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.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Best role-playing prompt in all of elf gamedom


Someone else came up with the prompt--who wazzat? Imma just add some spice.

Prompt, to be answered at char-gen: 
(person) won't give me (thing) because (reason).

It's a great way to establish character traits, connections, and lore. (Person) has the right to say they are not comfortable, BTW. Use your safety tools.

Spice: what follows is a list of things. Show it to the players to inspire them.

Actual things: A cursed book, the ten gold they owe me, his father's sword, my house, my boots,  a locket, a map to a place.

Abstract things: Respect, love, candor, justice, my sister's emancipation, freedom to do something, the time of day.

Actions: A kiss, a nod of "well done", first blood, a handshake, returning my eye contact.

What you won't give me (?): a comment with more ideas... 
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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Homebrews: Gygax vs Arneson

No Zocchi hack?

In recent weeks, I made a couple one-page treatments of OeD&D based around rumors of how Arneson and Gary played D&D in both ancient times and the later aughts, when they both leveled up to the basement in the sky.

Which would you rather play? I want comments on that.

Roll a d2 to decide which to read first and control for bias. They are both linked below, available on Googydocs. 
Hargrave link because it's Arduin week BTW

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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Adventure Hook: Spiders of the Purple Mage by Phillip Jose Farmer

Very few people have the courage to go near the Isle of Shugthee.
Spiders of the Purple Mage is very good. It would make a good adventure, especially on a world like Lankhmar. Or heck, TW has its own out of print RPG, right? And I suspect Harley Stroh may have been influenced by this one when he wrote the module The Jeweler that Dealt in Stardust.

Hook: Have a solo scene with one of the PCs. They are walking through a bad part of town that is dark and pretty locked up. They are passing a house so reputed to be haunted that it hasn't even been scavenged. Ask the player who the poor youth is that just staggered around the corner and just about gave the PC a heart attack. Though the PC gets the sense that the youth is being pursued and it is best to stay out of things, they also hear the youth mutter something about a jewel before collapsing. 
‘All I know,’ she said, ‘is that they say that the mage came here about ten years ago. He came with some hired servants, and many boxes, some small, some large. No one knew what his native land was, and he didn’t stay long in town. One day he disappeared with the servants and the boxes. It was some time before people found out that he’d moved into the caves of the Isle of Shugthee. Nobody had ever gone there because it was said that it was haunted by the ghosts of the Shugthee. They were a little hairy people who inhabited this land long before the first city of the ancients was built here.’
If the PC ignores the boy, that will be that for the most part. Probably. Soon creepy sand-people looking dudes come in. If the youth is alive at this point, they look briefly at the PC and continue to him, grab him and interrogate him in their strange donkey language. He dies within minutes. The sand-people will then start searching the area and want the PC for interrogation. The PC could fight them, even kill them, that's fine. But they will soon be scared off by hearing the whistles of the town guard in the distance (a coincidence, but they don't know that).

The PC of course will probably help the youth, who will mutter things about dying and getting into the maze of the purple sorcerer and stealing a jewel. Spiders. Pain. Ow. Urg. Dies. If the PC has dragged the youth into the haunted house, the sandpeople will come in, but the PC will be saved by the bell.

At this point I would do something akin to in medias res narration and be like, "that was two months ago. Since then, the town somehow got word of what happened that night and got it into their heads that [youth name] dropped a jewel and a rat ate it, so everybody hunted rats for a couple weeks, then moved onto cats, and now finally dogs. You've been dragged before constibles, gang-leaders, the holy-mafia and the governer to tell your story, but everyone in power seems to be unwilling to mess with the Purple Mage. Nobody speaks sandpeople language, and they seem to have stop coming to town for supplies during the day anyway.

If the PC has a family, threaten that next. Have them be kidnapped.  But the whole party will probably start getting anxious about going out there without this step. Eventually, sandpeople will come for the PC if they are being passive. Then other servant come if the sandpeople are beaten or the Purple Mage can't find another way to get leverage.

Appendix N:
Now, not only would I mix in a little Lankhmar or Punjar (DCCRPG), but I'd try to find a way to get some good old Clark Ashton Smith involved too. I dunno, the henchmen remind me a bit of the priest-things from The Charnel God. And if you are going to include a mage maze, you got to get some Maal Dweb in there, son!

This story also reminded me a bit of running an old old old White Dwarf adventure,  Halls of Tizun Tane. Fond are my memories of making the faction-head-brothers Sega and Super Nintendo. Then I made the monkey creatures be neck-less things with upside-down faces in their chests. Man, I love this hobby. 
‘The fur trappers and hunters who’ve gone by the isle say they’ve seen some strange things. Hairy beast-faced dwarfs. Giant spiders.’ She shuddered.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Lankhmar Bundle of DCC Holding

Continuing from where I left off, there is a BoH going through May 10th for the Lankhmar material made for DCC. TLDR is buy this. But let's get some words about why.

For all intents, purposes, and intensive porpoises, I consider DCCL to be DCC's second edition. Well, I say that, but you probably need DCC core rules to play it. Luckily, the quick-start rules should be somewhere in the bundle. Here are some interesting DCCL innovations:

  • Benisons and Dooms: Often, these pull you into the setting and give little tastes of it.
  • Languages: More world-building. Everyone at least knows pidgin Black Toga-ese. No more of PCs speaking generic monster languages in an RPG that was supposed to have only special monsters anyways.
  • Spell restrictions: Mercurial magic is often a bit too jarring, so having down to earth magic weirdness is a nice change of pace. Yes, that sentence was ironic.
  • Sing this new corruption to me: Our freak wizards are home grown. Man, there are a lot more of these than in DCC.
  •  Magic gets split into black and white (or just normal).
  • No clerics, hobbits, dwarves, or elves: PCs will be different thanks to their backgrounds, but these things are out, and it's kinda refreshing to have humans that either stab or get stabbed (that's what wizards are best at).
  • Healing without clerics. You use up luck to heal, but that's okay, because
  • Fleeting Luck and Carousing can keep your Luck tank full. Most of the adventures have luck rewards too.

Gosh, this is getting to long again I could have gone on. Anyways, it's a great take on DCC. I ran a campaign that took us to the desert, where a PC led a tribe of pillar men thanks to carousing too much.  We met Ningauble and Sheelba. Fun was had, and a lot of strange wines.

So, let's go down what the bundle has now.

  • The Boxed Set: This has a ton of DCCL books in it. I kinda question that some of it got split up into separate books, because there were a few times I was like, wait, what book from the three main ones is that rule addressed in? The group did play through the included adventure No Small Crimes, and it was pretty good for setting elements. You gotta see the map of Lankhmar the Doug Kovacs did.
  • Gang Lords: This low level adventure is good for learning how to slum it. I like how NPCs give information hoping to call in favors later and research is largely about greasing palms.
  • Land Of Eight Cities: Lots of good information on this area to the north of the usual adventures, but when running it I got frustrated that though the political leaders of the cities are described a bit, there is no information I could find on which cities are whose, but in retrospect I am kinda dumb and I think this was by design, to let Judges make it their own. Included is an adventure which had a fun, odd antagonist.
  • Dozen Locations: If your PCs need to hit up a temple, you can just pull out the temple from here and adjust a few knobs on the fly. The thing is filled with plug and play buildings, maybe even 12 of them total, but don't quote me on that.
  • The lower-level adventures: Are all new to me. I'll just say the authors are very good at delivering the goods.
  • The higher-level ones: Ditto. It seems there is a lot of fun to be had fighting glowing, undead things though. 

Well, I think the main takeaway it that I need to get another Lankhmar campaign going so I can experience some of this material. To add some ballast to this post, I should say some critical things. I found the original boxed set overall a bit rushed-feeling. I think the artists and writers worked hard to get that Kickstarter out the door, but it feels like it needed some playtesting, time, and room to breathe. And most of the art is not by my usual DCC favorites, but that's a pretty subjective opinion that doesn't affect gameplay at all. 

As long as I'm being honest, I'm gonna admit that--because I didn't feel confident running the DCCL modules without lots of mental prep and so needed some lazy Judge padding-- I pulled a couple of one or two page adventure ideas from the reviled TSR-era materials, specifically Wonders of Lankhmar. Michael Curtis will be pissed if he ever finds out about that.



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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Hit boxes, not HP

Ran across this in a Roll20 note I made. I think it has great potential. I guess I was using it in my homebrew Quest Ferrit a few years back.

When you are hit, check off one of the following (replenish once per level each day, between fights):
☑You dead. Dramatically pulling the villain to hell with you optional.
☑Your shield is splintered.
☑Your armor, helm, or jaunty hat saved you this time...
☑'Tis but a flesh wound!
☑Monster rolls on a crit chart (you take injuries; ignore damage rolls generated by this).
☑Monster does something typical for its variety (melts your face off, burns you, ages you 7 years, etc.)
☑You roll your HD & armor die; not rolling a one on either of them means you survived this blow (everyone has at least a d3 armor die).
☑ You suffer an injury of the Judge's choosing.
☑ Lucky dodge! Your luck score goes down by one.

☑ (hobbits only) Another PC you name jumps in to save your bacon .
☑ (fighters only) The pain helps you focus; +1d to your next to-hit roll.
☑ (dwarves only) The foe tosses you into your allies, who toss you right back.
☑ (elves only) Demoralizingly deft dodge and dudgeon. +1d to next intimidation or taming check.
☑ (barbarians only) Rage! +1d to damage and crit charts this fight.
doesn't usually have one.


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Jump on the DCC Bundles of Holding while you can

Bundles plural. There are two bundles, so I'll talk about what I know about each one.

The DCC bundle has the core rule book, Thakulon, a Judge's Screen, and Sailors.

  • Core rules: For 15 bucks, the core rules alone are a bargain. If you have only ever played 5e, you need to give DCC a shot, and this is a good way. Since this version has a funnel (zero level adventure) called Portal Under the Stars, I recommend you break yourself into the game on that one.
  • Thakulon the Undying: Has a couple things going for it: Harley Stroh is involved and he is one of the best DCC writers. The set up of three levels for the three DCC alignments seems it would be a good way to see how DCC handles this DCCism differently. I recommend getting ahold of Court of Chaos (not in the bundle) for alignment shenanigans as well. Anyhoo, I'mma run it instead of a funnel the next time I start a DCC night, which is, thanks to the Bundle, very soon.
  • Judge's Screen: I mean, better to have printed on cardboard somehow, but okay.
  • Sailors on the Starless Sea: The most famous funnel. I've run it once, but do prefer Portal. It's pretty good, but very lethal, so prepare your players with warnings.

All that is worth the money. Then you have the extras for basically doubling your donation. Are they worth it? Let's see what you get (the three low level adventures are described first):

  • Moon Slaves of the Cannibal Kingdom: This is a good one to push the gonzo, one of DCC's best merits. This is science fantasy elfgames complete with a talking ape and three moons. Looks promising, but have not played yet.
  • Queen of Elfland's Son: The DCC take on faerie folk. I dunno, it includes goblins and most of the monsters have that unjustified (?) D&Dism where elven creatures are immune to sleep and charm, which is a bit bog-standard DCC for me, but it does have some new, weird fey and a monster unicorn. I think this one may be a good way to get PC wizards interested in getting patronage from the King of Elfland. Patrons are one of the best things about DCC. Oh, and it has a curse. Curses are a cool part of DCC that don't get used enough.
  • Star Wound of Abaddon: Science fantasy and Clark Ashton Smith gets a name-drop, so I'm pretty interested. And you gotta do this point crawl to experience the Cosmic Perversion table. 
  • Beyond the Black Gate: The rumors tables for this one are very nice, as they are different for each race/class. Also, they don't do that BS where they tell you which rumors are true or false (let's find out together, yo). This one explores multiversalism, which is another important aspect of DCC. Also, there is a bonus adventure with a crashed spaceship in there.
  • Emirikol Was Framed!: The eponymous wizard calls the party imbeciles and whoresons. I like this guy. Seriously, looks like a good fun-house dungeon module.
  • Imprisoned in the God-skull: This one has a lot going for it, what with ancient, epic history of a wizard so badass he had to be sealed away by a god's sacrifice, and wormwood aliens. Very much want to run this one.

So I think the takeaway is this is well worth the cash. You have years of gonzo gaming potential here. I've run DCC since the beta days and even written a third party adventure for it, so you know I'm a fan. Heck, some would say these books are worth it for the art alone. I'd say the biggest strike against the bundle is that it doesn't include Courts of Chaos, but jump on the bundle while there is still time!

 This has run long, so I'll cover the second Goodman Games bundle in my next post. You can still check it out though: DCC Lankhmar bundle.

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Saturday, April 17, 2021

Charismatic Party Leaders Houserule

Who's in charge here?

This idea might be best introduced in session 0 or one.

The PC with the highest Charisma or Personality score is the natural leader of the group, and should be role-played  as such. Maybe even have them be the one that recruits the other PCs.

If two people are tied for highest score, let there be a friendly rivalry. Emphasis on friendly. Maybe one should get the edge for achieving a heroic character arc.

If a new PC comes along with a higher score, there can be tension there too, but eventually, the lower character should realize that the new guy or gal is alright and cede the position (their player will probably like a break from the mental exhaustion of leadership around this point as well).

This is just the musing of someone who has seen a lot of TV shows and movies.

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Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Sympathetic Magic

Been musing. So here's a magic system.

The wizard can do anything, but there has to be a cost and let the punishment fit the crime. 

For instance, the party lacks a thief and they have a locked gate in their way. The wiz steps up and... well, there are several spells they could improvise.

Timeline One wizard demands to be bound in chains. They will be all tied up for the next ten minutes.

Timeline Two wizard is no Hoodini. They opt to trepanate their own skull to unlock a perspective where the lock is like... an illusion, man.

Timeline Three wizard plunges a key into their own palm, digging down until blood is drawn. That wound will take the hand out of comission.

Timeline Four wizard shrugs and says, we should find the key, yeah?

Timeline Five wizard read another of my posts and is considering another, inventory-based, solution...

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Friday, February 26, 2021

My Carcosa Hack

Though it has been mentioned before, I've never actually put this RPG in an embedded form on this here blog. We've been playing for months, using Roll20 to make rolling all the dice ever at once very easy. In fact, I outdid Geoffrey Mckinney by making us roll all the things for skill checks too. Here is a Googdocs link if you can't see/print what's below.

These rules make it so you don't have to have any other elf game rules to run a Carcosan campaign. I use the beautiful dead tree version put out by the Lamentations group a decade or so back. If you want more Carcosan goodness, check out my last post!

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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

2d6 Carcosan encounters

These follow the rules laid out in a previous post. I'll recapitulate that the intention is to not roll for a chance of an ancounter, but to see what the inevitable encounter is. Once done, that cell of the table is empty, resulting in nothing if rolled again. 

If you want a pretty version that is easy to modify, follow the link in this post. And let me also share my Carcosa hack RPG while we're at it! 

An aspect of Yig. 30 hit dice. If it is not autumn, he will likely pause and lift his ophidian head to wait for worship. If non-such is coming, he will probably not be pleased. Yig also won't brook the torture of serpents. If it is autumn, Yig will be hungry, but may possibly be driven off by drumming.
The greys are driving a tank with a clone-beam. The tank ignores all damage below a threashold of 12. If a PC is hit with a clone-beam, they will spend three rounds splitting into two-beings, 90 scifi Poison Ivy style, and their clothes/armor will be ruined. One of them is an NPC that attempts to kill the other.
A sorceress
She has an entorage of slaves, all of whom she has seduced thanks to the Roofies of Relore. She will trade a ritual for one she doesn't know.
A mercenary band
The Crimson Company is camping. They really want a strong, crimson leader, if the party happens to know any. They are otherwise only interested in work for hire.
The carnosaur ate a party with some fun equipment and treasure last week. Search its poop and you will find these.
Apatosaurus vs Brachiosaurus vs Brontosaurus
The impossible fight is happening!
A robot
Buckaroo bob. Buckaroo is a personality downloaded from a parallel timeline, where Carcosa is a pleasure planet divided into zones called worlds. Buckaroo is from Wild West World. He resembles a human, but has silver eyes. He has a pistol with exploding damage, and shoots very fast, doing three attacks per turn.

A robot
A humanoid with crab-like legs. Its percieved function is to skin people, so it has a giant carrot-peeler-like appendage that looks kind of like a scorpion's tail. Its lair, filled with rotting skin, is nearby.

Itenerate people
Roll a d13 to find their hue. These are simple hunter-gatherers. They worship Yig and other such beings, and will give info to nice parties: Yig can be driven off by drumming.
Spoor from a spawn or robot that the party has yet to meet. If they party is smart enough to try and avoid the encounter after that, they won't meet it. The party could find cowbody costumes, skinned bodies, a body with a hole in the back of its head, a glowing rock that causes headaches, etc.

Pilgrims of Yig
These mysterious verdent-hued people have serpentine mutations. One has snakes for arms. One has a hingeless jaw. One has scales. One is a sorceror who can summon five 8HD snakes per day. If the party is cordual, they may give a mission to go into a nearby cave system and search for a sperpentine torque they believe is down there, among the White Guardians and cave mummies.

Rainbow Mastodons
The buck of the heard can shoot rainbows out of its trunk that drain 2d4 exploding stamina and change your hue to a random one.

Travelling Caravan
The caravan enjoys the protection of the Rainbow-coalition, a group of mercenaries of all hues, and twenty in number. The RC has three ray guns, which they point at the PCs at all times from the central cart's tower. They will mention that a ruined city is nearby and offer to pay well for any valuable baubles that can be brought back from it.

A spawn
Glovorosto, she of many migranes. There is a 1 in 6 chance that Glovorosto is suffering a migrane when encountered. If so, the PCs will feel her pain to the point that the largest die they can use to attack or make checks will be one step worse. Glovorost looks like a giant brain with septiginal-radial simitry and fish tails jutting out of her skirt of phlem. Her touch will cause scanners-style head explosions unless the toucher rolls a d20 OVER thier INT score.
A spawn
This unnamed being takes up  habitation in shadows. What can be seen of it is its tendrils, which jut out of everyone's shadows. If a tendril is hit, the owner of the shadow where that tendril is found takes equal damage. The spawn is in the shade of a baobab tree when first encountered. If knocked to 1 HP, the spawn will rest for three days in someone's shadow, which takes on an ulfire hue.
A spawn
The puppeteer. It curretly resides in the brain stems of ten zombie-like azure people, who wander towards any movement or light they spy. These people have nails that are tipped with hollow needles, like hypodermics. If they scratch someone, that person needs to make a save or become possessed too.

Lotus dealer
Skeeve has three arms and robot bodyguard. Skeeve has a pouch of death-lotus dust (he is immune) and his robot has a dart-gun, the darts of which are loaded with death-lotus. Skeeve will be cool if you are.
Each one has been modified by a cyber-virus and has a little satellite-reciever dish sticking out of its head. Their eyes have been replaced by cylon-visors. Their legs end in spikes. They emit a field that neutralizes all lasers, beams, and plasmas within 60 feet.
They have jack-rabbit-like legs instead of fins. There is a 30% chance that some animal or people are tracking them and will also be along shortly, hoping for sweet dolphin meat.
Perpriatic hologram
The hologram is projected from within by a light-bee. It is cordial, changes its appearance to mimic whoever it is talking to. It will tell people about where to find one of the terrible carcosan items found in the core book, but wants a taste of exotic beam weaponry shot into it in exchange. There might be some such guns on that caravan it saw the other day.
A Cyborgess
Botness has a purple hue and is looking for adventurers to accompany her on a little mission to free someone's soul from torment (find Obregon's Dishonor somewhere if you can, or make up an adventure).
Geoffery  Mckinney
A mad man with glasses and stone-washed jean-shorts. He claims to have dreamed up this world. He has a set of plastic polyhedra on him. He has a 10 to 90% chance of remembering the answer to any question regarding the setting, provided the Carcosa Master hasn't already changed a detail or two (he doesn't know anything about this encounter table).
Share good posts with good goblins. Claytonian at the gmails.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Give and Take Initiative

Imma give a surprise round to the monster tho.

It's a simple idea: There are no rolls for initiative. First, the players are given a chance. Any one of them may come forward and try an action, such as attacking. When that player is done, the GM has a foe attempt an action. Then it goes back to the players.

I suggest if your elfgame allows multiple attacks or spells or whatever, you resolve them all at once as your action. I also suggest that any movement allowed you be done on your go.

There are rounds. Each entity in the fight gets only one action per round. If one side runs out of able bodies, the other side gets all of its agents that haven't gone yet squared away in whatever order they like.

Three PCs confront a behemoth. The GM asks whose up. Ser Twitchy asks the other players if it's okay for him to go, and they nod. Twitchy has two attacks, and rolls them both now. The monster takes them like a champ. 

Now the GM will go. She only has the behemoth to worry about. It has three attacks, so she rolls all three now, one against each PC. Sheela the Forgotten falls dead. 

Now it goes back to the PCs. Bob the Resuscitative was going to go in for an attack, but decides to use his action to shove a life cookie into Sheela's wound. 

Usually, the round would be over at that, but the GM has a surprise up her sleeve: Dread Maggots are popping into play from a nearby corpse, and they are going to try to burrow into everyone's wounds. The round finally ends with everyone rolling maggot-saves. As you do. 

This system favors the players' side a bit, but they need a break sometimes. One merit of the this system is that it could be used in either DnDs or Dungeon World pretty easily.

Share good posts with good goblins. Claytonian at the gmails.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

2d6 useful Encounters template with example

This post has an embedded Goog doc. If you can't see it, try this link.

So this was a fun thing and I want to do more of them and I hope you do too. The emergent storytelling possibilities are great. My players have already learned that a mad wizard is about from encountering his victims. I have made you all an Excel-ish template for rolling 2d6 to generate encounters. Percentiles are included to give a relative idea of what is rarely to be encountered. But they are cool, so I'm going to guarantee PCs eventually run into them especially if they push their luck. The procedure: 

  • Roll 2d6 and see what encounters are possible (you will have to choose if more than one is present). This happens each time PCs go through an area, and again if they stay there for a while for some reason (camping). 
  • Decide surprise or if the monster is doing something and so on. Reaction rolls are good too. 
  • An encounter that has happened is crossed off. If that number is rolled again, nothing happens this time. Eventually, the area will be tamed for a while, until new denizens start to percolate in. Check out the other tabs, because there is a blank page in there for you to fill out. Please blog your tables and let me know about them in the comments or on Twitter.

    Share good posts with good goblins. Claytonian at the gmails.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Why Vancian is Better Than Spell Points (and what to do about it)

First, let me lay out my credentials for my click-bait title.

Over on our Discord, (mail me if you want in on chances to play elf-games online), we have been playing a lot of Lodoss Companion, a game I translated from Japanese. It uses a stat called MP (magic points) to cast spells from. If you run out of MP, you faint.

About a couple years back I was in another RPG that uses spell points (run by Fear of a Black Dragon's Tom), Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying 1e. We played through the Enemy Within adventure path thing.

On the Discord, we also spent a few months going through my other big fanslation project, Double Moon. Dubmoon, being from the same publisher as Lodoss, shares a lot of its DNA, including the MP system, using Psychic Points called PPs, much to our amusement.

Finally, also on the Discord, we messed around with my hack of Arduin for a while. Uncle Dave "Killmepleasedaddy" Hargrave used a hybrid between Vancian and spell points back in the day. He also gave levels to spells because he was basically using 0DnD. I opted to just have spell points spent just be the level of the spell, let PCs cast any level of spell, and kicked Vancian restrictions out of there.

So all of these systems used points is my point. What is the problem I've noticed time and again? You are extremely incentivized to cast the same spells each combat. It was really bad in WHFRP. Once I learned Lightning Bolt, I would try to cast it each round. We could point out here that RAW material components would have ameliorated the problem, but like most groups we ditched those rules.

In Lodoss it's usually the same routine. Cast buffs on the fighter. Summon a spirit to fight. There is a bit of deja-vu each combat. My players do like the system though. One said they really dig not having to choose spells that they might use each game morning.

The Arudin games were a bit better, probably because of the sheer amount of gonzo spells the players wanted to try out. Also, without level restrictions, they could consider casting powerful, yet expensive spells.

 So, what's my solution to keep a game with spell points interesting? Well, I have a few.

  • Spell points are still a thing, but whenever a player casts a spell, it is gone for the day (sneaky Vance). 
  • Spell points are still a thing, but each additional time you cast a certain spell in a day costs one extra point per level of the spell (Vance tax).
  • Use DCC-style Mercurial Magic, which may make the player prefer to cast different spells for different situations. You don't need DCC tho; I got a d60 list of crazy spell requirements and effects.
  • Incentivize spell prep with Memorization Side Effects (using a Vancian hybrid or pure Vancian).
  • Use those material components up. Boo. Hey, maybe have all your spell-casting based on material components to make it better?
  • Seed a whole lot of situations that will require spells as tools. This one is hard to do, because utility spells are usually taken care of by equipment or the thief's abilities. 
  • Spells are free-form, but you can never cast the same spell twice (the Barony/Conrad's Game method).

Got more ideas? That's what comments are for!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Lessons to Learn from New Vegas (for TTRPGs)

I recently, finally, started to play 2010's Fallout New Vegas. I bought it on sale, but had never gotten around to it due to thinking it was some kind of mere add-on to Fallout 3. Nope. Obsidian studios were told by their overlords to pump something out and they really did a good job. 

Okay, so the thing that is inspiring me as an elfgamer is the way missions are set up. Basically, it is a sandbox world. You can go anywhere, but some areas are just plain dangerous, so you have to listen to the NPCs to see which routes are relatively safe. 

NPCs will give you missions. They are all optional. Your actions can prematurely end them if you don't think carefully and kill the wrong people or something. The NPCs also usually give you an idea of where to go. Most of them even mark a place on the map you could check out.

I'm thinking this kind of approach could be particularly useful on Carcosa. My players have--thanks to risky psychedelics-- managed to glean the workings of a few rituals, but they are still a little rudderless. I do appreciate the few rituals that mention geographic locations though. I've been thinking about ways to give them more quests.

In the most recent sessions, they inadvertently created a horn-mutation on a lobotomite's forehead. The horn gained psionics and sentience and soon set itself up as a god-king amongst the locals. Now its followers are asking the party to fetch them some pink stones so they can strap them to their heads and look more like God-emperor Horny.  Meanwhile, the "true" king of these locals is trying to get the PCs on its side.

What I need to do soon is to have a small camp be encountered the next time the PCs are out exploring. The camp will have a sorcerer looking for a few humans for sacrifice purposes. The PCs will probably suss this out as evil and work to kill the sorcerer, or maybe they'll get down with evil. It's their choice; we have X-cards and social contracts to protect us. You can choose to do an evil run in New Vegas. It changes the outcome of the game, and makes people's opinions of you start to sour.

Speaking of opinions, you can usually use your words to steer conversations to peaceful outcomes in FONV, or insert expert observations thanks to your skills. I like that. Unlike a game with a reload system, there is no reason to keep the dice out of the equation though.

Freedom. Consequences. Many little things to do everywhere on the map. I do recommend New Vegas style sand-boxing.

Here's further inspiration:

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Monday, January 4, 2021

2d6 Loyalty

Your PC eyes a tough lady in a bar. "Might you be looking for employment?" you say.

She regards you cooly as a bald hobbit rolls some dice. "Mayhap I am. Sure am thirsty though."

"Ah, well,  feel free to buy a drink. I don't imbibe myself."

Well you just missed a social cue. That bald guy was the Dungeon Master. He was rolling 2d6* to see her beginning loyalty. Each time you screw up, that number goes down. Can you guess what happens at zero? Next time, start by buying your henchman a drink.

*: Snake eyes mean they'll rob you at the first opportunity. Boxcars mean they'll follow you fanatically lest you get really murderhoboey.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Too many click-clacks! 3d6 down the line. Once.

I like me some quick character generation. You can roll a 2d6 to get your scores and call it good, or add in a third d6 to find out which one of these scores is your first score (the rest follow in order, as Crom intended). These scores are probably too week for power-fantasy D&Ds.







3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14

3, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14

3, 7, 8, 10, 12, 14

3, 8, 9, 10, 13, 14

3, 8, 10, 10, 13, 15

3, 8, 11, 11, 15, 18


4, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15

5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15

6, 8, 9, 11, 12, 14

7, 9, 10, 13, 14, 14

8, 9, 11, 11, 11, 13

9, 9, 11, 12, 13, 18


5, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15

6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 15

7, 9, 10, 13, 13, 14

8, 9, 10, 13, 13, 15

9, 9, 11, 12, 12, 13

9, 10, 10, 13, 13, 18


6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 15

7, 9, 11, 13, 13, 13

8, 9, 12, 13, 13, 14

9, 9, 11, 14, 14, 15

9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

9, 9, 9, 13, 14, 18


7, 9, 12, 12, 15, 16

8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 13

9, 10, 13, 14, 15, 16

9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15

8, 11, 12, 12, 14, 15

9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 18


3, 7, 10, 12, 15, 18

4, 8, 11, 13, 13, 18

5, 9, 12, 13, 14, 18

6, 10, 12, 13, 15, 15

7, 11, 12, 12, 13, 17

9, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18