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An Array of Specimens Tagged as House Rules

DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT


Emmy Allen just put up a great post over at Cavegirl’s Game Stuff about wounds/not automatically dying at 0HP, you should read it.

On a tangent, last year I found time to start thinking about D&D again, and I found that after such a long time without playing at all it really changes/solidifies what you want to actually get out of playing. And for me that’s FAST, RECKLESS FUN.

In looking at things I’ve written in the past, there’s a lot of doom you guys. So much doom.
I think previously I got a bit carried away because doom is fucking fun and interesting to write, but after having time away from it I read some of it and think “fuuuuuuck how would I even make than fun or even work in a game?”
I love horror, I love GROT, and I want to bend things back around to that kind of comedic gore and debauchery rather than the pockets of everything’s-fucked-forever that I had accidentally stumbled in to.

That said, I really don’t mind terrible things happening to players: My brother’s wizard having his 3 remaining good limbs torn off by thin air the first time he tried to cast a spell was fucking hilarious, and lead to him hiring a little mercenary girl who the dice told me thought he was the most amazing thing in existence and carried him around like a backpack. IT WAS THE BEST.

I also don’t mind cataclysmic game-changing things happening to the world – it’s part of why I built Corpathium to be something I could just re-generate over and over again.

I just want those things to be FUNNY (even if just in the extremity of their terribleness), and USABLE.
If I’d struggle to know what to do next if it came up in a game I don’t want it anymore.

And one of the most important things I’m keeping in mind is something Rose once said to me after a game, which to paraphrase: the players need something good to happen to them, otherwise it’s just all doom and terror and pain forever.
Which might be fun to dream up and write, but isn’t so fun to play through if that’s all there is.

So don’t expect to see my stuff suddenly become less gory and demented and psychosexual, I just want to make sure that it’s actually all usable, funny, and allows space to breathe, rather than just turning into a macabre writing experiment.
More Return of the Living Dead less Day of the Dead.

Corpathium is being re-written, my magic tables and system are being revised, I don’t know where I’ll get the time but I want to make some really great things.

And if my rules thought they were safe they were so fucking wrong.
For starters I stopped pretending I was playing Lamentations of the Flame Princess with house rules – bitch your game has been pure house rules for a long time.
Then I started looking really hard at things to decide what was important and what wasn’t, ditched what wasn’t, and pushed and poked what was to make it as simple and quick as possible (e.g. my original Weapon Breakage/Notches rules: it used to be that every weapon had a quality rating 1-5 and you checked it for breakage using the weapon’s damage dice whenever an attack roll came up as the quality rating or less. That makes perfect sense as an exercise in simulation! But not in fucking play! Now it uses a simple Shitty/Basic/Quality rating that the player actively chooses to test to do cool shit which I’ll explain some other time), with bonus points for using the same mechanics as other rules. Because I really can’t be bothered tracking 50 subsystems anymore.

It’s not all finished, and I don’t know when I’ll share things, but when I started revising everything I decided to type it up like an actual ruleset which is now tentatively titled GROT.

Long freaking story short here’s an excerpt straight from it explaining MY new way of doing HP/wounds/dying covered in filth:


Read the rest…

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A Sack And A Knife


Hey, so recently I ran a couple of playtest sessions of STEAL THE EYES OF YASHOGGHUH online (it was great, highlights at the end) and to speed things up we used starting equipment packs that I’ve used a few times before.

 

While we were playing Brendan S asked if I’d published them and since he brought up how useful equipment packs are for streamlining character generation, here’s the packs I’ve been letting people choose randomly – three Sword-Whores, three Adepts/Specialists/Thieves, and three WIZARDS.

 

There are a couple of “healing potions” in there that mention making saves. If you fail you randomly mutate, or in the case of The Bottled Nectar of the House of Honey and Salt:

  • Both fail – Your body loses all integrity and slops and expands in a flowing pile of the Velvet Blessing/Saintsblood.

  • Only CON fail – The flesh of a random body part shifts and groans beneath the skin. Make another CON check each Turn – Until you succeed, make a WIS check every time you exert yourself, if you fail the body part becomes Saintsblood.

There’s also some drugs. For me drugs work like this:

Effects last until you FAIL the associated Ability check, made each Turn.

If you roll a 1 or a 20 on a check you’re addicted.

While addicted, whenever not under the influence of the drug you suffer all of its normal negative effects as well as its withdrawal effects, and all checks involving the associated Ability Score are Doomed (checks that would already be Doomed are Double Doomed).

After each full day without the drug, make the associated Ability check to recover from addiction.

Quick, easy, smooth.

Doomed means you roll twice and take the worst. Yes that’s the same as Disadvantage. No there is no replacement for Advantage.

 

ANYWAY HERE’S THE EQUIPMENT

Read the rest…


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Arts & Crafts: Morbidly Encumbered edition


My players love them some arts & crafts, when I give them little map pieces to put together they all get a little bit more giddy and conspiratorial (like with Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine or STEAL THE EYES OF YASHOGGHUH! which they are playing through right now).

But we were playing a week or so ago and they were divvying out stolen jewellery and codpieces and swapping equipment with each other before descending beneath a swamp and all I could think was “godddd I wish they could just pull things off their sheets and hand them to each other instead of all this erasing/re-writing bullshit”.

And then I realised why not? WHY NOT?? Why am I using ratty lined tables that are continually being scrawled over like an ambitionless mouthbreather? WE HAVE THE TECHNOLOGY. WE HAVE BLUE-TAC.

 

So I whipped these up before our next game, with a page of the character sheet devoted to worn equipment, and a separate backpack (drawn by Rose forever ago) for the rest:

 

And suddenly they were actually paying attention to what they were carrying and moving things around and watching how close they were to being over-encumbered and I DIDN’T HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO PROMPT IT.

Really they’ve never understood encumbrance rules properly but make it a bit more tangible and suddenly everything becomes clear and actually a bit fun what?

 

So hell yes, this is my encumbrance/inventory system now, it makes things so much easier to track, gives heaps of extra room for little details/rules/sweet illustrations, and also means I can do fun things like physically take things away from people when they get stolen or dropped or turned into spiders.

I feel dumb that it never occurred to me before.

 

Jeff Russell was lamenting about not being able to do this in online games and I ran off at the mouth about using Pinterest for it, which is actually a super good idea.

If everyone playing makes a Pinterest board containing a pinned picture for each piece of their equipment and then shares it with the other people playing, they can then move items around/be given stuff/drop stuff/whatever.

  • Want to give another player an item? Share the pin with them then delete it from your board.
  • Want to write down rules or little notes for that magic item you just got? You can type a message on the pin.
  • Are you the DM and you’ve got a bunch of items hidden away in this room? Collect a pin that fits each of them before the game then share them with your players as they find them.
  • Pinterest is more relevant to D&D than I even realised.

 

Here’s the new character sheet, click here and it’ll take you to a folder with separate files for the character sheet, the item cards, the backpacks, and the satchels and pouches (print everything except the item cards double-sided, they’re sized for A4 printing on machines that add a 5mm margin):

 

The dice are on there because I bought Emma the most metal set I could find and she now carries them around in her purse but she doesn’t know which one to grab to make Malatesta cut someone in half.

 

My encumbrance rules have changed a little to go with this so they now work like this:

  • Items you’re wearing can be grabbed and used at-will (they’re the ones that get stuck to your character sheet).
  • You have 5 slots for items you’re holding or simply want to protect better; these can’t be damaged or dropped unless you roll a natural 1 when defending in contested melee. If that happens roll a d10 to see which item is affected and check Breakage.
    When you’re actually holding any of these items in your hands move them to the 2 slots on the front of the sheet (but that doesn’t free up the ones you moved them from).
    [INTERLUDE: Breakage is just new wording for Quality from the Notches rules, it just made more sense on the whole, and now EVERYTHING has a Breakage value. Most Breakage values are between 1-5, and everything other than a weapon will use a d8 for its check (weapons use their damage die); if you roll the Breakage value or less, it breaks, otherwise it’s fine unless you roll the maximum value of the dice in which case you drop it. Weapons and armour take a Notch instead of breaking.
    Most items will have a Breakage chance of 3, non-intricate metal items would be 1 or 2, vanity mirrors and oil flasks would be 5.]
  • You have 5 slots for loose items, each taking up two numbers from 2-11.
  • You have 5 slots specifically for armour and nothing else, numbered 12-16. Medium armour takes up 2 slots, heavy armour takes up 3.
    I’ve started ruling that additional pieces of armour like helmets or gauntlets or Sabatons of Shame don’t increase AC, but you can sacrifice them to make an attack against you re-roll its damage (so if a successful attack against you just rolled 8 damage and you know that’s high enough to cut off a limb you can say “oh shit I headbutt the blade” and destroy your helmet and hope like hell the damage roll is lower this time).
    If you run out of armour slots and want to wear more pieces they can go in loose items.
  • When a successful attack roll against you matches the number of a filled loose item or armour slot (with contested melee a successful attack roll can be quite low), check Breakage for the item.
  • You can buy satchels or pouches to hold multiple items on a loose or held item slot. That means you can carry more shit and protect more things on those lower numbers, but if the pouch gets hit and fails its Breakage check everything falls out and you need to check Breakage for all of them.
    Satchels can carry 4 items, Small Pouches can carry 2, and some items (like the fabulous wig that Rose’s drag queen specialist Muffin McTavish is currently sporting) can store extra items inside themselves already.
  • You can carry as many small insignificant items in one slot as you can write on the item card.
  • When you’re wearing equipment the only items that stack are money (300 coins or small gems), ammunition (20 arrows/bolts/shot balls, 10 sling bullets), and small things like iron spikes or powder apostles (5 each). Every oil flask takes up a slot.
    When it’s in your backpack you can stack smaller things like oil flasks up to 3 per slot.

My other encumbrance rules work pretty much the same as before but with some different conditions that apply to encumbrance levels (Movement Dice explained below):

  • If you’re only carrying worn equipment your Movement Dice is d8, and you can roll twice and take the best for physical checks like climbing or jumping out of the way of giant rolling balls of gore.
  • When wearing a backpack you can carry a number of Dead Weight items up to your Strength or Constitution score, whichever is higher.
    Your Movement Dice is now d6, you roll once for physical checks, but can discard your backpack to re-roll (so if you’re hanging above a pit full of angry fishrats and fail your climbing check, you can shrug off your backpack and hope really hard that you don’t fail the re-roll and fall after it).
  • You can carry more than that up to a total of your Strength + Constitution and be Overweight.
    Your Movement Dice is now d4, you have to roll twice and take the worst for physical checks, but can discard your backpack to re-roll.
  • If you carry any more than that you’re Morbidly Encumbered, which is the same as being Overweight except that you have to roll twice and take the worst for ALL physical rolls including attacks and movement checks.

 

MOVEMENT DICE

 

Rolled for chases or when contested speed is otherwise an issue (like when you and the cultist look each other in the eyes and dash towards the slime-spewing altar).

  • Whoever rolls highest wins. In a one-on-one situation I’d rule that if your Movement Dice is the same but you’re wearing less armour than your opponent you can add your Dexterity modifier.
  • In a chase use the lowest Movement Dice of the group unless you bail on each other; on a lost roll decrease your dice size, on a win increase your dice size, and the chase ends when someone loses on a d4 or wins on a d20.
  • During a chase any ranged attacks suffer a penalty equal to your opponent’s Movement Dice.
  • If you’re being chased and your opponent rolls a 1 on any dice you can try to do something to lose them (so in a city something like jumping onto a roof or into an alley or a random doorway or spilling a cart in front of them), and if you win the next check it works and the chase is over.
    If you’re chasing and your opponent rolls a 1 on any dice you can try to do something to stop them (like yelling at Old Bob who’s always standing in front of the Bloated Cuttlefish to grab them), and if you win the next check it works and the chase is over.

The lowest Movement Dice of the group can also be used for random encounter checks, because if you’re Overweight you’re shuffling and jangling around like an idiot, as opposed to the guy padding around with nothing but a sack and a knife like an agile agile cat.

 

When crossing an area is difficult/dangerous/time is of the essence (like a room full of angry sludge crabs or something), you could also set the room a total movement number that the group has to reach before they cross it, and every Movement Dice roll takes a Round (so the Morbidly Encumbered idiot on a d4 Movement Dice is probably going to get nipped by a lot more crabs than the previously mentioned sack and knife guy on a d8 Movement Dice).

I haven’t tested that but it seems sound in theory?

 

And then hey that feeds in nicely to..

 

 

EXHAUSTION

  • After strenuous activity roll your current Movement Dice.
    On a 1, drop to the next encumbrance level until you rest for a Turn.
  • When removing your pack roll your current Movement Dice.
    On a 1, remain on the same encumbrance level until you rest for a Turn.

So after scaling a 50′ wall carrying Dead Weight there’s a chance you’re going to feel Overweight until you’ve had a little rest, and if you’ve been waddling around Morbidly Encumbered all “it’s okay if a monster shows up I’ll just drop my bag”, there’s a chance that when you drop it you’re not going to feel any more refreshed and suddenly regret your life decisions.

 

Apart from that there’s a bunch of other rules changes/tweaks on there so..

 

 

WEAPON TAGS

 

Rather than keeping each weapon type with its own special rules I changed it to weapon tags so they can get stuck all around.

  • ADAPT: if you miss an attack, you can use a Parry to try again. [mostly swords, Parries are normally used to re-roll a failed defence, which you can do a number of times equal to your Fast AB bonus (Dexterity modifier + AB) per combat]
  • TRAUMA: +2 to-hit vs. Medium or Heavy armour, successful hit reduces Heavy armour by 1. [mostly maces and hammers]
  • FLESHRIPPER: two damage dice vs. Light armour or less. [mostly axes]
  • REACH: automatically attack first and do double damage against Bum Rushes. [spears and polearms]
  • HEFTY: roll twice for damage and take the best while wielding with two hands. [mostly melee weapons that do d8 or more damage]
  • LASH: ignore shields, can choose to attack weapon, disarming on 4 or more damage. On any miss roll under your AC or hit yourself. [mostly flails and whips]
  • SHANK: can make contested d20 + Hard or Fast AB to grapple after hit, automatically hitting Flesh in subsequent rounds until they kick you off. [mostly knives]
  • ARMOUR PIERCING: reduces AC to 12 + Dex modifier. [firearms]
  • HORRENDOUS: keep re-rolling odd damage dice. [trying this out for arquebus/rifles to give a reason for giving up 2 slots to lug one around instead of a pistol]
  • BURST: anyone in range has to roll equal to or less than their DB (Dexterity modifier + armour bonuses) on a d12 or take damage.

Off-sheet I’ve been playing around with ranged weapons a bit to give them more obvious benefits/trade-offs.

  • LONGBOW: takes up 2 slots, d6 damage + Strength modifier. [Uses Hard AB (Strength modifier + AB), all other ranged weapons use Fast AB (Dexterity modifier + AB)]
  • SHORT BOW: d6 damage.
  • SLING: 2d4 damage.
  • LIGHT CROSSBOW: d6 damage, 1 Round to load, uses Trauma tag.
  • HEAVY CROSSBOW: takes up 2 slots, d10 damage, 2 Rounds to load, uses Trauma tag.
  • PISTOL: d8 damage, can’t reload under pressure, uses Armour Piercing tag.
  • ARQUEBUS/RIFLE: takes up 2 slots, d8 damage, can’t reload under pressure, uses Armour Piercing and Horrendous tags.
  • BLUNDERBUSS: d6 damage, uses Burst tag.

 

SHIELDS

 

When you get hit by a ranged weapon it bypasses Grit and goes straight to Flesh (the hit points where you really get hurt), so shields should be kind of a big deal.

Small shields give +2AC, large shields give +4AC but unless you’re a Fighter you can’t pair one with a melee weapon unless your Strength is at least twice as much as the weapon’s damage.

(Contested melee means that even with an extra +4 defence you’re far from unhittable.)

Using a shield is like dual-wielding weapons, so each Round choose between the AC bonus, or making an extra d4 damage bash attack.

If you make an extra attack split your AB between the two.

(Two attacks while dual-wielding usually incurs a penalty equal to the lower damage of the two weapons, but not with shields.)

 

 

MONEY

 

300 coins or small gems can be carried in an encumbrance slot (large gems count for 30).

Other than that you can give money to the Merchant Priests who are smugly present in every major city and sometimes in places you wouldn’t expect and always know how much credit you currently hold with them.

If you’re buying something and want to use your credit you can either find a Merchant Priest to oversee the transaction or leave a blood-sealed slip of paper with the shopkeep to cash in later.

Of course if you signed it for more than you’re worth the Merchant Priests will find you where you sleep and croon about ethics in the dark.

RATIONS

 

Buying/tracking rations exact to the day is boring and I am having none of it.

Instead of that I’m using Ration Dice – d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20.

[Similar to what I do for torches, inspired by the cascading dice ammunition rules by Intwischa (sadly no longer in existence, but the page is currently available via the Internet Archive)]

You can only have one of each and they’re purchased in increments from lowest to highest.

Each one takes up an encumbrance slot, and costs twice as much as its dice size in silver pieces.

THIS IS FOR THE WHOLE GROUP NO MATTER HOW MANY OF YOU THERE ARE.

Each day try to roll 4 or higher on your largest Ration Dice. If you fail, that Ration Dice is gone because you’re fat.

If you also have animals you have to roll 6 or higher.

 

 

SPECIALIST TOOLS

 

By LotFP rules if a Specialist fails to pick a lock they can’t try again until they gain a level because they’re not good enough, which feels… dumb?

Specialists can now try as many times as they want, but after the first try, they have to check their tools for Breakage after every failure.

 

 

BOOKS

 

Inspired by Reynaldo’s BREAK!! updates, books now come with a rating 2-6, and can be used in place of your own skill rating to make checks to do with that subject if you’ve got the time.

(e.g. there’s this big pulsating sac thing in the corner and you’d like to know what it is but your Naturalis skill is only 1 in 6, however you’ve got this big Creepy Crawlies book with a 3 in 6 chance…)

Successful skill checks using books also count towards trying to increase skills when you level up (when you level up, if you’ve successfully used a skill try to roll under your number of successes on a number of d6 equal to your current skill level, if you succeed you gain another skill point).

 

 

SAVING THROWS

 

Are GONE. That kind of consistent steady improvement just didn’t really jive with what my game is about.

Instead, everything is done with Ability checks now.

A normal check needs to roll equal or less than your score.

A hard check needs to roll equal or less than half your score.

If it’s something easy you wouldn’t be making a check.

 

Ability Scores in my game are pretty malleable, since they can be decreased by nasty stabbings, mushroom infections, turning into a drugfiend with opiate fluids… So when you level up you can try to increase a number of scores equal to the level you just reached.

Roll 3d6 and if it’s higher than your current score, increase it by 1.

 

 

I’ve also got this idea for gaining levels (because gold for xp has never tasted right to me) where to level up you need to tell AMAZING BUT TRUE STORIES about your exploits in major cities or places where you can make a name for yourself (number of stories equal to the level you’re trying to reach).

Which is a nice built-in incentive to seek out completely bizarre shit apart from just “there might be gold there”, as well as more social interaction/climbing.

I’ll probably do up rules for the chances of stories being accepted/appreciated in different places (town square, dive bar, high tea), along with potential consequences for those places (rabid admirers/rivals, being overheard by the relatives of people you’re bragging about stealing from/murdering, job offers, gaining more and more elaborate titles), which means leveling up also feeds into more game fodder and makes reminiscing about fun sessions an actual mechanic of the game itself.

Which I think is pretty great.

Wait where was I…

 

 

Oh yeah, having item cards and blue-tac for your inventory is excellent and you should try it.

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Religion is a Nest of Serpents


Back in this post I mentioned testing out new Mystic rules, and the new religion we made up based around a Florian Bertmer illustration entitled “Order of the Seven Serpents”.

Well I’m pretty sure I’ve smoothed them out to a point where they’re both easy and flexible enough for public consumption, so here you go.

 

The actual cards are below (I print them on A4 card, punch out the holes and bind them to make a little book), but this is the general idea:

  • Mystics no longer have set spell lists.
  • Instead, they can attempt to make anything happen that they think their god would be in to (though there are general guidelines called Liturgies that make some things harder to make happen than others).
  • After announcing what they want, they make a 4d6 roll on the Invocation table, which can be altered by using Favour points that they’ve earned by doing appropriately religious things.
  • I got over LotFP’s dreary nihilistic “there are no gods just delusion”, it’s much more fun if the things Mystics are worshipping are actually real.
    There are still going to be mishaps, but instead of being the Mystic’s delusion wavering or their god suddenly getting pissed off for no good reason, it’ll be because their god doesn’t really understand what is appropriate. So if Roy’s snake worshipper Tipanius fudges a roll in the middle of combat and gets Inopportune Favour and falls to his knees vomiting an unending torrent of slick adult snakes, the Seven Serpents will be like, “Oh haha what, you didn’t want to give birth to a thousand snakes from your mouth right now? Haha whoops sorry love you xoxo.”
  • There will be specific spells that Mystics can find, where they just have to use a number of Favour points rather than rolling, but those will be things to go out and find from different cults and libraries and stuff.

 

Click to make readable.

 

And Malpractice is still a thing so here’s the table for the Seven Serpents:

 

 

d20Malpractice - Order of the Seven Serpents
1A black serpent slithers its shimmering body from the target, inflicting a further d4 damage as it emerges.
2The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin becomes progressively tighter, causing an increasing -1 penalty to physical rolls every Turn, after 3 Turns their movement halves, after 6 Turns they will need to shed their skin.
3Snake eggs form in the wound or wherever else seems suitably awkward, and the target can't be mystically healed or cured until they hatch in 2d8 hours or are accidentally destroyed.
If they hatch, the target is immediately healed of all ailments and can make a one-time appeal to the Seven Serpents.
If they are intentionally destroyed, a venom-dripping sludge snake forms from the yolk and attacks whoever is responsible.
4The ritual succeeds, but an incredibly long snake tongue permanently glides in and out of the site of the wound (or other part of the body if there was no wound). It is perfectly linked to the target's sensory system, tasting the air for them, making it harder to be surprised, and easier to find things by scent.
5For the next day the target cannot bear to keep their eyes open in bright light, but with their eyes closed can feel vibrations and sense nearby heat.
6The ritual succeeds, but the target's skin grows dry and cracked, flaking away to reveal beautiful iridescent scales. They find themselves able to squeeze and compress themselves through anything big enough to fit their head.
7Part of the target's skin peels back as if it were trying to renew what lies beneath, but all that lies beneath is bleeding muscle. Take d6 damage.
8The ritual succeeds, but a churning grows in the target's stomach, inflating it, until a month later they spontaneously give birth to a stream of juvenile snakes from whichever orifice seems most convenient. This will happen every month.
9The ritual succeeds, but tissue-eating venom bubbles up from the target's body and consumes d6hp of the Mystic's flesh before diluting.
10The ritual succeeds, but part of the target's body withers and falls away to enhance their sleek silhouette, roll a d6:
1: An entire arm.
2: An entire hand.
3-4: d6 fingers, target's pick.
5: An entire foot.
6: An entire leg.
11The target's saliva becomes envenomed for d4 Turns, and they'll need to let it drool out to avoid poisoning themselves by swallowing.
12The ritual succeeds, but the target finds that a rather phallic stubby snake grows from their body. They accidentally discover that rubbing the snake and causing it to cough up coagulated venom causes it to diminish somewhat, though it seems the process would need to be repeated at least d20 times before the snake phallus clears up.
13Gnarled curling horns twist out of the back of the target's skull and a furry, huffing goat's face emerges from their neck, opening its mouth to vomit slick red baby snakes down the target's back. Target must save vs. Poison to stop it continuing to birth and permanently stealing half of their hit points.
If they stop it birthing it will remain as it is and bleat and vomit in surprise any time someone sneaks up on them.
14The target's torso elongates, their legs shrivel and twist about one another, fusing, scales push out like growing fingernails, leaving the target with the lashing lower body of a giant serpent.
15The target's blood turns cold, they'll need to find ways to keep warm in cold environments away from the sun to avoid losing all physical bonuses and moving at half speed.
16The target notices small glistening tongues flicker intermittently from slits in the tips of the fingers of one arm. Over the next few days their fingers fatten, muscle in the arm turns fatty and their bones seem to break down, their fingernails fall away and scored lines open over the top of their fingers and up to their shoulder.
Five serpents dwell within the arm and move it in sinuous curls, emerging up through the slits to let the arm casing slip off and hang limp to allow them to strike.
Charisma check to call them out, granting 5 bite attacks, roll on Poison table for each successful bite. They'll stay active as long as you make a Charisma check every Round, but will spend a Turn getting back into your arm after the first failure.
12AC/DB, on a successful melee hit an extra snake is affected for every 2 points above target. If any of them are killed you don't need to make Charisma checks while attacking the thing responsible.
17Anything within 30' that has eyes must save vs. Magic, otherwise small golden snakes push out from their eyes and break them like eggs, falling to the ground in a pool of yolk and occular fluid.
More eggs will grow in the sockets in d12 hours, and can be turned back into eyes if the Mystic successfully heals them.
If the Mystic fails, birth more snakes. Repeat.
18The ritual succeeds, but musty hair grows in patches over their body, and two bony nubs can be felt on their skull.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row they complete their transformation into an ordinary goat with a lit candle on its forehead that never burns out.
Any healing from a Servant of the Seven Serpents during this time will actually progress the condition.
19The Mystic can feel something digging at their mind and must save vs. Poison. If they fail their body is torn apart from within by emerging singing bluebirds that swirl into the sky and fall upon all those around them.
20The ritual succeeds, but the next time they sleep the target must save vs. Poison. If they fail, their body slowly transmutes and slithers away throughout the night until there is nothing left of them but a dry outer skin.

 

The thing I like most about these rules is that I can have Mystics of different religions running around that actual feel and play like they have different religions, without having to do, like, any work. It pretty much just happens.

 

If you’d like to make your own you can download the InDesign file for the cards from Penny Pamphlets or click here, and spend 5 minutes altering the Liturgies and Inherent Abilities to whatever religion you like.

 

And if you can’t be bothered actually writing a Malpractice table beforehand you can just use this template and make up the specifics as you need them:

 

 

d20Malpractice Template
1Target takes damage.
2Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
3Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration, no mystical healing or cures until it ends.
(roll on Duration table)
4Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
5Target is subject to an ongoing debilitation.
(roll on Duration table)
6Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
7Target takes damage.
8Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
9The ritual succeeds, but the Mystic takes damage.
10Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
11Target is subject to an ongoing effect or alteration.
(roll on Duration table)
12Ritual succeeds, but target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration until they perform a task to remove it.
13Major mishap involving detrimental alteration, loss of hp or stats, etc.
14Target is subject to a major permanent effect or alteration.
15Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
16Target is subject to a permanent effect or alteration.
17Area affect that everyone within 30' must make a save to avoid.
18The ritual succeeds, but the target is subject to a progressing condition.
The target must save vs. Poison every day to prevent the condition progressing, taking a penalty to physical rolls for every stage it advances. To completely recover, the target must make 3 saves in a row, if they fail a save it regresses to its initial condition, and if they fail 3 times in a row the condition results in their spectacular death.
Any healing from a Mystic of the same religion during this time will actually progress the condition.
19Mystic must save vs. Poison or die.
20The ritual succeeds, but the target must save vs. Poison the next night or die.

13 comments



Finding Your Rules Unsupervised, Makin’ Them Do Weird Shit


So I’ve been putting together a new version of my character sheet to fit with rules that have changed and things I’ve noticed in play.

 

Click below for the four page fold-over pdf.

Cörpathium Character Sheet v2

Basic changes apart from obvious things covered in the House of Rules:

  • Ranged weapon distances got kicked off the sheet, because needing to shoot someone far away and know the precise distance hasn’t really come up, and when it does I’ll just say “aw, it’s pretty far, you can do it but you’ll take -2 to the roll”, or “no, they’re hella far away”.
  • The girls pretty quickly collected various different pieces of armour that they put on, and I’d like to acknowledge that. The main armour class still stays as Light/Medium/Heavy, but I added a section on the back where they can list the individual pieces and their Quality rating, added the numbers 1-5 under Defence for them to circle the Qualities that apply to their armour, and when they roll that number or less on their Defence roll it will damage that particular piece of armour first. I’d probably say that each additional piece of armour (like gauntlets, helmet, sabatons, etc.) adds 1/2 a point of AC, so you need two for +1AC, additional pieces can’t raise your AC by more than +2, and they don’t affect Heavy armour.
  • I replaced Sneak Attack with a Quick Death. Sneak Attack always felt weird to me, sitting in there with the other skills but you don’t actually use it like a skill, it just adds a damage multiplier when you attack from surprise. So, a Quick Death does work like a skill. When you sneak up on someone or you’re grappling, if you make a successful Quick Death roll you’ll outright kill anything up to 2HD, and if they have more than 2HD it will add a damage multiplier equal to your skill level if you then successfully attack them. So it’s like learning the best way to cut something if you can get close enough.
    If you fail when attacking from surprise, you can still make a normal attack but they don’t take any AC penalty.

 

And then I got to the encumbrance section with all the different movement rates listed and holy shit is it unnecessary, players don’t need to see that, and so I wanted to get rid of them but couldn’t think of what else to put with the encumbrance description.

Then I had the idea, for movement dice.

 

 

MOVEMENT DICE

 

Roll it for chases or when contested speed is otherwise an issue (like when you and the cultist look each other in the eyes and dash towards the slime-spewing altar).

  • An unencumbered human is d8. Encumbered is d6, Heavily encumbered is d4. Cheetahs are d100.
  • Whoever rolls highest wins. In a one-on-one situation I’d probably apply -1 for Medium armour or -2 for Heavy armour.
  • In a pursuit use the lowest Movement Dice of the group, and you could either resolve it as a one-off roll, or have a lost roll decrease your dice size, a win increase your dice size, and the pursuit ends when someone loses on a d4 or wins on a d20.

[By LotFP rules chases are contested d20 + 10% of your movement rate, which is still pretty easy, but I think this is easier and has much more obvious consequences for the amount of shit on your back.]

 

The lowest Movement Dice of the group is also used for random encounter checks, because if you’re heavily encumbered you’re shuffling and jangling around like an idiot, rather than the guy padding around with nothing but a sack and a knife like an agile agile cat.

 

I’m sure I’ve read something similar to the random encounter check recently but I cannot, for the life of me, remember where.

 

 

And then I looked at the light tracker with its boring-arse checkboxes, and realised that I hated it and changed it to something else.

 

 

LIGHT CHECKS

 

Instead of a set time limit, light sources use a decreasing dice check.

  • Torches start at d8, Candles at d10, and Lanterns at d20.
  • When you’re asked to make a light check (so each Turn or what have you), you try to roll in the upper half of the dice, though there might be modifiers if it’s wet or windy.
  • If you fail it drops down to the next dice for the next check.
  • If you roll a 1 or fail on a d4 it goes out or you burn yourself and drop it.
  • If you have to make a light check because of something threatening to extinguish the flame, if you fail it goes out.

Jeff Russell reminded me that this is really similar to this ammunition tracker, which I’d clearly forgotten about but not.

I’m still not sold on using it for ammunition since I tend to run attacks as one roll one swing/shot and abstracting the ammunition feels wrong, but for something like fire, which can vary depending on conditions and quality, it seems just about perfect.

I think it’s a nice easy way to make light tracking interesting and maybe a little bit fun. Each Turn you don’t mark off a box, you roll to see what state your torch is in, and you don’t look down and see three empty boxes and think “okay I’ve got half an hour before I have to light another”, you look down and see that your torch is on a d4 and think “aw shit it’s all spluttery and stuff there’s a good chance it will go out the next time it matters, I should get another one ready”.

 

[Edit: After discussing it more with Jeff and James Young, we figured that using a target number is a lot better, and the best target number is 4. So, regardless of the dice you’re on you need to roll 4 or higher or you drop to the next dice. This also makes it easy to vary the required roll based on the situation, i.e. “It’s raining from nowhere, the ceiling seems to be screaming at you, roll 6 or higher or your torches all go out!”]

Save


9 comments



Hogwarts Can’t Save You Now


With Thoth’mora taking his dead twin sister’s head to gain the knowledge within, I figured it was probably a good time to actually finish the spell research rules I’ve been vaguely thinking about since I first made the Maleficar rules.

 

The LotFP spell research rules require you to take a wild guess at how long it will take and spend that much money before the Referee makes a random roll to find out how long it will actually take, and if you didn’t guess high enough you lose all your money and waste all your time and get nothing. Oh and if someone interrupts you to bring in a tray of tea and biscuits you also lose everything and have to start again.

Which is BORING.

 

So, here’s what I’ll be doing.

 

[Basic things to know about my magic system first: Spells are not memorised, you get a random amount of spell points to use each day called Cataclysm, spells use an amount of Cataclysm equal to their level, and when you try to use more spell points than you have left you make a 3d6 Cast the Bones roll to figure out if it works, or how badly things go wrong.]

 

  • The basic time required to learn a new spell is FOUR WEEKS, regardless of spell level.
  • This can be done while adventuring, not an issue, because Maleficar are sketchy weirdos who would be thinking about this shit like all the time, waking up at odd hours, stopping suddenly in caves with looks of “of COURSE!” on their faces, and also forcing the whole party to take a month of downtime every time the wizard wants to learn a spell is super, numbingly boring.
  • You get one shot to learn each spell, no second chances honey.
  • Roll 3d6 + your level, vs. 3d6 + spell level, and look up the variance on the table below.

Now unless you roll quite low, you’re pretty much always going to learn the spell, we’re just finding out how well you’re able to use it and what additional things you might have to do to cast it.

 

Before rolling, you can do things to vary your chances.

  • STUDY MORE/LESS;
    If you spend 1-3 weeks less than normal, re-roll your highest dice and take the lower result for each week you dropped.
    [Why would you want to do that? Well maybe an army of demon-possessed plague rats is on the march and you’d really like to learn Cloudkill before they get here.]
    If you spend 1-3 weeks more than normal, re-roll your lowest dice and take the higher result for each additional week.
  • THROW MONEY AT THE PROBLEM;
    Spending 100sp per level of the spell on experimental components and research material and good drugs will allow you to re-roll any dice with a result lower than the opposing roll’s lowest dice, and take the higher result. Spending double that amount will also allow you to roll an extra d6 if you end up with any doubles.
    You’re likely to only find sufficient quantities of that kind of thing in cities or freakish communes though, so even though you can research spells out in the wild, it’s still easier in the comforts of home.
  • STEAL SOMEONE ELSE’S;
    If you possess a deciphered version of the spell, remove the highest dice from the opposing roll.
    [Quick additional rule because if someone wants to walk around with Maleficar skulls hanging off them I’m good with that: If you have a deciphered version of a spell in a spellbook or skull or otherwise, but haven’t actually spent the time to learn it yet, you can cast it while reading from its source if you Cast the Bones.]
  • BE INDUCTED INTO THE MYSTERIES;
    If you undertake a journey/perform some esoteric ritual specific to the magic you are trying to learn, as per Tom’s ideas on magic, you may re-roll each dice of the opposing roll, and leave the lower result.

 

3d6 + Maleficar level vs. 3d6 + Spell level
VarianceResult
Beyond +12(as below, plus)
The spell may be cast spontaneously, it seeps from your very being, no word or motion is necessary, no time.
You are permanently marked by small manifestations or physical anomalies relating to the nature of the spell.
up to +12(as below, plus)
Casting only requires half as much Cataclysm, rounded up.
up to +9The incantation is absorbed within your brain, you can cast it from memory.
up to +6You require access to your spellbook, casting takes an extra Round.
down to -6(as above, plus)
There are additional requirements to cast the spell. Match the numbers on your dice to the Demands of the Void table. Demands are only duplicated if you rolled a double or triple.
down to -9(as above, plus)
There is a complication in learning the spell, match your roll to the Thaumaturgic Complication table.
down to -12You fail to comprehend the spell, and open the way to something else. The next time you cast a spell of any kind make a Cast the Bones roll with a penalty equal to the level of the spell you were attempting to learn.
beyond -12(as above, plus)
Your ineptitude causes a zone of arcane madness and manifestation for d6 days, with 6 being permanent.
100' radius per level of the spell you were attempting to learn.

 

 

Demands of the Void
Result(Individual Dice Results)
1-2The spell drains additional Cataclysm, equal to the number on the dice.
3-4The spell requires a specific component.
5-6There must be ritual.

 

 

Thaumaturgic Complication
Result(Sum of Dice Results)
14-18The spell has an Abyssal Side-Effect.
11-13Pockets of black bile open within your mind, roll on Insanity table.
8-10Your flesh is corrupted, roll on Transmutation table.
3-7Part of your body fucking tears itself off, grows extra bits, and wishes your death. It might attack you now, or it might plot your downfall in the shadows. Roll on Body Horror table.

 

 

d20Component
1An inscribed Fetish.
2A raven's wing.
3Finger bone of a peacefully dead man.
4The honey-preserved macerated flesh of the Mellified Priests of the Viridescent Ziggurat.
5The written sentiment of another from time past.
6A Bog's Head Hawkmoth caught beneath a full moon.
(Sickly dark green, the back of their heads resemble the mortifying face of a man left to decay in the waters of a bog, strands hang like muck-covered lichen.
They squeak like scheming mice.)
7The fresh entrails of a toad.
8A clump of diseased blood-red moss.
9Dried tentacles of the oily grey-skinned spawn of the leviathan.
10The hair of a harlot.
11A copper piece once held by a priestess.
12Nacreous Milk of the Antelope.
13Mushrooms sprouted from a corpse.
14The ashy pollen of the Widow's Blossom.
15Burning pages of poetry.
16The legs of a Blue-Bloat Bore Grub, dug from the limbs of an Ash Spider Collossum.
17Three rotten sparrow's eggs.
18The tattooed paw of a Bloodmouth monkey.
19The neutralised honey-thick semen of a Jewelled Mound of Ur.
20A sleeping rat.

 

 

d20Ritual
1Your bare feet covered by water, steam rising from your mouth and nostrils.
2A fistful of hair torn from your head, thrown upon a flame.
3A steady rhythm drummed against something resonant, continuing after you've stopped.
4Obscene symbols drawn in concentric circles around you.
5You must be naked to cast the spell, not a thread touching your body.
6You must swallow a living creature whole.
7Flagellation.
8A shivering, shaking dance in a mentally-induced fever.
9Hot wax poured upon your head, running down your face.
10The tips of your fingers slit, wrists pressed together and brought to your face to mark a circle of blood.
11Your mouth filled with dirt, exhuming the incantation.
12Let no sentient creature enter your sight, let your eyes never close.
13Plunge your hands beneath the soil, let the worms twist their bodies about your fingers.
14Drink the blood of another.
15Intermittent regurgitation, the pool of vomit churning into a swirling spire that streams back into your mouth at the culmination of the spell.
16A spider held on the tongue, swallowed after casting.
17Urinate in the dust and dirt, take the acidic taste upon the tip of your tongue, spit the final word.
18Take the knife to your belly, spill your vitals, the wound will close when the casting is done.
(Unless you rolled maximum damage, which means you cut too deep, the wound remains.)
19Hold your hand in the flame of a candle until the casting is done.
20No blood may be spilt in your presence while the incantation is performed. Make a Cast the Bones roll for every wound you witness.

 

…which means there’s going to be different wizards casting the same spell in different ways, maybe even with slightly different effects, questing around for that particular component they need, asking the Fighter if they can borrow a pint of blood, dancing and spitting.

 

It’s going to be great.


3 comments



The House of Rules: Second Doctrine


I’ve made a permanent House Rules page for reference and to make it a hell of a lot easier to link back to when I mention these things.

It can be accessed via the glaring triangle on the right.

 

Also surprise of all surprises I’ve made a few new ones and changed a few old ones.

As follows:

 

ATTACK BONUS

 

A little while ago I switched to Hard & Fast rather than the traditional Melee/Ranged attack bonus split.

  • HARD uses your Strength modifier, and is for melee weapons that do d8 damage or more and bows.
  • FAST uses your Dexterity modifier, and is for melee weapons that do d6 or less damage and most other ranged weapons.

If someone was throwing bigger melee weapons (like axes or spears), I’d probably let them use either.

 

COMBAT OPTIONS

 

Gambits are still working like an absolute treat, except I changed “miss your next turn on a double-miss” to a straight-up fumble.

I changed a couple of the other LotFP combat options to be more palatable though:

  • RECKLESS/DEFENSIVE: by the rules this is just +2 to AB/-4 to AC, or the other way around. Boooooring.
    Instead of that, gain a bonus of your choice to your attack or defence by taking a double penalty to the other.
    e.g. “I want +4 to hit this guy while I wail on him like a madman. Yes I know that means -8 to my AC I don’t care I hate him.”
  • PARRY: by the rules you choose not to attack this Round to get +2 AC, which, what? Who would ever do that.
    Instead of that, and since I’m using Contested Melee, you can re-roll your defence instead of attacking this Round. You can do this a number of times equal to your Fast AB per combat.
    e.g. “Okay well I just rolled a 3 for my defence and he rolled a 12 for his attack. I’d rather not get stabbed in the face and I think I can beat that, so I’m going to try to Parry it thanks.”
  • DUAL WIELDING: each Round choose between +1 AC, or two attacks. If you make two attacks split your AB between them with a penalty equal to the smaller of the two weapons.
    (So fighting with a longsword and a parrying dagger is easier than fighting with two longswords.)

 

EQUIPMENT WEAR AND TEAR

 

I’ve changed the way I use Notches since I first came up with them, though the Quality rules that Smiler and I (mainly Smiler) came up with are still the same.

Every weapon has a Quality rating from 1-5; Quality 3 is average, Quality 1 weapons cost twice as much, Quality 5 costs half as much.

 

What happens now though is that the first time you roll its Quality or less when attacking, your weapon takes a number of Notches equal to its Quality. Weapons break when the number of Notches is equal to their damage die.

The next time you roll its Quality or less when attacking, or deal maximum damage, try to roll over the number of Notches on its damage die; if you’re successful, it takes another Notch, if you’re not, it breaks. So you might embarrassingly break your axe with a wild swing against the wall, or you might snap your dagger off in the merchant priest’s chest.

 

example 1: You roll a 2 when trying to stab someone with your new Quality 5 dagger. That’s lower than its Quality, so it takes 5 Notches. Daggers only deal d4 damage though, so it already has more Notches than it can handle and snaps on their armour. Don’t be such a penny pincher next time.

example 2: You roll a 3 when attacking someone with your Quality 3 longsword. You’ve damaged it once before, so it already has 3 Notches (equal to its Quality), and longswords deal d8 damage, so there’s a 3 in 8 chance of it breaking. You roll a d8 and get a 6, so your sword doesn’t break but it takes another Notch, increasing the breakage chance to 4 in 8 the next time you either roll its Quality or less when attacking, or deal 8 damage when cleaving someone in half.

 

There’s a couple of reasons I changed it from the original rules. For one thing, after that first lot of Notches it’s going to feel a lot more likely that your weapon is going to break, making it a point of tension instead of just more bookkeeping and upkeep. For another, the original rules required checking for breakage after every attack which is way too much damn rolling, whereas only checking when you roll the Quality or less or maximum damage results in the same idea only without being a massive pain.

 

Since I’m having people roll for their defence with Contested Melee, I can use the same Quality range for armour.

When rolling for defence, if the d20 comes up as that number or less and the attacker hits you, decrease the AC of your armour by 1.

 

[Further to that, I’ve noticed that the girls have pretty quickly started to accrue various bits and pieces of armour, and I’d like to acknowledge that. So what I’m going to do is give them an extra section on their character sheet to record the different pieces of armour they’re wearing along with their individual Quality and AC bonus, so that they can be individually affected. I’ll probably also rule that when a piece of armour is damaged it also absorbs 1 point of damage from the attack, like, “They swing their axe down at your face but you lift your hand just in time to block the blade. Your Vermillion Gauntlet is absolutely ruined, but shearing through the steel slowed down the axe enough to stop it cutting ALL the way through your hand.”

 

Oh oh and while we’re talking about armour, if you aren’t a Fighter, you don’t get to add your Dexterity bonus to Medium or Heavy armour unless your Strength is equal to its AC.]

 

The standard rate for repair is a tenth of the item’s full cost per Notch or AC point (so one Notch on a Medium sword costs 2 silver groats to repair, and it will set you back 100 silver groats to repair the point of damage that drugged-up Nun of the Lotus caused to your Heavy armour).

Prices are still subject to review and gouging.

 

Also if you’re using firearms, the Notches rules actually work really well as a direct replacement for misfire rules and such.

Higher Quality firearms then obviously have less chance of misfiring, using an already-damaged firearm as a club requires checking if it breaks, and if you fail a breakage check on a misfire it freaking explodes!

 

PASSING OUT IN A HORRIBLE CAVE

 

Hit points are still Flesh & Grit because they’re awesome.

I’ve found myself dissatisfied with dying rules/immediately fainting at 0hp though, which isn’t about making characters more durable, but rather about upping the drrrrrrrama.

 

[I know a lot of people prefer a simple Save or Die at 0hp, but it isn’t for me, which again, has nothing to do with protecting characters. In my last play report 5 of 7 characters survived, and 3 of the 5 survivors no longer have all their parts attached, which I find a hell of a lot more interesting than 5 beautiful corpses.]

 

So here’s some new dying rules, inspired by Josie’s Hit Point Stopwatch.

 

[Important things to note about Flesh & Grit are that you die outright at minus your class HD, and any single attack that deals maximum weapon damage or half your maximum Flesh causes a serious wound, like lopping off a limb.]

 

When you’re dropped to 0hp or below, a countdown starts to losing consciousness, a number of Rounds down to your class HD.

e.g. Malatesta du Caddis gets stabbed one too many times and is reduced to -2 Flesh. Being a Fighter, his class HD is d8, so in 6 Rounds he’ll pass out from the pain.

Until you pass out, crawling away to a dark corner is fine, but every Round that you exert yourself (by attacking or running and such), you actually lose another point of Flesh.

 

[So instead of people fainting quietly around you, they’re screaming in fountains of blood spraying from their stumps, they’re using their final dying breath to stab your opponent in the back to save you, it’s horrible and beautiful.]

 

Outside of combat, when below half your maximum Flesh you can only travel for that many continuous Turns before needing to rest, and lose another point of Flesh every Turn you try to push onwards.

 

Characters that didn’t sustain any serious wounds (i.e. they still have all their bits), regain a point of Flesh every Turn until they wake up at 1 Flesh.

Characters that were dropped below 0hp with a serious wound have to save vs. Poison every Turn to stay alive until they are healed.

 

If magical healing isn’t available, I’ve introduced a Surgery skill. [Updated just now thanks to the wisdom of James Young]

  • If successful, the character is stabilised and regains hit points equal to the number rolled.
  • If you fail you actually cause damage equal to your failure.

e.g. Your friend just lost an arm and you have a 2 in 6 Surgery skill. You roll a 1 so you stop the bleeding and they regain 1hp. Later they also lose a leg but this time you roll a 6, failing by 4 and therefore causing another 4 points of damage to them, staring at your blood-soaked hands as they bleed out.

 

CARRYING SHIT AROUND

or,

ENCUMBRANCE

 

Yes yes this thing again, but, I think I’m finally completely happy with it. Less numbers to worry about, better trade-offs, ties in nicely with the other house rules.

  • Don’t count really small items, that’s just common sense, just write it somewhere damnit.
  • Other items in a pack take up one slot each, number them from 1 upwards.
    Things like torches, flasks, and bottles can be carried in bundles of 3. Smaller things like iron spikes or sling bullets can be carried in bundles of 10.
  • When you’ve got a pack on you’re carrying Dead Weight, you move slower and take a -2 penalty to physical rolls.
    You can carry Dead Weight up to your Strength or Constitution, whichever is highest.
  • If you carry more than that in your pack you are Overweight, you move at half speed and take -4 to physical rolls.
    You can be Overweight up to your Strength PLUS Constitution, to a maximum of 30 items.
  • If you carry any more than that you are Morbidly Encumbered, you can’t do anything but shuffle around under the weight because you’re greedy.
  • If you want to find something in your pack in a pinch, roll its number or higher on a d30. No other action this Round.
  • Money you pick up only counts as encumbering until you’ve visited a Merchant Priest or moneylender in a civilised area. Until then it takes up one item slot per 100 coins.
  • You can carry up to 20 Worn Items on your person in immediately accessible places, including any weapons or shields you’re holding. They can be strapped to you, in pouches, in orifices, wherever. Number them from 1 upwards.
    No bundles unless they’re small or something like a quiver of arrows.
    Heavy/long items take up two slots, and also they’re QUITE BIG. If you’re trying to walk around with a greatsword, a spear, and a 10′ pole strapped to you you’re a dickhead. Stop that.
  • Now, contested melee means that there’s actually quite a wide range you can be hit on. Whenever you get hit in combat, if the number of their attack roll matches the number of one of your Worn Items, you lose that item as well as getting stabbed. Obviously the lower the number the less chance of it being hit, so shuffle your items around as you see fit.

The immediate penalty for wearing a pack might seem harsh, but have you tried swinging your arms around while wearing a backpack? Awkward.

Plus, this allows for carrying a whole buttload of stuff, so if you’ve crammed your pack with 26 different things, it’s then a matter for yourself if you want to bear the -4 penalty for trying to fight while carrying it, or put it down and risk losing everything.


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The House of Rules


The new Cörpathium character sheet has a lot of new/tweaked house rules on it, so let’s collect them here for a little more clarification, and to make it easier to refer/link back to them.

 

First of all a few little tweaks to basic LotFP rules.

  • For one thing I’m giving everyone access to Combat Options. Only Fighters know how to fight recklessly or defensively? I call ballshit.
    …I meant to type bullshit but no, ballshit, that works.
  • The bonus for carrying a shield doesn’t vary between melee and ranged AC, it’s +1 for a small shield and +2 for a large shield, but only Fighters can actually attack while using a large shield.
  • Straight -5 AC when surprised/attacked from behind instead of losing Dexterity bonuses then -2 blah blah blah.
  • I’m using the new firearms rules (see Brendan’s quick reference here), but the whole ignoring 5 points of actual worn armour but not your Dexterity modifier figure it out every time or record it on your sheet is too damn fiddly and mostly redundant. If a firearm is in armour piercing range, it ignores all your armour, too bad full plate, your AC is now 12 + Dexterity modifier. And forget reloading times, I don’t play with anyone that is going to spend 5-10 rounds reloading, so firearms are basically one-shot high damage armour punchers that everything is going to hear. That works for me.
  • I ditched Architecture as a skill because it’s useless for my game and replaced it with Lore (cults, government, magic), and replaced Bushcraft with the more catch-all Naturalis, because Natural Philosophy and Taxonomy are valid occupations in Cörpathium and if your character wants to read up on things to have a bit more of an idea of the horrors that lurk out in Malles Vermald they have my blessing.
  • Fuck alignment.

 

GAMBIT

 

Just my own name for Called Shots, Stunts, whatever, built from one of Brendan’s posts.

 

If you want to make some kind of specific attack roll to-hit twice.

If both hit, it happens.

If one misses, it doesn’t.

If both miss you fail so badly that you can’t do anything next round.

 

It also means two chances to roll a fumble, and depending on how fancy/absurd the intended attack is I might increase fumble range. “You want to slide onto your knees beneath the spider with two daggers and slice its legs off? Okay that’s awesome, but you’re going to mess up super, really badly if either roll comes up 4 or less.”

 

The reason I like this about a thousand times more than Called Shot (pick a range on d20, say 13-20, if you roll that you succeed, but if you roll the inverse range, 1-8, you fumble), which is what I was using before, is that it doesn’t disregard the AC of the thing you’re attacking, and characters with better Attack Bonuses are better at doing them, instead of the sickly wizard decapitating the giant mutated boar just because he rolled the number he picked.

 

 

 

MELEE

 

After talks with Jeremy Duncan I switched melee combat to a contested roll, because why put all the variation on the attacker and not the defender?

Ranged attacks still target a static AC, but melee resolves as d20 +AB vs. d20 +DB, your Defence Bonus being AC -12. If the attacker fumbles you get to cut them.

For even more vicious combat you could rule that whoever rolls highest deals damage, regardless of who was attacking.

 

 

 

NOTCHES

 

Notches stay pretty much the same as they always were, with the added Quality rules that Smiler and I (mainly Smiler) came up with.

Basically, every weapon has a Quality rating from 1-5, and whenever you roll that number or less when attacking the weapon takes a Notch.

Weapons can take a number of Notches equal to their damage die, but once they have two Notches roll two of the weapon’s damage die after every attack, hit or miss. If the roll is equal or less than the number of Notches, it breaks. So you might embarrassingly break your axe with a wild swing against the wall, or you might snap your dagger off in the merchant priest’s chest.

If the weapon takes another Notch after it has reached its limit, it breaks.

 

And because I’m now having people roll for their defence in melee, I can use the same Quality range for armour.

When rolling for defence, if the d20 comes up as that number or less and the attacker hits you, decrease the AC of your armour by 1.

 

The standard rate for repair is a tenth of the item’s full cost per Notch or AC point (so one Notch on a Medium sword costs 2 silver groats to repair, and it will set you back 100 silver groats to repair the point of damage that drugged-up Nun of the Lotus caused to your Heavy armour).

Prices are still subject to review and gouging.

 

 

 

WEAPONS

 

The weapon properties I originally posted have been tweaked slightly.

Weapon damage is still determined by its size, but depending on what it is…

  • Sword: If you haven’t been hit this Round roll twice for damage, take the best.
  • Hammer: +1 to-hit vs. Medium or better, successful hit reduces Heavy AC by 1.
  • Axe: Two damage dice vs. Light or less.
  • Flail: +1 to-hit vs. Medium or better, ignores shields, successful hit reduces Heavy AC by 1, roll twice for damage and take the best. Can choose to attack weapon, Strength check to disarm on hit. On any miss roll under your AC or hit yourself.
  • Dagger: Contested d20 + AB + Str/Dex bonus to grapple after hit, automatically hitting Flesh in subsequent rounds until they kick you off.

Make a contested Initiative roll to attack first when someone with a smaller weapon closes into melee.

Long/Great weapons automatically attack first and do double damage against charges.

 

 

 

HIT POINTS

 

Again, pretty much the same as they always were.

Flesh is the measure of how much physical punishment you can take before passing out, and caps out at your full class HD, plus anything gained from a Constitution bonus.

Grit is the rest of the hp you gain, and is a measure of ways you learn to avoid injury, plus glancing blows, exhaustion whatever.

  • Attacks reduce Grit first, and when it’s gone you start taking Flesh wounds.
  • You lose consciousness at 0 Flesh, and die at minus half your class HD.
  • If someone rolls a Critical hit against you but you still have Grit left, roll your Defence again. If it’s higher than their attack roll the damage affects your Grit first, otherwise it cuts straight to Flesh.
  • Being attacked from behind or by surprise bypasses Grit, and any attack against Flesh that deals maximum weapon damage or half of your maximum Flesh causes a serious wound and removes any Grit you had left. Lost arms, plucked eyeballs, and messed-up innards don’t lend themselves to finesse.

After any encounter where you take a Flesh wound roll under your Constitution or contract an Infection.

If you don’t have any Flesh wounds, you can spend a Turn resting to regain Grit, roll your class HD.

 

From Josie’s Hit Point Stopwatch, when below half your Flesh hp, you will be unable to act after that many Rounds of physical exertion such as combat, or that many Turns of simple movement until treated.

Lose another point of Flesh every Round/Turn you try to push on.

 

And some dying rules because I figure most adventurers would have some kind of idea about first aid, and because the Poison save matches up nicely with which classes would probably be better at it:

  • Once reduced to 0hp save vs. Poison every 2 Rounds. If you fail you die, if you succeed lose another hp.
  • Stop bleeding out if you roll a 1. If another character tries to stabilise you, both players save vs. Poison.
  • If both succeed, you regain consciousness at 1hp (but will lose consciousness if you do anything strenuous).
  • If they succeed but you fail, you stabilise at 0hp.
  • If both fail you die in their arms and they’re all “CURSE YOOOOOUUU! WHHHHYYYYY?”

I figure for it to be successful you need to stay with them for Rounds equal to negative hp. That seems about right.

 

 

 

ENCUMBRANCE

 

Because yes, I use it, I think it can be interesting. But I also don’t want it to be confusing or constrictive, which my first attempt kind of was.

I started pondering this back in September and think it’s pretty much perfect for what I want from encumbrance, which is the freedom to carry a pretty reasonable amount of stuff without constantly tracking it, but having it matter when it should.

  • You can carry an amount of Worn Items equal to half your Dexterity or Strength, whichever is highest, rounded up.
    They can be strapped to you, in pouches, in orifices, just draw it on your sheet.
    Every additional Worn Item adds a -1 penalty to physical rolls.
    A quiver contains 20 arrows and counts as a single Worn Item.
    Medium armour counts as 1 item and Heavy armour counts as 2, Fighters don’t count armour as a Worn Item.
  • Oversized items like two-handed weapons have to be on your person and count as 2 Worn Items. Ten foot poles don’t go in backpacks.
  • When you wear a pack you are encumbered, move slower and take a -2 penalty to physical rolls. You can carry items in your pack equal to your Strength or Constitution, whichever is highest.
    (Bundle amounts mostly taken from Arnold K) You can carry small items like daggers and flasks in bundles of 3 as a single pack item.
    Even smaller things like iron spikes or sling bullets can be carried in bundles of 10 as a single pack item.
    300 coins can be carried as a single pack item.
  • You can carry half that amount again, rounded up, but are even more encumbered, move at half speed and take -4 to physical rolls.
  • Carrying any more than that means you can’t do anything other than shuffle around under the weight.
  • Finding something in your pack during combat takes d3+1 per encumbrance level Rounds.

The immediate penalty for wearing a pack might seem harsh, but have you tried swinging your arms around while wearing a backpack? Awkward. If you want to fight as well as that other guy you’d better drop the bag.

 

 

 

THE FREAKS

 

Maleficar and Mystics remain intact, the only thing I changed is that being encumbered doesn’t make casting spells harder. If you want to risk more belongings transmuting into angry goo when you muck up a spell I’m not going to stop you. And Reading Magic is still a deathtrap.

 

Oh but hey Blood Magic/Sacrificial Lamb:

 

Maleficar can bleed themselves of hp for extra Cataclysm needed to cast. The cost is triple if the blood isn’t their own, and they need to smear themselves in it.

They can also will the void into taking a part of themselves for guaranteed casting of a spell of any level. Roll d6 and count down from the top of your Ability Scores. Permanently lose a point.

 

If a Mystic wants to heal a bled Maleficar, they have to make a Hand of God roll.

 

 

 

GIRLS ONLY WANT BOYFRIENDS WHO HAVE GREAT SKILLS

 

This one only occurred to me the other day so it needs to be tried out, but I don’t like Specialists being the only ones who can ever get better at skills ever.

So, if for some reason you needed to use a skill and succeeded, note it next to that skill. Note all of the times you successfully use that skill.

When you level up, roll a number of d6’s equal to your current skill level. If the result is equal or less than your number of successes, you gain a skill level.

Erase all your successes and start again.

 

For example:

 

Three Beard McGuigen, questionable Magic-User, found himself needing to find traps five times before he reached level 1, and only one of them blew off a body part. So that’s 4 successes.

He currently has a 1 in 6 skill level, so he rolls 1d6 and gets a 3. Hooray now he has a 2 in 6 chance of keeping his extremities when the Specialist isn’t around!

 

 


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Between the Sheets


Drawing character sheets on blank pieces of paper is fun as hell, but I figured it was time I got back to the template character sheets I’ve been working on.

So, here they are.

 

This one’s for straight-up by the book Lamentations of the Flame Princess, including the new firearms rules. Brendan has a good quick-reference for them here.

Click the image for a PDF that allows for printing a single A4 size sheet, or two A5 size sheets.

 

LotFP Character Sheet by Last Gasp

If you download it you’ll notice green writing all over the place absolutely everywhere. Jeff Rients wrote an article about, among other things, character sheets being poor at communicating with new players, and I said that you couldn’t design a character sheet that explained everything about itself without making it an abomination.

 

Well, I was right, it’s an abomination, and it doesn’t entirely explain itself, but from my own experience introducing new players to not only LotFP but RPGs as a whole, I think the notes written all over it should make explaining things in that first session a whole lot easier.

Of course if you know what you’re doing just turn off that layer.

 

And this one is a fold-0ver A5 sheet for Cörpathium.

 

Cörpathium Character Sheet Cover Cörpathium Character Sheet Innards

If you’re familiar with my house rules you might notice that the new sheet doesn’t have anywhere to note Cataclysm or Faith. That’s because I want to avoid having things on the sheet that would be irrelevant for some players as much as possible, and I make little spellbooks for my Maleficar/Mystic players anyway so they can note it there. And if you don’t make little spellbooks for your players what are you doing?

 

There’s also a bunch of new or tweaked house rules on it, most of them are pretty self-explanatory, but I’ll collect them up in another post later.

 

Tomorrow is adventure/John Waters day with Rose though, so you’ll have to wait.


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This Place is Crawling with Tables


It all started when I found the old AD&D Lankhmar supplement, which features this gorgeous map right here:

See all those white boxes? The supplement contains neighbourhood geomorphs that you randomly insert when the players move off the main streets and into the ‘burbs, and even suggests changing the geomorph if the players don’t go back there for a while to make the city feel more alive. I know, it’s wonderful.

 

Around this time I was also having chats with the also wonderful Jeremy Duncan about mapping Cörpathium and his own Galbaruc, and the trouble of figuring out how much is too much, what to nail down and what to keep loose. Because as pretty as the above map is, forget that.

 

Really what I want is to capture the sprawling mutability of cities like Viriconium and Ambergris, something you experience by running around in it rather than poring over a lavishly drawn map, with just enough grounding to make it work as a game.

 

 

OKAY SO WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST SMART GUY?

 

Map your main streets. That gives you a framework, points of reference, clever/punny street names for players to remember. Everything else though? Doesn’t matter until it matters.

 

When your players want/need off a main street drop a d4 and a d6 (try to use a d6 with sharp corners, you need that random bounce). If the numbers match, there aren’t any reachable exits.

 

Otherwise, treat the d4 as the player’s position on the street, facing the way you are. The number is how many alleys they can see, and the points of the dice show the rough direction they’re in. Add them clockwise from whatever point is closest to the d6.

If there are 4 alleys put the 4th wherever.

You might prefer to drop the dice directly onto the map instead, do whatever makes you happy, I’m not your mother.

 

There’s also this roughly where the d6 landed:

 

1.  Someone left their door open

2.  Public house

3.  Sewer entrance

4.  Way to climb onto building

5.  Lesser street

6.  Intersecting lesser street

 

So if you rolled like below, there’s four reachable alleys; one back off in the direction of the 2, one ahead in the direction of the 1, one directly off to the right thanks to the 3, and another one wherever takes your fancy. The d6 came up as a 5, so there’s a lesser street leading away back on the left side of the main street.

 

 Okay so now we’re running around in alleys, fun!

 

Every time the players enter an alley, drop the d4 and d6 again and generate the exits like before, using the tables below. If the numbers are the same, there’s a complication.

 

 

AlleyCrawling
d4Points of Diced6
1Alley.1Back door.
2Alley.2Darkened nook.
3Alley.3Boarded-over alley.
4Alley.4Way to climb onto building.
5Reachable window.
6Alley complication.

 

 

Read the rest…


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