Fantasy roleplaying rules, realised as a corpus juris.

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Corpus juris


The referee, proposed by amendment II, can be called the ref or the game master (GM). In the gaming tradition, they are also known as the dungeon master (DM), the labyrinth lord (LL), and various other terms.

The player characters, proposed by amendment V, can be called the PCs for short.

When rolling dice, the notation XdY means to roll X dice, each with Y faces (numbered 1 through Y) and add their results. XdY+Z means to add Z to the result (and similarly for other numerical operations).

The silver pieces and experience points, both proposed by amendment IX, can be denoted sp and XP for short, respectively.

Click for glossary of terms appearing in history and notes sections

The evolution of rules happens partly through play and partly outside it. Play is typically organised into campaigns, where one campaign usually has some sense of unity in referees, players, setting, and when it is played. If a campaign is not otherwise named, these notes will refer to it by the name of the city that served as the main home base for the characters, if applicable, followed by the year in which it was played.

Maastricht ‘18 was the campaign that started off the 3d6 Constitution. Jonatan Kilhamn was the referee; there was a core player troupe of five players, and a few guest players joined some of the sessions. It ran for nine sessions over two weeks.

1. Point of play

1.1 The request we make of players: identify challenging opportunities and apply your wits and skills to achieve as much as you can, given the character you play.

1.2 If a character is no longer interested in adventuring, they should retire and the player should play another character. Retirement need not be forever—perhaps the character is interested in another adventure in the future.

1.2 The request we make of the referee: bring challenging content to the table, and facilitate our engagement with it.

1.3 Establish the particulars of a situation to help the players decide what to do and what to play. Share information about a mission before the PCs sign up for it.

Click for history and notes

From Eero Tuovinen as summarized by David Berg:

  • Establish the particulars of a situation before taking action (ref should both volunteer info and answer questions). Examples:
    • share info about a mission before the PCs sign up for it
    • share info about a dangerous room before the PCs enter it
    • share info about a monster before the PCs enter combat with it

1.4 Opting out can be a strategic choice for the players. Opting out of all adventures forever means the character is not involved in play anymore, but opting out of a particular adventure just means the risk/reward proposition was not good enough. The ref should bring multiple options to a given session.

Click for history and notes

From Eero Tuovinen as summarized by David Berg:

  • Opt out as a strategic choice.
    • Players should not adopt poor risk/reward propositions “because they’re there”. A better option is never far off

1.5 The referee can lead the negotiation of what should be played, in particular by proposing trade-offs that quickly establish a situation everyone is interested in. Example: skipping over the details of supplying an expedition, and instead having the characters pay an eyeballed flat rate and starting the session just outside the expedition’s goal.

2. Rewards and experience

2.1 Any coins, jewels, trinkets, and objects made of precious metals that can easily be sold or melted down count as treasure for the purpose of XP rewards. Artwork, rugs, objects of cultural significance or objects of high craftsmanship that can be sold do too—as long as the sale price is predicated mostly on other things than practical value. Regular weapons, building materials etc. do not count for XP, even if the characters make a fortune hauling them back.

2.2 Magic items and the like count as treasure for XP purposes only if they are sold at the end of the adventure in which they were recovered. If a character holds on to a particular item for another adventure, they will never be able to claim XP for its sale later on.

2.3. Characters also get XP for monetary rewards and gains from their adventures. Even something as mundane as leading a trade caravan through hostile territory for a stake in the transported goods will give XP for the character’s share in the profits. However, pure salaried positions (i.e. a fixed rate per day) don’t give XP, even for dangerous or adventurous work such as bodyguards or soldiers.

2.4 Money and valuables taken or looted from mundane merchants, rulers or citizens do not count as being earned on an adventure.

2.5 Treasure must be brought to “civilization”, or to a secure location, in order to give the XP reward. However, if the location is secure from the dangers of the adventure but financially insecure due to e.g. taxes or mundane thieves, the characters gain the XP even if they ultimately don’t get to spend the money.

2.6 In addition to the basic unit of the silver piece, sp, we take a gold piece to be worth 50sp and a copper piece to be worth 1/10th of an sp. When running pre-published modules for other games with an XP-for-treasure rule similar to amendment IX, the GM is advised to look up what the treasure to XP conversion rate and the XP required per level were in the context it was originally published. Some games had 1 XP for 1gp, and some had 1gp be worth 10sp rather than 50. The GM can then adjust treasure finds accordingly ahead of play, so that the end result is a dungeon worth as much XP as originally intended.

2.7 In addition to the experience awarded for treasure, we also award a small amount for encountering and overcoming foes. This amount is 10 XP per hit die (1d6 HP, or closest equivalent) of the foes.

2.8 In some contexts, it makes sense to negotiate a different measure of success than treasure; also known as “quest XP”. This should be done when something other than money takes on a similar role in that it motivating all characters goes almost without saying. Possible examples might include saving a largely innocent populace from mortal peril, at a rate of 10 XP per person saved.

2.9 Unless otherwise noted, a character gains their second level at 1500 XP, and each subsequent level at double the XP total at which they gained their previous level (so at 3000, 6000, 12000 etc.). No XP is lost by gaining a level; the total just keeps going up.

Click for history and notes

In Maastricht ‘18, these XP limits were thought too harsh, after six sessions in Stonehell and almost no treasure to show for it. We switched to using limits 1/10 as large, and the very next session the players found 9000sp. The limits given above seem to be reasonable for a longer campaign. In a short, limited-time campaign, we recommend that the group decide together how much level progression is desired, and adjust the limits downwards accordingly.

3. Die rolls and resolution

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There is a direct lineage from Eero Tuovinen’s system, explained here.

3.1 We resolve tasks by rolling 1d20+ability score, comparing the result to a difficulty class (DC); a result equal to or higher than the DC is considered a success. This roll is called an ability check; any ability check that resolves how a character passively deals with a situation forced upon them is called a “save”.

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The main reason for using the name “save” at all is tradition; it makes published modules to other games in the DnD vein easier to interpret. A secondary effect is that it is easy to formulate rules and abilities that cover specifically saves but not other checks.

3.2. If an ability check beats the DC by 5 points or more, we consider this a second degree of success. Each increment of 5 gives yet another degree of success. Conversely, when failing a check each full 5 points below the DC is considered another degree of failure. The interpretation of extra degrees of success and failure varies from case to case.

3.3 If a 20 is rolled on the d20 (before the ability score or any other modifications), another d20 is rolled and added to the result. If the second d20 rolls a 20, repeat.

3.5 If a 1 is rolled on the (first) d20, one degree of failure is added regardless of what the result would be otherwise. If there is no other interpretation, this failure might be ignored, or it might instead be scored as a -5 to the roll (effectively replacing the result of ‘1’ by ‘-4’).

3.6 A DC of 20 is considered “normal” difficulty, used for things that a normal adult human could definitely do, but might not succeed at every time. Easier tasks have lower DCs, more difficult tasks higher.

3.7 The DC of a task should be the same for different characters across different times. Differences in preconditions are preferably modelled as a bonus or penalty to the check, like for example a -2 because of injury or fatigue.

3.8 When a character has a large advantage they can roll an advantage die; this is done by rolling an extra die (of the same size, so an extra d20 for regular ability checks) and discounting the worse result. Similarly, a disadvantage die means rolling an extra die and discounting the better result.

4. Characters

4.1 The main ability scores used are i) strength, a generic measure of physical competence, ii) wits, a measure of quick-thinking and alertness, iii) knowledge, a measure of lore and skill, iv) will, a measure of mental fortitude and being in tune with oneself, and v) charisma, a measure of social intelligence.

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Clear linage from Eero Tuovinen on “Primitive DnD”.

4.2 Each attribute is determined by rolling 3d6 when the character is created. A score of 10 is considered that of an average adult human.

4.3 Player characters can have a character class, granting special abilities outside of the ability scores. Characters also have a level, which usually starts at 1 and increases as they gain enough experience points, conferring various upgrades.

4.4 Each character can have a number of special abilities, known as initiations, equal to their level. Some initiations are exclusive to a certain character class, others are available to all characters. The lists of initiations are neither final nor exhaustive; new ones can and should be created for new characters.

4.5 A player character can have other properties or abilities, not covered by their class, if this is accepted by the referee (primarily) and the group (secondarily).

4.6 Some properties of a character are mainly determined by their fictional background; to the extent that this background is left unspecified, those properties might be as well.

4.7 The three basic character classes are i) fighters, who excel at combat; ii) sages, who excel in knowledge, and iii) adventurers, who are more flexible and might specialise in other fields.

4.8 A new character must be i) human, ii) from the “civilised world” or Gaul, and iii) relatively short on money. Any player who wishes to create a character different from this must have their concept accepted by the referee. Any player who wishes to use a non-standard character concept that has already been used once may only do so on a roll of 1 on a d6.

Click for history and notes

Points i) and iii) are almost universal, while point ii) is specific to the “fantasy Europe” setting used in Maastricht ‘18. Its intent, when originally laid down by the referee of Maastricht ‘18, was to clearly delineate a part of the world that considers itself to be “the civilized world”, and have all player characters be either from there, or from the pre-approved exception of Gaul.

4.9 A player who participates in a session is rewarded with an opportunity to slightly improve a character they played in that session. This is done by rolling a d20 against any ability; on a roll higher than the ability score, the ability is raised by one point. On a lower roll, the player may try again against another ability. They only get to try to improve each ability once; if all fail, no such improvement happens that session.

4.10 A character has certain skills, rated from 0 to 100, where 0 means practically unaware of the skill and 100 means as well-versed as a regular human can get. Some ability checks are modified by the skill value, meaning the ability score is multiplied by the skill value interpreted as a percentage.

4.11 A character’s skills are not recorded exhaustively. When a skill is used for the first time, the group considers the character’s background and determine a reasonable skill level for them. Skills can go up and down according to the group’s shared view of the character.

Click for history and notes

In Eero’s explanation of his skill system, he also includes the option to “frivolously” improve a skill instead of an ability score (cf 4.9). That rule might find its way into our rules, if someone makes a push for it.

5. Combat

5.1 At the start of the combat, each combatant rolls 1d20+wits for their initiative score. Each round, each character gets to act in order from highest initiative to lowest. Initiative scores carry over to the next round, and the combat rounds continue until combat ends. In the fiction, all action is considered to occur roughly simultaneously, so having your turn before another player represents literal initiative, and efficacy.

5.2. In addition to the one action allowed at their initiative count, a character can use their initiative score for extra actions or reactions.

5.3 The character who starts the round with the highest initiative can take -10 to their score after their turn; then they get to take another turn at their new value.

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This is known as “superior initiative”.

5.4 A character can take an initiative penalty to declare a reaction to another action. The more natural the reaction, the smaller the penalty. Some examples: take -2 initiative to defend with a shield, shout a warning, or draw a weapon; take -5 to order subordinates to attack, attack an enemy who lets their guard down, or defend with a shield after the attack roll has been made; take -10 to make a riposte (for a character trained in such) or attack on a clear order when fighting inside an established chain of command.

5.5 At the end of the round, the current bout of mêlée ends, with all combatants disengaging: circling each other, catching their breath, surveying the other side. Characters can perform actions that fit within the brief respite: knowledge checks, talking, perhaps even producing items from their packs or drinking potions. Physical actions taken between rounds generally cost initiative points. The next round starts as soon as either side demands it.

5.6 A character can try to re-orient themselves between rounds, which causes them to re-roll their initiative. However, they don’t get to take their usual turn in the upcoming round; only reactions.

Click for history and notes

In Maastricht ‘18, players could decide on their turn to spend their action to re-orient, despite the written rules we used having essentially the above reading. I (Jonatan) propose the rule as written is given an honest try before we decide which way to go.

5.7 Casting a memorised spell must be declared between rounds, and is considered to take effect on the character’s own turn in the new round. Other characters can notice that the magician is trying to cast a spell from the start of the round, if for example they want to interrupt the casting.

5.8 If one side is unable or unwilling to withdraw from the bout, for example keeping their enemy locked in wrestling, they can force the bout to continue. Everyone involved takes -10 to their initiative score, and possible loses some HP, and start a new round immediately. They are not able to take any of the usual between-rounds actions. If all combatants drop to 0 initiative, the bout ends with the combatants forcibly separating as their bodies give away, or retreating under the power of pure instinct.

5.9 If a character’s initiative drops to 0, they are disoriented or flat-footed; they’re uncertain about the quick events and momentarily distracted. This is a dangerous state: it allows opportunity attacks against the character (as if they dropped their guard) and disallows reactions. It also gives a penalty die to re-orienting rolls.

5.10 When some of the characters have the advantage of surprise, the initial initiative can be skewed to represent this. A prepared attacker triggering their ambush at the opportune moment might get an advantage die to their initiative, or forgo the roll and use their wits+20. Conversely, completely flat-footed victims might get a penalty die or even have their initiative set to 0, which means that their first rounds are necessarily lost in re-orienting.

5.11 Henchmen and other NPC lackeys don’t roll an initiative of their own; instead, they always have an initiative score of 1. However, if they are part of a clear chain of command, they can be ordered to act by a superior: they will then act at the initiative value of the command instead of their own. If a character with a “proper” initiative roll follows a command, they do it in addition to their regular action, but in return pay initiative points like an ordinary reaction.

5.12 Monsters and NPC have a morale score ranging from 2–12. The following guidelines are used to figure out morale scores:

5.13 Monsters and NPCs may flee or give up based on a morale check. This check is made with 2d6, and a result equal to or under their morale score means they do not break. Morale checks are made when they are:

5.14 Regular attacks—both mêlée and ranged—are resolved through strength checks; the DC of an attack roll is the armour class (AC) of the target.

5.15 The AC of an unarmoured but unconstrained human is 20. Most creatures take -5 if they are blind, -5 if they are constrained, -10 if they are unawares; they gain a bonus of +2 for light armour up to +10 for heavy armour.

5.16 Characters who are fighting an opponent with shorter reach, for example because of a smaller weapon, gain +1 AC against that opponent.

5.17 A character defending themselves actively makes a strength check and uses the result instead of their AC if it is higher. A character who uses their main combat action to actively defend themselves keeps an improved AC for the remainder of the round. A character who defends themselves as a reaction—which requires either a shield or some special training—only uses it for the one attack.

5.18 When an attack roll against a character succeeds, the attacker rolls their damage and the defender subtracts it from their current HP, if they have any. A regular armed attack from a human deals d6 damage. Merely falling to exactly zero HP does nothing in these rules, except leaving you open to injury from later attacks.

5.19 Extra degrees of success on attack rolls can be used to achieve extra effects, such as driving an enemy backwards.

Click for history and notes

The specific effect of driving one’s foe back was used extensively in the fight against the giant pelicans in the Sky-Blind Spire. One extra success let the character drive a pelican slightly backwards; two successes were required to drive them out a window. Once outside, only one pelican could attack in through the window, forcing another to hover behind it without acting, while two humans could attack the one sticking its head in.

5.20 Four extra degrees of success on an attack roll (i.e. beating the AC by 20) can be used to score a direct hit, bypassing the opponents hit points.

5.21 When making a ranged attack against a target who is in mêlée with another character, there is a risk that the attack hits the wrong target. If the characters have a clear facing—for example one of them is defending an exit, keeping it behind them—then firing from straight behind one of them has a 1/10 chance of hitting the one further away and a 9/10 chance of hitting the one closer. When firing into the same situation from the side, there is a 6/10 chance of hitting one’s chosen target. By spending a full round aiming, the probability of hitting one’s chosen target is increased a maximum of 2/10.

5.22 When making a successful ranged attack, the player can choose to have this attack roll count without letting an arrow fly; they record the successful attack but don’t roll any damage. They can choose to roll this damage and add it at any later point in time when their target takes damage. However, if they lose track of their target all such “stored” ranged attacks are lost.

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Adapted from the Arrow Threat rule by Sandra “2097”. The above take has less focus on the cinematic idea that several different ways of describing the action work equally fine as long as the mechanical effect makes sense, and more on the idea that taking down an enemy with one carefully aimed projectile can be both cooler and more realistic than firing loads and loads of arrows.

6. Hit points, injuries and healing

6.1 A character usually has a set number of hit dice (HD): having X HD means ones hit point total after a rest is Xd6.

6.2 Player characters have 1 HD per level.

6.3 HP can be made to represent guard, awareness, fatigue, fighting-spirit, divine protection—any, all or none of these things. How to describe hit point loss is up to each player, but unless a character is actually injured, which usually requires running out of HP, the descriptions shouldn’t include anything more than very light bruises and scratches.

6.4 A character’s hit points may be re-rolled when they take a short rest. For the player characters, just ten minutes in a relatively safe spot is enough to qualify. When re-rolling, the new value is used even if it is lower than the character’s previous total.

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In Maastricht ‘18, we had several situations where one of the players wanted to take a short rest while others would prefer not to re-roll their HP, with suggestions like “we run up and down the stairs to avoid resting”. We played it strict as “if someone rests, everyone rests”, while the tough fucker initiation (cf 7.2) allowed a character to avoid re-rolling. However, it seems weird that anyone would want to avoid resting, so 6.4 was changed to give everyone the choice of re-rolling.

6.5 Each short rest taken gives the character one point of fatigue. Each point of fatigue makes the character roll one advantage die on their hit point re-roll. For example, a character with 2d6 HP taking their third short rest has two fatigue points already, and thus rolls 4d6, dropping the two highest results; then they gain a third fatigue point. Getting a good night’s sleep resets the fatigue counter, and the character re-rolls their HP without disadvantage dice in the morning.

6.6 When a character is hurt and is not protected by hit points, they will be injured. They must roll two injury saves: a strength save to determine the severity and a will save to determine whether they are still standing. For regular attacks, the DC of both saves is 20 plus the amount of damage “overflow” when their hit points ran out.

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The injury rules are a natural result of wanting characters with hit points being protected from injury, but not wanting characters go instantly from fighting fit to dead at 0 hit points. The original implementation is from Eero Tuovinen.

6.7 Passing the strength injury save gives the character a minor wound. Failing means the character either dies outright, or they get a major wound—player’s choice.

6.8 Passing the will injury save means the character keeps it together enough to keep fighting for now; failing means they collapse or pass out due to pain and fatigue. The player can choose to fail this save intentionally if they have no interest in staying in the fight.

6.9 Minor wounds (as well as major wounds) can vary a lot, and the particulars are generally decided by referee based on what caused the injury. They have to be real injuries (as opposed to the superficial descriptions that accompany HP loss) but the character should generally remain upright and combat capable at least after a short rest, if not right away. The default go-to minor wound is a shallow cut which gives a -2 to heavy physical tasks until the next long rest, and which might grow infected unless properly treated.

6.10 A major wound is chosen as an alternative to outright death, and while it can be better it can also be worse. The referee has free reign to think up whatever injury suits the situation, which will almost always include serious ability score loss. The player can choose to have their character die from their wounds later on, should they tire of playing a character whose effectiveness has been so reduced. Many injuries cause the character’s condition to worsen over time (e.g. through blood loss), causing a new set of injury saves later unless properly treated.

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The discussion leading to the decision of giving the ref “free reign to think up whatever injury” can be found here.

6.11 A character taking a major wound must make a mark on their character sheet. Any character having as many such marks as their level cannot choose to take another major injury; should they fail a strength injury check they die outright.

6.12 Injuries can come from many sources that are not regular attack rolls from armed enemies. Some effects can be ruled to bypass hit points, forcing the character to make injury saves despite having HP left. Even those kinds of effects can be stopped by sacrificing HP, but the cost is by default very high; for example, a direct hit (four extra degrees of success on an attack roll) can be bypassed by paying 10 HP per level or HD of the attacker.

7. Fighters

7.1 Fighters gain a bonus to all combat-related checks equal to their level. (Among the combat-related checks we count the initiative roll, all attack and defence rolls, and injury saves.)

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In Maastricht ‘18 we only had the fighter bonus apply to initiative, attack and defense rolls.

Precedents for fighter-exclusive initiations

7.2 Tough fucker: you roll d8 hit dice instead of d6, and you can keep your last hit point total after re-rolling instead of having to take the new value.

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In Maastricht ‘18 the rule was slightly different, see notes for 6.4.

7.3 Tactician: you are keen-eyed and thoughtful as a fighter. When in a fight you get one free “tactical” each combat round. This action can be used for e.g. awareness checks to deduce the opponents’ abilities or plans, or shouting orders.

7.4 Berserk: you are probably a barbarian of some sort. You can go berserk in a fight to gain +2 to hit in direct, savage mêlée. Berserking takes a few minutes pre-battle, or it can be triggered by getting injured mid-battle. You cannot stop berserking before the battle is over, and while berserking you will always attack the closest enemy available.

7.5 Weapons training: you gain +1 to AC when using a weapon with longer reach than your opponent; you gain +1 to hit when using a lighter weapon than your opponent; you roll 1d8 instead of 1d6 damage when using a two-handed weapon; you gain +1 initiative when attacking with ranged weapon unhindered.

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During Maastricht ‘18 this was floated as a suggestion for a general rule, to differentiate between weapon types. Then, we only adopted the +1 AC for longer reach (cf 5.16) meaning this initiation will stack up an additional +1 AC. Jonatan’s reasoning for not adopting all of these for everyone was essentially an aesthetic preference for general incompetence among non-fighters—people just generally don’t fight very well, so different weapons don’t do that much difference except for people who have specifically trained with them.

7.6 Spear training: when using a spear, you gain +1 to hit, and +2 to AC against opponents with shorter reach than you.

7.7 Longsword training: when using a longsword, you gain +1 AC against opponents with shorter reach than you, and you gain one advantage die on your damage rolls.

7.8 Bow training: when using a bow, taking an extra action only costs you 5 initiative points, and you may do so any round in which you act before all your opponents.

8. Sages

8.1 Sages gain a bonus to all knowledge checks equal to their level.

Precedents for sage-exclusive initiations

8.2 Ordained: you have been ordained as a priest, and can therefore perform effective blessings.

8.3 Goetia: you have studied the basic arcane arts. You know one 1st-level spell, you can learn more 1st-level spells, and you can memorise spells to cast them quickly.

8.4 Pyromancer: you have studied as a fire mage. You can learn fire-related spells of any level up to your own character level.

8.5 Illusionist: you have studied as an illusion mage. You can learn illusion-related spells of any level up to your own character level.

8.6 Artifact knowledge: with some basic study, you can identify the properties of magical items and potions.

9. Adventurers

9.1 Adventures gain a re-roll on any d20 roll the player makes, usable as many times as the character’s level per session.

Precedents for adventurer-exclusive initiations

9.2 Circus acrobat: you gain a bonus equal to your level to any checks that involve whole-body movement, contortionism and similar things. It works in combat, but only when doing swashbuckling-style moves instead of fighting like a reasonable person—i.e. the difficulty of the check probably goes up as well.

9.3 Prepared: you may account for any undetermined medium-sized items in your pack when setting out on an expedition. Except when in direct danger, you can make a knowledge check, DC 20, to rifle through your pack and find that you happened to bring this thing you need right now. If it’s costly, retroactively pay the money you must have used to buy it back in town.

9.4 Keen eye: you gain a bonus equal to your level to any checks involving searching for hidden things.

10. Other initiations

10.1 Wanderer: you get your level as a bonus to knowing about people, places and current events.

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Basically a limited version of the Sage’s class ability. If a Sage took this initiation, the bonuses would probably stack.

10.2 Patient trapper: you are skilled at hunting animals with traps. When travelling the wilderness, you can reduce your overland speed by 25% to set traps as you go. If you return to the same area within three days, you may roll as if hunting, again reducing travelling speed by 25%, to empty the traps.

10.3 Haggler: when you have ample time to survey the market for the best deal on a particular thing, you may roll a d20. A result below your charisma score means you manage 10% off the listed price.

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First used by Roos, leader of the Maastricht Magician’s Guild of the Rose, in Maastricht ‘18. She handled almost all acquisitions on behalf of the guild and its members.

11. Priests and blessings

11.1 An ordained priest can ask for the Lord’s blessing over a person, place or item. The priest must specify his purpose: do they ask for the Lord’s blessing to aid in their scourging of the undead, or for personal gain?

11.2 The prayers and rituals take about 30 minutes to complete, and the blessing lasts until one sunrise and one sunset has passed (in either order).

11.3 Asking for the Lord’s blessing for a selfish or ungodly purpose, regardless of whether it is given, gives the priest one point of penance. Each point of penance counts as as point of fatigue for the purposes of hit point rolls.

11.4 Asking for the Lord’s blessing for a just and good purpose, and then taking actions to fulfil that purpose, removes one point of penance.

11.5 When subject to the Lord’s blessing, a character gets +1 to all checks and saves made in the course of pursuing the original purpose.

11.6 Undead creatures and demons are repelled by the Lord’s blessing, and it is extra effective. The degree of this effect is determined by the level of the priest and the rank (HD) of the monster. For weaker priests and stronger undead, the only extra effect is defensive, like +1 to AC. At equal levels, the bonus can be +1 to damage dealt. Weaker undead could be warded off completely by a high-level priest, unable to touch the blessed at all.

12. Magic

12.1 In addition to any other magic-related skills, each spell that characters could conceivably learn and cast is represented as a skill of its own. Naturally, almost all characters have a 0% skill rating for all spells.

12.2 A character who knows a spell can cast it as a ritual. This takes 1 hour per spell level, requires some amount of ritual components or implements, and succeeding two skill checks: one for knowledge, on for will, both modified by the skill rating, both against DC 20.

12.3 A character with Goetia (or some other similar initiation) can prepare spells. This takes 2 hours, and lets them memorise spells for easy casting. Casting a prepared spell is quick, and only requires a d100 roll under the spell skill rating—meaning a spell known at 100% succeeds automatically.

12.4 Preparing spells a second time in the same day gives one point of fatigue, similar to taking a short rest.

12.5 A character can only prepare as many spells as their level. Furthermore, these “spell slots” are also limited to one at each spell level (or lower). (E.g. a 4th-level Sage could prepare one spell each of levels 1, 2, 3 and 4; they could also choose to instead prepare four spells of levels 1, 2, 2 and 4.)

12.6 The same spell can be prepared multiple times (taking up multiple spell slots).

12.7 In order to prepare spells or cast them as rituals, a character needs access to their spell book, or equivalent. This is taken to be their complete works on their understanding of magic.

12.8 A character with a spell book of their own can research one new spell every time they gain a level, as well as every time they make a find enabling a breakthrough. The typical magical find is the spell book of a magician from another culture, another time, or another school of magic. The specific subject of their research determines which spell they learn.

12.9 Spell research takes 4d6 days per spell level, and takes up their time to the extent that they cannot do meaningful work in the meantime. If they need to attend to their own shopping, cooking, laundry etc the time requirement is doubled. This basic time requirement gives the character a skill rating of 50% in the new spell.

12.10 A character with Goetia (or some similar initiation) can choose to do basic exploratory research; they then learn a new random 1st-level spell.

12.11 A character with an initiation for a specific magic school can focus their research there; they then learn the next spell in that school’s curriculum when they gain a level.

12.12 A character who has access to the writings of another magician can focus their research there; they then learn one of that magician’s spells (that they did not already know), determined at random.

12.13 A character who has access to a mentor in the magic arts can do research under their tutelage; they then learn a specific spell of the mentor’s choosing, at half the mentor’s own skill rating. This consumes the mentor’s time as well as the student’s.

12.14 Focused academic study of a spell gives 1d6 points of skill improvement per full day spent.

12.15 A character who tried to cast at least one spell during a session gets an extra improvement roll at the end of the session. This roll is not for abilities; instead they can try to improve one spell skill rating. The player rolls a d100: if the result is higher than their current rating, they get the result as their new rating; if it is lower, they improve it by 1d6 points instead.

13. Exploration and travel

13.1 One exploration turn is 10 minutes long; this unit is defined purely for convenient reference. A typical result of a successful ability check in exploration, e.g. searching for hidden doors, is that the task succeeds in a set number of turns, while allowing for extra degrees of success to reduce the number of turns taken.

13.2 A burning torch lasts for 6 turns, a small candle for 18 turns, and a lantern will last 24 turns on a small flask of oil.

13.3 The referee tracks the in-game time, and the characters do not necessarily know the exact time of day (especially not when exploring underground). The referee will make judgment calls on how long time exploration, mapping, discussions and similar tasks take.

13.4 An unencumbered character travels at a base rate of 24 miles per day over country roads. Travelling off-road over plains, or following trails through what is otherwise wilderness, reduces this to 18 miles. Travelling over deserts, hills or through forests brings it down to 12 miles, and through jungles, mountains or swamps an unencumbered character only marks 8 miles per day.

13.4 Rain, snow or high winds reduce distance travelled to 1/2 the going rate, and full-on storm conditions reduce it to 1/3.

13.5 Depending on the locale, the referee will roll encounter checks with a given frequency and probability. The typical setup for overland travel is 1/3 probability of an encounter, rolled once per day plus once per 6 miles travelled. The typical setup for dungeon exploration is 1/6 probability, rolled either once per hour (quieter dungeons) or once per turn (more active dungeons).

13.6 Hunting animals for food in the wilderness requires a strength check and a ranged weapon, or alternatively a knowledge check if traps are used, modified by the hunting skill, against DC 20.

13.7 On plains the hunting DC is decreased by 5, and in jungles and forests the DC is decreased by 10. In the winter the DC is increased by 5 everywhere except in deserts, where the DC is increased by 5 regardless of season.

13.8 A successful roll means that 1d4 rations’ worth of food has been laid down. Successful ranged hunting lessens the distance travelled that day by 1d4*25% (multiple hunters each roll and use the worst result among them); unsuccessful hunting takes all day. Hunting with traps takes all day regardless of outcome. Each extra success can be used to find 1 extra ration, or to give an advantage die to the distance reduction roll.

13.9 Foraging for edible plants and mushrooms is resolved the same way as hunting, with these modifications: the distance travelled is the same as for ranged hunting, but knowledge is used, no particular equipment is required, and the DC is increased by 5.

13.10 Water is easy to come by in most settings. If the characters come across water at least once a day, and have the carrying capacity of one ration per person, there’s no need to track the drinking and refilling closely.

14. Equipment and encumbrance

14.1 Players should write down what their characters are carrying, and preferably where each item is carried.

14.2 The referee can call for an encumbrance audit at any time. If any characters are found to be carrying much more than they should be able to, some of their gear is retroactively found to have been left behind. Which things are kept is decided by the group as a whole, making an honest attempt at figuring out which things the party would have prioritised when they left some things behind.

14.3 For purposes of encumbrance, equipment is measured in stones. A stone is technically an old unit of weight, equal to 14 lb or about 6.3 kg. In this game, that value is used as a guideline, but 1 stone is also a more abstract measure of how encumbered a character is by their equipment. Sometimes it matters more whether the stuff can be strapped to a backpack, for instance, than its exact weight. The guidelines for stones can be bartered around somewhat.

Click for history and notes

These encumbrance rules (14.3 through 14.13) are directly lifted from this character sheet, intended for use with DnD 5e, by Sandra “2097”: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Ly-2ps0cPdMCumpp7apOh8aIneWcuwc_/view?usp=sharing (The link is a re-host; I believe the original is available somewhere at Sandra’s page idiomdrottning.org but I have lost the link.)

14.4 Clothes and light armour count as 0 stones when worn. A chainmail shirt is 1 stone, full chainmail armour 3 stone, and full plate armour 4 stone.

14.5 A backpack is worth 1 stone when filled with up to 15 small things, 2 stone when filled with up to 30.

14.6 One ration of food counts as 2 small things.

14.7 Holding or wearing a few medium-sized item, such as a sword and a small shield, counts for 1 stone. Holding or wearing more than three counts for 1 stone more, and holding or wearing more than 6 in this fashion is practically impossible.

14.8 Big things can be carried by strapping them outside the backpack. This counts for stones as follows: 1 big thing: 1 stone; 2–3 big things: 2 stones, 4–5 big things: 3 stones.

14.9 Some examples of a small-sized items in a pack: a small book or scroll, a bundle of candles, an item of clothing, a torch, an object weighing about 1 lb.

14.10 Some examples of medium-sized items: a bow and a quiver, a sword, a bundle of torches, a hammer and a crowbar, a pouch holding up to 5 small things, an object weighing about 5 lb.

14.11 Some examples of big things: a bedroll, a small light tent, 50’ of rope, a 1-gallon waterskin (2 rations of water), an object weighing about 9 lb.

14.12 Large and heavy weapons like greatclubs, heavy crossbows and pikes can be strapped onto a backpack as big things, but if carried at the side, ready to use, they count for 1 stone by themselves.

14.13 A small purse with 50 coins (or other tiny things, like gemstones) can be kept in a backpack as a small thing, and a larger pouch of up to 250 coins can be worn on one’s person as a medium thing.

14.13 The encumbrance level limits a character’s athletic abilities. A character can carry their strength score / 3 (rounded to the nearest integer) in stones without being affected. Carrying more than that, they are encumbered: they travel overland at 2/3 of their usual speed, they take a disadvantage die to some athletic checks, and are outright unable to do others. This holds true for carrying up to the character’s strength score x 2/3. If they carry one more stone than this, they cannot move faster than walking, they travel overland at 1/3 of their usual speed, and cannot perform almost any athletic tasks. Carrying even more than this is virtually impossible, but a character can drag a number of stones equal to their strength minus the amount they are carrying.

14.14 If the price of something is not apparent to the group or the referee given the setting, the price lists in Lamentations of the Flame Princess work well.

Click for history and notes

Maastricht ‘18 used the LotFP price lists.

14.15 The general classes of armour are leather/hide (0 stones, AC 22, 25sp), half-chain (1 stone, 24 AC, 50sp, ), full chain (3 stone, 26 AC, 100sp), half-plate (2 stone, 28 AC, 500sp) and full plate (4 stone, 30 AC, 1000sp).

Click for history and notes

Prices are based on those from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. In Maastricht ‘18 we had the encumbrance values of full chain and half-plate switched around, but some players remarked that while chainmail is effectively carried on one’s shoulders, plate mail is strapped on in a way that distributes the load.

15. Food, water and exhaustion

15.1 Food and water is counted (separately) in rations. Every character needs one ration of food and one ration of water per day to function normally.

15.2 Going without food for 12 hours means you’re fasting, and take a -2 penalty to all checks. One can fast indefinitely, keeping the -2 but otherwise fully functional, as long as they eat at least half a ration every 24 hours. To end a fast, they must eat normal rations for as many days as the fast lasted, up to a maximum of a month.

15.3 A character who is fasting can go further, into a state of starvation. This happens after strength/3 days of strain (minimum 1). This “clock” counting up to three resets only when fasting ends. Going completely without food, or physically exerting oneself while fasting, both count as one day of strain. These effects accumulate, so going without any food while exerting oneself counts as two days of strain at once.

15.4 When starving, each day of strain gives another -2 penalty to all checks, adding to the one already given by fasting. Starvation ends after eating normally for as many days as the starvation lasted; the character then returns to a state of fasting which in turn ends after eating normally for as many days as the pre-starvation fasting lasted.

15.5 Going without water for a day requires a Strength save against DC 20. On a success, the character takes a -4 penalty to all checks (just like the food-related penalties); on a failure, they get a -6 penalty. Drinking water (one and a half ration) resets this penalty. If they fail three such checks before drinking their fill, they die.

15.6 Going without sleep gives a -4 exhaustion penalty to all checks per 24-hour period starting after the first. Sleeping well removes this penalty completely, and sleeping unwell brings it to -2. As long as the character has any exhaustion penalty, staying awake when sitting or lying down requires a Will check at DC 25 each exploration turn.

15.7 If a character racks up a combined total penalty from fasting, starvation, dehydration and sleep deprivation as big as half their Strength score, their overland speed is halved, and they start each day with one point of fatigue (which means they have one disadvantage die on their morning HP roll). If it reaches their full Strength score, they have to make an injury save (DC 20) per day.

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