10 Elements for a Realistic Postapocalypse

1. Humans work together

There are a lot of assholes in the world, but there are more normal people, which means that when a disaster or accident happens, more people try to help and collaborate than try to take advantage of the situation. We see this in hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, car accidents and any other catastrophe. In a post-apocalyptic world, people would band together and collaborate; bandits and profiteers would be few, and established groups would not conflict with other groups, they would seek to collaborate as well.

2. Fights are lethal

Professional fighters are trained to punch people in the face with their fists, yet they often get injured and require specialized treatment and time to recover. You’re not a professional fighter and don’t have a team of doctors to treat you, you need to avoid getting hit as much as possible; without your hands, you’d die.

3. Feral dogs

Have you thought about what happened to Max and Bella? They most likely joined up with other dogs, forming a pack to scavenge for food from the wreckage. Over time, the dogs have reverted to a previous state, no longer man’s best friend, now they want to eat man. This has happened after events such as Hurricane Katrina and the earthquakes in Haiti. Before bandits and mutants, these packs would be an immediate danger to survivors.

4. Diseases and infections

Medicines last only a few months on the shelf before they spoil and lose their effects. The collapse of civilization means that there’s almost no one to produce new drugs, and any untreated injury could lead to death. Even during the first few months, when the drugs are still in good condition, who would know what substance and in what quantity you need to soothe those bruises that just won’t go away?

5. Rabies

Rabies would be one of the most common diseases and one of the most constant and lethal dangers. Not only dogs transmit rabies, other animals that can transmit it to humans very easily are cats, cows, ferrets, goats and horses, as well as wild animals: bats, beavers, coyotes, foxes, monkeys, raccoons, skunks or groundhogs. Although it is not common, poultry can also be infected, but since they do not present symptoms, transmission from bird to human can be very easy.

6. Malnutrition

Without an organized society, who produces food? Are you going to resort to hunting, fishing and gathering? Are you going to start a small vegetable garden? Do you know how to do it? Even if you manage to grow some potatoes and lettuce, will you be able to get enough iron? Vitamin B? Calcium? Chances are you’ll be weak and sleepy most of the time, that is if you haven’t gotten scurvy or leukemia. Engaging in a fist fight is not a realistic option.

7. Automobiles

Gasoline dissolves in a matter of days. After three months, and without a petrochemical industry to produce more, in three months the reserves will be depleted. Electric cars are not a more advantageous option either, without hydroelectric plants, who will produce the energy to power them? Solar cars might be a better option, but when damaged, will you be able to repair it, or even get the materials to try.

8. Cities would be flooded

In the absence of infrastructure and institutions in charge of urban maintenance, wastewater would no longer be pumped or directed to the sea and drainage systems would collapse. In addition, cities are not very porous to rainwater, as there are few areas of land compared to concrete or paved areas, so water would accumulate more quickly, covering some parts of the city.

9. Fires

Fires are common but usually do not become a big problem because there is always someone capable of controlling them. But even with government and infrastructure in place it is not uncommon for a fire to get out of control, without a competent authority, forests and cities would be reduced in a few years. Forests can grow back, but not cities.

10. Nuclear meltdown

More than 30 countries have nuclear power plants, and the number of these plants is more than 400. It is enough for just one nuclear plant to fail to produce an explosion so large that it would raise a cloud of radioactive dust that would cover the entire Earth. This would prevent sunlight from entering and consequently all plants would die. There would be lethal radiation all over the world, and only people living in underground shelters, where they could protect themselves from the excess radiation, would survive.

Dungeon Design | Dungeons are Angry Houses

I think a lot about dungeons. I have written several things about the nature of dungeons, it’s a subject that fascinates me, and I constantly read things that make me think about them from a different point of view, or that allow me to complement the ideas I already had.

This time I came up with an idea that sounds both absurd and intriguing: dungeons are angry houses.

No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met nearly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
-Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

An uninhabited house (or castle, or fortress, or wizard’s tower) begins to present anomalies. Houses don’t belong to nature, they’re human creations to be inhabited. An uninhabited house begins to dream, and given enough time, the house loses its sanity and its dreams begin to present anomalies: the dream of the house invades reality in an attempt to replace what it’s missing.

Eleanor shook herself, turning to see the room complete. It had an unbelievably faulty design which left itchillingly wrong in all its dimensions, so that the walls seemed always in one direction a fraction longer than the eye could endure, and in another direction afraction less than the barest possible tolerable length”.
-Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

The things of the dream that invade the reality of the uninhabited house modify its structure. The house longs to be inhabited, thus becoming a beacon that attracts strange things, both from the dream side and from worlds that do not belong to human reality: monsters and madmen.

The very structure of the house begins to change. With no human presence to control it and direct it at its convenience, the house changes by itself, in a cruel parody. Labyrinthine corridors separate rooms that should normally be joined, narrow corridors link chambers that should never touch.

After enough time, an uninhabited house loses every characteristic that once defined it as a house. It is now something else, something uninhabitable (at least by humans; at least by humans with a normal mind), a labyrinth, a tomb of horrors, a dungeon.

What happens to a house when it is left alone? It becomes worn, and aged. Its paint peels, its foundation begins to sink. It goes for too long unlived in. What does it think of? What does it dream? How does it look on those creatures who built it, brought it into existence only to abandon it when its usefulness no longer satisfies them? They grow lonesome. It stares for long hours into the darkness of its own empty halls and sees shadows. And they jump as they think, here, here is someone again I’m not alone. And each time it is wrong, and the hurt starts over. It may haunt itself, inventing ghosts to walk its floors, making friends with its shadow puppets, laughing and whispering to itself at the end of some quiet culdesac. It may grow angry. Its basement may fill with churning acid like an empty stomach, and its gorge may rise as it asks itself through clenched teeth, “what did I do wrong?”. It may grow bitter. It may grow hungry. So hungry and so bitter that its scruples dissolve and its doors unlock themselves. While a house may hunger it cannot starve. And so in fever and anger and loneliness, it may simply lie in wait. Doors open, shades drawn, halls empty. Hungry.”
-Kitty Horrorshow, Anatomy

Artist: Mutartis Boswell

Gone mad at last, the house begins to attract (or develop) strange technologies: traps, riddles, tricks. Now she dreams of taking revenge on those who abandoned her, but… how to attract them? How do clams attract men?

The house produces treasures; the anomalous inhabitants of this house are not interested in these treasures, but the humans are, and whether they decide to go themselves for those treasures they intuitively know are in there, or they send a group of adventurers willing to risk their skin for a handful of silver coins, the house will be waiting for them to attempt their annihilation or to lock them within its walls, forcing them to inhabit it again. Angry-mad houses long to be inhabited again but their longing is perverted.

And what happens when someone stays long enough locked up in an abnormal house? The house changes him. This is why a large number of dungeons are inhabited by “things” that were once human and are now just a decadent shadow of themselves, crazed and hungry, or desirous of companionship, of someone to make their doom more bearable. Robbed of their agency, they seek to impose what little power they have left on others.

And he shall look at the lesion. Now, [if] the lesion in the walls of the house consists of dark green or dark red sunken looking stains, appearing as if deeper than the wall…”
-Leviticus 14:37

More time has passed. The structure of the uninhabited house goes from bad to worse. If at first the structure, although changed, maintained a semblance of reality or conformed, at least in general, to the laws of physics, after some more time these same laws begin to mutate inside. The house is completely sick, the house now looks like a teratoma.

Visitors (invaders) feel confused or disgusted when contemplating the stained walls of these rooms and corridors, stains that seem to float off the wall or to be embedded at a deeper level than the wall itself.

Perceptions are affected and it is not easy to know if it is due to the “psychic force” of the house, or if one is really immersed in a non-Euclidean space, or even outside space itself. The most sensible thing to do would be to destroy this anomaly, to set it on fire, to eliminate it from reality.

Mundaun

Dungeon Design | Elements that a dungeon must have

There are three main motivations for an old-school player, and all three must be fulfilled in a dungeon:

  • Explore and find things
  • Gold and treasure
  • Fighting with something

There is a fourth motivation, but I consider it secondary to the previous ones:

  • Talking to someone.

Exploring and finding things

Some players are more interested in exploration and discovery. Give them something interesting to discover and they will be satisfied. Ancient or alien technologies; murals and clay tablets depicting the origin, evolution and decay of an extinct race; a microscope with lenses of an unknown crystal that allows you to observe an entire universe in a drop of water; a glimpse into an entirely new reality.

Gold and treasures

Perhaps the easiest motivation to satisfy, but it doesn’t have to be boring. Yes, gold and silver coins are fine, but a library of incunabula is better; other options are: works of alien or perverted art, weird biological samples for a scientist or a magician, the only existing portrait of the last king of Atlantis, a set of silver and jewelled weapons and ornaments that seems to have been used in a ritual eons ago.

Fighting with something

What makes a violent encounter different from any other violent encounter? A) What’s at stake. The adventurers have already found the treasure and discovered the secret origin of the human race, but these bandits stand between them and the luxurious revelry and glorious fame that awaits them upon their return to the surface. B) A new monster. Something that could only inhabit these dark corridors lost in time, something that the adventurers do not know how to defeat and that forces them to use their wits and any available resources. C) The terrain. A dungeon is not a city, it is not a forest, nor is it a castle; the terrain can be used to your advantage, but it can also be a risk: if a room contains fungi that produce gases, can it be used to make the enemy go boom?

Talking to someone

Not, of course, with people identical to those found on the surface, in the cities and towns of the human world. What will the snake-man talk about when he is awakened from his 100,000-year slumber? What will the strange formation of mold and fungus that has acquired consciousness after eons be thinking about? What does the King of the Tyrant Lizards have to ask you? And what about that incorporeal voice that seems amazed or amused but not hostile?

So, motivation

This guide is not definitive or absolute, it is just a reflection of where I am as a referee at the moment, a guide for the adventures I have designed and will continue to use for my next adventures.

Art: Brian Allen

Random Troll Generator

Trolls call me moon of the dwelling-Rungnir, giant’s wealthsucker,
storm-sun’s bale, seeress’s friendly companion,
guardian of corpse-fjord, swallower of heaven wheel;
what is a troll other than that?
(Snorri Sturluson)

The Nature of Trolls

According to existing literature, trolls were originally “creatures of nature”, i.e. creatures that one could encounter in nature. And specifically, they were present in the Scandinavian landscapes, before the industrial period, before they began to travel the world and be found in the soup.

But Scandinavian languages are complex, and the origins and meaning of ‘troll’ is lost in time. For example, the prefix troll- means ‘magic’ in Swedish, as in Mozart’s Zauberflöte (‘Magic Flute’), or Trollflöjtan. At the same time, troll- means ‘giant’ in Icelandic.

Basically, trolls are bad news. Either magical or gigantic beings, they are not good. And, like the troll woman from Snorri’s poem, a troll can be, ultimately, anything.

Making Trolls

1. Size

Trolls come in various sizes, some are smaller than a human being while others are as big as a sequoia (or, perhaps, even bigger).

Roll 1d10 to find out the size of the troll, then roll the die in parentheses to get the troll’s HD; you will also find out the movement rate (MOV) of each variety; remember that humans have a MOV of 120′.

1d10 / Size

  1. Small (1d2 HD), MOV 90′
  2. Small (1d2 HD), MOV 90′
  3. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  4. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  5. Human-size (1d6 HD), MOV 120′
  6. Large (2d4+1 HD), MOV 120′
  7. Large (2d4+1 HD), MOV 120′
  8. Huge (3d4 HD), MOV 180′
  9. Huge (3d4 HD), MOV 180′
  10. Colossal (3d6+1d4 HD), MOV 240′

Note: Small and human-sized trolls are social beings and are found in groups of at least 1d6+2. The others are solitary and are usually found alone, only rarely found in very small groups.

Morale: Referees have every right to assign any morale value (ML) to their creations, but if they wish to leave it to chance, it is easy to do so: To find out their current ML value, small trolls, roll 2d6; human-sized trolls roll 1d6+6; large, huge and colossal trolls, roll 1d4+8.

2. Armor Class

Not all trolls have the same type of skin, some are as fragile as a human being, others may be as tough as a rhinoceros or even invulnerable to physical attacks.

To find out the natural armor of a troll, roll 1d6 and compare the result.

1d6 / AC

  1. AC 12
  2. AC 12
  3. AC 14
  4. AC 16
  5. AC 18
  6. AC 20

Note: AC 12 is equivalent to an unarmored human; AC 14 is equivalente to leather armor; 16 is chainmail and 18 is full plate. AC 20 is beyond full plate; it can be harder than stone or an almost immaterial substance.

3. Attacks

Trolls are aggressive creatures, intelligent enough to use weapons, but malicious enough to prefer the use of claws and teeth to tear apart the bodies of their victims.

Roll 1d8 twice to know the troll’s attack(s).

1d8 / Attack

  1. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  2. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  3. 2 claws (damage: 1d4+1d4 small; 1d6+1d6 human-size, large; 1d8+1d8 huge, 1d12+1d12 colossal)
  4. Stone mace (dmg: 1d6 small, human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d10-1 colossal)
  5. Stone mace (dmg: 1d6 small, human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d10-1 colossal)
  6. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)
  7. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)
  8. Bite (dmg: 1d4 small, 1d6 human-size, 1d8 large, 1d10 huge, 2d8-1 colossal)

If you get the same attack twice, the form of attack or the damage it causes, changes like this:

Claws: The damage die goes up to the next type (1d4 becomes 1d6, 1d12 becomes 1d20, etc.) Note: If both claw attacks succeed against the same enemy in the same round, the troll will make an additional attack, tearing the flesh of its victim, causing an additional damage die equal to that of one of the claws.

Mace: The troll can make one additional attack at the end of each round, regardless of its position in the initiative queue; this extra attack is made with a -2 penalty and can only be directed at an adjacent target.

Bite: Roll a die; if the result is an odd number, the damage die goes up to the next type; if the result is an even number, the troll can make an extra attack at the end of each round, at a -4 penalty, using its inordinately large and protruding fangs.

In addition to this, trolls usually attack by throwing stones (or trees!) from a distance. More than a form of combat, these are intimidation tactics.

4. Ability Scores and Modifiers

All abilities start with a score of 12.

Roll 1d12 for each ability score you want to modify, or choose the one you prefer. The result indicates a modifier between -3 and +3; the number in parentheses is the corresponding ability score (for instance, DEX 16 has a modifier of +2).

1d12 / Modifier (Ability Score)

  1. +1 (13)
  2. +1 (13)
  3. +1 (13)
  4. +2 (16)
  5. +2 (16)
  6. +3 (18)
  7. -3 (3)
  8. -2 (5)
  9. -2 (5)
  10. -1 (8)
  11. -1 (8)
  12. -1 (8)

5. Powers

Just as trolls come in all sizes and varieties, their powers are also quite varied. Make a roll according to the table corresponding to the size of the troll to find out its powers.

Small. 1d6 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1hp)
  3. Regeneration (1hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Metamorphosis
  6. Opportunism

Human-size. 1d8 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1hp)
  3. Regeneration (1hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Metamorphosis
  6. Invisibility (1/day)
  7. Opportunism
  8. Roll again until you get two powers

Large. 1d10 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (1/day)
  7. Freezing Touch
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Roll again until you get two powers

Huge. 1d12 / Power

  1. None
  2. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d4hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (2/day)
  7. Supreme Strength
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Freezing Touch
  11. Howling (1d3)
  12. Roll again until you get two powers

Colossal. 1d12 / Efecto

  1. Intangibility (1/day)
  2. Regeneration (1d8hp)
  3. Regeneration (1d8hp)
  4. Immortality
  5. Invulnerability
  6. Invisibility (3/day)
  7. Supreme Strength
  8. Blizzard
  9. Fascination
  10. Freezing Touch
  11. Howling (1d4)
  12. Roll again until you get two powers

Blizzard. The troll summons forth a blast of icy wind that can blow out any flames and hurl flying creatures or hold human-sized creatures back from moving.

Fascination. When contemplating this troll, the adventurer must save versus magic or be fascinated (or terrified if the monster is particularly horrible or bizarre) and won’t be able to act for one round.

Freezing Touch. The troll must succeed on an attack roll to touch its victim with its palm, causing 1d4 cold damage; the victim must also save versus paralysis or suffer a -2 penalty to his attacks and AC, due to the cold that has numbed his muscles and frozen his bones.

Howling. Once a day. The troll howls like a wolf, but the howl is much more ominous. It’s a call. Roll the die indicated in parentheses and compare the result to find out how many trolls and what kind come: 1: 1d3 small trolls; 2: 1d2 human-sized trolls; 3: 1 big troll; 4: 1 huge troll. These trolls will arrive in 1d4 rounds and must be generated with the same tables or, if you want to save time, you can assign their powers and characteristics without rolling dice.

Immateriality. The troll becomes a floating cloud of smoke, fog or vapor with a movement rate of 10′. Cannot manipulate objects or pass through solids. The troll decides when to interrupt the effect, but its maximum duration is 1 minute per HD.

Immortality. When reaching 0hp or less, the troll collapses as if it had died but does not really die; in 1d4 rounds it will recover 1hp. Additionally, if it has the power of regeneration, each round after its “resurrection” it will recover the indicated hp.

Invisibility. The troll and all its equipment become invisible for one minute per HD. It can interact normally with objects and it is possible to detect it if it makes noise.

Invulnerability. Immune to mundane weapons and damage.

Metamorphosis. Once a day for up to one hour, the troll can take one of the following forms: 1d4: 1: wooden log, 2: dog, 3: cat, 4: human.

Opportunism. This troll has an initiative advantage. This troll’s initiative roll is made with 1d8. If group initiative is used, this troll rolls its own die.

Regeneration. Each round, the troll recovers the amount of hp indicated in parentheses.

Supreme Strength. This troll has an extra bonus to its attacks equal to +1d4. This bonus is independent of the Attack Bonus it’s gained from its strength modifiers and HD. Life is unfair!

6. Distinguishing Features

Trolls come in all shapes and sizes, with very varied traits; the following table does not list all possibilities, referees can create their own. Sometimes, these traits are cosmetic, sometimes they add something special.

1d8 / Feature

  1. Tumors
  2. Multiple Heads
  3. Multiple Arms
  4. Stone Skin
  5. One Eye Sharing
  6. Clothes
  7. Arboreal
  8. Horrible Appearance

Arboreal. The troll’s skin is similar to wood; larger trolls even sprout branches and trunks on their heads and backs. If the troll has the regeneration power, it gains 1 additional hp each round.

Clothes. The troll is dressed in gaudy colors, but its clothing is ragged and misshapen. If the troll has the power of fascination, the opponent suffers a -2 penalty to his saving throw against magic. If the troll is successfully attacked, there is a 1-in-10 chance that its clothing will be torn and entangled, causing it to suffer a -1 penalty to its attacks.

Horrible Appearance. The troll is particularly ugly, so much so that all adventurers must save versus paralysis or they won’t be able to act for one round.

Multiple Arms. The troll has a total of 1d4+2 arms, allowing it to make one additional claw attack at the end of each round, without penalty, with damage equal to the general 2 claw attack. If the troll does not have the 2 claw attack, the extra arms give it a -2 defensive bonus to its AC.

Multiple Heads. The troll has 1d8+1 babbling heads, causing it severe stupidity. Its intelligence is 12 minus the number of heads (from 3 to 10), affecting its ability to save against magic. This trait replaces the INT score (step 4.)

One Eye Sharing. Two or more troll share one single eye between them. The one troll who is wearing the eye has normal stats, the rest suffer a -4 to their perception-relatd checks, including attacks.

Stone Skin. The troll has a thick and rough skin, like granite. It gains a +2 AC bonus against mêlée attacks and +4 against ranged attacks. These bonuses are in addition to those already in previous steps.

Tumors. The troll body is full of hideous, oozing tumors. If the troll has the power of regeneration, it heals only half the hp. When the troll is attacked, there is a 1-in-10 chance that a lump will burst and splatter the adventurer, dealing 1d4 acid damage (save versus breath weapons to dodge).

Henrik Ibsen ain’t afraid of no troll

Appendix V | Ara Fell (vampires and elves don’t mix)

Vampires and elves don’t go together.

That’s been my opinion since I tried Ravenloft back in the 90s and again in the 3e conversion and finally, last year, with Curse of Strahd for 5e.

Based on these shitty games, it’s easy to say that pointy ears and bloodsuckers don’t go well together.

But a few weeks ago, while searching for a traditional turn-based combat JRPG, I discovered Ara Fell: Enhanced Edition, a game that proved me otherwise. Ara Fell proves that, indeed, vampires and elves mix well together, but also that you have to be smart to do so.

Why, then, did I always find Ravenloft to be an aberration? What does Ara Fell have that Ravenloft lacks?

Well, for starters, irony and, also, a sense of humor. Ravenloft takes itself too seriously. It wants to be dark, scary, mature, and for others to take it seriously too. Like Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlene. Ravenloft wants to be serious but it has elves, so….

Anyway, the fundamental problem with Ravenloft is that you can’t mix heroic fantasy and horror. Heroic fantasy and horror are two opposite things. One tries to empower, the other to disempower (is this a real word?).

Ravenloft tries but fails to scare players because a) D&D characters are almost impossible to kill and b) the characters are the heroes and heroes always succeed.

D&D players know they are the heroes and will triumph. They can’t fear for their characters because they know their characters won’t die.

In The Lord of the Rings, from the very first pages, we know that Frodo and Aragorn will triumph, that Sauron and Saruman will be defeated. In At the Mountains of Madness, from beginning to end we have the uncertainty of whether the “heroes” will survive and win, and we know that there is a very high probability that they will not. In a crude way, that’s the difference between horror and heroic fantasy.

Ara Fell works because it doesn’t try to scare you. It doesn’t pretend to be a horror story, it’s heroic fantasy. There’s magic, ancient prophecies, a city in the sky, elves and, yes, vampires. But it never tries to be edgy, dark, too serious. The vampires of Ara Fell are not the vampires of the gothic novel, they are just one more of the races… sorry, I meant: of the ancestries that populate Fantasyland. It’s not the horror monster, it’s the fantasy monster.

Ravenloft is based on the old Christian morality trope of good versus evil, so it’s a dark game (in more ways than one), and it’s always at night. It ends up being very edgy. And not in an ironic way, to top it off.

Ara Fell doesn’t make this mistake. It’s a lighthearted looking world, colorful, it’s almost always daytime, but its morality is not black and white, it’s the more complex, the more human of the grayscale. Elves are not the Christian good and vampires are not the evil of Satan. And in between the two factions are humans, with their flaws and virtues, desires, ambitions and fears.

So it’s not that vampires and elves can’t mix, it’s that horror and heroic fantasy don’t mix well. You can be one or the other, but not both.

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

Christmas theme entry | Consumerism in your OSR games

The christmas spirit is in the air, releasing its stinky pheromones that washes our brains into thoughtless consumerism. Let the spirit invade your game world with this brand-new option for your players’ characters to spend their hard-earned silver pieces on.

Elfpunk. The suspicious man in the black cloak with the weird eye is actually a barber surgeon who can medieval/cyber-improve you with “The red eye of sleep”, a magically imbued red orb the size of an eye that, when encrusted in your forehead, allows you to cast the spell Sleep once a day even if you are not a caster. 10,000 gold.

Pay for protection. The crazy old woman, “Mad Hattie”, needs 5,000 gold. If you refuse to give it to her, she will curse you. Her curses are level 5 necromantic spells.

A much needed cure. That mad old woman, “Crazy Hattie”, can remove any curse from you. It will cost you 6,000 gold only.

Combat options. Dr. Brain, actually a mi-go in disguise, but a civil one, can remove those extra bones from your hip and chest, allowing you to have an extra attack every two rounds (round 1 two attacks, one on your turn, another last; round 2 one attack on your turn; round 3 two attacks again…) It will cost you, 12,000 gold and one point of permanent Constitution.

A time for introspection. When you kill, you accumulate bad blood points equal to the monster’s or npc’s XP. When you reach 1,000 bad blood points, all your rolls are done at -1. When you reach 2,000 bad blodd points, they are done at -2. And so on. Remember that weird man in the black robes by the temple, with the scary laugh? He will relieve you of your sins… for a price. One bad blood point per 1 gold coin is erased from your name in the book of names that keep record of all your sins (and therefore these penalties).

Festive merriment. The PCs arrive in town in the middle of some festivity or another, and forced to break through with money and gossip. Each piece of useful information, rumor or clue will cost them 200 gold, modified by their charisma (a +2 grants a 20% discount; a -2 costs them 20% more).

Books. You see that lady in the long black overcoat? She sells dangerous things. Poison, thief tools, dark charms. Books. Her books, while owned, grant you a bonus to a specific action or area of knowledge. Maybe an extra +1 to saving throws versus poison or a free re-roll when a climbing roll is failed. Is she doesn’t have a book on the matter you want, she can get it, for an extra 100-500 gold, of course. 1,000 gold per book is quite reasonable, right? But there are some forbidden tomes that would cost much more than that.

Personal training. Pay a teacher and in one week, gain one skill point (LotFP skills) or 15% in a skill (B/X thief skill). Only 5,000 gold.

Liquid courage. 500 gold will get you a bottle of dwarven ale. In combat, you gain +1 to attack rolls but -1 to AC (but your AC can’t be lower than the unarmored value).

Fulfill your heart’s desire. Lovelie’s is open for business. Some work might be needed, but Lovelie’s night therapy will improve you. Whether this means you gain a permanent point in one stat, XP enough to reach your next level, the ability to never be surprised, or being irresistable to the same or the other sex, she can do it. But her services are not cheap.

If you need more option, check The Goatman’s Goblet. He has a good list!

Christmas merriment

 

The Four Humorous Goblins

[Artwork source]

The Four Humorous Goblins is either a troupe of four goblins or the whole of the four strains, whatever fits your game.

The Four Humorous Goblins – The Four Strains

Sanguine Goblin aka Hemogoblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, STR Mod +1, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, SAVE as fighter 4, #ATT 1 tentacle or 1 projectile or fusion

A bloody mass of tissue, vaguely humanoid in shape, as though someone had inverted a small person inside out.

Tentacle (mêlée, 1d6). One per round, the hemogoblin can produce a metre-long tentacle that executes a swift whip attack for 1d6 damage.

Projectile (ranged, 1d6). One per round, it can squirt acidic blood up to a distance of 10m, 20m with a -2 penalty, or 30m with a -4 penalty, for 1d6 damage.

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Fusion (grapple). Each round, the goblin and the victim roll 1d6 and add their strength modifier; the highest wins. The first to win two rounds wins. If the defender wins, the grapple ends. If the goblin wins, it enters the victim’s body through the nose, mouth and any opening it can.

Once the hemogoblin is inside the host, it will remain dormant for some time, and at the most inopportune moment, its presence will prevent the host from having full control of its body.

Mechanically, this translates into penalties to their action or salvation rolls.

And when the referee sees fit, perhaps a few weeks later, the hemoboglin will hatch: the host body will throw hundreds of tiny goblin larvae in the form of blood clots. mucus and bile, through the mouth, eyes, nose, etc., suffering a massive 6d6 damage. There’s a 5% chance one larvae survives and grows into one of the four types.

Choleric Goblin aka Sallow Man

AC 13, HD 4, 20 hp, STR Mod +3, MOV 120′ (40′), ML 11, SAVE as fighter 4, #ATT 1 or 2 punch or 1 infection

A bubbling mass of sallow muscular tissue, vaguely humanoid, as though someone had melted a person in 50 kilos of mucus.

Infection (mêlée, 1d6). With an attack roll, the goblin can touch a victim to cause severe vomiting and 1d6 damage.

In addition, the victim must save vs. Poison or will get an infection that will cause 1d6 of cumulative damage day by day (next day 1d6, next day 2d6, etc.); if the victim makes a new Saving Throw, no vomiting will occur that day and the next day it will restart with 1d6 of damage.

Punch (mêlée, 1d6). The goblin can produce one or two humanoid arms to punch.

Accelerated nervous system. It can make two punch attacks every third round (round 1: two attacks, round 2: one attack, etc.)

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Low sensibility. Physical attacks cause -1 damage to the goblin.

Cholera. Its extreme violence grants him a +3 bonus to all STR based rolls, including attacks (but no damage).

Melancholy Goblin

AC 12, HD 4, 16 hp, STR Mod -1, DEX mod +1, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 7, SAVE as specialist 4, #ATT 1 needle or 1 whale song

A fuliginous shape, a thing difficult to focus on, as though it was a humanoid made of shadow-tissue.

Whale song (auto, 1d4 INT). As an automatic action, and up to 3 times per day, it emits a sound that resembles the song of a hunchback whale. It spikes your dreams with (m/s)adness, causing you a loss of 1d4 INT. After a long night rest, all INT is recovered, but save vs. Magic or your Alignment changes to Chaotic.

If your intelligence reaches zero, save vs. Death or you will become a babbling and drooling vegetable. Make a new character.

Needle (ranged, 1d4). Each round, this goblin can create a sharp needle that shoots like a light crossbow (ranges of 50′, 150′ and 400′).

Self awareness. Its high insight makes all its DEX based rolls get a +1 bonus. And it cannot be surprised.

Shape shifter. Once per day, it can take the form of a short human for one hour.

Slow nervous system. Its attacks and all STR based rolls are done at -1.

High sensibility. Weapons used against it, deal damage as though they were one bigger die size (d4 weapons cause d6 damage and so on).

Phlegmatic Goblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, INT +3, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, SAVE as magic-user 4, #ATT 1 weapon or 1 spell

Looks like a regular goblinoid, pale green skin, eyes of a sickly yellow, smart.

Weapon (mêlée or ranged). It can wield minor, small and medium mêlée weapons, short bow or light crossbow or pistol, without bonus or penalties other than its +4 granted by its HD.

Caster. It can cast 2 1st leverl and 2 2nd level spells. Randomly determine which spells it has prepared for that day, as a magic-user.

Spells known. 1st level: Charm Person, Magic Missile, Sleep; 2nd level: Phantasmal Force, Stinking Cloud, Wall of Fog

Phantasmal force. Vicious dog. AC 12, HD 2, 9 hp, STR +1, MOV 180′ (60′), ML 12, SAVE as fighter 2, #ATT 1 bite

Equanimous. In reaction roll, results between 3 and 11 are “indifferent”, while 2 and 12 are “unfriendly” and “talkative”. No extremes here.

Story Hook

PCs have been hired to lead a humorous goblin-infected person to where a healer can have a cure. You have to get there before the hemogoblin hatches. The healer is actually a barber surgeon, and the surgery can be just as bad: save vs. Death, if you fail:

  • you survive but are left with only 1 hp
  • lose one hit die worth of maximum hp (roll a die your class size)
  • lose one point of either STR, CON or INT (your choice)

The Four Humorous Goblins – The Troupe

Main NPCs

Mr. Blood. Sanguine Goblin and main comedian; Mr. Night’s assitant.
Mr. Xanthous. Choleric Goblin and MC’s bodyguard.
Mr. Night. Comedian and kidnapper.
MC (Master of Ceremonies). Phlegmatic Goblin. Leader and maker of fog (wall of fog).

What’s happening

A new circus/comedy company is in town, its members are four short men, therefore they are known as The Four Humorous Goblins.

Children started disappearing the same night the company arrived, one child every night.

The Four Humorous Goblins are secretly real humorous goblins in disguise (the phlegmatic goblin wears an actual disguise, the other three, their shape-shifting power).

Freaks, outcasts and criminal work for them, as members of the circus.

The troupe kidnaps children (adults are hard to drag to their place). The children are used to produce more goblins by infecting them with sanguine goblin cells. One they have between 6 and 10 children, they leave town and return home, where the children are infected.

They already have five children, no-one suspects of the troupe. Five more nights, and they leave, or before if they realize the PCs are investigating them.

What the PCs know

  • Children have been disappearing for some nights
  • Find them and you will be well rewarded
  • Find them and the major will drop the charges against you
  • The son of a former lover has disappeared
  • Might or might not be your child

Clues | Roll or choose one everytime PCs interact with NPCs

  1. A circus is in town, it arrived some days ago
  2. One per night, for five nights now, children have disappeared
  3. Strange people have been seen roaming the streets after midnight
  4. The Four Humorous Goblins are a comedy company that travels around the land and now it’s here
  5. The major’s son was the first to disappear, he was only 6
  6. There’s been unusual fob these alst nights
  7. All the children were abducted while they were been accompanied by their parents; all say there was fog and couln’t see who kidnapped them
  8. Everyone thinks I’m crazy, and, yeah, maybe I am, but I know what I saw: it was a monster, but it wast not a monster first, it was a man, and then it was a monsters
  9. I found the remains of a camp, not far away, between the town and the forest
  10. Madam Letti’s heard giggles and wet steps in the fog when her child was taken

It is expected that the players can figure it out by themselves, but if they don’t, once they collect three clues, send some clowns, tricksters, acrobats, bearded women, strong men and other freaks against them. This means the troupe has realised the PCs are after them, and send their henchfreaks to stop them. This should be the most obvious clue: “Oh my dog it’s the circus!”

Random circus henchfreak generator

1d8 for freak type, ability modifier

1: clown (cha +2)
2: trickster (int +2)
3: acrobat (dex +3)
4: bearded woman (any +1)
5: strong man (str +2)
6: juggler (dex +2)
7: sword eater (con +2)
8: beast master with trained baboon (wis +2)

1d6 for armor class

1-4: 12
5-6: 14

1d6 for hit dice

1: 1
2-4: 2
5: 3
6: 4

1d6 for damage (customize weapon accordingly)

1: 1d4
2-5: 1d6
5: 1d8

Trained baboon

AC 12, HD 2, 9 hp, DEX +1, MOV 120′ (40′), ML 10, SAVE as fighter 2, #ATT 1 bite or 2 claws

Lazy and relentless. The beast master will command the babon to attack a specific PC, the baboon will obey in a 3-in-6 chance, otherwise it won’t act that round. Once it acts, he will continue attacking until death.

Bite. When a bite attack is successful, it can attack the same target at a -2 difficulty (or +2 to attack) the next round; if successful, the same bonus applies again.

Armor class is based on Lamentations of the Flame Princess. Here’s how you convert AC between systems.

Some goblins

Somewhere else I said the goblins might be corrupted halflings. But there might be different kinds of goblins, not all of them little green men. Here are couple.

Hemogoblin

AC 12, HD 4, 18 hp, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, #ATT 1 tentacle or 1 projectile or fusion, DMG 1d6 or 1d6 or special

Artwork by Yalaki

A bloody mass of tissue, vaguely humanoid in shape, as though someone had inverted a small person inside out.

Tentacle (mêlée). One per round, the hemogoblin can produce a metre-long tentacle that executes a swift whip attack for 1d6 damage.

Projectile (range). One per round, it can squirt acidic blood up to a distance of 10m, 20m with a -2 penalty, or 30m with a -4 penalty, for 1d6 damage.

Fusion. It tries to hold on to its opponent (mêlée roll; no damage). If successful, it will immobilize it for one round, and in its next action the hemogoblin will try to enter its victim through any hole it can (victim saves vs. Paralyzation to avoid it).

Once the hemogoblin is inside the host, it will remain dormant for some time, and at the most inopportune moment, its presence will prevent the host from having full control of its body.

Mechanically, this translates into penalties to their action or salvation rolls.

And when the referee sees fit, perhaps a few weeks later, the hemoboglin will hatch: the host body will throw hundreds of tiny hemogoblin larvae in the form of blood clots through the mouth, eyes, nose, etc., suffering a massive 6d6 damage.

History Hook: PCs have been hired to lead a hemoglobin-infected person to where a healer can have a cure. You have to get there before the hemogoblin hatches.

Cosmic goblin

AC 12, HD 1, 5 hp, MOV 90′ (30′), ML 9, #ATT 1 weapon or 1 command, DMG as weapon or special

Artwork by Yalaki

These creatures have the proportions of a human being, but their height is about one meter. Their heads are shaped like planets and are believed to come from the stars.

Weapon (range). Cosmic goblins usually carry a strange device that shoots a musical beam of silvery light at a distance of 20m, 40m with a -2 penalty, or 100m with a -4 penalty, causing 1d8 damage.

Command. One per battle, the cosmic goblin can insert a mental command into an enemy, ordering him to carry out an attack against whomever the goblin says. This action is undetectable; whoever has received the command is not aware that he has acted on the orders of the goblin, he simply does not know why he has attacked a companion (or whoever it was). To avoid this, the victim must save vs. Magic.

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Stats are written for LotFP, where AC 12 is for no armor. This is the only adjustment you should make if you use another OSR system. All the illustrations were made by Yalaki, hire her!