Accidental Death in Horrible Dungeons

Rattlemayne did it again! He published “Accidental Death in Horrible Dungeons” 12 hours ago.
It’s a system-neutral version of his brilliant “MoldHammer” game. It clocks in at a whopping ONE page, and it’s a snap to convert old and new modules.

What makes it good? One hit, one wound. Roll-under to hit; roll under armor to defend. Lightning-fast. If you want slightly more system than FKR, play Rattlemayne’s game.

Minipirates, MoldHammer version

So, minipirates. But for MoldHammer

Seamanship, Bragging, Intuitive Astrology (base 1 in 6 chance, +1 each for helpful attribute, relevant knowledge, GM feeling generous, using an appropriate tool, using the area to your advantage)

To-hit: 10
Armor: 10 (damn hard to hit)
Damage:   against very small opponents, 0 against opponents bigger than a hummingbird

War Bear, freestyle D&D version

Again, Hill Cantons, man!

This time, Chris’s war bear class. Awesome!
I’m rolling the stats, 3d6 in order, and switch them around till I like them, and arrive at this:

STR 14
DEX 12
CON 14
INT 10
WIS 10

Saves: roll on or under the most appropriate stat

HD: 1d8+2 = 8

Now, I’m opening my post “Quick rules for playing D&D, any edition” in a new window.

The war bear’s starting abilities:
– no armor other than a helmet, instead they have a base armor class + DEX bonus (DEX/3–3, round down)
– bonus +1 to hit and damage when using polearms
– after 1 day without seeing a polearm, lose 1 hp per day till you get your fix
– unarmed damage: 2 attacks per round with 1d4 damage each

OK, Armor: DEX bonus = 1; base armor class (descending AC) is 6; this translates to 13 (ascending AC), or 3 points above “naked” —> Armor is 3.
To-hit: roll on or under (9+HD) = 10

For everything else, use MoldHammer.

Plus, this house rule to speed up combat, BUT still keep the tension of a good dice duel, is really good:

Chaos Monk, freestyle D&D version

I’ve been on a D&D trip, lately.
And Hill Cantons, Chris Kutalik’s brilliant creation, Hill Cantons, man! Anyway, I digress. Chris posted his tongue-in-cheek Cahos Monk class a few years ago. I’m still in love with it. Its sheer Napoleon Dynamite-ness is breathtaking. I want to play a chaos monk, right here and now!

…and all the D&D versions I have sitting on my shelves are way too complicated.

So, I’m rolling the six stats, 3d6 in order, and switch them around till I like them, and arrive at this:

STR 10
DEX 11
INT 12
WIS 11

Saves: roll on or under the most appropriate stat

HD: 1d5 = 2

Now, I’m opening my post “Quick rules for playing D&D, any edition” in a new window.

Then, I’m taking a look at the Chaos Monk’s starting abilities:
– no armor allowed
– add (DEX/3 –3, rounded down), and +1 per 2 levels to armor
– use only lame weapons 🙂
– are only surprised on a 1 in 8, and only if “spoken to by a member of the opposite gender”

OK, Armor: DEX bonus = 0
To-hit: roll on or under (9+HD) = 10

For everything else, use MoldHammer.

If I play fantasy rpgs… I use MoldHammer.

That’s it. That’s my post for today.

Longer version: On a whim, I rolled up a D&D-ish fighter. Used his stats for Macchiato Monsters, Into the Odd and something along the lines of Holmes D&D. Then, used the respective rule sets for a fight against a slightly stronger opponent.


Didn’t really like any of them.

So I pulled out the two pages of MoldHammer. And HELL YEAH, I like those rules so much. If I ever play a long-form fantasy campaign again, I’ll be using Rattlemayne’s rules.

Warhammer with… MoldHammer

(art: John Blanche)

I’ve sung the praises of Rattlemayne’s MoldHammer rpg before (here, for instance), and I’ll do it today, again, as well.

To regular readers of this blog, it`ll come as no surprise that I’m a Warhammer fan. And OF COURSE, after writing a Warhammer hack for Risus and a Warhammer hack for the Landshut Rules,  I’m also thinking about how to run the best British game ever with MoldHammer rules. This should be as straightforward as anything – Warhammer was one of Rattlemayne’s inspirations when he wrote MoldHammer. (The other one being Moldvay D&D, which explains the name)


  1. Either use Warhammer 1e (the one, the only, and the best) to roll up a character. Disregard the WH attributes and simply pick one exceptionally high and one exceptionally bad stat and write it down. If you want more than one good stat, you have to pick one bad stat for each good one.
  2. OR you can use the Warhammer rulebook for inspiration – IF you do that, create your character with “Adventure Points“.
  3. Download Rattlemayne’s MoldHammer, if you haven’t already. Your character starts with either <3<3 (all ranger, rogues and academic careers), or with <3<3<3 (warrior careers).
  4. If you’re down to zero <3, use Mike Evans’s “Deadlier Dying” tables. I know, they’re forgiving, but seriously, I never liked the ultra-lethal approach of low-level old school games, I never played that way, and back in the days when we started roleplaying, we never knew anyone who played that way.
  5. Leveling Up: Use Arnold’s brilliant popcorn leveling. Increase your ❤ – if your ref is okay with that.
  6. Monsters: Forget about a literal translation from WH to Moldhammer. It can’t happen. So, translate the feeling. Give it a to-hit, armor, and damage (regular weapons do ❤ damage, bigger or better ones do <3<3). If you want variable damage, consider rolling  a d2 (coin) or d3.
  7. Magic! I have to admit, I got carried away a bit by the brilliant magic system of the GLOG.  Suddenly, all types of magic were inherently dangerous. That’s not only NOT true in real life, but also in Warhammer.The only wizards facing great dangers are Demonologists, Necromancers, and Evil and Chaotic magicians. They gain Insanity Points and Disabilities, or increase the chances of contracting Tomb Rot (necromancers, I’m looking at you).

    I also don’t want starting wizard characters with one measly Petty Spell – because we’re playing way too infrequently to make this fun.

    That’s why our MoldHammer Warhammer magicians start with (level+1) spell points.
    When you cast a spell, make a save (see MoldHammer), it get’s tougher the higher the spell level is. If you roll successfully, you cast the spell, and it costs you zero spell points. If you fail the roll, you still cast the spell, but it costs you (spell level) spell points.
    This is Warhammer, so I’ll allow wizards to sacrifice ❤ to gain 2 spell points.

So there you have it. Warhammer, played with MoldHammer.
An example character, rolled up with Warhammer 1e:

Name: Franz-Joseph Krauthuber
53-year old Human Wizard, Level 1

Skills: Sixth Sense, Identify Plans, Magic Sense, Rune Lore, Scroll Lore

To-hit: 10

Spell Points: 2

Learned Spells:

  • Cause Animosity (Battle Magic I): cast against creatures that are normally subject to animosity. Targets must save or attack each other
  • Fire Ball (Battle Magic I): one fire ball per level per combat round. If fired into a group, it hits (level)d3 creatures and causes <3<3<3 damage. Flammable targets suffer an additional <3. Can be dodged for ❤ damage.

Trappings: decent suit, soft shoes, knife tucked in belt, 27 gold crowns, ceremonial dagger, Wizard’s staff, Boots Leaping (+1d6 yards on any leap)

Thruuk, the Crocodile Warrior

I wrote about the awesomeness that is Moldhammer here and here. Today, just because I feel like it, let me create a Crocodile Warrior.

I reckon he’s strong. I could, of course, roll for the traditional D&D stats, but I feel more old school today. So I’m writing on my index card, ‘Strong”. He also looks kind of agile, so “Agile” is what I’m writing on the card, too.

Level: 0
4 Adventure Points
Name: Thruuk
He starts with ♥♥ (2 hp).
To hit: 10 or lower

Adventure Points:

  • Natural armor: seeing that in the Rules Cyclopedia, a Big Crocodile has the equivalent of platemail armor, this warrior has an 8 (roll equal to or lower to negate damage) (2 pts)
  • Argortr, Cudgel of Crocodile Honor: does ♥♥ damage, and might return to its owner if lost (2 pts)

That’s it. Have fun.

Quick rules for playing D&D, any edition

(c) Den Yang-Ho

So you want to throw together a new game, but it has to happen real quick, and maybe, just maybe, if y’all like it, you’ll keep playing even without the books. I get it.

Let me make a suggestion:

  1. Surf over to Matthew’s quality blog and read all about his GENIUS idea, “Adventure Points“.
  2. Create your character. For cool skills, spells, abilities or equipment, pillage your game books.
  3. What kind of game do you want to play? Hardcore OD&D stuff where, at least for starting characters, one average hit means death? Or something more forgiving? Figure out how many hit points your character has. Each hit reduces your hit points by 1. Average early D&D-like games would have 2 hp for starting characters.
  4. If you’re down to 0 hp, consider using Mike Evans’s “Deadlier Dying” tables. They were written for The Black Hack, but you can easily adapt them.
  5. When you gain experience, do you get a new hp every time? Or is that something only the fighty types get?
  6. Now, armor. Light armor gives you armor class 1. Slightly better armor 2, and so on, up to 6. The absolute bestest armor you can ever have is around 10. When you get hit, roll equal to or under your AC, and you negate the damage.
  7. To hit is 9+HD. Roll on or under. 
  8. When not sure if something a character tries will work, roll a d6, higher is better. Interpret accordingly, and let the character’s skills inform your decision.
  9. Leveling up? Use Arnold’s brilliant idea: popcorn leveling.
  10. Make up cool stuff and go on adventures.
For instance:
Ansgar der Übelgelaunte
  • Carries the Cursed and Mighty Ax of Righteousness, a rune-inscribed dwarven instrument of destruction that collects the souls of slain foes. When Ansgar dies, those souls are set free in a dark and silent implosion that sucks everyone nearby into the abyss if they fail their save.  1 Adventure Point.
  • Nice armor (AC 5). 1 Adventure Point.
  • Earthshaker (1/day): When Ansgar stomps on the ground HARD, everybody within 30 feet has to make a save or be swept off their feet. 2 Adventure Points.
  • Starting hp: 3
  • To hit: 10

(A huge big thanks goes out to Rattlemayne, for his MoldHammer rules, and to Matthew Halton for his Adventure Points idea)

Landshut Rules and MoldHammer: Brothers in gaming

…okay, it doesn’t get any cheesier than that title, I promise.
The reason why I like the MoldHammer rules so much is because they’re so similar to my Landshut rules, and really, there is no way back for me now. Even Into the Odd seems to be fiddly, with all its crazy hit points counting 🙂

So why do I think these games are so similar?

  1. Both use “hits” in the Arnesonian sense: not variable damage, but you simply count the number of times your character gets hit, and after a certain amount of hits (around 3 or 4), your character is either dead or dying.
  2. Both don’t have stats, but you can easily tack them on.
  3. Both can be used as generic rpg systems, even though the MoldHammer rules imply the typical Gygaxian setting. But the rules are modular, so you can simply ignore fantasy-type stuff if you don’t like it.
Are there differences?
  1. Yes. In combat: My Landshut Rules say “roll 2d6 + a bonus determined by the ref” against each other, higher rolls hits. MoldHammer gives each character a to-hit number you have to roll on or under with a d20.
  2. Landshut armor increases the number of hits you can take. MoldHammer armor is a save against armor number.
That’s about it. And that’s reason enough for me to think hard about starting a Landshut/MoldHammer background jam on itch. I’ll keep y’all posted.

MoldHammer is like (lots of old games), only better

Rattlemayne used to write very interesting and cool Into the Odd hacks, but then he noticed that his later hacks didn’t really look like Into the Odd any more. So he took a step back, started from scratch and built his own personal hack of Gary’s original game.

And boyyyyy, what a beaut of a game it is.

In a nutshell: MoldHammer uses to-hit rolls with a d20, hits instead of hit points (get hit = lose one hit, just like my Landshut rules, and OF COURSE, early Twin Cities roleplaying), a flexible magic system, and one of the few good applications of active parries I know.

That said, I’ll change only a couple of things:

  • re-introduce the six trad stats, without any mechanical benefits
  • maybe, maybe use d6 saves (“Luck rolls” for you ItO enthusiasts) for non-life-threatening situations, but saves vs. stats if the shit hits the proverbial fan
  • give characters at zero hits the chance to avoid critical injury (instead of killing them outright) by rolling 10 or more on 2d6
  • provide descriptions for critical injuries that monsters can inflict
  • I’d give non-fighter classes an additional heart every 3 levels or so

Without further ado – this is my fighter:

Jon Kreskill, Level 1 War Monk
3 Hearts
to hit: 11
armor: 5

And this is an orc of the Bloodvine clan:
(alls stats 10)
3 Hearts
to hit 11
armor: 3
When he crits an enemy, he cuts their beating heart out of their chest to eat it.

 Roll 1d6 for each fighter to determine initiative: Jon wins.
Rolls a 16 and misses the orc. The orc rolls a 10 and hits. To avoid losing a heart, Jon has to roll equal to or under his armor: 15 – the rusty blade of the orc penetrates his armor, and Jon loses 1 heart.

Next round: Jon wins initiative.
Rolls a 1 and hits. The orc now makes a d20 save vs. his armor: 14, Jon’s blow goes straight through, and the orc loses 1 heart.

Next round: the orc wins initiative.
Rolls an 18 and misses. Jon too.

Next round: Jon wins ini.
Rolls a 2 and hits. The orc fails to save against the hit and loses his second heart.

Next round: Both fighters rolls 3, so they hit simultaneously.
Jon rolls a 5 and hits the orc. The orc misses. Now the orc saves vs. his armor: a fail, he loses his last heart and dies.

Please note that this example fight didn’t use any maneuvers or tricks. They would have added lots and lots of opportunities.

Bottom line: go and play that game. It’s good.