Basic Fantasy RPG: Don’t Forget About This One

Let’s face it there a ton of retroclones out there and each has it’s own little tweak and interpretation of the rules. Sometimes, it’s hard keep track of all of them and sometimes on gets lost in the shuffle. Such is the case with the Basic Fantasy RPG.
I don’t know if it’s because of the lack of fanfare and hoopla around the game or if it’s just something as simple of getting lost in the mix of the Internet or an unassuming title that might get confused with Chaosium’s Basic Roleplaying. All that doesn’t matter too much. Because it’s there, it’s free and it’s pretty darned good.
Oh, I know. We have plenty of retroclones. We don’t need yet another reinterpretation of the good old dungeon crawling rules. To that I say, poppycock. Each and every one of the retroclones brings something slightly different to the table either in slightly new mechanics or inspiration for GM’s to create their own. That’s not a bad thing.
On its own, Basic Fantasy brings a solid set of easy rules. Nothing fancy or over the top. It’s got your basic classes and races, old school saving throws, ascending AC and the usual spells, monsters and magic items. Some might say that’s kind of bland. In way, it’s a strength for Basic Fantasy as an intro game. The unassuming title and mechanics just give new players one less thing to think about and should put them more at ease. Not to mention, the similarities with other retroclones allows GM’s to quickly and easily convert adventures of their choosing. And speaking of adventures, Basic Fantasy is amazingly well supported with adventures and supplements. Sometimes even better than some of the other more recognized games. Plus, there’s some really handy tools on their site. Just go check them out.
So there you have it. A free, well-supported RPG that might have just fell off your radar. Great as an unintimidating intro game for newbies. It’s worth the time to add it to your library.

Green Devil Face No. 5

OK, OK. I get it. I’m really behind on ranting about stuff. But heck. Life’s been really busy. This little rant is about Green Devil Face No. 5 and for just $1.25 it’s a pretty damned cool little PDF.
The description on Drivethrurpg gives a you good idea about what’s crammed into those 12 (13 if you count the cover) pages. There’s one nasty little trap but the bulk of the book is charts. Handy charts.
Now, I’ll admit that that I probably won’t use the Natural 1/Natural 20 (Fumble/Crit) charts. Got too many of those damned things anyway. But this guys humble opinion the real gems here are “What’s up with that cult?” and the new experience and advancement charts. The “What’s up with that cult?” chart earned a place in my weird DM notebook. It’s a quick and easy way to put roll up a crazy cult.
The random advancement and experience table is one of those things that so simple but still awesome. Let me lump these together into one thought. First, all characters start off at the same base line. There’s a simple d6 roll after an adventure. Success gain a level. Fail and try again next time. When a character levels up, there isn’t the cookie cutter addition of XYZ abilities. Instead roll on a class specific chart and hope for the best. Once again really simple but will add a butt load of variation to characters of the same class.
Like I said it’s only $1.25. It’s worth it.

Familiars Shouldn’t Suck Part 2

Last week, I ranted about sucky familiars. This week I’m going to try to do something about it. And I’ll try best to make this as system neutral as possible. And of course GM’s and players need to do a little discussion about any specifics and do be afraid to use a little imagination. Let common sense be your guide.

The basics:
Familiars are free willed but still bound to help the Magic-User. Familiars like to pampered. Bribes work extremely well. It makes them happy and a happy familiar is a helpful familiar. It’s not the value of an item. It’s the effort taken to acquire it.

Familiars are unable to attack each other.

A Familiars are immune to spells cast by their masters.

Type (Roll 2d6)

2: The familiar exists in spirit form only. Can pass through walls and is invisible to all except the Magic User.

3 to 4: The familiar takes the form of a weapon. The weapon is considered magical. The Magic-User is considered proficient with it even if it is of a type that is not normally allowed due to class restrictions. For example, a great sword.

5 to 6: The familiar takes the form of a small demon/devil such as an imp or quasit or a small magical beast like a dragon or griffon.

7: The familiar takes the form of a small mundane animal (Cat, Rat, Bat, Lizard, Snake and so on.)

8 to 9: The familiar takes the form of a parasitic worm and lives inside the Magic-User. It can come out but you really don’t want to see that.

10 to 11: The Familiar possess the Magic-User. It exists only within the mind of the Magic-User.

12: The familiar takes a human form that is annoying, disturbing and/or distracting to the Magic-User

Base Familiar Stats: Let common sense be your guide as to what base stats should actually apply to a particular familiar.

AC (Ascending): 10+ (1/3 the Magic-User’s Level)

HD: Same as Magic-User.

Saving Throws: As Magic-User.

Damage: HD 1 to 3: 1d4; HD 4 to 6: 1d6; HD: 7 to 9: 1d8; HD 10 to 12: 1d10; HD: 13+: 1d12

Familiar chart (Roll d20+Magic-User Level). Roll on this chart each time the character levels.

Special Abilities: If a particular ability makes no sense based on the familiar’s type then re-roll.

3: Friends in low places: The Familiar has been around. There is a 1 in 20 chance that it personally knows any demon, devil or similar creature encountered. GM’s should roll an NPC Reaction to determine the relationship between the familiar and the entity. If this result is rolled again increase the chance to 2 in 20 and so on.

4: The familiar and the Magic-User can perceived through each others senses. (Yes, this can work both ways.)

5: The familiar and the Magic-User are capable of telepathic communication. If this result is rolled again then re-roll.

6 to 7: The Familiar learns a random First level Magic-User spell. It may cast this spell one time per day. If this result is rolled again and the same random spell occurs then the Familiar may cast it two times per day and son.

8 to 13: No new powers.

14: The Familiar learns a random Second level Magic-User spell. It may cast this spell one time per day. If this result is rolled again and the same random spell occurs then the Familiar may cast it two times per day and son.

15: The Familiar learns a random Third level Magic-User spell. It may cast this spell one time per day. If this result is rolled again and the same random spell occurs then the Familiar may cast it two times per day and son.

16: Eater of magic: Any potion or scroll can be consumed by the familiar. This acts as a Cure Light Wounds Spell on the Familiar. If this result is rolled again then re-roll.

17: Magic Resistance: The Familiar gains 5% Magic Resistance. If this result is rolled again then increase Magic Resistance by 5% and so on.

18: Demonic Library: The Familiar has access to the secrets of the universe. There is a 1 in 12 chance that the Familiar knows a piece of obscure arcane knowledge. If this result is rolled again then increase the chance by one and so on.

Familiars Shouldn’t Suck

There’s lots of cool things about playing a Magic-User. Unfortunately, one of those is not having a familiar. Let’s face it. Familiars suck. In Old-School games, the risk generally isn’t worth the reward. In newer (Pathfinder/3.x) games, you many get a little boost but once again I think it’s pretty damned lame. Think about. Master of the Arcane. Summoner of Demon Lords. Here’s my familiar. A Toad. Really? Yes, I know there’s historical precedence on familiars. But screw that. You want to be cool.
This is one of those things that’s just brewing in the back of my head and not yet a complete thought but we’ll see how it goes.
First, let’s ditch all the mundane animals as familiars. Let’s stick to some the more cool ones like the imp, quasit and pseudo-dragon. Brownie is a possibility too but personally, it just never clicked with me.
Here’s some more basic thoughts:
It is what it is. Familiars have all the special powers and abilities according to what they are.
Adviser & Spy: A Magic-User and familiar will have a telepathic bond. The Magic-User can perceived through the senses of the familiar. Familiars should grant a bonus for magical research and the like. Not only should a familiar be able to spy for the magic-user. The familiar will also keep tabs on the magic-user for a powerful demonic/supernatural entity.
Free Will: Familiars should have a bit a free will. Almost like a hireling or a henchman. That means they should also have a personality with their own unusual quirks. Plus they should have their extra spell casting abilities.
Hit Points: At higher levels, familiars tend to get squashed quickly. A quick and dirty method. Familiars have the same amount of HP as the Magic-User.
Losing a familiar: This is where things usually suck. Generally, it ends draining the Magic-User of HP, permanently. This really does nothing to encourage the acquisition of a familiar. Instead, it just gets harder and harder for a Magic-User to replace the familiar. And subsequent familiars become more and more free willed.
So that’s it. A few system-neutral quick thoughts. I’ve got a couple of other ideas rolling around in my head but those are for Part 2.

Giant Silverfish for Swords & Wizardry

Fighters fear the Rust Monsters but spellcasters of every type fear the Giant Silverfish. These insects crave and can quickly consume scrolls and spell books.
The Giant Silverfish
Armor Class: 9 [10]
Hit Dice: 1 HD
Attacks: None
Saving Throw: 18
Special: Eats Paper, Spells
Move: 13
Eats Paper: A giant silverfish can consume one scroll or one page of a spell book per round. This includes things like treasure maps or other valuable documents but the creature will prefer magical texts.
Spells: When a Giant Silverfish consumes a magic scroll, it makes a Saving Throw. If successful the beast can instinctively cast that spell once as if it were able to read the scroll. It can do this for either magic-user or cleric scrolls. Any Giant Silverfish encountered will already have consumed 1d6 spells from levels 1 to 4. determined randomly.

Tales of the Scarecrow for Lamentations of the Flame Princess

James Raggi IV is still cranking out those creepy fun adventures. This time it’s Tales of the Scarecrow and it’s only $2.50.
This is a really short and compact adventure and how long it takes a party to get through will all depend on the party. Tales of the Scarecrow is very much a”It Depends What The Party Does” type of adventure. A party could get through it in a matter of minutes or spend an entire evening messing with place.
I won’t go into any spoilers but the whole adventure centers around a cornfield, a scarecrow and a three-room farmhouse. That’s it. There’s basically one monster. Yeah, just one. And in true Raggi fashion there some awesome but very dangerous magic items that have some interesting side effects. The whole adventure is only 10 pages.
What I really like about so many of the Lamentations adventures is that the choices that the player characters makes can have an effect on the game world and the campaign (looking at you Death Frost Doom). It’s not just a Hack ’em and Slash ’em and move on. When I’m stuck on writing something or just wondering if want I spent a couple hours feverishly hashing out, I read a little of James Raggi’s stuff. It’s sort of a bench mark for coolness and uniqueness.
Tales of the Scarecrow has a lot punch in just a few pages and couple of encounters. Well worth checking out.

YARC! & The $20 Dungeon

I know I haven’t posted that much about YARC! or any of my other projects in a while. It doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been in the back of my mind. It’s then end of the year and the holidays and a bunch of other crap just keeps getting in the way. But never fear dear reader. There is a plan.
YARC! will continue to be on going project. As I get more and more tidbits done, I’ll post them here and then who knows what exactly I will do with the finished version? Not me that’s for sure.
I’ve got another little side project. The $20 Dungeon. No, this isn’t an adventure. I sort of got the idea with my little DIY terrain posts. So I got thinking just how much dungeon terrain can I put together for just $20. Since it’s Christmas time, I’m spending way too much time in stores so I’m taking the opportunity to shop around and grab up a few things. So stay tuned for that.
And that is sort of what’s going on.

Roll Dice. Kill Monsters. Take Their Stuff. And Have Fun!

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