Saturday, 30 November 2013

Panic and sanity

While more relevant to OSR By Night, this could be applied to a more horror styled fantasy game as well.
These rules are intended to mainly affect the current situation, and are less gruesome than the effects in some popular horror role playing games.

When facing an encounter that is particularly horrifying, mind bending or otherworldly, whether a monster, a god or a particularly surreal location, you can make a Panic And Sanity check.

This is handled as a saving throw against spells. Class bonuses that apply to all saving throws, or to saves against mental attack specifically will apply, but magical items generally do not, unless the GM determines the specific item should.

Racial bonuses do not apply, unless, again, the GM determines they should.

Depending on the monsters level, three different effects may occur:

If the monster encountered is higher level/hit dice than the character, a save is required, to prevent panic for 1D6 rounds. While panicked, the character may take very simple, instinctive actions, such as firing a weapon blindly, running away, hiding or remaining motionless.

A companion may try to shake the character "out of it". This takes a round, and permits another saving throw to be attempted.

If the monster is 4 levels above the character, two saving throws must be taken. Both dice can be rolled at the same time.
If one of the saves succeeds, the character goes into a panic, as described above.

If both should fail, the character has a nervous breakdown. This is treated as a perpetual state of panic, though a saving throw is permitted to get 1D6 rounds of rational action before having to save again.

Nervous breakdowns take 1D6 days to recover from, where no monsters are encountered.

Darkest horror:
If a monster is 8 levels above the character or more, three saving throws must be made.
Passing 2 will inflict panic, as described above.
If only 1 save is passed, the character is subject to a nervous breakdown as above.
Should all 3 saving throws fail, the character goes mad. A mad character will act based on a warped logic, determined by the GM, though the players input should be taken into account.
In most cases, they will become ineffectual and can generally not use any skills, though they'll fight to defend themselves if needed.

Madness permits a 1D6 roll every week, with a roll of 1 letting the character recover.

OSR By Night. The Tech

When you need someone who understands machines, appreciates equipment and knows how to get a technical task done, you bring along a Tech.

Techs may use single handed melee weapons and basic firearms. They suffer a -1 attack penalty when using other, heavier or more complex weapons. 


Fix it up - Techs can repair damaged or broken equipment. The chance of repairing smaller items (hand held or carried equipment) is 40% plus Intelligence, Dexterity and Experience Level.
The GM will determine what spare parts are needed. Repairs are usually pretty quick (10 minutes or so).

Larger items, such as a vehicle component or equipment installed in a building will take about an hour, and has a base chance of 20% plus Intelligence, Dexterity and Experience Level.

It's custom! - Portable and carried equipment may be customized. This will not affect combat or skill chances, however it may permit combination equipment, hidden features and similar gadgeteering.
This generally takes about an hour and will require access to tools and spare parts, except for very basic jobs.

The chance of success is 30% plus Intelligence, Wisdom and Experience Level.

A failed attempt may be attempted again in 3 days. A successful attempt requires at least 7 days to refresh the Tech's creativity.

Improvised weaponry - A tech with access to a pile of debris, scrap metal or similar garbage can improvise 1D3 melee weapons. They will only hold up to one or two battles, but will act as a functional, one handed melee weapon during that time.

Just happened to have one - During an adventure, a tech may coincidentally turn out to have a small item in their pocket or backpack. The item must be small enough to carry in a pocket, it must not be a purpose-built weapon and it must be relatively simple and cheap.

The tech may use this ability up to 3 times per adventure. Uses are refreshed when the tech has time to spend either at home or at a location where the character can reasonably stock up on trinkets.

Note that the tech has no special ability to hide or conceal items from search or confiscation. This ability purely reflects that tech's tend to have all sorts of useful bits in their pockets, without having to write them all down.

Labour of love - Each tech may designate one weapon that has been in their possession for a long time as a "labour of love". This weapon receives a +1 bonus to attack rolls, but only when used by the tech.
It takes a month to grant this status to a new weapon, and only if the previous weapon has been lost.

It's gonna blow! - Tech's receive a +1 bonus to all saving throws related to explosions, gas and fires.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

OSR By Night. "The Others". Monsters and aliens

This is just a quick post as to how "monsters" are handled in OSR By Night.

The creatures of your game world can be divided into two broad categories:
"The Normal" and "The Others".

The Normal is basically the mass of humanity, animals and so on.
These follow all the normal rules you'd expect in an OSR game.
Notably they obey the following rules:

They are subject to morale scores.
They roll 1D6 per level for hit points.
They never inflict panic and sanity checks.

The Others is anything that does not exist in the real world: Undead, ancient monsters, lovecraftian horrors, alien infiltrators and so forth.
They obey the following rules:

They do not have morale scores, though they may be subject to other factors influencing their behaviour.
They roll 1D8 per level for hit points.
They are treated as "large" creatures for unarmed combat purposes.
They may inflict panic and sanity checks if their hit dice exceeds the experience level of the characters.

I ran into an elder god. Now what?
When first encountering "the others" unexpectedly, there is a chance the creature will basically ignore the puny humans, unless they draw attention to themselves.

This only occurs if the Others have more hit dice than the highest experience level. Roll 1D12. If the score is equal or under the difference in hit dice/levels, the monster will simply proceed with whatever it was doing (look for worthier prey, build the gateway to its home dimension or trample cities).

This of course assumes the characters don't draw attention to themselves and seek some sort of cover to hide behind.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

OSR By Night. The Scholar.

The dusty old university professor, the internet book worm that devours information, the manic obsessive that have been cataloguing and gathering information on every paranormal sighting in the past 50 years, these are all Scholars.

It should go without saying that this is a pulp fiction scholar, rather than a serious "realistic" class.

Hurting people is the job of someone else. Scholars suffer a -1 penalty to hit, when using single handed melee weapons or handguns. All bigger weapons will suffer a -3 penalty to hit. 


I know that! - Scholars are fountains of knowledge practical and esoteric. When needing information relating to history, archaeology, natural sciences or similar academia, the Scholar has a basic chance of 50% plus Intelligence, Wisdom and Experience Level of recalling the information needed.

I studied that on my travels - Scholars begin the game familiar with 3 additional languages and may add another at every third level of experience (3, 6, 9 and so forth)

Clarify of mind - When subjected to mental intrusions, manipulations or control, the scholar receives a +2 bonus to any saving throws. If no save is normally permitted, the scholar receives one at a -1 penalty.

I'm not mad! - If a scholar fails a sanity check, the character may still take rational actions for 1D6 rounds, before panic reactions kick in.

Obscure facts -  When encountering mysterious creatures, artifacts or items, the Scholar has a percentage chance equal to their level of experience plus Intelligence to have an insight. This will give the character information about the creatures origin, weaknesses, intentions or attack patterns.
The GM can decide what information to provide, but it should be useful or interesting.

OSR By Night - The Leader

A group can benefit from someone who understands the arts of motivating others, whether through charisma, careful study of psychology or simple bravado.

Note that the leader may not necessarily be the person making the decisions. The class refers more to the ability to inspire and motivate.

Leaders may use handguns, simple rifles as well as melee weapons without penalty.
Heavy weapons impose a -2 attack penalty.


The last mile - Each day, the leader can inspire battle worn comrades to push on. This permits the leader to heal up to 2 x Experience Level in lost hit points. The healing may be distributed over multiple characters and events, but the total in one day cannot exceed 2 x Experience Level.

Move! Move! Move! - Once per hour, the leader may push another character to succeed. This lets them add either a +2 to an ability score, +2 to a saving throw, +10% to a percentile roll or +2 to an attack roll.

Persuasion - When interacting with Non Player Characters, Leaders may influence the character to their favour. The chance of success is 30% plus Charisma, Intelligence, Wisdom and Experience Level.
This will generally not turn a hostile character friendly, but could turn them neutral, or make a neutral character friendly.

Natural leader - Leaders may have 2 additional henchmen over and beyond that permitted by their Charisma score, and all followers led by them receive a +1 bonus to all morale checks.

Stand firm - If henchmen are overcome by fear, the Leader may attempt a Charisma check. If it succeeds, the henchmen will not abandon the leader, instead remaining near and fighting defensively.
They will not act in an aggressive manner however.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

OSR By Night. The modern rogue.

Thieves, cat burglars and other shifty characters all fall into the Rogue class. If you need stuff done on the quiet, this is who you go to.

Rogues are skilled in single handed melee weapons, hand guns and other light firearms. They suffer a -2 penalty to hit with any other weapons.
The exception is a rogue firing a rifle, from an unobserved, prepared position. In such circumstances ("sniping"), no penalty applies.

Roguery - Rogues may attempt various tasks of pilfering and device manipulation such as lock picking. This is resolved as a percentile roll. The chance is 50% plus the Dexterity score and Experience Level of the rogue.

Fast talking - Rogues may attempt to fast talk a non player character. This comes down to rattling off information and excuses very rapidly, seeking to confuse and dazzle the recipient, usually to get past them or make good an escape. This won't help with a character that is ready to attack but can avoid or at least delay most dangerous situations.
The chance of success, as a percentile, is 30% plus the rogue's Charisma, Wisdom and Experience Levels.

Shank! - While a proper rogue avoids physical altercations, sometimes the situation is unavoidable. A rogue that attacks an unsuspecting or unprepared target receives a +2 bonus to attack, and a +2 bonus to damage.
This does not require the rogue to be unseen, but the attack has to be unexpected.

Streetwise - The streets are natural territory for rogues. To find a generic, useful non player character or location, the rogue has a percentile chance equal to 20+Intelligence+Wisdom+Experience Level.

Agility - Rogue's can accomplish most acts of climbing, sneaking and squeezing through tight spots, with the same chance as their chance at the Roguery skill.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

OSR By Night. The Brawler class

Characters who are primarily there to hurt people are brawlers. Whether a professional boxer, a hardened street fighter or a federal agent that strikes first and looks for evidence later, the brawler can be an essential asset to the adventuring party.

Fighting is of course what the brawler is all about. As such, brawlers may use any weapons they come across in their travels, though highly unfamiliar devices will require an hour of training (and spare ammunition if applicable) to avoid a -1 penalty to hit, due to lack of practice.

Talking with your fists - Brawlers are proficient at hand to hand combat. They receive a +1 bonus to all melee attack rolls, and may reroll any 1's rolled, when rolling damage or shock points for melee attacks.

Grit your teeth - Brawlers receive a +1 hit point bonus on every even level of experience (2, 4, 6 and so forth). Additionally, saving throws against poisons, diseases and exhaustion are taken with a +1 bonus.

Hauling ammo - Shooting people needs ammunition. Brawlers may carry 10% additional items without encumbrance penalties.

Not quite done - If reduced to 0, -1 or -2 hit points, the brawler immediately receives a free attack against a target in range, before succumbing to their injuries. If a blow reduces the brawler to less than -2 hit points in one blow, the massive damage prevents this skill from triggering.

Bull strength - Brawlers may attempt feats of strength or endurance that would be beyond a lesser character. Their chance of doing this is a percentage equal to the brawlers Strength, Constitution and Experience Level added together.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

OSR By Night. Punching guys in the face.

This is written for By Night, but is applicable to regular OSR games as well.

Fisticuffs are commonplace in pulp stories, and many modern day characters may find themselves in a situation where they are not armed, but having to defend themselves.

Rather than hit point damage, unarmed attacks primarily inflict "shock". Base shock is 1D4, modified by strength bonus. Each point of shock gives a 10% chance of the target being stunned, dazed or otherwise incapacitated.

While still active, a character may spend a round inactive. This permits them to roll a Constitution check. On a success, 1 point of shock is shaken off.

Incapacitated characters generally come to in 2D6 rounds.

Large creatures:
Creatures that are larger and tougher than humans, such as a bear or shark, cannot be incapacitated under normal circumstances by un-armed attacks. Instead, each point shock gives a 5% chance of driving the creature away for 1D6 rounds. 

OSR By Night. The Investigator. Tier 1 class.

The Investigator is one of the basic Tier 1 classes that is applicable to a wide range of campaigns.

Whether a professional, such as a journalist, or simply an amateur with a knack for sleuthing and discovering information, the Investigator tries to uncover the truth about what is going on.

Digging around dark corners and damp ruins can be hazardous for your health, so Investigators tend to be skilled with most simple weapons, such as basic firearms and one handed melee weapons. To use military weapons, explosives or two handed weapons would cause a -2 penalty to attack rolls.

Eye for detail - If taking a round to scan a scene, the Investigator has a 2 in 6 chance of noticing if anything is hidden, concealed or otherwise out of the ordinary in the location. This does not tell the player what exactly is there, simply that something does not feel quite right.

Just a shadow - Investigators can follow a person while remaining undetected. This is resolved as a percentage roll. The basic chance is 50% plus the Investigators Dexterity score, plus their Experience level.
On a failed roll, the character must choose between losing the trail or being spotted.

He's up to something - When receiving information from a non player character, the Investigators player may roll 1D6. On a roll of 1, the DM will inform the player whether the information is true or false, to the best knowledge of the NPC in question.

Researching a mark - If digging through news papers, library books and similar to find information pertaining to a person, event or location, the Investigator may locate 1 piece of information per level of experience. It generally takes 1 day for each piece of information, and the Investigator must have access to relevant sources for the information in question.

Would you mind answering some questions - When interviewing or interrogating a person, roll 1D20. If the Investigator rolls equal or under their Charisma score, they will receive one clue. 
A clue is any piece of information that is not already known. Generally a clue would be a connection between the character in question and another character, a location, an item or an event.

The clue may be significant or it may be trivial. That a character is NOT connected to a certain event, location or other character is a valid clue, though when determining which clue to give, give priority to connections rather than a lack of such in most cases.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Goblin frenzy. DM rule.

A quickie for any OSR fantasy game. Goblinoid creatures can be cowardly and craven when cornered but they also often have a reputation for blind rage and berserk frenzies.

If you want to represent this in your games, here is a simple rule for you:

Any "goblin" creature (goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, others as determined by the GM) that is reduced to exactly 0 hit points (in other words, the killing blow is exactly equal to the creatures remaining hit points) will set the creature into goblin frenzy.

While frenzied, the creature will attack with a +2 bonus to attack rolls, and +1 bonus to damage. It will ignore any morale effects and will shrug off any mental spell effects directed at it (including charms, sleep and similar).

The monster will make a free attack immediately at a target in melee range, and will then attack on it's normal turns. If using individually rolled initiative, the berserker attacks at a +1 bonus.

Any additional damage will kill the frenzied creature for good.

OSR By Night. Building the basic character.

Before we introduce classes unique to By Night, we have to look at the basic building blocks of a character.

Characters can belong to one of three "tiers".
Tier 1 characters are plain normal humans. They may well be exceptional in their background. A vampire hunter, a battle hardened veteran soldier and a scientist specializing in theoretical physics are all interesting roles to play, but they're fundamentally human.

Tier 2 characters are those touched or influenced by "the other". Whether they've studied ancient magical rituals, received alien implants or are the result of a super soldier program, they sit on the line between human and other.

The third tier is the "other". Werewolves, alien infiltrators and those infused with the power of a dark god.

The GM will of course have to determine what tiers are permitted, as well as what character types. Talk it out with the players.

What if the paranormal investigators have a werewolf friend? What if one of the group is an alien hybrid?
Don't be afraid to go with something you didn't anticipate, but don't be afraid to draw lines either, if it will make for a better campaign.

Ability scores:

While ability scores can be rolled as the GM finds most appropriate, the default method is determined by your tier.
Tier 1 characters are rolled with 3D6 for each ability score, rolling each score in order.
For a character at Tier 2, roll as above, but generate three sets of ability scores, and select which set you will use.
Tier 3 characters roll their ability scores on 4D6, dropping the lowest die for each score. Scores are still rolled in order, but two scores may be swapped.

Alignments are handled very simply By Night. Most humans will be Neutral. Often this simply stems from a lack of understanding of the world. While individual humans may be "good" or "evil" based on a particular set of moral values, this does not change their basic alignment.

Lawful alignment in By Night is considered to be an active determination to preserve the world as we know it, and push back "the others".
In contact, a Chaotic alignment indicates a desire to destroy or radically alter our world, usually putting it under influence of "the others".

To serve as an example, let's look at a few characters:
A vampire hunter who have sworn to wipe out the undead, wherever they lurk and hide would likely be Lawful.
Another vampire hunter who is simply trying to protect their home town from the undead threat may will be Neutral. While they oppose "the others", they do so on a conditional or situational basis.

A cultist wanting to awaken the elder gods to destroy the world is of course Chaotic, but the scientist wanting to merge humanity with the alien overlords would be too, as he seeks to reform things in a non-human way.

Note that these very specifically are not "good" or "evil" in the conventional sense. A vampire hunter may have no remorse using innocents as bait, while a cultist may seek to enlighten humanity by merging us with the alien lifeforms.

The base class:
While each character class will have unique skills and traits, there are some fundamentals that apply to everyone:

Hit points, unless indicated otherwise are determined as 1D6 per level of experience. After 9th level, a fixed 2 hit points is earned per level.

Experience levels, attack rolls and saving throws are all resolved using the Fighter tables, for whichever OSR or classic fantasy game you are using as a base for By Night.

Monday, 18 November 2013

OSR By Night. Fighting the things that go bump in the night

Tonight, we will take a look at some basic expansions to facilitate OSR combat in a modern setting. This mainly means firearms.

In general, a basic hand gun or simple hunting rifle will inflict the basic 1D6 damage.
Military grade weaponry, like high calibre military rifles will inflict +1 damage.

Weapons capable for burst fire may target 2 opponents near each other (up to say 2 meters apart), rolling to hit against each target individually.

Firing a burst against a single target permits a reroll of a failed attack roll, but no additional damage.
Against larger than man sized targets, resolve 2 individual attacks.

Grenades and similar explosives (like a stick of dynamite) inflict 2D6 damage with a saving throw versus Breath weapon for half damage.

The monsters in the night:

Monsters can generally be divided into several categories regarding how they react to damage.

Mortal monsters will take damage and die, like any other character. While they may be resilient (in the form of armour class, hit points or saving throws), they are ultimately mortal.

Resilient monsters are often from other realities or otherwise beyond normal physics. They only suffer the minimum possible damage from any attack. Simply assume that every damage die scores a 1 automatically, unless a 20 is scored on the attack roll.

Impervious monsters cannot be harmed by mundane weapons. Magic or special implements must be employed to bring them down, if possible at all.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

OSR By Night. Preliminary notes

OSR  By Night is an "Urban Fantasy".

What exactly does this entail?

It can be any of a number of things: Pulp adventurers unearthing things man was not meant to know. Alien infiltrators. Werewolves battling the undead in the streets of New York. Covert government agents fighting the zombie threat.

A mix of any number of novels and tv shows dealing with the supernatural and paranormal in the modern world, all powered by the OSR.

This will be a series of articles that will eventually (and hopefully) become a fully fledged game. It was consist of rules notes, a ton of character classes (I do love them), and various other talk.

It will be fairly "agnostic" in a lot of ways. My assumption is that you use something pretty close to "0 edition/Original" OSR rules. Modify as needed if you don't.
Likewise, I am assuming that weapon damage and hit points are both based on 1D6.

To get your feet wet, you can of course simply use things "as is". Start a game with fighters and thieves, arm them with modern gadgetry, and put them out in the world. Maybe they have to defend a building from a zombie horde, or maybe there's a flesh eating ghoul pack underneath the city streets.

Virtually any OSR compatible monster can be used "as is", or with slight tweaks to provide a threat in a By Night game. Need pre-historic degenerate human cave dwellers? Adopt the stats for hobgoblins or gnolls. A creeping horror, escaped from a genetics lab? Use the bugbear stats.

The same goes for any magic the players may be faced with.

For now, treat weapons as just doing 1D6. Equip the players fairly lightly. Handguns or an old hunting shotgun. Use combat and saving throws as normal, OSR style.
Saves vs Spells can also be applied against alien mind control and similar.

Tomorrow, we will take a look at weapons, combat and making things dead in the urban fantasy world.