FLGS Quick Start

I’m on vacation, so I decided to learn a bit of LaTeX and consolidate the quick start rules I’ve been working on into a more print friendly format. Behold the fruits of my labor!

First page of FLGS Quick Start

Download FLGS Quick Start Rules

Free FLGS Quick Start rules!

LaTeX sources referenced and used:

Skeleton of Referee Section for Basic Fantasy RPG

Building on the previous post regarding skeleton rules for RPG, here is additional details.

BEGIN OPEN GAME CONTENT

Additional Equipment

Armor

Armor City Rural Base AC
Leather, Armor 25 sp 50 sp 12
Chain, Armor 100 sp 14
Plate, Armror 1000 sp 16
Helmet 25 sp 50 sp special
Shield 10 sp 25 sp +1

Weapons

Melee Weapons City Rural Notes
Light 10 sp 10 sp
Improvised -1 damage
Medium 20 sp 50 sp
Two-Handed 50 sp
Missile Weapons City Rural Range Notes
Bow 25 sp 25 sp 50/300/450
Crossbow 30 sp 50/200/600
Improvised 10/20/30 -1 damage
Ammunition (20) 5 sp 5 sp

Note: Medium Range -2 to hit; Long Range -4 to hit

Encounters

  1. Establish Encounter Distance (2d6x10 ft) (if applicable)
  2. Check Surprise (2 in 6) (if applicable)
  3. Check Reaction (2d6)
  4. Check for Random Encounter (1 in 6, appears in 1d6 rounds)
  5. Check Morale (2d6)
  6. Declare Intent
    1. Players may declare (+1 to initiative)
    2. Referee declares
    3. Remaining players declare (-1 to initiative)
  7. Roll Initiative (1d6 for each side in the conflict)
  8. Resolve Actions
    1. Magic
    2. Missile
    3. Move
    4. Melee
  9. If a pending random encounter arrives, go to step 4. Otherwise, go to step 5.

Check Reaction

2d6 The encountered creatures are…
2 Hostile
3-5 Unfavorable
6-8 Indifferent
9-11 Favorable / Talkative
12 Helpful

If you have a chance to parlay, you may add your Charisma modifier.

Check Morale

Player characters need never make morale checks. For all other intelligent creatures (including retainers and hirelings), morale checks are made if any of the following occurred in the round:

  • Opposition is first encountered
  • Half of the allies are incapacitated
  • Leader is incapacitated
  • Exposed to powerful fear affects (e.g. dragon fear)

Hirelings

Offering

Add your Charisma modifier to the roll.

3d6 Result
3-4 Refuse with Malice
5-8 Refuse
9-12 Uncertain
13-16 Accepts offer
17-18 Enthusiastic (loyalty roll +3)

Initial Loyalty

Add your Charisma modifier to the roll

3d6 Morale Modifier
3 2
4 3
5 4
6 5
7-8 6
9-12 7
13-14 8
15 9
16 10
17 11
18 12

Over the course of play, a retainers morale score may increase or decrease based on treatment.

Checking Morale

Roll 2d6 and compare to loyalty of the retainer; If it is higher, then the retainer leaves.

When to roll:

  • Returning from perilous environs to relative safety of civilization
  • Exposure to a perilous situation
  • When the hiring character is incapacitated
  • When orders are given from the non-hiring character
END OPEN GAME CONTENT

Skeleton of Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game

I’m preparing to run an RPG at my Friendly Local Game Store – Better World Books of Goshen. I’ve been vacillating between Sword & Wizardry (Complete, or White Box), Labyrinth Lord, Lamentations of the Flame Princess, and the Heroes Journey.

Instead of picking one, I opted to create just what will be needed for that first session. This is by no means a complete game, but provides much of the player facing information to proceed. It is something I can print out and put in front of the players.

For more details concerning Old School Gaming, go grab Matt Finch’s free Quick Primer for Old School Games (PDF). See the following post for further Referee details.

BEGIN OPEN GAME CONTENT

Ability Scores

Ability Score Modifier
3-4 -2
5-7 -1
8-13 0
14-15 +1
17-18 +2

Modifier

  • Strength: to hit and damage in melee; feats of strength
  • Intelligence: to save vs. spell; For wizards, subtract from saving throws of spells you cast
  • Wisdom: to save vs. non-spells
  • Constitution: adjusts all HD rolls
  • Dexterity: to hit in missile; to AC
  • Charisma: to hiring; to loyalty; to parlay

Classes

Level 1

Features Cleric Dwarf Fighter Thief Wizard
Armor any any any leather none
Backstab +4/x2
Base to Hit Bonus +0 +0 +0 +0 +0
Base MV 12 9 12 12 12
Cleave No No Yes No No
Climbing 1 in 6 1 in 6 1 in 6 5 in 6 1 in 6
Detect secret doors 1 in 6 4 in 6 1 in 6 2 in 6 1 in 6
Hit Dice (HD) 1 (1d6) 1+2 (1d6+2) 1+1 (1d6+1) 1 (1d6) 1 (1d6)
Listen 1 in 6 2 in 6 1 in 6 3 in 6 1 in 6
Read Unknown Languages no no no 4 in 6 3 in 6
Saving Throw 14 13 15 15 15
Saving Throw Bonus +2 vs. death/poison +2 vs. poison/spells +2 vs. death/poison +2 vs. traps +2 vs. spells
Shield any any any none none
Spells 1 1st
Thievery 1 in 6
Turn Undead Yes No No No No
Weapon Damage, Medium 1d6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Light 2W6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Ranged 2W6 1d6 1d6 1d6 2W6
Weapon Damage, Two-Handed 1d6 2B6 2B6 1d6 1d6
XP to level 2 1500 2250 2000 1250 2500

Dice Notation

  • 1d6 – Roll 1 six-sided die
  • 2W6 – Roll 2 six-sided die, keep worse result
  • 2B6 – Roll 2 six-sided die, keep better result

Class Features

Wizard Spells

Charm Person Range: 30 ft, Duration: until dispelled, Save: negates, Affects: 1 living humanoid of human-size or smaller ; Caster is treated as trusted friend.

Detect Magic Range: 60 ft, Duration: 30 minutes; Caster senses location of magic within range

Hold Portal Range: 30 ft, Duration: 1 hour; Magically holds a door or gate for the duration.

Light Range: 60 ft, Duration: 1 hour; Target produces light as a torch (30 ft radius)

Magic Missile Range: 150 ft; A magic dart hits the target for 1d6 points of damage, no save.

Sleep Range: 240 ft, Affects: 2d6+3 HD of creatures, Duration: Referee’s discretion; Affected creatures enter an enchanted slumber

Turn Undead

Brandish your holy symbol and roll 3d6. Consult the following table. If the roll is successful, those creatures within 60 ft are turned – fleeing or cowering for 3d6 combat rounds.

HD Example 3d6
1 Skeleton 10+
2 Zombie 13+
3 Wight 15+
4 Wraith 17+

Equipment

Starting Equipment

You get both your class specific gear and an adventuring pack of your choice.

Class Specific Gear

Cleric: Mace with Chain Armor and Shield (AC 15)

Dwarf: One-handed weapon, crossbow, chain armor, and shield (AC 15) orTwo-handed weapon, crossbow, chain armor (AC 14)

Fighter: One-handed weapon, bow, chain armor, and shield (AC 15) orTwo-handed weapon, bow, chain armor (AC 14)

Thief: One-handed weapon, leather armor (AC 12)

Wizard: Spellbook (choose 1 spell, one at random), staff

Adventure Packs

Choose one of the following:

Pack 1: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, 6 torches (burn 1 hour, 30 ft radius light), 50 ft rope, crowbar, 7 days rations, and a water skin

Pack 2: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, hooded lantern with 2 pints lantern oil (burn 4 hours, 30 ft radius light), hammer, 12 iron spikes, 10 ft pole, 7 days rations, and a water skin

Pack 3: Backpack, bedroll, flint & steel, 6 torches (burn 1 hour, 30 ft radius light), a torchbearer (HP 2, AC 10, Move 12, Attack none, Carry torch, Loyalty 7+Charisma modifier), 7 days rations, and a water skin

Movement and Encumbrance

Encumbrance Modifier
Chain mail or greater -3 MV
Each 25 + (Strengh modifier x 10) pounds of treasure -3 MV
Excessive amounts of gear (Referee’s discretion) -3 MV

Note: Coins, gems, and jewelry each weigh 0.1 pounds. Note: Dwarves ignore the first two penalties to movement.

Description Speed Results
Sneaking MV x 10′ per turn As walking but able to move with stealth.
Walking MV x 20′ per turn Mapping and careful observation of the surroundings are possible.
Running MV x 40′ per turn No mapping permitted. Characters are automatically surprised and have no chance to surprise others. The sound of running may attract the attention of enemies.
Combat MV / 3 x 10′ per round Dashing around, battling foes, or fleeing.

Exploration

I encourage players to draw a map of the dungeon as it is explored (graph paper will be provided). Some things may only be discovered by reviewing the map.

Each turn of exploration (10 minutes), each character may:

  • Search a 10’x10′ area
  • Bind another character’s wounds (only in the turn after a combat); restoring 1d6-3 HP
  • Disable a trap
  • Move
  • Resolve an encounter

Every 3 turns, there is a 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter. Every 6th turn, the characters must rest.

Death and Recovery

When a character is reduced to below 0 HP, they must make a saving throw vs. death. Success means they are incapacitated, though any further damage they are killed outright. Failure means they are dead.

Characters recover 1 HP per day; 2 HP per day of bed rest.

Experience

While the current state of the rules does not deal with character advancement, it is something that bears discussion.

For each silver piece of treasure spent in town, the character gains 1 XP. Characters also gain XP for defeating monsters. However, the distribution of treasure XP to monster XP is about 4 to 1.

In other words, the vast majority of XP comes from treasure; plan accordingly.

Unlike many other systems, this uses the silver standard.

Checking Hireling Loyalty and Morale

Roll 2d6 and compare to loyalty of the retainer; If it is higher, then the retainer leaves.

When to roll:

  • Returning from perilous environs to relative safety of civilization
  • Exposure to a perilous situation
  • When the hiring character is incapacitated
  • When orders are given from the non-hiring character
END OPEN GAME CONTENT

Some Questions and Answers with James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games

I’ve been a fan of Barrel Rider Games for awhile; the volume of output is amazing. And James Spahn’s The Heroes Journey is a fantastic product, demonstrating how to “own” the rules that you use at the table.

I want to thank James for taking the time to respond to my questions.

Questions and Answers

I’ve noticed you’ve created quite a bit of content for Labyrinth Lord and Sword & Wizardry: Whitebox. Which of your work came first? What drew you away from the first system and to the other? Have you went back? Why?

Labyrinth Lord definitely came first. I heard a few years before becoming involved in the OSR community, but dismissed it. I was still very much into 3.5 D&D and saw it as “simplistic” and “thin.” A few years later, I gave it a second look and realized what I was looking at. I was looking at a clone of the B/X D&D, which was the foundation for my first fantasy RPG, the D&D Rules Cyclopedia. I fell in love when I recalled those fast, free-spirit days of my gaming youth. Combined with the fact that I had just gotten sick of the supplement glut that had flooded the market in the wake of the OGL, and I found my first love all over again.

 

I started publishing because of my wife, who is also a gamer. She said to me “If you want to keep buying gaming books at this rate, you’re going to have to make more money.” So, I used an addiction to feed an addiction. Also, right around the time I started Barrel Rider Games a new RPG had just hit the market: The One Ring. It is the third incarnation of Middle-earth to hit the gaming table, and for my money the third time’s a charm. I instantly fell in love with the game. Unlike MERP and Decipher’s versions of roleplaying in Tolkien’s sub-creation, TOR was a game that was built around the source material. Previous incarnations had felt like Tolkien’s material was bent to fit a mechanic. I was so in love with TOR that after reading the original slipcase publication I swore to myself that one day I’d get to write for the game – somehow. BRG was a kind of back door resume.

 

In both cases, it worked beyond my wildest dreams. BRG started with me just writing dollar classes and class variants for Labyrinth Lord, which I did for several years. It has grown to include material for Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, Swords & Wizardry Complete, Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, Dungeon Crawl Classics, Starships and Spacemen (2nd edition), and a few original games like White Star and The Hero’s Journey. Top that off with my mad scheme to one day write Tolkien actually resulting in me contributing to several books in the TOR game line and parlaying that into a lucrative freelance career which includes working for publishers like Frog God Games, Cubicle 7 Entertainment, and Fantasy Flight Games, and I’m left rather flabbergasted.

 

I came to White Box after getting burnt out on Labyrinth Lord writing. As I got older even LL started to have too many fiddly bits for me. White Box’s single save, minimal classes, and reliance on a d20 and d6 almost exclusively really draw me into it. That and the fact that digest-sized books are just so much more appealing to me in terms of portability and ease of use.

 

I’ve dipped by toe back into LL on occasion, but these days I’m mainly focused on White Star, The Hero’s Journey, and White Box. Even that’s slowed, because I juggle BRG work with regular freelance jobs these days.

I appreciate that you released The Heroes Journey as PWYW, tell me a bit about the game. In particular, I’d like to know about your house rules? Do you use all of the ones from book?

I’ve never met a single gamer who played an RPG exactly as it was written. Gamers are creators by nature and we tend to be a bit of a weird bunch. It’s in our nature to fiddle, tinker, and modify things. So with THJ, I wanted a TON of house rules to show that the game could be easily modified to suit an individual group’s style. There are quite a few house rules in there that I would never use, but that doesn’t mean that other gamers feel the same – so if I had an idea for a variant rule and it seemed like someone somewhere along the way might enjoy it, I included it. Also, I wanted to encourage folks to come up with their own house rules by including so many. The game is MADE to be house ruled.

I was a bit surprised by the addition of the Jester class? What brought about it’s inclusion?

A lot of THJ’s classes found their roots on the old Dragon Magazine NPC classes. Duelist, Jester, and a few others. The Jester specifically was included because I really like them and wanted to include them. Part of the reason THJ is PWYW is because it is, first and foremost, “White Box: James’s House Ruled Edition.” It also includes a lot of material previously published, but tweaked for use with this rules set – so I didn’t feel right charging twice for something.

It seems to me the addition of damage reduction for armor creates a more rigid barrier between The Heroes Journey and other OSR simulacra. What has been your experience in crossing between other OSR games and HJ? What have you heard from others?

Reduction Value was something I hemmed and hauled on for a while. But because THJ is a game built around the idea of it being “James’s House Ruled Edition,” I included it because I like it. It helps mitigate the low hit point threshold of THJ, which allows small monsters in large groups to remain a threat. It also makes shields more viable than a simple “+1 to AC,” and reflects how armor is meant to work more accurately.

 

As far as crossing them over with other OSR products, I’ve had little problem. I ballpark a Reduction Value on the fly and go forward. I’ve yet to have it create a genuine barrier at the table.

In most every gamer’s life they’ve misplaced or no longer possess something important in their personal gaming story. Do you have one of these? If so what is it? A little bit of detail?

This is a timely question. Over the past few years I have seriously whittled down my gaming collection. I’ve got from four floor-to-ceiling bookcases to two shelves. I got rid of a lot of treasures. The closest that relates to your question is my Rules Cyclopedia. I parted with it because as much as I love the game, I’m always going to want to run something else. I learned that even if you don’t physically own a product anymore that doesn’t make the memories any less valid or important. Besides, with the way Print-on-Demand is going I don’t think it will be long before everything is perpetually “in print” and available.

What is your motivation for cranking out OSR products? WQ:hat were some early bumps that you encountered on the way? How did you overcome them?

My motivation is built on one question: “What would be fun?” A lot of my ideas come from my long work commute. An idea pops in my head and I hold on to it, twiddle it around in my brain, and then write it. I put it up for publication as an act of sharing the fun. I’ve had a few products along the way where the fun of the concept got lost in the design, though. When that happens, I take a step back and tackle it again later or simply walk away. If you lose the fun in your work then that’ll show on the page.

What has been most surprising about participating as a publisher in the OSR?

A lot of folks in the OSR are people I regarded as kind of living gods or heroes. Eventually I got the opportunity to meet and even work with them, which was a real thrill. I figured out pretty quickly that everyone in the industry is a fanboy or fangirl to one extent or another – we’re all just ordinary people who happen to share a passion. That helps keep ego in check and makes folks a lot more approachable.

 

I’m perpetually amazed by the generosity of the OSR, both as individuals and as a community. Many in the OSR community are willing to give all they possibly can to help out a fellow gamer. It’s a real honor to be a part of that, both as a giver and receiver, and it keeps me pretty grounded most of the time.

I’ve used OSR a few times, what does OSR mean to you?

OSR is about remembering those days as a kid when you wrote kingdoms and castles on graph paper, mapped out your entire campaign on loose leaf paper, and poured through your books to discover a fresh new monster. It’s about wonder and youthful energy. It’s not about any specific game, game mechanic, or period of publication. It’s about setting aside rules disputes, grabbing a fist full of dice and just having fun. The rules in an OSR game are there to facilitate fun and when they don’t do that, they can easily be ignored or modified. When I play or write in the OSR I feel 13 years old again, bound only by what would be “cool” to do – not by some rule book.

White Box Gothic by Barrel Rider Games

I asked James Spahn, of Barrel Rider Games, for a review copy of “White Box Gothic: Adventures in Horror & Shadow” (link to affiliate program). He was gracious and sent me a PDF.

wizards hand hovering over arcane books

Classes

There are 6 classes: Monster Hunter, Metaphysician, Spiritualist, Wanderer, Dhampir, Reanimated.

The Monster Hunter reminds me of a more focused ranger. They are all around useful, but will shine when the campaign focuses on their chosen prey.

The Metaphysician feels like a multi-classed cleric/magic-user with a bit of odd lore mixed in. They learn all of their spells (divine and arcane) through transcribing scrolls, so you know they are going to be hungry for adventure. Their Foresaken Lore gives them access to all semblances of campaign back story. This is my favorite class of the bunch; They need to adventure to unlock their most potent class feature (spell casting). They also provide a conduit for the GM to narrate exposition.

The Spiritualist is creepy. The can see and affect incorporeal creatures, turn some of the types of undead, and through spiritual guidance channel the power of spirits all around them; Albeit with tremendous risk. I’m uncertain if the risk is worth the benefits; failing a saving throw with a penalty results in level drain.

The Wanderer is the other side of the ranger coin; with a bit of rogue mixed in. They have keen senses, will always find enough to sustain them, minor spell casting, some rogue’s luck, and an ability to scrounge through their pack for odds and ends. A clever class, with several “skill” like options.

The Dhampir is half-vampire, half-human. They are capable fighters with a keen senses and stealth abilities. A solid class.

The Reanimated is the Frankenstein’s monster class; They are beefy bruisers with a very limited advancement. An interesting take; I’d prefer to see one of these as a hireling.

Staring into the Abyss

The section on Corruption provides rules for a spiral into the corruption that afflicts the world. It’s a straight forward system with more overhead in adjudicating player actions.

Dread provides a light weight mechanic for areas of chaos and evil. There are spells that build on or mitigate the effects of dread. A useful system that a Referee can quickly add to their repertoire.

The Curses rule provides a procedure for uttering curses (eg. may your hair fall out and never grow back). It builds on the Corruption sub-system. It is a nice sub-system in that a GM can bring this out when a character wants to get “even”  with another character (PC or NPC) and wants to make sure they suffer.

Sorcery Most Foul

Some of the spells and magic items build on the Corruption, Dread, and Curses; The others build on the Gothic Horror theme.

Of the cleric spells, I find “Mask of Death” the most interesting; donning the visage of death and dread. The “Bind Beyond Death” spell of the wizard is great. It doesn’t take effect until the affected die – thus building on the sense of impending dread and doom.

I’m not a fan of “Conjure Holy Symbol”, using a spell slot to bypass the need for a holy symbol. It feels weak.

Children of the Night

My favorite creatures are the bloodraven and breath stealer. They play to different aspects of the macabre. I also appreciate the stats for a Dementor-like creature; Everyone needs a bit of judgement in their life.

OGL

I’m a huge fan of the OGL, as it requires attribution in the license. For those keeping score at home:

Section 15: Open Game License v 1.0a Copyright 2000, Wizards of the Coast, Inc. System Reference Document Copyright 2000-2003, Wizards of the Coast, Inc.; Authors Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams, Rich Baker, Andy Collins, David Noonan, Rich Redman, Bruce R. Cordell, John D. Rateliff, Thomas Reid, James Wyatt, based on original material by E. Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson. Swords & Wizardry Core Rules, Copyright 2008, Matthew J. Finch Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox Rules by Marv Breig, copyright 2008-2011 Matthew J. Finch.

To comply with Section 6 of the OGL, I believe Barrel Rider Games should add the following to Section 15 of the OGL:

White Box Gothic: Adventures in Shadow & Horror by James Spahn, copyright 2016.

Conclusion

Barrel Rider Games is prolific in its OSR contributions; I believe when an idea strikes they are often quick to write it down and get it out the door. White Box Gothic would benefit from additional editing. None of which detracts from its usefulness at the game table, but instead from the readability.

The PDF is missing a bookmarked and clickable table of contents (though the 3rd page of the PDF has a table of contents). I encourage Barrel Rider Games to adopt gender neutral pronouns when describing characters. I hope to see them adopt the acceptable “they” or “their” in future writings.

I also hope that once Barrel Rider Games releases the Print on Demand version that the POD includes (at no additional cost) the PDF. I have a few hard copy Barrel Rider Games books, but did not opt to pay extra for the PDF.

In the spirit of the Save or Die Podcast, I give it 3.5 Dragons. There is some great stuff to add to any campaign that features the undead.