Sunday, March 5, 2017

Con of the North Tekumel Track post

The weekend of February 10-12 was the third year that I organized a Tekumel Track at Con of the North, and this was by far the most biggest with 60 hours of games scheduled. Every time slot had two or three games. The con gave us a big room with eight tables, which was much different than last year's small room with two tables. I was very excited when I first walked in. Overwhelmed in fact. Now they were all round tables,  and we had asked for a 6x10 foot square table for the two miniatures events. (Jeff Berry got three of the four tables moved, and then got the last table from the con staff to get it changed out. He was helpful with logistics all weekend.)

We had many first-time Tekumel players, and only three events didn't run due to lack of players or scheduling snafus. We had several out-of-state attendees to the Track, including Krista Donnelly who ran two games, Bill Acheson who ran two miniatures events, Victor Raymond who had three games, Stephen Vossler who ran a city-building tile game, and Alva Hardison who ran a game.

Thanks to the contributions to making things run smoothly. Stephen Vossler brought his archive of Tekumel art, which he plastered on one wall of the room. Jeff Berry made signs using Lady Vrisa's arrest warrant to place around the con (shown above), as well as the previously-mentioned furniture moving. Don Kaiser printed a schedule.

Next year, we are thinking of having more miniature events, better signage, and yet more games.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Alternate Divine Spellcasting for the OSR

I've been working on one of my Holy Grails: a Noun/Verb improvised magic system for the OSR, Chivalry and Sorcery's elemental magic and Ars Magica. I co-wrote a similar system for GURPS with Steffan O'Sullivan. This system also takes some inspiration from Whitehack and Freebooters of the Frontier (DW/PbtA), two great freeform magic systems.

Using hit points to power spells come from Whitehack. I decided to concentrate on something simpler than all of magic: Clerical Magic. It has a narrower focus on certain types of spells, making the end result simpler.

So here is my first cut at Holy Words.


Clerics have access to the Holy Words, words imbued with great power. They come from the ancient language of the Gods. By combining Holy Words, the Cleric can create miracles to aid their comrades. Miracles have a cost in hit points (HP). Which Words are accessible to Clerics depends on the deity they worship. Below are the Holy Words for the generic Cleric from the Original Game.


Words of Action

Words of Being

Words of Action are verbs; Words of Being are nouns. If you combine an Action Word with a Being Word, then you are making a Holy Sentence, which then turns into an effect in the world, under the control of the cleric. So, BANISH WOUNDS will heal someone, SPEAK ANIMAL allows communication with animals, etc. Not all combinations will make sense (e.g. SPEAK DISEASE).

To create a miracle, the cleric chooses the Words to use, states what effect they want to create within the scope of the Holy Sentence, negotiates with the GM to nail down specifics and the cost in HP, and then pays the cost to create the miracle.

Verb/Noun Combinations to emulate specific spells:

Dispel Evil = BANISH EVIL
Turn Undead = BANISH DEATH
Detect Evil = DETECT EVIL

I would let 1st level Clerics know two random Words of Action and two random Words of Being.


That's it. I made these fueled off HP, but you could easily give Clerics miracle slots or a Divine Favor usage die (what I'm going to use for The Black Hack) or some other scheme.



After some discussion on G+, I'm adding a list of suggested costs for various types of effects. This are modified from Freebooters of the Frontier, which also has an interesting freeform magic system.



½ HP
1 HP
2 HP
3 HP
5 HP

0 HP
d6 usage die (rounds)
½ HP
d6 usage die (turns)
1 HP
d8 usage die (hours)
3 HP
5 HP

0 HP
½ HP
1 HP
Far Away
2 HP
3 HP

0 HP
One target
½ HP
Close zone
1 HP
Nearby area
2 HP

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Two Fantasy Races for The Black Hack

In my effort to create more races for The Black Hack, I present Goblins and Fishfolk.

To make Goblins a more suitable race for cosmopolitan fantasy cities, I present the reimagined Goblin. I was inspired by the goblins from GURPS Fantasy Folk fantasy race creation rules.


Goblins are a magical race that is attracted to magic, magic items, and wizards. They often take service with mages and wizards. There are few great goblin magic users, but each goblin has a couple spells they know, and many become hedge mages. They cannot lie, though hiding the truth is certainly possible. They often become merchants and traders, especially of magic items and potions.


Attribute Modifiers: DEX +1, INT +1, STR -2

Hedge Magic: At first level, roll for 2 random 1st or 2nd levels spells. They get spell slots for the spells they have (i.e. if they get two 1st level spells, they have two 1st level spell slots; if they have a 1st level and a 2nd level spell, they get a 1st level slot and a 2nd level slot). Reroll spells when leveling up.

Darkvision: Goblins can see in very low light conditions.

Slow Advancement: It takes 1 additional major event to level up.


Because I want to run undersea adventures eventually, I made the Fishfolk.


These creatures under the sea and swim in schools, looking for prey. They are chaotic creatures that hate the surface dwellers. They don't build structures underwater, but live in sea caves and kelp forests. They use simple weapons and tools. Their favorite food is sea mammals. Fishfolk are the natural enemies of Merfolk.


Attribute Modifiers: STR +1, CON +1, CHA -2

Amphibious: Can breathe and see underwater, and can swim at normal speed (anywhere Nearby in one move).

Speak with Fish: Can communicate with fish. On passing a CHA test, the fish will follow orders.

Darkvision: Fishfolk can see in very low light conditions underwater.

Water Dependence: Must be immersed in water for an hour a day. They take d6 damage every day they are unable to immerse.

Slow Advancement: It takes 1 additional major event to level up.


Friday, October 28, 2016

Project Update: The Narcosa Stashbox, a psychedelic hack of The Black Hack

So the new title of this project is The Narcosa Stashbox. I'm leaving off 'Hack' from most of my titles now.

I've finished class design and now I'm working on a point crawl for Hashishastan. Each class has a special Narcosan feature that involves sex, drugs, or rock and roll. Here are a few classes to satisfy your cravings.



The Drunken Master is a martial artist whose fighting ability increases as they get more drunk.

Starting HP: d8 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d8
Weapons & Armor: Any and none.
Attack Damage: 1d6 Unarmed or Improvising/1d4 Weapons

Drunken-style Kung Fu: As part of their action or move, a Drunken Master can drink one mug of beer, a glass of wine, or a shot of liquor, and receive a +2 to the physical stat of their choice (STR, DEX, or CON), while taking a -2 penalty on a random mental stat (INT, WIS, or CHA). Two drinks counts as Advantage. A Drunken Master can drink a maximum of one drink for every odd level for this effect. This effect lasts for one hour per drink consumed.

Stumble-Drunk: When drunk, the Drunken Master gains 2 AP per drink to a maximum of 2 AP for every odd level for this effect. Only usable when wearing no armor.

Recuperating Coma: If the Drunken Master has stat drain, disease, poison, or damage, as an action they may enter a Recuperating Coma. They immediately fall down and pass out until all their drinks have worn off (one hour per drink). In each hour, they can cure a disease or a poison. If they are still in the Coma after curing all diseases and poison, they can heal d8 + the Drunken Master's Level of stat damage or HP in the remaining time.

Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for CON or DEX.



Illusionists are makers of fantastical dreamscapes both pleasant and horrific.

Starting HP: d4 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d4
Weapons & Armor: 1-Handed Swords and Staff.
Attack Damage: 1d4 / 1 Unarmed or Improvising.

Illusion Spellcasting: Beginning at first level, Illusionists can cast a number of Illusionist Spells per day, see the Spellcasting section, and they use the Daily Conjurers Spells table.

Disbelieve: Rolls with Advantage to disbelieve illusions and avoid damage or the effects of illusions.

Out of their HeadsWhile under the influence of psychedelic drugs, an Illusionist can make their hallucinations become illusions once per day per level. They can do damage (1d8) if believed (test WIS).

Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for INT or WIS.

Illusionists start with a large spellbook containing a total of 1d4+2 spells from the Level 1 and 2 Illusionist Spell lists.



Starting HP: d10 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d10
Weapons & Armor: Any and All
Attack Damage: 1d8 / 1d6 Unarmed or Improvising

Shake It Off: Once per hour, whilst in combat, a Warrior can regain d8 lost HP.

Fighting Machine: As part of their action a Warrior can make 1 attack per level.

Monster Phage: A warrior can eat the heart or other organ of a monster to acquire a skill, ability, or an immunity from an ability of that monster. The warrior starts able to keep one ability at a time. The next monster ability taken erases the previous. At 4th, 7th, and 10th levels, the warrior can keep an additional ability. Make a CON test after eating; on a fail the warrior is nauseated for 1d4 turns – all physical tests are at +1.


Roll to see if attributes increase, roll twice for STR or DEX.


Monster Phage was inspired by the Strong class from the excellent Whitehack. Thank you, Jackie Chan, for bringing the Drunken Master to life. I came up with "Out of their Heads" in my own drug-fueled haze. #Narcosa

Saturday, October 22, 2016

My first AD&D character for a long time

Back in the day, I played AD&D 1E for about 2 months in college. I wanted to get into a friend's The Fantasy Trip campaign, and so I joined his AD&D campaign in order to secure a seat. I played a druid, and at the time, I was appalled by the weird shit. You, see, at the time, I was a Serious Gamer, and the frivolous things of AD&D annoyed me. I felt it was a joke that my druid could have a trained rhino that I rode into battle that had a +1 enchanted horn. I never played AD&D again, until I got into the OSR. And that was first Oriental Adventures and later 2nd Ed, so not straight AD&D and not 1E.

So this is my first straight AD&D 1E character that I've rolled up since 1980. I did this in preparation for a new AD&D campaign a friend is running through the A1-4 series Scourge of the Slave Lords. I wanted to get used to the rules, especially multiclassing, so I wouldn't be completely lost when I created my character.

I think I did everything right. The attributes were rolled 4d6 drop lowest. The attributes that weren't up to the minimum required for an Illusionist, I raised to the minimum. I swapped the two 17s into INT and DEX to meet the Illusionist minimums. I traded one of my 7 minimum 1st level spells for 4 cantrips (it was a stupid spell anyway).

Here's what I have. I like him.

Legbar Gimbootle, 1st level Gnome Illusionist/Thief

STR:  9
INT:   15  17
WIS:  10
DEX: 16  17   +2 missile/+2 surprise/-3 AC
CON: 17  12  +2  HP
CHA: 17  11  10 henchmen/+30% loyalty/+30% reaction

Alignment: CN

XP:  +10% XP Thief
HD: d4/d6
HP:  7
Cash: 11 gp
AC: 8

Gnome Racial Abilities
+4 Magic Save
 Mining skill (detect grade, detect unsafe area, detect depth, detect direction
+1 Attack bonus on Goblins and Kobolds
-4 to attacks from gnolls, bugbears, ogres, trolls, ogre magi, giants, titans

Burrowing Mammal
Thieves Cant
Suloise (Greyhawk)

Thiefly Abilities
Pick Pockets: 35%, Open Locks: 40%, Find/Rm Traps: 30%, 
Move Silently: 25%, Hide: 20%, Hear Noise: 20%, Climb: 60%

Magical Abilities
To Know Spell: 75%, Minimum 8, Maximum 14

Cantrips: Colored Lights, Noise, Mask, Mirage (I didn't do Cantrips correctly the first time)
Useful: Chill, Clean, Color, Dampen, Dry, Dust, Exterminate, Freshen, Polish, Salt, Spice, Sweeten, Tie.
Reversed: Dirty, Hairy (I kid you not)
Legerdemain: Change, Distract, Palm
Person-affecting: Belch, Giggle, Scratch, Wink
Personal: Bee, Bug, Firefinger, Gnats, Unlock
Haunting-sounds: Creak, Footfall, Groan, Moan (what really is the difference between a groan and a moan?), Rattle, Tap
Illusionist: Colored Lights, Dim, Haze, Mask, Noise, Rainbow.

Spells: Phantasmal Forces, Audible Glamer

Leather armor, shortbow, quiver 12 arrows, short sword, backpack, lantern, oil 4, belt pouch, waterskin, rations std, wine, thieves tools.

For the Slave Lords game, I'm still not sure what I'm going to play. Maybe a this Gnome Illusionist-Thief, maybe a Elf Druid, maybe something else. We'll see. I'll let you know.