Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Three d66/d18 Starting Equipment Tables

I like an equipment list - they can often tell you something about the setting, maybe author intentions/ obsessions, too.

For instance, I like how Tunnels & Trolls (5e, UK Corgi Edition) has Warm dry clothing & pack (5 gp) at the top of the list, implying that a) you start out naked (not disabused of this notion by the Josh Kirby illustrations) and b) that you're going to end up cold, wet, naked and separated from your goods with some frequency.

Here's a d66/d18 table of kits for new adventurers, suggested by this Prior Experience table, so you can roll or just take the equivalent result.

d66

Result

11,12

Good boots; sword; dagger; leather jack; change of clothes; rations; wineskin.

13,14

Change of clothes; good boots; dagger; poison; medicinal herbs; light crossbow; dark lantern.

15,16

Mail shirt; soldier’s coat; medicinal herbs; two-handed weapon; dagger; hand axe; heavy crossbow; trapper’s tools.

21,22

Soldier’s coat; helmet; sword; mancatcher or spear; cudgel; dagger; letter of authority/ discharge papers.

23,24

Leather jack; good boots; wineskin; rations; medicinal herbs; cudgel.

25,26

Wineskin (empty)/ drug paraphernalia; just one last hit/ drink; roll again and take one item from result (choose or randomise).

31,32

Coil of rope; hammer and pitons; bullseye lantern; flask of oil; squeezing grease; healing draught; chalk (sticks & powdered); charcoal and parchment; flask of brandy.

33,34

Fancy clothes; change of clothes; dagger; cards/ dice; fake letter of credit; fake letter of introduction.

35,36

Pick & shovel; pry bar; dark lantern; hammer & wedges; coil of rope; leather jack.

41,42

Healing salve x 3; healing draught x 3; bandages; herball (book); wineskin; flask of brandy; basic surgical tools.

43,44

Soldier’s coat; whip; sword; pistol; medicinal herbs; map; notebook & pencils; torches x 3.

45,46

Fine clothes; change of clothes; letters of introduction; dagger; sword; letters of credit.

51,52

Mask; bell; concealing robes; begging bowl.

53,54

Leather jack; sword; dagger; rations; wineskin; pistol; concealing robes.

55,56

Medicinal herbs; drug paraphernalia; flask of brandy; holy symbol; dark lantern; thieves’ tools; notebook & pencils.

61,62

Holy symbol; ceremonial vestments; holy book/ pocket liturgy.

63,64

Change of clothes; livery of noble house; dagger; shaving/ beauty kit; letter of introduction.

65,66

Dagger; cudgel; thieves’ tools; leather jack.

Even without specialist gear, every new adventurer should probably get to start out with: staff/ cudgel, knife, tinderbox/ fire-starter, travelling clothes, rain cape, backpack, belt pouch/ wallet/ purse, a few coins*.

*J.H.Brennan's paperback rpg Monster Horrorshow had a rule that what you sat down at the table with was translated into the game. So, any change becomes copper, silver or gold pieces (regardless of value).

Brennan said paper money became bits of paper, but why not make them promissory notes or debts you can call in? Go further - bank and credit cards become debts the character owes. If you don't want to share balances and limits, just say 500 for a bank card and d3x1000 for a credit card.

It works better when the players don't know this. 

I used the following table (new adventurers get d3 rolls) to equip pre-gens for the first game I ran in 20+ years. 

These are meant to have directly applicable adventuring uses. If a player needs/wants it, animals get plot armour vs. death but the player can't mechanically take advantage of that, which also means they don't take part in combat except abstracted as part of the PC's actions and rolls.

d66

Result

11,12

Alpenstock: see Weapons table below. You don't think of it as anything other than a mountaineering tool.

13,14

Lock picking tools: you could persuade people they’re just for tinkering.

15,16

Trained Bird: comes with cage & drape or gauntlet & hood, depending on whether it’s a hunting or singing bird; you need to feed it.

21,22

Hound: well-trained, obedient, with a spiked collar, but not devoted to you; comes with leash, harness and muzzle; you need to feed it.

23,24

Leather Jack & Helmet: in case of ruffians.

25,26

Decoctions of Medicinal Herbs: you know what you’ve got and what it does (3 types).

31,32

Mule with Panniers: it’s on its last legs, but should make it there and back again; you need to feed it.

33,34

Dice, Cards, Board & Pieces: games of chance and strategy, rigged or otherwise. Could include a full, incomplete or homemade set of The Game of Dungeon or The Game of Vampire.

35,36

Pick Axe, Shovel & Crowbar: for prospecting, and for breaking into tombs.

41,42

Leech’s Kit: all the cutting, prodding and tying bits for ‘healing’; jar of leeches, too. For the keen amateur and semi-professional.

43,44

Silk rope & grappling hook: 50’, light and strong, plus an improvised weapon.

45,46

Horse and Saddle: great wits wherever you go offer to buy your saddle and take the horse off your hands as a favour; you need to feed it.

51,52

Lantern and Oil: enough for the next adventure.

53,54

Telescope, Sextant, Compass & Signalling Mirror: for some reason, local authorities confiscated your star charts.

55,56

Novelty Vampire Hunter’s Kit: garlic, wolfsbane, bullet mould, wooden stake x 3, piton hammer, small silver mirror, holy symbol, miniature prayer book.

61,62

Training Sword & Buckler: martial practice kit, but you’ve sharpened the blade so it cuts well enough.

63,64

Antique Breastplate & Helmet: just like modern stuff, but old and unfashionable. Might actually be worth something, but has definitely seen action in the past.

65,66

Turnip Watch* & Barometer: also, notebooks and writing kit to take down your observations.


* Because it came up when we played, a Turnip Watch is a big old-fashioned pocket watch not a magical vegetable. I ruled it would be enough to bash someone's head in with, maybe even a Wight if it was silver-plated.

80s UK rpg Dragonroar prices Leather Armour at 10 Crowns, Chainmail 50-150 and Plate Armour 300-6,000! Despite the range, the cost makes no mechanical difference to the armour.

Characters start off with the standard 3d6x10 and loot/rewards tend to be lower than in (say) D&D. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that at least one of the designers didn't like how easy it was to get plated up in other games

Which is one way to try and enforce a low armour game.

This table of weapons complements the adventuring gear above, with some opportunity for doubling up. I liked the idea you might be carrying an ancient sword around, but you might not use it - because you've got guns, or bodyguards, or you're not planning on getting into that kind of trouble. 

d66

Result

11,12

Brandistock: stout cudgel from which you can shake out a blade and two prongs; bash, stab, cut or parry & disarm.

13,14

Assassin’s Dagger: treated for a dull, dark, unreflective finish, and easy to conceal in a sleeve, this weapon has a hollow handle for secret messages and packets of poison.

15,16

Short Sword: five fingers wide at the base, perfect for the cut-and-thrust of tunnel fighting.

21,22

Holy Water Sprinkler: you made this deeply intimidating spiked club yourself; there are no doubts as to its function or your intention.

23,24

Antique Sword: old, reliable, has a history; they don’t make them like this anymore - possibly cursed or haunted or belonged to the next significant undead you encounter.

25,26

Swordstick: whether simple or fancy, the main function of this is to conceal the fact you can stab someone through the heart or cut off their ear as you parade around town; parry and misdirect with the stick in your off-hand.

31,32

Bow: you’re a barbarian, a hunter, unusual specialist or an eccentric badass. You've put in your 10,000 hours on this.

33,34

Sickle, hammer, adze, pick axe etc.: your weapon is really just a tool that’s got (or going to get) someone else’s blood on it.

35,36

Ironshod Quarterstaff: you call it a ‘traveller’s friend’.

41,42

Sling: it's not taken seriously, but you've put in your 10,000 hours and it's genuinely frightening what you can do with this.

43,44

Boarding Axe & Dirk/ Tomahawk & Hunting Dagger: a combo favoured by pirates and rangers; hook, hack, throw and eviscerate.

45,46

Fancy Sword: it’s a rapier, but clearly someone paid a lot for it; d6-1 gems decorate the hilt and/or scabbard. Worth at least 10x normal, even without gems.

51,52

Cavalry Sabre: double chance of a crit when mounted, triple if charging.

53,54

Brace of Pistols: use them as cudgels once the smoke clears. Comes with enough stuff for d6 + 2 shots.

55,56

Kris: wavy-bladed and not from round here, this dagger is thought to have special properties - odds/evens, it can hit monsters immune to normal weapons/ 1 on d6 spells cast against you by L/HD 1-3 will fail (you cannot cast any spells or benefit from protective magic devices while you carry the kris).

61,62

Antique Mace: old, reliable, has a history; they don’t make them like this anymore; modern armour was not built with this kind of weapon in mind.

63,64

Alpenstock: ice axe, pick and short spear in one robust walking stick; helps with climbing, cutting handholds and checking for hidden crevasses.

65,66

Notched Heavy Cutting Blade: this axe/ cleaver is an ugly piece of work - it is clearly not for self-defence but for stomach-churning mayhem.


No stats, because most Games of Dungeon will already have them for most of these. As much as being objects for violence, they are meant to suggest something about the character's personality and background.

Because this has all been about equipment in fantasy rpgs, I'm going to round off with an example from 'the largest game-book ever printed' F.A.T.A.L (Fantasy Adventure to Adult Lechery or From Another Time, Another Land - depending on your edition):

Bowl: This is a small, hand-sized reservoir that is most often used to hold beverages or food. Bowls may be made of wood, metal, clay or a variety of materials, though wood is most common.

(p. 410, 1st edition) 

Evidence that F.A.T.A.L. was written by and/or for Mi Go infiltrators?  



Friday, December 18, 2020

d66/d36 Monsters of the Wild & Melancholy Mountains

John Blanche.
Only just realised that those weren't pectoral muscles.

These mountains were going to be Remote & Lonely back in May, but I've passed through the other stages of lockdown life and we're now at Wild & Melancholy.

Unbalanced probabilities of the table will lead to unbalanced encounters at the table.

Storm Goats were originally going to be Storm Giants, but I couldn't think of anything interesting to say about them.

d66

Result

1,1

Sphinx Elves.

Naked & velvety, writhing white hair, blank pearly eyes; telepathic; information traders.

1,2

Goblins.

Animal heads. Fish for wayfarers with eagle claws on spider silk. Cobweb and mushroom stalk suspension bridges/ fishing platforms between the most inaccessible crags and cave entrances.

1,3

K-Nomes.

Brutal elementals; naked, hairless Dwarves of rock & lava; despise all non-mineral life. As strong as Giants; throw boulders, cause rock slides, summon lava. Weapons shatter on their stone hide.

1,4

Mountain Trolls.

Wild black hair and curling horns; huge heads and hands but otherwise Human-sized. Tap staff against rock face to open a door or conjure a spring. Said to have treasure hoards.

1,5

Brocken (Mountain) Spectre (1).

Rainbow-haloed genius loci, appears both enormous and distant. The weather and the mountain fauna & elementals do its bidding. Its telepathic voice sounds like it booms and echoes across the mountains, but is just in the heads it chooses.

1,6

Cave Bear (1).

Looks like a dead black shape as it does not reflect any light. Silent wall-crawlers and ceiling-clingers. Howls and suffers in sunlight, and always moves to extinguish light sources. Intelligent animal that knows humans take off their armour to sleep in caves. For stats, Just Use (Black) Bears.

2,1

Ropy Muggers.

Look like miserable, stunted trees tangled with dusty, stone-coloured creepers. Strangle and crush, then drink your insides through a modified claw in their root-like foot. Subtle by day; blunder about at night. 

2,2

Wolf Elves.

Look like sturdy, surly fur-capped, bare-armed trappers and herders until you realise they’re not. People wanting to become Werewolves seek out Wolf Elves to try and make deals, or just try to steal their stuff.

2,3

Giant Shadows.

If a light source is brought into their cave, they can make themselves bigger than human-size, as well as being able to extend themselves to titanic proportions pursuing those who flee outside. However, they are bound to a blood-stained, symbol-carve, cursed rock and can only act outside the cave to the extent of their cast-shadow size

2,4

Skeleton Army.

A detachment of armed and armoured Skeletons, at attention and awaiting the Triumph of Death. You can safely pass by/through them if you don’t disturb their formation or equipment.

2,5

Brothers of the Pine.

Sap-infused undead; want you to join them in the pines in the pines; only leave treeline after dark. Often return to their communities to whisper and hiss down the chimneys.

2,6

Predatory Succulents.

Exact sizes and appearance depends on species, but they generally look like sandy-grey pineapples/ peyote buttons. As part of their lifecycle, units detach and roll off in search of living prey. They kill using psychedelic poison, flesh-dissolving enzymes or bashing and rolling, then settle down to take root and flower in the remains.

3,1

G-Nome.

Brutal elementals; naked, hairless Dwarves of tree-trunk and creeper; despise all non-plant life. Plant trees to extend the forests, fertilised with ground bones and spilt blood.

3,2

Nightgaunts.

Faceless rubbery winged ticklers; they might be dropping off or picking up. Leave them alone and you should be fine.

3,3

Mi-Go.

Mining, patrolling or scouting. Not in disguise. Not happy to see you or be seen. Willing to go the extra mile to maintain their privacy.

3,4

Cyclopes.

Humanoids with a single eye. Poor depth perception, but can also see incredible distances and near microscopic things - possibly clairvoyantly. Neutral mystics. Sworn enemies of Ghouls.

3,5

Empty Skins.

At a distance, rags blown towards you on the wind. They’re drying out and looking to resolve this. You’ll be surprised how much of you will fit inside.

3,6

Glitter Cats.

Static-charged tatzelwurms. A charming combination of cat and ferret, with the intelligence and dexterity of a monkey. Can understand and imitate human language, but are no great conversationalists. Willing to become companions/ familiars, for a while. Sworn enemies of Ghouls. 

4,1

Oreads.

Mountain dryads; hairy goat legs and impressive horns; bows and spears; cast ventriloquism and merge into stone.

4,2

Summer Oread (1).

Casts burning eyesElagabalian blossom deluge, summon thunderstorm and call lightning; regenerates in the rain; no mountain creature can/will harm it, save that it fears Old Father Moon. Smells gorgeous. Blinks if surprised.

4,3

Grey Man (1).

Enigmatic and lonely, gentle and naked, tall and smelly. Reskinned B/X Troglodyte. Knows how to remove your liver while you are sleeping so that you waste away and die. Has been known to guide wayfarers to safety but also to push them down precipices.

4,4

Rock Scorpions. 

Look like piles of rocks until they move; venomous, but not carnivorous. Strong for their size and can cling to steep inclines - Dwarves, Goblins and Trolls use them to pull carts.

4,5

Abyssal Drakes.

Slender, glistening salamandrine things that crawl up from some of the blackest pits at the heart-roots of mountains. As intelligent as swine, mewl like kittens; die and disintegrate in direct sunlight. Constantly shed a sooty substance that also exists in higher dimensions, leaving patches of chilly darkness that normal light cannot dispel - clings to objects, to creatures, to the air itself. They are enthusiastic for fresh blood but have no idea how to get it themselves.

4,6

Storm Goats.

Sturdy mountains goats with towering horns. Their shaggy coats spark with static and they attract lightning bolts. They spectacularly expel the charge they accumulate, with no harm to themselves. Guess what? Evolution has adapted this ability as an attack/defence mode.

5,1

Cloud Elementals (Nephilim).

Intelligent non-corporeal beings of the wind, rain and sky. Psychic feedback means they look like you expect them to, culturally and geographically speaking. Normally invisible, they condense forms using the available dust and water. 

5,2

Land Elementals (Anakim).

They are young - mere tens of millions of years old - and impatient to end their Dreaming so they can walk abroad. Each Anakim is a weathered mountainside that has taken on the vague or definite appearance of a living being or product of civilisation. They can fragment and project their consciousness, extending their Dreaming throughout their body - thus, they may be inhabited and also haunt themselves.

5,3

Skeleton Wyrm (1).

Giant serpentine mammal with transparent flesh; looks like a long pile of bones until it rears up and starts hissing; wants to be left alone. Scavenger. Prizes gems.

5,4

Invisible Vampires. 

Bash you with rocks, branches and blows, then lick up the spilled blood; push you off cliffs for a feast; no-one knows what they really look like, or even if they’re undead. Will ride animals to exhaustion. Can go abroad by day.

5,5

Night Rippers.

Lynx-sized pack predators. Mountain lion body, owl's head and claws; distinctive shriek. 

5,6

Veiled Oreads (1-3).

Undead mountain dryads (ghost/ banshee). Sing mournful songs and give a deadly shriek. Not automatically hostile. Roll d6 to see which season each channels/ represents: 1-2 autumn, 3-4 spring, 5-6 winter.

6,1

Mother of Eagles (1).

Legendary Gryphon. Mines and eats precious metals. Can no longer fly because it is so infused with gold, electrum and silver. Can reflect light to dazzle and burn. Trying crossing a Griffin with an Aurumvorax to get stats.

6,2

Dwarven Slavers.

Cigar-chewing, pistol-toting bastards from inside the mountain; odds/evens, they’re on their way out, and well equipped/ on their way back, with slaves in tow.

6,3

Old Father Moon (1).

Spindly boneless giant with glowing pumpkin head; hands spread like skinless bat wings; dozens of wormy toes; can squeeze through gaps and stuff itself into tiny hidey-holes. Really wants to eat the Summer Oread. Bugbears revere it, but it doesn’t care. Regenerates from even the tiniest piece if not dealt with in the proper manner.

6,4

Old Man of the Mountain (1).

Dual-wields long knives in as many pairs of hands as he needs, pulling both out from beneath his ragged cloak like a beetle unfolding; finds firearms, barometers and clockwork fascinating. Has brokered a treaty between the Oreads and the Brothers of the Pine. Possibly human.

6,5

Monastic Vultures.

Wear concealing robes so you can’t tell they’re vultures with prehensile wings; appear to ‘tend’ to the dying and the dead; especially love eyes and guts. Will warn you to watch out for Night Rippers and Nomes (they don’t leave much behind).

6,6

Shaggy Horntoads.

Somewhere between toad and lizard; very patient; more than can be fed will gather to take you down, then sort it out between whoever’s left. They're bigger  (could swallow a goblin, halfling or human child) than their lower altitude cousins and resistant to cold and lightning.