Category Archives: theoretical

Dielevel modern

I wanted to further showcase the flexibility of the Dielevel system despite the fact that nobody seems to care.

There seems to be a trend in roleplaying where medieval games are abstracted, but modern, horror and sci-fi games tend to be skill based and more realistic.

Dielevel modern

These rules can be used for anything from Lovecraft to Star Wars. If any sort of psychic or magic abilities are available, they should be under the Spiritual attribute.


Attributes are the inherent abilities of the character. They only change for in-game reasons (like going to the gym for a while), at the DMs discretion.

At character creation you have to split 3 points among the following:

  • Physical
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Spiritual


At character creation, you get as many skills as points allocated to the appropriate attribute. This amount should be chosen, but in special cases the DM might rule that you can add multiple points to a single skill instead.

You get an additional skill point to allocate however you like at each new level. You can add one to an existing one, or get a new skill.

Skill examples

  • Physical
    • martial arts
    • sprinting
    • climbing
  • Mental
    • computers
    • driving
    • first aid
  • Social
    • bluff
    • fashion
    • streetwise
  • Spiritual
    • ghosts
    • religions
    • animal ken

Both the attribute and skill bonus is added to the rolls. Skills and attributes can be combined for an action however is appropriate. So you might add physical+bluff to the roll to seem stronger than you are.

Sci-fi race examples

Rookies are a race of 6′ humanoid sloths. They have great strength but can only speak their own language.
Physical starts at 1
Social starts at -1

The homaari are a race of floating jellyfish. They are very religious but have a hard time loosening up.
Physical starts at -1
Social starts at -1
Spiritual starts at +2

The toozhanyo are mentally disciplined race of very strong humanoids. Their logical mind and calm demeanor puts others ill at ease.
Physical starts at +1
Mental starts at +1
Social starts at -1
Spiritual starts at -1


Magic has a simple system, if you know the spell, you have to roll against it with the appropriate skill and attribute. It will resist with it’s level and whatever environmental bonuses that are hindering you. If you succeed, the effect is created. Some spells (especially in a Lovecraftian game) will have a cost, like an item, prayer or even the PC’s health.

Spell examples

You speak the words of the mighty god Ak├írki. Any unnatural abomination who’s Spirituality you rolled over has to flee the room/street/vicinity.
Level 6

You turn the target intangible. Objects pass through them as easily as through air. They are so light that gravity barely has a hold on them as they can literally walk on air like stairs. Hellbound is the same, bit gravity still has a hold on them and they fall into the ground and most likely suffocate unless they find an underground cavity. Length of both effects are until the end of the scene/combat.
Level 10

Ray of clumsiness
A brown streak hits the target who loses all skill bonuses (but not attributes) for the duration of the scene/combat, unless the difference in rolls is smaller then the target’s Spiritual. In the latter case, it only lasts for the next round.
Level 8


Vehicles supplement the characters’ abilities by their speed, abilities (like flying) or equipment (like weapons). Consider them giant portable bonuses.

Vehicle examples

Passengers 4
Health 4
Health bonus +1 for each character inside until the car’s health is depleted
Speed bonus 10 (5 on rough terrain)

Passengers 2
Health 2
Speed bonus 20 (10 on rough terrain)

Using d12 for resolution is suggested, ties go to the players. Characters faint if their health goes under 0, but are only killed by a separate action.

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Posted by on 2012/11/29 in theoretical


The Dielevel system and the basics of roleplaying

I was thinking one day, as I usually do, and I reminded myself of one my recently recurring statements: “you don’t need rules to roleplay”. My would-be players argued that you need explicit rules to differentiate classes, otherwise anyone can do anything, and I argued the opposite, that the playing of roles isn’t the function of the system, but the players. Take a basic example: You can play cowboys and indians or cops and robbers with no rules after all. Of course some basics will develop through play, like genre adherence, how you can’t claim to be bullet-proof or that you can’t escape even though your bonds are fake (a rule that I broke, since sitting in the bushes while everyone else gets to play is boring).

Developing rules through play was the norm back in the Chainmail days, and James Maliszewski tested this method in his Dwimmermount campaign to great success. So what is the bare minimum of rules needed to play a roleplaying game with pen, paper, dice and a Dungeon Master? I’m a minimalist, so let’s see how bare-bones I can get.

Introducing the Dielevel system Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on 2012/11/04 in theoretical


Specialist classes via roleplaying

Me: I might be a minimalist.
Sarcasm: Gee, you think, Mr. I-love-SotU?
Me: Shut up, you!

Anyway, when I created my pantheon back in the day of the first game I ran, I felt that clerics might be a bit overpowered. Others seem to agree with me. Also, as a minimalist, I feel that having extensive rules and different spell-lists for similar classes is too much work for the DM and players to keep track of/read.
So here’s my suggestion: roleplay the different specialist classes and clerics, and break the cleric class up based on it’s 3 major abilities.

New classes:
Priest**: like the cleric in LL, but cannot wear armour, prefers* the spells closest to their deity (so Resist Cold for the priest of fire, Remove Fear for the priest of valor)
Warpriest**: like the cleric in LL, but can’t turn undead, prefers* combat spells (Cause Light Wounds)
Paladin: like the cleric in LL, but cannot use spells (weapon restrictions remain, if any)
Druid***: like the priest but avoids metal equipment when possible*, prefers nature-based spells (Purify Food and Water), and protects the balance of nature (thus is neutral)
Barbarian: fighter or dwarf who avoids armour other than leather and hide when possible* and uses two-handed weapons and bows (no shield)
Rangers: fighter, thief or halfling who avoids metal equipment when possible* and protects the balance of nature (thus is neutral)

Turning and destroying undead might not be appropriate to some of these classes or their deities. I have a theoretical fix for that too.

Turning things:
Destroy/Control: the D result can be swapped to controlling where appropriate (anti-clerics). The priest must successfully control the creature each day afterwards otherwise it will die/attack (DM decides).
Turn: I assume even evil clerics want the dead as far away as possible when they’re hostile. As such, turning remains the same.
Druids: druids can turn and control animals and beasts instead of undead. Instead of infernals, they have aberrations as the highest tier. Evil druids can destroy instead of control.

*”Prefers” implies that there are no restricted clerical spells. “When possible” implies that survival overrules it.

**Clerics in LL get spells from 1st level. Otherwise, make sure priests face undead as much as possible to compensate.

***Elves might be druids, if the avoidance of metal equipment restricts them enough to be close to priests power-wise, it’s your call. Spell preference applies (Web is a good example).

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Posted by on 2012/02/12 in theoretical


Forms of vision

I was thinking about putting some items found in The Sword lyrics into D&D. One such item got me thinking about forms of vision. After a lot of reading (especially regarding infra) I came up with my own interpretation.

Infra works regardless of light conditions, though daytime above ground is usually too warm for visibility. Since most light sources in a quasi-medieval setting are heat sources aswell (torches especially), they tend to overload and blind infra (especially at close ranges).
Every normal creature is a heat source, but a much weaker one then a torch is a light (or even heat) source. So they won’t “light” their surroundings. Taking that into account, having infra ranges makes as much sense as having vision ranges. They’re probably a balancing attempt based on light-source ranges.
Visibly, when using infra, most normal creatures are double sized, because of the heat they radiate (Imagine it as a dark red flame surrounding them). Getting wet or standing at a place with strong winds or drafts negates this effect. Another difference (and a less positive one) is that see-through things like glass aren’t see-through in infra, and reflective materials don’t work either, you just see the appropriate heat of the object (probably room temperature). Creatures in water can not see or be seen with infra for the same reason.
Because of balancing issues and realism, I’m assuming a relatively mediocre quality infravision. That means footsteps cool too fast to be useful (<30 seconds) and faces can not be distinguished. I’d make and exception for powerful creatures or sentient creatures born with infra, but in that case, the eyes glow red. In the latter case faces and footprints still must be at arms reach to distinguish (climb on all fours to follow footprints).
Watching Predator and Predator 2 will educate you on the visuals of infravision.

Darkvision is a relatively new concept, developed to keep infravision but distance it from its real life counterpart. As such, it only works in complete darkness, but it’s user can not be blinded. In the presence of a light source, the user simply reverts back to normal vision. (The question remains about the effects on darkvision-only creatures.)
The quality and distance of vision is normal, but the user only sees shapes in black and white, not even grayscale. Colours and patterns can not be distinguished, making reading impossible. Naturally, reflective and see-through materials don’t work for such vision. If the Dungeon Master rules that the concept of darkvision is magical in nature, he or she can devise a material that mirrors such vision, or allows users to see through it. (Non-glossy iron could be an example for a mirror.)
As far as I can tell by googling, there’s only one picture in all of existence of what darkvision looks like. It’s in the 3.5 DMG. As a substitute, get a line-drawing of an underground locale, and invert the colours.

Low-light vision, or nightvision can be found in nature relatively frequently (cats are a well-known example). This is the same type of vision, it collects a larger amount of ambient light, allowing better sight in darker environments. As such, daylight (or similar strength light) blinds its user, if they don’t switch to a different method of vision.
With nightvision, starlight or the light from distant torches allow vision similar to darkvision: strong contrasts, minimal details, no reading or colours, though mirrors and glass work as normal. Moonlight or equivalent on the other hand allows for mostly normal vision, though mostly in a bluish tinted grayscale.

Ultra, a form of vision introduced into Labyrinth Lord with the Advanced Edition Companion, is a surprisingly difficult form of vision to reconcile. The reason is that ultraviolet vision in real life has none of the magnificent attributes given to it in the rulebook.
Basically, ultra gives its user a few additional colours to see (which is great for secret messages and seeing some otherwise well hidden plants and creatures). That would not be enough to make this form of vision useful in-game, so I added the ability to see radiation, magic and high-technology to its capabilities.
Ultra enhances the vision in twilight by the presence of background radiation form the Sun, giving the user perfect vision at dusk and dawn. As radiation is a strong form of UV, a strong enough source can blind its user. High-technology (more advanced than what we have) and magic spells are clearly visible (depending on strength) in ultra, but do not light their surroundings. Magic items and radiation on the other hand can be strong enough to act as a light source for the uv user.
If you don’t know what ultravision looks like, go watch CSI.

That’s the best I could do with these 4 forms of vision. As closing, an interesting tidbit I found regarding changes in lighting conditions:
“Pirates, for example, often wore eye-patches over one good eye – not because they were blind in that one eye, but because they often had to quickly go below decks into the dark. Changing the patch from one eye to the other allowed them to function without pause, but if one had to wait for their eyes to adjust to the darkness, that could take several minutes, which they could hardly afford during a pitch battle.” – James L.R. Beach

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Posted by on 2011/12/08 in theoretical