Ye Olde Shoppe | Shop management for old-school games

An old school game can benefit from deeper systems that explore the rules and activities that are not the focus of the game. The system I present here is not a replacement for the existing rules. The existing rules are sufficient for a game that does not focus on trading goods, so a simple system, for an element of the game that will be used very rarely, doesn’t require further exploration and depth. But, what if you want to try something new? A combination of dungeoncrawling and business administration?

The players create their adventurers normally, they take them to explore dungeons and old ruins, they loot forgotten tombs and they recover relics and treasures, but instead of only looking for a buyer, they want to open a store and put on sale all the accumulated treasure, or at least the most mundane ones (works of art, simple weapons, pottery).

This system can be adopted by a single player, or between at least two players to form a cooperative. The distribution of the money to found the store, as well as the profits it generates and the payments to the employees, are decided by the members of the cooperative, although to avoid conflicts, the referee can rule that everyone gives and takes the same percentage.

Making a Shop

A character or cooperative must invest a minimum of 5,000 cash to open a store, but its reputation value will be -10. Every 5,000 extra cash invested in it adds some reputation points or changes the amount of possible sales made weekly:

Sales. A sale can be any amount of items it makes sense. A single adventurer might only purchase a couple arrows and some rope, but a 4-person party might need equiptment for everyone. The referee can use this to control how money moves in the world, or he can make random tables of customer for every reputation level.

Base price. The price of the products must be equal to the price in the list of items in the manual of the game you use, or can be proposed by the players with the approval of the referee. The price of items that don’t exist in the manuals is set by the referee.

Base price modifier. Reputation modifies the value of products by a percentage equal to their score, so a -10 score store sells items 10% cheaper than the base price, and a 50 score store, 50% more expensive.

Purchase. When a customer makes a purchase, the referee pulls 2d6:

Charisma. The salesman’s charisma value affects the previous die roll:

Salesman. There are four options: 1) Players can take turns, 2) One of the characters can retire from the adventure life and dedicate exclusively to the management of the store, 3) Players can create a new level 1 character to manage the store, 4) They can hire a salesman.

All options, except the first one (PCs taking turns), receive a commission for each sale made. The salesman’s charisma determines the commission as shown below, but the referee can adjust these values as needed:

20 items that can be bought at Ye Olde Shoppe

1d12 Magic-User Garments

All these garments can only be used by Magic-Users, and their powers are only active when worn. Unless otherwise specified, these garments don’t offer physical protection.

  1. Robe of Ice. Ice-blue silk mantle with a gold snowflake pattern that grants AC 14 (or as leather). During the winter, there’s a 1-in-6 chance that every spell casted will remain in the Magic-User’s memory. During summer, there’s a 1-in-6 chance another spell is spent without taking effect, randomly determined.
  2. Robe of Is (plural of I). This cotton robe has the Magic-User’s face stamped multiple times. Once every 24 hours, the magician can create a number of insubstantial duplicates of himself equal to his level. At will, he can choose any number of duplicates to imitate his movements and the rest, a second pattern of movements (for example, two duplicates imitate and three duplicates break-dance). There’s a 1% chance you are replaced by a duplicate.
  3. Unseelie Garments. An elegant fairy linen suit or dress. AC 16 (as mail) but it’s invisible to the human eye, so you seem to go naked, which is considered heresy and punishable by hanging.
  4. Slime Tunic. A tunic made with the most delicate fibers of the infamous green slime. The wizard gains resistance to acid, including that of other slimes, oozes and jellies.
  5. Blood Cape. Elegant crimson cape. All attacks made with regular weapons cause -1 damage. Fire and electricity attacks cause double damage (roll twice and add both results).
  6. Twilight Cloak. Red silk inside, black wool outside, very valuable even for non-Magic-Users. Once a night (between sunset and sunrise), the Magic-User can turn into a flying fox for up to one hour. In this shape, he cannot speak but can cast spells. One of his spells is replaced by the cleric’s spell “Putrefy Food and Water” (inverted Purify Food and Water), which allows him to rot the crops (an area of 100 square meters per level). If the spell is not used in bat form, it reverts to the original spell. There’s a 1% chance that you will never recover your true form.
  7. Shadow Cloak. Blacker than black, unknown fabrics. The Magic-User can make stealth rolls with a success rate of 5-in-6 but there’s a 1% chance you simply disappear.
  8. Pointed Hood of Lies. You can tell a lie and everyone who doesn’t know that it’s a lie, will be convinced that what you say is true; one hour later, they will realize it was a lie.
  9. Madcap Hat. Shaped like an amanita muscaria, blood-red and silver spots (actual silver). You can understand the language of fungi, moss, ooze, slime, jellies and smurfs, but all your charisma-based rolls (except with fungi, moss, and so on) suffer a -2 penalty because you look like an idiot.
  10. Light Mail Armor. Literally made of light, so it doesn’t weight. AC 15 (or leather +1). It illuminates like a continual light spell but you can be seen from the distance.
  11. Gloves of Strangling. These wool gloves don’t look like much, but if a Magic-User tries to strangle someone, his victim must Save vs. Poison or die. If the victim survives, the gloves will try to kill you. If you survive, the gloves will disappear, perhaps in search of the food that keeps them alive: a human life.
  12. Pixie Boots. Pixie leather boots, each toe is decorated with a pixie eye, and on each heel, one of its wings. The pixie is still alive. Initiative +1, an extra spell from the second highest level you know, or lower, but there’s a 2-in-6 chance that a pixie swarm will attack you immediately when you put the boots on, and again every 24 hours you wear them.

Pixie swarm

AC 14, HD 2, 5 hp, MOV flying 240′ (80′), walking 30′ (10′), ML 9, SAVE as Magic-User 2, #ATT 1 sword stings (1d4), Fairy dust, Tooth removal

Sword Stings: Automatically hit an opponent they are surrounding, once per turn. Most pixies are armed with swords appropriate for their size, dealing d4 damage, which represents countless small stings.

Fairy Dust: Once per turn, they can choose not to attack and concentrate on flapping their wings faster so they’ll project enough fairy dust. It works as the spell Sleep.

Cutting/Impaling Resistance: Cutting and impaling weapons do half their damage (rounded down).

Tooth Removal: A pixie swarm can remove 1d4 teeth from an sleeping in one round. Each tooth removed deals 1 hp damage.

(Pixie swarm, based on an original concept by Bruno)

Making spell acquisition weird again! (updated)

Magic-users in Lamentations of the Flame Princess get new spells pretty much the same way as in any basic/expert set and OSR.

  • Transcribing it from a scroll, making the scroll useless.
  • Transcribing it from another spell-book, the source remains magical.
  • Research.

Of the three, research is the most demanding but also the most rewarding, the other two are not particularly interesting, much less dark, and I like my LotFP dark, even darker.

So I’ve been toying around with different takes to make the acquisition of spells weird again, and here’s the idea I like the most.

Spell Transcription

Copying a spell from any source—scroll, spell-book, ritual tattoo, scrawls on an asylum wall, magic wand, IOUN stones, or anything—to their own spell-books, deletes the spell from the original source. This simple modification changes the game, because no magic-user is willing to part from their arcane property, although some of them might be interested in exchanging.

To get new spells, a magic-user needs to capture spell-books (or other sources of spells). He can then transcribe the text and mystical scribbles into his book, or he can tear off the page and sew it to it (which is faster but dangerous). Under these guidelines, a magic-user can remove the tattoo from its wearer (including the skin, of course) and add it to his spell-book.

Spells contained in unwritten sources, like magic wands or other magic items, can also be “transcribed”.

For simplicity, the mechanical procedure is the same as regular transcription, following the procedure described in Rules & Magic (pp. 80 and 82). The in-game procedure, though, is different. The magic-user needs to remove the spell from the source (written or otherwise) and “paste it” into his own spell-book. If he has special inks, paper and other materials, the procedure is faster (as described on pp. 82 and 83.)

Casting non-transcribed spells is dangerous

If a magic-user casts a spell from a scroll, or from (a page torn from) another spell-book, or by reading the scribbles on a wall, it is considered risky casting (see the Weird Magic System from Vaginas Are Magic or Eldritch Cock). If you are using regular spells (from Rules & Magic), use the common miscast table, unless you want to create a specific miscast table for each spell your players acquire.

Casting spells from magic wands and similar items, is not considered risky casting; the downside is that the magic-user cannot attach wands to his spell-book.

Other consequences of using magic

Concerning sorcery, James Maliszewski said that “the wages of sin are far worse than mere death (…) the loss of one’s humanity, the ability to connect to other men, is terrible curse.”

All magic-users are of chaotic alignment, meaning their loss of humanity. Also, when a magic-user casts a spell (successfully or not), he rolls 1d100, and in a 1, he reduces his Charisma by one point, representing the gradual loss of his ability to connect to other people.

See this random table of simple corruption effects.

What other diabolists think (update)

Some wizards and devil worshippers have their own ideas, and I will share them with you:

“I’ll add one (idea) from personal experience playing LoTFP as a Magic-User earlier this year. My guy was a bit deranged. He worshiped an evil frog god and liked to gut animals and people in the hopes he could discern spell formulae from their entrails. This almost always did nothing except for a few notable cases where he accidentally unleashed horrible, disfiguring curses upon himself. He was quite mad so he persisted in this suicidal endeavor until the inevitable premature end to his adventuring career occurred.” -CrippleHook, on Reddit

This pushes my notion that spells are kindasorta living things… caged into pages or wands or whatever. Not to be duplicated by mere scribbling.
It also encourages casters to hide/disguise their grimoires. IIRC Earthdawn wizards had grimoires in all sorts of peculiar guises… like a teapot where you brew tea and read the leaves to learn spells stored in the pot.

What about if the original spell is in the form of a baroque sculpture or in the architecture of a room… would the transcription require a three dimensional aspect as well? -Ernesto Plasmo, LotFP group on Facebook

To Ernesto’s question I replied that in my opinion, the spell is intangible, like a spirit or energy; the sculpture is not the spell, it’s its home, but your spell-book can be its new home if you convince it to move (that would be the “transcription”). The idea of making a 3D repository is cool, though. The magic-user needs to choose carefully which spells to bring with him, he cannot pack all of them.”

You have any ideas you want to share?

100 labels on flasks and vials in a Magick-User’s pantry

Computers are Magick. Neural Networks are Chaos. I summoned the Artificial Brain and the Metallum Patron to aid me in the creation of these unique and strange potions. Only a few of these were actually named by me.

When your Players find a potion, roll 1d100 to determine what’s written on the label. The description of the flask, and its content’s appearance, it’s entirely up to you, but this should be a clue, no matter how subtle, about the substance properties.

  1. Old Black Roses
  2. Green Slime Essence
  3. The Darker Years
  4. Old Smoke
  5. 0-3½.5Gridges
  6. Slippery Violet Sands
  7. Laptime Tree Spider
  8. Angry Egg
  9. Hating Frost Moon Glands
  10. Bleeding Apples with Sea Salt
  11. Strawberry Lime Dissolution B
  12. Ice Chlorophyll Glaze
  13. A unique combination of leaf of fire and custard Sodium ascending Fujiyama
  14. Blue Foam Duet
  15. Shiny Living Veins
  16. Size Yes 37 (21,28,38) x 54 (9 or 15)mm
  17. 4 Cup Emulsion
  18. 26 Grief Hills
  19. Violet Violet
  20. Queen’s Tears
  21. Violet Heart
  22. Black & Purple
  23. Chill Back Liquor & Three Experienced
  24. Night Breeze
  25. Tea of the Day
  26. Winter’s Wish
  27. Ceremonial Blood
  28. Blue Moon
  29. Daughter of a Witch
  30. Death to the World
  31. Daughterless Rose
  32. Black Sunlight
  33. Dawn of a New Moon
  34. Black Ice
  35. Happiness of the Mind
  36. Chained to the Cross
  37. Dark Moon
  38. Blood Orange
  39. Lights
  40. Pilsner Sunrise
  41. Rock World of Arms
  42. Pearl Ash
  43. Sunk Into The Sea
  44. Overture In Black
  45. The Night Of The Great Storm
  46. Cursed Rose
  47. The First Dream
  48. Pantheons Lost (Noise Of A Dream)
  49. Chaos In The Heavens
  50. The Devil’s Garden
  51. Distant Sky
  52. Inquisitor Orphic (The Day Of The Dead)
  53. The Light And Dark Of Death
  54. Liquid Mushroom
  55. Defused Moonshine
  56. Lime Rift
  57. Siege, A Nightmare
  58. Alchemy of Mine
  59. Activation Of Parvati’s Title
  60. Forest Winds
  61. Glimmer of Madness
  62. Blood of the Unholy
  63. Aetheric Fire
  64. Chrysanthemums of Eternity
  65. White Night Eternal
  66. Death Deathgaunt
  67. The Moonstone Song of the Goddesses
  68. Omaha Spaceport
  69. Vortex
  70. The Riddle
  71. I Am Only the Shadow
  72. Water Of Despair
  73. The Wind Beneath My Clothes
  74. Wolf In the Shadow of Death
  75. Withering Wretch
  76. Winter’s Heart
  77. You Are the Dead
  78. You Will Not Die
  79. You Will Be Forgotten
  80. You Shall Be Mine
  81. Worlds Collide
  82. Mantra of Emotion
  83. The Inside Drama
  84. Serpent Wisdom
  85. Black Moonfall
  86. Dimensional Rift
  87. Shadow-Lord’s Blessing
  88. Timeless Grief
  89. Keeper of the Empyrean
  90. Calculating the Algebra of Need
  91. The Secret to Exhaling Emptiness
  92. Deadly Void
  93. Inner Shadow
  94. Of Grandiose Fevers and Passion Arcane
  95. Seeds of Corruption
  96. Torment Remains
  97. Astral Booze
  98. Old Thunder
  99. Blighted Sun
  100. Shimmering Sludge

Now all you need to do is come up with an effect for them; try to be reasonable. For instance, “Green Slime Essence” is surely acidic, but it’s an essence; maybe it works as a digestive or as anti-toxin. How about “Omaha Spaceport”? Maybe it’s some alien port (dark red wine from outer space) that causes alien drunkenness and alien hangovers.

On other occasions, say “0-3½.5Gridges”, you will need to not be reasonable, but imaginative. Here are 1d12 possible effects for those weirdly labelled potions:

  1. No save. All your teeth fall, they are replaced with pointy bones. Bite attacks deal 1d6 damage.
  2. Save versus Poison or you are immediately drunk. Attacks, and all rolls related to coordination and dexterity, are made with a -2 penalty. While in this state, you become conscious of one very bad thing about yourself (it includes things that are considered bad from your own and personal moral compass). You need to role-play your emotional state for a the rest of the day. The next day, the effect is gone. But not the guilt.
  3. No save. After three turns, you will fall incapacitated and won’t wake up unless someone shakes you.
  4. Save versus Magic or your body will become a void-portal into the stars. An alien creature-thing will come through in 1d3 rounds. There’s a 50% chance it will attack the first living thing it sees (not you; you are a portal now). Once the creature traverses the portal, it will close. You suffer 1d6 traumatic damage.
  5. Your maximum HP raises 1d6. Your eyes become totally black (pupil, iris and sclera). Permanent -2 penalty to Hiring Retainers and Loyalty checks.
  6. Save versus Poison or your heart will become stone, killing you in the process. If you die, your heart acquires alchemical properties and is a valuable element for a Magic-User, as it increases the rank of his laboratory by 1,500 sp. If you don’t die, you get stones in the kidneys; every day, you suffer 1d3 damage due to the pain they cause you.
  7. You need to eat 6 rations a day (approximately every 4 hours) or suffer a penalty of -1 to all your rolls, cumulative for each meal that you skip.
  8. You become your shadow and your shadow becomes you. Attacking your body won’t harm you; attacking the shadow (where your mind, soul, psychic apparatus, identity, essence or whatever is now) will, but you only lose HP if the damage die gives a result in the upper half of its range (example: if the damage die is d6, it will only cause damage if the die rolls 4, 5 or 6). Magic weapons that emit light cause double damage, including the lower half. The effect lasts 2 +your level rounds. You can end the effect at will.
  9. Save versus Poison or die only to be returned to unlife. You retain all your abilities and memories, but you are dead, so you don’t need to eat or sleep, but you can’t heal either. If you were a Cleric, you no longer are (i.e. you lost the ability to cast spells).
  10. Your skin glows for 6 turns (your party can’t surprise anyone soon). When this effect ends, your skin becomes thick and leathery like that of a rhinoceros; now you have natural Leather armour. A week later, you get natural armour equivalent to Chainmail, and your skin has become so hard and thick that you can only wear custom-made clothing.
  11. You have an idea. You forget it immediately. Receive 3 XP.
  12. You reflect sunlight. Everyone who looks at you must save versus Paralysis or be dazzled for 1d6 rounds, suffering a -2 penalty on all their rolls. The effect of the potion is permanent, but it can dissipate with Darkness or Dispel Magic.

Alchemy is fun! (Well it is!)