needing a break


gaming related stuff is making me sore. I’m probably burnt out.

I’ve been doing too much gaming-related stuff recently, both writing and playing. Much effort.

But results, especially writing, are extremely disappointing. In bad ways.

I need time off. I won’t post here in a while, nor do other gaming.

If you have orders open they will be fulfilled. I will ship the stock I have left, plus the ordered Pergamini Barocchi. And since stuff is a wee bit late, expect surprise freebies.


Richard runs a lean and mean and incredibly overabundant with awesome pre-colonial, post-Sovietic setting called Tartary using an homebred ruleset partially related to Ars Magica. The game could be called Turkmen & Tartary or Bollywood Mecha and Other South Asian Strangeness. My first PC was a goat engineer. The game is fun. Recently we started pondering whys and wherefores of FLAILSNAILS compatibility, so I felt the need to both write a D&D variant to make it way less level-scaling and small D&D to Ars Tartary conversion thingie.

The rationale is partly to give access to all the toys and partly to have a game that doesn’t scale as much as levels go up.


LEVEL: you still need it. Leave it there.

STATS: stay the same.

HIT POINTS: They are now equal to the average of the hits you normally roll every level and your constitution. For monsters: roll 3d6 for constitution, then do the same. Ignore that wrong feeling in your tummy, it’s ok, Gary sent us.

HITTING THINGS WITH OTHER THINGS, SAVES, THIEVING SKILLS AND ALL THEM THIEVING THIEVES, TURNING UNDEADS: your level and class still give you the appropriate modifiers. If you play one of them thieving thieves, click here.

SPELLS – LEARNING: you can learn ANY spell. You’re not sure that you learned them right though.

SPELLS – MEMORIZATION & CASTING: you have the same spell slots, but ignore the “per spell level” part. Allocate them to spells of any level you know. The following limitations are though in effect:

  • UNIQUE SNOWFLAKE: you are not allowed to cast the same spell twice in a day.
  • I THOUGHT FIREBALLS WERE DIFFERENT FROM THE INSIDE: when you cast a spell of a level that you would not be able to cast at your level in the original game problems can be horrible. SAVE VS SPELLS with a negative modifier equal to the spell level. If you succeed, take 1d6 damage as you get a bit singed. If you fail, the DM needs to switch to douchebag mode and assess what a failure at casting you are. Possibly the fireball explodes 1 metre in front of you. Possibly you just wished yourself dead. Who knows. What’s sure is that you deserved it (maybe).

SPELLS – DAMAGE: this is hairy because the reduced hits. Caster level is divided by three, round up. Fireball is still useful due to area of effect and range, but won’t end the world. Your magic user was never supposed to be a glass cannon, get on with it.


STATS: Take your original stat, subtract 10, divide by 2. CONstitution is now PERception: roll 1d6 – 2 to determine its value.

HIT POINTS: They are now equal to your FLAILSNAILS constitution.

REPUTATION: same as your level.

SKILLS: you PC has FOUR skills: FIGHT at three, a class skill (equal to FIVE plus A THIRD OF YOUR LEVEL, round down), a secondary skill (equal to THREE plus A FOURTH OF YOUR LEVEL) and a hobby (equal to TWO plus A FIFTH OF YOUR LEVEL).  Skills are:

  •  Primary Skill: it has the same name as your class:
    • FIGHTER: hitting things with other things, military engineering, be a badass. You do not have FIGHT but Richard might give you SHOOT at 3 instead.
    • MAGIC-USER: do magic and forbidden lore and casting and being a nerd
    • THIEVING THIEVER: thieving
    • GOD-BOTHERER: not sure. Ask Richard.
    • Ranger, Druid: we never saw any trees for the first 12 sessions.
    • Paladin: go away.
  • Secondary: there’s a list somewhere.
  • Hobby: pick Music, Paint, Juggle or some other thing.

Adventure Fantasy Game Spellcasting: how I (re)learnt to love undeads, but not that way, and considerations

Spellcasting in Adventure Fantasy Game differs quite a bit from your run-of-the-mill OSR game, and from other systems too. The closest is Roger’s, and that’s because we had a long chat about them back in the day. How is it different from traditional D&D spellcasting?

First, there’s no split between divine and arcane magic. I’m not sure of the reasons that led Gygax to split spell lists, but i suspect none of them are good. Moreover, the concept of clerics getting more spells with levels instead of by increasing the standing in front of their gods is a bit fishy. It seems as if there were no gods but instead the spells came from the cleric inner powers… exactly like magic-users. This change did not break the game.

Second, it’s mana based, but each spell can be cast only once a day. This allows each spell to costs one mana point, simplifying the system a lot, while making actually harder to play casters. Difficulty is moved from “what should I memorize today?” and “is this the right moment to cast Sleep?” to a broader “I have no idea if I should cast now and what”, simply because every spell is a unique life-saving snowflake. It’s possible to cast a given spell a second time using items called fetishes: grab a fetish, spend one mana, a specific spell goes off. A fetish can be used once a day. There are also Mana Vessels which store a mana point; full vessels can power spells up to a given level and need to be recharged by a caster. Also, very importantly, each caster has access to all his spells all the time, so even very narrow-use spells see play instead of laying forgotten and unmemorized in musty tomes. This means that even bad spells are used a lot: Giving the Gift of Life, a level 0 spell that heals 1d6 hits at the cost the same amount of temporal hits to the caster, is seen by casters’s players as a warm, fuzzy, nostalgic kick in the groin.

Third, everybody can cast level 0 spells, provided they can somehow get one measly mana.Rolling a high Spirit is an option, grabbing a full mana vessel is another. The concept is that your level-zero auntie did really cast spells and sung those zombies back to the grave and could read any language. Your non-caster PC might not know spells yet, but fetishes are moderately common and teaching rules are kindly provided. Now, finding an equally kind teacher is a completely different topic. 🙂

Fourth, every single caster seems to be a little necromancer that could. Possibly because players love pets in RPGs. Possibly because necromancer want to be fiddling with corpses. Possibly because the equivalents of “charm undead”, “animate but not control a skeleton” and “animate a skeleton” can be respectively cast by a caster of level 0, 1 and 2. The first two can be of course combined (but the control spell costs 1 mana a day to upkeep), while the last one costs 50 coins in components. This does not stop low level casters from keeping a few skeletons around “just in case”. This, of course, might bother the peasants and burgers. Which is one of the reasons why casters live out in the sticks. It’s also a useful way of recycling discarded armour. This early undead proliferation is interesting because it directly impacts on the setting: low level mages will exhume corpses from graveyards and will have a small group of fanatical undead goons protecting them, if they can find the money. Some of you will cringe at the thought of game balance suffering from this: don’t. The Original Tilean Murderhoboes are masters at breaking everything, but this did not break the game. Instead, ponder the implication of low-level necromancy on your campaign world.

Fifth, it’s not just the system, it’s a whole different spell ecology. All the 80+ spells are new, the first purely offensive spell is cast at level 2, and there are a grand total of 8 damaging spells in the whole manual. There’s no Sleep spell. Hell Gate, the closest thing to Fireball, opens a gate to hell spouting raging flames, possibly gating in uncontrollable demons. Casters in AFG are not there to dish tons of damage but to do what mere mortals cannot: bend reality with words.

Comments and discussions here

Kinda new Class! And news! Sages and the Way of Knowledge! And Chtonic Codex soundbites!

Chthonic Codex is going to be many things: a lot of full page illustrations, monsters and weird magical stuff. Let’s say something less known: it’s going to be a proper campaign setting too.

It’s going to be delivered in ways usually not trodden by settings books: written in character by a dude in the setting. The book is going to be statted for AFG (get yourself a copy here) but compatible with other OSR games (I suggest Swords & Wizardry Whitebox or Lamentations of the Flame Princess, but they’re pretty much swappable unless you’re in New Feierland).

And the PCs will typically be Casters attending classes at a College. Taking inspiration from my experience at Glasgow University Postgrad school, with the liberal addition of magic, reckless experimenting, bad politics and environments even more hostile than Western Scotland, Chthonic Codex will be the Murderhobo’s Vademecum to School of Magic

Don’t think of wand-wielding Warner Bros brats.



Anyway, sometimes you want a knowledgeable PC that is not really a caster. Ivan Sorensen from the Daily OSR Fix (it’s good! visit it!) came up with the Loremaster, a new Labyrinth Lord compatible class. After asking his permission I swiped the class and punched it in the face until it complied to my bidding.

Because sometimes you just want to play a smartass nerd that thinks that Casters are posers and hipsters and “pretend erudites”. They need magic because they don’t trust their knowledge.

Anyway, here’s the Chthonic Codex version of Ivan’s class. In case you wonder, a Tier is a group of three levels: Tier 1 is level 1 to 3, Tier 2 is level 4 to 6, up to Tier 4.

Sages: the Way of Knowledge

Characters who embark on the Way of Knowledge are known as Sages. The Way of Knowledge focuses on reading and copying gigantic piles of books. Also by listening to knowledgeable people taking a whole lot of notes. Sages may be scribes, historians, librarians, bards or even scientists. Sages roll 1d6 to determine Hits for each level gained in the Way of Knowledge and can use medium armours.

Extreme Literacy

Sages can write at the same speed as they can speak, and can read four times as fast. When copying spells Sages don’t need to learn the spell beforehand and treat the level of the spell as reduced by 1 per Tier in the Way of Knowledge, and they never fail.

Utter Love for the Written Form

Sages may decipher foreign or ancient languages. Roll a 5MORE with a modifier of -1, plus a +1 per Tier in the Way of Knowledge. Test the first time the language is encountered, and if successful, the character may add it to his character sheet. It’s possible to re-attempt failed languages once a new Tier in the Way of Knowledge is gained and the character is exposed to that language again.

I Read it in a Book

When examining a magical item, Sages may identify it. Roll as per Utter Love for the Written Form: if successful, the caster will know some vague detail about the item and might gain additional insights from further examination. After 1 hour more of study attempt another roll: if successful, the item is fully identified and its powers revealed.

I didn’t just study Calligraphy

Sages may learn spells and even cast them from fetishes. Each level in the Way of Knowledge counts as a level in the Way of Magic for casting purposes only. The Way of Knowledge does not grant spells or mana.

Death by Culture

Culture doesn’t hurt, but could make you a more formidable opponent. When encountering an unknown monster, roll as per Utter Love for the Written Form: if successful the sage can determine one ability, immunity or vulnerability of the monster.

Lore Best Forgotten

Sages are completely immune to negative effects of written magical items, such as manuals, glyphs, cursed scrolls or loss of sanity, dismissing them as cultural garbage with extreme snobbery and prejudice.

New Releases: Kefitzah Haderech – Incunabulum of the Uncanny Gates and Portals – Adventure Fantasy Game R7

As previously mentioned quite a few times, Me and Albert wrote a book on portals and dimensional gates. It’s mostly system agnostic, so if you play Everway it will be useful too.

Now Kefitzah Hadereach – Incunabulum of the Uncanny Gates and Portals is ready.

It covers portal topics like why are portals cool?, what should I do with them? and how do I build them? and a small “Appendix N” about inspiring portal-enabled media.

It also comes with a muleload of tables to generate portals and everything related, including PORTATRON, the one-stop-system of portal generation.

KHIotUGaP (not an official acronym) also contains The Infamous d666 Quick Portal Destination Table, which does what it says on the tin. Because we wanted to have a d1000 table and have the longest OSR table as some kind of joke, but then we realized that 216 portal destinations ought to be enough for everybody.


32 A5 pages in black and white. Available on the Lost Pages webshop in both PDF+Source and Print+PDF+Source. The print version will be shipped next week.



While you are at the shop, the new version of Adventure Fantasy Game just came out of the LaTeX compiler. This is the seventh revision of the handbook, it fixes a whole lot of problems with the first printing. 108 pages A5 in black and white, plus a colour map. Available on the Lost Pages webshop in both PDF+Source and Print+PDF+Source. The print version will be shipped next week too.