Friday, 23 December 2016

Touch of Class: The Infiltrator

Didn't manage to beat the deadline, but I wanted to post this up regardless.

This article is free for everyone to steal, modify, copy, adapt or use wholesale in any and all OSR products or publications.
Do give credit though :-)

This is intended for Labyrinth Lord/BX or compatible games.
All game stats are given in relation to the parent system, since things such as hit dice and attack rolls can vary by game.

Prime requisite: Dexterity.
Hit dice: As Thief.
Advances as: Thief.
Attacks as: Thief.
Saves as: Thief.
Weapons permitted: Single handed melee weapons. Short bow. Sling. Light crossbow.
Armour permitted: Leather but see below.
Magical items permitted: Any permitted to thieves and any item related to stealth, invisibility or concealment even if normally only permitted to a specific class.

As the guard patrol turned the corner, one of their number vanished into the shadows.
"Too easy" she whispered to herself as she scanned the courtyard for the way into the keep proper.

Infiltrators are a variant of the thief class, specializing in intrusion and stealth but lacking the more larcenous talents of their cousins.

Thief skills:
Infiltrators may Move Silent and Hide in Shadows as a Thief of the same level.
They add a special +10 bonus to their percentile chances in both abilities.
They may Climb Walls as a Thief of the same level.

An Infiltrator that is unseen may conduct an Ambush attack.
This receives a bonus to hit of +2 (+4 if using a ranged weapon) and inflicts double the normal damage.
If this attack kills the target, it is assumed to have been carried out completely silently.
If the attack hits but fails to kill the target, the target cannot cry out or raise the alarm until the end of the FOLLOWING combat round.

Disappear in a crowd:
Infiltrators have a base chance of 50% plus their Wisdom score and Experience Level to vanish in a crowd of at least 10 people.

This will hide the Infiltrator from all but the most thorough search of the crowd.

An Infiltrator spending at least 2 hours "casing" a location, whether through personal inspection, gathering information from locals or reading maps, will gain the ability to bypass any locked or barricaded obstacle on a D6 roll of 1-3.

Roll separately for each obstacle. Solutions may include slipping in along with a servant, bluffing a guard or slipping over a wall.

Upon reaching level 6, the Infiltrator can bring a single character along with them.

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Day of Class: Wolf Blade

This is my contribution to the "create a character class" creative exercise.
Everything in this article is free to steal, modify, copy, adapt or use wholesale in any and all OSR product or publication.

This is intended for Labyrinth Lord/BX and compatible games.
All game stats are given in relation to the parent system, since things such as hit dice and attack rolls can vary by game.

This class is fairly heavy on special rules and abilities, though this is balanced out by the relatively limited chances to use the abilities.
This would fit well in a gothic horror styled scenario.

Prime requisite: Constitution.
Hit dice: As Cleric.
Advances as: Fighter.
Attacks as: Fighter.
Can use all combat options available to Fighters.
Saves as: Fighter.
+1 bonus against Poison and Disease.
Weapons permitted: May use all weapons.
Most prefer a mixture of heavy two-handed weapons and long ranged missile fire.
Armour permitted: No heavier than chain. May not use a shield.
Magical items permitted: Any permitted to fighters and any item related to regeneration, health or constitution even if normally not permitted to fighters.

The wolf pack closed in around him. 
Gripping the heavy sword firmly, he looked for the apparent leader.

There was a poisonous taste to the air, like a sickness emanating from the creatures.

He smiled slightly. "End of the road".

Wolf Blades are hunters of the most dangerous prey: Lycanthropes.
Many are self-taught, taking up the blood-stained sword after a werewolf slaughtered their village.
The few that survive tend to take apprentices, teaching the craft to those rare few that show promise.

The hunt often brings them into contact with other adventurers and many put their skills to use as hired swords to make coin.

Prey and Predator:
Wolf Blades can identify and follow tracks.
The base chance is 50% in the wilderness or underground, 40% in city scenes.
Add the characters Wisdom score to the chance.

The tracks can have an age of 1 day per level of experience, regardless of rain, snow or weather effects.

Bleeding strikes:
In melee combat, Wolf Blades do not require silver weapons to strike lycanthropes or other shape shifters.
At experience levels 3, 6 and 9 the character can strike as if they had a +1, +2 or +3 weapon respectively, for the purpose of being able to attack a creature only.
They do not receive the bonus to attack and damage rolls, it only permits a non-magical melee weapon to be used.

This benefit applies against any creature capable of shapeshifting, not just lycanthropes.

Danger sense:
Wolf Blades are only surprised on a roll of 1.
Upon reaching experience level 5, the Wolf Blade has achieved a heightened state of awareness.
If surprised, the character may immediately make a ranged attack with a missile weapon at hand or a thrown weapon in a belt, but will still suffer all normal penalties (such as loss of dexterity bonuses to armour class) and can take no other action that round.

Fighting style:
Add a +1 bonus to all close combat attack rolls when wielding a two-handed weapon.
Apply a -1 penalty to all close combat attack rolls when wielding single-handed weapons.

Upon reaching experience level 5, the penalty is removed.

Upon reaching experience level 9, a Wolf Blade can establish a hide out and will attract 1D6+1 followers.
These will be level 1 fighters, rangers, thieves or Wolf Blades.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Valiant Fantasy: Travel rules.

This is taking a little bit of inspiration from "The One Ring" game, but fitted to a method that is a bit more "OSR" in nature.

It is also intended to present a little bit of a mini-game that can be dropped in as needed or omitted as needed.

Note that this assumes a known world, rather than a "hex-crawl" where the players explore step by step.
Many campaigns will have regions that are fully explored and frontier regions that are not.

It assumes use of a hex map for travel. Freeform maps can usually be eye-balled to find how many hexes would be in a particular area.
Blame any inconsistencies on bad map makers in the game world or the capricious goddess of travel and direction.

Determine your travel route
The players will determine what route they intend to take, using their own map.

Measure out the number of hexes to be traveled and the expected time required.
The players must factor in any needed food and supply requirements and pack accordingly.

Delay dice
Any terrain other than flat steppe, plains or cultivated land will have a Delay Rating.
Add up all Delay dice together in one pool.

Roll the indicated number of D6 with every 1 causing a delay of 10% travel time.
For example, if you were expecting 40 hours of travel time, rolling a pair of 1's on the delay dice will add 8 hours to  the expected arrival time.

Travel skill
Some character classes are more proficient at travelling than others.
Two characters per party may contribute their Travel skill.
Negate a number of Delay dice equal to the total travel Skill pool of contributing characters.

A party of 6 may use the Travel skill of 2 characters.
The two best characters have a 3 and a 1, allowing the group to remove 4 Delay Dice from the pool before the GM rolls.

Travel hazards
Travel can be problematic, especially in a world that is raw and uncivilized.
If the party experiences any delay, roll those dice again with a second 1 indicating a problem, challenge, hazard or encounter.

These can range from detours due to impassable terrain, bad weather forcing the party to seek shelter, encounters with enemies or injury to travelers or mounts.

For now, the GM will add these encounters as they see fit. The complete rules will likely include some tables.
A single 1 can be treated as a minor inconvenience or concern, 2 as a major problem and 3 as something that threatens the success of the journey.
If multiple 1's are rolled, the GM will have to determine whether they are combined into bigger hazards or treated separately.

Resting up
Once the party arrives, they will require a day of rest, recovery and repair of equipment.
Failure to do so will impose a -1 penalty to all ability checks and attack rolls until a day of rest is received.

Note that this is based on completing a journey, rather than the length of the journey and serves to discourage breaking a journey into a dozen small trips to avoid Delay dice.

Typical Delay ratings:
Cultivated, plains or high road - 0
Rough or harsh flat land 1
Hills or forest - 2
Swampland - 2
Mountains - 3
Wilderness +1 (at least 6 hexes from a city)
Enemy patrolled +1
Bad weather +1

Typical Travel skill:
Rangers 3
Scouts (rural thief) 1
Druids 2
Elves  +1
Little folk (halflings) +2

A character with a suitable ally might add +1.

Final example:
The party will travel along a high road for 4 hexes, then enter 2 hexes of forest and one hex of mountains patrolled by enemies.
This gives a total of 6 delay dice.

They have a ranger and a scout in the party, allowing them to negate 4 dice. 

They will roll 2D6, scoring a 1 and a 4. 
This causes a 10% delay and another die is rolled. A 3 is rolled, causing no further hazards. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Valiant Fantasy. Poison.

The requested post on travelling will come tomorrow (if all goes well) and Monday (if I get too busy tomorrow) but here's how poison will (probably) work and easily adaptable to your favourite rules as well.

Note that this is meant to make poison a far smaller threat than it is currently. If that is not right for your game, ignore it.

Being poisoned:
When a character is struck by a poisoned attack or threat, the player should mark 3 Poison Markers on their character sheet.
If you like external trinkets, use small "gems" or pebbles as Poison Tokens and give them to the player.

Monsters of level 5+ will inflict one additional marker per attack.

If a character has ANY poison tokens currently, any additional poison attack adds one single marker.

Taking damage:
At the conclusion of each action taken by the character, grab a handful of D20's and roll one Poison saving throw per Poison Token currently on the character.
Each failed save causes 1 token to remain and 1 HP to be lost.
Each passed save causes 1 token to be removed.

Optionally, any Save die scoring a 1 causes 1 additional Poison Token to be added.

A suitable anti-venom for the poison in question will remove 1D6 Poison Tokens upon ingestion.
It is common in games to have anti-venom be generic and work on any poison. More realism-inclined GM's will restrict this.

Medical treatment (requiring a successful skill check) adds a +1 bonus to the next saving throw.

Upon the characters immediate next action, they may attempt to bleed the wound to remove some of the poison (Note that this is probably unrealistic but its a staple in pulp novels).
This inflicts 1 HP of damage automatically but will remove a single Poison Token.

A character reduced to 3 HP or less is incapable of taking any actions if they have any Poison Tokens on their character sheet.
Optionally, heroic characters may move at half speed (crawling) but can take no other actions.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

What would you like to see next?

What do you want to see as the next bit for Valiant Fantasy tomorrow?

Another race?
Another class?
Rules? What for ? Travel, healing, experience, something else entirely?

Monday, 3 October 2016

Valiant Fantasy - Orcs.

An example of what a monster profile might look like.

The goal is to basically use the typical critters you get in any retro-clone rulebook but adapt them a bit, tweak some of the monster abilities and make things a bit more interesting.

I opted to start with an orc, since they're the most obvious critter.
The idea of these "expanded" profiles is to be a bit more in-depth since the monster list won't be terribly long.
As such, each monster that is included must make up some of the empty space by being a more detailed encounter.

They're also going to be set up to support a bit more tactical fiddling with miniature figures, though it won't really be a requirement.

This is focused just on rules, not on descriptions or fluff text, since I doubt anyone buys OSR games to read yet another explanation for what orcs look like or why they eat people.

Reaction Roll modifiers apply to a 2D6 roll, akin to the B/X D&D reaction roll.
Morale is a 2D6 roll.
This uses "level" instead of "hit dice" and gives a suggested hit point total (based on D6's).

Armour class: 6
Level: 1 - 3 HP.
Movement rate: 6". In caves, ignore 2" of terrain penalty per turn.
Attacks: 1
Damage: By weapon.
Typical group: 2D4. Add 1D4 in enemy territory.
Saving throws: As a level 1 Fighter. +2 to saving throws vs poison.
Morale: 6. Raise by +2 when facing Dwarves.
Reaction rolls: React at -2. If the group includes Dwarves, react at -3. Always hostile when facing Elves.

Scouts have AC 7 and may move at full pace and fire bows.

Elites have AC 4, 5 HP and +2 Morale. They receive a +1 attack bonus when attacking humanoid opponents.

Beefing up:
Any orc may be increased up to Level 3.
For each Level increase add +3 Hit Points and reduce Armour Class by 1.

Orcs are naturally craven and do not increase their Morale with Levels.

Valiant Fantasy: Visceral Combat rolls

When rolling for damage, two additional D6 are rolled.
These are only read to see if they roll a 6. Any other score is ignored and disregard.

For convenience of play, designate specific colours that are used only for the Visceral dice.
Once designated, these dice are not used for any other purpose.

We suggest Red for Injury and Black for Stun.

Injury die:
On a successful weapons hit, if the Injury die scores a 6, the target is Wounded.

A Wounded character must deduct 1 from all attack dice rolls.
If using miniatures in combat, subtract 1" from movement rates.

Multiple Wounds are cumulative.

After each days rest, roll a D6 for every Wound with a 6 indicating that the wound has healed.
Double the number of dice if resting in proper safe conditions with ample food and care.

Stun die:
On a successful weapons hit, if the Stun die scores a 6, the target is Stunned.

A Stunned character is unable to take any actions when they are next active.
They may move at half pace.

Stun is removed after the characters next action.

GM advice:
Visceral dice results are applied to all living creatures.
Undead do not suffer Stun but can be Wounded, representing physical damage hindering them.
Constructs cannot be Wounded but can be Stunned, representing the construct being staggered or knocked back.
Creatures without physical form are immune to both effects and will not inflict Wounds or Stun in return as their attacks rely on the draining of life force.

The GM may opt to make a particular monster resilient or immune to the effects at their discretion, for example if a significant size difference exists.

This system will make combat more dramatic and interesting, though it is not mandatory and can be omitted for simplicity.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Valiant Fantasy - The Fighter

Fighters are the mainstay of many adventuring parties, using skill at arms to overcome challenges.

Hit Points:
Fighters receive 1 additional Hit Point at every level of experience.

Weapons and armour: 
Fighters can employ all weapons and armour types they find.

Alignment and conduct:
Fighters can follow any alignment and are not subject to any limitations on their conduct.

Fighter characters do not typically take Skill Checks to do the following unless magic is involved:

*Repair and maintain weapons and armour.

*Evaluate weapons and armour.

From level 3:

*Evaluate military units.

From level 5:

*Evaluate fortifications.


At any level of experience:
When fighting Level 1 opponents, fighters may attack a number of times equal to their level of experience.
If using miniatures, all attacks must be directed at enemies in melee range. (within 1" on the tabletop)

If the party is in a prepared position, such as defending their camp, they may add +1 to all Initiative rolls if led by a Fighter.

Upon reaching level 3:
No penalty for unarmed combat.

Upon reaching level 5: 

A fighter engaging a humanoid enemy in single combat may attack one additional time per round, at the end of the combat round.

May determine magical properties of an examined weapon or piece of armour on a D6 roll of 5-6at

Upon reaching level 7:
Attack twice per round with all melee weapons.

All troops led receive +1 Morale.

Upon reaching level 9:
+1 bonus to all melee damage rolls.

Saturday, 1 October 2016

Valiant Fantasy - Humankind

Humanity is young, energetic and aggressive, poised to dominate the world though they lack the cohesion of their elder cousins.

Hit point bonuses
Human characters receive a bonus Hit Point at experience levels 1, 2 and 3.

Select 3 saving throw categories and add a +1 bonus to each.

Select one Ability Score and add a +1 bonus to all Skill Checks performed using that score.tio

Hardiness 4+
When a human character is revived from 0 HP, they must roll a 4+ on 1D6 to avoid gaining a Burden.

Search roll
Human characters will find hidden items on a D6 roll of a 6.

Detection roll
When listening, watching or otherwise observing, human characters require a D6 roll of a 6 to detect something unusual.

Friday, 30 September 2016

Valiant Fantasy - Skill Checks

The Skill Check is used when a character wishes to accomplish something that is not otherwise covered by a rule.

Examples may include scouting ahead, hunting for food, picking a lock or researching an ancient text.

Skill Checks should be used when there is some risk, challenge or threat.
If the characters are in no danger, have no time limits and face no consequences of failure, their intended action succeeds.

Likewise, tasks that aren't particularly important to the story or a character goal can often just be allowed to work without a Skill Check.

A Skill Check can be handled in one of three ways:

Option 1 - Dice
The player may roll dice to bypass the Skill Check.

For each Ability Score, the character will have a Skill Check value equal to the score minus 3.
For example, if my Constitution is a 13, my Skill Check value is 10.
These values should be recorded on the character sheet, rather than calculated during play.

Any applicable bonuses are added to the Skill Check value when testing.

"Difficulty" modifiers may be applied at the GM's discretion but the GM is encouraged to only do so in exceptional or dramatic circumstances.

Roll 3D6. If the roll is equal or lower than the Skill Check value, the character has bypassed the Check.

Failure will incur any appropriate consequences.

Option 2 - Roleplay
If the player can convincingly explain how they will solve a situation, then the GM may permit them to bypass the Skill Check without rolling.

Examples may include outlining how the character disarms a trap or narrating a conversation with a Non Player Character.

The GM may either approve or deny the Check outright or if unconvinced or uncertain may let the player attempt a dice roll to pass with a +3 bonus.

Option 3 - Struggle
The player may offer up a negative consequence.
If the GM approves, the character suffers the consequence but bypasses the Skill Check.
For example, if bluffing your way past a guard, you may offer that the guard lets you go but will become suspicious and pursue in a few minutes.

Unless the GM judges the consequence to be uninteresting or too trivial, this will bypass the Check.

Unless exceptional circumstances exist, a given encounter, scene, location or situation should not demand more than 3 Skill Checks.

Once that limit has been reached, further complications in the same encounter, scene or location should either succeed or fail automatically based on the GM's decision.

This rule is intended to keep the game moving and ensure that you only Check when significant and interesting things are at stake.
Don't roll dice for trivial problems.

If you consistently bump up against this limit, it may be a good indication that you are gate-keeping too many things behind Skill Checks.

You may opt to not use this rule during your initial plays of the game.

Valiant Fantasy - Allies

Every hero needs someone they can rely upon.

If using the Ally system, each player character will begin play with an Ally.
In a more low-key campaign, Ally acquisition can be delayed until level 2 at the GM's decision.

An Ally is a close friend that will adventure with you and generally try to help you out.
Allies are NOT Henchmen or Hirelings and are not created as fully fledged characters.
(This chapter references Skill Checks, this is an ability score check taken on 3D6 instead of the customary D20)

Ally functions:
Each Ally is associated with a particular ability score and will have a single Ally skill.

When the Ally is present and able to assist, they will lend their skill to the player character they are associated with.
Whenever the character must attempt a Skill Check, they may add a +1 bonus if the Skill check is using the ability score the Ally is associated with.

My thief friend is a Dexterity character.
If I try to make any Dexterity based Skill Check with her around, I can increase my effective Dexterity score by 1 points.
Sample Ally skills
Combat +1 attack bonus in hand to hand combat.
Sixth sense +1 bonus to saving throws.
Alertness - +1 to Detection rolls.
Survival - When hitting 0 HP, death clock starts one higher.
Archery - +2 hit bonus when making ranged attacks.
Mobility - Increase combat movement by 10%.
Scouting - +1 to Search rolls.
Wilderness - Reduce travel times by 10%.
Crafting - Reduce crafting times by 20%.

Ally acquisition
A character may add a second Ally at experience levels 4 and 8. 
Allies of the same character cannot have the same skill but may be associated with the same Ability Score if desired.

Allies in play
Allies are considered to be part of the scene.
If the party is in combat or subject to a threat, Allies are assumed to be engaged as well but no dice are rolled.
Their fate is generally dependent on the player character.

Allies are not affected by attacks, magical effects or traps that target the player characters:
Assume that the Ally is wounded, roughed up or exhausted but is able to keep up with the player characters as needed.

A threat, trap or hazard may specifically target an Ally, causing them to be incapacitated until the group can rest at a safe location with ample food and drink.
If the entire group is affected by a trap or hazard, one Ally will be incapacitated in any appropriate manner.

Allies do not take independent actions that require any dice roll.
If making a skill check using the Ally bonus, the player may narrate that the Ally is performing the action in their place, but they cannot perform further actions that result from the Skill Check.

I make a Dexterity Skill Check using my Thief.
I explain that she sneaks forward to spy on the band of orcs.

If she is spotted, the GM may narrate her slipping away under the cover of night.
Alternatively, if the failure would have resulted in the player character being injured (for example by an ambush from orc archers), the thief could be captured or they might be injured and incapacitated, stumbling back into our camp with an arrow in her arm.

Non dice actions
Allies can perform general actions that don't require significant rolls as and when needed.
For example, an Ally could stand guard at a location, travel to deliver a message or fetch help, help carry loot and other straight-forward actions. 

Allies are generally the province of the player in question.
Some players will enjoy a significant amount of roleplaying, devising complex personalities while others will prefer to keep the Ally in the background much of the time.

Beginner groups
For less experienced groups, playing 2 (or more) characters can be confusing and complicated.
If so, delay the use of the Ally rule or omit it from a particular campaign altogether.

The ultimate sacrifice
With the GM's approval, an Ally may sacrifice themselves to help a character.
This allows a player character to avoid a grim fate, fatal combat blow, trap or similar but results in the death of the Ally.

This will raise the Burden of the player character by 1.

Replacing Allies
A slain or absent Ally is replaced upon reaching the next level of experience (or concluding the next adventure if at level 9)
When achieving a new level of experience (or concluding an adventure at level 9), one Ally may be exchanged if the GM permits.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Valiant Fantasy - The Lure

When the hour is dark and hope is nearly lost, heroes have one option left:
The Lure.

A player may ask the GM for a Lure at any time and a GM may offer one at any time.

If accepted, the player receives one of the following bonuses:

*An attack strikes automatically and will inflict the maximum damage possible on the dice.

*A saving throw succeeds automatically and any negative effects (damage, penalties, duration) from a successful save will be cut in half.

*A Skill Check is bypassed.

Lures may be requested and offered after the dice have been rolled.

For each Lure accepted, the GM will note one Mishap for the character.

At any time in the campaign, the GM may "use up" a Mishap to do one of the following:

*Cause a successful attack roll, Skill Check or saving throw to fail.

*Add an unpleasant "reveal" or coincidence to a scene or encounter.

*Cause an Ally to be unavailable while in a particular location or encounter.

The party is ambushed by goblins. The GM uses a Lure mid-way through the fight that one of the goblins is Urzuk the Ravager, arch-nemesis of one of the heroes.

Moments to shine, moments to fail:
Mishaps cannot occur to a character during the same scene or encounter they obtained a Lure.

Time heals all wounds:
Over time, reckless behaviour tends to fade into memory.
If no Mishaps were triggered for a given player in a gaming session, erase one Mishap marker at the end of the session.

Don't rush in:
New groups may prefer to play without Lure's initially, while getting used to the new classes and races.
The Lure system adds a sort of barter system to the game mechanics, which will make the players more active in the storytelling.
Some GM's may prefer not to use such mechanics.

Valiant Fantasy - Character creation

Scroll down to see the two previous posts.

Generating characters will require a bit of a more generous dice method than the typical 3D6, as our characters are expected to be the finer specimens of their particular species.

Ability scores
When rolling your ability scores, roll 3D6, but count all 1's as 2's instead.
For example a roll of 1, 3, 4 would give a score of 9, while a 1, 5, 6 would be a 13.

This means the lowest possible starting ability score is a 6.

Scores will use the B/X bonus system, meaning a 6-8 is a -1 penalty, 9-12 has no modifier, 13-15 is +1, 16-17 is +2 and 18 is +3.

Pick an edge
Each player may select an Edge for their character
This allows you to select one ability score where your modifier is raised by 1.
Do not modify your actual ability score, it remains the same.

For example, if you apply your Edge to a score of 10, you'd receive a +1 bonus but still have a 10.
Edges can bring a score to a potential +4 with GM permission.
For a lower-key game, Edges can only be used to gain a maximum of +3.

Hit Points
Starting at level 1, you will have 10 hit points, plus any bonuses from your Constitution modifier and character class.

Advancing to level 5 lets you raise your lowest Ability score by a single point.

At level 9, your character has fully come into their own: You may raise your then-lowest Ability score by a single point and assign a second Edge (which may not be in the score you picked at character creation).

If multiple scores are equally low, the player may choose.

My scores are ST 12, DE 14 (+1), CO 11, IN 8 (-1), WI 15 (+1), CH 14 (+1) at creation.

I put my Edge into Strength, giving me a 12 +1 score.

At level 5, my Intelligence of 8 will improve to a 9, removing my penalty.

At level 9, it will improve again to a 10, and I opt to also put an Edge in Dexterity, making it 14 +2.

Hit point improvement
Each level of experience gained will raise total Hit Points by 4, plus any class and race bonuses that the character is entitled to. 

Level cap
Characters reach their final level at 9.
There are no further experience levels.

As a result, non-human characters are not capped at particular experience level limits. Any character may progress to level 9. 

Hero alignments can be either Loyal, Focused or Survivor.

Loyal characters will do what they can do to support the group.
Focused characters are determined to achieve their objectives and being efficient.
Survivors are concerned with the well-being of themselves and their group.

A hero can be either Kind, Pragmatic or Ruthless.
Kind characters will try to minimize harm.
Pragmatic characters will try to avoid extremes.
Ruthless characters will do whatever is needed.

A typical healer might be a Kind Survivor while a character with a single-minded devotion might have a Ruthless Focus.

Valiant Fantasy - Goals.

This will eventually take shape into a fully fledged game. For now, just thinking out loud.

Initial thoughts were here

What is Valiant Fantasy? (or what is it going to be, in any event).
We shall abbreviate this as VF.

*A way to play games inspired heavily by "classic high fantasy".
This strongly takes its origins in "Lord of the Rings" and "Three Hearts and Three Lions".
It also includes things such as the David Edding "Eleniad" series and you might argue even classic "fantastic literature" such as King Arthur and Robin Hood.

*The default mode of play is the Quest.
The heroes set out to achieve a goal or objective, whether one given to them or one they have decided themselves.
Quests may involve dungeon crawling of course, but the assumption is that there's a reason to go beyond loot.

*Characters are heroic but firmly within the range of mortal achievement.
"Random death" is less common.

*The game will assume that the characters are indeed heroes aiming to do some measure of good in the world, though they will often be flawed and faced with their own shortfalls.

*Be a bit more story and character-driven than typical OSR campaigning, without being a "narrative" indie-style game.

*Power corrupts. You are no exception.

*The rules must be as approachable as possible.
This will mean they will rely as heavily as possible on existing conventions, to make them function as similar to games like Labyrinth Lord or Swords & Wizardry as possible.

*The game is aimed to be broadly compatible with other OSR material, again for ease of use.
As such, the bestiary will look very familiar but tweaked to fit within the rules.

What is Valiant Fantasy not?

*It is not going to have a baked-in setting, though it will have an implied one (similar to how OAD&D implies Greyhawk)

*While aimed at what could be considered "wholesome" gaming, it is not a political statement on the morality of typical gaming campaigns or some such.

*It is also not a commentary on, criticism of or correction to the "hardcore gaming" approach many OSR games take (high chances of character stuff, low life expectancy etc.) even though it will be avoiding many such conventions.

(in other words, put down the pitchforks, Stormbringer 1st edition is one of my favourite games of all time)

*It is not intended to be ground-breaking design. Instead, it is intentionally derivative, intended to work within the general sphere of OSR gaming.

What will it look like?

*Low cost, print-friendly PDF, limited artwork most likely unless there's significant interest.

*It'll be aimed at experienced gamers, so it will focus on game rules and "crunch" rather than GM'ing or player advice.

*Intended to be self-contained and usable on it's own as a "complete" game (meaning all game rules required and a selection of critters and treasures)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

"Valiant Fantasy". LOTR OSR?

Been on a big Lord of the Rings kick lately so here are some very open-ended thoughts on an OSR clone inspired by the sensibilities of the LOTR books and films and related items (like Three hearts and three lions).

It's not intended to be explicitly Middle Earth and is probably broken, its just a quick draft.

The core engine would be something very similar to the Labyrinth Lord "Advanced edition" which is basically BX stats with AD&D classes.

Everything assumes that campaigns tend to end around level 8-9.

Elves, Dwarves and Halflings stay.
Half-orcs are orcs that have turned against their masters and can potentially pass for human at a distance.

Level limits are gone (due to the low level cap anyways).

For now, the GM handles all questions of who can play what race.
Humans get a +1 bonus to all saving throws.

I'd throw out Gnomes and replace Half-elves with something closer to the MERP Dunedain/Rolemaster "High Man".

Okay so:

Gain the OD&D "sweep" ability against 1 HD enemies (1 attack per level).

Match AD&D 1st edition but add Orcs to the favoured enemy list.
Spell-casting ability kicks in 2 levels earlier and represents ranger "tricks" and "talents" rather than actual magic.
No memorization but uses per day are still limited.
NO healing and NO direct damage spells.

Stay but lose all spell-casting.
Focus on being a Knight type of character.

NO direct damage spells. Sorry guys.

Mages have a Willpower pool equal to the average of Wisdom and Charisma.
Casting a spell uses 1 willpower point per spell level.
Once used up, the Mage becomes subject to a negative personality trait chosen by the player at creation and any further magic use will drain hit points.

XP requirements reduced to those of a fighter.

Becomes Priests. Gain Hit Points similar to a Thief in your parent rules system (so D6 if using AD&D).
Spells require half an hour of ritual per spell level to cast.

Remain mostly as is.

Becomes Scouts. Gain same Hit Dice as Clerics.
Dungeon-related abilities work in wilderness instead.
Pick pockets gone. Lock picking becomes Path finding.
Gain +1 missile shot per round at all levels where backstab damage increases.
Backstab attack bonus (but not damage) applies to missile fire from concealment.

Use 2nd edition AD&D bard or, ideally, the 1st edition illusion-oriented variant from Dragon Magazine.
NO direct damage spells.
Maybe delay magic use by 1 or 2 experience levels.
"Spells" are actually the effect of lore/tales and charm, not magical as such.

Monks and Assassins:
Gone. Sorry.


A nights rest restores 1 HP per experience level. A harrowed night without rest restores 1 HP.

If struck by poison, put 3 Poison markers on character sheet.
Each poison blow while already poisoned adds +1 marker.
When its your round, roll a save for each marker.
Each succcess removes a marker, each failure costs 1 hit point.

Monsters of level 6+ inflict 4 markers.

Level drain:
Level drain attacks do the following:

Inflict +1 damage per level of drain in the normal rules.
Inflict 1 point of Burden per level of drain in the normal rules.

Characters accumulate Burden when in the presence of evil magic, struck by level-draining creatures or when a decision incurs a loss on a friend or ally.

One point of Burden is shed after each gaming session. A great success in the story may also shed a point.

A player failing a saving throw or attack may ask for a Lure.
IF the GM offers it, the saving throw succeeds (and any resulting damage or effect durations are halved). An attack will succeed at maximum damage.
Track the number of Lures.

At any later time, the GM may spend a point of Lure to force a character to roll two dice for a saving throw, taking the worse roll, or roll two attacks for a monster applying damage for both.
Alternatively, the GM may spend a point of Lure to add a complication to a successful roll.
"Yes, you climb the wall, but a piece of equipment falls from your belt, alerting the guards that something is afoot".

When reduced to zero hit points, your character is Dying.

Add 1 Burden immediately.
At the end of each round until treated with first aid, roll a D6 for every point of Burden with a 6 causing an additional point of Burden to be added.

Once treated, your character must make the above roll once per day.

If Burden reaches 10, your character has perished. There is no resurrection and no raise dead.

Once receiving proper care in a friendly environment, with a dedicated caretaker, remove one Burden per week. After one week ,you are able to adventure again.

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.