Thousand Lands S01E03

Hoon Hills: Lament of the Skylord

In the third episode of our Thousands Lands B/X Essentials, hex-crawl campaign, our heroes press on into the Hoon Hills in search of the hideout of the evil thieves cult The Dark Eye, but they find more than they bargained for when they discover a small village and it’s shining silver guardian.

Continue reading

Rose of Westhaven

Season 1

We’ve recently wrapped up season one of our Lamentations of the Flame Princess Midderlands Campaign, as of the time of writing we’ve already started season two, which has seen the timeline move forward by ten years and a switch to the For Coin & Blood rule set.

Season One charts the rise and fall of the Locke Adventuring Company,

During their adventures they made allies among the people of Porthcrawl, enemies of many fierce creatures, many friends were lost along the way, but they never stopped striving to push forward against adversity in the spirit of their deceased namesake Edwin Locke.

Over twenty sessions chart the rise and fall of the Locke Adventuring Company, these are all available to watch on Youtube or Twitch.

Youtube Playlist

Twitch Playlist

Watch Rose of Westhaven – Season 1 from RedDiceDiaries on www.twitch.tv

Podcast Episode 46 – Old school prepping and bullet journals

In this episode I discuss some ideas for manual prep and note recording methods going forward for my games:


If you’re interested in the idea of Bullet Journalling you can find out more here:


Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:
http://freemusicarchive.org/music/XTaKeRuX/Empty_Grave/Shinigami

Used under creative commons licence:
https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

LOTFP 2E Playtest Rules

My First Thoughts

Okay, so you may or may not be aware–based on whether or not you’ve read Eldritch Cock James Edward Raggi IV’s FreeRPG supplement for Lamentations of the Flame Princess–that there is a second edition of LotFP in the works for some date in the distant future. The Eldritch Cock supplement features two pages of playtest rules that are currently under consideration for inclusion in a 2E of my current favourite OSR system.

Readers are invited to submit their feedback so I thought that I’d put mine into a blog article.

Aims of the New Rules

According to the document the aims of the new rules are as follows:

…keep things fresh and accentuate how LotFP is different from other superficially similar games without creating an edition war.

The process of play should remain the same…

Backwards compatability is a must…

Ability Scores

The six perennial D&D attributes are still there and, essentially, the player rolls 3D6 for each ability in turn and receives modifiers based on their score as per the standard LotFP and other OSR-style games. The idea seems to be that each Ability Score should have more of an impact on the game than previously.

How Much do we Need Ability Scores to Affect the Game?

It’s no great secret that in many OSR games your stats only have a very minor effect on the game, perhaps boosting your attack modifier a little, maybe giving you the odd additional Hit Point here and there or–if you’re using a system like LotFP that incorporates skills–perhaps giving you the odd skill boost. I’ve never really seen this as a problem in OSR games because many of the games focus on the “rulings over rules” style that is often discussed in this style of gaming.

For those of you not familiar with it, “rulings over rules” refers to an ethos of not having a specific rule for every possible situation but having a simple flexible set of rules that are almost purposefully vague in some areas, allowing the common-sense of the GM and their group to prevail when it comes to interpreting how to adjudicate situations.

So how do the new rules give a bit more bite to Attribute Scores?

  • Charisma: Determines the number of D6 that you roll for your magical based Saving Throws (there only seem to be two types of Saving Throw in the new ruleset, magical and non-magical), the better your score, the more D6s you roll. When you make a Saving Throw, you roll your dice and count how many 6s you’ve rolled, if you get one 6 then you have achieved a partially successful save, if you get two or more 6s then you have made your Save successful. No 6s is a failure.
  • Constitution: Determines the dice type that you roll for Hit Points, that’s right, your HP is no longer based on your class but on an Attribute, ranging from D4s up to D12s (if you’re lucky enough to have a CON of 17-18).
  • Dexterity: This Attribute determines what dice type you roll for Initiative.
  • Intelligence: Determines how many Skill Points you begin with. Although the focus of LotFP’s simple skill system has always been the Specialist Class, with everyone else having low or limited ranks in the various game skills, in these new rules your non-Specialist character at least gets a few points to spread around between the various skills.
  • Strength: Determines how many items equal 1 Encumbrance Point. The way encumbrance works in LotFP is that a certain number of items equals an encumbrance point, you work out how many encumbrance points you are carrying and this affects your movement and abilities in certain situations. Previously this number was set, in the new rules however, the higher your Strength score, the more items you will be able to carry.
  • Wisdom: Works in a similar way to Charisma but for the purposes of non-magical Saving Throws.

I quite like the idea of the Attribute Scores having more of an impact on the game, especially when–as seems to be the case here–they do so without adding a great deal of unnecessary complexity to the game. Rolling a different dice or calculating encumbrance in a slightly different way doesn’t (in my opinion) add additional complexity, nor can I see how it would slow down the game much.

Character Classes & Gaining Levels

Only the following classes exist in the new rules:

  • Fighter
  • Magic-user
  • Specialist (this is the LotFP version of the Thief Class, sort of…)

That’s right, only three classes, the Cleric and the three demihuman classes (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) have been axed in the new edition, the demihumans because apprently “this aint Tolkien” and the Cleric because “the existence of divine power defines the cosmology of an individual campaign that is best left to the Referee, not a game publisher”. These two viewpoints seem a bit of a contradiction in terms, on one hand telling you that the game definitely does not involve demihumans and putting a stern foot down, whilst on the other hand saying that it doesn’t want to impose it’s viewpoint, allowing the GM the freedom to do or do not as they see fit.

Perhaps this is the author representing the fundamental differences between everything having a Lawful plan which all things must bend towards and the churning, bubbling froth of chaos that tears down walls and allows ultimate freedom (to paraphrase the alignment descriptions from the LotFP corebook), but it must be remembered that these are only potential playtest rules. Although I remember hearing ages ago (before ever reading Eldritch Cock) that Raggi wanted to get rid of Clerics at some point and his opinion on demihumans is well known so I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that the author is sharpening his axe for them as well.

I suspect that this is going to divide the audience somewhat, I certainly know that–preparing for the game I’m planning to start soon–when I put it to the players they were quite keen to keep the demihumans and the Clerics. I can certainly see why this is the case, although their exclusion wouldn’t bother me terribly, they have been part of D&D and OSR games for many, many years. That said, it’s not terribly difficult to house-rule those classes to work in the new rules, I suspect the only difficulty–assuming you’re concerned with it–is that the demihumans (particularly the Elves) tended to be balanced by requiring more XP to level-up. In the new system it takes a flat 2,500XP to reach second level and double the xp required for each subsequent level.

Fighters get to roll their HP dice twice and pick the highest results at first level where the others get to roll once, giving the Fighter clear advantage when it comes to potential HP totals at first level, which makes sense. When characters advance in level they roll their new number of Hit Dice and–if the total is higher than their existing number of Hit Points–they up their total to the new number, otherwise it remains the same. I’ve encountered this rule before in the OSR sci-fi game Star Without Number written by Kevin Crawford and am a huge fan of it, since the number of dice you roll increases with each level the tendency is for your total HP to creep steadily up, however it isn’t guaranteed at each level and slows down the onset of superhero syndrome, where the PCs have enough HP to shrug injuries that would fell lesser men.

Attack Bonuses

Essentially in the game there are now four categories of combat bonus:

  • Melee
  • Firearms
  • Ranged
  • Guard

Fighters gain +2 in each of these categories at first level and +1 in each category per level, whereas other character classes get +1 in Firearms and +1 in one of the other categories (chosen randomly); the higher combat proficiency of the Fighter Class makes sense, however the emphasis on Firearms for the other classes is a little confusing and may hint at a great involvement for firearms in this edition. Previously they were jammed at the back as an appendix, I love these rules to bits and wouldn’t run LotFP without using blackpowder firearms, but I’m guessing that these rules are going to be bought more centre-stage in the 2E of LotFP.

Like a lot of rules in this, and other, OSR systems there are a lot of random elements in this (rolling your Attributes, randomly determining where attack bonuses go, etc), some people may love this, others no so much. Again though it’s not difficult to allow people to jiggle their Attribute scores around and allow them to pick which attack category they get a bonus in.

Guarding

Guarding is an interesting idea and replaces the Parry rules from the current edition of LotFP, essentially when a person chooses to Guard, they gain an AC bonus equal to their level plus their Guard rating. I like this, it’s nice and simple and gives all the Classes a way to fight defensively if they want to; however the second paragraph talks about choosing to Guard out of Initiative order and only getting half the level rounded up, plus their Guard rating, this seems unnecessary and I’m not sure it would add a lot to a game. Personally I’m not a fan of Initiative interrupts since I think that they make combats lengthier and clunkier, but it’s not exactly difficult to omit this bit.

Holding an Action

These rules allow a character to hold an action until an enemy takes a particular action then interrupt (with various penalties). As you can see above, I’m not a fan of turn interrupts, but I’d be interested to see if and how this actually works in a combat.

Weapon Damage

All weapons now do D8 damage, armour counts double against Minor and Small Weapons and half against Great Weapons and Polearms. This is interesting and seems to jibe in well with the existing weapon categories, sticking closely to the 2E rule-set’s guideline of “reverse compatibility”, although I’m not sure how it would work on Ranged Weapons and Firearms since they are not currently grouped into the same abstract categories.

In my own upcoming game I’ve chosen to ignore this rule and stick with the 1E weapon damages and rules.

Skills

The next section of the playtest rules focusses on LotFP’s simple skill system; previously Skill tests were determined by rolling a D6 and trying to get equal to or below your score, in the playtest rules you roll a D6, add your skill rank and are attempting to score a 6 or above to be successful. Each skill starts at a +0 bonus with characters receiving a +3 and a +2 bonus allocated randomly to two skills. Characters get bonus skill points (or lose them) based on their Intelligence score, Specialists get four +1s to allocate to skills of their choice and a further +2 points at every level thereafter.

There are also some additional Skills added:

  • Leadership: This skill allows you to modifer hireling morale checks, a successful Skill Check providing a +2 bonus to a morale check and a failed roll giving a -2 penalty.
  • Luck: Grants the player a number of re-rolls equal to their ranks in the skill per session.
  • Medicine: Allows you to double the effects of healing naturally, although a failed roll on the seriously injured can result in serious consequences. Personally I find this a bit limp, I’d just have a successful roll heal D4 + the ranks in the skill or something similar, but I can see why the author doesn’t want this to become a super-skill that negates the danger of taking damage.
  • Seamanship: There’s very little description to this skill beyond that it is going to be some sort of Bushcraft on the High Seas style skill, there are going to be some forthcoming rules related to this and I wouldn’t be surprised to sea them take a more central role given the authors obvious fondness for naval exploits (we can see this with how much coverage they get in the original LotFP rulebook).

Saving Throws

This section was a little confusing, we’ve already been told that the number of dice rolled for Magic and Non-Magic Saving Throws are adjudicated by various Attribute Scores, given that the difficulty of Saving Throws is no longer based on rolling above a number but on how many 6s you roll, it seems as though their isn’t much point in the current Saving Throw classes, you really only need two (Magic and Non-Magic). Some parts of the playtest rules seem to imply this, whilst others make reference to the previous Saving Throw categories from 1E LotFP, so I’m not sure where the author is going with this, however I suspect it’ll get straightened out in the future.

So, what do I think?

I think that the rules are very interesting, some (like the Attribute, Skill and Combat Rules) I’m a big fan of, whereas others (such as Holding an Action and Weapon Damage) I’m not so fond of. For my own upcoming game we’ve made a few tweaks and ignored the Weapon Damage rules, I’ve produced a small character generation guidebook incorporating the new rules that we’re going to be using and look forward to trying them out.

Google+ Migration

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock–or at least very isolated from social media–for the past few days you’ll have no doubt heard the news that apparently Google+ is officially circling the drain.

I woke up this morning to a flood of stories like this one

https://thenextweb.com/google/2018/10/08/google-plus-dead-security-flaw/

It would appear that–due to a security issues discovered by Google and lack of use–they’ve decided to shut down their social network over the course of the next 10 months, with it being gone by August 2019. Personally I think this is a great shame, whilst Google+ has never scaled the dizzying heights of public visibility that social media giant Facebook has, there were a few things it did that I really liked:

  • There were some great communities chock-full of great links to RPG material and interesting discussion.
  • It was blissfully free of the flame-wars and rampaging arguments that seem to rage across Facebook like seasonal storms.
  • Originally it served as a handy gateway to Google Hangouts, before Hangouts was largely neutered, lost most of it’s apps and just became is shit(er) version of Skype.

So what do we do now?

Well one of the budding new social media sites that seems to be cleaning up at the minute is MeWe, numerous RPG-based community groups have sprung up over there in the hours since the future departure of Google+ was announced, many migrating from Google. The social network seems to have a fairly similar interface to Facebook and will certainly be easy to grasp for those used to the social-media giant.

I think it’s too early yet to say whether or not MeWe is going to emerge as a spiritual successor to Google+, there are people trumpeting other networks and even hearkening back to the days when forums were the thing for hobby-based interactions on the internet.

Whether or not Google+ does finally die though, it’s good to see we have options; in the meantime I’ve created a Google+ account for myself in order to interact with those communities moving over there, you can find me at:

https://mewe.com/i/reddicediaries

Live & Uncut Podcast Recording – Over production in RPGs

We’ve recently been experimenting with live-recording group podcasts on Twitch so that people can watch an “uncut” version as it’s being recorded and get involved via the chat box.

These recordings are available on the Red Dice Diaries Twitch Channel.

Last night’s recording was about over-production in RPGs, although–as usual–we rambled and got off topic in the way that any group of RPers do when you start them talking.

Watch Podcast Live & Uncut: Over-production in games from RedDiceDiaries on www.twitch.tv

These live-recordings seem to have been fairly well-received so we’re currently considering the possibility of doing them on a more regular basis (perhaps one every couple of weeks).

In the next day or two I’m going to edit the sound file from this recording and trim it down, before releasing it as a podcast on Anchor.

Black Market Blymouth

Rules for dealing with black market trading in LOTFP and other OSR games.

Trading and buying equipment is often something that gets glossed over in RPGs, and quite rightly so in my opinion since doing a bit of shopping doesn’t really compare to the heroic (and not so heroic) deeds that PCs engage in during the rest of their adventuring career. I’ve done it myself recently in my own campaign game, the players rocked up to the City of Blymouth to buy some gear and–wanting to get on with the rest of the adventure–I pretty much said “Yeah, if you can see it on the equipment list then you can buy it at city prices.”

It did get me thinking though, one of the things I’d half had in mind for Blymouth (since the high taxes that Duke Salt imposes on the citizens was mentioned in the Midderlands Expanded book) was that there would be a thriving black market economy. But how best to represent this without every shopping trip turning into a mission on it’s own?

I also wanted the black market expedition to have an element of both randomness and player-choice in it. With that in mind I’ve put together the following set of rules for Black-marketeering:

Stages of Black-Marketeering

In order to gain access and trade on the black market the PCs must go through the following stages (each of which is covered in more detail later in the article):

  • Locating a black-market vendor.

  • Purchasing the item/assessing it’s quality.

Locating a Black Market Vendor

In order to use the black market, the PCs must first make contact with it; if they have already had dealings with a named contact in the current settlement and are on good terms with them then they can do this automatically.

If the PCs do not have a named contact they are on good-terms with then they must make a Charisma check to locate an appropriate vendor, the player-character’s Sleight of Hand score is added to their Charisma for the purposes of this check (to represent familiarity with the underworld).

For example: Michael Childs is a suave thief with a Charisma of 15 and a Sleight of Hand score of 3-in-6; when making his roll to contact the black market he counts as having a Charisma score of 18.

If the player succeeds on the roll then they locate a black market vendor without any problems, if they fail then something has gone wrong; roll 1D6 on the following table to find out what.

1D6 Roll Result
1-2 The PCs are spotted by the watch and are approached by a group of town-guard, if they can't talk their way out of it then the PCs will be fined 1D6x50SP. If they cannot–or refuse–to pay the fine then the guards will attempt to apprehend them and throw them in debtors prison.
3-4 The PCs locate a vendor, but he is actually a thug with some of his fellows lurking nearby, as they are discussing purchases a group of footpads attempt to disable and rob the PCs.
5-6 The PCs fail to find a black market vendor because they are distracted by another event (roll on the random encounter chart for this area).

Purchasing the Item/Assessing It’s Quality

If the PCs manage to track down a black-market vendor then they are able to locate the item/s they are seeking to purchase, however such vendors are not like more reputable tradesmen, their wares are a jumble of broken, salvaged and cobbled together items.

When purchasing from a black-market vendor the player may choose to take a discount of 10, 20 or 30 percent from the cost of their purchase. Once they have decided on their discount, roll a 1D6 to determine whether or not the item is 100% functional, the chance of this being the case is listed below.

Discount Taken Chance of Something wrong with Item
10% 1-in-6
20% 2-in-6
30% 3-in-6

Please note: This roll must be made for each item purchased.

If there is something wrong with the item that has been purchased, roll on the table below to determine what exactly is amiss with it and consult the table below:

1D6 Roll Weapon Armour Magical Misc
1 The first time the item is used it falls to pieces immediately afterwards. The first time the item is used it falls to pieces immediately afterwards. The first time the item is used it falls to pieces immediately afterwards. The first time the item is used it falls to pieces immediately afterwards.
2-3 The weapon does only half damage. The armour provides 1 less AC bonus than it should. The magic item has only half charges or provides 1 less bonus. The item is evidence in a crime and is being sought by the authorities.
4-5 The weapon does only a quarter damage. The armour provides 2 less AC bonus than it should. The magic item has only a quarter the charges or provides 2 less bonus. The item is sought by a powerful villain who will stop at nothing to recover it.
6 The item is cursed (as determined by the GM). The item is cursed (as determined by the GM). The item is cursed (as determined by the GM). The item is cursed (as determined by the GM).

More one-shots for 2018

I generally don’t go in for New Year’s resolutions very much, in my opinion most of them get broken shortly afterwards so I’ve never really seen the point in enshrining them as a resolution, if you’re going to do something then just do it. That said there are a few things–gaming wise–that I would like to do in 2018:

  • Continue my Westhaven LOTFP campaign: all being well we’ll be doing session 6 of this campaign this weekend, the game has been going well and there’s only been a single PC fatality so far. I’ve recently transferred some of the campaign data onto this site and am very much enjoying my first taste of OSR GM-ing, I’m hoping to keep the campaign going for some time.
  • Start up two Ravenloft 5E campaigns: I’ve been enjoying playing 5E recently as part of the Role with Advantage Facebook community, and it’s inspired me to have a go at running a campaign. I decided to go for a Ravenloft-style campaign, because who doesn’t like gothic horror? Just to put the idea of the game out there and try to generate a bit more interest I “advertised” it on my normal Facebook page as well as my Red Dice Diaries page and in various RP communities that I frequent online, the response was great with more people than I can cram into a single group expressing interest. To accommodate the interested parties I’ve split them into two groups and plan to have two separate groups of adventurers knocking around my version of Ravenloft, each game is only going to run once a month so I’m hoping this should be manageable.
  • Continue playing 5E with RWA: Speaking of Role with Advantage, I’m having great fun playing in some excellent games ran by André Martinez and hope these continue well into the New Year.
  • Run more one-shots in 2018: I’ve always found running low(er) prep one-shots and pick-up games to be enjoying and challenging in equal measures (many of the one-shots I’ve run can be found here on my YouTube channel) but found herding players and the other various bits of admin a real chore that could suck away enthusiasm faster than Dracula sucks down the red stuff. To try and make things a bit easier on myself in 2018 I’ve made a Facebook group featuring people who have played in my games in the recent past and who I have found to be reliable, my hope is that by advertising my games in this group first I’m more likely to get players; of course if that fails to secure enough players then I’ll advertise the remaining places in the usual communities online.
  • Release Storm & Sail: The pirate-fantasy campaign for Fate written by myself and Lloyd Gyan is pretty much ready to go, all the writing is done we’re just waiting for a final few pieces of artwork, after that it’s a few last minute layout tweaks and I should be able to release the PDF onto Drivethru RPG.
  • Release more Fate Thins: I really enjoyed writing and releasing my Fate mini-campaign books as PWYW PDFs on Drivethru, I’m hoping to release some more in 2018.
  • Expand my RPG writing: I’ve been playing several different games over the last year and going into 2018, I’m considering expanding my RPG writing beyond the Fate system, although I think to do so it’d have to be a system that I was really familiar with.

So those are my current roleplaying plans for 2018, let me know what your are in the comments 🙂

RPGaDay 2017 – End of the First Week

It’s the end of the first week of #RPGaDay 2017, there has been a massive response to this years RPGaDay, hundreds of videos and loads of blog posts with people getting involved and talking about the hobby.

What is RPGaDay?

If you’re not familiar with RPGaDay, essentially during the month of August people answer a series of RPG related questions and produce content related to it, these could be videos, blog posts, tweets, however you want to approach it. The idea of RPGaDay is that it gives us all an outlet to enthuse about this wonderful hobby of ours and share that enthusiasm with others, the side benefits are that we get to find out about cool new Youtube channels and also get to learn more about our fellow RP enthusiasts.

If you want to know more about RPGaDay, I’ve done a post at the start of August that you can read by clicking here.

Week 1 Recap

Runeslinger–who is one of the main forces for pushing the RPGaDay idea forward–has just published a video where he gives a brief recap of the first week and current state of RPGaDay 2017, you can click on it below:

Please note: This video was entirely created by Runeslinger, I’m just sharing the love.

What RPGaDay means to me

I don’t want to retread ground that Runeslinger has already covered–since he did his usual excellent job with the week 1 recap video–so I’m going to talk a little but about what RPGaDay means to me and then finish off this post with some of my favourite videos that have been published so far. This is by no means a comprehensive list, it’s just a few videos that stuck out or struck a chord with me.

RPGaDay to me is a though-provoking and sometimes infuriating exercise, the questions are always interesting, some of them I have to think about for a fair old while and others I feel like I’ve not really answered the question in full, either because I can’t, I’m not sure how, or because I have too many potential answers. However the questions always feel worthwhile to me, even if I struggle with them or end up giving an incomplete answer, it gets me thinking about this hobby that I love, often in ways that I may not have done were I not taking part in RPGaDay 2017.

For example: The most recent question (as of time of writing) was Describe a Game Experience that Changed How You Play, I struggled with this one for a while since I think that you inevitably tweak and evolve your playing style during games even if you aren’t consciously aware of the lessons that you are learning.

Eventually I settled on something one of the players in my Star Wars Campaign said that caused me to re-evaluate some of my opinions on games involving fewer players:

Although I did struggle to come up with an answer, by thinking about this subject it made me consider the way that we learn things in RPGs and how that affects our playing style going forward, even if I’d not managed to come up with an answer at all, thinking about it in this way has helped bring something from the back of my mind to the front and made me more consciously aware of it, this can only be a good thing.

Content I’ve enjoyed so far in RPGaDay 2017

Okay, so here’s some content I’ve enjoyed so far in this year’s RPGaDay:

Michael Guerra went a different route and used a simple graphic to show his choice of game for Day 5’s question.

Sophie Lagacé has published some great responses to RPGaDay 2017 on her blog, you can find the blog by clicking here.

So there we are, that’s a smattering of stuff that grabbed my attention for RPGaDay 2017 but there’s plenty more stuff out there, I’m stumbling across new content all the time – if you want to look for more then check out https://rpgaday.com/

Get Involved

So if you love RPGs but you’re not already producing content for RPGaDay 2017 you might be thinking it’s too late for you since a week has already passed, but nothing could be further from the truth, the point of RPGaDay isn’t to chastise people for missing making a day’s video, it’s to get us all talking for this great hobby. If you want to start producing now here’s a few suggestions:

  • Create a single post or video that answers the questions you missed, you can be as brief or verbose with your answers as you like.
  • Start with the current questions and then go back and fill in the missing ones when and if you have time.
  • Just don’t worry about it, start putting out content at whatever pace is comfortable for you.

I hope that more people will get involved and I look forward to seeing the great content in week 2 for RPGaDay 2017 🙂

VR: Peasant Competency Levels

One of the unfortunate things about filming video responses for my Youtube channel is that I tend to do them in an off-the-cuff manner, this is great for getting an unscripted and spontaneous feel to the video, however it does mean that on occasions I tend to forget things and only think about them after I’ve just spent an hour or so editing the video.

The same thing happened recently when I filmed a video response to the following video OSR Gatekeepers: I do not fear death by Your Humble Gamesmaster:

I filmed what I believed to be a fairly comprehensive response to the video in question, you can see my video here:

It was only after the upload had finished that I thought ‘Oh sh*t I forgot to mention the bit about peasant power levels in the video’ – now I’m not going to go back and record the whole thing again to cram that part in so I thought that I’d write a brief blog about it here instead.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners are often seen as being particularly weak in OSR style games, particularly when in funnel play or in comparison to characters who actually have levels in a more normal PC class (fighter, thief, mage, etc); this is a very valid point, I do have a few issues with it though. After thinking about it for some time, I realised that my main issue was based on an assumptions that I’d made about D&D and OSR style games:

  • Adventurers spend a lot of their “off-screen” time practicing their skills.

I’d always imagined that the fighter spent a lot of their off-screen time practicing combat whilst the thief was out engaging in nefarious activities, the mage was obsessively studying spells and the bard was playing their lute or whatever it is that they do when they’re not annoying the rest of the party and trying to grab some abilities from pretty much every other class.

The Humble Gamesmaster makes the point that peasants or commoners in a standard pseudo-medieval D&D world wouldn’t be weak, they would lead hard lives working the land, I certainly think that’s true, however, I’ve always seen the difference between commoners and PC classed characters in D&D as being akin to the difference between a fitness fanatic and a trained soldier in real life, sure the fitness fanatic might be fit and in reasonably good health, however they don’t exist in the constant state of readiness that the soldier does, knowing that s/he could be shipped out at any moment to face danger and death.

So let me know what you think, are commoners weak in your world or do they have some untapped wellspring of inner strength?