Familiar rules [LotFP, Archive]

Find Familiar is not a spell per se. Rather, “researching the spell” represents the Mage gathering the lore and equipment required to bind an animal or spirit to their service. Nor is it cast, crudely, as a lure to the waiting fish of the void (for there are far too many sharks, and worse, in those Plasmic waters), but taken on as a spiritual journey and investment. Though most Magi would be loath to admit it, Familiars also provide companionship upon their lonely road to power; more importantly, they provide subservient and reliable companionship, an extension of themselves. Even Clerics will sometimes accept the aid of a friendly or at least allied servant of their Gods. Remember, though –  the price of service may differ in detail, but it is equally terrifying for the servants of Angels as of Demons..

As bound spirits, Familiars cannot be Dispelled, though they can be Turned and in some cases Banished. They are hedged out by appropriate warding magics.

Natural Familiars
Natural creatures are the easiest to bind, and the most common associates of Magi of all waters. They also excite less comment among the uncultured, should the Mage still be forced to hide their powers from the jealous and frightened. A Natural Familiar is created by binding a combination of the Mage’s own Plasmic energy and other latent power to the beast, and is always a draining and deeply unpleasant process for the Mage. Treat the entire process as Researching a 1st-level spell, with the final sacrifices and costs coming only after the ritual is complete. The wizard will be completely exhausted and require a full day of rest when the ritual is completed.
Any sacrifices made to create a Natural Familiar are permanent. Even after its death, barring exceptionally powerful healing magics or extensive and deeply unsavory spell research, the wizard’s gifts are not returned.

The animal gains the following benefits
• 1 HP for each permanent HP the Mage invests in it during the soul-binding rituals. Its natural life is also extended by 1 year for each HP so invested; the DM may also allow the caster to pledge some of his own life force (years of life, HP, stat points, etc.) to the Familiar at an appropriate ration for more HP/Life.
• It may use the Mage’s saving throws whenever applicable. Further, when in the Mage’s presence, any Magic Missiles or similar spells targeted at the familiar will normally strike the Mage instead.
• It may speak freely with the Mage in its own tongue, and be understood. If given a point in Languages, it may also converse in one Human language with others, and possibly even learn other languages depending on its Intelligence. A familiar with Intelligence 14 or more is literate, though writing may be somewhat difficult. All animals may furthermore speak with any others of their kind (cats with wildcats or lions, ferrets with martens and weasels, etc), but do not convey this ability to their masters without further research.
• Most other animals will treat with the Familiar deferently, or at least with appropriate condescension. It gains a permanent 1-point bonus on Reaction rolls from natural animals.
• At the DM’s option, the Magos may make a further appropriate sacrifice of Life Force, magic items, bound Plasms (spell slots) or other resources to grant the Familiar additional skills and abilities. For example, the Wizard with Spider Climb might sacrifice a spell slot to give his familiar the ability to walk on walls and ceilings.

The Mage benefits thusly:
• Speak with, and understand, his Familiar.
• The information and additional insight provided by their presence subtracts 10% from the cost of any magical research and item creation; the Familiar also acts as a “gopher” during the process, retrieving needed tools or bearing messages to those outside the laboratories as desired.
• A bonus point in a single appropriate skill possessed by his Familiar.

Finally, both the wizard and his familiar are marked out from others by their association with each other.
• During the Familiar’s creation, the player must choose one or more features that the Magus and Familiar share. This could include anything from birthmarks and sigils, to similar physical and behavioral features. Each time the caster and Familiar level up, add an additional characteristic to this list.
• They will have an identical plasmic aura to anyone using the Second Sight (Detect Magic, True Seeing, and similar spells or magic items).
• At higher levels, the Mage may perform additional research and rituals to give or share further power with their familiar. Common abilities bestowed include limited shape-shifting, seeing through the Familiar’s eyes at-will, use as a “plasmic battery”, greater facility in speech and new skills, or even human form and spellcasting ability. The process is half as expensive and time-consuming if the Mage knows a related spell (Speak Unto Beasts, for example, would facilitate learning the Speech of All Cats from one’s Familiar.)
• If using the DCC Corruption/Taint rules, or the Maleficar and similar classes, both the Mage and the Familiar may be marked more explicitly in any case where the Familiar is present and participating in the Mage’s spellcasting.

Developed more fully later; I’m poking at the stuff in England Upturn’d as I have time, but so far none of my players wants a Homunculus.

Other Supernatural Familiars
Imps, Gremlins, some lesser Undead, and other Plasmic beasties may desire to form pacts with the Magos; not all will become Familiars, however.  Treat normal pacted entities as a Retainer or Henchman for loyalty purposes, though they almost always require remunerations more.. esoteric than mere gold and specie. Likewise, their housing and feeding requirements are more exotic than most employees. Payments are usually given on Samhain or All Soul’s Eve and Walpurgisnacht as part of a larger ceremony.
Becoming a Familiar requires forging a direct link between the souls of the Plasmic entity and the Wizard. In addition to the sould-binding rituals, the DM and player should negotiate a contract for the creature’s service and enumerate its powers. Its loyalty is affected as a Henchman or other “demi-PC” character accompanying the party. Most will (again) have goals other than a simple share in the treasure the party collects – esoteric materials, information, or seemingly-insignificant acts at requested times. Failing to meet these requests will enrage and potentially even free the Familiar, but the party as a whole is under no more obligation to meet them than they would be any other Henchman’s demands.
In general, a Supernatural familiar will be in a more adversarial relationship with the wizard and his party, but also much more powerful than a plasmically-enhanced natural beast. Dismissing a contract without prejudice will usually return the life force the Mage invested, but good luck getting it back if you broke it. Familiars themselves cannot break the word of a contract but will, of course, twist it depending on their personal goals and general cussedness.

Common points of contracts include:
• Bonuses to Summoning spells and control rolls (especially in the service of the Familiar’s interests)
• Use of the Familiar’s powers at a negotiated price, or amplification of its powers through the sacrifice of spell levels/Stat points by the Magos. Familiars almost never allow themselves to be “used” freely, but will rarely pass up the chance for a little more profit..
• Many supernatural familiars will have knowledge of tongues other than the Magos’. They may wish to negotiate for its skill; woe betide the wizard who blindly trusts a servant of the Father of Lies, however.
• Access to a bonus spell, usually limited shapeshifting or illusion magics.
• Listed punishments for violating the minor terms of the agreement, usually taken as oaths. These will have >very< visible effects.

A Sample Mage, using my generator from earlier (LotFP, NPCs, Spoilers)

Spoilers for my players under the jump. Plz to go away, thank you.


So, this is one of the mages I made for last week’s session, using that generator from the last post plus some of the other stuff I’m working on..

Tables for Creating Low-Level Wizards & Other Fools who Would Tamper With the Skeins of Fate (LotFP/D&D).

Harry Clarke - The Snow Queen

Harry Clarke – The Snow Queen

In addition to my generators on Last Gasp (Wizardly Schools and First level Spells for LotFP wizards), I’ve been working on a full NPC speed-generator for mages, to go with a more general NPC supplement I’m writing. I used it last week for generating a couple towns and their conflicting magical populations. I’m retaining copyright on this one, mostly because I’m hoping to publish – but with a creative-commons attribution non-commercial license if ya want to use it.

Here’s the current draft document:
So, if you don’t know if this town is the kind of place that attracts Reality Warpers, roll on the first table. If you already know who’s there, or you’re just generating an NPC, skip the first table. If you don’t know their level, roll 1d6 at the end, adding mentor/school modifiers

Is there a wizard?
  (Roll 1d8, +2 if in a thaumocracy, +1 if inside a city (5000+ citizens). Note that these modifiers are cumulative. In a large city, roll once  for each major ward or district)

  1. No
  2. No
  3. Hedge-mage/shaman/goodwife of power
  4. Hedge-mage &c.
  5. A Magic-user
  6. A Magic-user
  7. A Wizard (see “Seclusium of Orphone” and “Isle of the Unknown” for more information on the distinction between Wizards and Magic-users. Loosely, “Magic-users” use magic, “Wizards” ARE magic)
  8. Several of them (1d3 to 1d6, at your discretion)

Are they part of a cabal?

  1. Yes. Several of them. Someone’s going to be in trouble soon… (roll twice on the table, taking both results. Keep rolling if you keep getting ones..)
  2. Yes, and the cabal has powerful rivals; they’re in an active turf war
  3. A secular secret society, not limited to Magi
  4. Yes, and it’s (roll 1d6): 1-3 – riven by internal conflict, 4-6 – stable – for now. Magi being what they are, of course, they’re still jockeying quietly for advantage.
  5. Yes, and this mage is in charge (+1 level, may have missions for or claims upon a PC mage)
  6. No, but they have a rival with whom they are as friendly as wizards get.
  7. No, and they have a rival who’s a powerful enemy
  8. No, and they’ve pissed off a cabal or society
  9. No, and they’re at war with another independent
  10. No, and they were cast out of one
  11. No, and they’re in a position of public power (secular or religious)
  12. No, and they’re hiding from one (other than the Church)

How did they learn their skills?

(Roll 1d10 for Magi in rural or heavily chaos-tainted areas, roll 1d20 for cities or larger, add +1 if there’s a major thaumocracy or city in the area. Roll 1d6+2 for Wizards.)

  1. Raised in a local tradition (themed spell list, little ambition, but unlikely to be set afire. Roll 1d6 – on a 1-4, ignore the “why aren’t they on fire” table, and treat as “locals approve” )
  2. Local Tradition (as 1, above)
  3. They’re self-taught (all spells rolled randomly, seeks magical information and knowledge more aggressively, lower a level)
  4. Self-taught, (As 3, above. If a wizard, he was created by an Item of Power)
  5. Pacts and Infernal contracts (Must bargain a thing of supernatural value to learn further spells. Constantly looking for ways to pay that don’t hurt themselves.)
  6. Feyblooded (no iron in their home, despises gulls, gets a +2 on all rolls to learn spells, but can’t roll again. Ever.)
  7. Possessed (Uses demonic abilities, cannot learn new spells. Turning has a chance of removing the demon)
  8. Plasmically conceived (Learns spells instinctively; cut research times in half, but gains no benefit from a library.)
  9. They had a mentor (roll on the Mentor table, gains some free magical nexus or trinket as a gift)
  10. As 9, above
  11. They killed their mentor (roll on mentor table, gains 1d3 nexii/trinkets, add a level)
  12. Their mentor was killed by a rival (gains an enemy)
  13. They escaped their mentor (may be hunted – roll on Relationship table)
  14. They mentor another wizard (+2 levels. Roll another wizard, skipping this table, of level 1d3; roll for the student on “mentor” and “mentor relationship” tables)
  15. As 14, above
  16. Poached from their mentor by another wizard or school
  17. Tutored in a school or cabal, and they were expelled
  18. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  19. School/Cabal, still in tutelage (-1d3 levels)
  20. School/Cabal, graduate
  21. School/Cabal, graduate
  22. Yes, and they’re in charge (+1d3 levels)

Mentor sub-table

  1. Mentor was kind, but incompetent (-1 level, minor magical trinket or tool)
  2. Mentor was kind and competent (+1 level, minor trinket/tool)
  3. Mentor grew bored and cast them out (-1 level)
  4. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but competent (+1 level, gain a spell of cursing)
  5. Mentor was ruthless and cruel, but incompetent (-1 level)
  6. Still under tutelage (-1 level)
  7. Actively plotting to kill or usurp mentor. May attempt to enlist PC aid.
  8. Tried to kill, but failed (Under a curse, seeking to lift)

Relationship with mentor?

  1. Respect, genuine
  2. Respect, grudging
  3. Raw hatred
  4. Subtle hatred
  5. Resentment
  6. Fear (even if he’s dead. ESPECIALLY if he’s dead)
  7. Lovers, or similar physical/metaphysical desires. (Roll again on the table to find the mentor’s opinion on the matter..)
  8. Fondness
  9. Condescension
  10. Apathy
  11. Curiosity (“where are they?”, “are there secrets they didn’t teach me?”, etc.)
  12. Mentor or student is unwillingly enspelled (Roll 1d6: 1-4 – student, 5-6, mentor)

Why isn’t the mage on fire?

(In a Thaumocracy, roll 1d12 – this is how they’re maintaining their own power against their rivals.)

  1. Political favors/blackmail (to include providing black magic services, enchantments, or implicating the “patron” in their own crimes)
  2. Stealth and concealment of powers
  3. Vulgar displays of power (raw fear. This wizard probably isn’t long for the Mortal Coil)
  4. Subtle displays of power (targeted curses, illusionary omens, &c)
  5. Has ensorcelled locals (strategic charm spells, keeps them under threat of a death-curse, etc)
  6. Has ensorcelled major official or patron
  7. Wizard is laying low, hiding from a warrant, rival, or lynch mob in a nearby place
  8. Kills all inquisitors and challengers, subtly
  9. Kills inquisitors and challengers, extremely unsubtly
  10. Powerful magical defenses (Sanctum, magical traps, summoned creatures, extradimensional bolthole, etc.)
  11. Powerful mundane defenses (Bodyguards, army, traps, fortified home)
  12. Political power (Wizard uses an official position as cover, or is shielded by a powerful patron)
  13. Owns or provides an indispensable service (widespread blackmail, providing protection against a greater threat than himself)
  14. Stealth and concealment of powers
  15. Locals know there’s a wizard, and they’re trying to find him (Adventure hook!)
  16. Locals don’t care, government cares (this can change rather abruptly depending on the wizard’s behavior or omens, plagues &c.)
  17. Locals disapprove, government doesn’t give a damn  – and is suppressing witch-hunts (Locals may attempt to hire PCs to assassinate)
  18. Local citizens are down with witchcraft, government does not approve (Locals will be actively obstructive)
  19. Citizens and government approve of witchcraft (Possibly on the way to a thaumocracy?)
  20. Lies (roll again on this table)

The Skeleton Key (Magic Item/LotFP)

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. That’s not what it does…

A brass cylinder roughly a handspan long, and about as big around as a little finger. At the top, the cylinder pierces a twisted ring. It is incised with a well-worn images. The obverse shows a skeletonized body, greatly elongated, tied by its wrists to the top of the hoop, while the reverse shows a bound hermaphroditic figure in the same posture. The images are blackish-green at the top of the ring, fading to a deep russet black near the end, and the base of the key is also blackened badly. A thin slot is visible at the tip of the cylinder on the end furthest from the hoop.

Spoilers follow. Players beware.


FtA: Oathbreaker, The Sundering Breath (New magic weapons)

Came up with a new magic item while reading the old Judges’ Guild adventure “Zienteck”, when considering ways to fix a rather boring weapon tucked into an interesting place. The second pair of weapons (Oathbreaker) were the sidearms of one of my Vampire: The Masquerade characters ages ago, herein modified for D&D/LotFP. If you’re interested, it’s got the basic Vampire stats afterward.

The Sundering Breath:
Created by a former Cleric to aid him in unmaking the Golems and other Things given Unlife in his maddened experiments. He would eventually be consumed by his belief that all Men drew breath stolen from He That Is, weakening the font of force from which all Clerics draw their power. The fallen Wizard would embark on a one-man Crusade to return himself to his former Grace and power by uncoupling the Spirits stolen to craft the Unliving, and rejoin them to the true Breath. That he did so with a stolen spirit speaks volumes of his corruption..

The Breath is a heavy and inelegant Crow’s-beaked warhammer. It is faintly transparent, and the inscribed pattern of golden Kabbalistic runes and precisely-positioned number tables seems to writhe in the hands of its owner. It does only half damage (1d4) to any target that is not imbued with an Animating Genius. When it is used to smite Things so imbued (including, but not limited to: most Undead, Soul Gems, Phylacteries, Golems, and many magic items), the Sunderer has a cumulative 10% chance per purposeful blow of breaking its enchantment. Be wary, however, as the force(s) released may not be especially friendly. It can only strike corporeal things, but this includes binding circles/fields or the like which are currently containing a living or Unliving spirit.
Items of Angelic and Demonic magic are immune to its effect, as are certain types of naturally-occurring Undead; only those made with stolen or bound life force or spirits are vulnerable. Elemental spirits are freed but not destroyed.
The Sundering Breath may also be used to cure a victim of possession – but the target must be struck with the hammer, and with full intent to harm (normal attack roll, and 1d4 damage per blow). Mortals slain by the Sunderer may not be reincarnated, resurrected, or reanimated through any means short of direct Divine intervention (id est, not a Cleric saying “can you do a brother a solid”, but YWH Himself shoving a metaphorical finger up the corpse’s nose).
If a character successfully frees a spirit or Genius with nowhere to go, it will haunt his dreams until guided to the proper Reward.

These ancient weapons are said to have been forged in the fires of the wars against Cain’s Brood, seen the battles that threw down Enoch and Nod. The Man who carries them is a Pariah, a kingbreaker, destroying falsehoods and truth alike in his wake.

Stats, LotFP/D&D:
The Oathbreakers are a pair of ancient, unbreakable bronze short swords, each marked with an indecipherable rune that causes revulsion in all who view it. Its pommels are unlovely chunks of a plain, gray stone indelibly stained with blood, supposedly cut from the weapon of the First Murder. Each sword calls out to its mate: when owned for one full week, the bearer will become consumed by visions and dreams. At first, these will be from the point of view of the owner of its twin, or from the twinned sword itself if it is unowned. Eventually, the character will begin to have visions of flying to the area in which the sword can be found, or the dying dreams and days of its last owner. The owner will also see the Mark of Cain (the same as on the sword-blade) branded on the forehead and right hand of any being who has killed another in anger and with intent. This latter power is shared with anyone touching any piece of the First Weapon, whether deliberately or accidentally.
The blades do 1d6 damage per round, per Small weapons; dual wielding the blades uses the normal rules for your edition (in my case, roll twice for damage and pick the best). Against any creature which has the Mark of Cain, however, they ignore all special defenses, including incorporeality, the need for cold iron or silver, the requirement for certain “plus” ratings, etc.
If invoked, by crossing both blades before the face of another being and speaking the phrase “I give you Freedom” in Enochian, all magical or divine enforcement of oaths they have sworn will be severed. It also dispels many curses, at the GM’s discretion. Finally, a character who is carrying or owns either blade becomes unable to take any enforceable oath for any reason; they will be overcome by chills and nausea, and their tongue will cleave to the roof of their mouth, rendering the character dumb for 1d4 rounds. Likewise, no other being may swear an oath to the owner of either of the swords.
(They can wound, but not kill, Cain himself. Yes, this came up. No, I will not explain how.)

Stats, oWoD: 5-point Artifact. Does one die of Aggravated Damage for each point of True Faith the wielder possesses to anyone who has committed murder, in addition to its normal damage. When crossed, and the formula is uttered, all Blood Bonds owed by anyone who views them are dissolved

The Good Ship (insert name here) (New LotFP Ship types, campaign stuff)

Next session is Sunday. Huzzah! I’ll be doing some bookkeeping, then running Forgive Us. Review to follow.

New rules after the break.

As you may recall, my players capped a ship, and I figured I’d stat her out here. The characters plan to rename her. Incidentally, the Lamentations rules make ship’s tonnage of cargo and crews hilariously inflated compared to their historical counterparts, so bear that in mind as you read this.

S.S. St. Yvette (Portugese registry)
Low-quality Caravel
2-masted, lateen-rigged* (ignores first 25% of positive or negative wind effects)
Speed: 60 nm / day (can still sail ~15m/day directly into the wind)

Arms: 3 swivel guns* (4 mounts on sterncastle, 1 mount forward), one light cannon (currently tied amidships facing to starboard).
11 barrels powder, 13 5-lb shot, 21 1-lb shot, + 1 hundredweight of lead, crew armaments. 3 metal breeches for each swivel gun.
Cargo: 40t, including ~5t hidden compartment (5t liquor, 15t grain).
Crew: 15 + 2 officers (monthly upkeep: 950 sp, 3 shares for sailors: 1 share, 100 sp for Master of Sail. Ship’s surgeon is a PC.)
Marines: currently 5 (1 additional full share, if combat encountered)
SHP: 20 max, currently @ 16 (repairing in port)


Folio update # whatever.

As per usual, work has devoured the last few days of the month. On the bright side, that left me with a couple hundred unexpected bucks, so there’s that. Probably wind up spending it on bills, sed, vitam est.
Anyway, spent my evenings and breaks reading up on the witch-panics in North America, along with editing the folio. I’m just now finishing the formatting/rewording/art choices for the third-level spells, and it’s pushing 100 B5 pages. Open Content + illustrated with public-domain woodcuts (largely Johannes Gerts’ Northern Gods with a side of anonymous fashion pics) = the proverbial win, I believe. I’m also listing the names of the Lamentations spells that aren’t OC in the indices with source links so you can at least hunt them up. I need to check with Mr Raggi at some point to verify exactly what’s open and what’s PI elsewhere, but that’s a project for next month.

On that note – Sakuracon is in mid-April, and I’m also hitting up Emerald City Comicon (more Trek actors than you can shake a stick at, plus custom fantasy legos? I’m there). Literally nothing is going to get done on the gaming front before I discharge my rather extensive responsibilities to the con, so if I don’t have this thing uploaded by Sunday next it’s probably not going to go up until after Easter. All the more motivation to finish now, eh?

LotFP Firearms, Pt Tertius – Misfire Table

I promised this update back in Part 2 (Part 1 is here) and finally sat down and hammered it out. The simple versions are first, but I just couldn’t resist making a longer and more complicated one.

Someone rolled a double "1".

Someone rolled a double “1”.

Damp weather is foggy, or with a very light rain (what we in the Northwest call a “mizzle” – not quite a drizzle, but worse than a mist). Most caves, crypts, and dungeons are Damp as well.

Wet weather means actively raining, or surrounded by constant soaking wetness (for example, hiding inside a mud-filled trench or culvert, or adventuring inside a sewer). NO blackpowder gun may be reloaded in Wet conditions unless the character is carrying Cartridges, or under cover and working with dry powder.
Wet weather penalties also apply if the gun has been in direct contact with water and not reloaded since – for example, while fording a stream, hit by a wave breaking over the deck, &c. The gun can, however, be reloaded without penalty.

Cartridges reduce weather penalties by 1, but cannot be used with cannon.

Using improvised repairs or supplies (powder, flints) adds 1 to the base Misfire chance (cumulative), but does not affect Misfire table rolls.
At your option, characters interrupted while re-priming or re-loading their gun may Misfire it, drop the matches or keys &c. I suggest a Breath save.

As written (Simplest):
When a gun is fired, the target rolls against the gun’s misfire chance.
Wheel and matchlocks must be completely re-loaded on a misfire. Flintlocks must be reprimed only. Advanced locks ignore weather penalties.
Fast but boring, makes flintlocks an utter no-brainer.

As I ran it last session:
When a gun is fired, the target rolls against the gun’s misfire chance. Guns always misfire on a fumble (natural 1), and cannot misfire on a natural 20, even if they would normally misfire automatically.
On a misfire, the firing character must roll 1d20 again. If the gun didn’t fail because of the weather, a result of 1 (or 1-2 on a fumble) means the gun exploded, hitting its user for half damage (save vs. Breath to avoid). Otherwise, odds mean dud loads and evens mean squibs (match goes out, flash in the pan, spark failure, whatever).
Fast in-play, and easy to adjucate. Also, it killed one of the NPCs. Well, technically the botched surgery to correct the injury killed him, but he was already at 0 HP.

I'm so totally not a disaster waiting to happen! No, wait! Come back! T_T

I’m so totally not a disaster waiting to happen! No, wait! Come back! T_T

The far more complicated but possibly more fun version:

When a character uses a firearm, their target rolls 1d20 as well (as in the standard system). (I’ll be keeping the fumble and crit options here)
If it comes up under the gun’s basic Misfire chance, the firing character rolls again on the misfire table. This table is graduated based on the various dangers of the gun’s type. The base misfire chance penalty I originally used for breechloaders, tack-on pistols, and multi-barrel guns has been removed, in favor of direr consequences when they fail.
“Shoddy” guns cost 75% of the gun’s final cost, and take 25% less time to make.

Misfire Chances by Weapon Type:

Misfires on a 1-6 on 1d20, on a 1-12 in the Damp, and cannot be fired in the Wet.
A Lockless gun rolls 1d6 on the Misfire table
Misfires on a 1-4 on 1d20, on a 1-8 in Damp conditions, and 1-16 in the Wet.
Matchlocks roll 1d8 on the Misfire table
Misfires on a 1-4 on 1d20, with no modifiers for weather.
Wheel-locks roll 1d10 on the Misfire table
Misfires on a 1-2 on 1d20, or on a 1-4 in Wet conditions.
Flintlocks roll 1d12 on the Misfire table

Misfire Effects
Roll: Result:
1 or less Explosion!
2-5 Dud load
6-7 Bad Load
8 Lock Damage
9 or more Squib/Flash-in-the-pan

Subtract 1 from the roll if the gun is Low-quality, a Breech-loader and/or double-barreled or multi-shot (cumulative).
Add 1 to the roll if the gun failed due to weather conditions (that is, it would not have misfired without a weather penalty)
Note that this means that a dodgy flintlock is more likely to explode than a well-made one (10% vs 5%) but far less likely to do so than a badly-made handgonne (~33%) or matchlock (~25%). This is very, very intentional.

Explosion!: Well, shit. The gun is immediately rendered useless. Player must save vs. Breath or take half the gun’s damage.

Dud load: The powder was bad, or water got in. The character must reload the gun entirely, taking an additional 3 rounds to clear it, before firing again.

Bad Load: Roll 1d6. If the roll is 3 or less, the gun was underloaded. Otherwise, it was overloaded. An Overloaded gun doubles its damage, and an Underloaded gun halves it.

Lock Damage: the gun’s base Misfire chance increases by 1. Flintlocks must replace the flints, Wheel-locks become unusable until repaired.

Flash-in-the-pan: The priming powder went off, but the gun didn’t, or the match went out.
Matchlock guns must relight the match, taking 2 uninterrupted rounds to remove and replace it.
• Flintlocks take 1 uninterrupted Round to recock and reprime
• Wheel-locks take 3 Rounds to re-wind the wheel.
Additionally, the gun’s base Misfire chance increases by 1 until it is reloaded or successfully fired.

Pistori’s Translocation of Infirmity (new LotFP/D&D spell)

Still working on that folio. For your elucidation, I present a lovely spell of the Second Level from my past. This was based loosely on good old Pagan medical practices, pretty much the world around. Clerics get miracles. The rest of us can only fob off our bad shit on other people..
It is released under the OGL (see the topbar).


range: touch (5 miles)
the caster of this spell transfers all temporal suffering due from a disease to another living being, usually root vegetables carved in the shape of the afflicted body part(s) with a token from the sufferer.
transferring the disease to a vegetable, however, relieves only the symptoms of the sufferer. they will continue to progress in the disease, feeling well and perhaps exacerbating the condition; should they be particularly incautious or ill it may even prove fatal.
should the root be fed to or handled by a being of the same hd as the sufferer (other than the wizard) , the disease will transfer fully between them. unfortunately, the flesh of any animal so afflicted will then bear the disease. commonly, an “escape” or “scape” goat is chosen, and the diseases and afflictions of an entire household inflicted on it; the wizard will allow the beast to die naturally (an unnatural death undoes the spell) and bury it far from the paths of man.
if ever the caster of the spell removes himself more than 5 miles from a living sacrifice, the spell is undone. both it and the sufferer are wracked by the affliction as severely as if the spell had never been cast.

On Pact Magic. Also, Pokemon.

I was musing on Rumplestiltskin earlier and had a realization – it makes an enormous amount of sense if demons and/or devils can only work magic at the behest of others.
I mean, usually it’s already assumed that any bargains they make are for their “own benefit”. Why are the wishes perverted? Not just because they have their own fury and eternities of repression to work out. It’s also steps toward the long-term goal. And no matter how many mortals you fuck over, there’s always another wizard who thinks he’s clever.. or thinks the wishes he has rattling around in his head are his own doing.


John William Waterhouse – depicting a mortal about to do something incredibly stupid.

One of the reasons I’ve been so quiet the last week is that I finally started that Platinum Nuzlocke run. I’m using a modified ruleset (but doesn’t everyone?).
• Can only save at the end of a play session.
• Release any fainted pokemon, and can’t use HM’s on a fainted one.
• Only the first ‘Mon on any route can be captured, although trades, breeding, and gifts are okay.
• Can’t use items in combat. Can only use items picked up from the ground, no buying. Berries can be grown and held.
• Can’t leave an instance to heal until it’s completed.
So far it’s been a hell of a lot of fun, although I had to restart twice before the first gym after my starter got killed by crits in the rival duel >.>. It’s interesting being forced to use utter crap, and having severe weaknesses in my team because of the dual-types I’m rocking (grass/poison, fire/fight, normal/fly, normal/water, and rock/ground).

From the Archives: A Tea Party (Encounter, unique monster)

Most of my limited writing time has gone into the upcoming campaign, as I develop the entries in my Commonplace book. Incidentally, this is something I recommend every DM do; carry a small notebook and a pen with you pretty much everywhere, because Inspiration likes to sneak up on you and cockslap you on the bus and/or at three in the AM. Jot down the most inspiring bit of the idea in a quick sentence or two.
My Tribal class, for example, started as the sentence “Replace Dwarf and elf with archetypes. Noble Savage (last/mohicans, pacte de loups etc? Magical  Dilletante (Johnathan x Mummy)?”. (The latter is where the Occultism skill came from)
Another just below it reads simply “The Feast of Poisons”.

Then there’s this: “Mad princess, tea party, elaborate (and valuable) place settings.”

Ewer, Nautilus - Belgium - 1590Spoilers below the break. None of my players past this point.

Wandering Monsters Aren’t the Only Encounters.. (House rules/gaming philosophy)

I’ve been working on the Encounter tables for the current campaign, and it brought up something I’ve been doing for a while.
So, we all know the standard B/X/1e &c. tables run from 2-12, using 1d4 and 1d8 rolled together (and if you didn’t, you’re going to have a rather weird distribution – explanation after the break).  These days, though, I just throw d4/d6/d8 at once.  I originally started adding the d6 to do surprise for whatever I rolled, but then I started including non-combat “encounters” to screw with my players — um, “enhance the atmosphere of the game”. I’ve found it adds considerably to the tension when the players find a smoldering campfire and don’t know whether they’ve just lost a Surprise roll, or only come across an irresponsible camper’s leavings. So I experimented with making larger tables at first, but it never felt right.

Now I use two to three tables, with the d6 determining which the other two dice are rolling on. Generally speaking, even numbers on the 6 are an “event” encounter – stuff like finding signs of another creature or party, roadside shrines, omens, what-have-you. Odds roll on the conventional Wandering Monster tables. To adjust to the changed odds, of course, I have to roll about twice as often as I normally would. I also skip the d6 and just roll directly on the WanMo table for “triggered” checks like smashing apart furniture or noisy fighting among the party. I also occasionally use the d6 for other things, or to adjust the odds of Weird Crap happening – a deserted road in the middle of a plain is going to have a lot more encounters with random ruins, foul omens, or water sources than with other people/monsters, etc., so I might up it to 1-4 or 1-5 being on the “events” table, and only a 6 triggering a true check, or using the 6 as a trigger for a table of one-time encounters replacing some of the “usual” ones. Unique encounters that you re-roll can be replaced with the normal one at your option. You can also have one or more entries on the Creature table drawing from a local lair or “pool”, with a fixed number possible to encounter, and after that ignore the result or replace it with the corresponding event.

Anyway, my current procedure looks like this:
Roll d6 for encounters -> comes up positive
Grab 4/6/8 and check the tables -> find results
(Note: even when it’s a complete non-combat encounter like a gust of wind, I still follow these next two)
Throw a d6 for Surprise, and having the party’s scout do the same
Roll 2d6 for Reactions or Morale based on the party’s actions (if neither, both, or the party got Surprise) and/or appearance (if the critters did). Note that even a person with Surprise and a profoundly negative Reaction roll might still run or hide if it seems like a good idea compared to taking on a pack of heavily-armed murderhobos.

Here’s a sample table for a road through a moderately-traveled forest, with some notes added below:

Sample encounter table

* For omens: Take a quick card reading/roll off a manifestation, or make one up. Can also represent signs of a “sacred” or “cursed” area, a feeling of being watched or protected, etc. Yes, evil omens are more common. Life sucks.
Good Omens: Any hirelings will experience a +1 on morale for the rest of the day and all party members gain an additional point of HP resting that night.
Ill Omens: next Encounter will be a Creature on 2+ instead, and Unique on a 5+. Morale check for any followers, if failed they will refuse to continue
+ Shrines: Use Surprise roll to determine the size or type and the Reaction roll to determine compatibility of the shrine’s faith. Surprise die: 1, 2 = abandoned/ruinous : 3,4 = Maintained roadside shrine : 5 = Single Hermit : 6 = Monastery or Church.
[Examples of Pagan shrines could be stone circles (for a church), roadside offerings, or even Fairy Rings and burial mounds. ]
** Roll again on the Creatures table, and invent an appropriate sign of the potential encounter. If a Creature comes up on the next Encounter roll, disregard the result and replace it with this creature.


For the Archive: New Magic Items for Lamentations of the Flame Princess/D&D

Both of these items are related to my upcoming campaign; my players should kindly bugger off.
They are intended for a campaign involving Arabic/esque mages, and one will probably be pretty useless to most PCs (other than as a source of cash, that is)

Evil Vizier courtesy of Reginald Balfour's Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam

Evil Vizier courtesy of Reginald Balfour’s Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam


LotFP / AD&D Firearms, Pt’m Secundus

I’m putting together campaign materials for my Colonial game. Today, it’s time to update my last post on firearms with some more specific stats for the guns. Working on a misfire table for my own use, which I finally finished (here)
The usual disclaimer: These are intended for Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but suitable for pretty much any RPG with hit dice. As always, LotFP uses the Silver standard, so bump up prices to GP if you’re one of those folks. Encumbrance also works uniquely, based on number of items and their clumsiness, rather than on weight per se. I’ve listed standard weights for each weapon type as a nod to the AD&D folks out there.

Quite literally a hand cannon, the handgonne has a short barrel and a touch-hole (see: “No Lock” in my previous post). They suffer from a cannon’s standard to-hit penalties. They may, however, be hooked onto a stable surface or fired with a second crew member rather than fired from the carry; they then suffer only a -5 penalty to hit targets smaller than a house, & gain a +2 to hit larger targets. They weigh anywhere from 15 to 30 or more pounds, and count as a single Oversized item.
Range: As Pistol
Dmg: 1d10, or 1 ship-scale HP, ignores all armor less than AC 15 at all ranges
Reload time: As Musket.

A period image of a calliveri, fro De Gheyn's drill booklet

A period image of a calliveri, from De Gheyn’s drill booklet

The Caliver (from which the word “caliber” is derived) is a light-weight long gun. Well, light by the standards of the day – most still weighed well over 10 lbs. A caliver is what most are thinking of in the modern era when they say “musket”. Calivers were standardized at what we now call 20-gauge, Id Est, 20 round lead shot the diameter of the barrel will weigh one pound. Calivers may be fired from the shoulder without penalty.
Range: as LotFP Musket.
Damage: 1d8, ignores all armor less than AC 15 at all ranges. May be used as a club in close combat for 1d6 damage.
Cost: 40sp City, 80sp Rural.
A Caliver is an Oversized item.

Note the lanyard on the rest, which allows quick recovery when reloading.

A Musketeer, again from De Gheyn. Note the lanyard on the rest, which allows quick recovery when reloading.

A substantially more powerful weapon, the Musket is a 12-gauge gun, or a bit over .70 caliber. They also load a much heavier powder charge, kick like mules, and take three “hands” to fire effectively – see Rests, below.. A historical musket could weigh upwards of 25lbs, and was made sturdily enough to use as a melee weapon. The heavy diamond-shaped stocks on most muskets added considerable authority to a good smack upside the head with one, which was quite helpful in the years before the bayonet (plug bayonets were only invented around 1700, and latching bayonets that didn’t block the barrel wouldn’t show up for several decades thereafter).

Range and cost as standard LotFP muskets.
Damage: 1d12, ignores all armor less than AC 17 at all ranges. 1d6 damage when used in close combat.
Muskets count as one Oversized item (the musket itself) AND one Standard item (the rest).

Carbine/Dragoon’s Pistol:
Basically, a sawed-off caliver or a very long pistol. They were designed to be portable and powerful, and were occasionally carried as back-up weapons by pikemen or halberdiers. The carbine counts as a single item, and may not be combined into a brace. It may also be conveniently holstered on a saddle or even a character’s thigh, being about the size of a good sword. They may be fired with one hand, weighing only around 5-10 lbs.
Range: 30/60/120 feet
Damage: 1d8 (2d3 for scattershot, 2d4 if a blunderbuss), ignores all armor less than AC 15 at short range. Does 1d4 damage when used as a club.
Cost:   30sp City, 60sp Rural
Carbines reload 1 round faster than long guns. Note that, like other bonuses, this is subtracted >before< a halving effect such as a flintlock or breech-loading modification.

Miscellaneous items:
tend to break after only a few shots, and need to be constantly sharpened. Characters are, however, assumed to take care of this outside combat if they have a flint nodule, costing 6 coppers. If deprived of flint, or time to knap new ones, a flintlock or wheel-lock gun will become unusable after 2d6 shots. 1d6 flints may be improvised from a tinderbox, but increase the gun’s misfire chances by 5%. A flint nodule or knapped flint is a Negligible item.

Cartridges: Not the modern metal-cased cartridges, these are waxed paper packages of powder in a waterproof satchel. They reduce reload times by one round, and decrease the chances for misfire in the damp by 5%. They modify fire saves and cause damage if ignited in the same way as a powder horn. Cartridges cost as much as a single shot of powder, and may be prepared by any character with a gun in their downtime (basically, in the same manner as flints, it’s unimportant to track under most circumstances; assume a character on the run has 2d6 cartridges prepared if they don’t specify a number beforehand). A sack of cartridges is a Standard item.

Gun Rest: A standard musket rest costs 5sp. This price is consistent in urban or rural settings. A rest counts as an additional “hand” when firing a long gun; the character may hold a sword or other item ready for use in the off-hand while shooting any weapon that requires 2 hands. See also below, for hybrid rests. A rest weighs about 5 lbs, and counts as a single Standard item for encumbrance purposes.

Scattershot and Armor: Improvised scattershot, shots from a blunderbuss, sling stones, and bullets from pellet bows do not ignore armor, regardless of the strength of the user or the size of the gun.

A box full of very bad ideas.

Weapon Modifications:

Blunderbuss modification: The gun can no longer fire slugs. Halves range. Upgrades shot damage to 2d6 for long guns; all other shot rules remain intact. Improvised shot may still be used, at the usual 2d4 for damage.

Double-barrel modification: Cannot be applied to a Musket. Adds 90% to the weapon’s cost. Adds a 5% chance of misfire. Both barrels can be fired simultaneously, but the user must save vs. Poison or break an appropriate part of their body and/or the gun. Reload times are as normal for each barrel. Each additional barrel added beyond the second adds the same cost and misfire chance, and the Poison save if all barrels are fired is penalized by -4.

Breech-loader: Double the base price of the gun, and halve reload time. As with a Flintlock, bonuses are counted before this halving effect, and Fighters round down while all other classes round up. A standard misfire (in this case, misfires caused by dampness are ignored) has a 25% chance of destroying the gun and inflicting 1d6 HP of damage on the gun’s user.

Note that other concealable "hold-out" pistols, such as these, follow the same rules as Tack-On guns

Note that other concealable “hold-out” pistols, such as these, follow the same rules as Tack-On guns

Tack-on pistol: A small-caliber pistol may be built into virtually anything. A tacked-on pistol may not use scattershot. They do not increase the Encumbrance category of the item, and two hold-out pistols may be carried as a Brace. A tack-on pistol adds 5% to the lock’s base Misfire chance.
Range: 10/25/50.
Damage: 1d4. Can be fired in close combat, but cannot be used as a club. Does not ignore armor.
Cost: 25 sp Urban, 50 sp Rural
Reloads as a pistol

A French musketeer using a Hybrid Rest

A French musketeer using a Hybrid Rest

Hybrid Rest: For a cost of 2sp a musket hook can be added to any polearm. It inflicts a -1 to-hit with the polearm in close combat. This was one of the usual solutions to the problem the bayonet solved; a character may ready the polearm simply by dropping their gun, and be ready to receive a charge immediately.

For the Archive: Lehana Mzeruzeru (NPC, Magic Item, Wizard)

Spent last night out on the town with my folks for a surprise birthday dinner, so it delayed my writing a bit. But then an image and a poem crisscrossed in my head..

Tiger cape

There was a young lady from Nyger
who smiled as she rode on a Tyger.
They returned from the ride
with the Lady inside
and the smile on the face of the Tyger.

Over a century ago, the Wizard now known as Lehana wandered out of the jungles and into what passed for civilization. She meanders freely through the countryside, displaying an almost insatiable curiosity for matters grand, mean, strange and mundane. She rarely speaks, and that only (usually) to decline some offering or gesture of hospitality. The villagers living in the areas she visits have nicknamed her “the contrary Albino”, whilst informing her that it was the title of a local deity. To this, as to most things in the spheres of Men, she seems indifferent. Lehana moves as she will; doors and guard animals obey her command, and no warrior remaining alive will challenge her if she gestures for entry.

Most people assume she maintains a holdfast somewhere in the local barrows or in the Jungle, and she disappears for days or weeks at a time, often with some item she has taken on her expeditions. No-one has tracked her long enough to determine her Sanctum’s location, and the few who have sworn to find it never return.

She wears a gown, clearly of Western manufacture, and a cloak made from the skins of dozens of animals – mostly predators. Tribal Elders say the type and number of skins in her cloak have changed drastically over the years. Neither the cloak nor her voluminous dress seem to cause her distress despite the crushing heat. Her only other possessions seem to be a small book and occasionally small metal hand tools; she has never been seen with a weapon.

Stats (LotFP)
5 HD, attacks as 0-level Human, saves as 5th-level Magic-user.
Attributes: Cha 4 (to Men and all other Things), 16 (to Beasts); Int 17, Wis 14, all others average.
Skills: Occultism 2, Survival 5.
Languages: Ki-Swahili (poor), Latin. Has not responded to any other.
Powers: Command of the Cloak of Manifold Beasts, slowed or arrested aging, heightened endurance of hunger, thirst, heat, and lack of sleep.
Spells: Detect Magic, Identify, Item, Be Impressive, Charm Animal: Speak with Animals, Forget, Invisibility, Knock, Locate Object: Speak with Dead, Detect Illusion, Dispel Magic.
Equipment: Spellbook, 2 sacks of various small delicacies and gold hidden within the Cloak and under the influence of an Item spell, the Cloak, and the Ring of Displacement. May be carrying small gardening tools or magnifying and surveying devices. Occasionally bears a scroll inscribed with divinational spells.
She also possesses a Labratory and Library in her hidden home, which is worth approximately 6,000 SP; much of this “library” is in fact a Cabinet of Wonders, with each item serving to trigger the Wizard’s mind to travel some Aetheric path even as her body traveled to discover it. Her home is well-hidden in the nearby jungles, and a number of fanatically loyal animal servants tend it. They will attempt to lead interlopers astray or intimidate them, only attacking if the sanctum seems in imminent danger of violation.

The Cloak of Manifold Beasts
This strange device is a riot of clashing furs, scales, and taxidermy. Each patch of hide is an animal who has sworn service to the owner and been absorbed into an unknown Limbo. Beasts “stored” may thereafter be summoned, with the corresponding pelt disappearing from its weave; it will be under the absolute control of the user until the next moonrise. While the user may call forth any number of beasts, however, only one can be controlled by it at any given time. Any further animals called forth must make an immediate Reaction roll, and may well attack the caster or flee.
The Cloak may bind one beast each Lunar month. Each time a Beast is bound, however, its inherent wild essence seeks a new home. The closest human being other than the wielder when the Cloak absorbs an animal is affected by a Howl of the Moon spell; the duration is based on the HD of the creature absorbed, with each HD counting as a caster level. The duration bonus for casting on the Full Moon applies. Any animal who offers service of any kind, even unwittingly, to the bearer can come under the sway of the cloak – though an unwilling subject may save vs Spells to resist absorption, and will likely be ill-disposed to the cloak’s owner in any case thereafter. Further, any given beast can be bound only once by the Cloak; once freed it may never rejoin it.
Lehana has been rather industrious over the last century. The Cloak currently contains at least 3 tigers and as many panthers, a crocodile, a pack of hyenas, several wolves, an assortment of smaller creatures, and one extremely distressed Indian elephant.

The Displacing Ring:
The ring is a slender hoop of intricately-carved and inlaid bone. The bearer’s discomforts and bodily cares are spread among every person within a 1-mile radius, with the caster suffering only the proportional remainder. In a densely-populated area, the bearer effectively need never eat, drink, or sleep again. Likewise, someone suffering the thousandth part of another’s exposure or lack of sleep and food is quite unlikely to realize he is parasitized.
In a rural area, however, or a small group, the effects will be much more noticeable. Finally, any wielder of Magic (both Lawful and Chaotic) can feel the ring’s tug on their essence, and the web it weaves when worn may be seen instantly under the effects of a Detect Magic spell.

Of Wizards and Magics Arcane (NPCs)

Remember how I said Seclusium got the mental wheels turning on the topic of Wizards?
Have some.

Makhali the Devoured

No mortal is certain who or even precisely what Makhali once was. The few who know aught say Makhali has bartered a deal for power; so long as no food passes its lips, it shall live forever, and remain pluripotent in the magical arts. There is an essential truth to these rumors, and the cunning and profoundly deaf Makhali had held in abeyance a spell which would eternally steal away its mouth. As is ever the case, the Daemon had the last laugh; hunger still afflicts the Wizard acutely as ever it did.
The once-human thing shambling through Makhali’s haunts looks upon all it encounters with the fever-bright eyes of a madman, from a shriveled face and wasted, yet unnaturally strong body. It communicates through signs and dreams. The animus of its hunger has permeated the sanctum, and Makhali now shares its eternal misery by holding great phantasmal feasts* for travellers, trapping and starving them while syphoning the hunger to its own ends. The wretched Wizard’s depredations have infested the surrounding woods with the Gaunt Things and other foul fae and phasms. They drive the weary to its waiting tower and unholy feasts. In the forbidden back of the tower lurk the forgotten remnants of its researches into Demonology and Summoning, as well as many horribly dangerous devices it has cobbled together when the hunger for power and magic briefly drown its body’s baser drive for meat.

*Consider the Feasts to be a multiple castings of Create Stuff That Looks Like Food But Really Isn’t, combined with some extra illusion magic (servants and such). For added ick factor, there’s always the option of using Makhali’s last set of victims as the source material.

Ali Ibn Sawad, Herpepotens, Vocator Serpenticae

Ali is held in the deepest confidences by the ensorcelled Bashah of Tangiers. The Kingdoms of Castille and Aragon do hold him accus’d of direst Sorceries and of Consorting with Demons; to wit, his bruited conferences with a being of the name “VALIS” who does provide advisings and false prophecy. Sawad speaketh to all those in thrall to the Serpent of Eden, and may hold Snakes and other scaled beasts at his whimful Command.
We, the King of Castille and the Queen of all Aragonians and Pamplonese, rightful Sovereigns of all Iberia, hereby proclaim a reward of one hundred-weight of pure Silver for his head, and further its weight in Carbuncles. To this, His Eminence the Cardinal of Valencia adds the promise of a Plenary Indulgence, relieving the weight of all Sins save true Blasphemy.
Any Criminal or Heretic within our power who wishes to undertake this task will be granted a year and a day of Parole; success will grant them a full pardon, but flight shall win them only Banishment and a Warrant of Death.

(The entity “VALIS” is a deliberate fabrication. Ali is the reborn soul of a high priest of Valusia, incarnated through his millenial machinations in a body which fits him ill indeed. He retains his ancient favor with the Snakefolk, and knows their Words of Command. His actions and advice are calculated to bring about a vast war, between and among the Mohammedan and Christian alike. In the chaos, he will take passage with trusted mercenaries and seek to excavate the sleeping-chambers of his folk beneath the newly-discovered Spanish province known as “Alta California”. Of course, the mercenaries are both warm-blooded and somewhat expendable.. and his folk hunger.)

OSR Survey: Trolly Troll’s Top Ten Troll Questions for Your Game.

Got five posts in the queue, but I’m moving cities over the next few days. In the meantime, I’ll do another quizzy thingy, which I got from this dude. Hey, content, amirite?
On to the quiz!

(1). Race (Elf, Dwarf, Halfling) as a class? Yes or no?
Yes and no. I do use racial classes, but I prefer to do cultural classes instead of race-classes if I can (see the Tribal class I wrote up for LotFP a while back). If you want to be an Elf who trained exclusively as a Fighter, it’s fine by me; Slap a Chaotic alignment on there and you’re pretty much done.

(2). Do demi-humans have souls?
Soul, animating spirit, what’s the difference on a mechanical level? Philosophy is a question best left to the players. That said, there are some pretty heavily classical Catholic and Aristotelian underpinnings in most of the worlds I write. So.. Maybe? Elves could very well be demons lovingly shoved into a carefully-prepared Mandrake plant, for all we know, or Dwarves autogenerated when statues are left in the Deep.
…damnit, now I have more things to work into the world.

(3). Ascending or descending armor class?
Descending/THAC0. It’s easier and faster for my old-school wargamer head to compute on the fly. Mathematically, either approach is equally easy and valid, and it’s exceptionally easy to convert, so I don’t get butthurt about anyone’s preferences.

(4). Demi-human level limits?
Never been an issue in one of my games – either the game didn’t last long enough or the character died too soon for it to be an issue. That said, I’ve always thought the whole thing a stupid mechanical patch to justify a DM’s story conceit (id est, why do Humans run pretty much everything?)

(5). Should thief be a class?
Fuck yeah. Or rather, Specialist should. But Paladins shouldn’t – that’s what a Cleric already is. I do “Priests”/White Mages very similarly to druids, only generally with a few more restrictions. Also, staying a miracle-worker requires a dedication to others that most players aren’t willing to accept, when the path of the Church-Militant is so much easier and more.. well, fun, for many.

(6). Do characters get non-weapon skills?
Yup. You can also write a background, and I’ll give you some basic skills based on it. The ones on the character sheet are life-and-death shit, not what you do around the house. You want to be an expert appraiser of pottery with an unhealthy fondness for knots? By all fuckin’ means. Hell, some games – usually the really quick-and-dirty ones – I allow players to interject with a (cue Chekhov) “I can do thet!”. You just have to tell me why and how. It’s an easy way to get players to develop the character more at the table, and it helps define them more than sifting through a 50-page “skill” section.
Also, if you have a skill, it’s assumed to be at a professional level. That means you can accomplish routine things without rolling.

(7). Are magic-users more powerful than fighters (and, if yes, what level do they take the lead)?
It depends. See, the fighters usually have less raw power, but they also don’t occasionally explode into masses of writhing, fornicating batrachia either. Well, not unless the wizard really fucks up. The Winds of Magic have a bad habit of slapping down the arrogant, but they tend to be pretty precise most of the time. Also, wizards get a LOT of shit from the peasantry, where a Fighter can usually be a lot more local-hero material. If it helps, think Jayne/Zoe (Fighters) versus Inara (Yes, she’s a Specialist, but she gets treated a lot like a wizard. Incredibly dangerous Guild and vicious local prejudice included).

(8). Do you use alignment languages?
No, although Latin/Greek, Draconic, and Elvish are very frequently spoken by Lawful men of letters, unknowing cultists/Lemurians, and the Fae (respectively). Large cultural groups that interact regularly in a cooperative way – who, incidentally, often share an alignment for some reason – will usually have some kind of lingua franca. But the linguist in me just can’t quite tolerate the idea that all Chaotic creatures instantly speak the Language of the Fiends as soon as they bargain off their souls.

(9). XP for gold, or XP for objectives (thieves disarming traps, etc…)?
XP for gold, XP as a carrot for good behavior and smart play. Objective-based XP makes for shitty dungeons, because of the choices you wind up having to make with it.
On the one hand, if you want to be fair it can force you to design bite-sizer one-shots, or otherwise set it up so that every convenient “chunk” of the adventure has sufficient challenges for everyone to get the “necessary” XP. But then the players have to go to exactly the right spots to get what they “need”; this philosophy leads to railroading. Plus, the players will inevitably go off the rails, and then you have XP imbalance anyway.
Secondly, it encourages competitive gameplay and punishes players for not doing the perfect Five Man Band (Wizard, Fighter, Thief, Cleric, and a Token Minority). Fuck that. I want 5 Fighters to be able to go in and walk out with the same XP as the “balanced party”, if they play and roll just as well.
Then, if you don’t give a fuck about fairness, you wind up screwing over players in a way they feel is high-handed and arbitrary (and rightly so). Losing XP because they had to ditch gold to flee the orcs is one thing. Being 3 levels behind because the party isn’t finding traps and running heist missions is bullshit.
…also, this question assumes that the role of the Thief is disarming traps. With Specialist, that’s far from a fucking given.

(10). Which is the best edition; ODD, Holmes, Moldvay, Mentzer, Rules Cyclopedia, 1E ADD, 2E ADD, 3E ADD, 4E DD, Next ?
(I consider 3e to still be an inheritor of AD&D)
Of what’s presented, Holmes.
ODD and 1e are both complete, nearly unrunnable clusterfucks, 2e pushes Moral Panic bullshit. 3e is detailed to the point of meaninglessness, and suffers severely from the same splatbook explosion as latter-era 2e. 4e.. I’m just gonna shut up on that one.
I prefer Holmes to M&M mostly because I like his writing style and gaming philosophy.

Bonus Question: Unified XP level tables or individual XP level tables for each class?
I prefer individual XP for its elegance, but frankly it doesn’t make any damned difference for the first few levels of play. Think about it: 5000 XP, and you’ve got a L2 Wizard, Cleric, and Fighter, or a L3 Thief. Wooo. Add less than another grand to that and it really doesn’t change the party dynamic. Also, I find having varied character levels makes the players engage more. They have to make a whole different set of resource decisions when the party’s guide across the Lemurian Plains is a level 1 Specialist with a crossbow and the leader is a level 3 Mage, compared to a time when the leader’s a L3 Fighter and they’re uninvited in Elf territory with only a L1 Cleric.
Back, you filthy heathens. BACK I SAY.Peter Cushing image provided by Hammer Films, no challenge, no authorization, yadda yadda.

New 1st-level Spell: Pistori’s Most Expedient Repairing Dweomer

My father taught me, many years ago, that a wizard’s most important skill is not spellcasting, but fraud – followed hotly by ingenuity.
In the vein of the “Banquet” spell of Better Than Any Man, I present “Baker’s Magic Fixing Spell”, which he came up with long ago. There are two versions, plus the ostensible effect, which you may feel free to insert into spellbooks, etc. This is presented as Open Game Content (see the sidebar for the license).

Pistori’s Most Expedient Repairing Dweomer
(AKA Baker’s Magic Fixing Spell)

Level: 1
Duration: See Below
Save: Conditional. See Below.
Range: Touch.
Components: Verbal, Somatic, Special material (see below)

Blurb when found inside spellbooks:
This first-level spell appears to instantly and magically repair any one mundane tool or other useful item, including weapons and armor.
The material component is a small jar of foul-smelling, acrid ungents (including the anchoring fibers of a mussel and pure alcohol distilled from wood) and the broken object itself.

Version 1: The Original
(This is the one my dad first wrote up; simple, to the point, and slightly worse than Mending. But a LOT funnier.)
The spell instantly and completely repairs one broken and useless non-magical item/tool/whatever. It cannot be cast upon a whole and usable item or on magical items. It can regenerate missing parts if they are irrecoverable, and to all tests the item is perfectly sound. It functions perfectly while performing routine tasks, as well as the first time it is used under stress.
The second time the item is used in any situation of danger or stress, it catastrophically and utterly irrecoverably fails, preferably in an incredibly humiliating manner – armor rots to rust and horrific stains, swords turn soft as rubber, lockpicks shatter and jam in the lock, etc.

Version 2: The Weird one
(This is what the spell evolved into over about 20 years of play. I still occasionally inflict it on my players, and it can get really fucking amusing even if they know what’s going on. It leads to resource games – “how much is having that set of lockpicks REALLY worth to you, hmmm?” – and encourages gambling)
The spell instantly and magically repairs one broken and useless non-magical item/tool/whatever. It can regenerate missing parts if they are irrecoverable, and to all tests the item is perfectly sound. It functions perfectly while performing routine tasks.
Each time it is used in a life-threatening or stressful situation, however, the character must save vs. Spells (or make a Fort/Crushing Blow save for the item at a -1 for each time it is used). Failure indicates that some randomly-selected item or piece of property OWNED by the character (not necessarily carried on them) is irrecoverably lost or destroyed. This can take several rounds to take effect, and the DM is encouraged to make it look coincidental. For the purposes of this spell (and yes, this has come up in a game), slaves aren’t property but the title to them qualifies.
Casting the spell on a whole, currently usable item allows a save vs. Spells to avoid its effects entirely.
Broken Magic items are also allowed a save. If the item saves with exactly the number required, the magics of the item pervert the spell and fully repair it – but it is drained of all its significant powers for at least an hour. If the item passes the save with any other number, the Fixing Spell fails. If the item fails its save, it’s partially repaired, but fails catastrophically the next time it is used – violently and unpredictably releasing the magic within.
Whole and usable magic items will fight the spell, draining the item of some power or charges, but inflicting at least 1d6 of damage on the caster per significant ability it possesses.

Viewing the item in a proper reflective surface (blessed silver or polished iron, pure water) will show malicious-looking imps covering it, slowly devouring its substance. This spell is a Curse, should you desire to remove it, and clearly detects as such if you know how to look..

LotFP Playtest rules: Firearms

Got tired of waiting on Jim, and my brother and I are both setting up games with them in – he in the death of the Middle Ages, me in the age of Colonialism. Because what good is a Colonial game where you can’t trade guns to the natives?
Keep in mind, these are a rough-out playtest draft. It also adds onto the rules for bows and crossbows: it makes a high-STR fighter devastating with a custom-crafted longbow, but a high-dex Halfling with a heavy crossbow or anyone with a gun will give him a very good run for his money.
If the damage seems a little low to you, remember that these will reliably kill 2nd-level characters and even 0-level dwarves in a single hit. And as someone who’s killed a boar with modern firearms, “angry” game with multiple hit dice is hard to take down; I know a man who took 12 bullets and not only lived, but pistol-whipped the guy who shot him with his own gun.


Playtest firearm rules. These rules assume an ascending AC, 5-save system, and are loosely based on the crossbow rules from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. They are intended to cover (very roughly) the period from the late middle ages to mid-19th century.

When using bows, if a character has a -STR modifier, the target’s armor class is improved by that amount. Bows otherwise ignore 1 point of AC per point of STR modifier of the targeting character. Light crossbows have an effective STR of 16 (-2 AC). Heavy crossbows have an effective STR of 19 (-4 AC). Light guns, such as pistols and blunderbusses, have an effective STR of 19 (-4 AC): heavy guns like muskets and hand-gonnes have 22 effective STR (-5 AC). Cannon ignore armor completely, but suffer a -10 to-hit any target smaller than a house. Pellet bows and slings DO NOT ignore armor in any way.

Bows are typically made to accommodate a STR 10-12 character; a custom-made bow can be had for a small premium. Short bows, however, cannot be made heavier than STR 16. When using a bow heavier than they can normally draw, characters suffer a -1 to-hit per 2 points of STR required above their own. There is no bonus for using a lighter bow.
Any crossbow may be quick-drawn as a move action on a successful opposed STR check. Failure may result in injury to the character or bow, and drawing the bow cannot be attempted again that turn.
All blackpowder guns may be fired only once per combat, unless the character can somehow find a way to spend the better part of a minute doing delicate, fiddly work that requires their full concentration (IE, withdraw from combat for 6 rounds to reload).
Historical note: There were a tiny handful of faster-loading guns in the late middle ages (the cartridge was actually invented sometime near the turn of the fifteenth century, albeit as a set of hand-forged removable breeches), but these are expensive, vanishingly rare, and frequently extremely unsafe.

Pistols do 1d8 damage, long guns like muskets or handgonnes 1d12, and blunderbusses 2d6 (2d4 with improvised ammo). Cannon balls instantly kill any character hit unless they successfully save vs. poison: on a successful save, the character is reduced to 0 HP, possibly maimed. Grapeshot does very bad things to a moderate area. The cannon suffers only a -5 to-hit using shot, and anyone within 10 feet of the target is also hit on a successful shot. For damage, use multiple dice based on the size of the gun (a typical light field gonne would be around 3D6, a full-on 12lb cannon more like 5 to 6 D6); cover reduces the rolled damage by its miss percentage, and characters may make a further save vs. Breath Weapon to halve that damage.
Use your own discretion as to what category a given weapon falls under, and don’t hesitate to increase or decrease the damage dice based on the individual weapon, your needs, and possibly the use of fell magics.

Most guns run the risk of deafening the user in enclosed spaces; save vs. Paralysis or go deaf for 1d6 turns when firing in these circumstances. Make an immediate Morale check – AND Wandering Monster check, if applicable – when a gun is first fired in combat. Most natural animals will spook instantly when fired upon, making hunting harder but potentially more rewarding. When hunting, a gunner expends only 1d3 ammunition per roll, but must roll 2 dice against his fieldcraft skill and take the worst. If the roll succeeds and the dice come up doubles, the party gains that many HD worth of additional meat.

UPDATE: Tacking on a Pistol
A small-caliber pistol may be built into virtually anything. They do 1d4 damage, but take the normal amount of time to reload. They may well wind up costing several times the amount a regular pistol would, however, and are usually more fragile and prone to misfire. Still, the Morale checks and ability to conceal the gun can be worth the expense.

Fortuna Favet Paratibus

Fortuna Favet Paratibus

While making an exhaustive list of rules for each type of available gun would be silly, here’s some basics to consider when you’re choosing what technology your world will use. Disadvantages are in normal type, advantages in italics. They are listed in rough chronological order.

No Lock: must be hand-lit, distracting, requires matches (and thus their stink/light, expends matches, useless in rain) or a fuse, hard to aim when it’s not on a trunnion, exposed touch-hole, high accidental discharge risk, higher risk of explosive failure/operator injury. Extremely simple design, cheap to make, and reliable ignition. First available guns. A fuse and a clay packed touch-hole resolve most ignition issues. Only real option for cannon for most of history. Requires only matches or fuse, shot, and powder to function.

Matchlock: Produces stench and light when prepped, useless in rain, exposed touch-hole, matches burn down (consumes 1 match per hour lit and prepped). Accidental discharge risk from most flame sources (or igniting a match attached to the gun). Simple and robust system; cheap and easily-made. Relatively easy to re-cock. Allowed triggers for guns.
Note that, contrary to popular opinion, matchlock pistols did exist, they just sucked.

Wheel-lock: delicate, temperamental, most designs useless in rain, v. expensive. Unreliable ignition, requiring reprime and rewind for a flash-in-the-pan. Very slow load/reload process. Requires spare pyrites (it goes through them very quickly) and a key or crank, can only be repaired by a watchmaker or equivalent. Silent and scentless until triggered, and can be carried loaded and wound without fear of accidental discharge. Can be carried on a horse. First lock design actually suitable for pistols.
There’s a reason these bitches cost 7+ times what a matchlock does
Gold-chased double-barreled wheel lock
Flintlock: Late origins in real world. Still can’t usually be safely fired in the rain, but it will work in the damp. May squib. Requires spare flints, but few other non-ammo consumables. Requires some precision metalwork, as well as screws. Requires less maintenance and can fire more times than a wheelie before needing an overhaul. Can still be carried loaded relatively safely. Compact and silent/scentless before discharge. Can be swiftly reprimed and re-cocked if the flash-pan squibs. The first revolvers (in the 1620s..) were flintlocks, but required insane levels of metalwork.
1299004067179Other attempts at multishot flintlocks were.. less successful.
Percussion Lock: Very late development. Requires small, fiddly caps, making combat reloads stay annoying. Requires some precision metalwork, but not nearly as bad as the other locks. Virtually immune to rain or damp on first shot, although reloads in the rain still aren’t happening. No flashpan, so no priming and more reliable ignition. Made true semi-automatic weapons practical. Very robust ignition system, with few moving parts; losing the cap, or accidental discharge from keeping the hammer down on a cap, while jostling it are your worst problems..

Air Rifle (yes, they existed, and yes, they were lethal): Mid-late colonial period. Lower damage (still enough to kill a man, though – the Austrian Army and Lewis and Clark both used them to good effect), air reservoir is delicate and slowly leaks. Cannot be used as a melee weapon. Requires water, shot, and leather gaskets to function, and reloading after the reservoir is empty takes a long time (up to 10 minutes). Accurate, rifled. Bolt-action, repeating weapon with as many as 30 shots per reservoir of air and a 20-round magazine. Comparatively, it’s very quiet – about as loud as a suppressed .308 – and produces no smoke. No powder or fire required. Gunners can carry additional loaded reservoirs.

From the Archives: The Song of Silence (Monster)

The Singing Seeming
Outsider, incorporeal, magres50, Lawful, Mindless, Flying, Solitary, No Treasure, Non-aggressive, d30 table

#Appearing: 1 (v. rarely, 1-4)
AC 9 (10)
MV: 30′ (float)
HD: 3
Lair: 0% (no lair)
Morale: 9
Treasure: None
Attacks: 0, Special damage (see below)
Defenses: Incorporeal, limited spell immunity (see below)
Magic Resistance: 50%
Alignment: Lawful
Intelligence: Mindless
Size M (3-6′)
XP: as 4HD creature (non-damaging balances against its special attacks and defenses)

.     .These ghostly beings are lost, wandering notes – warped echoes of the forgotten songs of Creation. Seemings wander the Prime stealing the voices of all they encounter, trying desperately to correctly reproduce the complex chords that are their very existence and rejoin the Great Song. They manifest as translucently glowing humanoids with long, ornamented hair in violently unnatural colors. Strange lights play about a Seeming, reacting to nearby sounds (treat as permanent Dancing Lights, shifting colors to match songs or mood) as it hovers gently in mid-air, moving at a walking pace unless disturbed or frightened.
.     .When it finds a being who captures its attention, the Seeming will point at it, open its own mouth, and seem to inhale violently. Only a being who is physically capable of speaking meaningfully and making vocal music can be affected (they don’t have to be good at it, but someone with their tongue cut out or a mechanical blockage is immune to the effect). The character, who is chosen randomly unless someone is singing, humming, whistling, &c in the initial encounter, must save vs. Polymorph (Fort) or lose their voice instantly. If the theft is blocked, the creature will make a Morale check: if passed, it will try to harvest another voice from the party each round.
.     .Only one voice at a time can be stolen. The Seeming will keep it for 1d6 rounds, or one round per “level”/HD of the voice stolen, whichever is larger. Each round, they will attempt to sing a note, with slightly different effects each time (roll on the table below). After the duration given above, the Seeming will appear angered or frustrated, and choose another target. The previous voice is returned to its owner as soon as it steals a new one. The player receiving the voice must make a second save vs. Polymorph or remain unable to speak coherently for 1 turn for each round the voice was stolen; if they pass, the effect lasts the same number of rounds. If the Seeming flees or tries all available voices, it will move off, singing softly as it goes in the last voice stolen: this voice is not returned until the Seeming is killed/banished or finds another victim.
.     .Singing Seemings are completely non-hostile and take no overtly offensive action, even though their activities have dangerous side-effects. They are incorporeal, and their deep connection to Creation shrugs off most magic. A Seeming will attempt to flee if it takes damage or is subjected to a particularly discordant (though not necessarily loud) sound. If Silence or a suitable anti-magic spell is cast on a Seeming, it automatically affects the Seeming: it must release its current voice and cannot sing or generate visual effects and will usually flee immediately. They appear mindless, and cannot be affected by psychic emanations or mind-controlling dweomers, though Protection spells hedge them and block the theft effect.
.     .An observant Magic-user may be inspired to recast their own spells into song, or use songs to reproduce a magical effect. The exact difficulty and effects are up to the DM, but with the Seeming’s primal connection to True Name magic, they are a grand muse for research.

Song Effects Table

Roll 1d30, or 1d6 and 1d10 (with 1-2 = 0nes, 3-4 = add 10, 5-6 add 20)  Add the “donating” character’s Charisma modifier to this roll. Clerics’ voices add +1, Bards’ +2, and Elves’/Mages’ -2. At GM’s discretion, other modifiers may be applied.
Effects are considered to be cast by a Magic-user of the 5th level.
All: all beings in the area
Area: everything in the area
Single : one random sentient individual
Special: see description
Seeming Table