Category Archives: Opinion piece

S.M.A.R.T. RPG | Cyber Hack

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the AD&D 1e Surprise Mechanic as the basis for a whole RPG system (blog link).  The resulting S.M.A.R.T. RPG system is a one page rules light RPG system that uses a simple 1d6 resolution mechanic.
A PWYW download can be found here: image_preview PDF.

Well here’s a new and exciting ‘hack’ made by David Aldridge of the ‘dpercentile‘ podcast fame: S.M.A.R.T RPG – Cyber Hack:

SMART RPG - Cyber Hack tn

Get the PDF here: image_preview  SMART RPG – Cyber Hack by Dave Aldridge.

There are some fun changes made with this hack … check it out!

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

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

A little while ago I posted about retrofitting the AD&D 1e Surprise Mechanic as a combat system (blog link) and then a RPG system (blog link).

I’ve now gotten this rules light RPG system down to a one page PDF: image_preview  here

But, here it is also in a less portable web page version:

smart rpg log

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


Player Characters (PCs) statistics (stats)

S – SKILL; fighting skill / physical prowess

M – MAGIC; ability to do magic

A – ARMOUR; used to reduce damage done to RESILIENCE

R – RESILIENCE; equates to life / health (0 is unconscious, -1 is dead)

T – TRICKERY / THIEVERY; non-magical specialist type skills

Starting and advancement

PCs start with 1 point in SKILL and RESILIENCE, and have 1 further point to put in any one of their stats.

When a PC ADVANCES, the PC gains +1 point to add to any stat. Only ARMOUR is limited to a maximum of 3.

Stat interactions

There are no classes per se, but advancement in one area comes at a cost to other areas, so multi-classing is difficult:

In the set ‘SKILL, MAGIC and TRICKERY’: for every 3 points gained in one stat, then -1 point from the other two.

For every 1 ARMOUR, then -3 MAGIC and -2 TRICKERY.

Opponents and EXPERIENCE (XP)

To ADVANCE a PC must gain new XP equal to the cube of the PC’s highest stat. So, if the PC’s highest stat is 4 then 4×4×4=64 XP is needed. Defeating an opponent gives XP equal to the square of the opponent’s highest stat.

Each increment in an opponent’s stat should be thought of as an exponential increase. So, an opponent with 6 SKILL is as good as it gets at fighting, e.g. a dragon. A Lich would have 6 MAGIC. Some illustrative opponents:

Orc              S M A R T: 1 0 1 1 0 (1 XP)

Ogre            S M A R T: 3 0 2 2 0 (9 XP)

Dragon        S M A R T: 6 3 3 9 1 (81 XP)

Zombie        S M A R T: 1 0 0 1 0 (1 XP)

Werewolf      S M A R T: 4 0 1 3 0 (16 XP)

Vampire       S M A R T: 5 4 2 4 2 (25 XP)


The player rolls a d6, and if the roll is equal or lower than their PC’s SKILL, they hit (a roll above SKILL is a fail).

An unarmoured opponent’s RESILIENCE is reduced by that die roll.

An armoured opponent reduces the die roll by their ARMOUR; but this number is never lower than 1.*

Example 1: a PC with 4 SKILL rolls 3 on a d6, which is a hit. An unarmoured opponent would have their RESILIENCE lowered by 3. If the opponent had 2 ARMOUR, their RESILIENCE would only be lowered by 1.

Example 2: a PC with 4 SKILL rolls 5 on a d6, which means they fail to hit.

Damage to RESILIENCE can be spent over multiple opponents. However, to carry damage over to the next opponent, the current opponent’s ARMOUR and RESILIENCE must be zero. So, in Example 1, a roll of 3 would defeat two orcs: 2 points to reduce the first orc’s ARMOUR and RESILIENCE to 0, and 1 point to defeat the second orc.*


A PC can cast a number of successful magics per day equal to their MAGIC. Failed magics do not count to the tally.

The player describes the magical effect the PC is trying to achieve. Optionally, using no more syllables than the PC’s MAGIC, e.g.: fire < fireball < cone of fire < delayed fireball < localised fireball < localised cone of fire etc.

The magic is successful if the d6 roll is equal or lower than the PC’s MAGIC (a roll above the PC’s MAGIC is a fail).

The potency of the magic equates to that roll; a 1 being low potency and a 6 being the most potent possible outcome.

Example 3: a PC with 4 MAGIC rolls 3 on a d6, which means the magic works and on a scale of 1 to 6 it is rather successful. The 1 to 6 scale should be thought of as an exponential type scale, so a 3 is much better than a 1.

For example, if the magic was: Magic Missiles, it might generate 3 magic missiles each harming 3 RESILIENCE; Stinking Cloud, this might cover 30 feet and last for 3 rounds. In a one-page RPG system with a free-form magic system, the GM will need to arbitrate, preferably discussing the possible scaled outcomes with the player first.

Example 4: a PC with 4 MAGIC rolls 5 on a d6, which means the spell fails.

Magical items and bonuses

Any modifiers, like ‘plus weapons’ (e.g. +1 sword) will distort the d6 game mechanic markedly, because in this system a +1 is a big modifier. So, it is probably best to imbue magic items with useful/narrative properties rather than pluses.

… That’s it!

– – –

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.

Flip the table – random dungeon; random encounters, and faction tracking etc?

I’m not even sure what kind of book this is:


… but, I think you know the drill, flip the panels and you get this:


Then this got me wondering … has this concept been used for random dungeon/wilderness generation (probably):


It could also be used like a random table to generate parts of whole:


It could also be used as a faction tracker:


Please forgive the crappy mock-ups!

That’s it.

– – –

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.

Improvised Dice Tower | Slinky + bulldog clips

Nothing too exciting here.  

Have been working from home for about 2 weeks now and decided to improvise a dice tower from a slinky and some bulldog clips:

Version 1

Slinky dice tower v1

The bulldog clip at the exit to the tunnel has been added by removing the arm from the bulldog clip, looping it through the slinky and reattaching the arm. This adds weight.

Version 2

Slinky dice tower v2

Same as version 1, but the bulldog clip at the end of the tunnel is looped over another bulldog clip on another cup. This stretches out the tunnel a little more.

Version 3 

I’ve not made this yet, but in theory, the slinky could be stretched so that to form a U-shape and the dice falls through a gap/hole at the bottom of the U.


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.

– – –

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.

Simple-ish Mass Combat/Battle Rules

Hopefully these rules are simple enough once the base concept is understood. They are also intended to be fairly deadly, and so hopefully these rules will resolve battles relatively quickly.

Mass combat

Units are treated as single combatants, they have Unit Health (UH), Unit Attacks (UA) and Unit Damage (UD) per hit done. The units are largely a macro-version of the monster/troop within the unit.  The following is explained with reference to the following three reference units:

Reference units:

Unit 1    105 Human spearmen (HD1, AC7, NOA 1, DA1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 105 UH; 11 UA; 10 UD

Unit 2    20 centaurs (HD4, AC5, NOA 2, DA1-6;1-6)
i.e. unit stats –> 80 UH; 16 UA; 10 UD

Unit 3    1 T-Rex (HD18, AC7, NOA 3, DA1-6;1-6;5-40)
i.e. unit stats –> 18 UH; 6 UA; 20 UD

Quick summary of unit stats

UH = Total HD of unit
UA = UH/10 (rounded to nearest whole number) x NOA
UD = usually 10 UH damage is done per hit (but powerful monsters could do 20 or 30 UH per hit)

So, UH equates to the ‘hit points’ of the unit, UA equates to the number of attacks of the unit and UD equates to the damage per hit made by the unit. UD is the only thing worth pre-determining, as everything else is done on the fly.

Unit stats

:: Unit Health (UH) of the unit is equal to the total HD of the unit, i.e.:

Unit 1 – 105 UH (i.e. 105 x 1HD)
Unit 2 – 80 UH (i.e. 20 x 4HD)
Unit 3 – 18 UH (i.e. 1 x 18HD)

:: Unit Attacks (UA) of the unit is equal to UH divided by 10, and rounded to the nearest whole number and then multiplied by the troop type’s Number of Attacks (NOA):

Unit 1 – 11 UA (i.e. 105 UH ÷ 10 x 1NOA and rounded up)
Unit 2 – 16 UA (i.e. 80 UH ÷ 10 x 2NOA) i.e. centaurs get two attacks per round.
Unit 3 – 6 UA (i.e. 18 UH ÷ 10, rounded up to 2, and x 3NOA)

:: Unit Damage (UD) per successful attack made is determined on a power scale, i.e.:

10 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 1-10) – i.e. normally the case

20 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 11-20) – i.e. for powerful monsters that can do damage in the range 11 to 20 hps

30 UD    (where the maximum damage possible divided by NOA is in the range 21-30) – i.e. for very powerful monsters


Unit 1 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 6 ÷ 1NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 2 – 10 UH (max damage i.e. 12 ÷ 2NOA = 6) –> ‘normal’ damage category
Unit 3 – 20 UH (max damage i.e. 6+6+40 ÷ 3 gives 17) –> second damage category

Combat Method

:: Treat combat as one unit fighting another, e.g. treat a unit of 105 humans fighting a unit of 20 centaurs as Unit 1 fighting Unit 2.

:: Wipeout rule – if a unit loses initiative and is whiped out in the first round, the wiped out unit still does half damage on their adversary

:: Defeat Morale – check unit morale if the unit suffers more UH damage than the other side

:: Decimation Morale – check unit morale if the unit lost more than 50% of their UH in one round

:: Defeat and Decimation Morale tests are independent of each other


 Examples using AD&D combat tables to resolve combat (to hit rolls not shown)

 Example 1:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 2 (in this scenario Unit 1 is lucky and wins initiative each round):

Round 1:
Unit 1 has 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 attacks hit; and so do 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 50 UH (i.e. 80-30=50 UH)

Round 1 cont…
50 UH of the remaining centaurs in Unit 2 fight back; they have 10 Unit Attacks (i.e. 5 x 2NOA)
6 hits are made; and so do 60 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

The humans lost the combat round taking the most UH damage, and lost more than 50% of their UH in a single round, and so need to take a Defeat Morale check and a Decimation Moral check. They pass, but is luck truly with them?

Round 2:
Unit 1 with 45 UHs gets 5 Unit Attacks
2 hit; doing 20 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 2 is reduced to 30 UH (i.e. 50-20=30 UH)

Round 2 cont…
Unit 2 with 30 UH fights back, they have 6 unit attacks (i.e. 3 x 2NOA)
3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 15 UH (i.e. 45-30=15 UH)

This time Unit 1 does not make both morale checks, and they flee for their lives.

Example 2:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (in this scenario Unit 1 wins initiative):

Round 1:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 3 is reduced to -12 UH (i.e. 18-30= -12 UH)

Round 1 cont…
Because the T-Rex lost initiative and is destroyed in one round, it still does half damage:
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage (i.e. 6 x 20 UD)
but this is halved to 60 UH damage due to the initiative rule mentioned above
–> Unit 1 is reduced to 45 UH (i.e. 105-60=45 UH)

While the human spearmen bravely seized initiative and destroyed the T-Rex, it was at a high cost. Indeed, despite winning the clash, they failed their Decimation Morale check (i.e. they lost more than 50% of the unit in one round) and so left the field believing they had done more than their fair share of the slaying in this battle.

Example 3:
Unit 1 attacks Unit 3 (but in this scenario Unit 3 wins initiative):

Round 1
18 UH of T-Rex gets 6 Unit Attacks (i.e. 2 x 3NOA)
6 hits are made; doing 120 Unit Health damage
–> Unit 1 is smashed by the T-Rex in a terrifying display of power

Round 1 cont…
Because the Humans lost initiative and were destroyed in one round, they get to do half damage in return:
105 humans have 11 Unit Attacks
only 3 hit; doing 30 Unit Health damage; but this is halved to 15 UH
–> Unit 3 is reduced to 3 UH (i.e. 18-15=3 UH)

In destroying the swarm of pesky humans, the T-Rex is very badly speared in hundreds of places. Even if it made its morale check, 3 UH does not qualify for a UA point (i.e. 3 divided by 10 (and rounded to the nearest whole number) x 3NOA is 0 UA). The hefty beast limps off the battle field, but not before chomping down on a few of the chewy humans.

I suspect that there are already some pretty good mass-combat rules out there. But, … I thought I’d have a go at my own (before getting cross-polinated by other people’s ideas) … you know, for the fun of it.

– – –

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.

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Do QR codes make interesting mazes, dungeons or cavern complexes?

Next time you’re stuck for a maze or cavern complex, look no further than the back of your Cheetos packet …

Two examples below made using an online generator:

1. Here’s the QR code for Expedition to the Barrier Peaks:

Expedition to the barrier peaks

2. Here’s another maze-like complex (but where does it go????):

QR maze 2 - CLDT

That’s it.

– – –

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.

AD&D Surprise Rules & Repurposing them as a combat system

I listened to ChgWiz’s (Michael Shorten’s) The Dungeon Master’s Handbook podcast about 1e ‘Surprise Rules’ and wondered if it could be converted into a simple combat system (or used for anything else); and why the Surprise Rule makes the DEX stat useful to non-thieves.

Recap of the 1e Surprise Rule (as understood)

This is how I understand the Surprise Rule in AD&D to work:

1. Roll for surprise if one or both parties might be surprised.

2. Surprise is like an attack roll, it’s your ability to surprise your foe (it’s not like a saving throw, i.e. a chance to avoid being surprised). So the chance of being surprised is based on your foe’s ability. Personally, I think players should roll to surprise their foe and the DM should roll for the monsters to surprise the PCs (often it’s done the other way around).

3. By default the base chance to surprise anyone is a roll of 1 or 2 rolled on a D6.

4. But, some creatures are better at surprising; for example, Bugbears surprise on a roll of 1, 2 or 3 on a D6; and Giant Owls surprise on a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 on a D6. Wow, Giant Owls have 4HD, so they are in effect a bit like flying ogre ninjas.

5. This is the neat bit mechanically (at least I think so). The above roll not only determines if you are surprised (great), but also gives the duration of the surprise. So, it’s doing two things with one roll (i.e. (i) determining if you are surprised and (ii) how long you are surprised for; and all in one roll).

The below table gives the duration of the surprise indexed to the die roll on a D6 for three creatures:

sup 1

So, it’s a bit like the game “chicken”, the aim is to get as close to the maximum number of rounds without going over. So a roll of 3 for an orc is no use but for a Bugbear it’s the best roll.

6. Now for the wrinkles. Some classes can reduce the number of rounds they are surprise for. So, for example a ranger reduces the number of rounds they are surprised for by 1 round. This applies to them and to the group they are in. Therefore, the above table now looks like this when a ranger is present:

sup 2

That is, the number of rounds has been reduced by 1 round in each case. So, a roll of 1 is in effect the same as not being surprised. Not surprised is shown in the blue region whereas the green region is where the time being surprised is reduce to 0 rounds or fewer (i.e. the PC’s reactions counteract the surprise).

7. More wrinkles. If a PC has a high DEX score they can get a RAA bonus, which again is used to subtract from the rounds they are surprised for.

sup 4.png

So, if a thief with 17 Dex (RAA of +2) is in the above party (i.e. with a ranger in it) the table for the thief now looks like this:

sup 3

So, this thief is in effect never surprised by Orcs or Bugbears, but for Giant Owls on a roll of 4 or 5 can be surprised, but for no more than two rounds. This gal has the reactions of a cat. However, a DEX bonus only applies to this PC and not to the group as a whole.

... but, but, why a roll of 4 or 5 on a D6 instead of a roll of 1, 2 on a D6 – same odds right? True, but under that system:

Thief surprised on a roll of 1 or 2

Party surprised on a roll of 1, 2, 3 or 4.

So, on a roll of 1 on a D6 means everyone including the thief is surprised for 1 round, but on a roll of 4 on the D6 the party is surprised for 4 rounds and the thief for none. So sometimes the thief and party are equally surprised or the party super surprised and the thief not at all. Seems illogical. Under the system explained above, the thief is always 2 rounds better off than the party no matter what the roll is (hence more consistent).

Sometime I feel like I’m torturing myself.

Scenario 1

Imagine the party describe above is swooped down on by silent Giant Owls in the dark. The DM rolls to see if the party is surprised (the owls are ambushing so they do not need to roll for surprise). The D6 is rolled a 4 comes up. Therefore:

The party is surprised for 3 rounds (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus = 3 rounds).

The thief on the other hand is only surprised for 1 round (4 rounds minus 1 for the ranger bonus and minus 2 for her RAA = 1 round).

Scenario 2

For argument sake, let’s say the party slips off a cliff and lands in a giant owl nest. This time both the owl and the party might be surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the party who get a 3 this time. The party is surprised for 2 rounds, except the thief who is in effect not surprised.

A D6 is rolled for the Owls who get a 2; so, the owls are also surprised for 2 rounds.

Net effect – everyone is surprised for two rounds, except the thief who gets two rounds of action. She of course decides to use her 2 rounds to make good her escape.


:: Mindset: Roll surprise like an attack. Players roll to surprise their foe and the DM rolls to surprise the party (i.e. on the monster’s behalf).

:: Surprise is a fun rule.

:: It also makes DEX a useful stat for non-thieves. Think of the acrobatic fleetfooted fighter that can slash a foe to death before their opponent can even draw their weapon. This can be much more useful than a +1 or 2 HP per level when buffing the CON stat. Likewise, a nimble unflappable magic-user who can get off a spell (or run for it) before the open-jawed orcs can say “whod dat?”. Finally, high DEX thieves become more effective (even deadly) in combat, perhaps even getting in the fabled back-stab while their opponent struggles open-mouthed to comprehend the threat. Worse still, a negative RAA can add time to rounds the PC is surprised for. In the reverse, a PC with 3 DEX could be surprised for a total of 8 rounds by Giant Owls on a roll of 5. I can’t see anyone surviving that kind of onslaught.

Wow… that ^ was longer than intended!

Learning lessons / Repurposing AD&D surprise rules as a combat system

I think I’ll save this post in full for another day.

But basically: you roll to hit by rolling equal or below your skill (like in Surprise). If you hit, you do that number of HP damage (like the rounds of surprise). If you have armour (or defensive magics), you can subtract units off the damage (like the RAA bonus).

E.g. a monster has a skill of 3, and they roll a 2 on a D6. They therefore do 2 damage. The PC is wearing heavy armour and so can subtract 1 off the damage. The PC therefore takes 1 damage. So, hit and damage is determined in a single roll.

Of course, a combat system like this needs proper scaling (e.g. PCs gain 1 damage per level, or can spend this on fighting skill, magic etc.). I have some crude ideas, and maybe I’ll pull my finger out and expand on this later.

– – –

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.

Taming the bell | … making probability bell curves more ‘swing-ish’

I only realized something about multi-dice probability bell curves recently … (if you’re a maths-wiz, click away now as the following will probably only offend your sensibilities!).

Bad intuition
Instinctively, I believed that for example 2D6 has the same probability profile as D8+D4. That is, they both give numbers from 2 to 12 and each number on each die is just as likely to turn up.

But, I was quite wrong.

It turns out the bigger the separation in the die size, the “flatter” the probability bell curve becomes. That is, the more unpredictable the probability spread becomes. In retrospect, this makes sense.

What am I talking about and why could this be useful?
Below is an example where the number range 2 to 12 is generated using two dice, i.e. 2D6, D5+D7, D4+D8, D2+D10 and D1+D11:

2 to 12 ranges

In the Range 2 to 12 using two dice (made via; the penultimate graph should have been labelled D2+D10 of course!

2 to 12 graph

As above, but presented graphically

So, it can be seen from the above that as the difference in the die size increases, the flatter the probability bell curve becomes (this means the probability curves is becoming more “swingish”).

This is another way to represent the ‘flattening’ of the bell curve; a D4+D8 has a much bigger flat top section (range 5-9) section than 2D6 (just for 7).

Range 2 to 12

Broader plateau seen in top D4+D8 vs bottom 2D6 covering the range 2-12 with two dice

Of course 2D6 systems are widespread in RPGs, for example see a recent post by Larry Hamilton concerning this:

Here’s another example but for the range 3-18 using three dice (e.g. as used for PC stats, or the damage of a two-handed sword in AD&D).

3 to 18 range

In the Range 3 to 18 using three dice (made via

3 to 18 graph

As above, but presented graphically

So the message here is, when summing two (or more) dice, you can make the outcome more “random” (less constrained by the bell-shaped curve) by using a big spread in dice size. Edit: it has been pointed out to me that the term “random” as used here is better described mathematically as “variance”.

I think you mentioned useful?
In the main, this observation is not going to change your game. But, this phenomena is worth remembering for the old DM tool kit.  Below are some theoretical examples where this could come into play:

• Perhaps the fighter is drunk (and she is fighting with a two-handed sword; normally doing 3D6 damage), being drunk she is less in control of the weapon, and so is more unpredictable with it. Or, perhaps she is on her last hit-point and wants to try a ‘do-or-die’ attack. In either of the above cases, maybe the damage she does could be more unpredictable, more likely to be a flop or a whopper. So, to simulate either of the above, perhaps replace the normal (more predicable) 3D6 (3-18) with the more ‘swing-ish’ D10+2D4 (3-18) …

• 3D6 is also synonymous with rolling up PC stats e.g. STR, DEX, CON etc. But, if in your game you wanted more ‘swingy’ stats, then perhaps again consider using D10+2D4. Again, maybe let the player decide if they want to roll one or more ‘swingy stats’?

• 3D6 or 4D6 attribute tests – some gamers make ability checks using nD6 instead of a D20 (incidentally I compare the two systems here); if you wanted to make the nD6 test less predicable, use pairs of D4+D8 to replace pairs of 2D6s etc.

• Falling damage. Maybe falling down a large tree should be more unpredictable that falling off a cliff. Perhaps the branches might cushion the PC’s fall, or give the PC an extra thrashing on the way down?

• Perhaps you think fireball magic should be more unpredictable than is governed by standard bell curve generated by nD6. Again, mix it up.

• Recently, I’ve found a D6+D8 gives a better probability spread (for a Hex Flower I’m working on) than 2D7 would (which is lucky as I don’t own any D7s).

etc …

Take-home message
This observation is unlikely to change your game much, but ….

… if you get into the situation where a bunch of dice are being rolled and added, and you decide that you want that outcome to be less constrained by the bell, i.e. more “random”, then see if you can substitute the homogeneous dice with dice with bigger gaps between the dice size.

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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.

PC Death is Power Creep … failing forwards in D&D

Edit: I’ve move this sentence to the top: –> If you bust the PC down to 1st level with only basic equipment (and I’m not against that), then there is no need to read on …

I’ve often wondered if PC death leads to party advancement …

Dead PC is Loot

Borrgat’s eulogy was brief  …

dead pc is looted

:: Often when a PC dies this happens

  1. PC dies

  2. Party (maybe) sheds a tear

  3. Party loot the body of gold, armour and magic items, and leave the body for carrion crawlers

  4. Dead PC’s player gets new PC; usually at around-ish party level and equipped with new magic items

  5. Net result, the party’s position has improved

:: Suggested ritual disposal mechanic

  1. (as above)

  2. (as above)

  3. Party need to ritually dispose of the body

  4. All gold and/or XP spent ritually disposing of the dead PC goes into the new PCs XP/GP pot spend. For example, a lavish burial inclusive of burying the PC with all their in life possessions and laid to rest on a bed of  gold and +1 swords

  5. The total GP/XP pot for the new PC should probably not surpass the dead PC’s XP total at death (‘power gamers’ would be on this loophole like a whippet)

  6. Net result party position is not improved by the PC’s death


  • Dead PCs are treated more than as a meat-popsicle loaded with loot
  • Reduces power creep based on PC death
  • Good way to consume excess gold (PCs could even save for a lavish send off)
  • Good way to remove all those excess but redundant magic items the players hoard, e.g. the proverbial +1 sword of just-in-case


  • Players might think you (the DM) are being an arse
  • Dead PC’s player might be resentful if the other players don’t give up the loot to bring the PC up to spec …
  • Not so easy to generate a ‘decent’ replacement PC in the middle of the dungeon (but then again, maybe the PCs should be thinking of properly disposing of their dead comrade, not pressing on for more dungeon loot … )

Example 1:

7th Level Fighter JUBELO (taken from AD&D’s Tomb of the Lizard King)
dies and is is buried will all his possessions:

  • shield +2 (500 XP;  5,000 GP)
  • long sword +1, Nine Lives Stealer (1,600 XP; 8,000 GP)
  • potion of super heroism (450 XP; 750 GP)
  • horn of Valhalla (bronze) (2,000 XP; 30,000 GP)

Totals = 4550 XP + 43750 GP = 48300 XP/GP

So from the above, a DM has three choices to give GP/XP to the player to spend  on the new PC (depending on how ‘hard’ the DM feels about PC death):

i.e.: 4.5K, 44K or 48K XP/GP pot.

For reference, the 1e PHB XP table is reproduced below for fighters:

Fighter XP table 1e PHB

Example 2:

7th Level Cleric AZURE (also taken from AD&D’s Tomb of the Lizard King)
dies and is buried will all her possessions:

  • staff of curing (6,000 XP, 25,000 GP)
  • plate mail +2 (1,750 XP; 10,500 GP)
  • scroll with:
    • divination (800 XP, 2,400 GP)
    • remove curse (800 XP, 2,400 GP)
    • find traps (800 XP, 2,400 GP)

Totals = 10150 XP + 42700 GP = 52850 XP/GP

Again, from the above, a DM has three choices to give XP to the player to spend on the new PC (depending on how ‘hard’ the DM feels about PC death):

i.e.: 10K, 43K or 53K XP/GP pot.

For reference, the 1e PHB XP table is reproduced below for clerics:

Cleric XP table 1e PHB

Examples – conclusions

First up there is no need to be quite so formal. A DM might simply take account of the ‘ritual burial’ and think “yes the rights have been well observed, I’ll give a new 5th level PC + some modest magic items etc.

But, let’s work through some of the ‘crunch’ mentioned above:

So, in the two above examples (taking the middle XP/GP pot option; i.e . the bolded option), the new PC would have about 50K to spend between (i) XP for levelling and (ii) gold for magic items (assuming the party buried the dead PC with all their possessions).

But, the party might decide to keep back some choice magic items (lowering the total spend to below 50K).

Or, if the DM is only using the XP value of the magic items (i.e. and not also it’s GP value of the item), the party might spend big on the funeral (e.g. 40K GP, assuming they have it), erecting a statue in the PC’s home town (adding to the total pot spend).

Overall –> the way I’d probably do it would be to tell the player they have about 2/3 of the XP/GP pot to use as XP on the new class. Once the class is settled, I as the DM would probably pick out some appropriate class-related magic items (i.e. using the remainder of the XP/GP pot). Of course, there’s no fun as a player in picking your own magic items.

Like less ‘crunch’ –> give the player a new PC which is about 3/4 the level of the rest of the party (or one or two levels lower). Give the PC no magic items, or 1 item per 2 (or 3) levels of new PC experience.  My guess is that many DM’s instinctively use this method, but without requiring a ritual burial and/or the loss of any ‘party owned magic items’.

However, by contrast, if the DM had simply gifted the party a replacement PC at 7th level with equivalent magic items, the party would have gained probably about  5-10,000 XP and 20-40,000 GP worth of magic items alone. This, just for dying. In some cases, arguably, this would be a better haul of loot than the loot in many a dungeon …

Nonetheless, no matter what I say above, may be the ‘economy of PC death’ in your game works fine, and death is not a shortcut to net party improvement … or perhaps a natural check to a too hard scenario … in which case, of course, ignore all of the above.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping 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.

I sense mapping opportunities | Crayola Light Up Tracing Pad


Came across this. One of the first things that occurred to me was … mapping!

1. Insert gridded (hex or even isometric) paper.
2. Place blank paper over the top.
3. Start mapping.

Demo video of the device:

That’s it.

If the My Little Pony colour scheme doesn’t appeal, then there is even a Star Wars version:


There of course needs to be a D&D version …

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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.

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.

Non-Homogenous Random Tables

In the balanceRandom tables are a great way to introduce some unpredictability into a game, but they can also be a tad predictable , same-ish, consistent, ‘one size fits all’ … mono-dimensional?

I thought it would be nice to have a random table that responded to a situation/condition, rather than any given result having the same likelihood.

For example, I like the idea that:

(a) the deeper you are in a dungeon, the more likely the random encouters will be dangerous; or

(b) the further from town you are, the more likely you’ll encounter goblins; or

(c) a landscape than favours some creatures in one area, and other creatures in a different area, but where there is a theoretical continuum between the two areas and so encounters; or

(d) Henchman ‘moral check’ indexed to the threat level … etc.

There are several solutions to this, the simplest of course being to have different random tables for different situations, or even to use modifiers.

Another way to go, the idea that I quite like, is to stratify the encounters from one extreme to the other and use an advantage/disadvantage type mechanic to ‘tip’ the results depending on the current situation.

Below is an example lifted straight out of my procedural adventure ‘Carapace’. The random table is ‘stratified’ into three main layers: the lowest values (blue layer) giving giant ants, the middle values (green layer) giving wildcard monsters, and the highest values (yellow/pink layers) giving the boss monster and its elite guards.

So, in ‘Carapace’ the idea was that the area being explored (a giant ant’s nest) was divided into 4 Zones, with the ‘Big Bad’ most likely being found in Zone 4. The more mundane monsters being located in Zone 1 and 2. There was also a fair chance of getting ‘wild card’ monsters basically anywhere.

Carapace encouter table as per zone

If it is not clear from the above, you roll a number of D20s equal to the zone you are in (so 3 x D20 in Zone 3), and use a tailored advantage/disadvantage mechanic to influence the result (to swing the result towards one end of the table or the other).

So, for example in Zone 1 you’ll never get the Queen Ant (the boss encounter), in Zone 2 it’s 1 in 400 (i.e. possible, but improbable), in Zone 3 it’s 3 in 20 and in Zone 4 it’s 4 in 20 (i.e. now getting quite likely).

The reverse of this for example would be, in Zone 1 a lone worker ant is 1 in 20, but in Zone 4 it’s 1 in 160,000.

Even if I’ve messed the maths up above, I think the idea is clear enough, that is you can tip the result of a random table using a system like this. Of course, this idea could be applied to any random table outcome (not just encounters), e.g. types of terrain, NPC reaction dependent on closeness of alignment etc.

Again, there are other solutions, I just think this one appeals to me. I’m also fairly certain this has been done before in some form at least, but this post is an attempt to flag the idea up as an option for the old ‘DM tool kit’.

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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.

Monstrous plagiarism …

I created a monster, it was sort of an anti-unicorn (my blog post is repeated in full below). I had fun with it and quite like the idea overall.

But … a week ago I downloaded Monsters of Myth, which is a free monster book download available on Lulu and published in 2016.

I started scrolling through the pdf, just skimming the images and what not, pausing to read a few  … when I saw this:

Karkkadann image

My eyes fair nearly popped out of my head. But, I figured my anti-unicorn was going to be original over this evil beast! Right? Not so much …

Here’s the text for the Karkadann:

Karkkadann text.png
(Monsters of Myth was published in 2016, with the Karkadann being created by B.J. “Stranger” Poirot, in 2006, so the idea predates mine by about a decade).

So let’s do a check list:

  1. Horn modification – CHECK (I have two horns, they have a twisted one)
  2. Monster trades off its resemblance to unicorns – CHECK
  3. Fang like teeth – CHECK (removed from my version for the sake of brevity)
  4. Preferred prey – CHECK (mine preferred halflings, but removed for brevity)
  5. Link to Paladins – CHECK
  6. Hates unicorns – CHECK 
  7. Horn does extra damage – CHECK 

I think the only thing missing is the lion-like tail. I do have some additions though, e.g. my ‘anti-unicorn’ has some guff linked to its Nightmare lineage, weird smells and monster parts.


So, this left me wondering … am I a terrible hack? And/or does a monster concept (in this case an ‘anti-unicorn’) naturally and almost inevitably lead to shared themes. Perhaps the same is true of say things like ‘new’ magic item concepts or traps.

In this case, the key USPs of a unicorn are – a horse with a horn, and that it is good (some other guff about virgins). So … does it follow that an ‘anti-unicorn’ will have a horn modification (i.e. evidence of perversion) and be basically bad (e.g. hates paladins and unicorns). Since it still looks mostly like a unicorn, it seems natural it will use this to its advantage. Maybe anything else would be another monster concept, but not an anti-unicorn?

Therefore, this thought experiment makes me wonder: If two people decided to write up an “Undead Gelatinous Cube” or perhaps a “Coin Golem”, would many/most of the key features of these monsters be the same? I should probably Google these examples … as they’ve probably been done!

That is, maybe once the ‘monster concept’ has been fixed, little extra elaboration is needed? Perhaps the monster writes itself …

I bet there are lots of Ice/Fire Wolf concepts out there. Probably most of them spew forth cold- or heat-based damage respectively. Probably most of them suffer extra damage from the reverse of their respective powers. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with an Ice Wolf per se.  I can imagine players enjoying such an encounter, and the smart players thinking of using fire on it etc. There’s a natural gaming dialogue that follows and is fun. Players hate nothing more than a trap/puzzle that is toooo subtle to figure out!

But, do we need another “Ice Wolf” that’s basically the same as all the others …

So, to create an “original monster” we could make it look like say an anti-unicorn, but give it the powers of a Phase Spider (this idea seems a bit bankrupt though); or better, put more work into the ‘monster concept’, but let the ideas naturally flow from there. Perhaps, like jokes, we could/should reject the most obvious ideas that occur, as they may have already been done.

For example, perhaps it would be more interesting if the tundra-based Canidae breathed fire, or burst into fire as a defence mechanism (I bet if I Googled these, they will have been done). But, perhaps that’s the kind of thinking that is needed for new monsters?

But, …. what do I know?

PS – Of course, I haven’t ruled out the option that me and B.J. “Stranger” Poirot are simply geniuses.

COPY of my original (cough) post

:: Yfelcorn :: 


YfelcornFrequency:                 Very Rare
No. Appearing:          2-5
Armor Class:              2
Move:                          24’’
Hit Dice:                      4+4
% in Lair:                    5%
Treasure Type:          X
No. of Attacks:           3
Damage/Attack:        1-6/1-6/1-12
Special Attacks:        See below
Special Defenses:     See below
Magic Resistance:    See below
Intelligence:              Average
Alignment:                Neutral Evil
Size:                            L
Psionic Ability:          Nil
Level/XP Value:        500 + 6/hp

Also known as lacharmata, hippomal, rhinocorn, and Chevalier’s Bane. Yfelcorns are the malign sterile progeny of Unicorns (MM, pp 98) with Nightmares (MM, pp 74).

Yfelcorns are sly ambush predators using their appearance to deceive prey. Yfelcorns resemble unicorns, except they have:

  • a small additional horn
  • hot hooves which will eventually scorch the ground
  • an odd garlic-mint smell that unsettles the stomach;
    Elves find this smell especially repugnant (-2 to hit and damage); but oddly, Halflings find the smell quite pleasing

Lower plane denizens prize Yfelcorns as mounts (though treacherous); impressing minions/peers, and deceiving goodly creatures alike.

Yfelcorns share the primary statistics and abilities of a unicorn (i.e. +2 to hit with horn; charging double damage; poison immunity; sense enemies within 24’’; surprise 1-5; teleport 36’’once per day; 11th level magic-user save; death spell immune).

Nightmare lineage
Horn does double damage to good creatures. Paladins are polluted by a horn wound, and need a wish/quest to restore their powers. Stallions have the Nightmare’s smoking hot cloud ability once per day (i.e. failing save gives a -2 to hit and damage); albeit garlic-mint reeking stench. Immune to fire magic. Triple damage from cold and holy based damage.

Yfelcorn horns are deadly to unicorns; which later rise as undead unicorns. Zombiecorns start as shambling heaps of horse flesh, progressing to have the abilities (and stats) of a ghast (MM, pp 43; although cannot turn humans into ghouls). Later, a Yfelcorn foal erupts from the zombiecorn destroying it. This is how they breed.

Yfelcorn parts
Horn – crumbles into chalky ash upon death, makes hard to detect poison coveted by assassins.
Hide – makes a fire-resistant covering; but retains unpleasant garlic-mint smell.
Hooves – can store heat, releasing it again slowly. Can absorb 6D6 HPs of heat damage from fireballs, but have the same % chance of being destroyed.

– – –

Me on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony.

Ability Checks are you doing them wrong? | Dies, Dies, and Statistics

Is a D20 ability/skill test system better than a 3D6 test system?

and-mag-i14-thumb-150x150The full article on this (with numbers) can be found here:
& magazine #14 – Animal Companions
please see pages 29 to 35


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1988 Dungeon
Me on DriveThruDriveThru
At the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony
and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.