Sunday, June 19, 2016

deep dungeon fishing

Thinking about ways characters might acquire goods in a D&D campaign with more altruistic assumptions than your standard mercenary fare . Hunting and logging are good possibilities, but I feel like they are pretty easy to model using existing rules (Find A Certain Monster, Go To A Location And Retrieve Object are time honored D&D tasks). 

Fishing, on the other hand, is a little bit harder to model interestingly. I think there's a lot of potential in making it tense, especially since it is time consuming, but much of D&D games take place with random monster encounters looming over the player's heads. Anyways, here's a stab at it.


Anyone can fish. For each turn you spend fishing at a regular spot with standard gear, you have a 1 in 6 chance of hooking a fish. Certain spots and certain baits are better than others and afford better odds of catching something. Fishing spots deep in dungeons tend to have rarer and more valuable fish (multiply the dungeon level by the base value of the fish to determine how much gp it is worth). If you take a fish back to town while it's still fresh, you can tin it, letting you build up a stock of imperishable rations without needing to special order them.

Once you hook a fish, roll 5 six-sided dice and check to see if they match any of the following categories:
Two of a kind: d12 gp, 1 ration
Three of a kind: d20 gp, 2 rations
Four of a kind: d100 gp, 4 rations
Full House: 2d100 gp, 8 rations
Small Straight: d1000 gp, 10 rations, can be used as an alchemical ingredient
Large Straight: a random consumable magic item
All of a Kind: a Speaking Fish, will grant a Limited Wish if you let it go.
 If you rolled one of the above categories, you can immediately reel in and catch a fish of the corresponding size and quality, or you can reroll in hopes of getting a better result and a correspondingly larger fish. However, 
  • the quality of your fishing pole limits the number of rerolls you get before it breaks, and if your final roll when reaching that limits doesn't result in a catch, your fishing pole breaks.
  • you can only reel in the highest category you've gotten this fishing attempt. If you pass up on a Full House, you can't reel in a Two of a Kind on your next reroll.
A single fishing attempt takes 1 Turn, no matter how many rerolls you use.
Bamboo Stick: 3 rolls
Hickory Rod: 4 rolls
Alchemically Treated: 5 rolls
Almighty Dragon Fishing Rod: 6 rolls
Fisher God's Favorite Rod: 7 rolls

I am always looking for ways to simplify or replace Vancian magic. It is hard to explain, and while I like it quite a bit, it reflects a very particular kind of fantasy that my games very rarely draw on. For Idyllic D&D, I'd want something more like Dianna Wynne Jones's magic: friendler, more common, more whimsical, less earth-shaking. Loosely based off of this old class.

from final fantasy 14
HP, XP, Saving Throws, and Equipment Restrictions as Magic-user.
You have Witchery dice equal to your level. When you cast a spell, you can roll as many as you like; the more dice you roll, the more powerful the spell.
  • For each die that comes up a 6, remove a Witchery die from your dice pool until you take a long rest.
  • Count each die that comes up 1. If the number of 1s exceeds half your level rounded down, the spell goes wrong or fails to take affect.
You start with 2 spells of your choice and gain another every even level. You can learn more, but must learn them from (rare) books or (grudging) tutors.

Complete in an instant any task a barehanded person could complete in a number of Turns equal to the number of Witchery dice rolled. Creatures can make a saving throw to resist if the spell affects them.
Create objects worth a total of 10 × number of Witchery dice rolled in gold pieces. If you are Lawful, they vanish at midnight. If you are Chaotic, they vanish at noon.

Ignite, extinguish, or move a flame that fits within a number of cubic feet equal to Dice. If used offensively, damage dealt equals the sum of Witchery Dice rolled, and targets may save for half damage.

Transform into a 1 HD animal for a number of Turns equal to Witchery dice rolled.

Compels a creature with HD equal to or less than Witchery dice rolled to obey the letter of a promise it is making to you.

Extinguish all artificial lights in earshot. Cannot be reignited for a number of Turns equal to Witchery dice rolled.

Control the direction and intensity of the wind in a mile radius for a number of Turns equal to Witchery dice rolled.

This spell transforms the caster into a whirlwind and transports them a number of miles equal to Witchery dice rolled before transforming them back. 

Ghost Mail 
Deliver an object light enough you can carry it with one hand to a person or place within a number of Miles equal to number of Witchery dice rolled.

The caster and everyone they touch at time of casting can breathe underwater for a number of Turns equal to Witchery dice rolled.


  1. This is exactly spot on what I required for a charlatan / faker wizard a player of mine is building! Well done!

  2. anxy p and i were literally just texting about how there needs to be more mini games in dnd

  3. ok, so this witchery is a simplified version of Magic: the Magicking; i'm curious about the design process that led to each spell having one variable instead of four. do you feel the sting of not including multiple dials to fiddle with? does this spell system preclude certain spells that you would have otherwise liked to put on the list?

    1. I had four main reasons for
      1. This game is more about a plucky band of villagers keeping their community afloat, so magic users shouldn't be too powerful.
      2. This is a softer, lighter kind of fantasy than typical D&D or even Vance's Dying Earth, and I wanted spellcasters to be able to use magic more often.
      3. This isn't a game about magic per se, so I didn't want casters to steal the show with (relatively) time consuming mechanics.
      4. The original magic mechanic would be a huge pain to explain to my normal players, who don't have a mind for rules.

      I don't actually miss multiple dials too much. I like D&D spells as powerful tools with constrained scope--it is very fun to contrive situations in which your magic is useful. Magic: The Magicking spellcasting mechanics were more an engine to drive events forward whereas this magic is more like a toolset to solve problems within the fiction.

  4. I like the fishing, another reason to go dungeon delving is always a good thing but you buried the gold with the dice-pool spell caster. A doubly good post!

  5. Also, you can use these activities as a way to be alone with your spouse or your children and rediscover the fine art of conversation and conservation, without the outside interruptions of television, video games or a new text message that just came in on your teen's cell phone. This content