Last Updated 4/11/17
At character creation, every character has the following equipment. Shopping for additional gear is not allowed. You do not have to take everything.
- A medium weapon, or two minor weapons
- A bow, or a light crossbow
- 20 arrows or 20 crossbow bolts
- Flask of lamp oil
- Potion of Healing (1d6+1)
- 3 iron rations
- 3d6 silver pieces
- Swapping Spells: You can use a holy symbol to swap a spell you have prepared for one of equal or lower. The time it takes to do this depends on the material of your holy symbol.
- Wood: Once per hour
- Steel: Spend an exploration turn
- Silver: Use your whole combat round, or at will outside of combat
- Hammer and Anvil: You add your Strength modifier to damage rolls made with hard attacks (minimum +1)
- You use the Appraise skill instead of the Architecture for your class skill progression.
- All save values are decreased by 2.
- +1 to Charisma modifier
- Burglar: You have a 3 in 6 in the Vanish skill, and can use the skill even if you aren’t a Specialist. You cannot improve it, however.
- You have 5 in 6 in the Stealth skill, not just in the wilderness.
- Cantrips: Minor magical effects can be manifested at will based on the spells you have prepared. For example, a prepared sleep spell lets you make people yawn for free. If you keep a spell prepared for more than one day, cantrips will manifest spontaneously and sporadically.
- Specialists get 6 skill points at first level, instead of 4.
Gold for XP
You do not gain experience points from monsters or from retrieving treasure. The only way to get experience points is to purchase them at the rate of 1 gold piece for each experience point.
When you have enough experience points to gain a level, you determine what the wealth spent towards your level advancement is used for; whatever that is is typically treated as property or an investment. The value of the property or investment is equal to 100 silver pieces times your previous level.
This could be anything, from something as simple to moving your family out of poverty (low levels), to purchasing the inn of your dreams (mid levels), to improving the safety conditions on a main trade road (high levels). Each investment is something that can provide new roleplaying opportunities, plant the seeds for an adventure, even change the way the in-game world works.
Applications of Ability Modifiers
- Charisma: Recruitment, reaction, magic saves
- Constitution: Hit points for each level, A Quick Death skill, Concentration skill (Magic User and Cleric only)
- Dexterity: Fast attack bonus, Fast Armor Class, Initiative
- Intelligence: Bonus skill points at first level, Arcana skill (Magic User only), Language skill, Elf and Magic User bonus spells
- Strength: Hard attack bonus, Hard Armor Class, Open Doors skill, bonus encumbrance slots
- Wisdom: Non-magical saves, Cleric bonus spells
Elves, Magic Users, and Clerics get bonus spells per day from high Ability scores:
- 13-15: +1 first level spell per day
- 16-17: +1 first level spell per day, and +1 second level spell per day. The second level spell slot cannot be used until level 3.
- 18: +1 first, second, and third level spell per day. The second level spell slot cannot be used until level 3, and the third level spell slot cannot be used until level 5.
Recruitment & Reaction
Each recruitment attempt takes one day.
Reaction rolls have replaced recruitment rolls, though you can still increase your reaction roll by +1 for raising the price by 50%. In addition, you add your Charisma modifier to reaction rolls.
The number of retainers you can hire at a time is equal to 4 + your Charisma modifier. The morale of those retainers is equal to 7 + your Charisma modifier.
I don’t use Ability checks in my games unless required by a specific mechanic or a published adventure. To make an Ability check, roll a d20; you succeed if the value is less than the specified Ability score.
Your hit points cannot be reduced below 0. If your hit points are 0, you are dying.
When you are dying, you use the A Quick Death skill every combat round and exploration turn. If you accrue 3 failures, you die. Each instance of damage you take while dying counts as an automatic failure.
When you receive any amount of healing, you stop dying.
There are only two types of saving throws: Non-Magical and Magical.
Use your Paralyze save progression for Non-Magical saves, and your Magic save progression for Magical saves.
Subtract your Wisdom modifier from your Non-Magical save value, and your Intelligence modifier from your Magical save value.
When you level up, for a number of skills equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1), roll a number of d6s equal to the pips you have in that skill. If the amount is equal to or less than your level, you increase that skill by 1 pip.
Success and Twists
When a character uses a skill, it always succeeds. However, if the skill roll fails, the character suffers a “twist.”
For example, a character will always be able to scale the tower, but if they fail their climb roll, then they lose their pack during the climb.
New Skill: A Quick Death
When you are at 0 hit points, you must use this skill each combat round and exploration turn. See the “Dying” rules under the Hit Points section above for more information.
You add your Constitution modifier to this skill.
New Skill: Appraisal
If successful, you learn the exact value of a piece of treasure.
New Skill: Arcana
This skill is used to successfully use magic devices if you don’t know what they do or how they work. Magic Users can use it to cast identify or detect magic without using a spell slot.
Magic Users add their Intelligence modifier to this skill’s rating.
New Skill: Busking
You can use this skill once each day you are in town. If successful, you make a number of silver pieces equal to the value showing on the die.
New Skill: Craftsman
If successful, you can do one of the following:
- Repair a broken item
- Unjam or repair a firearm
- Select a number of weapons equal to the value showing on the die. For each weapon, you can either allow its next attack roll or its next damage roll to be made twice, taking the higher roll.
New Skill: Concentration (Magic User and Cleric Only)
You use this skill if you declared that you are casting a spell this round, and you take damage before the spell is cast. If successful, you keep your spell.
You add your Constitution modifier to this skill.
New Skill: Cooking
If successful, when you spend food and fresh water, a number of other creatures equal to the value showing on the die also have food and fresh water.
New Skill: Mapping
If successful, you add the area you’re in to your map, and can travel to it instantaneously (see rules on movement dice).
New Skill: Surgery
If successful, you restore an amount of hit points to a creature that isn’t dying equal to the value of your skill roll.
If you fail, you cause damage to a character equal to the number of empty pips in this skill.
New Skill: Vanish (Specialist Only)
During combat, you can use your turn to attempt this skill. If successful, you disengage from combat, and can either choose to skulk away, or to re-enter combat with a sneak attack on your next turn. If you are engaged with more than one combatant, you have -1 to the skill attempt per combatant.
An exploration turn passes (10 minutes) each time the following occurs:
- A character makes a skill check
- A combat encounter ends
- The party takes a rest
- The party does something that would alert creatures in other areas of the dungeon
- The party fast travels (this uses special rules; see the “Movement Die” section for more information)
When an exploration turn passes, the Referee checks for a random encounter.
Random encounters are tracked by a d6 placed on the table, called the encounter die.
When an exploration turn passes, an encounter die is placed on the table. If an encounter die is already on the table, its value increases by 1. When the encounter die reaches 6, the die is removed from the table and a random encounter occurs.
The Referee can instead choose to “store” the encounter die, which can be spend to provide a twist. For example:
- The water was deeper than you thought
- The blow you took broke something in your pack
- Your spell backfires with a deafening bang
- The monsters have restocked a room you’ve already explored
- The town was raided while you are gone, limiting what’s available to purchase
When you spend an exploration turn to rest, if you spend food and fresh water, you heal hit points equal to a hit die roll. If you have 0 hit points, you can’t recover any hit points from resting.
After you explore for 1 hour without any amount of rest, if another hour passes, you have -1 to attack rolls, skill rolls, and saving throws until you do. This effect is cumulative.
Different types of lighting give you a certain number of light points, which are distributed within the party.
The points are divided into bright light and dim light. A character who has a bright point is in bright light; a character who has a dim point is in dim light. Characters can only have one point each, and excess points are not used.
Dim light gives the following penalties:
- -4 to attack rolls
- Fine detail is not discernable (such as text)
- You cannot use any skills besides A Quick Death, Arcana, Concentration, Languages, Open Doors, Sneak Attack, and Vanish (+1 in dim light)
Your lighting goes out when the next encounter die reaches a certain number.
- Candle: 1 bright, 1 dim. Extinguishes on 4.
- Torch: 2 bright, 2 dim. Extinguishes on 3.
- Lantern: 3 bright, 3 dim. Extinguishes on 5.
For wilderness exploration, just scale up all the time increments: an exploration turn becomes 1 hour instead of 1 turn, and characters have to rest every 6 hours instead of every hour.
What’s the Point?
The point of these exploration rules is to encourage players to specifically describe how their characters interact with the dungeon. Notice that whenever a skill check is made, a turn passes; not so if a player describes exactly how they are searching a room instead of reverting to a Search check. Additionally, encounters take turns as well, meaning combat should be a last resort, forcing players to get creative in their approaches.
You have to record the action you’re taking this turn before initiative is rolled. If you are casting a spell and you take damage before you cast it, you must pass a Concentration skill check or lose the spell.
Roll 1d10 + your Dexterity modifier – your encumbrance points. Combatants act in order of their roll values from highest to lowest.
Combatants on the same count act simultaneously, with attacks resolving in the following order:
- Minor weapons
- Small weapons
- Medium weapons
- Large weapons
Instead of melee and ranged attack bonuses, you have hard and Fast attack bonuses.
- Hard uses your Strength modifier. Use this for bows, throwing big weapons, and for melee weapons that deal d8+ damage.
- Fast uses your Dexterity modifier. Use this for other ranged weapons, throwing small weapons, and for melee weapons that deal d6 or less damage.
- Aiming: When aiming, Elves retain their modifiers to their Armor Class. Additionally, when an Elf hits with an aimed attack, they roll two damage dice and take the higher.
- Cleave: When you drop a creature’s hit points to 0, the damage you have leftover is added to the damage roll of your next attack roll (if successful). Dwarf only.
- Gambit: If you want your attack to target a specific area or to cause a specific effect, you make two attack rolls and take the lower roll.
- Overpower: When you drop a creature’s hit points to 0, you can immediately make an attack against another creature in range. Fighter only.
- Splinter: If you are hit by a melee or ranged attack, after damage is rolled, you can choose to expend your shield in order to ignore all damage from that attack. Helmets have the same effect, but only with ranged attacks. You must have your shield or helmet equipped.
- Two-Weapon Fighting: If you have a small or a minor weapon in each hand, your basic attack increases by +2, and your Armor Class decreases by 2, even if you haven’t attacked yet in a round. If you use the press combat option, you can attack once with each weapon instead of taking +2 to your attack bonus. Fighter, Dwarf, and Elf only.
Extra Encumbrance Slots
High Strength scores grant extra encumbrance slots that do not count towards encumbrance points:
- 13-15: +1 slot
- 16-17: +2 slots
- 18: +3 slots
Your movement die is determined by your encumbrance points. The size of your movement dice are is determined by your encumbrance points. If there is an asterisk (*) next to the movement die size, when you fail a roll involving movement dice, you can discard an encumbrance point worth of items in order to reroll.
- 0 points: d12*
- 1 point: d10*
- 2 points: d8*
- 3 points: d8
- 4 points: d6
- 5 points: d4
Movement die are used in contests of speed.
- Races: Whoever rolls the highest wins. If you’re wearing lighter armor or carrying less than your opponent, you can add your Dexterity modifier.
- Chases: If acting as a group, use the lowest movement die in the group. If the pursuers win, they increase their movement die by 1 size; if the quarry wins, the pursuers reduce their movement die by 1 size. The chase ends when the pursuers lose on a d4 size or win on a d12 size. When your die size increases, your rolls still keep the properties of your encumbrance bracket (rolling twice, discarding items, etc.).
- Engaging: If a party member is not involved in a combat encounter, it takes a number of rounds equal to 1d3 + their encumbrance points to join the fight. They roll initiative at the beginning of the round that they join the fight.
- Sprints: When crossing an area is difficult or dangerous and time is of the essence, set a total number that each character has to reach with their total movement rolls in order to cross it. Every movement die roll takes a combat round. To set a fair total needed, take half of the die size that best represents the distance, and then multiply that by 1 to 5.
- Fast Travel: If the party wants to travel instantly to a mapped room, the Referee rolls the lowest movement die in the party. If it comes up a 1 (or whatever value the encounter chance has been increased to), a random encounter occurs on the way.
The movement dice of NPCs should be based on their encumbrance, as well as on their movement speed.
Hard & Fast Armor Class
You have two Armor Classes: one used against hard attacks, and one used against fast attacks.
Your Hard Armor Class is your base Armor Class + your Strength modifier. Your Fast Armor Class is your base Armor Class + your Dexterity modifier.
Shields add +1 to Hard Armor Class, and +2 to Fast Armor Class.
Helmets cost half as much as shields, and take up one encumbrance slot. Helmets do not add anything to Armor Class.
Ignore all of the weapon descriptions provided in the equipment section. Just focus on great, medium, minor, and small weapons.
- Great (d10): Uses Hard attack bonus. Must be used two-handed. Halflings cannot use these.
- Medium (d8): Uses Hard attack bonus. Halflings must use these weapons two-handed.
- Small (d6): Uses Fast attack bonus. Concealable. Can use two-weapon fighting.
- Minor (d4): Uses Fast attack bonus. Concealable. Can be used while wrestling. Can use two-weapon fighting.
I don’t use exact distances in my games, so I give ranged attacks penalties (-4 for guns, -2 for everything else) when I decide that they’re firing at long range. Muskets shoot further than bows, which shoot further than crossbows, which shoot further than firearms.
If a ranged weapon only fires every certain number of turns, you do not have to “use up” those turns in order to reload; you can perform other actions.
If you are a Dwarf, Elf, or Fighter, you can fire light crossbows once every round, and heavy crossbows once every other round.
- Pistol: d6 damage, 25/50 sp (urban/rural). 2 pistols can be carried as one item. Dwarves, Elves, and Fighters can fire 2 pistols in the same round. Cannot be used to fire special ammo.
- Arquebus: d8 damage, 50/100 sp (urban/rural).
- Musket: d10 damage, 100/200 sp (urban/rural). -2 to attack at long range.
All firearms have the following properties:
- -4 to attacks made at long range (muskets use the normal -2)
- Creatures with a morale of 7 or less must make a morale check when discharged
- Bypass all armor
- Keep rerolling odd damage dice
- Can only be fired once per encounter; it takes an exploration turn to reload all firearms in your possession
- Cannot be fired if wet
- If fired when damp, a roll of 1-4 on the attack causes the gun to jam. Clearing the jam requires the Craftsman skill or an exploration turn.
- A roll of 1 causes any special ammo loaded in the gun to explode and affect the user, automatically breaking the firearm. The firearm can be repaired with the Craftsman skill.
Life Outside the Dungeon
The Referee places one d10 on the table per active plotline, starting on 1. When a day passes the Referee chooses a die to advance by 1. When a character does something to advance a plotline, the corresponding die advances by 1.
When a die reaches 10, the die is reset to 1, and a plotline twist occurs. Think of plotline twists as advancing a story to the next “stage,” a mega-twist that doesn’t just affect the party, but the rules of the world that they live in.
Another way to do this is to schedule plotline twists by rolling 3d10−3 for each plotline; the next plotline twist occurs that many days from the current day.
Active dungeons are also tracked as plotlines, but the plotline twists from dungeons are spent to radically change and restock the dungeon in the party’s absence. If a dungeon does have “stages,” however, feel free to use plotline twists as detailed above.
Investments return at the end of each month, instead of at the end of each year.
Resting and Recuperating
When in town, you have to purchase accommodations each day. If you have accommodations, you heal 1 hit point per day; you can double the cost of accommodations to heal hit points each day equal to a hit die roll.
It costs 1 silver piece per day for room and board in rural locales, and 5 silver pieces per day in cities. If you own property in a city, accommodations only cost 1 silver piece per day.
If you do not purchase accommodations in the city, you make a Busking check each day. A successful Busking check gives you accommodations for that day. In rural locales, you use the Bushcraft skill instead.
You can retire your character by spending a number of silver pieces equal to their experience points, one final property or investment that defines how that character spends the rest of their life. The remainder of your money is passed down to a new character. Your retired character becomes an NPC.