Monthly Archives: February 2020

Face Folio for Zine Quest2 | 100 Fantasy Portraits for Tabletop Role-playing Games

FF current banner

>> Preview and get notifications of when the Kickstarter goes live here <<

Very soon this Kickstarter for Zine Quest2 is going to go live.

UPDATE: Now live !!

About the Kickstarter:
This is a simple project with a simple goal: to provide 100 fantasy portraits for use in your tabletop role-playing games. Referees are always on the lookout for NPC faces to show their players and players are always looking for portraits for their character sheets. This project aims to meet that need.


The portraits will be organized into the following sets:

  • Human NPCs/PCs
  • Dragon-blood
  • Dwarf
  • Elf
  • Gnome
  • Halfling
  • Orc-blood
  • Demon-blood
  • Human nobles
  • Human peasants and towns folk

Each set will contain ten portraits, half male and half female. With the exception of the human nobles and peasants, the portraits will be a spread of adventuring classes.


The Zine will have a simple elegant layout with 10 portraits per two-page spread, and organized in the above groups. There will be no blocks of text and no fluff to get in the way. That way this book can be used right at the table, as and when needed, for example when the referee suddenly needs an NPC to drop into the game.

The idea is also to provide initiative trackers like these which can be printed out for each portrait:

Well that’s the crux of it.

Hopefully, if you like this blog, this idea might be of interest to you.


#FaceFolio #ZineQuest2

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | a (draft) rules light 1D6 RPG system

>> Edit: Abbreviations expanded out to hopefully help readability

>> Edit2: A (readable and updated) PDF version of the below system; downloadable from here: image_preview  S.M.A.R.T. RPG

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the 1e Surprise Mechanic as a combat system, and teased (blog link) about making a RPG system from this. So here goes:

smart rpg log

^^ Despite the name, I don’t appear to have the wherewithal to remove the boarder around the above image ^^

The PC has 5 stats:

SSkill, basically fighting skill (or other physical prowess)

MMagic, ability to cast magic etc.

AArmour (used to reduce physical damage)

RResilience (basically health; 0 is unconscious, -1 is dead)

TTrickery / Thievery (specialist type skills)

1st level & advancement
At first level the PC gets 3 points, where 1 point must be used in S(kill) & R(esilience). So 1 free point to spend on the any stat.

On levelling up the PC gains +1 to spend on any stat

There is no limit on the stats except, A(mour) may not exceed 3

Players decided if they have done enough to level up.

Player rolls a D6 and if it is equal or lower than their PC’s S(kill), they hit, and do D(amage) equal to the die roll. A roll above S(kill) is a fail.

D(amage) is reduced by opponent’s A(mour); but never lower than 1.

D(amage) reduces the opponent’s R(esilience) by the same amount.

Example 1: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 3 on a D6, which means they hit for 3D(amage). The opponent has 2A(mour), so overall the opponent receives 1D(amage).

Example 2: a PC with 4S(kill) rolls 5 on a 6D, which means they fail to hit.

PC can cast a number of successful spells per day equal to M(agic).

Player describes spell effect PC is trying to achieve.

Spell is successful if the D6 roll is equal or lower than M(agic). A roll above M(agic) is a fail.

Damage done; and/or duration of spell; and/or number of opponents affected by the spell is equal to the (successful) die rolled.

Example 3: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 3 on a D6, which means the spell works, and works for 3 “thingos”, where the thingo is:

(i) 3D(amage) done by the spell (e.g. for a fire blast spell); and/or
(ii) works for 3 rounds (e.g. for a bar door spell); and/or
(iii) the spell effects 3 opponents etc. (e.g. for a sleep spell)

Example 4: a PC with 4M(agic) rolls 5 on a D6, which means the spell fails.

Class & stat interactions
There are no classes per se; but as the PC becomes more specialize, this comes at a cost to the advancement of their other abilities.

Levelling costs:

For every 3S(kill) points spent, -1T(rickery)
For every 2S(kill) points spent, -1M(agic)
For every 3M(agic) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1T(rickery)
For every 3T(rickery) points spent, -1S(kill) and -1M(agic)
For every 1A(mour) point spent, -3M(agic) and -2T(rickery)

So multi-classing is costly compared to a single specialization, and so is probably only worthwhile when the primary stat exceeds 6, and so further advancement in the primary stat is not effectively useful. Then again, improved R(esilience) is always at no cost.

Comments on monsters /opponents
A monster with 6S(kill) is a BEAST, like a dragon. So, each increment in a stat should be thought of like an exponential increase.

So, to put a marker down, here are some examples:

Orc – S M A R T: 1 0 1 1 0

Ogre – S M A R T: 3 0 2 2 0

Dragon – S M A R T: 6 3 3 9 1

Comments on magic items
Plus weapons will distort the D6 game mechanic quickly, so in this system a +1 is a big modifier! So, probably best to imbue magic items with useful properties rather than simple pluses.

Well that’s it.

Final words
I’ve never really been interested in writing an RPG system (perhaps it shows), but I was prompted to bring this together after receiving a message to my podcast. Clearly, it’s rules light and would not suit power-gamers. What interested me, was how a simple mechanic (i.e. the Surprise Rule in 1e) could be used as the basis for a game. That is, one simple D6 roll determines the ‘hit’ and the ‘damage’ outcomes.

What do you think? It’s certainly not been play tested! If you try this system, I’d be interested to hear any feedback.

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

Collaborative Audio Dungeon

During my self-imposed blogging break over Christmas, I started an Anchor podcast (that doesn’t count as Blogging right?).

AD icon sm

Anyway, I recently thought it would be neat to make a collaborative ‘Audio Dungeon’.

The idea being that people leave an audio message of 1 minute or less (preferably using the Anchor record feature) detailing something found in a fantasy dungeon (whatever that means to you), e.g. room, location, encounter, statue, fresco etc.

If you are interested you can find out more (and record a message) here:

>> Episode 12 – Audio Dungeon | not that one <<

Rules (for want of a better word):

  •  By making a submission you agree to make the content Creative Commons
  •  The message is for a fantasy dungeon
  •  Each message is 1 minute or shorter
  •  It’s probably useful to think of the submission as the audio equivalent of ‘box text’
If I get enough of these audio submissions, I’ll pull them together as a Creative Commons Audio Dungeon. I’m imagining a dungeon of audio ‘box text’ which people can them populate with their own encounters, perhaps from random tables.
At least one listener has pointed out that while this idea is fun in its own right, it might also be a helpful resource for anyone with a visual impairment/disability.

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InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.

DMG Map drawn in my Simple Excel Mapper

It’s been a little while since I updated and mentioned my Simple Excel mapper.

The mapper is PWYW on DriveThruRPG:

To show what this simple mapper can do, I thought I’d have a go at recreating the blank map in the classic 1e Dungeon Masters Guide (DMG):

DMG map in Simple Excel Maper

Here’s a detail shot:

DMG map detail

Here’s an example of a customisable popup:

DMG map detail (pop up)

Here are some icons you could add to the map:


Here’s a (oldish) demo video of the mapper:


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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea, and my procedural Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown.