Sunday, August 11, 2013

So It Shall Be

Spirits for a Summoner to make pacts with. All spirit abilities are in addition to casting spells.

First Order spirits can neither cast spells while in contact with salt nor cross a line of salt.
  • Ignis Fatuus: can ignite flammable objects with a touch
  • Familiar: can turn into any mundane creature cat-sized or smaller
  • Goblin: can eat anything horse-sized or smaller
  • Great Stag: Carries 1 passenger. Moves three times as fast as an unencumbered human
  • Nosferatu: -1 to enemy morale rolls

Second Order spirits cannot cast spells while in contact with rowan wood.
  • Carmilla: recovers half damage dealt as HP
  • Cynocephalus: can assume the likeness of any human it or the Summoner has seen
  • Homunculus: can use equipment like a PC
  • Juggernaut: Carries 2 passengers. +2 AC to everyone on its back
  • Troll: 20 AC when guarding something

Third Order spirits cannot casts spells while in contact with cold iron, and take double damage from cold iron weapons.
  • Bahamut: Carries 3 passengers. Great serpentine fish, mobile in land and sea
  • Husk: Summoner can possess it, controlling it directly as their own body lies helpless.
  • Lamia: can command snakes
  • Roc: +3 to grapple checks; can fly
  • Undine: nearby allies can breathe underwater

Fourth Order spirits cannot cast spells while in contact with silver and take double damage from silver weapons.
  • Behemoth: can trample enemies for d10 damage
  • Ifrit: attack with flame, dealing d10 damage to all enemies in a 100 foot line
  • Dryad: allies that spend all their time in its presence heal d4 HP per day
  • Marid: any ship it is on will not sink due to natural storms
  • Wicker Man: carries 4 passengers, who are immune to all damage except fire

Fifth Order spirits do not have a particular weakness.
  • Colossus: +d12 damage
  • Dragon: Carries 5 passengers. Also flies
  • Dracula: can turn into a great swarm of bats (attack all enemies in cloud)
  • Revenant: Can possess the remains of creatures of up to 10 HD, gaining their abilities 
  • Seraph: can learn 5th level Cleric spells

Saturday, August 10, 2013

As You Wish It...

I lurve monster-conjuring, but Sword and Wizardry's Conjure Monster spells just don't do it for me, and LotFP's Summon has too many Radiant Frond Phallus Crabs. I wanted a class that was thematically similar to Final Fantasy style summoning, but also something that matched the King Solomon style bossing-genies-around. Rotten Pulp has an excellent take on this, but I was looking for something a little different. Here it is.

SUMMONER, a class for LotFP and retroclones

HP as Cleric, Saves and Equipment restrictions as Magic-User, XP as Elf

from final fantasy XIV
Summoners call forth spirits. When they do so, the spirit appears before them and obeys all of their spoken commands to the letter. In order to call forth a spirit, a Summoner must make a pact with it. 

There are 5 Order of spirits. A spirit’s Order determines how powerful it is and what kinds of spells it can cast. A Summoner can only make a pact with one spirit from each Order. This requires no more than the Summoner requesting a pact and the spirit accepting, though spirits are rarely accomodating. A Summoner can induce a spirit to accept a pact through bargaining, trickery, or violence.

Summoning or dismissing a spirit takes a number of rounds equal to half the spirit’s HD. If a spirit is reduced to 0 HP, its Summoner takes d6 damage for every HD the spirit had and cannot summon that spirit again for a full day. Spirits recover 1 HP a day no matter what, and cannot be magically healed. 

Note: All spirits can cast at least 1 spell per day, and no spirit can cast more than 5 spells per day. Spirits learn spells by eating them, and can cast any spell they know; they do not need to memorize them beforehand like a traditional Magic-User

1st Order Spirit: can cast a number of first level spells per day equal to the Summoner’s level. Has 2 HD, 10 AC, and deals d4 damage on a hit.

2nd Order Spirit: can cast a number of second level spells per day equal to half the Summoner’s level. Has 4 HD, 12 AC, and deals d6 damage on a hit.

3rd Order Spirit: can cast a number of third level spells per day equal to one third the Summoner’s level. Has 6 HD, 14 AC, and deals d8 damage on a hit.

4th Order Spirit: can cast a number of fourth level spells per day equal to one fourth the Summoner’s level. Has 8 HD, 16 AC, and deals d10 damage on a hit.

5th Order Spirit: can cast a number of fifth level spells per day equal to one fifth the Summoner’s level. Has 10 HD, 18 AC, and deals d12 damage on a hit.

So ideally this class will be as much about phrasing commands intelligently and managing Spirits in multiple location as it is about having the right spell. I think I might set up a random tables for for when players send spirits out on a mission unsupervised. 


Summoners call up Spirits. In order to do so, they must first enter a pact with it. Spirits in a pact will fight and cast spells at their Summoner’s command.

Each Spirit is associated with a Spell Level; they can only cast spells of that level--no higher and no lower. Spirits can cast any spell of the appropriate level known to them. They learn spells by eating them (in written form).

Spirits must agree to enter a pact. Summoners may induce a spirit to do so, through bargaining, trickery, or force. A Summoner cannot have a pact with two or more spirits with the same Spell Level. However, they can enter a pact with a Spirit more powerful than them. If a Summoner can track down and bind a Spirit, it is theirs to command.

When a Summoner calls up a Spirit, it appears before them and asks for orders. It will follow orders to the letter, and continue to follow a command until its conditions are met or told to do something else. Spirits only follow orders directly vocalized by their Summoner. It takes a number rounds equal to a Spirit’s Spell Level to summon or dismiss it, and giving a Spirit a new command takes up a Summoner’s entire turn. If a Spirit dies, the Summoner takes d6 damage for every HD the Spirit had, and the Spirit cannot be summoned again until the following day. Otherwise, spirits can be called forth as often as the Summoner wishes. Spirits regain 1 HP per day, and cannot be magically healed.

Spell Level
Spell Slot Progression
1/Summoner level
1/even  level
1/level divisible by 3
1/level divisible by 4
1/level divisible by 5

*Spirits start with 1 random spell of their Spell Level, regardless of Summoner level. The maximum number of spell slots a Spirit can have is 5.

A Summoner begins play with a pact with a Level I Spirit who knows 1 random 1st level spell.


Homunculus: Child-sized figure made of darkness; possesses a toothy grin. Summoner can see through its eyes and speak through its mouth.
Phantom: Can possess the remains of the fallen to gain +1 HP per HD the creature had in life.
Lamia: Upper body of a human, lower body of a great serpent. Mundane snakes follow her commands.
Ifrit: Can throw balls of fire that deal d10 damage on a hit.
Seraph: Can learn Level V Cleric spells, as well.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

More treasure

Got my copy of Dyson’s Delves, and it seems really handy. Don’t think I like the proliferation of plate +1's, though. I am not having consistently scaryweird magic items, but I still like special equipment to feel qualitatively/mechanically different than whatever they can buy in town. Also tried to include interesting mundane stuff, like a bow that shoots grappling hooks or a spear that is also a gun.

Still don't like too much magic stuff, though, so I think if a character has more than one magic item on their person, they'll have to roll on the Maleficar's Cast the Bones table to activate or benefit from them. Magic items as neat niche tricks.

  1. Abyssal Imprecation: Curse in an alien tongue. 0-handed weapon. Range: Targets everyone in earshot. Roll d20+Attack Bonus+Charisma modifier. Deals d8 damage to everyone it hits.
  2. Dreadful Doll: 0-handed weapon. Range: 100 feet. Roll d20+Attack Bonus+Charisma modifier to command this cloth-and-wire doll to attack or grapple.
  3. Gillespie-Thurber’s Dark Speech Dictionary Volume 6, W-Z: 2-handed weapon. Range: Earshot. Roll d20+Attack Bonus+Wisdom modifier against targets AC. On a hit, you can give the target a Command as the Cleric spell, but only with words that begin with W, X, Y, or Z.
  4. Dagger of Consumption: on a successful hit, recover HP equal to half of damage dealt
  5. Bow that can also launch a reusable grappling hook arrow
  6. Sword with a shield welded to the hilt (longsword damage and +1 AC, one handed weapon)
  7. Rapier with a lantern set into the hilt. Uses oil as fuel. Pressing a button in the handle releases all the remaining oil into special channels in the blade, causing it to deal +d6 damage for 3 rounds.
  8. A spear that is also a rifle. 2-handed weapon with reach. Acts as a ranged weapon 1/encounter. Can stab and shoot same target in one round.
  9. Dark sword: deals damage as longsword. On a sucessful hit, for every d4 damage the wielder chooses to take, the target takes d6 additional damage
  10. Storm Staff: One handed weapon. Range: Line of Sight. Roll d20+attack bonus+Intelligence modifier against target’s AC. On a hit, target takes d8 damage as they are struck by lightning. Only works outside. Critical fumbles disastrous.
  11. Slow Knife: dagger. On a hit, roll d20. Target takes 1 damage a round for that many rounds. Does not stack.
  12. Morphic Armament: Made of a weird rubbery substance. Can turn into any mundane weapon.
  13. Spiral Staff: 1 handed staff. When they use it, the wielder must make an Intelligence check. If they succeed, they cast a random spell on the target. If they fail, they cast a random spell on themselves.
  14. Giant War-fan. 2-handed. d8 damage, can clear mist, gas, and odors.
  15. Harpoon gun. 2-handed, ranged. d8 damage, target now connected to gun with a rope.
  16. Blunderbuss: 2 handed. Ranged. d10 damage, uses anything that fits inside as ammunition
  17. Blast Hammer: 2 handed weapon. Warhammer with an explosive cap on the business end. Deals d12+d8 damage on a hit, but only d12 damage if the explosive cap has been used and not replaced.
  18. Gemini Bow. Shortbow that can be split into 2 shortswords.
  19. Shotgun. d12+attack bonus+Dexterity mod damage. Attack roll is always an unmodified d20.
  20. Giant scissors. 2 handed, d12 damage.

  1. Colossus Armor. 20 AC, doesn't stack with any other bonus to AC, wearer's movement speed is reduced to ponderous graceless stomping
  2. Asbestos Armor: AC as chain, encumbrance as plate. Reduce damage from fire and heat by 10.
  3. Sealed Armor: AC as chain, encumbrance as plate. Reduce all damage from acid by 10.
  4. Hermetic Armor: AC as chain, encumbrance as plate. Reduce all damage from magic by 5.
  5. Furnace Armor: AC as chain, encumbrance as plate. Reduce all damage from cold and ice by 10.
  6. Chitin Armor: as chain. The armor has 2 extra arms you can manipulate as if they were your own.
  7. Revenant Plate: as plate. When killed, you can continue to act for a number of rounds equal to your Wisdom score before perishing.
  8. Revenge Cuirass: as leather. When killed, you explode, dealing 3d6 damage to everything in a 20 foot radius.
  9. Cat Hood: AC as plate, encumbers as cloth. Cloak with cloth cat ears stitched on hood. Makes you good at dodging.
  10. Viking Helm: ahistorical helmet with horns. Wearer deals +d4 damage for melee attacks, but takes +d4 damage from melee attacks, too
  11. Red Ribbon: +1 to all attribute checks to avoid harm
  12. Skull Helm: +1 to Dangerous Magic rolls
  13. Knight Helm: You can take damage for anyone adjacent to you
  14. Bat Wing Cape: you can glide 10 feet for every foot that you fall and do not take falling damage as long as you have room to glide.
  15. Security Mittens: +1 AC, don’t require a free hand. Can’t do anything that requires 5 fingers.
  16. Ghost Garb: AC as leather, encumbrance as cloth. You don’t leave footsteps or scent, and you count as half your size and weight for squeezing through spaces and figuring out what can support your weight.
  17. Morphic Armor: can turn into any type of mundane armor
  18. Jade Armor: as plate. wearer will not age.
  19. Coat of Teeth. As chain. Enemies have a -1 to morale
  20. Robe of Rags: as unarmored. Wearer is immune to disease and poison

1-4. Random book
5-7. Random spell formula
9. Gurning Poppet (see Wrathful Countenance link)
10. Flower Servant (see Wrathful Countenance link)
11. Somnolent Bell (see Wrathful Countenance link)
12. Random spell formula
13. Vial of Werewolf Serum: Drinker becomes a werewolf. See below.
14. A deed to a fallow and monster-infested estate.
15. Map to a long-lost, extremely dangerous, and thoroughly lucrative ruin.
16. A leaky pen. If someone writes a name other than their own with this pen, that name is now theirs. Everyone but their closest companions will act as if the writer is a completely different person that they do not know, and the world will act as if their old identity has gone missing. Works once before the ink runs out.
17. Moon earrings. Wearer receives +1 bonus to reaction rolls at night.
18. An extremely nice hat. Nothing magic about it, but everyone who sees it will agree it is the best hat they have ever seen.
19. A musical score that kills anyone who listens to it to completion.
20. A wooden mask that lets the wearer assume the perfect likeness of whoever’s name  is carved into its forehead; only works on the first name carved


Lycanthropes are hunted and reviled by all who know their nature (except their closest companions). Those afflicted with lycanthropy can turn into a werewolf at will. They must make a Wisdom check to turn back. When they have less than half of their maximum HP and take damage, they must make a Wisdom check if they do not want to transform. When they transform, all equipment changes with them. In werewolf form, they
  • Gain HP equal to twice their level as the moment of their transformation, even if this would raise their HP above their normal maximum
  • Have Armor as chain no encumbrance
  • Have 18 Strength
  • Deal d12 damage with their melee attacks
  • Cannot use magic, weapons, complex devices, or anything that requires patience, manual dexterity, or concentration
  • Must make an attack round, even if it is an ally
When a werewolf turns back into human form, they lose HP equal to twice their level, but this cannot bring them below 1 HP. Those afflicted with lycanthropy take double damage from silver weapons, regardless of what form they take, and switch to the elf's experience chart, regardless of class.

Monday, August 5, 2013

So What's the Deal About the Isle of Saturday?

My autumn game is coming up, and I really want to do a sandbox hex-crawl. It feels a little overwhelming, though, so I have decided to start the players out on an island with no easy way to leave, then making sure several of the adventure hooks lead to a way off. All in all, the set-up is a little contrived, but I think my players want more structure than I have been giving them, anyways. It also gives them things to want; I always wished my players would give their characters more motivations and ambitions, but having just rolled a character for a clearly defined setting, it dawned on me I never told them anything about the world other than what they needed to now at that exact moment.

So, here are the things that everyone on the island, including Level 1 PCs, knows. It also fits onto one page, so I have done my due diligence in not giving players homework. 

The Isle of Saturday  is currently under the effects of a dragon's curse; no wind blows and no current flows for hundreds of miles around, making travel to mainland impossible. It has been this way for hundreds of years.

Well known (but still difficult) ways to get off the island:
  • Help the engineers at the decrepit and widely scorned University construct a self-powered ship (a project they have been working on with no success for some centuries)
  • Destroy the source of the curse, an ancient and powerful dragon sealed away beneath the Isle by the long dead and still revered Hero Saturday.
Famous things:
  • The Vaults: numerous dungeons scattered across the Isle. Each contains the tomb of a companion of the Hero Saturday, as well as the now legendary weapons they used to fight the dragon
  • The Merchant Guild: organizes the trade caravans that link the Isle's ailing bastions of civilization. Always looking for guards, and those with enough money might even be able to set up a business and join as a member
  • The University: Though crumbling and thought to be an endless source of white elephant projects, its members will pay handsomely for creature specimens, archeological finds, and pieces of ancient technology
  • Castle Drear, the abandoned castle of Hero Saturday, now being excavated by the current Lord of Saturday for reasons unknown.
The Isle's Factions
  • Havenhoist, The Duke of Saturday: Hereditary ruler of the Isle. All towns, villages, and settlements belong to him. He commands the only army on the Isle, and Wonceworm, his loyal Court Wizard, is the famous for his magical ability (in addition to being the one who enforces the Duke's ban on uncertified magic). The Lord of Saturday's capital is Brass Town, built directly above the dragon's prison. 
  • Lady Orchid: Exiled sorceress and Pretender to the Throne. She plots coups and invasions from her lair in the Dark Grotto, and leads a coven of warlocks, werewolves, and undead. The most distant, wild places of the Isle are her domain.  
  • Irk, The Bandit Chief: colossal leader of a loose network of brigands, burglars, and grifters that spans the Isle. He is based in an ancient heathen temple.
  • The Dragon Bishop: leader of a cult that worships the dragon responsible for the Isle's curse. He leads his followers from the Temple of the Dragon, carved from the petrified remains of what is rumored to be the cursed dragon's sibling.

map for players, location names subject to change

Court Wizard Wonceworm. from suikoden.

Bandit Chief Irk. from suikoden.