire) and Lockpicking (which they receive at level 1, at their normal skill level).

A swift blow:
Freelancers make all attack rolls as if they were fighters, however they do not gain access to any Fighter specific combat options or skills.

If a rules option available to every character grants an increased bonus to a Fighter, the Freelancer does receive the increased benefit or bonus.

And a wave of the hand:
On even-numbered levels of experience (2, 4, 6 and so on), the Freelancer may select any one Magic User or Cleric first level spell.

The spell may be cast once per day. Freelancers do not keep a traditional spell-book and do not require memorization. 
They recover their spells as long as they receive at least 6 hours rest at night.

They cannot learn duplicates of the same spell. If a spell is reversible, each version is considered a separate, distinct spell.

Money troubles:
Nobody Freelances because they are independently wealthy.
At the end of each adventure, any money not spent or donated to a worthy NPC cause is reduced by 10% due to general frivolities and waste. 

Coming up in the world:
Freelancers may take hirelings and henchmen as any other character.
They may construct a castle or mansion at normal cost. Doing so at level 9 will attract 1D6 young level 2 Freelancers to act as followers. 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Repost: Heroic achievements

Today's post is a repost since I have a pretty busy schedule lined up today.

What follows is an extremely simple system for "stunts" in OSR games.

This is very similar to the "heroic abilities" system I have previously presented here and the two can be used together or individually.

Any time a character uses a class related ability, he may attempt to be heroic. This succeeds on a 1 in 6 chance.

For spell casters, this permits the character to get some sort of additional benefit. Examples might include unusual spell parameters (such as an oblong fireball blast), increased range or duration, a small penalty to saving throws (-2 versus a simple target might be reasonable), increased accuracy and precision or similar benefits.Another option may be to permit the caster to retain the spell in memory.
Note that if the roll isn't heroic, the spell must still be cast, though it could be aborted part way through the casting. In this case, the spell is still lost.

A heroic use of a thief skill would permit a particularly death-defying act to be carried out. Note that since the heroic chance is almost always going to be lower than the actual thief skill, a heroic roll will probably negate the need for testing the thief's regular skill chance. Note however, that if the thief is not heroic, he is still committed to the action, unless it's lengthy enough to abort part way.
Examples of thief heroics include scaling an almost completely sheer and featureless wall, picking a magical lock or disarming a trap so complex no mundane thief could do it.

Warrior types (and based on DM decision, other characters) may attempt stunts in combat. Examples can include pushing, disarming, changing position during a fight, inflict a critical hit and similar.

Characters with ability scores of 14 and above may also attempt heroic achievements for those ability scores. Examples include a superhuman feat of strength, memorizing a long text (intelligence) or feats of acrobatics for dexterity.

The system can be extended to other features as well, and is ultimately up to the DM to adjudicate. The chance of success is intentional kept low, to keep this from dominating the game.
I deliberately shied away from assigning a "failure" aspect. On a roll other than a 1, the heroic attempt simply does not work. Alternatively, you could make it a gamble by assigning "something bad" on a roll of 6.

Comments always welcome!

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Are OSR gamers conservative?

There's a general feeling in some of the larger RPG community that OSR and retro D&D gamers are "conservatives", stuck in the past. (And I should clarify that I don't mean conservative in a political sense, I've met OSR gamers that are conservatives, libertarians, progressives, anarchists and socialists)

However, using the entirely unscientific method of looking at my own blog and what posts get the most +'s on Google, I am not so sure that's the case.
Both the "EXTREME OSR" post and the Spell Stealer class did very well in that regard.

I think one of the driving factors of OSR gaming is less a desire to do the same thing over and over, and more a desire to do new things without starting from scratch every time.

One of the benefits of OSR style gaming is that almost anyone that sits down to play has some basic idea of how it all works. D20 high to hit and save, hit points when you level up and so forth.

You can usually run down the differences in a pretty short time. "okay, so only fighters improve attack rolls, wizards roll on this table to cast spells, and the halflings are nazi's" and you're pretty much set to go.
What really matters is the adventure.

So I am curious: What is the most extreme and "radical" OSR game out there, in terms of new ideas and drastically different assumptions? How far can the style be pushed? How far do you want it to be pushed?

Is a game about space marines transported back in time more interesting than yet another dungeon crawl?

Let me know.

Thursday, 1 May 2014


Being a teenager in the 90's, I remember when everything was EXTREME. So with that in mind, here's a few somewhat light hearted suggestions for making your OSR and retro D&D games EXTREME. Use with caution (or with characters that aren't meant for a long, serious campaign).

All damage dice "explode" if they roll the highest possible number on the die. When exploding, count the score, then roll the die again and add that. Keep going until no dice score the maximum. This applies to all sources of damage.

For example, if a character falls off a tower and takes 3D6 damage, the dice might come up 3,5 and 6. Roll the 6 again and score a 4. Total damage: 18 points.

All attacks cleave. If any attack kills it's target, the character immediately gets a free attack against another target. For missile fire, the new target must be in roughly the same direction of fire while melee targets must be within 10 feet.

If the new target is also killed, another attack is triggered.

Magic causes chain reactions. If a character is slain by a spell, another opponent within 10 feet will take 1D6 damage. This can trigger multiple times and targets killed by the chain reactions will trigger chain reactions themselves.
If no enemies are within 10 feet, the chain reactions will target friendly characters as well.

Any character scoring a natural 20 on an attack roll or saving throw, or a 1-5 on a thief skill, immediately recovers 1 hit point per level of experience (Confidence Boost).
This can bring the character over their normal maximum hit points, in which case excess points wear off at a rate of 1 per day.

Any character scoring a natural 1 on an attack roll, saving throw or a 96-100 on a thief skill immediately loses 1 hit point per level of experience (loss of confidence or embarrassing fumble).

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Rolling in the open or behind the screen?

Conventional wisdom in roleplaying games is that the GM should always roll behind the screen. This way you can conceal information from the players about how easy or hard a time the enemy is having at hitting them and so forth.

It also goes that by concealing the rolls, you can fudge them easier if you need.

Over time, I have generally come down on the no-fudging side of things. I am fine with GM fiat deciding a situation. If you don't want the party to die from a trap they happened to stumble into on their way back, that's fine.

But in that case, simply don't have the trap trigger or just declare a few points of damage. Enough to make a point, not enough to kill anybody.

Some will argue that by still rolling the dice, you preserve the feeling of uncertainty but I am almost willing to guarantee that your players very quickly figure out if they are likely to die or not.

A few years back, I adopted a practice of simply rolling all my dice where the players can see them. Occasionally if a die rolls too far away, I'll even let one of the players report what it rolled, rather than looking at it myself.

I find that it creates far more tension in the game as they'll watch that accursed D20 roll across the table, and they know whether they scraped by with a bit of luck or if the monster was just having bad dice that day. It all adds to the fun and enjoyment of the game in my opinion.

Most notably, it also means they know you didn't fudge anything. The trick is, you still have plenty of scope to adjust difficulty on the fly.
Encounter is going too easy? Add in a few reinforcements, give the orc leader a magic potion or just beef up the next fight a little.

Looks like the heroes are getting trounced a bit early? Do a morale check for the monsters or have a third party show up and interfere with the encounter. Good opportunity for more chaos or more adventure opportunities.
Suddenly a rampaging owl bear crashes into the rear ranks of the hobgoblins. The heroes take the opportunity to disengage from a losing battle but now they have to contend with the owlbear later.

Do you roll in plain view or in secret? Share your practices and experiences in the comments.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Revised Commoner class

Today we go way back to one of the very first posts I ever did on here, namely the Commoner Class.

This is essentially the "peasant boy done good". Whereas others of his humble origin turned out to be great warriors, knights and wizards, he never managed to quite shake his roots.

Instead, he or she serves as a grounded backing against the other characters.

The original class was intended for Labyrinth Lord but the below version should work for most OSR games. As always, it is meant to plugged into pretty much any OSR or TSR-era D&D version.

Commoners are treated as Fighters for the purpose of attack rolls, saving throws, experience and levels and magical items. They use Constitution as their prime requisite.

Their weaponry is limited to simple, militia type of weapons, including clubs and maces, slings, daggers, spears and staves.
Converted tools may be used as well. The DM may elect to replace maces with simple axes or to remove 2 weapons from the list to add short bows.

Only leather armour is permitted until the character reaches level 5, upon which they may use shields and chain mail armour.

While they most resemble fighters, commoners are not actually warriors, and do not receive any special benefits that apply to warrior classes, such as stat bonuses dependent on class, multiple attacks or special weapon maneuvers.

A life of backbreaking labour will make you hard as the earth itself. On all even numbered experience levels (2, 4, 6 etc) add 1 additional hit point to your total.
In addition, when making saving throws against Death, Poison and any type of diseases, apply a +1 bonus to the dice throw.

Common Sense:
Sometimes a lack of appreciation for the finer things in life can keep you grounded in reality. Commoners receive a +2 bonus to saving throws against charm, hypnosis, fear and other mental manipulations or intrusions.

Just another commoner:
In a crowd of people, if the commoner attempts to fit in with the crowd, they have a 25% chance of being overlooked and ignored. This is increased to 35% if no visible weapons are carried.

Fools luck:
When you have neither swordsmanship, divine faith or deadly spells at your disposal, you need luck to survive.
Once per level of experience, a combat blow that would kill the Commoner will instead leave him or her unconscious. If not saved by fellow adventurers the character may still end up being eaten by monsters.
Luck cannot be "saved up" over multiple levels, but a Commoner that levels up without having used their luck receives a bonus of 1 additional hit point added to their total.

If the Commoner prepares the party's meals and has at least half an hour to do so, the player may roll 1D6. On a 1-2, they've managed to save 1 ration's worth of food.

This version changes the Cooking ability to be less clunky and adds a Luck ability to help our peasant hero get by in the big, grim world of fantasy adventures.

Let me know what you think in the comments. This will probably be the last character class for at least a little while.

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