Expanding Landshut games: add cards

The Landshut Rules are rooted in fiction-first gaming – even if their grandfather, the Braunsteins and Dave Arneson’s Blackmoor, were invented by wargamers. My role model for gaming is Prof. MAR Barker, the inventor and author of Tekumel, and his way of roleplaying or refereeing:

The “Perfected Rules”, Prof. MAR Barker’s roleplaying rules, are at the heart of my Landshut Rules. THAT’s what they boil down to.

And that’s also the reason why they’re so stable and sturdy. They can take anything you throw at them. For instance: You can glue on randomizers. Like the cards from Matthijs Holter’s fantastic Archipelago III storygame.

A few days ago, I posted an article about playing Warhammer with the Landshut Rules. You could add the Archipelago cards. For instance, when someone is casting a spell. What happens? Replace the die roll with a draw of the cards. The riskier the spell, the more cards the player has to draw – and you, the ref, pick the one you like most.

Let’s say a wizard casts a Battle Magic spell. I’m the referee and say, ‘okay, Ben, draw four cards and give them to me” – or I could draw them myself, of course.

So the player draws these four cards:

And because my players know magic in a world that’s losing to creeping chaos is REALLY, REALLY dangerous, I pick this one here:

Oh, shoot.


I could use the Everway fortune cards. They’re similar to tarot and have a positive and a negative orientation. Let’s say I draw one card, Knowledge, but upside down:

Not good. Falsehood. So I let my creativity flow and say, “Ben, you got one tiny detail in the spell wrong. Maybe the spell has changed itself, you just don’t know yet. But the spell fizzles. And you… burst into flames. WHAT DO YOU DO?”

See, in games with lots of rules, I’d have to look up the rules for fire, and my players probably would start calculating the chances of the wizard to survive. In storygaming, and in storygaming-adjacent rules like Landshut, it’s the story that counts. Immersion, baby. I want you to sit on the edge of your seats, biting fingernails and/or shoving popcorn in your mouth to somehow cope with the tension. What will happen? If the wizard survives, will there be long-term effects? What do you mean, snakes seem to love him?

Regarding: the Landshut Rules

Art: You know who (John Blanche)

So, my Landshut Rules are picking up speed, and I LOVE that.
And you guys are houseruling away, which is also cool.

Personally, I’d keep it very simple: Handwave, and handwave a lot. Not sure how much damage a dragon does? Well, do the player characters know? Of course not. So, feel free to knock the entire party out with a hit. Or, if you’re really mean, hurt them ALL, and hurt them bad. It’s a dragon, after all.

And one dragon is not like the other. To hell with Gygaxian realism, make the world fantastic again!
My recommendation would be to play Landshut as story-oriented as Prof. MAR Barker did back in the days: handwave damage, guesstimate a lot, and stay consistent.

The “hits” in Landshut are only a suggestion. Hey, if someone lands a solid blow with a longsword, and the victim is only wearing clothes and no armor – if it fits, if it’s dramatically appropriate, let him have it.

That might be too loosey-goosey for some of you. I don’t blame. All I’m saying is, this is the way the grognards played before D&D was even born.

Have fun!

Back to really simple roleplaying

Professor MAR Barker started it. He started creating his world Tekumel in the 1940s and kept adding things and adventures to it till he died in 2012. That’s A LOT. Probably there’s no other work of imagination as developed as Mr. Barker’s world.

When original D&D was published, Mr. Barker tried to adapt the game to Tekumel, so other peoplecould go on adventures in this fantastic world. It was a mediocre success. So he developed his own set of rules, which is still in use today, played by people like Chirine ba Kal and Bob Meyer, to name just two. Chirine has told us again and again that Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson used these rules (or very similar ones) as well.

What you’re about to see is NOT the cover of the rulebook. It IS the rulebook. These rules have been in use for at least 30 years.


Yep. That’s it. 

The interest in the rpg community in super-simple, super-lite rules seems at an all-time high at the moment, and personally, I think that’s good, very good indeed.

As you might have guessed, my favorite taste of rules-lite is Perfected, or to be more exact: opposed rolls. Using opposed rolls cut out two things that I don’t like in rpgs: math. Checking stats to see if I rolled high or low enough.

My most downloaded rpg, with thousands of downloads, is Landshut, a Free Kriegsspiel Revolution game on one page. You can grab it for free here: https://darkwormcolt.wordpress.com/the-landshut-rules-free-kriegsspiel-rules/

Another rpg system using this method is the brilliant Sword&Backpack, written by Gabe Soria. Check it out here. The rules? Player character tries something, referee tells him what to roll with a d20, or rolls against them. Done.

Cecil Howe, he of Hex Kit fame, made a booklet version of Sword&Backpack, and it’s a beauty to behold. The booklet version adds a rule: Whenever a character is trying something that is appropriate for their background or profession, add 5 to the d20 roll.

Cecil also published a zine for Sword&Backpack (unfortunately only one), called Peril, and yes, it’s good! In Peril, Cecil also introduced a new concept he calls “Difficulty”. To quote: “This is the number of combat rounds a monster can lose before it is defeated, think of the D as standing for difficulty. The number can be any number, not just one. Really tough monsters will have a high number, and really flimsy monsters will have a low number. “

Bob Alberti is the treasurer of the Tekumel Foundation. He played in Prof. Barker’s game for over 20 years. His ruleset is, as you might have suspected, similarly simple. To quote: “You have dice to resolve any questions (01-10 good, 90-00 bad, use common sense). (…) All the other crap – character stats, encumbrances, combat rules, etc., are the tools of the rules-lawyer, and not worth the attention of dignified persons.”

Today, Claytonian published his one-page rpg “The Party“. And lo and behold, it uses opposed rolls to solve everything. Check it out here.

Professor MAR Barker’s rpg rules, in full: Perfected

Modify to taste. Introduce hit points, if you want. Play it RAW. But, in a nutshell: This is all you need to play like the founding fathers of our hobby did.
To quote Chirine ba Kal: 

“Doing it by the book” was impossible; the book – and the game rules – hadn’t been written yet. The GMs of the day came up with adventures and worlds that they were set in, and we played our Faferds, Grey Mousers, Conans, and Belits in these new worlds with all the gusto and swashbuckling vigor that we could. It was, as I’ve suggested, ‘lighting in a bottle’. We learned to run our own campaigns by being apprentices, and we in turn had our own students.

I will say this: I made the same experience with this style of play. One of the best rpg campaigns we ever played (it lasted five years) used similar rulings.

The image you’re seeing IS the entirety of the rules. Have fun.