Category Archives: practical

Hex-crawl generator

After requesting a hex-map generator from my Secret Santicore last year, I immideately thought of this idea. After thinking about it for a few weeks, I decided to make it. After buying a printer, I started playtesting using Hexographer, and a few errors came to light (once in a desert, always in a desert) and a few quirks (no such thing as a valley hex) that needed smoothing out. I’m sure there will be other versionl later. Instructions included.

Note: if you put the printed page into a box (so you don’t lose any dice), use a much larger box! Otherwise every other hex will have a settlement or ruin because those are the ones on the edges.

I’d like to thank Zak S. for introducing this method of random generating to me.

Download/view: PDF (as Google doc)
Update: Zak found my description hard to follow, so I made a visual guide:

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Posted by on 2012/10/27 in practical


Trading with ships or caravans

This is my answer to a Secret Santicore request.

Lack of interesting rules for trading with ships or caravans makes me cry myself to sleep every night. So I’d like them. If you’re out of them I could use with some quirky villages, or a village generator.

Thanks Santicore, you’re the best

This turned out to be quite the challenge, mostly because of my lack of medieval maritime customs. Caravans are easy, we still have caravans today and wikipedia is eager to tell you all about them.

Trading with ships or caravans

Items carried by caravans and merchant ships are always considered exotic, and thus cost 100% more than similar local items, even when no actual benefits are given. However, most items come from an area specialised in the making or growing of the merchandise, and thus some give a mechanical bonus compared to local items (so an exotic sword might add +1 to hit OR damage, but no both). These exceptional items will cost up to 400% more, but haggling is encouraged.

Roll 1d12 once and read the buys/sells pair, or roll twice. Add up to 4 for each country (or equivalent distance) the caravan travelled.
If you have the same result for buys, sells or both, specify two different types of the same thing. For example, one of the lumber could be mahogany, the other ebony. They might be selling swords and buying crossbows.

Each roll represents 50 tons, but if you want to, you can roll for smaller quantities.

Caravans moved at the speed of people. For each cargo load (the amount one camel carries, about 200kg), add 30% as camel fodder (so 100 loads of cargo will mean an additional 30 load of fodder).
Roll once for each 13 file of camels or every 50 tons of cargo.
About 18 camels in one file, with a handler leading each file. An elder handler in charge of the camels. A cook or two, and the caravan master. Caravan owners not present will send a representative to unload and sell the cargo at the destination, who had no authority during the trip.
Handlers earned 2 silver a month, free room and food on the trip and a camel’s load of space to fill as they pleased. Some rich handlers own all the camels in their file and would pay 20 silver for joining the caravan, but not get paid.

Merchant ships:
Most info is based on the Beyond the Black Gate blog and Seafarers, Merchants And Pirates in the Middle Ages By Dirk Meier. Speed is about 8 mph (120′ per round).
Roll once for each mast or every 50 tons of cargo.
Most rpg books have this info. In a pinch, count 15 crew-members per mast. Captain and first mate lead the ship, an experienced seaman was in charge of daily operations and a navigator read the maps and stars.
Pirate ships had an equal share in profits. Hired seamen will cost about 10gp monthly. High ranking professionals will cost much more.

Merchandise chart:

Sells Buys
1 animal parts common items
2 art lumber
3 alcohol clothes
4 drugs textiles
5 plant parts combat gear
6 spices ores, metals
7 animals jewellery
8 slaves precious stones
9 jewellery slaves
10 precious stones animals
11 combat gear spices
12 ores, metals plant parts
13 clothes drugs
14 textiles alcohol
15 common items art
16 lumber animal parts
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Posted by on 2012/10/22 in practical


Choose your own class – a class choosing aid

I’m back! I was thinking about this idea for a long time now, and I finally decided to just make it.

It’s basically a choose-your-own-adventure thing, but much more basic. You choose how you handle 3 combat situations and in the end you are told what class you chose and what it’s abilities and duties are.

Warning: This is a tool for Basic fantasy games! Race-as-class, 4 classes and 3 races.

Available in 3 versions:

Download/view PDFs:

Pocket mod, letter size (as Google doc)

Pocket mod, A4 size (as Google doc)

5 page PDF (as Google doc), if the letters are too small for you

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Posted by on 2012/09/12 in pocketmod, practical


Pantheon generator

Protip: Do no Google D&D and god in the same sentence.

A few days ago, I started thinking: how hard it is to come up with a pantheon on the spot? So one morning on the tube, I came up with a list of 8 spheres and a good and bad aspect for each.

Number rolled. Sphere of influence (good aspect/evil aspect)

  • 01-02. Combat (valour/suffering)
  • 03-04. Peace (liberty/death)
  • 05-06. Commerce (luck/greed)
  • 07-08. Earth (fertility/underworld*)
  • 09-10. Fire (industry/ruin)
  • 11-12. Sea (travel/disaster)

You roll 1d12 to decide how many gods there are (or you can choose a number as big as you want). Then you roll 1d12 for each god. Evens are male, odds are female.

Consider these gods neutral (or good) gods of the main sphere. If a sphere comes up again, modify the original to be the god of the good aspect, and the new one then becomes the god of the evil aspect. Both gods are of course still gods of the main sphere.

If you roll the same result a third time, you should probably reroll, otherwise your pantheon will be kinda samey (though mine is, so whatever). Alternatively, you can create more focused deities of an aspect by making spirits/saints/godlings of certain traits. So for example if Lux is the goddess of valour then Frilik is the saint of foolhardiness.

If you roll the same sphere a fourth time, you either have too many gods (which is fine, if you insist) and just alternate between evil and good spirits/saints, or just give up and make your world monotheistic.

Missing alignments: as you can see, every sphere can have good and evil gods, so good and evil itself doesn’t have gods. On the other hand, I argue that a god that demands organized religion can not himself be chaotic. Likewise, a god of magic would not be worshipped by clerics, and thus is irrelevant.

Missing elements: if you’re asking yourself “why is there only fire, sea and earth, but not air?” the combination of fire and sea makes clouds, which I argue is air. If you’re instead asking yourself “air? What about wood and metal?” I argue that sea + earth makes plants and thus wood, and metal needs to be smelted with fire from the ores of the earth.

*: literal or spiritual

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Posted by on 2012/01/24 in practical


Mass combat

This is my answer to a Secret Santicore request.

Dear Secret Santicore…

For my Secret Santicore, I’d like a simple sub-system that allows me
to run a skirmish-type battle with a couple dozen combatants (not
hundreds, like this).

I ask because I recently had a large skirmish, without enough figures
or handy white-board space, and even with the players keeping track of
half of the stuff, it still took an hour and a half to complete.


Sadly, I got flooded with work recently and didn’t have the time to play-test this, but hopefully it’ll only need a few tweaks.

The main concept is to abstract groups of combatants (or even whole platoons) into a single NPC with appropriate abilities. It’s written for D&D, but is probably system-independent.

Mass combat (<100 soldiers)

  • You group the combatants on either side (not counting PCs) based on their HD (or level), AC and class. Add the group’s health into one number (each should have the same health, to make keeping track easier, though you could average the total). Add their damage dice into one pool as well (they can mix and match melee weapons or ranged weapons, bot probably not both).
  • You roll initiative for each group (and the PCs) if you’re using individual initiative. This order doesn’t get re-rolled, until someone new enters the fray (reinforcements).
  • When rolling to hit, consult the opposing groups’ list to see if any AC has been hit (you should probably do this when rolling for a group, not a PC, because the PCs’ position might matter).
  • Roll the attacking group’s damage pool, subtract from the defending group’s health.
  • If the health of the group drops below an individual member’s health, he/she is dead. Remove his/her damage die from the pool.
  • Groups shouldn’t attack PCs, as they are a less abstract part of combat. Separate an individual from the group and let him/her fight the PC. (Don’t forget to lower the group’s damage pool for that round).
  • You can vaguely keep track of positions, but I advise against it.

Large scale combat (>100 soldiers)

  • Say, you have two armies of organised soldiers with the same training and standard equipment in each.
  • Every group of the same type (cavalry, archers, infantry, magi, clerics) is represented by a single character. Separate groups like earlier in mass combat.
  • Their equipment is the equipment shared by every soldier in the group. Their health is the number of people present.
  • Group damage is 1d10 x (number of attacking soldiers left / 10). Consider causing (number of attacking soldiers left / 10) damage even on a miss.
  • Resolve combat as normal, or abstract it further by using the mass combat to-hit rules (damage the group with the worst AC on a miss). Morale checks are especially useful.
  • Keeping track of the position of groups is more realistic in this case.
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Posted by on 2011/12/13 in practical