LotFP Class: Totem Magician (FFX Lulu)

A couple years back, I took some of the more interesting Final Fantasy X characters, and turned them into LotFP Classes. At the time, I’d intended to take a crack at Lulu, but she’s tough. She’s a bog-standard black mage, which is just the Final Fantasy equivalent of the Magic User. What is there to say?

Then recently, as I was writing about Fighter’s Armies, I started really digging in to the idea of class choice being more about complexity than about mechanics. I choose a fighter when I want to play something simple, I choose a magic user when I want to play something complicated. Naturally, this led me to thinking about switching those roles around. Create a complex fighter, and a simple magic user.

It’s hardly an original idea. D&D 3.5 made dozens of attempts to simplify the magic user with the Sorcerer, Warlock, Warmage, and so on. Fighters, of course, got the notorious Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic. So it doesn’t escape me that I’m on thin ice here. This is an oft-traveled road, and it has led to some truly questionable results in the past. To make matters even worse, I’m going to throw in a magical resource pool. A thing which every 12-year-old tries, and which has basically never worked. But what the hell? I do this shit for fun.

The Totem Mage
Totem Mages are faking it. They don’t have any magical powers of their own. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time to make friends with a disembodied intelligence that needed someone to carry it around. Usually this intelligence treats their host like shit though, so it’s not all good luck.

The real magician is the intelligence, which lives inside a totem. Totems can can take many forms: a teddy bear, a ceramic doll, even a sock puppet. The only real requirement is that whatever form it takes should have a mouth, so it can whisper things to its host.

If the totem is destroyed, the host will need to find a suitable replacement. Until it has a new totem to live in, the intelligence can’t cast any spells.

When the situation calls for it, totem and host can separate and move around on their own, allowing the player to functionally control 2 characters. However, the host cannot cast spells without the totem. And without the host, the totem has a movement rate of 20′(60′), an armor rating of 12, 1 hit point, and all of its saving throws require a 17 or better.

Totem mages share their hit dice and saves with the Magic User, and use the Fighter’s experience table.

Totem Mage Casting

All of the Totem Mage’s spells are evocations which deal 1d6 damage per caster level. Whenever they cast, the Totem Mage must choose what shape their spell will take, and what type of damage their spell will deal.

There are 5 possible spell shapes, most of which require the Totem Mage to spend some of their mana. For each level the Totem Mage has, they have 3 points of mana in their mana pool. The pool can only be replenished by a full night’s sleep.

Spell Shapes

Touch (0 Mana): Affects a single target after a successful melee touch attack. Since it costs 0 mana, this shape allows the Totem Mage to continue casting even after their mana pool is completely empty for the day.

Thrown (1 Mana): The caster forms a little ball in their hand, which they throw. Affects a single target after a successful ranged touch attack.

Line (2 Mana): The caster points a finger, and a line 60′ long and 5′ wide erupts from that starting point. Everyone along the line takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Cone (3 Mana): The caster splays their hands out, thumb touching thumb, and a cone of energy erupts from them. The cone is 60′ long, and spreads out to be 40′ wide at its terminus. Everyone within this area takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Sphere (4 Mana): The caster indicates a target individual or location within their line of sight. From that spot, a sphere of energy erupts out to a 30′ radius. Anything within this space takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.

Damage Types

Whatever shape the Totem Mage casts in, they need something to fill that space. It wouldn’t do much good to cast a cone of “gentle breeze” after all. The spell needs to pack some punch.

At every odd numbered level (1, 3, 5, 7, etc), the Totem Mage should roll to determine a new type of damage that they’ve managed to add to their repertoire. If they roll something they’ve already got, re-roll until you get something new.

At first, the Totem Mage must roll on the basic list. After level 6, however, they may choose whether they want to roll on the basic list, or the advanced list. Most of the advanced damage types allow the caster to sacrifice some number of damage dice from their roll. These sacrificed dice will lead to some additional effect on their targets.

Referee and player should both bear in mind that every damage type will have some things it is particularly effective against, and some things it may not be effective against at all.

Basic Damage Types

  1. Fire – A self-explanatory element. The referee should note any objects in the area which may catch fire. Using the Touch spell shape, this can also be used to light candles, burn ropes, cauterize wounds, etc.
  2. Cold – Heat drains away from the area, possibly forming little crystals of ice. Can also be used to freeze water, chill drinks, stave relieve heat stroke, etc.
  3. Acid – A liquid which melts organic material, such as flesh and wood. Has no effect on minerals, such as stone or metal.
  4. Metal Shards – Little spinning shards of metal fill the space, piercing and slicing everything they touch.
  5. Electricity – Lightning arcs between every available target. A caster using the Touch spell shape may be able to feed a machine a steady stream of electricity, turning them into a kind of walking battery.
  6. Sonic – Vibrations pierce the ears of anything that can hear, shatter glass or crystal, and may even shake a few screws loose from constructs.

Advanced Damage Types

  1. Poison Gas – The caster may sacrifice half of their damage dice to require anyone who failed their save to make a second save against Poison. On failure, the targets will fall asleep.
  2. Force – A relentless bludgeoning which strikes over and over again like a thousand fists. For each die of damage the caster sacrifices, targets who are hit must move back 10′. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then they only need to move back half the total distance.
  3. Pure Arcane Magic – Ignores all elemental or physical immunities, and does not allow for misses or saves. However, instead of dealing d6s of damage, the caster must roll d4s.
  4. Gravity – Targets are slammed prone against the ground with force. For each die of damage sacrificed, the earth gives way beneath the targets, pulling them down into a pit 5′ deep for each die sacrificed. (The pit is formed by the downward force of their body, so there is no falling damage). If a target makes their save versus Breath, then any pit they make is only half as deep.
  5. Vitality Drain – Eldritch tentacles reach into the targets’ bodies and rip out their essences. For each target which takes at least 1 hit point of damage, the caster gains 1 hit point, up to their usual maximum.
  6. Earth – A hail of stones and dirt rise up from the ground to pelt the targets. If the caster sacrifices half of their damage dice, they may bury their targets up to the waist. If they sacrifice all of their damage dice, they may bury their targets entirely beneath a heap of dirt and stone. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then if they would have been completely buried, they are only half buried. And if they would have been half buried, they are not buried at all.





1d100 Payments

giphyMoney may not always be sufficient for the goods or services that the players want. Extraordinary desires can only be satisfied by extraordinary payments.

Not every payment here will be suitable for every situation, so feel free to re-roll if the payment doesn’t fit your needs. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to massage your situation a bit to make an interesting payment type work.

Many of the payments listed below can work on several different levels. For example, if the roll indicates that the creditor wants a pig, that can mean a lot of things. They may want any pig, or they may want some specific pig which they are covetous of. They may want a pig of a certain quality, or the may want to force the indebted to experience what it is like to lose a pig, for some unknowable purpose. My point being: none of the payments should be taken simply as they are written. There is room for a bit of creativity with them.

  1. The indebted character must surrender a pound of flesh to their creditor. They may opt to take the flesh from anywhere they like, but regardless of where it is taken from, it will likely result in some degree of physical disability, determined by the referee. A chunk from a leg might result in slower movement speeds, a chunk from the torso might lower constitution, etc.
  2. The creditor requires the indebted’s soul. The consequences of soul loss must be determined by the referee. A reduced, or no response to clerical magics, a certainty of an unpleasant afterlife, a reduced ability to resist mind-affecting magics…many things might be said to be possible only through the benefit of a soul.
  3. The creditor requires a soul. It does not need to be any particular soul. In most cases, souls must be offered willingly, and the indebted may find themselves offering faustian bargains to others. The referee may also allow some means of forcibly extracting or binding a soul for this purpose. Souls can also be purchased from creatures of the lower planes, though these do not come cheap. Nor will their cost be measured in currency.
  4. The indebted must surrender one of their fingers. Assuming it’s the first one, they can probably get away with just one of their pinkies. There’s no penalty for that! Eventually, though, missing fingers start to add up.
  5. The indebted must endure the removal of one of their eyes as payment. They take a significant penalty to making ranged attacks.
  6. The indebted must be scalped. The process is immensely painful, and a severe shock to the system, reducing the indebted to a mere 1d4 hit points. Their hair never really grows back properly.
  7. 1d4 pints of the indebted’s blood are required. A loss of 1 may be fairly negligible. 2 will be a severe shock to the system. Any more than that will reduce the indebted to 1 hit point, and they will be unable to adventure for 3 or 4 weeks.
  8. The indebted must provide a sample of their reproductive legacy: either an egg, or some of their semen. (In the former case, some means of extraction will need to be provided). Presumably, whomever wants this has a way of making use of it.
  9. The indebted must seek out and retrieve a particular rare plant, which is an essential ingredient in some recipe their creditor wishes to prepare.
  10. The indebted must surrender one of their secrets. Incidental secrets will not do. They cannot reveal their mother’s maiden name, or any other fact which is not known simply because no one cares to know it. The secret provided must be something which would be damaging to the indebted if it became known. One example would be a shameful thing that would ruin the character’s reputation. (Players may opt to create a shameful backstory detail for their character if they wish). Another option is something which the character benefits from exclusive knowledge of: such as a spell or technique, the hiding place of a treasure horde, or even a piece of blackmail the character is using against an NPC.
  11. The indebted must subject themselves to torture, and allow the creditor to extract their suffering from them via a strange apparatus.
  12. The creditor has fallen in love with a particular person, who does not love them back. The indebted must make that person fall in love with their creditor. Or, if all else fails, kidnap that person and bring them to the creditor, who will hold them hostage until Stockholm syndrome sets in.
  13. The indebted must surrender a loved one to their creditor. It’s unclear what happens to this loved one, they may be killed, or enslaved, or experimented on, but regardless of the specifics, they will be taken from their normal life and put to some use deemed appropriate by the creditor. In this instance, not just any person will do. It must be someone the indebted cares deeply about. The creditor may have a means by which to verify this.
  14. The creditor wishes to be paid in slaves. They may come from anywhere, but must be of good quality: strong, attractive, capable, and able to understand a language the creditor speaks. Not so young or so old as to be useless.
  15. The indebted must betray an existing trust, perhaps with a friendly NPC, or a member of the party. There may, or may not be a specific sort of betrayal required, but in either case it must be significant enough to destroy the indebted’s relationship with that person.
  16. The indebted must violate some vow which they had previously taken upon themselves. The vow may be religious, contractual, filial, et al. If the character is not currently subject to such a vow, they may be given the opportunity to go make a vow.
  17. The indebted must gain the trust of a person specified by their creditor. Once they’ve successfully become close with that person, they are obligated to betray them in some specific manner.
  18. The indebted must relinquish their right to seek justice for some wrongdoing. This may be a past wrongdoing–such as the murder of the character’s mother which has driven them to adventure–or it may be a future wrongdoing, anticipated by their creditor. In either case, the indebted cannot pursue either legal or vigilante justice for that specific wrong.
  19. The creditor wants the indebted’s voice. Obviously, once it is taken, the indebted will be unable to speak. Furthermore, the creditor may use their acquired voice in any number of ways.
  20. The Indebted must surrender their first born child. If they already have children, this must be done immediately. If they do not, they may or may not be expected to make an immediate effort to produce a child.
  21. At a future time of the creditor’s choosing, the indebted will be require to take no action. Most likely, the inaction of the indebted will cause some preventable ill to occur.
  22. Credit for one of the indebted’s accomplishments must instead be given to the creditor. It may be a past or a future accomplishment, and the transfer of credit may be either mundane (It was not I who slew the dragon. It was Dave!), or it may be magical (Everybody just remembers that it was Dave who slew the dragon the whole time).
  23. The indebted must surrender all of their weapons to the creditor. It does not matter whether they are special or not, so long as it is every weapon the indebted currently has access to.
  24. The creditor demands a vow of of nonviolence from the indebted, which will last for 1d4 (1-2. Days, 3-5. Weeks, 6. Months).
  25. The indebted must perform an assassination against a target of the creditor’s choosing.
  26. The indebted must agree to become the template for a clone, or group of clones, which will serve the will of their creditor.
  27. The creditor wishes to implant a device in the indebted’s eyes. This device will allow the creditor to record and review anything that the eyes see, for the rest of the indebted’s life.
  28. The creditor requires a new color. This may be as simple as procuring a rare kind of paint, or it may entail visiting other realities where colors exist which remain unimagined by mortal mind.
  29. The debt cannot be resolved until the indebted produces a new kind of music for their creditor. It must be wholly original to the creditor’s experience, which may be more or less difficult depending on the creditor’s musical experience. For some fat king who never leaves his hall, this may be as simple as bringing them folk music, archaic forms of music, or music from a far off land. For more musically experienced creditors, the indebted may need to invent Rock & Roll or something.
  30. The indebted must produce the solution to some mathematical problem. Unless the character is unusually skilled with math, it’s unlikely they will be able to find the solution simply by solving the problem themselves. They will either need to embark on a great mathematical study (Treat as a Math skill starting at 0-in-6, with 1 attempt allowed each time a new point is put into the skill), or they must find someone capable of the task to do it for them.
  31. The indebted must make a vow to uphold some noble ideal (Honesty, Justice, Chivalry, etc.)
  32. The indebted must make a vow to always subvert some noble ideal (Honesty, Justice, Chivalry, etc.)
  33. The creditor wants a spell. If the indebted is a spellcaster, they can simply allow their creditor to copy down one of theirs. If they are not a spellcaster, they will need to acquire a spell elsewhere.
  34. The indebted must sacrifice the lives of one of their companions. They may choose who, so long as it is someone who is currently traveling with them. If needed, they must be willing to assist their creditor in the murder.
  35. The creditor wants the storytelling rights to the indebted’s life. Shortly after this deal is struck, population centers will begin to be flooded with dimestore novels about the indebted’s various experiences and adventures. Enough about the particulars will be changed that no one will believe the Indebted if they try to point this out. If the indebted attempts to share any of their own experiences outside of intimate conversation, they will promptly be sued for infringing on their creditor’s intellectual property.
  36. The indebted must become a thrall to their creditor. The next time they would gain a level in their class, they instead gain a level in the Thrall of [Creditor] class. They gain 1d4 hit points, and must work exclusively to further their creditor’s will until they gain enough money to level up again. Since they will not be paid for their work as a thrall, they will need to hoard money in secret in order to level.
  37. The indebted must provide their creditor with hostages, to be held in security against any future reneging on the agreement between the two.
  38. The indebted must serve as a human subject for some experiment their creditor wishes to perform.
  39. The creditor is currently suffering under a curse, which can only be alleviated if someone (the indebted) accepts that same curse onto themselves.
  40. The indebted must trade bodies with their creditor.
  41. The indebted must trade some of their life, rapidly aging a few years in order to keep their creditor young.
  42. The indebted must surrender one of their senses: (1: Sight, 2: Smell, 3: Hearing, 4: Taste). Once lost, the indebted will no longer be able to perform any actions which require this sense. If their lost ability is restored to them, it will be taken back from whomever is using it, and the indebted will be considered a thief. (Though there may be some way to gain a new sense).
  43. The creditor requires the indebted’s essence! The referee should roll the creditor’s ability scores if they haven’t. Compare these to the scores of the indebted. Randomly pick one score which the creditor has which is lower than the one the indebted has. The creditor wants to switch that score. If the indebted doesn’t have any higher scores, then they have nothing of value to offer the creditor, and cannot do business with them.
  44. The creditor demands some large number of foreskins, collected by the indebted. (Don’t look at me, this shit’s biblical. First Samuel, 18:25).
  45. The indebted must provide a boxed sample of their feces to their creditor. It’s unclear what they do with it, but apparently the indebted got off pretty easily. (Alright…I can’t blame the bible for this one.)
  46. The indebted must carry a message on their creditor’s behalf. The journey will not be easy, and should require at least a little adventuring. If the referee wants to rub a little salt in the wound, the message can be something completely trivial.
  47. The creditor requires a large amount of some specific trade good–flour, sugar, copper, lumber, etc. They will not accept the money required to buy what they need. They want it personally delivered by the indebted.
  48. The creditor requires a large delivery of military equipment. Armor, shields, weapons, enough to outfit a small army at least. They may even require experienced soldiers who can drill up new recruits.
  49. The indebted must deliver a massive quantity of foodstuffs. Quality and variety may vary, depending on the creditor’s requirements. There must be enough to feed a group all through the winter and summer.
  50. The indebted must deliver a map of an area which has not yet been explored, or which is kept secret.
  51. The indebted must never return to some place, ever again. This may be the town or country they are currently in, or some other place: their homeland, the territory of their creditor’s enemies or rivals, the territory of their creditor’s friends, etc.
  52. The indebted must accept the blame for something which is not their fault, allowing themselves to be scapegoated.
  53. The indebted must accept responsibility for some child, raising them as if they were the indebted’s own kin.
  54. The creditor will only accept the currency of some ancient civilization, which has not existed for eons.
  55. The indebted must give up their name. In doing so, any possible connection between their person and that name will be cosmically severed. Any legal documents which reference the indebted–such as deeds or contracts–will be rendered void. The indebted will also lose any reputation they had, as they can no longer be associated with what people have heard about them. They may choose a new name for themselves if they wish.
  56. The indebted must give up their ability to walk. Their legs will be sturdy enough to stand on, but the moment they try to move, they will collapse onto the ground.
  57. The creditor demands a poem, written and performed by the player.
  58. The indebted must vow to perform some great deed in their creditor’s name, eschewing any glory they might win for themselves on that occasion.
  59. The creditor must have an accurate prediction of the future. If the players are clever, they may say something like “the sun will rise tomorrow.” Barring some apocalyptic issue, this sort of answer will be acceptable to the creditor. Players may also attempt to find a reliable fortune teller, which can accomplish the same thing. If the prediction the indebted provides does not come true, their creditor will become angry, and put a price on their head.
  60. The indebted must provide their creditor with a certain value worth of items suitable for a magic lab.
  61. The indebted must seek out a magic staff for their creditor. It may be a specific staff, a specific type of staff, or just any staff in general.
  62. The creditor is a Bonemeister, and only accepts the bones of the indebted as payment. They are an expert at surgically extracting the bones, slicing their creditor open, carefully detaching all of the ligaments, and sewing the incision back up. When they’re done, it will be as if the bones simply teleported out of the indebted’s body, leaving part of them a bit floppy, but otherwise unharmed. Which specific bones the bonemeister requires will be negotiated in advance. The penalties for lacking those bones will be determined by the referee.
  63. The creditor want to be killed, and the indebted must do it. The creditor has wanted to die for a long time, but no one has yet been able to do it. When they are in danger, the creditor turns into a fearsome monster.
  64. The indebted must willingly agree to have an explosive device implanted into their brains. The creditor is happy to offer their services for free, but only if they can ensure that the indebted is incapable of ever working against them in the future.
  65. The creditor wishes to be entertained by a dance, which the player must perform for their group. A vote of the party will determine if the dance was sufficient for whatever purchase is being made.
  66. The indebted must seek out a true story or folk myth, and bring a full recounting of it back to their creditor. The creditor will then turn this story into a novel.
  67. The indebted must keep a steady watch over their creditor’s home for one night, defending it against the evils which will arise.
  68. The indebted must work towards some socially laudable goal within a specified kingdom. Something on the level of establishing gender or racial equality, raising the standard of living for the working class, etc.
  69. The creditor recently promised to grant someone’s wish. The indebted is tasked with ensuring that wish does come true.
  70. In indebted must make their creditor laugh.
  71. The indebted must give up their next critical hit, which will instead be a critical failure. The fortune of the critical hit will be transferred to their creditor.
  72. The indebted must provide a chunk of their brain. Not a big chunk, just a bit the size of a peanut. None the less, losing this chunk removes some knowledge from the indebted. Roll 1d6: (1-3. 1d2 Intelligence, 4-5. 1d2 Wisdom, 6. A point from a randomly determined skill.)
  73. The creditor wants an irreplaceable family heirloom from the indebted. Any object will do, regardless of value, so long as it is precious to its owner (whomever that may be).
  74. The indebted must provide the keys to their home, as well as any future keys which may result from moving or changing locks. The creditor is to have unfettered access to the indebted’s abode.
  75. The creditor wants a document, or other item, which would provide them with some kind of dynastic claim.
  76. The indebted must provide accurate and detailed information on the tactics of an enemy army, or, diagrams for an enemy stronghold or weapon.
  77. The creditor wants a letter of recommendation from the indebted.
  78. The indebted must agree to leave a certain location, person, or group alone. They cannot be pestered, regardless of the indebted’s needs.
  79. The creditor requires sanctuary from the indebted. They must be allowed to live on the indebted’s lands, and be protected from any and all forces which would threaten them.
  80. The indebted must provide a body part from a specific creature which will be difficult to hunt.
  81. The creditor wishes to know the location of an upcoming secret meeting. The indebted must find out, and provide it to their creditor, with enough time for the creditor to make arrangements either to spy on, or to ambush the meeting.
  82. The creditor demands a marriage take place between their family, and the indebted’s.
  83. The indebted must throw a sporting match in which they are favored to win. If they aren’t favored to win in any current sporting matches, they must enter a sport and achieve some note within it before their debt can be paid.
  84. The indebted must infiltrate some specified group and ferret out their secrets for the creditor.
  85. The indebted must find some way to drum up business for their creditor’s business venture.
  86. The indebted must allow their creditor to use their body while they sleep. Each morning, the indebted will awake within 1 mile of where they went to sleep. Sometimes they may have injuries, or be covered in someone else’s blood. They will not know what they did the night before.
  87. The creditor will establish some set amount of time. During that period, some or all of the experience points gained by the indebted will instead be gained by the creditor. To determine how much XP the creditor takes, roll 1d4 and multiply it by 25%.
  88. The indebted must contract a disease, which their creditor may or may not be able to provide. The creditor wishes to examine the progress of this disease in detail.
  89. The indebted must allow their body to host some parasite, which will constantly make suggestions within their brain, and may potentially even be able to influence their actions more directly.
  90. The indebted must offer themselves as host to a spirit. While possessed, they will be able to see what their body is doing, but will have no control over it. The possession will last until the spirit has finished what it left undone in life. What that is, is left to the referee to decide.
  91. The creditor wants 1d2 limbs from the indebted. They are prepared to safely remove these limbs, which they may attach to themselves, or use for some other insidious purpose. If only 1 limb is required, it may be either an arm or a leg at the referee’s preference. If 2 are required, it will be both one arm, and one leg.
  92. Someone the creditor cares about (perhaps even themselves) requires an organ transplant. Something which the body has two of, and which the indebted can live without. Something like a lung, or a bit of liver. The indebted has been determined to be a match for whomever needs this bit of guts, and must undergo the procedure to have it removed.
  93. The creditor is facing an issue in their lives, and needs someone to provide them with good advice. Whether the advice is good depends on how well their situation turns out when they follow it.
  94. The creditor requires that the indebted make a lifebond with them. Whenever the creditor takes damage, they will be healed by draining vitality from the indebted. Fortunately, the creditor lives a simple life. Anytime the indebted would be healed up to full, they instead are 1d6 – 2 hit points lower than their max.
  95. The indebted must donate their body to necromancy. The creditor will place a vile mark upon their body. When they die, the mark will automatically animate their body, which will then move with all haste to the creditor, so that it may be used in necromantic rituals. This prevents the indebted from ever being resurrected if they die.
  96. The indebted must perform a sacrilege, offending some certain god against which their creditor has enmity.
  97. The indebted must humiliate themselves in some fashion. In some cases this may merely be for the private enjoyment of their creditor. However, in most cases, their humiliation will need to be a public spectacle, severely damaging their reputation.
  98. The creditor, or someone whom the creditor likes, is currently due some punishment. The indebted must suffer this punishment in that person’s place. This may mean time spent in the pillory or dungeon, it may be torture, military service, or possibly even death. 
  99. The indebted must lie to someone who will trust them, misleading that person into making a bad decision, or thinking an issue has been taken care of when it actually hasn’t.
  100. The creditor is in a wonderful mood today, and will forgo any payment from the indebted. The simple act of helping is enough satisfaction for them.

As a closing note, I just want to point out that this is the single most challenging d100 table I’ve ever written. I’ve been tinkering with it on-and-off since early 2016. I don’t know if the time investment paid off, but if you like the amount of work I put into these posts, consider supporting me on Patreon. It goes a long way towards helping my writing along.

Guns in ORWA

Saturday Morning GunsAs I’ve discussed before, my ORWA campaign was meant to be a very standard fantasy game, with a post apocalyptic paint job. It’s only because the players managed to join a secret society of technologists, called The Internet, that I was thrust into the position of creating a more Sci-Fi world.

None the less, guns are heavily restricted. The players are meant to be relying on swords and bows, so I’ve made a point of keeping guns rare. The only way they can enter the game is during a Haven Turn, when there is a 2-in-6 chance that the Internet  has managed to find & repair a gun. When this happens, the gun is put up on eBay, where any member of the Internet can claim it. The cost is always exorbitant, to the point that players will usually need to pool their resources in order to afford it.

But after 14 months of running this game, with my players approaching level 9, that scarcity has begun to break down. Which is appropriate, the game should change as you reach higher levels. Nowadays, each player is wealthy enough that even the most expensive guns can be quickly snapped up. And there have been enough of the gun auctions that the party has quite the private arsenal on their hands. Not enough to equip every hireling, but certainly enough that every PC has a gun, or even two.

Because the game’s setting has a Saturday Morning Sci-Fi flavor, I like to get creative with the guns. They’re not normal equipment, after all. They’re more like magic items, which should have special abilities, and little peculiarities to keep them interesting.

So, seeing as I’ve now written this arsenal of ORWA guns, I figured I may as well share it.

The Spandau (Inspired by stories I’ve heard from WW2)
A fast-firing machine gun with poor accuracy. The Spandau attacks everything within a 10’x10′ hit box. Those within its area of effect must make a saving throw versus Breath, with a bonus of +2 to their save for each increment of 30′ away they are from their attacker. On a failed save, they take 2d4 damage. On a successful save, they take no damage.

Regardless of success or failure, any creature within the hit area must also check morale at a penalty of 2. On failure, they will dive for the nearest cover. They will not necessarily attempt to remove themselves from combat, but will move only very cautiously.

The Spandau and its ammo box are separate encumbering items. Each time the weapon is fired, roll 1d6. If a 1 is rolled, the ammo box is almost depleted and can be fired only once more before it is empty. Ammo boxes are sold for 50cc by The Internet.

The Uzi (Inspired by most video games where there are Uzis)
A weapon which fires so quickly it can be easy to run out of ammunition without even realizing it. Before making their attack roll, a player should announce how many d6s of damage they are going to deal. They can choose as few as 1, and as many as 6.

After their attack roll, whether it is a hit or a miss, they should roll a d6. If they roll equal to or lower than the number of damage dice they had announced, then they’ve used up their current ammo clip.

Each spare ammo clip the character carries is an encumbering item. They cost 50cc, and are sold by The Internet.

The Grappling Gun (Inspired by Batman: The Animated Series)
A small weapon, the size of a flare gun, with a folded grapnel protruding from the end of the barrel. When the trigger is pulled, the grapnel will launch out of the barrel, trailing a cord created by a liquid, micro-filament cartridge. When the trigger is released, the rope retracts into the gun, returning to a compressed liquid form, and pulling the wearer up to wherever the grapnel hooked to.

If time is passing in exploration turns, a grapple can be assumed on any location up to 25 stories high. If time is being measured in rounds, a hit roll is required. The armor rating of the shot is 1, per story of the target. (So, a 12 story building would have an Armor of 12 for this purpose).

If the gun is used to create a zipline, the grapnel and micro-filament rope may not be recoverable. In this instance, new ones may be purchased for 25cc.

The Auto-Crossbow (Inspired by a YouTube video)
Weaker than a standard crossbow, but that deficiency is compensated for by the sheer volume of bolts it can put out each round.

The wielder can make 3 attack rolls each round, which each deal 1d4 damage on a successful hit. Unlike normal crossbows, these do not ignore any amount of defenses from armor. After each round of fire, the wielder must roll 1d6. On a 1, the weapon is either out of ammo, or it has become jammed. They must spend 1 round reloading/clearing it before they can fire again.

(The Auto-Crossbow is not actually a gun. It was created by a player using the Tinker skill, after he found the above-linked YouTube video in an old archive. None the less, it seems an appropriate inclusion here.)

The Lasorator (Inspired by Star Trek)
An advanced weapon with many settings. Before making each attack roll, the wielder may choose how high the weapon’s energy usage is set. The higher the setting, the more damage is dealt; but also, the more quickly the battery will be drained.

If the weapon is set to deal 1d4 damage, then the player must roll a d12 after they fire. On a roll of 1, the weapon’s energy cell is exhausted. For each higher damage die the wielder sets the weapon to, (1d6, 1d8, 1d10, or 1d12); it has a lower exhaustion die (1d10, 1d8, 1d6, 1d4).

So, if the weapon is set to deal 1d8 damage, it will have a 1d8 exhaustion die. If it’s set for 1d12 damage, it will have a 1d4 exhaustion die, etc.

The Lasorator can be set to “Wide Beam,” which is ineffective in combat, but useful for silently melting barriers. Weak barriers such as glass windows require a d8 exhaustion die. While more robust barriers, such as those made of steel, require a d4 exhaustion die.

The weapon also has a stun setting, which requires the most energy of any of them. On a successful hit, the target must make a saving throw versus Paralyzation. On failure, they fall unconscious. The exhaustion die for the stun setting is 1d2.

Extra power packs for the weapon are encumbering items. They cost 150cc, and can be purchased from the Internet.

The Derringer (Honestly, Inspired by The Simpsons)
A small, easily concealable weapon with two barrels. The derringer deals 1d6 damage at a range of up to 30′. After 30′, attack rolls suffer a -3 penalty. After 60′, the bullets are moving so slowly, they would not cause any harm even if they did hit a person.

After every 2 shots, the derringer must be reloaded (which requires 1 round). Each time the weapon is reloaded, roll a d6. If a 1 is rolled, then the ammo pouch is empty, and the gun cannot be reloaded from it again. Ammo pouches are an encumbering item, and can be purchased for 20cc.

Because the derringer is so easy to conceal, it grants a +1 to any Sleight of Hand checks made with it.

Tranquilizer Pistol (Inspired by Metal Gear Solid)
On a successful hit, targets must make a saving throw versus Poison. On failure, they will fall unconscious after 1d4 – 1 rounds, and will remain unconscious for 1d6 + 2 turns.

Attacks with the Tranquilizier Pistol made from steal receive a +4 bonus to their attack roll. If the attack roll exceeds the target’s armor rating by 6 or more, then the target has been struck in the head or groin, and does not receive any saving throw. Instead, they fall unconscious instantly.

The gun can only hold a single round, and must be reloaded after each use. (As with all guns, reloading requires 1 round). A box of tranquilizer darts has an exhaustion die of 1d4, which should be rolled each time the gun is reloaded.

Some targets may be immune to being tranquilized for a variety of reasons, at the discretion of the referee.

The Bazooka (Inspired by classic FPS games)
A massive weapon which deals 6d6 damage on a successful hit. It ignores most forms of hardness & damage resistance, including personal armor and shields. This allows it to easily blow holes through most walls or floors. However, moving targets gain a bonus of 6 to their armor rating.

Functionally, this means that the base armor for a living target is 18, plus any bonus they may receive from dexterity.

Even if the bazooka misses, however, it will eventually hit something and explode. The referee should determine where this happens to the best of their ability. Anyone adjacent to the explosion must attempt a saving throw versus Breath. On failure, they take half the damage that was rolled. On success, they take only a quarter of the damage.

The bazooka can only hold one shot of ammunition at a time, requiring a reload after each shot. Each shot of ammunition costs 200cc, and counts as an encumbering item.

If the wielder jumps into the air and fires the bazooka directly beneath themselves, they will take 2d6 damage, and be launched high into the air, where they will hopefully find something to grab onto before they plummet back down to earth.

If you found this post useful, or interesting, or entertaining, consider checking out my Patreon campaign! It allows me to focus more of my attentions onto this blog, and also helps me improve the quality of my upcoming work.

Rules for Gobbos

A GobboMy ladyfriend is not much of an RPG person. She enjoys a leisurely evening of D&D, but mostly as a social event. She’ll interject with a bit of goofy role playing now and again, but tends to just follow along with whatever the rest of the party wants to do. I’ve had a lot of people like that in my games over the years. Folks who are there because they enjoy hanging out. Maybe they’re more into the times we get together for board games, or maybe they went along with a significant other at some point, and enjoyed the atmosphere more than they enjoyed the game. Maybe you know someone similar, and maybe if you do, this’ll help you find something enjoyable for them to do.

It started a few years back when my ladyfriend accompanied me to play in a game where I was a 14th level character. She didn’t want to deal with the hassle of creating a high level character, so we got the referee to let her play all four of the Goblins from Paizo’s “We Be Goblins” module: Rita, Mogmurch, Chuffy, and Poog. It all worked out so well that we decided to use the same plan when she joined my ORWA game. But since this is an ongoing campaign, rather than a one-shot, I decided to put a little work into getting the goblins working.

First off, to remain setting consistent, the goblins aren’t goblins. They’re infant children who fell off a babycart (literally a cart where infant children are piled up for sale) and into a puddle of mutagen. This turned them green and gave them weirdly developed bodies, despite their size. They know how to talk, and call themselves Gobbos.

Gobbos can’t die the way normal characters die. They’re not invulnerable to harm, but they react to harm like a Loony Toon character. If a rock falls on them they get flattened, pop back into shape, and then scamper off to cry and lick their wounds until the next session, when they’ll have forgotten anything bad ever happened to them.

Gobbos also don’t get any share of the treasure, or any of the commensurate experience. In fact, Gobbos can’t level up at all. Players who are running the Gobbos will never need to worry about keeping their character sheet up to date, because it’s an (almost) entirely static thing. They also don’t need to worry about how to spend their money, and the other players never get annoyed at splitting their treasure haul with a quartet of characters who don’t contribute on the same level that they do.

(Though it should be noted that Gobbos are children. Sometimes they’ll see something shiny, and insist that it be purchased for them.)

Any time the other players are getting treasure, the Gobbos are free to scrounge around for something more in line with their own interests. The player they rolls on the “Gobbo Junk” table, which can be restocked by the referee as items are discovered.

The Gobbos Find a…

  1. Really really shiny, smooth rock.
  2. Plastic frisbee.
  3. Well used catcher’s mitt.
  4. Curly blonde wig.
  5. Hula hoop.
  6. Pair of boxing gloves.
  7. Basketball.
  8. Bowling ball.
  9. Potted cactus.
  10. Steel folding chair. The kind you find in a church basement, not the kind you find in your dad’s garage.
  11. Stepladder.
  12. Jar with holes poked in the lid, and 12 beetles inside of it.
  13. Metal wastebasket with a mesh pattern.
  14. Porno magazine.
  15. Bag of disposable surgical gloves.
  16. Big bag of candy necklaces.
  17. Rubber mask of Richard Nixon.
  18. Nice-ish briefcase.
  19. Fistful of indistinct sludge.
  20. Ball of twine.
  21. Doorknob.
  22. DD bra.
  23. Box of mousetraps.
  24. Roll of duct tape.
  25. Chair leg.
  26. Banjo with only 1 string on it.
  27. Conical dunce cap.
  28. Box of letters for a marquee style signboard.
  29. Bundle of plastic 6-pack rings.
  30. Paper bag of paper bags.
  31. Plastic bag of plastic bags.
  32. Rubber boot.
  33. Flip phone with plenty of charge, but no service.
  34. Box of paper clips.
  35. RC car.
  36. Barbie doll.
  37. Roll of wrapping paper.
  38. Ceramic cookie jar shaped like a pig wearing a chef’s hat.
  39. Stretch Armstrong doll.
  40. Tiger Electronics “Home Alone 2” tape recorder.
  41. Pair of Handcuffs.
  42. Ball gag.
  43. Flourescent light tube.
  44. Dozen eggs.
  45. Chicken.
  46. Housecat.
  47. Can of spraypaint. Blue.
  48. Disposable polaroid camera.
  49. Propeller beanie.
  50. Plastic toy sword.
  51. Bag of marbles.
  52. Tube of pogs.
  53. Huge bag of rice.
  54. Sleeve of printer paper.
  55. Dead bird.
  56. Dead Dog.
  57. Huge number “8” made of wood.
  58. Tacklebox full of fishing lures and hooks.
  59. Corkscrew.
  60. Pencil sharpener.
  61. Human skull
  62. Stack of newspapers.
  63. Wall clock.
  64. Padlock and key.
  65. Geode with a little pewter wizard inside of it.
  66. Binder with documentation for some kind of software.
  67. Pair of socks.
  68. Pair of nice slacks.
  69. Needle nose pliers.
  70. Standing, oscillating fan.
  71. Elementary school desk/chair combo.
  72. Bouquet of fake flowers.
  73. Bottle of hand sanitizer.
  74. Really neat spider with lots of cool colors on it.
  75. Metal shopping cart.
  76. Labelmaker.
  77. Sheets of scratch & sniff stickers. Of the “Grape Job” variety.
  78. Encyclopedia Britannica volume for the letter “O.”
  79. Catheter bag full of urine.
  80. Police file on someone named “Dave Bestfighter.”
  81. Empty jar labelled “Dreams.”
  82. Glow in the dark ceiling stars.
  83. Bag of party balloons.
  84. Bag of Frozen Peas. Still frozen, somehow.
  85. The poles to a tent.
  86. Baby rattle.
  87. Box of Mike & Ikes candy.
  88. Hand painted portrait of a randomly determined party member.
  89. The discarded highschool poetry of a randomly determined party member.
  90. Big red “Marks-A-Lot” marker.
  91. Yo-yo.
  92. Blender.
  93. Foam Jack-O-Lantern.
  94. Traffic cone.
  95. Box of matches.
  96. Car tire.
  97. Keyring full of keys.
  98. Bottle of really nice wine.
  99. Child’s devil costume for Halloween.
  100. Treasure map, drawn in crayon, to a toystore.

Simple Socializing: The Give & Take System

ParleyNormally I only update the blog once a week. However, thanks to my supporters on Patreon, I can justifiably spend a little more time on this blog than I normally would, which allows me to bring you this bonus post during the first week of each month. If you’d like to see even more posts from me, as well as other improvements to the blog, please consider supporting my Patreon campaign!

I’ve long believed that game rules should devote as much attention to social interaction as they do to combat. A system for impartially determining the action-by-action results of a parley is essential. That’s why I’ve been a proponent of Courtney Campbell’s “On the Non-Player Character,” for years.

But as I approach my 4th year of using this system, it’s time to tinker. The 25 social actions are thorough, and elegant, but I’m slow in using them at the table. Often we will drift off of the system over the course of play, as I try to keep up the pace of a conversation. I decided to simplify the mechanic for ORWA, and I hit on what I call the Give & Take System.

Every conversation is, fundamentally, a process of give and take. Both parties have their views and their preferences, and at any given time one party is getting what they want out of the conversation, and the other party is giving it. Using that model, pretty much every social interaction can be broken down into one of these two groups. (Plus two bonus groups).

The Give & Take System
At the start of a Reaction Roll Tablenonviolent encounter, the player who is taking the lead in speaking makes a reaction roll (2d6 + Charisma modifier). That roll is compared to the reaction table on the right to determine how the NPCs respond. The result also determines how many social interactions the party may attempt, total, before the NPC gets bored of talking and starts wishing they could get out of here. The referee should note this number down in a place visible to the players, if possible.

Every back-and-forth will fall into one of four basic categories: Banal, Give, Take, and Convince. Once an action is resolved, the referee reduces the number of remaining actions by 1. If the players force a conversation to continue past the point that an NPC wishes to leave, their reaction will be reduced by 2 for each round they are kept against their wishes. If their reaction reaches 2, the NPC just walk away in annoyance, possibly raising their arm in a rude gesture as they leave.

Banal: Simple conversation, most questions, and other minutia are banal actions. They have no chance to fail, but don’t really earn the party anything other than information.

Giving: Telling a joke, offering compliments, giving gifts, listening to a person’s long winded opinions; these are all giving actions. A giving action is one whose purpose is to ingratiate the party with the NPC they’re speaking to. When giving, roll 2d6 and add all relevant modifiers:

<6: The NPC is unimpressed.
6: The NPC is enjoying your company, and will stick around a little longer. +2 social actions.
9: The NPC is intrigued by you, and is willing to hear you out. +1 to your next Taking or Convincing attempt.
11: The NPC likes you. +1 to your reaction with this NPC.

Taking: Make a request or a demand, negotiating, offering a bribe, asking questions the NPC may not be inclined to answer; these are all taking actions. Taking is when a conversation turns towards the player’s desires, and what they want to get out of a parley. Generally, if the players would be happy to hear a “yes,” and sad to hear a “no,” it’s a taking action.

<4: The NPC is upset by what you said, and your reaction with them drops by 1 category.
4: The NPC refuses you outright.
6: The NPC will meet you halfway.
9: The NPC agrees to what you want.
11: The NPC agrees, and offers to do a little better than what was asked for.

There are two notable special cases for Taking rolls: Intimidation, and Bribery.

When the players are attempting to Intimidate, the roll should be modified by the difference in average level between the two groups. If the party’s is higher, they recieve a bonus of 1 for each level higher they are. If the party is lower, the recieve a penalty of 1 for each level lower they are.

When the party is attempting a bribe, the Fighter’s experience table should be referenced. The baseline bribe for an NPC is equal to one quarter of the amount it would take to reach their current hit dice if they were a fighter. So a 2HD character, the baseline bribe is 500sp. Increasing or decreasing this amount by 50% will modify the bribe by +/- 2.

Convincing: Telling a lie which the NPC has cause to doubt, or making an argument against something the NPC thinks; are both convincing actions. Convincing is a more challenging form of taking. The primary difference is whether success will effect the NPC beyond the scope of a single exchange. It’s one thing to get a guard to accept a bribe–they can put the money in their pocket and forget they ever saw you. It’s another thing entirely to get them to join the revolution.

<6: The NPC is unhappy with what you’ve said. Reaction drops by 1 category.
6: The NPC is not convinced.
9: The NPC is trepidatious. They will have to think about what you’ve said.
11: The NPC accepts what you said wholeheartedly.

For any of these, situational modifiers of 1 or 2 may occasionally apply. Players who expect something in exchange for nothing should take a penalty to their taking roll; while players who offer a generous sum in exchange for a small concession should get a bonus.

That said, more often than not it’s best to let the dice fall where they may. This allows the referee to discover the character of various NPCs along with the players. The guard who refuses a bribe worth more than he makes in a lifetime must be especially loyal. The guard who joins the revolution on a whim must have some reason to be discontented.

Anyway, that’s Give & Take. I’ve used it in my last few games, and as of this writing it has performed phenomenally well.


Methods for Writing d100 Tables

d100 Tables are AwesomeFor the past couple years, I’ve been posting a fair number of d100 tables, because they’re awesome. They’re fun for me to write, useful in play, and people seem to friggin’ love reading them. Each one I write is pretty much guaranteed to spike my site’s traffic, so it’s a win-win-win.

Often, when I upload a new table, I’m getting the same sort of comment. Something in the vein of “I don’t know how you do that, I can barely fill a d12 table!” It’s happened like…twice now, so you’ll have to excuse me if I indulge myself a bit. Being impressive is an unusual feeling, and I’d like to revel in it.  Ego stroking aside, I can understand where these comments are coming from. I will never live down my self-imposed shame from that one time I tried to write a d100 table, and failed so hard that I just published a d50 table instead. Writing up 100 variations on the same theme is hard.

Fortunately, I’ve developed a few techniques to make the process easier on myself. Hopefully these will translate well enough for others to benefit from them as well. If I’m lucky, this post will spawn a whole slew of new d100 tables all across the OSR Blogosphere, and then I can just spend the rest of my gaming career rolling for everything I want.

The first is the simplest: time. I don’t just sit down and write d100 tables. I don’t think that would even be possible for me. They’re written slowly; a few entries here, a few entries there. A quick turnaround on a d100 table would be about 10 days, from start to finish. Those are usually either very simple tables (such as the magic words tables), or something I’m particularly invested when I write them. (d100 wands went pretty quick.)

Most tables require a few months, and there are even some which have been sitting in my drafts folder for more than a year at this point. This is one of the biggest reasons I work to maintain my huge buffer of posts. Back when I was starting out, I didn’t have the luxury of working on projects that required more than an evening to put together. If I started to write something, it had to be done by the end of the night. If it wasn’t, I’d be off my schedule.

Which leads into my second point: I’m not writing these one at a time. As I write this, there are currently fifteen d100 tables in my drafts folder. Some of these have 2 or 3 entries in them. At least one of them already has 100 entries in it. Most fall somewhere in between. At any given time, there are usually 2 or 3 of these tables that I’m actively thinking about, and trying to add a few entries to each day. It’s not until a table is pretty much done that I start to really focus on it. Going back, polishing up what I’ve written, checking for repeats, and getting it out the door.

Which actually leads into my third point: separating brainstorming from writing. The hard part of populating any table is coming up with X number of variations on a theme. Maybe there’s those first 4 or 10 which come easy, but by the time you get to 100 you’ve been all the way to the depths of your creativity and back again. By comparison, turning a single table entry into easy reading is almost rote.

Coming up with ideas, and putting those ideas into words that make sense outside of my own head, are two entirely different mental processes for me. Trying to switch between them over and over again slows my writing down to a crawl. Sometimes I’m tempted to flesh out entries 1-10 while trying to come up with entry 11, but that is a trap. If I ever want to get the thing done, I need to come up with 100 cool ideas first, and only later do I worry about making those 100 cool ideas appealing to read.

Something I do a lot of is standing in front of a whiteboard telling myself how much of a hack piece of shit I am, until something good comes out of me. This is probably the least effective technique I have, but it’s the one I use most frequently. The whiteboard part helps at least. It’s easier to jump from idea to idea when I’m away from a keyboard. Keyboards make me feel a strong need to be more descriptive than necessary.

Probably the best trick I have is the disguised d33 table. This is one I used for “d100 Results of Drug Addled Engineering,” and “d100 Human Beings for Sale.” Basically, before I start working on the 100 entries themselves, I write up a list of 33 subcategories. Each of these categories could theoretically be the theme of their own tables. For example, “A box with a button on it.” That button could do anything.

Once I’ve got my 33, I add each one to my table 3 times. Starting from there, it’s honestly pretty easy to come up with 3 unique variations on each one, which gets me all the way up to 99 entries without breaking a sweat. Entry 100 can then be something big and awesome (like in d100 Humans), or it can just be “roll twice & combine” (like in d100 Drugged Engineering). I suppose if the list is of bad things, you could also switch it around, and make entry 1 spectacularly bad in some way.

A variation of that same idea is the not-so-disguised 10d10 table. As of this writing I haven’t published any tables using this method, but I am using it for d100 Pieces of Dungeon Moon Starting Equipment, which will be posted eventually.

Much like the method above, you start by coming up with some broader ideas (in this case, 10 rather than 33), then you divide your d100 table up into that many chunks, and use those broader ideas to help create the specific entries.

The nice thing about this method is that it makes your work serve multiple purposes. For example, if a player creates a new character, then they’d roll d100 to find out what item they start with. If they then decide they want to find some armor in town before they go out to adventure, the referee can roll a d10 on the “armor” portion of the table.

The benefit of this method is that it allows a referee to roll a d10 on one of those sub tables if it suits their fancy. For my dungeon moon equipment table, maybe the referee doesn’t want to go full random. Maybe he wants to make sure that his players have at least one piece of armor and one weapon before they head out into danger. That’s fine, roll dice that are smaller increments of 10! It’s all good.

Breaking a d100 table down into smaller chunks doesn’t always work, of course. At least, not for me. Take d100 Reasons the Wizard is More than they Seem, or d100 Curses. I could have tried to break these down into smaller groups: curses that afflict your feet, curses that afflict your encumbrance, curses that afflict the player in some meta-game way, etc.  I didn’t do that because it didn’t seem to flow naturally when I was putting those tables together. Maybe these more gonzo themes defy any kind of organization, or maybe that’s just not where my headspace was when I wrote them.

And I think that’s pretty much everything I can think of that makes writing d100 tables more manageable for me. Thank you for supporting my ego trip, it was fun.


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