Bogeys — finish my table

One of the really odd but somehow cool things Fantasy Wargaming had in the character generation process was ‘bogeys’ — a chart of characteristics that helped individualize characters with personality traits, advantages, and quirks.  The table was constructed so that when you roll a percentile, a 01-32 was nothing, and all the remaining odd numbers were bad traits/stigmas/disadvantages, and all the even numbers were beneficial/advantageous traits.

The problem with the original bogey table in my opinion was that there were an inordinate number of sexual traits — you might roll bisexual, homosexual, fetishes, etc.  I guess I’d just rather leave sex out of the game, or at least not encourage a player to make their character’s sexual preferences a defining trait for roleplaying.  So I mostly took them out.  There are also bogeys like heretic/atheist/Jewish/Muslim … which I can understand being a major thing in a medieval game but for fantasy, I’d rather avoid that kind of stuff too.

So my bogey table made a lot of changes, and I took GURPS’ advantages and disadvantages for more inspiration, and came up with this chart.

I think in hindsight, there are way too many “choice” results, and I should either use two d30 tables, or revert 1-32 to “Nothing”s.  Or add 30 more results.  That seems like the kind of thing that would make a good crowdsource/Gygaxian democracy project.  So hey — if you can think of some more traits that would fall in line with these, drop ’em in the comments. Generally speaking, if there is any kind of mechanical effect, they should be a plus or minus one to certain rolls, nothing too major. I just copied the table from my document, which used two columns, so all the odd are first and then the evens.  I’ll fix it in the final version if I can get some more entries.  you’ll notice hald-elf and half-orc are bogeys, as I am using race-as-class and assume that half-humans just use human classes.

01-32: even, player’s choice; odd, DM’s choice

33. Ugliness, -1 Cha

35. One eye/one hand/no nose etc.

37. Poor sight. Can’t read or -1 to hit with missiles

39. Hard of hearing

41. Stammer

43. Limp, base move 25′ (15′ if dwarf)

45. Asthma/Allergy, -1 Con

47. Belligerent

49. Gullible, -1 Int

51. Insomnia

53. Hypochondria

55. Alcoholism/Addiction

57. Gluttony

59. Compulsive gambler, can’t refuse a bet

61. Spendthrift

63. Miserly

65. Depression

67. Paranoia

69. Distrustful

71. Kleptomania

73. Absent-minded, -1 Wis

75. Phobia (pick one)

77. Half-orc, -1 Cha

79. Hunchback, -1 Str

81. Superstition (pick one)

83. Sense of duty

85. Vow

87. Overconfidence

89. Fanatic

91. Cowardice

93. Overweight

95. Color blind

97. Albinism

99. Dwarfism/Giantism


34. Beautiful. +1 Cha

36. Presence of mind, +1 save vs. fear

38. Critical thinker, +1 Int

40. Gift of sleep, can sleep anywhere, +1 Con

42. Iron stomach, +1 save vs. poison

44. High pain threshold, +1 hp/HD

46. High alcohol tolerance

48. Keen eyesight, +1 to hit with missiles

50. Keen hearing

52. Keen smell

54. Animal empathy

56. Green thumb

58. Born swimmer (x 1.5 rate)

60. Born climber (x 1.5 rate)

62. Sense of location

64. Empathy

66. Good luck (reroll any die once/session)

68. Gift of tongues, +2 starting languages

70. Half-elf, +1 Cha

72. Hot blooded, -1/die damage from cold

74. Ambidextrous

76. Common sense (one Mulligan/session)

78. Artistic talent (choose 2 arts)

80. Double-jointed

82. Tremendous lung capacity

84. Honest face (people believe you)

86. Mechanical genius

88. Graceful, +1 Dex

90. Strong willed, +1 to Will saves

92. Alert, +1 Wis

94. Barrel chested, +1 Str

96. Lightning reflexes, +1 to Reflexes saves

98. Inconspicuous, +2 to stealth checks

00. Visions (1 in 6 chance of prophetic dreams)



Published in: on January 13, 2012 at 9:00 am  Comments (5)  
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Walking through doors makes you forget things. No, really, that’s just science.

Here’s some things that magic doorways can do in your gonzo funhouse dungeon.

  1. Portal of Forgetfulness. Spellcasters lose one memorized spell; non-spellcasters  forget what they were doing and end their move a step or two through the doorway.
  2. Portal of Rage. Attack any enemy in sight; roll vs. WIS to recognize allies if no enemies are in sight.
  3. Portal of the Mirror. Left/right reversal of character and all possessions, as the character is now his/her mirror image.  This may mess up your books and scrolls, people who know you well will think there is something weird about how you look now.
  4. Portable Portal. If taken off its hinges, this door can be placed on any solid surface and act as a portal to whatever is on the other side.
  5. Portal of Years. Crossing the threshold moves one forward or backward in time.  User disappears…
  6. Portal of Years (ver.2) Crossing the threshold adds or subtracts one year from age. May not be apparent until after a number of crossings.
  7. Portal of Tears. Overcome with intense sadness lasting d6 turns, unable to do anything useful, save to snap out of it if attacked.
  8. Portal of Penury. Gold turns to copper; gems turn to common rocks.
  9. Doors of Perception. Senses rearranged or completely changed.  For example the user might lose normal vision and see only in another wavelength or manner (infrared, ultraviolet, x-ray, black and white, etc.); or hear scents, see sounds, taste colors, etc.
  10. Revolving Door. Passing through the door has a 50% chance of sending the user back out the way he came in.
  11. Door of No Return. There simply is no way back through this door.  Once passed through, the door way is gone.
  12. Door of Hope. User healed. Unfortunately the wounds/disease return if you go back out through this portal.
  13. Door of Transmutation.  Skin becomes transparent, or changes color; hair falls out or grows luxuriously; etc.  Roll on the mutation table in Realms of Chaos if you have it; if not just make something up.
  14. Doors of Evasion. A set of doors which randomly connect, such that passing through one doorway might lead to any of a number other doorways, with no rhyme or reason; possibly these doors are all arranged to open into one hallway or chamber.
  15. Distorting Door.  Moving through this door shrinks you down to 1/12 size.  The hallway/room on the other side of the door is to scale.  But just looking through the doorway, you’d think nothing funny was going on.
  16. Door of Remembrance.  OMG, you were something else in another life.  Roll on the Reincarnation table (per the spell — or just roll on a wandering monster table appropriate to your level) to see what you were.  You will gain some memories, and maybe a language!
  17. Portal of Doom. You see a premonition of your own demise. Penalty to saves/checks until you die, have the curse lifted, etc.
  18. Portal of Transmigration. Oh crap, mind switched with that of the last of user of the door.  If this is the first time someone has used the door, no effect, but as DM I’d roll a wandering monster to see what you switch with..
  19. Portal of Recall.  Whatever you are doing when you pass through the door, the next time you do it, you will be teleported back to this doorway.  Talking, running, gesturing, … if you just walk through normally, there is no effect.
  20. Bergeron Portal.  Lose one point from your highest stat, which is transferred to the PC with the lowest number on that stat.  There’s your freaking balance, crybaby!

The effects of some doors and portals can be reversed by walking backwards through them, or by other means.  Maybe.

Published in: on November 26, 2011 at 10:00 am  Comments (2)  
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The award-winning dungeon designer had now also been mentioned horonably

Woot! Honorable mention in the Fight On! tables thing … which I am pretty sure means my table will be published.  That’s nice, especially since the table itself garnered no comments when I posted it, and I have not actually had a chance to use it yet.  The sprites on level one of Telengard have been scrupulously avoided by the party. 😦  I believe I also entered the Thrones of Telengard tables, which I have used quite a bit.  I notice that one overachiever won more than once! Good going!

Anyway congratulations to all the winners and all the other entries, whether you were mentioned honorably, dishonorably, or merely unmentionable.  I’m looking forward to seeing the book, when it is published, even though I’ll have to buy my copy like the rest of the hoi polloi.

Published in: on July 31, 2011 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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Sprite curses

April Fool’s Day is traditionally the time people put up prank posts, but screw that. It’s also a perfect time to write up some pranks monsters can play on PCs. I’m going the easy route and focusing on curses placed by sprites.

Sprites are supposed to be nonlethal but annoying. They can cast curses on PCs, as their main attack, and the effects can be pretty much anything that is annoying or just embarrassing — the rules are completely open-ended, at least in B/X and earlier editions of D&D. (Are there sprites in 4th ed.? Or are they irrelevant to combat and thus left out?)

They might make a dwarf’s beard fall out, or make a halfling smell strongly and offensively of feet, or give an elf large warts on her nose, and so on. Sometimes it’s pretty easy to think of something that will humiliate a given character, but other times if you’re like me you’d rather just roll something up on a table. This month I’m going to try to write more of the kind of posts I like to read, and one kind of post I love reading is random tables, so here’s a table of spritely curses because that’s just the kind of thing I’d probably need at some point in my campaign anyway. Most of these will cause reaction penalties. All sprite curses are permanent but may be removed by a Remove Curse spell.

D30 table of sprite curses

  1. Nose begins to grow d20 inches longer, sprouting small branches and leaves as it does so.
  2. Anything placed in a pocket, pouch, sack, or pack will, 50% of the time, disappear and reappear in another random container/pocket/pouch/etc. on the target’s person.
  3. Stinkfingers. One of target’s hands permanently smells of feces.
  4. Dribbles. Target always dribbles when drinking any beverage. 1 in 6 chance any given potion imbibed will be at 1/2 strength or effect due to loss of volume.
  5. Must speak in questions only. (If the player messes up and makes a statement, his character feels a stinging pain. Subsequent errors will cause 1 hp nonlethal damage.)
  6. Must always give false answers to any questions, with same penalties as #5 above for errors.
  7. Can only shout, never whisper or speak normally.
  8. Hair grows 6″ per day. Including body hair.
  9. Sprouts small butterfly-like wings.
  10. Face freezes in ugly grimace.
  11. Eyes water continuously.
  12. Whoopee! Whenever target stands or begins walking, it sounds like he/she farted.
  13. Stomach growls audibly whenever target sees or smells food.
  14. Butterfingers. 2 in 6 chance to drop anything fragile when picking it up or setting it down/putting it away.
  15. Feet grow several sizes, splitting whatever footwear is currently worn. Over the course of a week they grow clown-shoe sized. Penalty to climb, run, etc.
  16. Hiccups. These subside occasionally but always return. Stealth is impossible.
  17. Suddenly very attractive to all animals in the area, who will follow the PC and put on mating displays and possibly attempt to mate.
  18. Grow whiskers, chin recedes, nose grows pointed, ears grow rat-like.
  19. Sneezing fits (lasting a full turn) whenever a member of the opposite sex touches or comes very close.
  20. Small yellow flowers begin to grow in among body hair. They smell strongly but not entirely unpleasant.
  21. Any clothes immediately show large sweat stains on chest and armpits; armor will rust slightly in same areas; body odor is noticeable even in medieval culture.
  22. Colorful mushrooms sprout from neck and shoulders. Every few days they release very fecund spores which can grow on any organic material, living or dead.
  23. Skin turns bright blue.
  24. Tattoo of the word “Stoopid” (in Common) appears on forehead.
  25. Followed by a halo of flies/gnats/bees at all times.
  26. Any food touched turns to tasteless mush; drinks turn to stagnant, brackish water. It is still edible/drinkable, just lousy.
  27. Severely cross-eyed. Misread any writing on a 3 in 6 (scroll spells will fail or be reversed). Memorize wrong spell on a 2 in 6 (roll randomly among those in your spellbook).
  28. Any gold or silver touched or possessed turns to copper.
  29. Any strings, ropes, chains, etc. handled, touched, or carried become hopelessly tangled and useless.
  30. Target is unable to speak or write proper names; all communication must use common nouns, pronouns, etc. Same penalties as #5 above.

Apart from the obvious & expected effects on one’s appearance, I thought it would be fun to add some ‘taboos,’ creating something along the lines of mini-games Telecanter has described, and also some effects that would inconvenience a character by ruining resources and equipment. None of these should be directly life-threatening, although the chance of offending and even provoking patrons/rulers/other major NPCs seems pretty good!

Update: It occurs to me now that if you are like me, you’ll forget about the curses long before the PCs pony up for a Remove Curse spell.  (And/or the players will forget after a session or two.)  So I would write the curse down on an index card the player has to keep.  You could even make up a “deck” of spritely curses if your party is planning an extended foray into fairyland.

Published in: on April 1, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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…what it’s got in its nassty little pocketses?

I was never a customer of the Judges Guild products BITD. When my brother & bought anything game related, it was almost always rules, and pretty much never a module or adventure. Among the very few exceptions were a few supplements that combined adventures with new rules (the Dwarves and Dark Folk books by Role Aids. I don’t think we ever used anything in them, although we enjoyed reading them!) Anyway since getting swept along in the wave of nostalgia, I’ve been looking at a few of their products. Adventures like Caverns of Thracia get rave reviews, and the City State of the Invincible Overlord is pretty popular, but I can’t see using a published setting under any circumstances. However one module I stumbled across (Heroic Expeditions by Edward R. G. Mortimer) had three adventures, one for a “party” two half-orcs and one (IIRC) for a party of halflings; not sure about the third. It had one awesome idea I am stealing in my game: a table of random mundane items. And when I say mundane, I mean things like wooden boxes and teabags, but also a few more useful items like candles and torches as well as coins and a few valuables. When the PCs kill a random humanoid (or human or demihuman) and searches the body, I use this table rather than the crummy “d6 coppers” or “2d6 silver” or whatever they normally carry. (If they kill 20 goblins, I’ll just roll a few times, not 20!) Anyway here is the d100 table of random mundane treasures.  Half of the entries and the original idea are pretty much straight from Heroic Expeditions, so obviously Ed Mortimer and Judges Guild deserve the lions’ share of the credit.  Mr. Mortimer was kind enough to grant me permission use his table for this post and share my version provided he & JG are given due credit, and no-one tries to profit from his work. He said that he used this table a lot as a DM and remembers it fondly.

This also seems like exactly the sort of table DM Muse should be turning into a “living table,” so if Dion decides to incorporate it into his site, I hope others will add more items.

Mundane Items Table (PDF)

Published in: on March 21, 2011 at 6:00 am  Comments (2)  
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DM Muse — a great idea

Dion over at DM Muse came up with a very neat idea — he’s taking OSR tables and putting them into online generators.  I’m flattered that he’s started with my “barrel” table (and even wrote me to ask permission!) but he’s hoping people will contribute more and offer additions to tables, so that you can go beyond d30, d50, or d100 results!  He’s even talking about integrating results so that, say, if you find a gem in a barrel, the generator will also roll up a random gem description and value.  This could be seriously awesome.  I encourage everyone to offer up your tables, or additions to existing tables, or just to cheer him on and spread the word.  This sounds seriously cool, even if you don’t use a computer at the table.

Check it out: DM Muse

Published in: on March 18, 2011 at 10:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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What’s in the barrel?

Snow day! Woot! School is closed and so is my employer! I took my daughter out for some sledding and snow-shoveling, and now that we’ve had some hot cocoa and she is taking a nap, I’m following up on the barrels & jars!

Barrels and large clay pots are distributed through some areas of the dungeon Telengard. They might be ancient storage vessels, or still in use by the dungeon’s inhabitants. They might be traps. When some undead creatures are turned by clerics, they often try to return to their graves, but if their graves have been disturbed or desecrated they have to seek other accommodations, and barrels (and even pots) will do in a pinch. Certain fiendish monsters also hide in vessels. Searching a barrel or pot carefully takes time (a full turn for sealed vessel that is also being checked for traps). But a smash & grab takes just a round, although the smasher is exposed to more danger. Opening a vessel carefully only springs a trap on a 1-2 on d6; smashed vessels that are trapped are sprung on a 1-4. Some of these ideas are stolen from suggestions here and here, and others are stolen from computer games like Diablo.

Wait! Don't smash them yet!

Opening a vessel (d30):

  1. Empty
  2. 2d6 silver pieces
  3. Bones of a warrior, which will animate as a skeleton when exposed to air
  4. Trap: Explosive gas ignites, save vs. Breath Weapon or take 2d6 damage
  5. d6 pounds of grave dirt (possibly useful to a necromancer)
  6. d4 chickens (they were asleep, but opening or smashing the vessel wakes them
  7. another pot (& another & another). Roll again for the third vessel
  8. a Beer ooze
  9. a Schrodinger key (stealing an idea from another blog) — will open a single locked door on a roll of 1 on a d12.
  10. the artwork on the pot itself is a map to the current dungeon level (or, a map is glued under the lid of the barrel)
  11. the vessel is inscribed (roll on the scroll treasure table) — smashing it ruins the scroll, of course
  12. it is filled with honey (rations for d10 days!) but the honey is also being used to preserve a corpse, and this is not apparent until about 1/2 of the honey is consumed*
  13. a random monster(s), miniaturized. Smashing the vessel releases in (roll on the wandering monster table)
  14. bones
  15. ashes
  16. sand
  17. a random potion
  18. d6 gold pieces
  19. trapped! the vessel holds a spring-loaded arrow (roll to hit as a 4HD monster, and does d6 damage)
  20. trapped! the vessel is filled with poisonous gas, save or die
  21. trapped! the vessel is filled with sleeping gas, save or sleep
  22. trapped! if opened, the vessel shrinks the opener and seals him inside, in stasis (which explains 13 above)
  23. a random mundane item
  24. a random mundane item, with a Nystul’s Aura-type enchantment
  25. a random magic item
  26. a wraith or specter, sealed inside (released when the vessel is broken or opened)
  27. filled with flies, which will swarm and blind all in the room for d10 rounds
  28. filled with a dormant beehive
  29. lined with ceramic, lead, or wax, and filled with green slime, ochre jelly, black pudding, etc.
  30. marbles

Obviously some of this is a nuisance and some is dangerous but there are a lot of beneficial results too so the table should tempt players, at least until a wraith shows up. I’ll probably need to change the table every few levels, and add contents appropriate to the theme for the themed levels of Telengard.

*Honey will crystallize but remains edible indefinitely, as the sugar content is too high to allow bacteria to grow in it, unless water is added. There is an apocryphal story about a desert explorer who found an ancient, huge pot of honey, and lived on the contents for days until he noticed hair in the honey and, investigating further, an ancient mummified corpse inside. Alexander the Great and Democritus were both alleged to have been mummified in honey, at least temporarily, and it seems possible that honey could, by osmosis, desiccate a body (probably it would need to be thoroughly pierced, and disemboweled, to allow the honey to get inside the body, though). I wish I could remember where I read that story. It was either in Aleister Crowley’s mostly fantastic autobiography, or else in an archeological book I read about the search for Dilmun…

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm  Comments (7)  
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The Thrones of Telengard

Jewel-encrusted thrones are surprisingly common in the dungeons of Telengard. Sages speculate that they are stolen from earthly kingdoms, created by haughty monsters, or simply left as bait for adventurers.

The effects below may break the fourth wall a little but are meant to be fun. For less fun settings, you may want to adapt more balanced results. 😛

Sitting on a throne (d30): A strange magic grips you…
01. Teleported up one level to a room keyed to the same number (if available). Otherwise a random room.
02. Teleported down one level to a room keyed to the same number (if available). Otherwise a random room.
03. Curse: may not tell a lie of any kind.
04. Curse: must always tell lies.
05. Curse: may only speak in questions.
06. Boon: detect gold and silver, 60′, for two hours.
07. Boon: continual light is cast on your hat, helmet, or other headgear. If no headgear, it is cast on your hair. Far out, man.
08. Boon: healed d8 HP.
09. Wandering monster attracted; roll its reaction. If friendly, it regards the character as its king.
10. One random item in your possession disappears.
11. One random item in your possession is duplicated.
12. One random stat suffers a -1.
13. One random stat gets a +1.
14. Temporary infravision (d6 hours).
15. Temporary blindness (d6 hours)
16. Ears grow six inches, +1 to Listen.
17. All fingers turn into thumbs. -1 Tinkering. But what a grip!
18. Feel the power surge into you. Gain (dungeon level x 200) XP.
19. All cast spells are re-memorized.
20. Mind reels. All uncast spells changed — shift one down on list.
21. It’s good to be the king. Double next treasure found.
22. It’s good to be the king. Backpack fills to capacity with silver pieces.
23. It’s good to be the king. A crown falls into the character’s lap (roll random jewelry for value).
24. It’s lonely at the top. -1 to reaction rolls for the rest of the day.
25. Delusions of grandeur. Character thinks next monster encountered is his footman.
26. +1 STR.
27. +1 CHR.
28. Primary weapon enchanted to +1 for remainder of the day. If already magical it gains another +1 for one day.
29. Quivers and scabbards refill.
30. Waterskin refills.

Prying gems from a throne. (d6) Takes 1 turn. Thieves subtract one from roll.
01. Success! d6 gems (random value) retrieved
02. Partial success! One gem retrieved.
03. No luck.
04. Gems ruined, no value.
05. Random monster appears.
06. Magical trap on that one. 2d6 electrical damage.

Read the runes. A successful Read Languages roll will allow a character to read the runes. The effects of the runes vary, but they only work once.

01. Trap (Explosive runes, 3d6 damage)
02. Trap (Alarm calls wandering monster (use table for Level+1)
03. Confusing stuff. -1 WIS.
04. Wisdom of the ages. +1 WIS.
05. A riddle! Solve it in 60 seconds and gain +1 WIS.
06. Casts random 1st level Cleric spell on reader.
07. Casts random 2nd level Cleric spell on reader.
08. Blinded for d6 turns
09. Inspired! +2 to hit, damage, and AC for one turn
10. Learn one random Wizard/Elf spell (if Wizard or Elf)
11. Gain (d6 x 100 x dungeon level) XP
12. A vision — may look at the DM’s map for two minutes.

Published in: on November 6, 2010 at 6:00 am  Comments (3)  
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Devil’s in the details: half-orcs

The OSR is kicking around random tables to give demihuman characters a little on-the-fly background.

I don’t actually have the issue of Fight on! this references but I think I get it. There is already a really good orc table, but no one has claimed half-orcs as far as I know, so here goes; apologies if this isn’t in the proper pattern. (more…)

Published in: on March 11, 2010 at 9:52 pm  Comments (2)  
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