Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Financier (A Class?)

The Financier cannot have any Ability Score higher than 15. They begin the game with 1000 gold to spend and can requisition up to 14,000 more from home in installments of 200g before they are cut off. They receive no XP from treasure but instead multiply it: any gold or valuables deposited with their estate doubles.

The Financier can use no armor and only does damage equal to their HD with any weapon. If they become capable of casting spells they may know at most 1 spell; after casting they always faint. They may use any magic items that aren't weapons or armor without concern or limit to charges but any magic item they pass off to anyone else will have jussssst this second emptied of its charge. They always lose any magic items they've been entrusted with in less than three days.

The Financier can buy a normal reaction roll or morale check, getting +1 to the roll's result for every 50g they spend. The Financier may never spend money on themselves except for luxuries or accommodations in civilization. All of their money must be invested in the convenience, arming, protecting, and otherwise equipping of other members of their company.

The Financier has access to deep pockets and vast resources. They may request of their estate one favor, connection, item, or bit of obscure information. They receive this on a roll of 20 on 1d20, a roll which can only be modified by their level. Financiers can level at the same rate as Thieves provided they have mounted a successful expedition that level. For each level they gain one Attache. They may choose to begin play with either a Valet or a Teacher. A Financier's hit/save/hd progression is also as a Thief, while all retainers are considered Normal Persons.

A Financier always carries a small dirk or (period appropriate) pistol on their person. They are not, repeat not, able to use this effectively in normal combat, but may do so once per day during a surprise round. They roll at -5 to hit and if they succeed the target always dies.


Valet- Valets secretly run the Financier's lives, keeping the company in good clean order, ensuring nothing gets left out or left behind. A good Valet defaults retainer morale to no less than 10 and is skilled at the cleaning, mending, fabrication of all garments, in addition to managing schedules and payments and accounts. Basically this means the DM will do your fucking bookkeeping and shopping and fetching for you god damn it. Also, keeping to the valet's schedule reduced the chance of wandering enemy encounters by 1.

Translator- Roll 1d10+ your Financier's level. On a 4+ your Translator can convert a text over a period of time determined by the DM, on a 7+ your Translator can speak a language enough to communicate basic ideas (proficiency), on a 10+ your Translator is fluent in this language and can teach your Financier to read this language, along with a childlike vocabulary.

Biographer- They keep meticulous records and are a good DM mouthpiece for going "actually you know this person, you know where this is, you've seen that sigil before." For mechanical benefit any PC who submits themselves to an in-character interview gains their Level x50 XP.

Teacher- Teachers make naturalist notations in their journals, capable of Identifying creatures and key abilities after being exposed to them. They are quite good at riddles and puzzles, with a chance in 10 equal to the Financier's level of knowing the solution. They are always properly apprised of regional courtly procedures.

Doctor- A doctor can roll 1d6 at any time, diagnosing a disease on a 6. They can roll 10/1d10 to stabilize or repair someone at 0HP and/or with massive physical trauma. They can roll 20/1d20 and yell LIVE DAMN IT LIVE once per Financier's level in order to bring a "dead" character back from the brink. Doctors can heal HP per day equal to the Financier's level x10, spread out across the entire company.

Artist- Artists have an eye for beauty and can see value where others don't; where there is a chance of precious statuary, tapestries, paintings, jewelry, etc. an Artist can force one reroll per loot check. They also record impressions of their journeys which can be sold back in civilization for a sum determined by the DM (but the more horrible the things they survive, the more profitable their works).

Guide- Guides know 1d6 rumors about any dungeon or temple your party enters, and on a 20/1d20 they have been here once before and can point out three (3) traps, if traps there be. Overland they have access to a number of friendly groups or safehouses in the area equal to the Financier's level. They provide crude but powerful mapping.

Relative- Relatives are either panicky, drunken, or eccentric. They all have 5 family secrets, which the DM can reveal at any time. Sometimes they are pertinent to the matter at hand, sometimes they are a matter unto themselves. They have their own purse which can only be spent on souvenir shopping, gambling, or investments. 1/12 of the time these pay off with access to some magic item or other, as the situation warrants.

Bodyguard- They can take any amount of damage intended for the Financier and stay standing, so long as the Financier is conscious, never gets a save vs. spell effects but can suffer a spell or magic effect instead of Financier.

Chef- Chefs can purify food or water for consumption, as the spell, and so long as rations hold out can prepare this stock in such a way as to restore 1 lost Ability Score point/day.

Steward- Catalogues and guards the company stores and purse as a level 10 Fighter, otherwise ineffective in combat; company stores always includes alcohol rations and private reserves.

Maid- Prevents the Financier and their company from being tracked except by magical means, can prepare a camp so comfortably that a full night's rest is achieved in 5hrs, freeing everyone for a little bit of, achem, "feather dusting."


Consider this a bit of BREAK!! methadone, and a good companion to the Extras class (found on the FRACAS, link to the right!)

Monday, February 25, 2019

Reluctantly Discordant

This is taking my life into my own hands but here goes, a link to a Discord server. I've tried a few, including the OSR one since every once in a while my interests and theirs coincide. But I think they're all, well, too popular for me. I can't keep up and I find it confusing and intimidating. This is the server that a few friends and I have used in the past to talk and run games. If I'm able to get my computer situation handled this is where I guess I'll still try to run games, but until then can just be a good way to shoot the shit.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Basic Red RPG

So I made a set of rules that I like, with an oldschool sensibility and a few minigame ideas and an emphasis on NPC interactions. I wouldn't call this complete but it's a version of the game that can be parsed and played, condensed into a 6 page PDF. Once I recover my fonts and make changes I'll update the PDF. I've been calling it 666th Edition but y'know what, I'm just going to go ahead and start calling it the


so that's that now. That's the first change you'll see occur, changing the link name and the PDF title...

You've probably noticed this PDF link to the right of the site. In fact you may remember me talking about this before. I got really down on these rules and decided to nix any mention of them from the site, but I forgot to remove the link. Oh well. At least I didn't spend the whole post begging for Paypal donations, like last time I brought it up. That post is going to stay in the Disney vault I tell you, hence this weird out-of-step post...

This is PDF version 0.0 more or less; it's not the current form of this living document but I'll routinely edit this post with changes. Some notes about this version:

1. I do not spend a lot of time describing things like what skills are and what combat is. Action/Resolution order is always determined by Instinct, with ties being resolved simultaneously; but of course, all action in a round is always occurring simultaneously.
2. HP, to-hit, saves, and other things don't automatically scale. You choose your advancement benefit, and not all benefits are available to each Path. As a tradeoff, starting off with better saves and surviving death once your meager HP depletes are both more likely.
3. No elfs as PCs. The big thing that made them cool in the old games were being great at fighting and casting spells. If I've made it so that anyone can do that it's just down to whether I like elfs and nah; they can be in the game and if you play enough normal characters you can unlock one.
4. So, yeah, I broke up race and class but the way the Paths work you can just keep picking "+1 Mana" a ton in order to effectively improve your racial abilities, leveling up your dwarfness instead of your fighterness.
5. Spells beyond the capabilities of these early, simple magics will largely be found in the world, awarded as treasure, or discovered through research/reverse-engineered from an enemy.

UPDATE 03-10-19: Fixed the Dwarfs' Ignore Weight ability; included Enemy, Hazard, and boss monster guidelines; multiple small document adjustments.

I tried to maximize the information by page and by spread. This isn't pretty nor comprehensive but I think it provides enough to play; it certainly provides more than so many one-page RPGs with loftier ambitions. I'm going to be working on gearing some additional material specifically toward these rules as I begin to slowly write new things. Until then, any questions or comments are welcome, but I'd prefer advice on changes from people who run or play it as opposed to just skimmed and judged. Eventually I'll put up a version where the info is a bit more spread out, maybe even draw a few crude pictures.

On another note, that game I was calling "Hunger City" and many of its backups got fried, and the last backup I recovered puts me shy of a year's worth of work. It helped me to refocus what the hell I'm doing with that but it's going to be....... fuck, a bit.

Monday, February 18, 2019

When My Eyes Beheld An Eerie Sight

The Expert Set monster section is next and while part of me feels spoiled for choice here I have to start thinking about what I want this list to be. A typical monster list is really about giving you all kinds of options more than it is insisting on a world implied by cohabitation of all-of-the-above. Even as types of monsters go, too many filling a similar outline (like a long list of undead) feels like it dilutes the power of the individual terror. So I'm making some bold, strange picks.

Cyclops- The Harryhausen Cyclops is the only reason I'm even here writing this, really, and is itself 100% more interesting than any other giant in movies until you get into robots and dinosaurs. There is both an intelligence and a stupidity in a cyclops, an animal fierceness and a vulnerability, that isn't there with all the other giant options I might use. You can have a crafty Polemachus type or make them into the Mindless Ones from Dr. Strange. Or you can just use their numbers for any other great big fucker you need to dress on the fly. The rigid giant hierarchy holds no sway for me. D&D is already overflowing with aristocracies and class structures, we don't need a version of that just for Giant Lad.

Troll- This is too elemental a word, if nothing else. You can't have dwarfs and not trolls. They turn to stone during the day but it's a David the Gnome type instead of a Tolkein type so they can be fine the next day. Some Trolls may even endure this pain and ignominy as a survival mechanism. Sunlight and fire do damage they can't regenerate from and no two trolls have the same shape.

Wraith- Wraiths are the closest I'll get to ghosts being monsters, because they represent to me a specific Tolkein idea of the vice and sins of a body outliving its shape, in the same way outliving your own soul might make you a lich. It's like how the tissue in a fossil has been changed or replaced over time; there's still a dangerous physicality to it, just not a taxonomic body. They make more of themselves and lend to all sorts of cool visuals.


I get the utility in things like elephants and crocodiles being on the list but I'm good really, elephant skulls were probably what gave people the idea for the cyclops anyhow so I'm covered. Djinn, efreet, elemental, invisible stalker, and all the giant animals are all better as spell effects.

Dinosaurs almost made the cut. If you've never played D&D at my house know that dinosaurs and flying saucers figure in. They're essential to the spirit of This Guy but not essential to feeling like a D&D monster list.

Vampires and mummies are essential undead but they are more powerful if it's not on the same shelf as goblins. If I bust these guys out it is with specific build up and direct intent and I can build for that later. No reason to keep them around just to give clerics more to do.

Basilisk almost made the cut which is funny because I axed giants and dragons. But a basilisk represents a specific, special threat beyond just life and limb, a separate horror.


This list has a lot of animals or animal-level intelligence, and then a lot of just Guys. You also have one list angling for Lost Worlds, the Weird, Tolkeinisms, Mediterranean mythology, Spooky Boogies, and Reasons To Stay In The Boat. I wouldn't say any of these are especially well served. In particular I have no love for the Spectre, most carefully-spelled of all haints.

You start to feel the blue moon nature of some of these monsters. By the time the Rules Cyclopedia just throws in everything it found in a module somewhere you've got some truly once in a lifetime exquisite corpses taking away valuable space from decent goblin illustrations. Once all that planar shit I ignore so hard comes into play this just gets insane. A lot of it feels like a player cheat again: your cleric couldn't possibly know about the killsphere from Gribbzex!



Friday, February 8, 2019

Quick Encumbrance One

Two-handed items or very heavy items can count as 2, and up to 1000 coins counts as 1 and so forth. DM's discretion. You can carry a weight of "coins" equal to your Constitution x1000. Whenever you want to carry something after you reach this limit you have to do a Constitution roll. This can be a roll-under check or a high-roll DC but there should be a penalty for each previously successful check. If you pass, you can carry it unencumbered. If you fail, you're Encumbered until you shed the excess baggage. Encumbered means you can move OR attack on your turn but not both, no arguments the end forever goodbye.

If your load is equal to or less than your Constitution Bonus then you can also move half-speed, rather than quarter-speed, during combat.

Albert Finney Has Gone To The River

Thursday, February 7, 2019

I Was Working In The Lab Late One Knight

The aim: go through a bunch of monster lists, picking no more than 5 monsters from each list but being free to pick none, and keep doing so until I have a list of 100 monsters. Make that the "monster manual" for any future dndish game I run unless I'm yet again doing something stupid like doing a Care Bear cloudcrawl or some inane shit.

Stipulations: I have to redo every monster I choose at least a little bit in its final form; also, I'm going to do a bunch of monsters of my own that fit my very limited aesthetic, to fill in the gaps of everything I jettison; finally, I'm going to do a simple stat block for everything and put it up as some free artless pdf because I don't actually respect this project enough to put drawings in it. It's just to get me writing again a little.

[Editor's note - this draft picks up from about four failed attempts ago to do this very thing]

I'm starting today with 81's Basic rulebook. Also this is not a book of monsters so much as non-unique enemies. I don't think the class stand-ins like acolyte and veteran should count but I am going to start off with


Berserkers have several gimmicks: immune to morale checks in battle, +2 to all humans and demihumans in battle, and even without weapon they seem to do 1d8 as they break and tear and chew. They can also get so worked up they attack each other. All of these things are good. They are oodles more interesting than an Orc and more effective. Anything I can do with an Orc I can do with a berserker. They do something that just pulling a pregen stat block for an existing class can't give me. They are metal. They get in.


All gargoyles are just Gargoyle and they are an art monster. Many things can be a vessel for Gargoyle. Four attacks is...a lot. They look great and they have the unique gimmick (on this list) of flight. By far the physically toughest on this list.


Ghouls are living humans who have run out of life. They're not something that dies and comes back, they live beyond when they should die. Ghouls get three attacks per round to kill you and if they don't they have three chances to paralyze you. Fear makes flesh taste bitter, it seems, and everything in a ghoul's half life is bitter.


Anything can be a goblin and goblins are the worst version of anything. This is known. They are dark dwelling shits who are less than people and they're coming to get us and they won't stop. These are the ultimate attrition enemy of D&D, they make it in.


Skeletons are the perfect enemy for a lot of reasons not the least of which being how 50% of later monster lists are just Skeletons With Extra Gimmicks. That said, the skeleton gimmicks here (always fight until destroyed, can be turned but not affected by two of your most utilitarian level 1 spells) are great but it's a rare example of another rule set absolutely nailing something: typed damage is less of a thing in BX but I'd add in some piercing and slashing resistance, bludgeoning sensitivity. If nothing else this restores the skeleton archer to its place of honor and encourages the practice of just kicking them down the stairs like Kerwin Mathews.


Doppelgangers, Shriekers, Shadows, Living Statue, Green Slime, Lycanthropes, and all the giant insects and ferrets and shit, those are all more interesting as spell effects or one-time encounters, not something people should expect to encounter.

I feel the same way about dire wolves and dragons, actually. If they show up in a campaign I run it's going to be The Time that I use those things, so I don't need some values close to hand. Also, to the point of dragons, it really seems like no one could decide what dragon type was the most Dragon so they just threw in a few. They work by their own rules to such an extent that they seem like they come from a different, more miniatures wargame-heavy game. For both those reasons I'd rather just set them aside for now. If I need to come back and whip up a dragon I can. Using either of these much right now is asking a lot after a decade of Game of Thrones memes. TV show internet culture is also reason enough to be bored of zombies I think.

Thouls, wights, and medusas are all favorites but just don't make the cut, partly because well -


The tendency to just make sure that whatever the hell esoteric word salad you made up to fuck over an unsuspecting player gets put into the book gets worse as time goes on, then maybe gets better, then way worse. These trends are true of individual editions and of D&D over time as a whole. This leads, as mentioned above, to lots of different things that are just skeletons, but also to unpredictable horsehockey like statues being filled with lava, vomit that summons other monsters while you're blinded like Left 4 Dead, and the armor eating bug.

Speaking of bugs this is a very bug and critter heavy monster list.

With a foot in both worlds is the carrion crawler, to whose existence we can attribute probably every unhelpful "Ecology Of" article. Running into one of these in a dungeon must be shocking, running into them every 3rd dungeon demands the question, if these things exist to be in dungeons how the fuck did that happen, and how do they find dungeons and what do they do when between dungeons, and so you have to explain that. In the interest of generalizing your cool monster for ease of use by everyone you now have what amounts to a big gooey centipede which is not a good thing to have when your list already includes Big Centipede. Gelatinous cube is cut from this kind of cloth, let's take something that rewrites the rules of this dungeon I've set up to surprise my friends with and turn it into just another Ninja Warrior obstacle to be planned ahead for. Carrion crawlers are like TSA checks now, for the people who actually give a fuck to use them.

With the increasing focus on "adventures" over dungeons as time goes by, all the way up to the championing of the megadungeon and negadungeon ideas, the concept of putting all this work into these monsters who exist FOR dungeons because the game is largely going to be ABOUT DUNGEONS and in particular a very limited KIND of's quaint. Not bad, but not useful to me.

My draft picks so far all have a kind of intelligence but are all propelled by a force beyond them. In some cases this is a prepossession while in others it's a sky-sized and driving will. They have a Want and they have a Why. They aren't just pests and they aren't biome-specific.