- Gore 1: drop weapons, superficial wounds, hits that knock the wind out of you, stumble, bruises, stuns, knockdowns
- Gore 2: dislocations, shattered weapons, numb limbs
- Gore 3: incapacitated limbs, deep wounds, smashed teeth, broken bones
- Gore 4: severed arteries, internal bleeding, spine injuries, gouged out eyes
- Gore 5: half a limb lost, organs ruptured
- Gore 6: entire limb lost, body parts hacked in half
- Gore 7: Texas Chainsaw Massacre, flying body parts, fuck what a mess
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).
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 1 hit to gain 2 spell points.
Konrad Fuchs, Wizard’s Apprentice
(from Eschendorf in Stirland)
1,70m tall, 50 yrs
Trappings: suit of decent, light-weight clothes, sandals. Knife tucked in the belt, 10 Gold Crowns.
Skills: Super Numerate (a gift for calculation), ambidextrous, lightning reflexes, Arcane Language: Magick; Cast Spells: Petty Magic only; Read/Write; Secret Language: Classical, Scroll Lore
4 Fate Points
2 Spell points
I’m a wizard’s apprentice, so I might know, let’s say, 1d6 petty spells: I roll 2d6 and take the higher result: 4. Then, I pick the spells from the list: Butterfingers, Cunning Hand, Flight of Amar and Magic Alarm. Each petty spell costs 1 spell point if I fail the roll.
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.
Skill in Troika! is used for all saves, so it’s a very important number. It’s rolled with 1d3+3, so it has a range between 4 and 6. 4=low skill, 6=high skill. Medium skill is not worth writing down.
Roll 2d6+12. If the sum is 16 or lower, write down “fragile”. If the sum is 22 or more, write down “resilient” or “tough”.
Roll 1d6+6. If the sum is 7, write down “luckless”. If the sum is 13, write down “lucky”. Grant the player rerolls if the character is lucky, or force him to reroll if the character has no luck.
Conveniently enough, Troika! provides a rule for starting gear. Of course, I’m using this, as well: start with 2d6 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, a rucksack and 6 provisions.
Determine your background, using either the book or one of the gazillions of available Troika! classes online.
Just write down the Advanced Skills without the numbers. If you feel better with quantifiers, add descriptions like “very good sleight-of-hands”, or “expert in grappling”.
When casting spells, making saves, testing your mettle, make opposed 2d6 rolls. Ref grants bonus if the situation warrants it.
Making a Landshut Troika! character:
Skill: I roll a 3 – so my character is “skilled”.
So, my character looks like this:
Herbert von Mirskofen, a luckless Man-of-Arms
out of luck
Possessions: 8 silver pence, a knife, a lantern&flask of oil, rucksack, provisions, fine deck of cards, debt to a warlock, six painted knives, bow tie
The only exceptional attribute I roll is Intelligence (15).
2. Template (Classes)
I pick the Wizard template A. Wizards are weakly creatures, so they are not able to take lots of damage.
My abilities are:
Spellcasting: 1 Magic Die, 1 Spell Slot, and I get two spells
I decide to be an Orthodox Wizard. I roll for my spells and start with Levitate and Lock.
I’m a Sparrowling.
4. Attack rolls
Opposed 2d6; better fighter might add a bonus. Ref determines.
I pick 2d6 items: 8.
Blank magic book
ink + quill
…and now I lose 1d6 of them: 4
The d8 determines which items must go: donkey, waterskin, blank magic book, ink+quill.
What remains is:
- Leather armor
Since the GLOG has a detailed magic system, I decide to not grant any more powers to starting characters.
The final version of my character:
Gerhard, Sparrowling Orthodox Wizard, Level 1
Templates: Wizard A
Magic Dice: 1
Spells: Levitate, Lock
Gear: Leather armor, sword, dog (“Sprite”), dagger
1) Roll abilities
For every 15+, I write down “very” + the adjective that belongs to the characteristic, and for every 5 or lower, I write down the opposite of the adjective. All other numbers signify an unremarkable, average stat.
Fighting-men: can take more damage than other humans, use all weapons and armor
Magic-users: weakly, use dagger/staff, no armor
Clerics: can cast spells, no sharp weapons
Hobbit: resilient, no huge weapons
Dwarf: can take a lot of damage, no long weapons
Elf: choose to be either a sorcerer or a warrior, no blunt weapons
6) Give them a fighting chance
Lenient referees, you might grant the player a last opposed roll to save their character from dying.
Gain an experience level if it is dramatically appropriate.
So let’s create a character already!
STR: 11, average, what I write on the character sheet: nothing
INT: 9, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
WIS: 6, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
CON: 7, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
DEX: 6, average, what I write on the character sheet: nothing
CHA: 13, average, , what I write on the character sheet: nothing
I play a fighting-man.
The original Gygax game uses no skills, so let’s skip this step in the Landshut rules and go straight to equipment:
I pick 2d6 items: 7
3. Plate Mail
4. Iron Rations for 1 week
5. Backpack, leather
6. Water skin
7. Mallet and three stakes
…and I lose 1d6 of them: 2
Rolling 1d6, I get a 2 and lose the dagger, so my new equipment list looks like this:
3. Plate Mail
4. Iron Rations for 1 week
5. Backpack, leather
6. Water skin
7. Mallet and three stakes
I roll 1d6 again and start at the dagger: a 5. I count down 5 steps and land at the mallet. My final equipment list:
2. Plate Mail (counts as +10 HP)
3. Iron Rations for 1 week
4. Backpack, leather
5. Water skin
And last but not least, I get to pick two “powers”: special equipment, special abilities, connections, and similar stuff:
I can see in the dark just like a cat. And someone high up in the hierarchy owes me a favor.
This is what my original edition Landshut rules character looks like:
Level 1 Fighting-man
Can see in the dark like a cat. Someone high up in the hierarchy owes him a favor.
Sword, Plate Mail, Iron Rations for 1 week, Backpack (leather), Water skin
To recap the rules for adapting games to Landshut:
- If you’re playing a published rpg setting: roll attributes. Write down only extremely low and extremely high stats.
- Pick 5 or 10 skills from the rulebook (if the game uses skills)
- Pick 2d6 pieces of regular equipment/gear from the book, then lose 1d6 of them
- Pick 2 “Powers”: special equipment, spells, special abilities, connections, special backgrounds etc.
- Iron rations for a week
- Fine clothes
Spells: Hold Portal, Magic Missle, Knock
Staff, backpack, iron rations, fine clothes, lantern, oil, books
Character equipment still plays an important role in OSR games. Seeing where the OSR play style comes from, that’s understandable.
But for FKR games? Is equipment for FKR heroes as important as for OSR characters? I doubt it. If I take a look back at the pre-D&D scene, the time of the two Daves, Braunstein, Blackmoor, Prof. MAR Barker, Tekumel, the first thing I notice is that varying damage (in the sense of ‘roll a d6 for a dagger, and a d10 for a zweihänder’) was not around yet. So, apart from the fact that each weapon has its own advantages and disadvantages, there was no need to get ‘a better weapon’ so the character could do more damage.
Also, contrary to what many Original D&D players (or better: forum members) are claiming, pre-any-school roleplaying was LESS lethal for the characters than the first couple of editions of D&D. The reason for this is simple: Braunsteins and early Blackmoor was about adventure. Sure, you had your dungeons, but pre-hit point roleplaying was less about grimdark survival, and more about a shared fantasy experience.
If FKR is playing worlds, not rules – then your character is not their equipment
The premise I’m using often for FKR gaming is Chirine ba Kal’s “play worlds, not rules”. Take your favorite book and turn it into a sourcebook for your games. I’m certain the main protagonist of that book is not defined by their equipment. That equipment might help describe him (a narrative device, then), but it’s not used to define him. Exceptions confirm the rule. Literary character are defined by their actions and interactions. Again, gear is just a diegetic tool to help with the description.
I think this is important because, at least to me, this means a shift away from the tight focus on gear, to a tight focus on behavior and, if you like that in your game, character archetypes. There is a reason why I love John S. Ross’s rpg Risus so much. Not because of the system, it doesn’t really interest me. What makes Risus shine is its concept of clichés: A character is described with clichés – genre-typical descriptions. For instance: A tight-lipped Barbarian from the North with scarred forearms. Instantly, you form a mental picture.
But there’s more to clichés than just this. In all probability, you also intuit his abilities and predispositions: fighting. Enduring harsh weather. Drinking. Resilience. You just know them.
That’s the power of clichés. And of course, John S. Ross didn’t invent them, but he was the first to introduce them to roleplaying games. A stroke of genius.
Let’s stay with clichés just a little longer. So we have…
A tight-lipped Barbarian from the North with scarred forearms
Another question: Can you imagine what equipment this barbarian is carrying?
Of course you can! A sword. A flask. Heavy fur boots. Drab. Fur cap. A backpack. Jerky.
The power of clichés at work.
So what really matters is not equipment lists or “starting equipment” (a perennial favorite in OSR circles), but a good, solid character description. And clichés work best for that.
This does not mean equipment is not important. But it should spring naturally from the character description, instead of the other way around.
In Risus, a character’s gear is called “Tools of the Trade”. This gear comes with the character. And you, the player, determine what these tools are.
Just one last example, a longer one this time:
Henry Dorsett Case
(Neuromancer, William Gibson)
“A year here and he still dreamed of cyberspace, hope fading nightly. All the speed he took, all the turns he’d taken and the corners he’d cut in Night City, and still he’d see the matrix in his sleep, bright lattices of logic unfolding across that colorless void….The Sprawl was a long strange way home over the Pacific now, and he was no console man, no cyberspace cowboy. Just another hustler, trying to make it through. But the dreams came on in the Japanese night like livewire voodoo, and he’d cry for it, cry in his sleep, and wake alone in the dark, curled in his capsule in some coffin hotel, his hands clawed into the bedslab, temperfoam bunched between his fingers, trying to reach the console that wasn’t there.”
So… “Washed-up console cowboy with a drug problem”.
And you know how he looks. You intuit his skills. You can imagine his “starting gear”.
Isn’t this amazing?
I’ve written a longish excel table comparing BX/E (Cyclopedia) character classes to Das Schwarze Auge/The Dark Eye first edition classes. If you’re interested, click here.
Bottom line: Multiply your monster’s HD by roughly 6 (or 6.3 if you want to nitpick), and you get the amount of “Lebensenergie” (life energy, life points) for DSA games.
Today, let’s talk about the Yogi as character class. Because, you know, I practice yoga, and I love the OSR. I’m using bullete’s version for this experiment.
First, a write-up of the yogi’s abilities that I find interesting in close to reality:
- ahimsa (nonviolence) practice is key
- focus on own willpower rather than on supernatural beings
- must be lawful
- may never possess more than what they can carry on their person
- avoid contact with precious metals or jewelry
- no use of magic items
- no use of weapons
- no armor
- yogi spells are called “siddhis” (“powers”). Choose only nonviolent spells: The following siddhis may be chosen: All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Sticks to Snakes, Insect Plague, Quest, and Raise Dead. Magic user spells: Read Languages, Detect Invisibility, Knock, ESP, Levitate, Darkvision, Fly, Protection from Normal Missiles, Water Breathing, Wizard Eye, Contact Other Plane, Passwall, Telekinesis, Teleport, and Anti-Magic Shell.
- 3rd level: Simulate Death, lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appearing not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 turns per level, once per day.
- Saving Throw: Yogis receive a +3 bonus on saving throws vs. poison and paralysis.
- Obtain devotees: At ninth level, the Yogi will attract a large number of loyal followers who will swear fealty to the character and wish to do good deeds in his or her name.
Let’s play with Whitehack first:
Is the yogi deft, strong or wise?
I’d argue a yogi is, first and foremost, a Wise Yogi. This also gives him the ability to “use siddhis” (cast spells). So, a Wise Yogi it is.
On level 1, Wise characters have: 1d6+1 HD, Attack Value (roll on or under) 10, Saving Throw 6, 2 Slots (special abilities, one active, the other one inactive), and belong to two Groups.
Let’s do this:
Mahadev, level 1 Wise Yogi
Str 7 (Truly Lawful), Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12 (Yogi), Cha 7; Saving Throw 6 (9 vs. poison/paralysis), HP 6, AC 0, Attack Value 10, Siddhis: “Eternal Peace” (active)/”Joyous Freedom” (inactive); Common tongue; loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang
If you’re wondering what the remarks behind Strength and Wisdom (in parantheses) mean: Those are the yogi’s “groups” (affiliation and vocation). Whenever a Str or Wis save is in order and the group is appropriate for the task, the save is rolled with advantage.
Supernatural powers in WH are freeform and powered by hit points; each time one is used, the player specifies how exactly he wants to interpret it at this moment. Then, DM and player negotiate the price in hp.
If the WH yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Attack Value, but over the opponent’s Armor Class. Successful roll means: inflict unarmed damage (1 point). If the opponent attacked him, the DM would try to roll the d20 on or under the opponent’s Attack Value (HD+10)
Now, The Black Hack (1e):
A long time ago, I converted the Yogi class to TBH:
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d4
Weapons & Armor: no weapons and shields at all, yogis practice ahimsa (non-violence)
Attack Damage: 1d4 / 1 point Unarmed or Improvising
Ahimsa Die: Levels 1-2: 1d4; levels 3-8: 1d6; levels 9-10: 1d8
The Ahimsa Die is a Usage Die that tracks the non-violent behavior of the Yogi. Patience is a virtue, but it‘s also hard work. When the Yogi runs out of patience, he loses his special powers for that day. More on that in the following paragraph.
Siddhi Points: Level+2; cast spells of any level. Casting a successful spell requires a WIS check as per TBH rules. Spells don’t work automatically, you have to pass the check. On a failed roll, it costs Siddhi Points to cast the spell (cost = spell level). On a successful roll, you cast the spell for free.
Non-violence: (ahimsa): Yogis must begin as lawful in alignment and remain so or else lose the special powers given to them. Also, if they use violence „in word, thought or action“, they roll their Ahimsa Die. If the die comes up a 1 or 2, reduce it by one step, as usual. If the Ahimsa Die is a d4 and is reduced further, the Yogi loses all their siddhis (spells) for that day. After sunrise and a meditation that lasts (Exyperience Level) hours, the Ahimsa Die is „re-charged“ again. Yes, that‘s right, the higher up you get in Yoga, the longer it takes to recover from lapses.
Possessions: Yogis are severely limited in the amount of possessions they may have – they may never possess more than what they can carry on their person, they avoid contact with gold or jewelry, and may not carry more than the equivalent of 1 coin worth of other types of treasure. They may not use magic items.
Spell casting: A Yogi gains siddhis, or supernatural, mental powers which correspond to some cleric and magic user spells. In order to obtain these, the yogi must spend one hour in meditation per spell, per day.
Saving Throw: Yogis receive a +3 bonus on saving throws vs. poison and paralysis.
Charisma Bonus: At 2nd level and every level thereafter, Yogis automatically add 1 point to their
charisma score, up to a maximum score of 20.
Obtain devotees: At ninth level, the Yogi will attract a large number of loyal followers who will swear fealty to the character and wish to do good deeds in his or her name.
The following siddhis may be chosen:
• All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Quest, and Raise Dead. • Magic user spells: Read Languages, Knock, Levitate, Darkvision, Telekinesis, Teleport
The TBH Yogi looks like this:
Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Str 7, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 7; HP 10, damage: d4/1, Ahimsa Die: 1d4; Siddhi Points: 3, loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang
If the TBH yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Strength. Successful roll means: inflict unarmed damage (1 point). If the opponent attacked him, the player would try to make a STR save, or (house rule) the DM would try to roll on or over the yogi’s Str, or simply roll higher than the yogi.
Macchiato Monsters takes inspiration from The Black Hack and Whitehack, as the name implies.
- In MM, you first roll the stats: we have already done that.
- Then, you invent a Trait (origins, factions, occupations, race): Yogi. Whenever the trait is relevant, roll with advantage.
- Now, record your hit die; this always starts with a d6.
- Now, pick two: add a d6 to a low stat, write down another trait, add another hit die, martial training (step up your hit dice), specialist training (a daily special ability), or magic training (come up with two freeform spells, essentially like Whitehack) –
- First pick: specialist training (“Simulate Death”, as described in the ability list in the beginning of this blog post: The yogi is lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appears not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 turns per level, once per day)
- Second pick: magic training – the siddhis are: “Eternal Peace” and “Joyous Freedom”
The MM Yogi looks like this:
Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Trait: Yogi, Str 7, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 7; HP 6, no armor, no weapons, Siddhis: “Eternal Peace” and Joyous Freedom”, loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang
If the yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Str. Successful roll means: roll damage (2d4, take lower). If the yogi rolled higher, that would mean the opponent hit him.
Into the Odd
Into the Odd is the enfant terrible in the OSR scene. No because it’s not behaving well (author Chris McDowall is one of the nicest guys I know online), but because it’s breaking traditions deliberately. As a result, ItO is not only very slim, but it plays lightning fast.
So let’s try to fit the original class into ItO.
First of all, stats: only three of them: Str, Dex und Cha.
HP: 1d6, further damage is subtracted from Str; If Str=0 then dead
There are no classes in ItO, but at the moment, more and more people are creating them, anyway (even Chris himself)
Spells are either spell items or skills. For the yogi, it has to be skills.
So, the ItO Yogi:
Reach Eternal Peaceful Liberation by unmasking not-reality as illusion. Do this by practicing non-violent (ahimsa) and introspective methods. If you reach Level 5 without harming anyone on purpose, you reach Moksha (liberation) and can rest, finally.
Cruelty against insects.
Cruelty against animals.
Cruelty against human beings.
lived an entire month in the world (“in the marketplace”), in ahimsa
stayed peaceful in the middle of raging violence
- Move Immovable Objects: You can persuade small doors and walls to move.
- Create gems: You can create gemstones out of thin air.
- No pain: You feel no pain. Critical injuries don’t exist for you. You keep moving and standing till you die with Str 0.
- Come closer, Beloved One: You can move the sun closer to you or farther away from you.
The ItO Yogi looks like this:
Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Yogi, Str 7, Dex 10, Cha 7; HP 6, no armor, no weapons, Siddhis: “Eternal Peace” and Joyous Freedom”, loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang
If the yogi had to defend himself physically, he would simply roll 1d4 for damage (no to-hit roll). The opponent would do the same.