'Design Discussion' Category

You Too Can Trip with Cantrips!

Monday, June 24th, 2019


As noted in prior posts, cantrips in my D&D hack are minor magics available to the Magic-user class, allowing them to create magical or supernatural effects with their magical powers, to help make up for the “one-shot wand” nature of their class, and give them more to do.

Unlike in other editions of D&D, cantrips are not spells. They do not need to be memorized, and there is no set list upon which the Magic-user can call. They are simply a supernatural boost to any normal task the wizard cares to attempt, or can simply be used to add a bit of flair to the character. They are considered a Tool. They are also the only Tool that can be utilized for any task or skill attempt that might be made. Because magic.

Read the rest of this entry »


Tuesday, June 4th, 2019


In the original D&D game, there are certain things that cause instant death for PCs, such as poison and reaching 0 hit points.

You take enough damage, or you fail a save, and it’s game over. Roll up a new character. Long experience has show me that this is not fun if a player is attached to that character, as most players are, and increasingly so with the time invested. At the same time, in a game where survival and mortal danger are core components of play and centrally-focused by the rules, simply excluding character death is unsatisfactory. Is there a way to have both?

Read the rest of this entry »

Sixty-Five Million HP

Sunday, April 14th, 2019


The perennial perceptual sticking point for many folks in OSR-type games: how do you imagine hit points as a component of the game’s imagined fiction?

This aged and hoary frustration arises from the increasing number of hit points as characters gain levels and as monsters increase in Hit Dice, since, past a certain point, hit points don’t make sense as a representation of physical damage taken. For if they represent physical damage, the players must imagine as characters increase in level they take less damage from sword thrusts and strikes, and that cure spells become less able to heal even tiny wounds, where once they healed major wounds.

Read the rest of this entry »

Adventures in Downtiming

Thursday, March 7th, 2019


Downtime. It’s what adventurers do between mighty quests of derring-do and limb-endangerment. Anything from working at their profession, to carousing, to adventuring. It also lets the characters spend all the gold and riches they’ve acquired.

The activities available to characters in my game during downtime are based on 5E’s Downtime rules, but I added other options of significance to make it potentially just as fun and interesting as any other kind of activity at the gaming table. Based on our prior session, it appears to have worked well!

Read the rest of this entry »

Magic is Irresistible

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019


For a couple sessions now, I’ve been wondering exactly how to handle spells in my OSR project. I feel like Magic-user spells in particular should be “overpowered” in the sense that they just work. No saves against the effects. Magic-user casts Charm Person? They are now your best friend. Until the effect wears off, at least. Sleep? Goodnight, sweetheart, have a great nap.

Because Magic-users are dangerous. Scary. What they command, just happens. That’s the whole schtick of the Magic-user. It’s why peasants and kings alike fear and distrust them.

Read the rest of this entry »