Thursday, February 28, 2013

Random dungeon content generator

So, you have a map? Let's make stuff in there! (There are many of these in basic sets of rules in different games, but this is for fun).

Roll d10

1. It's empty. Or is it? Roll again. If the result is "1" again, it really is empty! If the result is something else, the room looks like empty, but there's [the result] hidden from sight.

2-5. Some wandering monsters. Roll d6:  "1" those are weaker than normal (-1d4 HD).  "2-5" they are as written.  "6" they are stronger (+1d4) HD.

6-7. Trap or traps! 15 (1-3 on d20)% (one of the) trap(s) is save versus death or die. There is 1 trap 75% or 1d4 traps 25%.

8. Treasure! Roll treasure table or decide. There's 10% change that the treasure or part of it is magical (25% change it is bad) item, scrolls, whatnot.

9. Special! This room is somehow special. How it is special is up to you. Kitchen, guard barracks, treasury room are not special. Teleport to Mars, altered gravity, weird science are special. In special room roll again to see what else is in there. If the roll result is "9" special again, the room is DOUBLE-SPECIAL (or infinitely frikkin' special if you roll 10 and keep rolling special rooms). DOUBLE+ SPECIAL room might be a WEIRD SCIENCE ROOM IN MARS (no explanation needed, it's that special).

10. Roll twice and combine (if you roll lots of "10"s you get a room with lots of stuff in).

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Planning to create core retro-clone mechanics

I am thinkin to create this booklet for my use where are only the basic d20 rules (retro) including both ascending and descending AC (for maximum compability). There would be no classes, spells, items, monsters or anything else. Those would be sourcebooks or taken from a game I run that time.

The point is to create small booklet with all the rules and easy to add own houserules. So every time I take another OSR game I can use my own rules booklet and just take the fluff and material (those spells, classes and whatnot).

I think the rules would be based on a hybrid of Labyrinth Lord and LoTFP, because LL is clear dealing with descending AC and LotFP is clear with ascending AC.

The base of these rules would be from BLUEHOLME (Holmes edition clone) because it's super clear and simple and it would be easy to add all those additional rules. Also BLUEHOLME is a small book, so the core of this universal retro system would be fast to create.

It would be also easy to add my house rules there. Just write rules BTB but add little boxes of alternative rules. That way I can easily see how the rules are BTB and the other options I invent or gather all around the internet. If I find something superior I can replace official rules altogether (although I think I keep the old one just in case and reference).

Also when I read "yet another retro-clone" rules most of it is the same basic mechanics, some things are better but some things are better in another game. So it would be painless to just add the parts to my game what I like as optional rules. That way my booklet could have several different optional rules for the same thing to choose from.

This would be kinda my personal rules Cyclopedia.

When I look at OSR games I find that actual rules don't take that much space. Character creation (without classes) and core mechanics (adventuring, combat, task resolution) take only a small portion when classes, spells, items, monsters etc. take the biggest part of the page count. How much are the core rules in pages? 20 maximum? Own additions and house rules don't add that much.

The process would be:
1. Take rules material from BLUEHOLME
2. Add and modify rules from LL
3. Add and modify rules from LoTFP
4. Add and modify house-rules when necessary

Also if there are rules variants I can easily do this:

Labyrinth Lord roll d20 and check the table
LoTFP roll d20 over AC
House-rule open fortune cookie and improvise

So basically when I need a rule I just find it from the booklet and choose what suits best for the game I am running. One book three set of rules for (almost) everything?

Also this core retro rules booklet would be faithful for its sources and my house-rules would only be grey boxes.

Currently I am running to different systems and I got house-rules literally everywhere (G+, blog, notepad, in my head, napkins) so it would be super convenient to put all this information in one place. Also it wouldn't matter what game I run when all the rules are in the same booklet. Only thing I need from different games is fluff rules and material (those classes, spells, mutations, items, monsters etc.).

So basically it doesn't matter do I run Mutant Future or LotFP, the rules can be found for these slightly different games from the same place. Only thing where I need the actual game's rule book is the setting mechanics (again classes, spells etc.).

It would work like GURPS. When you run GURPS (I use my rules booklet) the core book has the rules. All the additional material, genre, setting etc. I want to run is in GURPS sourcebooks (in my case Labyrinth Lord, Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, LotFP, Mutant Future, Mutants&Masterminds etc.).

Also if I like feats I could easily add a section how feats work and use D&D3 list for available feats. Only make the rules simplier.

Also own setting material would be easy to work with. I already have core rules written down, so I can just write what I want. I can write a booklet about Wild West, take my booklet to run it and choose whether I use LotFP or LL for it (or house rules).

Also creating core classes would be easy for fantasy. Write class fluff and take rules to work with LL and LotFP. For scifi, wild west, post-apo, 20's gangsters I just need to rename and re-skin those classes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Creating settlements

This is a simple tool and not a complete set to create a settlement from a scratch to ready-to-play. I suggest you use Vornheim to flesh out the settlement. It's also cheap at LotFP store.

Decide How Big The Settlement Is

This is simple and basically based on population. You should already have an idea how populated the area is, how big the biggest cities are and how many smaller settlements are around. You are working with a fantasy setting, so don't think logically. In some areas there might be tens of huge cities but some outbacks are more rural than conquered.

Remember also, that the settlements are not there to serve characters. They have a purpose of their own.

System To Create Settlements

These are example settlements. The bigger the settlement is more there are important services. Roll dice based on settlements to see how many important services and noteworthy factions there are. You might want to use Vornheim for details, but can also decide these details yourself.

For example a village has 1d4 important services and 1d2 noteworthy factions. 1d4 result of 2 and I decide there's a hunter who only doesn't sell some meat and fur (at high price, +25% normal) and arrows (+50% price). Also a small and lousy inn is present, but at least it's affortable. 1d2 noteworthy factions result 1 tells, that there's a priest (Cleric lvl 1).

For services, npc's and quick city layouts (and much more) there are easy tools in Vornheim Kit. You can also use your fantasy city generation of choice here if you don't want to decide everything by yourself.

Settlement Hierarchy

  • Isolated dwellling - Only few buildings with families. Probably farmers. No resources to buy, maybe only cheap bed and meal.
  • Hamlet - Tiny population of  people around 50 to 100 and few buildings. Only very few (if any) services. Important services 1d3-1, Noteworthy faction 1d3-1.
  • Village - Villages generally don't have many services. A village has a population of 100-500. Important services 1d4, Noteworthy factions 1d2.
  • Town - Towns have better general services and population of 500-1000. Important services d4+2, Noteworthy factions 1d3.
  • Large town - Large towns have good resources and more variety in services. Also more factions are present. Population of a large town is 1000-2500. Important services 2d6+2, Noteworthy factions 2d4.
  • City - Cities are big and organized usually heavily walled and well guarded. From cities high status person(s) or factions rule the areas of before mentioned settlements. Population of a city is 2500-5000. Important services 4d6+4, Noteworthy factions 3d4.
  • Large city - Large cities are well known and big melting pots of services, cultures, passerby's, trading and also slums. Large cities are important in realms and there are not many of those, possibly only one of a kind. Population is 5000-10000. Important services 4d6+10, Noteworthy factions 2d8+4.
  • Metropolis - Only few metrololises are known to exist. Those are few and crowded and literally almost anything can be found within. Usually factions rule their own districts and districts within a metropolis feel and look like their own cities in culture, style and customs. Population is 10000+ but usually unknown. Important services 1d4 per a block, 2d6 in a neighborhood, 4d6+10 in a sub-city, Noteworthy factions 3d4 in a sub-city.

Help from Wikipedia:


Creating Examples:

Girgush's Hole (isolated settlement). Two houses next to a mountain. They have small field to feed the five workers who dig coal from the mines. Once per week they deliver coal to a trading crossroads. They are very suspicious for the strangers but warm and fun company in late evening if the trust is gained.

Three Trees (hamlet). The hamlet has its name from three big oaks in the middle of the housings. They farm their food and have few heads of livestock. There are no services available, but adventures can rest their head in barn. There is a village chief, but he is not actively trying to lead the hamlet. He just monitors that everything is all right.

Mornonger (village). Mornonger is a small fishing village with some traffic but it is not near any important trading routes or in a good place for a successful harbor activity. Most of the food they fish they eat and the rest they trade. There is a small inn with extraordinary seafood dishes, small workshop what crafts everything needed from nets to woodcrafts and a high guard tower where they keep homing pigeons. The villagers are well known fishermen among the people who are aware of them and they get better price of fish than usually.

Skalvirg (town). Isolated northern town what has grown when people from surrounding settlements have slowly moved together to form a place where survival is easier. They have inn with great variety of beers, skillful craftsmen (4 professions) and barracks with a good stock of weapons. The warriors are  well known (25% of the population) and sometimes do high quality mercenary jobs. Their leader Skalk the Bald is a retired warrior who is rumored to have killed a giant all by himself.

Anterloin (city). Anterloin is a big city in desert. It is exotic place to travel and many seek experiences there. Slavery is common and the city is well known for their high quality slaves. There are many services available (12) including a spa build over a small oasis, weaponsmith creating excelent weapons of strange minerals (+250% price, +1 weapons) dug from the stones outside the city, and a gladiator arena where all fights are performed bare handed. There are 12 factions. Slavers' guild, priests of the sun god, guild of the dead (mummifiers), Thieves of the sand guild, prince Halmahar and his court only few to mention.

Droggolyr (large city) is the capital of dwarven mountains dug deep over the aeons. Some say that it was a creation of dwarven god expanded by generations. It is also told that from Droggolyr you can enter any dwarven settlement via tunnels. Only dwarves can enter freely and others are treated suspiciously. There are several services to support the city and main factions are from the total 17: The Stonediggers, Craftsmen of the Silver, Trollslayers, Priests of the Stone, Dwarven Trader's Guild, Explorers of the Dungeon, Highbeard the King.

Metropolis? That would be its own post!

Monday, February 25, 2013

[LotFP] Opinions needed for Elven magic



But why don't I just delete this? This is a reminder for self how not to suck.

Elves cast spells like Magic-Users but I want a difference there. If you are familiar with D&D 3e Elves would be more like Sorcerer class in their magic using abilities, but not quite.

This is the idea I am thinking. Magic-Users will be by the book, but Elves will be different. This is how Elven magic works.


Elves have magical abilities. Not studied and learned like Magic-Users with their arcane knowledge, researches and spell books. Elven magic is innate power and more powerful Elf is more powerful his magic is.

Elven magic is chaotic in nature and no Elf can possibly know what kind of powers he will conjure later. Magic is Elves birthright but the nature of it is unknown until discovered.

Elf Spell Progression

Elven spell progression is by the book, but they don't need spell book. Their spell powers come inside them.

Every level when Elf gains new spell slots roll randomly for appropriate spell level new spell slots are gained. Those are the spells Elf can cast. He memorizes spells normally by meditation.

For example if Elf can memorize two one level spells and one second level spell per day that's also the number of spells Elf knows. Roll randomly for two first level spells and one second level spells, those are the spells Elf knows. Elf can memorize spells as Magic-User, for example taking same first level spell twice.

Does this make Elves less capable of Magic-Users? Yes, as they don't have a spell book they can write new spells when they find those. But Elves can still use scrolls, wands and staves normally. But this makes Elves different from Magic-Users as Elves are also capable as Fighters.

The trick is that when Elf casts a memorized spell roll d20 under his level-spell level (1 minimum). If the result is a success, the spell is not forgotten and can be re-cast.

Tremwel 10th level Elf casts 2nd level spell. He rolls d20 against his level - spell level (8). If the die result is 1-8 he doesn't forget the spell and can re-cast it later.

But as Elven magic is chaotic in nature there's 5% change (result 20) that something goes wrong and the spell effect backfires. For example Sleep spell affects the Elf himself or the fireball blows in front of the Elf damaging him.

It is player's choice to cast spell with this risk. Otherwise Elf cast his spell normally without a die roll and forgets it. There's 5% risk when trying to cast without forgetting the spell, that something goes wrong. Elven magic is chaotic in nature and wild so trying to "tame" the spell when casting it (trying not to forget it) is risky business.

Other option to make spell casting more wild and chaotic is to ignore Elf's level altogether and just roll d20. If the result is same or less than spell level, it fires back to the caster.

Anwylen 20th level Elf casts 9th level spell trying not to forget it in the process to be able to cast the same spell later. There's 9 in 20 change that the spell backfires harming the casting Elf.

This is something I try to work out to not make Elven casters weaker and trying to make Elven magic more wilder and chaotic. I am not yet sure how to do it, but this is one option.

Do you have great suggestions to make Elf different from Magic-Users?

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hit Points explained really well (not by me)

xaxers said in comments here this:

AH! Let me explain to you what HP really represent, rather than just how many hits from a sword you can take:
Really, they're about how well you can avoid critical damage. The fighter with 200 hp? Look, that d8 damage from a sword isn't about him just being so tough and manly that he just ignores the stab wound, it's that he's so tough, manly, and good at not getting stabbed in the face that he moves out of the way of most of the blow, so that you just cut him a little bit. A peasant who has never held a sword? Yeah, you're going to stick him real good, right in his liver. Dead and gone, real quick like.
That is what having a high HP count does--you, without need for additional rolling, basically avoid most of the blow that otherwise did connect with your armor. You get a bruise or scrape instead of a broken skull or pierced lung because you moved at the last instant, or gave with the blow and reduced the impact, or whatever. The point is, your skill at combat is what saved your life from that blow.

In my opinion that explanation is one of the best for HP I've read this far. What do you think?

Friday, February 8, 2013

[D20/OSR] Optional character death rules

Optional "below 0 HP rule" for OSR and D20.

When character's HP reaches 0 or beyond roll save vs. death (or equivalent) - negative HP to roll. If the character fails he dies. If successes wait for the next hit and roll again with new negative HP modifier.

Example: Character's save is 15 and orc hits him gutting him to -2 HP. Player rolls d20 and get's a result of 17. The negative HP is decreased from the roll, so the final result is 15. Close call.
A couple of turns later the character is hit again with 4 points of damage, so his total HP is now -6. Player rolls d20 to save and his result is 17 again, but the character dies now (17 - HP -6 = 11).


Don't want to roll save versus? No problem. Roll against CON. Negative HP is decreased from CON and you try to roll below your CON to survive.

Character's CON is 15 and he suffers damage to -3 HP. Player rolls d20 against CON 15-3=12 and gets a result of 8. He survives the blow.
Next turn character is hit again and now his total HP is at -8 HP. Player rolls d20 against his modified CON at 7 and gets a result of 11. The character dies.


To keep combat fast don't use this rule for normal monsters and goons. They die at 0 HP (or are incapacitated). For "boss monsters" and other significant opponents you can use this rule though.

Character party encounters 6 hobgoblins and their shaman leader. 6 ordinary hobgoblins die normally at 0 HP but Referee wants the shaman leader to be a little tougher and meaningful opponent so he uses this rule.

If the game doesn't list monster CON use its save versus regardless of which version of this rule you use with player character. Or make up the CON depending on opponent's size, racial toughness in description, HD and how hard you want it to be.

I like the death and dismemberment chart a lot, but this is a bit simpler. The point is that character's are not in perfect health at 1 HP and die whether the damage is 1 or 100 points. More damage you suffer beyond 0 HP more likely you die.

There can be lots of optional rules for negative HP effects but I still like to keep things simpler. It's just that I like the idea that characters with positive hit points of any are in good enough condition but beyond 0 they start to get weaker and weaker.

[D20/OSR] Counter attack

This optional rule can be used with games that use D20 to hit and higher is better.

When attack roll is low enough there's a change that an opponent can do an immediate counter attack. When counter attack happens roll normally to hit. The change of counter attack depends on character's level or monster's HD.

The number listed for counter attack change is the die result attacker rolls.

Counter attack cannot be counter attacked.

Example: Fighter's counter attack change is 1-3. If opponent's attack roll's result is 1-3 he doesn't only miss but the Fighter gets immediately an attack against him.


Counter attack is different for character classes. If the character class in your game is not listed use the closest one.

Cleric (Not only healers and supporters but also warriors of light)
Levels 1-7 = 1 in 20
Levels 8-14 = 2 in 20
Levels 15+ = 3 in 20

Fighter (Trained to fight and good at it)
Levels 1-3 = 1 in 20
Levels 4-8 = 2 in 20
Levels 9-14 = 3 in 20
Levels 15+ = 4 in 20

Magic-User (They rely on magic, scrolls and potions instead of melee)
Levels 1-15 = 1 in 20
Levels 16+ = 2 in 20

Thief/Rogue/Specialist (They have many skills and can use some extra tricks if they get into a fight)
Levels 1-10 = 1 in 20
Levels 11-15 = 2 in 20
Levels 16+ = 3 in 20

Dwarf (Natural warriors with hatred on orcish fiends and giants)
Levels 1-5 = 1 in 20
Levels 6-15 = 2 in 20
Levels 16+ = 3 in 20

(Dwarves have 1 better for counter attack against "greenskins" and giants).

Elf (Capable of both magic and fighting techniques)
Levels 1-5 = 1 in 20
Levels 6-10 = 2 in 20
Levels 11+ = 3 in 20

Halfling (Small and nimble with an extra trick in their sleeve)
Levels 1-7 = 1 in 20
Levels 8-15 = 2 in 20


Monster's counter attack change is based on monster's HD.

HD 1-6 = 1 in 20
HD 7-11 = 2 in 20
HD 12-16 = 3 in 20
HD 17+ = 4 in 10

(Monsters basically are like fighters but as fighters are trained they have a slight advantage over monsters in general.