Tag Archives: OSR

Lamentations of the Flame Princess, duh.

I rewatched the awful Solomon Kane movie over the weekend. Sure I may be a wee bit prejudice against since I had read Howard’s original stories. So it’s not that good of a movie. But the opening sequence is pretty cool. So at least that’s worth a few minutes of your time.

This got me thinking. Wow. Wouldn’t a Black Powder & Black Magic game be fun? Like a total idiot I spent about 45 minutes googling what was out there and it was right there on my shelf. Buff coats and all.

LOTFP has got weird magic, gritty rules, and some decent black powder rules (but they could a little clean up and made a little easier). Throw in a few those 2nd Edition play test rules and there you go. Sure the LOTFP adventures took a turn to the total negadungeon, whack weird stuff. The core game is basically on this theme.

But wait there’s more. Or should I say that I can’t leave well enough alone. Running with the Black Powder & Black Magic theme pretty much means that the good old Elves, Dwarves, and Halflings are out. But what to throw in their place?? Hmm. I think it’s time to make note of what I said in the About the Blog, “I ain’t no scholar.” So which leads us to what Fifth Edition calls Tieflings and Aasimar but let’s look a little more closely at these.

Tieflings well they’ve got demonic ancestry and Aasimar basically have angelic ancestry. While D&D has the Cambion as a half-fiend, if I do a little research online then I come up with Cambion as the offspring of an incubus, succubus, or other demon and a human. And if we do the same basic thing with Nephilim which (depending on which source you are looking at) is the product of the union of human and a fallen angel. So yeah one of your parents did the horizontal shuffle with a demon or an angel.

So what we do with these in a gritty LOTFP game? Easy make them racial classes. Even easier, it’s already done. Magic-User becomes the racial class for Cambions and Cleric becomes the racial class for Nephilim. That does leave Fighter and Specialist as “human” only classes but that doesn’t mean that a human character can’t be a priest or a student of the arcane. It’s just that their power is no where near that of those whose blood is tainted and a tad bit of house ruling.

And to keep things grim dark, well, because these characters actually have cool magic powers, there’s a good chance that they might end up getting burned at the stake or splayed out on some scholar’s table for vivisection.

There you go. As Elvira says, “Unpleasant dreams…”

YARC-Rogues & Skills

I spent a bunch of time this last week thinking about how to do skills for my little heart breaker and a couple of things popped into my head.

First, I realized that this whole project is starting to branch into two development trees; old-school based influenced by Fifth Edition, and Fifth Edition based but influenced by old-school games. This all started to come together with last week’s Let’s Go Crazy post.

First, yes, I’m running with Rogue rather than Thief. I just feel it’s got a broader definition than Thief. Second, I’m gathering a bunch of inspiration from Lamentations of the Flame Princess’ Specialist.

Skills need to broad but not vague and need to hit a sweet spot. Most “common” actions would be done with Ability checks. Things like jumping, climbing, searching, and fast talk. Class specific knowledge might or might not need a roll, depending what’s going on. So here’s my initial skill list:

  • Healing: Treating Wounds, diagnosis, herbalism
  • Monster Lore: Creatures and stuff.
  • Profession: Specific knowledge choose something when taken.
  • Languages: Decipher script, number of languages. 0 is illiterate.
  • Stealth: Moving Quietly, Hiding, Blending Into The Crowd.
  • Survival: Tracking. Foraging
  • Thievery: Picking Pockets, Locks & Traps, Sleight of Hand

Yeah. It’s a very short list.

So how am I going to handle Skill in the 5E world? Taking a page from 5E Hardcore Mode and little from my own previous thoughts. First, there’s no set attribute modifier that modifies a skill. It all just depends on what exactly the character is attempting. For example, Can I eat this plant? Roll Survival (Int). Can I skin this animal? Roll Survival (Dex). What about unskilled? Sure you can try. For that I’m going to streamline from Hardcore Mode. Just roll a d20 at Disadvantage. No attribute modifier at all. As far as progression goes, well, just do that pretty much the normal way.

For the old-school, it’s the good old x in d6 vibe similar to Lamentations of the Flame Princess. But taking a step further. X in d6 is for average difficulty. To adjust for more difficult tasks, increase the die type. So if a task is really hard instead of X in d6, it’d be x in d12. Now for progression under this there’s an idea that’s bounced around my head for a long time. Random class based skill points. So since the Rogue is the skill monkey. They get the best die. Probably a d8 while other classes would get a d4 or d6. Points can be saved from level to level. And any skill can only be improved by one per level. However, it’s not a 1 for 1 point buy. It takes the Skill Rating to go up one. So to go from 3 to 4, it costs 3 points. Like LOTFP, most skills would start off at 1 but in a case like Languages then going from 0 to 1 would cost 4.

Of course, Rogues are going to get other class tricks like sneak attack and better chances at certain checks. Plus a few other things as they pop into my head.

And in case you’re coming into these rants, mid-way through, these are my high level thoughts on the basic design. The nuts and bolt will coming later.

Keep rolling those dice and having fun!

YARC: Let’s Go Crazy!

I’m still working classes and all the various other little bits that go into home brewing this Franken-Game. Sure it all started off as kitbashing a bunch of old school games but then I started to think about what things I liked about Fifth Edition. I blame this guy for making me think.

I had watched some of the Dungeon Craft videos now and then but recently I’ve really started to do a deep dive and binge. Hell, I’ll probably join up on the Patreon too.

Now, there’s a lot things in 5E that just don’t quite jive with the old-school vibe. I remember when 5E first came out and there was an attempt by many (including myself) to meld the two together. IMHO, a lot of those attempts really fell short. They just felt like the 5E Basic Rules with a few tweaks. Finally, I managed to find a couple that just hit the sweet spot for me when it comes to simplicity and feel.

Most folks have already heard of 5E Hardcore Mode. This little 18 page PDF packs in a lot of cool tools. Most notably for me, the very easy monster stat block,rolling to cast spells, and a more down to earth way to handle skills.

The second is Five Torches Deep. This one really puts the classes together with an idea that I was already playing with but they do it much better than I was. Here’s the quick and dirty low down. You’ve got your classic basic four classes. Then the class archetypes/specializations are the good old sublcasses. For example, Warrior has Fighter, Ranger, and Barbarian. Boom. There you go.

Of course, I’m still pulling a lot of crazy and different ideas from across the old-school spectrum. But more on that later.

Roll dice. Kill monsters. Take their stuff. And have fun!

YARC: Magic Users

Time for another class for my own little old-school heart breaker. And as before these are just the design notes and a final draft will be forth coming.

One of my goals is to make YARC quick and easy. So I dug into how spells are allocated and cast. So here we go.

Starting Number of Spells: Int Mod+2.

There’s no “memorization”. If a magic-user knows a spell then they can cast it. But they still use spell books. They are constantly scribbling down notes and observations about magic. So they still spend an equivalent amount of time on their spell books. I used 10 minutes/highest level spell known.

Spell Quirks! I’m bring this one back when I used it before the player’s loved it. So refer to this old post.

Highest Level Spell Known/Castable: 1/2 Level rounded up. This keeps to the basic, normal spell progression.

Spells per Day: OK. This is where it gets a little weird. Int Mod+ Level. That’s how many spells the Magic-User can cast each day. The specific level of each spell doesn’t matter.

I basically used this system in my last Swords & Wizardry game and the players enjoyed. It was fun with the Spell Quirks and kept down a lot of time bookkeeping.

Now, I’m going to credit where credit is due. The Spell Quirks were inspired by the Mercurial Magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics. The spells per day was inspired by the Far Away Land OSR rules.

YARC: Fighter

What a better place to start than with the basic of classes? Let’s face it. Often the Fighter is much maligned as boring. So let’s make it a little more interesting.

At its core, the Fighter class has the best To-Hit Progression and the best HP. The Fighter is proficient with all weapons and armor in most games. I’ve adopted the house rule that any class can use any weapon. You want your Magic-User with d4 HP run into combat with a great sword against that troll. Go right ahead. I do have some limits on armor but more on that later.

I sat back and thought about what exactly being a Fighter means and what’s missing. Combat is chaotic and sometimes winning and surviving may rely on more that just hitting your opponent and your ability to take a pounding. Winning the battle is about tactics and adapting to what’s needed to win. Fighters get better at hitting things but they don’t learn to duck. And lastly, Fighters are extremely dependent on what gear and magic items they have.

Folks who have followed the blog will recognize this from previous posts and rules hacks. But it’s been refined a little.

Fighters have a unique class “skill” called Prowess. If you recall in the prior post on updated skill, class specific skills/special abilities run off an x in d6 mechanic. A Fighter’s Prowess begins at 2 in 6 at 1st Level. Increases to 3 in 6 at 4th Level, And 4 in 6 at 7th Level. Remember I’m putting a Level 10 cap for character progression.

So how does it work? The character takes their action to assess the battlefield and their opponents then decides if they want a bonus to AC, To-Hit, or Damage. Then make that Prowess roll. If successful then the number rolled is the bonus. Fail and you wasted your time. For example, if the character has a 3 in 6 Prowess, decides they want a bonus To-Hit, and rolls a 1 then they get a +1 Bonus. The bonus for the character remains in effect until the character takes another action to reassess the situation or the character is knocked unconscious and must return to the fray.

This is how I’m setting Fighters apart. Something quick and simple. Yes, I know I didn’t post this time the full write up with attack progression and saves. Don’t worry. I’ll do that later. Probably when I get the basic 4 classes done.