Category Archives: Game Mechanic

Law & (In)Justice | … a Procedural Trial by Jury Hex Flower Game Engine

Edit: A higher quality .pdf version can be found here: Law & (In)Justice
and a template Hex Flower Engine can be found here: Template

This Hex Flower is for procedurally resolving the situation where the PCs are on trial by jury (niche much?). To be fair, I figured this engine might make for a fun mini-game, rather than throwing the PCs directly in jail (and dealing with their inevitable break out).

Personally, I think the engine is most fun when the PCs are innocent and there is a corrupt Judge ( … snigger!)

Well, here it is:

L&IJ Cover Image u.png

Where did this idea come from?
I’m glad I asked for you. I really liked this Blog post, which came up with the idea of using different navigation Hexs for a 2D6 19 Hex Flower (HF), depending on the situation, i.e. the NPC’s nature.

Then, I was listening to the new (to me) Spikepit Podcast, and Colin briefly talked about a mechanism for putting the PCs on trial. So, that got me thinking about using a HF to procedurally generate trial outcomes.

And then I realized, I could use different Navigation Hexs to discriminate between guilty and innocent PCs. Of course, in D&D there’s going to be corruptions and what not, so there is a bit if that and some ‘game point’s for the players to spend in order to bend the outcome (but spend wisely)!


If you’ve got no idea what this post is about, the below links give some context:

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Me on DriveThruDriveThru; please check out my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea.

Hex Flower Game Engines | … as found in the wild

Edit: As some have asked, I made a template Hex Flower. Please let me know if it is useful (and/or needs changes)

Below are some 2D6 (or in one case 2D7) 19 Hex Flower game engines that I’ve stumbled across. It is interesting to see the direction people have gone with this idea. I think this reveals how useful and flexible a tool it could be in procedural adventure generation …

:: Trains (via Twitter)

HF trains


:: Kobold warpstone mine dungeon (via Gauntlet RPG forums)

HF Kobold Mine b.jpeg


:: Island romp (also via Gauntlet RPG forums)

HF Island b.jpeg


:: Weather generator (via Kickstarter)

HF Weather


:: NPC reaction rolls (via Blog post)


If you’ve done something with this kind of HF game engine, I’d be very interested in seeing it! Please consider posting a link in a message below!


If you’ve got no idea what this post is about, the below links give some context:

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InHotS the cover imageMe on DriveThruDriveThru; please check out my procedural High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea.

Monster Mark … off the mark? | quantifying monster threat levels

TR;DR – complex and simple ways to rate monster threat, taking on ideas from the blogosphere and the past.

Do we need a way to systematically assess the threat level of a monster?
The simple answer is no, but it could give some useful insight.

I read this blog post on Delta’s D&D Hotspot Blog (I think found via the Thought Eater Blog). It gave me the chance to finally read the Monster Mark (pdf) system (which I heard so much about from the Monster Man Podcast) from the early days of White Dwarf; when WD was a gaming magazine.

My geek radar naturally perks up at this kind of ridiculous quantification idea. While books like the Fiend Folio categories monsters in threat levels I to X, earlier books like the Monster Manual did not.

Delta’s D&D Hotspot Blog reviewed the Monster Mark system. As I understand it, the blog identifies areas where the Monster Mark system fails e.g. area effect weapons (e.g. breath weapons) and taking due account of lethal monsters (e.g. rot grubs), which can be lethal to a 1st and 10th level PC alike.

The Blog went on to come up with their own system (EHD level; equivalent HD), which modelled combat in a computer simulation (I believe). I really needed to circle round and re-read the whole blog posts topic again. Instead, I went off half cocked!

Going forward
y6x7ysrk-1376085090This got me thinking about making my own version of the Monster Mark system, that (hopefully) was better than the Monster Mark system, but didn’t rely on computer combat simulations. And, using a spreadsheet should be able to do all the boring maths! After messing with Google Sheets for a while I had a system that I think worked, or was at least was getting there.

The main idea I tried to capture was, to simulate combat over a level spread, and get a weighted average over the levels. This to capture the lethality of monsters like Rot Grubs to low and high level PCs. Likewise, for area effect weapons, adding a weighting factor for this too, as area effect weapons can be leathal to a part of PCs etc.

Google Sheets Engine
Here’s a Google Sheets demo of the “Monster Adversary Level Rating (MALR)”, if you fancy adding some AD&D monsters to it, I be grateful:

xls Shared Google Sheet project

Simplicity, an epiphany
14064123625_2f8bd0a01b_bI then realized (as I tweaked and re-tweaked this system) that in fact the most decisive factor in nearly all cases was the HD of the monster. As I hear people say on TV: “Go Figure“!! Aside for a few rare cases; if it’s big (i.e. has a big HD), it’s also bad. If it’s big it often has nasty tricks too. So, other than HD, what is the next most decisive factor in making a monster mean; well the monster’s tricks of course!

So, with this simple concept in mind, I came up with a really quite simple system that I think is as good (possibly better) as my more complicated model; and didn’t rely on a computer simulation of combat either, and avoided all the complex maths of the Monster Mark system.

Simple monster rating/indexing system

  • +1 for each HD of the monster (up to a maximum of 6).
  • +1 if the monster has a special defense
  • +1 if the monster is a spell caster
  • +1 if the monster has a Death, Level Drain, Psionics, or Immobilisation attack
  • +1 if the monster has an area effect attack (or any other special attack not already covered)

Add these up. With this system (sMARL?), you get a monster rating system, grading the monsters in the relative range 1 to 10 (i.e. like in the Fiend Folio)

In my Google Sheet, I compared my simple and complicated systems, and I think they are fairly comparable. Yes, wildly out on the two-faced baboon demon, but monsters up on the that power level are just super dangerous, and barely worth comparing.

Future work
At some time in the future, I would like to compare my two systems with the Monster Mark and the Delta’s blog post versions, and also compare my simple method’s numbers (1 to 10) to the numbers in the Fiend Folio (I to X), to see how they stack up.

Please feel free to add AD&D monsters to the Google Sheet, it’d help me out, and might make a useful gamer resource over time.

Main Conclusion
Avoid being geeky and save yourself some life.

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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.

Grid Crawl … or something

Wacky idea of the week …

So I’ll admit it, this mapping idea is pretty out there.

Starting point
It started when I saw this public post by Ray Otus on MeWe (I don’t know how to link to a post in MeWe, so here’s a clipping):

Grid Crawl 1 RO.png

.. and, it got me thinking about how to present Fighting Fantasy (FF) type books (and then modules/adventures) in a cross-referenceable grid. Since FF books have 400 entries, I thought I’d use something less ambitious to test this idea out, like my 1988 Dungeon:

Original map
So here’s the normal 1988 Dungeon map:

Grid Crawl 2 1988.png

Grid Crawl map version
And now here’s the same map present in a ‘Grid Crawl’ format:

Grid Crawl 3 Grid Crawl.png

To make this, I simply put a mark between interlinked rooms/locations.

Once you get your eye in, it’s fairly easy to navigate this map.  Say you are in Location 3, you either read up and down Column 3 (or side to side along Row 3) to see which rooms/locations you can travel to, i.e. from Location 3 you can get to Locations 1, 4, 7, 9 or 21. Rinse and repeat to navigate the dungeon. Clearly, this is a completely abstracted point crawl version of the 1988 Dungeon presented in two dimensions. And to be fair, this is just a test, to see what the outcome was like.

Edit – Here’s also a ‘grid crawl’ version of the famous ‘point crawl’ in Slumbering Ursine Dunes; the only obvious advantage is that it dispenses with the need for two 13s on the original point crawl map:

Grid Crawl 4 SUD

Analytics / other things
The heat map on the right shows the nodes of connectivity. Also, the number at the bottom right gives a measure of non-linearity of the adventure (Jaquay(ing) Number ??? … for more on this please see this post, which also pointed me to this post).  For example, completely linear adventure, e.g. Room 1 leads to Room 2, leads to Room 3 etc, would have a ‘Jaquaying Number’ number of 0.

What next
It’s probably abstracted beyond the point of being useful (when starting from an already completed map). But, in theory, it means you could easily generate and run a point crawl with a very simple mechanical setup, or use a simple program to make a dungeon. I suspect, this could form the bones of some sort of program led adventure.

If nothing else, it’s just another way to do a map! Go figure …

I’m just putting this out there for people to make of it what they will. RPG’ers are creative lot, there might be some sort of nifty social encounter mechanism hiding in here somewhere, or way to use it as some sort of AI engine etc …

So, if you have any feedback (or better ideas), I’d be glad to receive them.

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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.

Kung Fu Pig | … a solution at last !!!

We’ve all been there; the perennial problem of what to do about the Kung Fu Pig?

Typical Problems We’ve All Encountered
The PCs have polymorphed the ‘Big Bad’ (a monk) into a pig; and/or the old chestnut of the Were-Boar in Oriental Adventures; and/or Miss Piggy in Toon. Combat is imminent, but what to do about your swinish martial artist?

Fear not, your faithful servant offers the following fight mechanic for your consideration:

Step 1: Locate your “Pass the Pig” novelty dice (yes, the porcine shaped ones):


Step 2: Briefly reminisce about playing ‘Pass the Pig’ as a kid, but move on.

Step 3: Each combat round, cast the pigs onto the table with grime-faced aplomb, and use these to determine Piggy’s actions (see below)

In essence, one pig-die represents the onkier’s defensive strategy (or lack of it), and the other pig-die the porker’s offensive strategy (or again the lack of it)

Roll Outcomes:

KHamikaze Move Table

Simply sum the results of the two pig rolls. Except, for double offensive moves, then (a) multiply the To Hit modifiers; and (b) add the damage (DA) modifiers.

Cheat Sheet
Below is a cheat sheet to save everyone (except me) some time:

Kung Fu Pig Cheat Sheet.png

The first number is the ‘To Hit’ modifier for both the pig and its opponent. The number in parenthesises is the damage (DA) modifier for the pig and its opponent. The pink zone (bottom right 3 x 3 grid) is the double offensive zone.

Further reading
For those that care about porky probability, please see:

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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.

Tuesday Toot!! | Can’t Remember the Name But the Fangs look Familiar

Tuesday TootG+ is closing closed. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

This is a video demo of a monster spotting (recognising) widget:

The idea is that maybe a PC knows something about the monster they have just encountered. This information might be useful. The idea is to give PCs like a low level magicuser something useful to do.

This Widget was put up on G+ and automates the process I submitted to ‘& Magazine’.

Screen capture:


& Magazine
This widget is based on ‘& magazine’ issued 12; pages 35-39;  “Can’t remember the name, but the fangs look familiar”. Link:

The Excel widget can be found here: xls Download

FYI – Table of the mistakenly known things:
For the hell of it, below is the full list of mistakenly known things:

1 has acid attack
2 is an astral creature
3 blood cures wounds
4 body parts are useful (e.g. make armour or weapon)
5 breaths water
6 cannot cross a chalk circle
7 cannot cross running water
8 cannot lie
9 causes rotting flesh
10 charms at will
11 climbs walls
12 has cold attack
13 is controlled by speaking its true name
14 can curse
15 is delicious to eat
16 can dodge missile weapons
17 drinks blood
18 eats brains
19 has ESP
20 is an ethereal creature
21 explodes if killed
22 fears its own reflection
23 has a fire attack
24 can grant wishes
25 has been cursed
26 has no reflection
27 has weak spot (e.g.soft underbelly)
28 hates holy symbols/can be turned
29 hides in shadows
30 can drain HPs
31 is hurt by acid
32 is hurt by blunt weapons
33 is hurt by cold
34 is hurt by fire
35 is hurt by holy water
36 is hurt by light
37 is hurt by lightning
38 is hurt by silver
39 is hurt by water
40 is immune to acid
41 is immune to charm type spells
42 is immune to fire
43 is immune to good-based magic
44 is immune to lightening
45 is immune to magic
46 is immune to magic weapons
47 is immune to missile weapons
48 is immune to non-magic weapons
49 is immune to cold
50 is immune to evil-based magic
51 is immune to holding type spells
52 is immune to wands
53 has infravision
54 is a prankster
55 brings bad luck if killed
56 has level draining
57 can levitate
58 has lightning attack
59 likes alcohol
60 likes to play riddles
61 loves gems
62 loves gold
63 is a lycanthrope
64 is magic casting
65 has magic resistance
66 is a master pickpocket/thief
67 is a messenger of a god
68 can mimic voices
69 is a mind reader
70 must give safe passage if asked
71 is only hit by magic weapons
72 is only hit by strong magic weapons
73 only pretends to sleep
74 is never surprised
75 is not harmed by bladed weapons
76 is not harmed by blunt weapons
77 can only be finally kill with a Wish
78 can only attack if attacked
79 is only hurt in the ethereal/astral plane
80 can only see moving objects
81 has a petrification attack
82 is poisonous
83 is prone to bickering
84 is psionic
85 can regenerate HPs
86 has a secret attack
87 can sense an enemy
88 can shape shift
89 shuns light
90 can spot illusions
91 has telekinesis
92 can teleport
93 has troll-like regeneration
94 has ultra vision
95 is undead
96 has parts useful as spell components
97 has very good hearing
98 has a very good sense of smell
99 is very vulnerable to magic
100 has weak limb joints

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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.

Random Encounter gone Fighting Fantasy | … making Gonzo FFonzo?

Wacky idea of the week …

This might appeal to DMs that lean into the ‘gonzo’, and for those looking for a snippet of teen gaming nostalgia …

Looking for an ‘out there’ random encounter … then reach no further than your collection of Fighting Fantasy books. Flip the pages at random and select an encounter from that page (or roll a D400; D4&D100) … improvise as necessary.

If it’s a transitional-type encounter, play out the pages until you do get to an encounter; or flip until you see a picture you like.

A selection of ‘Random Encounter’ source books: 


FF DD    FF CoC    FF WofM   FF ToC



Desert / Temple













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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.