Saturday, November 28, 2015

Hoot Horror

For Andy Solberg's upcoming Tomb of the Feathered Mage module for OwlCon. The hoot horror! Recoil in terror...

Sunday, November 22, 2015


Found the finished binoculons sheet lying among some rubbish. Forgot to scan it! Almost lost forever.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Spider King

The Spider King, for the new Owl Con module by Andy Solberg.

OSR Sheet Added to BFRPG Page

Chris Gonnerman, creator of the excellent Basic Fantasy RPG, did a small edit to my hand-drawn OSR character sheet and slapped it up on the BFRPG site. Check it out.

Some Thoughts on BX House Rules

Every once in a while I get on a kick thinking about how to house rule BX properly. And by "properly" I mean to suit my tastes.

So now I'm working on a new edit of house rules. It includes all of the ones I already use extensively. The arcane spell roll is there. It has served me well. I'm keeping the elven faery magic rule (random spells)...which I'm pretty sure I picked up from Gavin Norman's fantastic Theorems & Thaumaturgy. I'm making Dwarfs hard to knock down and making Halflings lucky little bastards. Fighters are getting some serious love with what I think is a pretty awesome multiple-attacks system that relies on the actual d20 face value to trigger it.

(In fact, in a recent play-test the Fighter flat busted a handful of skeletons in a single round thanks to this rule.)

The Thief is getting the crunchiest love. I'm not a big fan of crunch, personally. I like clear, concise rules but not a lot of them. Which is probably why BX has always been my true darling and I keep coming to it over-and-over again.

But the Thief is, by nature, the class that is going to be fiddly. Thieves, to me, are idiosyncratic and prone to individualism. Each Thief should be distinct, a function of the special mix of skills and talents picked up through a life of crime.

So Thieves basically get to pick specialties at every even level. Things like better damage with daggers and knives, better backstab damage, forgery skills, and so on. I also included climbing upside-down and ventriloquism...y'know. Because.

(Though the esteemed Frank Mentzer told me at Gary Con he thought those ideas, mentioned in BX, were "kinda silly"...hah.)

My thing about BX is purity. I don't like adding tables, I don't like changing tables, I don't like ignoring rules, and a I don't like adding rules. I like the IDEA that BX is perfect. But, of course, no game is perfect. And we all have our preferences.

My house rules for BX are intended to be a layer on top of the game where the pieces fit right in and no existing element is jettisoned.

What I would like to do is, eventually, publish some BX-style adventures and settings and include these house rules as a single page in each publication. You can use 'em or not.

Just some random 2 AM thoughts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Doomslakers House Rules 1

The first page of my BX/LL house rules for the Doomslakers Adventure Journal project. And by the way, the Doomslakers Adventure Journal will be the collection of various hand-written and drawn pages of rules, monsters, classes, and so forth that will eventually emerge from a fevered and disorganized brain.

Enjoy. Your comments and criticisms are welcomed.

Spell Failure Table

In this post about my magic house rules I mention more expansive, "cooler" spell failure tables. Here is one I cooked up for my own Labyrinth Lord games. I haven't checked this for errors in a couple of years so you might find some typos.

On a spell roll of natural 1 roll on this table to determine what, if any, weird effect takes place.

There is a poof and some sparkles that do not impress anyone.
A random party member randomly sneezes, coughs, or yawns loudly.
A loud popping or thunderous noise emanates from the caster. Any creature within 50' can hear it.
Bright lights dance around the caster for 1 round.
The caster and anything that was targeted by his magic begins to smoke as if burned. The charcoal smell persists for 1d6 turns.
The walls or other surroundings within 20’ of the caster pulsate with rainbow colors for 1d4 rounds. Anyone trying to concentrate in the area (as in spellcasting) must save vs. spells or be unable to do so while this spectacle continues.
The caster turns green for 1d6 hours. If already green, she becomes some other random color that is inappropriate for her kind.
The caster finds it impossible to speak or understand languages for 1d10 rounds. Any attempts to speak comes out as wild gibberish accompanied by drooling.
The next hostile creature that sees the caster will fall in love with him. This effect is identical to the spell charm monster or charm person (as applicable) but includes the fact that the creature will be blindly jealous of anyone it thinks is stealing the attention of the caster. Merely speaking to the caster will be enough to elicit a violent attack.
The caster begins to float above the ground 1d4 feet. He is unable to negate this effect and cannot easily move (walk, run, etc.) until the effect wears off in 1d6 turns. His movement rate becomes 30' (10') but could be affected by walls, trees, and other things he can grab.
1d4 random party members suffer the effects of a confusion spell for 1d6 rounds.
A random party member is flipped upside-down and begins walking on an invisible “floor” floating 1' above the head of the tallest party member. For this character gravity is inverted. The effect lasts 1d6 turns.
The caster issues terrible odors from various parts of her body for 1d6 hours. This stench is identical to that of a troglodyte, resulting in a -2 attack roll penalty to anyone coming near her (including allies).
A small swarm of angry bees appears from nowhere. All party members and enemies within 20’ must save vs. breath attacks or be stung for 1 point of damage. The bees go away after a single attack.
A group of 1d4 random creatures (allies or enemies) suffer the effects of a sleep spell.
In 1d6 rounds a random 1 HD monster will show up and serve the caster faithfully until it is killed or until 1 day has passed.
The caster and 1d4 random party members are instantly transported 2d4 feet in a random direction. If this would put them inside a solid object they will instead be moved as close to it as possible. Immersion in water or being dropped off a cliff are possible results of this effect. If this effect would surely cause death a saving throw vs. spells should be granted to the unlucky characters to allow them a chance to avoid being moved.
A random weapon carried by someone in the party gains a +1 to hit and damage for the next 2d4 hours.
The caster suddenly knows an extra spell. This will be a spell of a level they already have access to but it will be a spell they have never learned before. They can cast this spell normally for the day but will be unable to re-learn it without allotting a spell slot for it in the future. The spell will appear in the caster’s spellbook.
The next enemy hit by any member of the caster's party will suffer an additional 2d6 points of damage as a bolt of lightning strikes them from the attacker's weapon, fist, wand, or appropriate tool.
A random object such as a wall, door, or table near the PCs starts to talk. It will possess an Intelligence of 6+2d6 and speak all the languages spoken within the party. It will be quite friendly and has a 25% chance of knowing the answer to any question about the local area within 1d4x100' of itself. But it will be curious and ask more questions than it answers. The object will revert to its natural state in 10 minutes.
The caster becomes frozen in place exactly as if under the effects of hold person. This effect will last 1d6 rounds or until she can pass a save vs. spells. Dispel magic will also remove the effect.
A robust illusion appears before the PCs. It will be appropriate to the context of their situation and will not be beneficial to them. Each party member may save vs. spells to see through it. It will vanish in 2d4 rounds.
The last enemy killed by the party appears before them in undead form within 1d6 rounds. The undead enemy retains half its HD and hit points from life but has no special powers other than the standard undead immunity to charm, hold, and sleep spells. It will attack until destroyed.
A rabbit pops into existence near the caster. It is followed by 1d100 more rabbits. Shrews, mice, hamsters, and chipmunks may also appear. If this is just too cute rats or snakes may be substituted.
The caster's eyes grow to twice their size for 1d10 turns. This gives the caster a bizarre, unsettling look and will have a negative impact on reaction rolls.
The party member with the highest Strength score loses 2d4 points of Strength. This PC will regain its Strength at a rate of 1 per turn, climbing to 1d4 points higher than its original score. It will then lose the extra points at the same rate until it reaches its normal level.
Roll 1d6. On 1-3 all party members gain +1 to hit and damage on all melee and ranged attacks for the next 1d6 rounds. On 4-6 they suffer -1 instead.
The PC in the party who is most acclimated to forest or wilderness life gains the ability to speak with plants, per the spell, for 24 hours.
The shortest member of the party grows 1d4 feet in height and gains 1 point of Strength and 1 point of Constitution. Simultaneously they lose 2 from Dexterity. This effect persists until the PC successfully saves vs. spells (they must attempt to save once per hour).
A sudden strong wind blows past the party carrying strange aromas that cannot have originated in the local area.
The ground beneath a random party member or enemy cracks open wide enough to swallow them. A save vs. breath attacks (with Dexterity adjustment added to the roll) allows them to leap out of the way. Otherwise they fall 1d20 feet into the crevice, taking normal falling damage.
Roll 1d6. On 1-3 a single, naked goblin appears and attacks the caster. On 4-5 it is 1d6 naked goblins. On a roll of 6 it is a man-eating ape.
The caster's hands twitch randomly for 1d4 rounds. In order to perform any actions or cast spells during this time he must pass a dexterity check.
A random party member becomes giddy, filled with an indescribable glee. The PC's Wisdom score is effectively 4 and if asked to remain quiet or subtle they will have to save vs. spells minus the Wisdom modifier or be unable to comply. This lasts 1d4 turns.
Roll 1d6. On 1-3 the caster suddenly loses 50% of his weight and 1d4 points each of Constitution and Strength. On 4-6 the caster bulks up, gaining 50% of his weight and 1 point each of Constitution and Strength. This lasts 1d10 rounds.
A cloud of slightly foul brown gas poofs up around the caster in a 10’ radius. Other than stinking, it is not harmful and goes away within 2 rounds.
A sharp crack of sparks sends the caster flying backwards 1d10’, dealing 1 point of damage.
The caster’s face migrates to the back of his head. Other than being quite strange to behold this does not impede his ability to communicate, though it makes even the simplest actions nearly impossible (treat as blindness). This condition rights itself with a successful save vs. spells, which the caster can attempt at the start of each round.
All party members begin to cry. This lasts 1d4 rounds and causes a -2 penalty on attack rolls and -15% on skills for Thieves.
The creature nearest the caster must save vs. breath attacks as flames suddenly burst out upon its body. Success means the creature puts the flames out immediately and takes no damage. Failure results in 1d6 damage.
The next enemy that attempts to attack the caster is hit with a strange dweomer. Roll 1d6. On 1-3 the creature has amazing speed and battle prowess, gaining +3 to hit and damage for 1 round. On 4-6 the creature feels slow and clumsy and suffers -3 to hit and damage for 1 round.
From thin air 5d100 gp rains upon the caster. This gold appears 100% legitimate but will disappear in 1d10 turns.
For 2d6 rounds the ground beneath the caster’s feet lights up when he walks, as if his footsteps were triggering little lamps. The light fades when he moves from one spot to the next. This effect lights up a 10’ radius.
For 1d6 rounds every creature the caster sees, including allies, appear to be random monsters.
The caster gets an image in his mind of a clear, detailed map. The map may or may not be related to the current adventure and it will only be a partial document. He will clearly remember all details for 1d6 hours then utterly forget them.
Whenever someone in the party speaks, his voice sounds like that of a different party member. This effect lasts 1d6 rounds.
The caster manifests a third arm from her dominant side. She can use this arm effectively, though it will not aid her in combat. The arm only goes away with a healing spell or after 1d6 hours.
Roll 1d6. On 1-2 the caster is blind. On 3-4 the entire party is blind. On 5-6 the entire party gains ultraviolet vision. The effect wears off in 2d6 rounds.
The last chair sat in by the caster rushes to the caster’s current location at a speed of 240’ (80’). It will fly about 2’ off the ground and move with as much agility as a bird, avoiding obstacles and attempting to travel in as direct a path as possible. Unless it is destroyed or a remove curse is cast upon it, the chair will not stop until it comes to rest at the caster’s side. At that point it will remain inert…a simple chair.
A large toad hops out of the caster’s sleeve, pants, robe, cloak, bag, or whatever seems appropriate.
The next weapon touched by the caster becomes magical or cursed. Roll 1d6. On 1-4 the item gains +1. On 5 the item gains +1 and casts light on command. On 6 the item becomes -1 and cannot be rid of by its owner short of a remove curse or similar spell.
All rope within 100’ turns to ash.
3d10 random coins in the party’s possession (or belonging to a particular member) turn to hard candy.
The party’s supply of food is doubled, but becomes flavorless.
A magical darkness 20’ in radius appears with its center on the caster. It is identical to the spell darkness and will dissipate in 1d10 rounds.
A magical light 20’ in radius appears with its center on the caster. It is identical to the spell light and will dissipate in 1d10 rounds.
A whirlwind appears in front of the caster. It persists for 1d20 rounds and moves 120’ per round in a random direction. By 5 rounds it can knock human-sized creatures prone on a failed save vs. breath attacks (+2 to save). At 10 rounds the save is at -2 and creatures as big as a hill giant are affected as well as furniture and similar objects. If the whirlwind persists for 15 rounds or longer it will knock down any giant or smaller creature automatically when they enter its path. If it hits a wall of anything less than stone the wall will be destroyed. Stone walls have a 25% chance of falling down. The whirlwind begins at 1’ tall and grows 1’ per round. It can be dispelled.
The caster’s eyes change into snake-like eyes with vertical slits. This does not change his ability to see but it has a negative impact on how he is viewed. The caster will have a +2 on all reaction rolls until his eyes return to normal in 1d10 days. The spells cure disease or remove curse can remove the condition.
A random creature within 20’ radius of the caster begins to glow with a low, pink aura that lasts 2d6 rounds.
The caster emits a low, constant humming sound that can be detected up to 30’ away. Any attempts to move silently within the caster’s presence are 50% effective. The sound is not loud but it is very noticeable. This lasts 2d6 rounds.
The caster’s tongue and mouth become like that of a giant toad for 1d6 turns. While he can use his tongue to grab creatures or objects and pull them to him, he cannot swallow them as a giant toad would do. During this time the caster has a -3 penalty when making spell rolls due to the awkwardness of speaking arcane words from a toad’s mouth.
The caster becomes obsessed with counting and cannot function without doing so. She will count her steps, breaths, how many stones there are on the walls, and so forth. During this time her spell rolls and attacks suffer -4. This effect lasts 1d10 minutes.
The member of the party with the most direct relationship with a deity (such as a Cleric) will see an astonishing vision of her god. In the vision she will be assured that her faith is strong and her god is with her. None of this is real, but the resulting boost in confidence will grant her +1 to attack rolls until the end of her next battle.
A random enemy of the party within the next 24 hours will be compelled to abandon its former life and become a champion of justice and good. If the creature has 3 or more HD it is entitled to a save vs. spells to resist. A changed creature is permanently changed and will pursue the life of a hero even if it kills them.
Roll 3d6. On 3-12 nothing happens but the caster has the strange feeling that something bad almost happened. On a 13-17 the ground turns black and smells of sulfur in a 10’ radius around the caster. On an 18 the ground shakes and a small circle of fire appears. Rising from the circle to its full 7’ height is a barbed devil. The devil comes as if by summoning and fully expects the caster to be a powerful, prepared master. If the creature believes the summoning was not genuine it will attack immediately, attempting to kill the caster and his allies. If the caster can maintain an aura of authority there is a chance (per LL judgment) that the devil will perform a task for the caster. In any case, it will return to the lower realm from which it came in 1d4 turns.
The caster becomes very clumsy for 1d3 turns. Her Dexterity is reduced by 6 or down to 6, whichever is higher. When running, climbing, or fighting she must pass a Dexterity check at the start of each round or fall prone. When simply walking she must pass a Dex check every 10 minutes or fall down.
A random party member must save vs. poison or become drunk upon taking even a sip of any beverage. The intoxication will last 1d6 turns and during this time the character’s Wisdom becomes effectively 7. Any attacks made while drunk suffer a -4 penalty and any skills, such as Thief skills, are used at a -30% capacity.
The next hostile party to cross the caster’s path must save vs. spells or become docile, indulgent, and uninterested in conflict. This will affect up 2d6 individuals in a given group for 2d6 rounds.
1d6 random party members and the caster experience a strange slowing of time. Everything around them seems to be moving at 1/3 its normal speed. From the perspective of those not affected, the affected characters appear to be moving at 3x their normal speed. All actions undertaken by the affected party members are carried out as normal with no penalties...just much faster. If the party is in combat treat this as the affected members having 3x as many actions per round and 3x the movement rate. This quickened pace will come to an abrupt halt in 1d10 rounds if the party is in combat or 1 turn if they are not in combat. When the speed effect ends all affected characters will be stunned for 1d4 rounds.
1d10 ghostly apparitions fade into view, pass through the party, and fade away. They will not harm or interact with the party unless someone casts a spell or uses a magical item that allows communication with the dead.
The caster gains the ability to see spirits, ghosts, and apparitions of all kinds as clearly as if they were flesh and blood. The likelihood of seeing spirits is 100% in a town or city, 75% in a village, 25% in a labyrinth or ruin, and 10% in the wilderness. The spirits have a 50% chance of knowing they can be seen and they may or may not interact, per LL discretion. This ability remains until a remove curse is cast upon the afflicted PC.
The entire party sees the world in black and white. Color vision is only restored when a save vs. spells is passed. Characters can attempt a saving throw once per turn in a labyrinth or once per hour when traveling.
The caster becomes invisible, per the spell, for 1d10 turns. Only a remove curse can end the invisibility sooner.
The caster begins to chuckle to himself for no reason. The chuckling becomes loud laughter in 1d4 rounds. A remove curse or save vs. spells will end the laughing, otherwise he will continue to laugh loudly until he passes out from exhaustion in a number of turns equal to his Constitution score. A saving throw can be attempted every round if in combat or every turn if not in combat. The laughing is contagious. Any creature capable of laughing who is within 20' must making a save vs. spells or begin to chuckle and laugh in the same way.
Each party member must save vs. spells or choke up a random creepy critter determined by a d6 roll as follows: 1 = horse fly, 2 = beetle, 3 = stink bug, 4 = spider, 5 = centipede, 6 = all of the above. This causes no harm but occupies the PC for 1 round during which he or she can only take defensive actions and move at half their normal rate of speed.
The caster becomes a fighting machine, gaining +3 to hit and damage in melee, +4 to ranged attacks, and 10 extra hit points. This battle prowess goes away after 1d6 rounds at which time all bonuses and extra hp go away. If this leaves the PC at zero or fewer hit points she can make a saving throw vs. death and, if successful, will be at 1 hp. Otherwise she is dying per the normal damage and death rules.
For the next 1d4 attacks made by the caster he has a 50% chance of missing even if he makes a successful hit roll. This manifests in a sudden veering of his hand, as if some eerie force were thwarting him.
All water and wine carried by the party turns to warm blood. Within a few minutes the blood will cool and turn into nasty cold blood.
A random party member begins to walk in a straight line, randomly determined. He will continue to walk at a deliberate, natural pace until he passes a save vs. spells. He can attempt to save once per round.
The caster loses the ability to swallow for 1d4 hours. She will be unable to eat or drink and may drool excessively and/or spit frequently.
A random member of the party gets a strong feeling that he is being followed and watched. He never actually sees anything, but the impression is so strong that he must pass a save vs. spells or be compelled to search for the follower within 1d4 turns. He may make a new saving throw once per turn. Once he passes the save he no longer has the feeling. Nothing is actually following him.
The ground surrounding the caster emits a sudden flair of magical energy, leaving a charred arcane symbol relevant to the caster’s particular brand of magic. If she casts again from the same spot her spell roll should be treated as a natural 10. After that, the symbol fades away. If she does not cast a second time the symbol remains until she returns and casts.
Butterflies fill the air then quickly dissipate like melting snow.
There is a crackle of eldritch energy and the caster’s eyes glow for 1d10 rounds, granting him +1 on spell rolls during this time.
A streaking, burning rock falls from the sky and lands within 200’ of the caster. Roll 1d20. On 1-10 the rock is very small and barely noticeable. On 11-18 the rock is large enough to smash through walls and roofs of wooden or less-than-sturdy stone structures. It has a 10% chance of hitting near the PCs and/or their enemies, dealing 2d6 damage to all within 10’ who fail to save vs. breath attacks. On a roll of 20 the rock is very large and will crash through most structures, leaving an impact crater about 4’ wide. There is a 10% chance it will land near the PCs and/or their enemies dealing 4d6 damage to all within 10’ who fail to save vs. breath attacks.
Horses can be heard but not seen. They seem to gallop through the party but are not otherwise detectable. Any actual horses within 50’ will be emboldened, gaining an additional 60’ (20’) movement and +2 on any attacks and saves for 1d10 rounds. If a horse has a rider the rider also gains +2 to attack and damage rolls during this time.
The caster starts to notice two small budding horns either from her forehead or the sides of her head within 4d4 turns. Once noticed, she must make a save vs. spells. On a failed roll the horns will continue to grow 1d4 inches per hour. Each hour for 1d4 hours she must save vs. spells. On failed saves the growing continues one more hour. At the end of the hours rolled the growing stops if the saving throws were failed and the horns remain. A successful save reverses the growing and the horns go away. A remove curse or more powerful, similar spell will remove them. A horned character can gore for 1d4 damage, or 1d6 if her Strength is 17 or higher.
All blunt weapons in the party become edged. Maces become longswords, hammers become two-handed swords, flails become short swords, and all other blunt weapons become daggers or short swords (50/50 chance). All weapons return to normal after 1d6 rounds.
A tree sprouts from the ground directly in front of the caster, growing 2d4 feet per round in an uneven, lurching fashion. If in a labyrinth or other structure the tree has a 75% chance to break through stone walls or ceilings and 100% for wooden structures. If it cannot break through it will bend and twist to fill some of the space. This growth will continue for 2d6 rounds.
Roll 1d6. On 1-3 all the party’s coins turn to copper. On 4-6 they turn to gold.
The caster gains the ability to smell treasure (gold, jewels, magic items, etc.) from up to 100’ away. The ability goes away after 1d4 days.
Everything in a 20’ radius takes on a wobbling, distorted appearance that shifts rapidly for 1 round. All creatures within the radius are unable to cast spells during this round and suffer -4 on all attack rolls due to confusion.
Caster gains the ability to speak with animals, per the spell, for 1d4 turns.
The party loses the ability to speak for 1d20 rounds.
The party sees shadows all around. Strange, flitting, monstrous shadows appear and disappear in a threatening manner for 1d6 rounds.
Roll 1d6. On 1-3 all eggs within 1 mile turn red and filled with blood. On 4-6 all the eggs grow to twice their size and produce robust offspring or terrific breakfasts.
All creatures within 20’ except the caster must save vs. spells or suffer the effects of a cause fear spell. Any creatures immune to the spell unaffected.
The caster becomes identical to a zombie in every way to all parties observing him. All magical detection will reveal he is a zombie. The caster may pass for a zombie easily, even in the presence of powerful undead creatures. But he will not feel like a zombie and will not share any of the particular abilities or weaknesses of zombies or undead. He retains all his normal abilities, and when he looks into a mirror he will see his normal self. He is unaffected by the Cleric’s turning ability. This condition persists for 1d10 turns.
A djinn appears before the caster as if summoned and graciously offers food, water, and one boon of the caster’s choice (within the djinn’s powers to grant). Once it has completed this task it will be freed of service and immediately go away unless otherwise coerced or interested in staying.