Magical Research Mishap Chart

Magic Research should be interesting and just a tad dangerous. Whatever system you use for magical research is up to you. These little charts are for when things go wrong. Very wrong.

Which chart to use: Roll 1d20 + the researcher’s level. If the roll is over 15 then roll on Chart 2.

Collateral Damage: Whenever there is a magical mishap then there will collateral damage to the magical laboratory. The damage equals 1d10 X 1000 gold pieces in addition to any other damage. If the mishap effect is from Chart 2 then value of the damage is doubled.

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Simplified Combat Maneuvers

One of the things that makes combat more interesting is when characters do something besides stand there toe to toe until somebody runs out of Hit Points. I’ve bee playing Pathfinder a lot in the past years. Heck, our group has playing is since the open beta test. I still remember how everyone loved the new Combat Maneuver mechanics but they were still tied to Feats and still way too crunchy.

James over at Dreams of Mythic Fantasy came up with a really cool idea to use Saving Throws as the mechanic for Combat Maneuvers. This would work great in a Swords & Wizardry game. And I may just have to play around with his idea a bit more.

By mere coincidence, I’ve been thinking about the same thing for retro-games. I wanted something quick, easy, flexible and embraced the “rulings not rules” philosophy. Once again, I looked to Lamentations of the Flame Princess for some inspiration and it’s simple X in d6 skill system. Here’s the neat part, the DM can just count on his fingers.

Declaration: The player describes what the character is attempting to do.

The Base Chance: 2 in 6 (for fighters), 1 in 6 (for other classes)

Who is better at fighting? If the character attempting the maneuver is then +1. If the defender is then -1. If they are equally skilled then 0.

Who has the better score? Select which Abilities (for both the active and defending characters) best suit the combat maneuver described. This will usually be Strength or Dexterity but creative players will find a way to use other Abilities. If the character attempting the maneuver has a higher score then +1. If the defender then -1. If they are equal then 0.

Situational Modifiers: Each would be a +/-1 depending. This could be anything else that affects the chances of the character successfully performing the Combat Maneuver. Difficulty, lighting, terrain, size difference, weapons and so forth. Just let common sense be your guide.

Now, you’ve got an X in d6 chance for the character to perform the maneuver. Handle it just like you would a skill check in Lamentations.

The Outcome: Since this system is meant it inspire the players to be imaginative in combat, there’s pretty much no way to effectively spell out if a character does X then Y happens. Just let common sense and the Rule of Cool be your guide.

The Serpent Blade

At first glance the weapon appears to be a +1 short sword with a blade fashioned to appear as a venomous asp.  When any of the following conditions are met, the blade’s unique qualities activate.

1.  A successful attack with the Sneak Attack/Back Stab ability

2.  The attacker rolls maximum damage.

3.  A “critical” hit is rolled.

The blade of the weapon transforms into a venomous snake and burrows into the flesh of the victim.  The snake does 1d6 damage every round and the victim must make a save versus Poison (each round) or suffer an additional 2d6 of damage.  During this time the attacker will need to use another weapon since his blade is inside the victim. Once the victim dies or the snake is removed The Serpent Blade returns to normal.

Yeah, I just watched Conan.

Spite Sprite

Spite Sprites are mischievously deadly beings. They thrive on conflict and blood shed. They routinely seek out small groups and turn them against each other. A pair of Spite Sprites will each choose a champion for fight for them. Each Spite Sprite’s champion will fight the other sprite’s champion to the death without regard to any other targets. If one of the sprites or the champions is killed then other sprite will leave the area.

Spite Sprites are small (4 inches in diameter) glowing orbs. They are often mistaken for Will-O-the-Wisps.

Number Appearing: 2

Armor Class: 3 [16]

Hit Dice: 2

Attacks: None (Battle Charm)

Saving Throw: 16

Special: Immune to non-magical attacks, Battle Charm, Evasive

Move: 40 FT

Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Battle Charm: Spite Sprites have a unique form of domination. The Sprite’s chosen champion gets a saving throw against Battle Charm. If the target fails his save then he is under the control of the sprite until he either wins or dies while fighting another Spite Sprite’s champion. The sprite has full knowledge and access to his champion’s skills and abilities.

If the target makes his save then he is immune to that Sprite Sprite’s Battle Charm for 24 hours.

Evasive: Spite Sprites zip around the head of their champions. Any attacks directed at the Sprite have a 20% chance of hitting the champion. Spite Sprites will not direct their champions to attack the other Spite Sprite.

The Pit of Despair

Magic-user, 3rd Level

Range: 30 FT

Duration: 2d6 Rounds (See Text)

Spell Resistance: Yes

The Pit of Despair attacks the target’s self confidence and will to fight. If the target fails his saving throw, this spell creates the illusion of a 30 foot deep pit with mirrored walls. The target sees reflections of himself in the mirrors. These reflections constantly berate him and admonish him for each and every mistake the character has made his entire life. The images will shout each every short coming the character has either real or imagined. This verbal abuse is spawned from the target’s own subconscious. All the target can do for the duration of the spell is to defend himself against the verbal attacks and will probably reveal an embarrassing secret from his past in the process. When the spell’s duration ends, the character’s confidence is still shaken and is at -2 to attacks and saves for another 24 hours.

If the target succeeds his saving throw, he is filled with self doubt and takes the -2 penalty to attacks and saves for the duration of the spell.

Potion of Spell Retention

A simple potion that has saved the life of many an arcane caster.

A magic user drinks this potion when prepares spells for the day. Whenever he casts a spell he rolls a Saving Throw against Magic. If the save is successful then the spell is retained in the magic user’s memory and the effect of the potion ends. If he fails the saving throw then potion does not activate.

Note: The magic user has no control which spell, he must save against. It is whenever he casts a spell, whether it be a simple cantrip or a powerful ritual.

My Frankengame: Hey, you got weird Sword & Sorcery into my High Fantasy

There’s a little RPG blog meme that started last month (Thanks to Mike at Wrath of Zombie and Anarkeith at Telluric Currents). So I’ve been busy getting this blog off ground but it is a great place to start.

I’ve dubbed my Frankengame Home Brew Hack and most of the notes have been moved over here. Originally, it was based around Castles & Crusades with a dose of Pathfinder thrown in. But like many things, as time passes it evolves and changes. I decided to base the game on Swords & Wizardry instead.

Swords & Wizardry (and it’s Sword & Sorcery offspring Crypts & Things): That’s the basis for the core rules. The simple classes and general mechanics make it prefect for kit bashing.

Lamentations of The Flame Princess: Yes, another retro-clone. This game is a great source for some good new takes on spells (looking at you, Summon). I’m also working on a skill system inspired the Lamentations d6 system but using a d12 as a base.

Castles & Crusades: Oh no. I didn’t forget about this one. The number one thing that I like with C&C is a save for every stat. Yeah, a dump stat can kill you. Now this may sound like it goes against S&W one save to rule them all. But not really. It just takes a little tweaking. Each class still would get the base One Save. My rough estimate is to increase it by 1 from the base number as written in S&W. Any save modifiers based on class and race should be divided by two (rounded down, minimum of +1). Characters would get their ability modifier as bonus (or penalty) to Saving Throws based on what they are saving against.

So there you go the basic crunchy bits. Yes, I know I really don’t post the exact wording that often. There’s a reason for that. I’m kind of lazy. My huge working document for my Frankengame is largely just copy and pasted bits from the various of games with some minor edits. I just don’t feel right posting copy and paste material freely on the Internet. But I don’t mind saying that I’m using X from Y game, so go check out that game (and maybe buy it).

So where do I want to head with the fluff? Well, I haven’t done that much work on it yet but I do have some ideas and these ideas will influence some of the crunch. First and foremost is magic. I tend to like magic as mysterious and dangerous. It should be useful and key point in the setting and rules but spellcasters shouldn’t be superheroes compared to the other characters. I tend to lean more towards a Swords & Sorcery/Lamentations of the Flame Princess style magic.

The other is races. To put it bluntly, I’ve grown weary of Tolkien inspired fantasy RPG’s. What was once considered the archetype for a fantasy world has become more of a stereotype. There’s no reason we shouldn’t take things in new directions. Break the molds. Twist the tropes. Like I said, I haven’t done too much work on this part but then that’s fodder for future posts.

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

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