Cocaine Owlbear

Cocaine Owlbear

Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 180’ (60’)
Armor: As chain mail
HD: 6 (25hp)
Attacks: 2 claws/beak, or 2/claws/owlbear hug
Damage: 1d8/1d8/1d10, or 1d8/1d8/2d8+2
Save: As fighter lvl-3
Morale: 12

It is said that owlbears are the failed byproducts of the experiments of mad natural philosophers, but in truth they are the result of successful experiments. The failed ones are the creatures known as cocaine owlbears, hyperviolent and mindless creatures who stop at nothing in their quest to devour the entire world and all its inhabitants. Cocaine owlbears have an initiative bonus of +1, and PC’s surprise rolls are modified by -1.

If both claws connect, the cocaine owlbear embraces its victim, dealing 2d8+2 damage. On each subsequent turn, the victim continues to take the same amount of damage unless he or she is able to escape the embrace (saving throw, STR roll, oppossed STR roll). If only one of the claws hits, the beast continues with a peck.

Cocaine owlbears are immune to sleep and mind-controlling effect. In fact, these monsters do not sleep, ever.

Dragons have gemstones in their brains!

While reviewing Isidro de Sevilla’s Etymologies, I came across the following description of the dracontites:

The dracontites is taken from the dragon’s brain but does not harden into a gem unless the head is cut from the living beast; wizards, for this reason, cut the heads from sleeping dragons. Men bold enough to venture into dragon lairs scatter grain that has been doctored to make these beasts drowsy, and when they have fallen asleep their heads are struck off and the gems plucked out.”

Naturally, role-playing ideas began to sprout in my head like dragons’ gems.

The dracontites is a red gem, like a carbuncle. An adventurer must obtain a dracontites directly from a dragon’s head and carry it with them at all times to benefit from its properties:

  • Good Luck. Once per adventure (or session), the player may make two rolls and choose the best result.
  • Healing. Recovers 1 HP every 8 hours, up to the maximum.

If the dracontites is stolen, lost, or sold, there is a 75% chance that it will lose each of its properties (make a roll for each). If the stone is given away, there’s only a 25% chance. If it’s given away for the second (and any subsequent) time, the probability is 75%.

Artwork: Virginia Frances Sterrett

Hatebro, Corporate Slime

A new monster for Crack!

Hatebro (1)
dAC 11 (slimy mofo), HP 4d10 (22), +3 tongue (1d6+indecision), +0 touch (steal), S 13, ML 9, corporate slime, it only appears human, but it’s a disgusting mockery of one, grey suit and all. It strikes with its tongue while telling some buzzwords that are, actually, meaningless, if you fail a save, on top of 1d6 damage, you waste 1d4 actions due to indecision. It can steal one of your possessions, no save. Wants to exist and own everything.

Fuck You, Wizards of the Coast! We have CRACK!

After months of being fucked by Hatebros, Losers of the Coast and Dungeons that Drag On, they finally reculated, but you know what! Fuck them! Fuck them hard!

We now have more alternatives (we always had, but now more people are aware). There’s Paizo, yeah. But there’s also my personal favorite: CRACK! (see sidebars to the right side on PC, or below on mobile).

The OSR community,to which I joined 7 or 8 years ago, has always shown the most creative approaches to gaming, in terms of content or substance. And while using classic rules, the way these rules have been understood and implemented, is anything but conservative (no in a political sense, do I have to make it clear?)

CRACK! is no exception. As a big, fun and bold “Fuck you, corporate D&D”, this system is an answer to Hasbro’s bullshit.

Mutant Future | More creatures from the Sonora Desert

Here’s a bunch more monsters from my Mutant Future campaign

Booger Bear: What was once the fearsome American black bear is now a sinister mucilaginous parody. This black mucilage with the general shape and size of a bear, roams the desert in search of organic matter, living or dead, to feed on. It secretes an acidic slime that can dissolve organic matter. Upon a successful attack, the bear will hug the victim, dealing 2d8 damage each round if the victim wears leather armor or plain clothes; or 1d4 if wearing metal armor. The bear is susceptible to extreme cold and attacks non-wooden weapons, but absorbs radiation (the damage is absorbed, and the bear gains the same value in HP, even above its maximum). [AL N, MV 90’ (30’), AC 8, HD 3, #AT bear hug, DG 2d8 + hold, SV L2, ML 12, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: toxic weapon.]

Dog: After biting a target, a dog can hold on, dealing 1d4 damage every round until killed or until the target makes a Saving Throw vs. Stun Attacks.

  • Brutal Chihuahua: Feral, cunning, venomous and hyper-violent dogs, they’re not the chihuahuas of the ancients. These brutal canids are big like wolves and they have mouths full of sharp teeth, like a chainsaw. They were created by Felon Husk Industries, mixing the DNA of chihuahuas, coyotes, medusae and sharks, and were fed with the flesh of black metal drummers. [AL C, MV 150’ (50’), AC 7, HD 2 (12hp), #AT Bite + Poison Class 3, DG 1d6 + 3d6 or save for half, SV L1, ML 12, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: gigantism, toxic weapon.]
  • Coyote: The coyote is about 2 ft/60 cm tall, very skinny and, at first glance, looks famished, but this is not the case. It is light in weight (17-35 lb/8-16 kg) and its favorite pastime is howling, which chills the blood of whoever hears it; its Nahuatl name, coyotl, means “howling dog”. [AL N, MV 150’ (50’), AC 9, HD 1 (4hp), #AT bite, DG 1d6 + hold, SV L1, ML 10, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: shivers (see below).]

Jaguar: Used to be the third largest feline in the world, it is now the first, mainly due to the extinction of the tiger and the lion when Europe, Asia and Africa were vaporized during the fifth or sixth world war (who remembers those things?) Its fur ranges from intense yellow to crimson red, with black spots. In some rare cases, the jaguar is totally black, although under certain lighting the typical spots can be distinguished, visible by having the darker than black tone known as “fuligin”. [AL N, MV 150’ (50’), AC 6, HD 3+2 (15hp), #AT claw/claw/bite, DG 1d4/1d4/1d8, SV L2, ML 8, Hoard Class: VI, Mutations: none.]

Murder Talon: A slightly humanoid reptilian creature, reaching 8 ft/2.5 m in height. Close in appearance to the Gila monster, the murder talon rides on its hind legs, has ram-like horns, velociraptor-like claws, razor-sharp teeth and a skin of armored scales. The product of either a disturbed mind or scientific genius, these creatures were designed as super-soldiers to reclaim the lands that were taken by the United States from Central America, but before testing the results, the creatures, highly intelligent and with an instinct more ferocious than that of any of the species that contributed their DNA, escaped, devouring their creators and inhabiting deserts and grasslands, where they successfully reproduced. Murder talons are extremely violent and usually fight to the death. [AL C, MV 180’ (60’), AC 5, HD 3-13 (6hp per hit die), #AT claw/claw/bite or ram or tail, DG 1d6/1d6/1d8 or 1d6 or 1d4, SV as half HD rounded up, ML 11, Hoard Class: 1d4+2, Mutations: none.]


A sound, both low and high frequency, that is not detected by the human ear (and the like) but is detected by the nervous system (human and others, including primates and some herbivorous mammals). Any potential victim who “hears” the sound within a 50 ft/15 m radius must make a Saving Throw vs. Stun Attacks or she will shiver so intensely for one round that she will be incapable of any action more complex than hugging herself to counteract the cold.

*All other mutations can be found in the Mutant Future core book (there’s even a free edition).

Deathclaw artist: Unknown

portrait of a black jaguar with a light brown background

Hexcrawling | Wilderness Adventures

When I started playing D&D, I didn’t pay much attention to hexcrawls as I still didn’t recognize the value of this style of campaigning. When I finally did, about six years ago, and tried to run a hexcrawl, I found the methods described in the usual manuals vague or superficial. Boring. Why was this? Because the wilderness travel presented in those books is only about wilderness travel, not about having adventures in the wild.

So, yes, this is not a wilderness travel method, this is a wilderness adventures procedure.

Looking for alternatives, I came across The Alexandrian method, but it seemed excessively detailed and overwhelming, when what I needed was a system that was simple and easy to use. For a while I resorted to the pointcrawl method, which I still find excellent, but insufficient for certain types of sandbox campaigns, where the hex map is more useful.

For a while I used David Wilkie’s Path Cartograms, which is a good system for both travel and exploration, but not very useful if you want to use a published module with its own maps.

Then I found Keith Hann’s blog, which describes a method I found reliable. Of course, I needed to adjust it to my personal needs. It worked really well, so naturally I kept tweaking, adding procedures that, in my opinion, wilderness adventures should contain, specially if you want to make it analogous to the dungeon crawl method we all know and love.

It isn’t perfect, and that was never the point, but it’s functional and flexible. It has many minute details, but most will only be used rarely, so the actual system is pretty simple, I think. I post it here in case someone finds it useful.

Wilderness Adventures

One hex is approximately 6 miles or 10 kilometers from side to side. In one day, up to 4 hexes of easy terrain can be covered, i.e. up to 24 mi. or 40 km. However, some hexes are equivalent to double or triple that of normal terrain (same distance, more time to traverse). Tracking time and distance isn’t an easy task, and it can be overwhelming, but here’s an alternative.

Most of the activities here presented are optional and should only be used when they make the adventure more exciting, not less. The focus is the adventure, not the procedures, but these serve to give the adventure a sense of reality.

Mechanically, and to make it easy, in one day (16 hours of abstract time), a party can travel a number of hexes whose total score is 4.

Forced march: A party can cover 6 hex points in one day. After a day of forced march, the party must rest for a full day. Each day of normal march after forced march, each party member suffers 1 damage and only can heal at half rate until they rest for a full day. Each day of forced march after the first, each party member suffers 1d6 damage and can’t heal until they rest for a full day (animals suffer 1d6 damage since the first day, and maybe die; see Modifiers below).

Example: On a regular day’s walk, a group can cover either a. 4 type-A hexes; b. 2 type-B hexes; c. 1 type-B hex and 2 type-A; d. 1 type-C hex and 1/2 type-B hex (the other half can be covered the following day), or any other combination, as long as it’s 4 points worth.

Current score: Occasionally, the score of a hex will be modified, for example if the party gets lost or decides to explore the hex further. This new score is the current score.

Points reserve: Each day, a party has 4 points to spend in exploration or other activities. Some activities cost a number of points, deducting points from the party’s reserve.

Paved roads: Paved roads subtract 1 point from the hex value, but this benefit can only be taken advantage of once a day (basically, that day you can travel 5 points worth of hexes; or 7 points of forced march).

Dungeon, Town, Ruins: If the players find a dungeon, town, some ruins, or a similar settlement, and they decide to interact with it (to explore or visit), the referee decides how much time has passed. Of course, in a town, the party can simply state they will spend the night or stay there for three days.

Modifiers: The score of a hex can be modified according to factors such as weather, mounts, encumbrance, etc.

Mount (& Teamster): Most mounts might not be able to race through some type-C hexes, so no modifier applies. These modifiers can be applied only once per day, or twice of forced march. After a day of forced march, animals suffer 1d6 damage, and in a result of 5 or 6, they make a Saving Throw or die.

Common Activities

These activities are common while outdoors. They take place during Step 3. Exploration, but the referee can allow them at any time

Animal care: Taking care of mounts and pack animals is automatic if the party is accompanied by a teamster. Otherwise, one player must make a roll to represent this care (feeding, calming the animals, cleaning the horseshoes…) This can be a Bushcraft/Foraging roll (modified by charisma) or a reaction roll (modified by charisma, negatives are added and positives are substracted.)

Chases: Compare the movement rate of the pursuing group with that of the pursued, and the one with the higher value wins the chase (catches up with the opponent or manages to flee). If they’re equal or the circumstances don’t allow for a clear winner, one of the players makes a roll with a 1-in-6 chance of winning (reach or flee, depending); the referee may allow a higher success rate if the players give a good reason.

Climbing: When something is at stake, there’s a 1-in-6 chance of success, modified by dexterity. A failure doesn’t necessarily mean that the character has fallen, it could mean she didn’t find where to grab hold of, or that progress was interrupted.

Equilibrium: When you need to cross a suspension bridge, walk across a narrow cliff or use a tree trunk as a bridge, there’s a 1-in-6 chance to succeed, modified by the PC’s dexterity.

Excavation: With a shovel in good condition, a person can excavate 3 cubic feet (1 cubic meter) in one hour (capacity: 250 gallons/1,000 liters). Improvised or poorly maintained tools can excavate half as much. One hour costs 0.5 hex points, which can be neglected or tracked, depending what’s at stake.

Hiding: There’s a 1-in-6 chance of success of hiding in brush, ruins or terrain features. It’s indispensable that those from whom a character intends to hide are not aware of her presence. The success range may vary according to conditions, it may even be impossible (0-in-6).

Hunting and foraging: Adventurers may choose to hunt or gather food, but must devote the entire day to these activities, and spend 4 points from their reserve. A successful Bushcraft/Foraging roll (1-in-6 chance of success) at the end of the day means that this character has obtained rations for a number of days chosen by the referee (1, or a 1d2, 1d3 or 1d4 roll). Any number of characters can participate in this activity. If there aren’t enough points to spend, there’s only an unmodified 1-in-8 chance to obtain rations.

Open Doors: There aren’t many doors in the wild, but there’s a 1-in-6 chance to remove or bypass obstacles you find in your path, from tree trunks in the middle of the road to fences protected with barbed wire. The range of success might be modified by a relevant ability, if appropriate.

Scouting: It costs one point from the reserve. The scout explores the hex and finds any point of interest the referee wants (or randomly decided) or any situation relevant (a storm approaching, a caravan in the distance, whatever). Alternatively, she finds there’s nothing of interest here.

Searching: 1-in-6 chance, sometimes modified by a relevant ability. It allows finding traps or other hazards, as well as hidden paths, hidden landmarks, treasure, etc. If it takes only a few turns, time can be ignored. In rare cases, and if the search takes long, the party deducts 1 point from their hex point reserve, or adds +1 to the current hex’s score. Also see Tracking below.

Swimming: All characters are assumed to be able to swim, unless otherwise specified by the player. If something is at stake, the player declares her intent and has a 1-in-6 chance of succeeding (modified by dexterity). Failure can mean anything from being swept a few meters downstream to drowning.

Tracking: A specialized searching roll that allows one to find directions, the trail of game animals or people. Tracking deducts points from the party’s hex score reserve equal to the value of the current hex. See Getting lost, below.

Hazards and Dangers

While exploring or traveling, other than monsters the adventurers can face different kinds of dangers.

Damage: If the terrain is dangerous and treacherous, the characters at risk must make some roll to avoid taking damage (Saving Throws or Skill rolls, for example). This damage can be losing hit points, getting poisoned, catching a disease or even dying.

Darkness: You need a source of light. In most cases, carrying a light source prevents taking enemies by surprise. Infravision or dark vision might or might not bypass natural darkness, according to circumstances.

Disease: When exposed to a disease, the referee makes a Saving Throw vs. Poison on behalf of the character. Failure means contagion has occurred. The referee decides the effects of the disease, the duration and the treatment (both Mutant Future and Lamentations of the Flame Princess have good disease examples).

Exhaustion: A day without food or water, a night without proper sleep, disease, falling unconscious, failing a climbing roll, are common causes of exhaustion, the referee can have more. When characters are exhausted, they suffer 1 point of damage each morning and heal at half rate. After a few days of exhaustion (at the referee’s discretion), the damage suffered each morning doubles, and keeps increasing by 1 every several days. To cure exhaustion, characters have to rest for a full day.

Falling: Falling from a height of 10 ft/3 m causes 1d6 damage.

Getting lost: There’s a 1-in-6 chance the group will get lost (this chance can be increased by poor visibility or treacherous terrain). If the referee sees fit, a lost party can find a landmark without spending time or making a roll. If the party moves to another hex, the referee decides which hex they move into. It might take one or more wrong hexes for the party to realize they’re lost. When they notice they’re lost, if they want to find their way, add 1d4 points to the hex’s score. To find their way, there are two methods: a) the party spends the current hex score in hours (automatic success), or b) they make a Tracking roll (a failure means they’re still lost). In either case, the group remains in the same hex.

Starvation: If a character doesn’t consume enough water or food for more than one day, the referee may apply penalties to attack rolls and movement rate, as well as exhaustion.


1. Direction. Players decide the direction in one of three ways.

a) they can move to the next hex and decide again;
b) they can choose a destination and travel in a straight line to it;
c) they choose a specific route from one point to another (not a straight line.)

2. Random encounters. On each hex there’s a probability (equal to its score) that an encounter will occur. If the referee deems it appropriate, this roll can be made a number of times equal to the hex score, or a single roll can be made every two hexes.

When an encounter is rolled, it can happen at any moment during step 3. Exploration.

If a combat encounter occurs, it follows the usual rules for surprise, initiative, reaction and combat.

3. Exploration. During this step, common activities take place.

Exploration: Almost every hex should have at least one landmark or point of interest, or something to interact with, even if only a landscape view. Some should have more. And only a few, none at all. a) When traversing the hex without exploring it, the referee decides if the adventurers find one of these points of interest. b) If the adventurers decide to explore the hex, they’ll find landmarks (they might find them automatically, only spending time, or a Searching roll might be required.) Exploring and finding each landmark will add again the score of the hex. Thus, a type-A hex, instead of 1 point (2 hours) will count as 2 points (4 hours) for one landmark, 3 points (6 hours) for three landmarks, and so on. If they decide to investigate further, venture into a dungeon, or interact with the inhabitants of the place, the referee may simply say that a number of hours have passed and they have to spend the night in the area.

Abstract activities: These are included in the abstract 16-hour travel time; this time includes abstracted activities like taking short breaks, making and eating food, taking care of wounds and injuries, braiding your beard or hair, maintaining equipment, enjoying the view, taking a leak, and any daily activity that doesn’t consume many hours or require great concentration.

4. Camping. Depending on the circumstances, the adventurers may camp overnight, and the referee may make a final random encounters roll if desired, or simply move on to the next day. During camping time, there’s a 3-in-6 chance the party is surprised by wandering monsters. If a PC keeps watch through the night, the chance is 2-in-6. Roll 1d8 to see what time the encounter occurs.

5. Destination. Upon setting camp, or reaching either the destination or the last hex of the day, the character sheets are updated, recording the resources used or acquired (ammo, food, spells), and perhaps the time and distance traveled and any other information, if relevant.


Get these rules as a PDF.

Here‘s a nice song.

Hex map illustration: The Lavender Marshes by Ramanan Sivaranjan

Mutant Future | Creatures from the Sonora Desert

For my new Mutant Future campaign, I’ve created some creatures inspired by the folklore, flora and fauna of Arizona and Sonora, as well as the Mayan peninsula. Here are some of them.

Death Buzzard: A gigantic vulture with a human-like skull head. It will eat your organs and even your items. [AL N, MV Fly 120’ (40’) Walk 90’ (30’), AC 7, HD 4 (18hp), #AT bite, DG 1d10, SV L4, ML 11, Hoard Class: 6, Mutations: gigantism, killing sphere.]

Dtundtuncan (aka the bird of evil): A blind large black bird with a huge, blood-red beak. Its empty, milky eyes make it look as if it has no soul. He eats children and small animals, and will attack adults if food is scarce. The dtundtuncan is a solitary hunter. [AL C, MV Fly 120’ (40’) Walk 90’ (30’), AC 7, HD 6 (36hp), #AT claw/claw or bite, DG 1d4/1d4 or 1d10, SV L6, ML 12, Hoard Class: 4, Mutations: gigantism, night vision, unique sense (feels warm blood).]

Flesh Butterfly: Large flying fox (human-size megabat) with human-like intelligence that feeds only on the nectar of the blue agave flowers, from which they obtain water and nutrients. It talks in a high pitch and sings with beautiful, deep voices.

  • Brood: [AL N, MV Fly 120’ (40’) Walk 60’ (20’), AC 9, HD 2 (8hp), #AT 2 claw/claw or 1 bite, DG 1d4/1d4 or 1d6, SV L2, ML 9, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: echolocation]
  • Mother: [AL N, MV Fly 120’ (40’) Walk 60’ (20’), AC 9, HD 2 (10hp), #AT 2 claw/claw or 1 bite, DG 1d4/1d4 or 1d6, SV L2, ML 9, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: echolocation, force screen]

Toad of Blight: A 2 ft/60 cm tall toad, poopy brown in color and full of peroxide oozing warts. When threatened, it shoots a stream of peroxide aimed at the target’s eyes or hands (if they are holding something metal, like most weapons). The target must make a Saving Throw vs. Stun Attacks, on a failure he will be blinded for 1d4 days or the weapon he holds in his hands will suffer almost instantaneous rust, rendering it permanently useless. Eating its fresh heart produces altered visions of the origin and destruction of the world (for 1d4 entire hours), and doubles the XP obtained for defeating it. [AL N, MV 60’ (20’), AC 9, HD 2 (9hp), #AT peroxide stream, DG special, SV L2, ML 9, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: gigantism, toxic weapon.]

Xolotl, the Underworld Dog: An enormous black hairless dog. The front half, from head to torso, has been replaced with a cluster of blisters and pustules filled with infectious pus. These wretched creatures seek human contact, aren’t aggressive, but are carriers of various diseases. An almost invisible but odorous miasma surrounds the dog; anyone within 30 ft/10 m must make a Saving Throw vs. Poison, modified according to disease: (1d6) 1: Flesh Eating Bacteria, 2-4: Rabies, 5-6: Superflu. [AL N, MV 90’ (30’), AC 9, HD 0 (2hp), #AT miasma, DG special, SV L0, ML 6, Hoard Class: none, Mutations: none.]

Mutations and diseases are explained in the manual. There’s a free version here. Once the hex map is complete, I will share it here as well, including, I hope, complete write-ups for every creature (it will take time, I’m slow and have a long PS4 backlog, a tall book pile and only 24 hours each day).

Dtundtuncan artwork by: LADAIbarran2001

Colonialist D&D is post-apocalyptic

I’ve been reading Cal Flyn’s Islands of Abandonment and I found this fragment:

One type of D&D campaign revolves around exploring lost cities, taming the wilderness and bringing civilization to poor savages and barbarians who don’t know better. For many people, this racist trope is problematic. I have written before about my position, as a Mexican, on racism. But that’s not what I wanted to share here.

I mean, you see? D&D is a post-apocalyptic setting!

I don’t find vanilla D&D very appealing. I dislike halflings and elves and dwarfs as playable classes. But sometimes I find something that makes me think again about it. Like this here. The wilderness is only wilderness because your parents and grandparents perpetrated a genocide 50 years ago, destroying a civilization, causing their culture to be abandoned, which lead to nature to return and take the land back.

Sometimes, I find something that makes me want to play the game (as a referee, of course) as written, only because as written it’s stranger, darker and less safe than we usually think. This vanilla has some chocolate within. So the party think they’re heroes and saving civilization, only to find out there used to be a civilization here, in the past, that was murdered by their daddies and grampas. Will they ignore that legacy? Will they search forgiveness or offer repair? Will they side with the few and scattered survivors?

Because, let me tell you, these survivors, they are elves, they are halflings, they are dwarfs. And now players can use them as playable classes. Ok, ok. Maybe only one class.

Concrete Magic: Light & Darkness

In response to Paolo Greco’s article that appeared in Knock! #3, “Abstract Magic, Concrete Magic”, and also on his blog, I present to you the spells of light and darkness.


Range: 120′, Duration: 12 turns, Classes: Cleric, Magic-User and Elf

Light: The caster must take a living firefly or other bioluminescent bug between her fingers and crush it. Upon death, the creature’s élan vital doesn’t just evaporate, instead produces light, in hues similar to the light the insect emitted in life. It illuminates a circle 30′ in diameter, its brightness sufficient to read or see details and textures up close, but from a few feet away, visibility is hazy. The spell can be used on a target’s eyes, blinding him. If the caster’s alignment is Lawful or Neutral, the spell automatically succeeds; if her alignment is Chaotic, there’s a 1-in-8 chance that the spell will fail.

Darkness: The caster must take a dead firefly or other bioluminescent bug and conduct the light present into the insect, which will regain the appearance of life though without emitting any light, producing a circle of darkness around it, 30′ in diameter. At the end, the bug dies again. It can also be used to blind a target for the same duration. The spell is automatically successful for Chaotic and Neutral alignments, but if Lawful, it has a 1-in-8 chance of failure.

This was fun. I will make more soon.

Artwork: Some shitty, worthless AI art generator (Craiyon)