Saturday, October 2, 2021

On the Procreation of Dwarves

It is a little known fact outside of dwarf communities, but dwarven kind do not reproduce by anything as silly as mingling gametes.* 

When a community decides they need a new dwarf, they start the great chiseling. They find a rock worthy of dwarfiness, such as good marble, and begin to carve away until a statue of a dwarf is made.

You may have noticed there are no dwarf women, or heard speculation that their females are bearded. This is because there are also no dwarf men. There are just dwarves. It's a species designation, and gender is a somewhat alien concept to them. But most people use male pronouns because dwarves don't correct them.

So the statue looks a lot like any other dwarf. Many clans have developed tribal embellishments over the years. Mohawks are a popular "mutation" for example. But all dwarves have beards, and usually mustaches. The statue will not become a flesh and blood dwarf without treasure. Gems, silver, gold, et cetera are added. Runes are inlaid with diamonds. Ancient words are chanted, and blessings intoning the names of the fourteen dour dwarf gods are muttered. The dwarf statue glows brilliantly, and is transfigured into blood and sinew. The newly born dwarf blinks and is handed a hammer, battle ax, or ale. This is the way. 

There are times when a tribe will fill a great need by crafting specific traits into a dwarf. Genetic engineering by another name. Usually it is to fight a threat. Other times it is to fulfill a task. Such creations often turn out to not be dwarves at all. Some tribes call them mulls. Others might use the word golem. And many think them abominations that shouldn't be created even as a last resort. There are rumors that these creations sometimes escape and become monsters capable of reproducing somehow. Dwarves don't talk about it to outsiders though, and their runed walls don't ever record this shameful secret.

The need to gather treasure is instinctual, nay holy and pleasing to dwarvenkind. But this desire gets perverted into greed all too easily, especially if the dwarf is not around his own kind. If dwarves don't reproduce and instead hoard their wealth, they start to undergo a blasphemous transformation. They grow scales, wings, horns. They turn ravenous and consume great quantities. They become ogres, giants, and even dragons. They all guard their hoard jealously. So if you see a dwarf muttering to his treasure and hissing at anyone that gets too close, beware! 

*: Now, non-dwarves that discover these things are mighty curious about certain facts of dwarf anatomy, but I'd rather not get into that. They eat and drink. They go to the bathroom. They don't like to peeped at in the bathroom. So don't. 


I need a preview image for this post, so I'm going with a pic of a drow take I did previously on the blog. If you want to read on what's up with the drow on my world, you can't, because the pic is all I really need to say on that topic (old post will tell you much the same).


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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

No levels follow up: Experiences, not XP

This is a sequel to my ramble on levels. One could expand or transplant the following idea into a full RPG.

There are no levels. Whenever you can claim an experience with something, you roll twice and take the better result. You know, the advantage mechanic.

Fought porcs before and in a porcine-humanoid fray again? Advantage! 

 The sphinx has demanded a fashionable makeover and you were a barber in your backstory? Advantage! 

Have to peruse De Vermis Mysteriis and majored in French in college? D'advantage! ----
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Sunday, September 19, 2021

Leveling is a Disease

Leveling is an Abomination 

This skreed probably won’t be long. But I’ve been wondering what could happen if we bucked the trend that a vast majority of RPGs follow. As far as I know, may only a few games don’t have leveling outside of the storygames (Powered by the Apocalypse’s decendants these days?). I think Traveler doesn’t. But maybe it should, let me promise to get back to that thought and then break the promise. 

 So, what’s so bad about leveling? Well, it kinda makes the game about getting better. The game becomes about the game? Eh, it’s not so bad. Well, anyways, I want to challenge myself to see what could be good about gaming without levels. 

Imagine, if you will, a different kind of campaign style. The DM emails her nerd crew with a message like this:

 Dear dorks, 

Congratulations on your theft of the 39 girdles. Everybody roll your Luck, and if you pass, your fence has not gotten tortured to the point where he sells you out and you are not in jail during the next leg of the campaign. 

Now onto the next adventure. Rumor has it that a gnome has been subtly probing patrons at the Howling Grognard Tavern & Cockfighting Ring. Seems the gnome is looking for some bad enough dudes to infiltrate the Baron’s Mistress’s cousin’s boudoir and make off with a specific necklace. There may be turtles involved, and a few theify types might be good for this one. What characters heed the call? 

So now the players have a choice: Do they make a brand new character--something that some players do on the regular to pass time anyways-- or do they bring an old character, risking one of their favorites? See, in a game without levels you don’t get new HP, you just get scars. And maybe an ignominious end. 

But there are plenty of nominious ends out there too. See, without levels, a character is kinda freed up to have an arc and and a well-earned retirement. They don’t have to worry about finally gaining the level where they learn to punch three times instead of two. Leveling is not particularly realistic. Which is fine, I mean, we are talking elf games here. But maybe without HP and ability inflation gumming up the mechanics, the players can actually experience some dadgummed stakes? 

And the DM doesn’t have to think, “When my players gain a few more levels, I can finally run them through The Tomb of Whores.” I got news for you, players don’t want to risk their level 11 characters. They’ve grown too attached! Nah, you can have your PCs face anything in a game where there are no levels (the trick being to use rules that give them a fighting chance) and the PCs are a rotating ensamble. So, how bout it?

Ah, so wait, the post is over, but I remembered what I heard about Traveller. Without levels, things get a bit dull. Reportedly. But I think the way of doing campaigns I described above would work well for that. Or imaging playing Star Wars without levels! Each mission could let a different person play a Jedi (everyone wants to be Jedi when you Star the Wars). One other aspect that is a bit of a fix to the traveller issue is having the achievements be in-world as opposed to on the character sheet. This is not the campaign style I’ve been thinking of, but gaining land, money, and spellbooks could be a fine play style. ----
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Thursday, August 12, 2021

Epic Humble Beginnings, a tale of starting a campaign

I need to break out of my cowardice as a DM. Namely, the fear of running without a module in front of me. But that doesn't mean I'm going to free-ball it. So here are things to help me plan.

The campaign starts in the town. The town is slightly isolated. There is a great empire ruled by the Underlord. The empire is evil, but since the Underlord wants to rule humanity instead of destroy it (for now), the village isn't much bothered most of the time. There is a mayor who collects grain from the townsfolk to give up as tribute to the Baron's collector or the occasional garrison that comes up from the city-state of the invincible underlord. 

The first line of the campaign will be, "your loins are being girded by the white girdle of novice cubs. As they cinch your nethers a bit too tight, the guild receptionist-slash-bartender mutters,  'Be sure to write your name on this, so they can identify your remains.' Then he moves on to the next member of your party. Now then, who is our sole demi-human?"

There is one demi-human in the party to start. Other races can be unlocked by encountering and befriending them. But otherwise, this is pretty anthropocentric beginning. Also ask who has the highest charisma-like stat. They are the de facto leader of the party. 
The guild is in a public house. Joining is one coin. Beer is one coin. A night with the village sex workers is one coin and a lot of shame. A sniffer of blue-mold is one coin. Everything is, except weapons and armor. We don't even have a dude that knows how to make armor yet. Maybe you could unlock that by doing a quest for the dwarves, who are in some nearby mountains working on their glory holes. 
How did you feel when I did a little blue humor just now, players? Let's talk about lines an veils.

There are a few quests on the guild bulletin board. Most people in the village can't pay much though. Maybe you have to find your own fortune. Can't clear rats out of basements all day.

The town is not too far from some manse reputed to be haunted. This is mega-dungeon one. It has 666 rooms, each more haunted than the last. Lots of cursed treasure too.

The town is also not far from some standing stones, which are rumored to be a gate to The Zone. This is mega-dungeon two, but it is more of a hex crawl through a parallel world with many ruins. 

There is a forest between here and Hinterville, and the forest is a forest-crawl. People say that the druish people there had great treasure. This is an odd rumor, maybe a bit racist. Anyways, people say barbarians and bandits are constantly in those woods, coming down from hyperboreal mountains to the north. The woods have an underground network below them full of dinosaurs and mushmen. This is mega-dungeon number three. 

Hinterville is said to be a lawless place under dispute by three wizard siblings and their subhuman creations, the slow mutants. But it might be worth going there to learn a spell or two. 

To the south are the Thousand Misty Islands in the Four Lakes. People say that the are used to not be a sea, until some great disaster made a huge crater there. Traders, slavers, pillagers, and the dead live on those islands. The Necromancer has her great keep somewhere amongst the islands.

A table of nasties for The Zone

  1. Bark! d6 bloated waste-hounds. Infective bites, explode if critted.
  2. Clatter!d4 headless knights. All non-critical damage they take becomes one damage.
  3. Rustle. A phage-tree. Save when you smell its blossoms or go berserk-mad.
  4. Ootini! Ten jawas. Have blasters that only they can recharge. Their mobile fortress may be nearby.
  5. or 6. Homage! Just steal something from Beyond the Black Gate. Cuz there are none better.

What follows is a map. Plan B. Based on some old Judges Guild stuff.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

What if an RPG but only 2d6?

Edit: The version written (not embedded via Google docs) won't change, but after some actual playtesting, I now invoke my duty to update the G-doc rules...

Recently, I've been going through my massive games Claytonian made folder, polishing turds and gilding lilies. Today I found 2d6 RPG and I was digging it. This looks fun and simple! And check out the BUT ACTUALLY SYSTEM. The monster wagers system is also something I want to see in play. In case you are wondering, I think this game is a riff off of Barony, rather than any Powered by the 2dpocalypse game. Barony came first!

I've made so many games I forget what was up with them. I'll embed the google doc at the bottom of the post (it will be the most up to date version), and input the text of the game above that for ease of reading.

2d6 Everything

by Claytonian

To dice your way thru life, roll high as you can on 2d6.

Difficulty Number needed (roll this or higher)

Simple Nae rolls, mate (you succeed)

Tasking Seven

Daunting Nine

Yikes This one goes to eleven

Combat is a bit special. The number you roll is the number of damage you or the foe takes. You have to roll at least seven damage to hit them (if you roll six or lower, you take the damage), unless you are fighting more than one foe, in which case the minimum number to roll goes up by one per additional opponent. Low roll spells hurt you too.

The But Actually System

For each level you gain, you get a Freebie checkbox. When you would take damage, you can instead check off one of these boxes and describe how you evade the hit, at some credible narrative cost. For instance, by saying "Actually it sunders my shield" or "Actually I duck down and get a bit of a haircut."

You can also check off Freebie boxes to add mighty deeds to your successful rolls. For instance, “Actually, I shove my hammer down the dragon’s throat, and it lodges in there, choking her!”

Freebie boxes, once checked off, are gone until you level up.

Char Gen

Each PC gets 2d6 HP. Each time you level up, you reroll this and take the new roll as your new HP if it's higher (this is not accumulative; the max HP any PC will ever have is 12).

Swords and Sorcery

After you roll starting HP, choose if you will be able to use magic or not. If not, you may gain one level straight away.


PCs have 2d6 shticks (talents/backgrounds/traits/&c). Make them up as part of character gen. When a shtick applies, a check's difficulty is one step easier.


0 HP characters are unconscious and will bleed to death within 2d6 rounds (rolled secretly). It is a daunting task to staunch the wounds.


You get all HP back at dawn each day. This does not heal narrative wounds though, so if you have a broken leg, it’s going to affect you for six weeks.


After a jolly good outing, the Two Dee Master (2DM) will announce a Leveling check. You can roll 2d6 and try to roll over your current level. If you succeed, you level up. 

Remember, when you level up, you gain a Freebie checkbox, uncheck all Freebie boxes you have, and get a chance to have more HP than before.


You start with 2d6 items. This is also your Load score. If you would pick up more items than Load, you will have all checks be one step harder. Put something down, maybe?


During a round, you can perform one action or move 2d6 hexes (not both unless you use a freebie). Initiative is not really a thing. If you don’t take care of monsters, the DM will have them dispatch you. 


Monsters get to do horrible things to you if you roll snake eyes to hit them. For instance, snake eyes against a giant may mean that it pounds you into the ground like a nail. Monsters have 2d6×Awesome HP. An underworld rage corpse probably has Awesome 1. A god may have Awesome 10. 

Quick, while it’s winded!

Monsters can wager 2d6 HP to do special moves at the top of a round, like breathe fire. This never kills them. If they are not damaged before the next round, they gain these HP back!

Character Sheet


Level: HP:


Freebie boxes: ❑❑❑❑❑ ❑❑❑❑❑ ❑❑

Load # ______ Inventory:          Encumbered?


Read on google docs here
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Thursday, July 8, 2021

d66 Loot the Body (refurbished)

d66 things in this unlucky stiff's pockets

This post is getting remade. Tweaked a little, but mostly being redone so you can read it on a mobile device without having to substitute one of Venca's eyes for your own.

When you loot a body, first roll a d66% for location on the body where this dude kept their good stuff: 11~34: Purse 
35~41: Inner vest pocket 
42~51: Boot 
52~56: Hat 
61~66: Britches. 

Second, roll a brace of sixers. I have some sub-tables for the items marked with *.
11 1d4 rations                                                    
12 PC level in copper*                                         
13 PC level ×1d6! (exploding d6) copper*                   
14 PC level in copper, one silver*                    
15 PC level in silver*                                    
16 PC level ×1d6! (exploding d6) gold*
Coinage sub-table (1d66): 11~34: shmeckles, 35~41: CHUD currency, 42~44: devil lucre (blasphema franca), 45~51: obols (good for deals with Charon, so maybe leave a couple for this poor stiff?), 52~54: coin of the next realm/kingdom over, 55~56: coins from the future, where one of the PC's royal visage has been minted, 61~66:1990s USA currency (pennies, nickles and quarters).
21 a statuette*
22 a bonito log 
23 a lump of purest green    
24 a robot's battery
25  a map to a dungeon
26  a Tijuana bible
Statuettes sub-table (1d8): 1) cat god; 2) unknown woman; 3) eldritch entity (sanity check!); 4) a member amongst the PCs!; 5) an unknown gods god, preferably a known one; 6) a pontiff; 7) a king, 8) duck on top, key on bottom

Statuettes sub-sub-table of materials (d10): 1) dolomite, 2) gold, 3) pewter, 4) lead, 5) wood, 6) crudely carved wood, 7) wax, 8) copper, 9) brass, 10) melted coins
31 a fan with a faction symbol
32 a very small "shower" spell scroll
33 someone (known)'s undies
34 an I.O.U. from "Big Paula"
35 a deed to Tegel Manor
36 scrip: a demon's secret name
41 an ear and a lizard 
42 a wand (might backfire)
43 a hymnal
44 a kung-fu manual
45 a prophylactic 
46 matryoshka dolls
51 faerie in a jar
52 oil lamp (empty)
53 jewelry* 
54 a key
55 a court summons
56 spool of thread  
Jewelry sub-table (1d12)(roll a d6×10×danger of acquisition to find monetary value): 1) earring, 2) earrings, 3) eye-patch, 4) nose-ring, 5) necklace, 6) torque, 7) diadem, 8) sheriff's badge, 9) rapper's grill, 10) blinged knuckle-dusters, 11) codpiece, 12) a band (a ring).
61 letter from this dude's love
62 intercepted scandalous missive
63 note on where a cult is meeting next
64 a monogrammed handkerchief
65 letter written in PCs own hand?!
66 last will & testament of "Bad Bob"

Hey, maybe the players discover something before they even get to that pocket.

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Saturday, June 26, 2021

Record of Record of Lodoss War Campain Idea in Recorded Form


I'm thinking about when I run Lodoss again. I Fanslated the Companion Rules a while back, and ran the players through eight or so adventures. Now I'm eying translating a scenario book which has scenarios from both the past and present. I want to introduce a few houserules while I'm thinking about it.

Lodoss time trippin campaign

PCs will start 40 years in the past, right when the age of the six heroes was getting started. Eventually, they will play the descendants of the survivors of the first part of the campaign. The Descendants will adventure in the Record of Lodoss War era.

PCs will not know their HP or MP totals nor their current score. When they take damage to these, they don’t know how much it is. As HP and MP are abstract, the GM only has to give a few hints. 

PCs can attempt a concentration check any number of times per day, but it will cost them 1d6 MP damage each time. Level plays no part in how many concentration checks you get.

The GM does a lot of work, and will need to have a sheet of paper ready to record everyone’s FS, DE, and soak. The players can roll d100s, but the GM just needs their shit together so that they can just look and see if the PCs do the things they need to.

All those spells that lasted 10 rounds before? They can go any number of rounds now, but each round beyond the first will cost you an MP. Decide whether or not to pay when your team’s initiative comes.