Category Archives: D&D 5E

Random Things: Midderlands Trinkets

As I’m sure you all know by now, I’m a massive fan of the Midderlands setting by Glynn Seal of Monkeyblood Design and have even been privilieged enough to write on a couple of projects for them. One of my other loves in RPGs is the random trinket table from D&D 5E, so it seemed only natural to combine these two loves.

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Cantrip Comparison

I recently posted an article (you can check it out here) about how much I enjoyed Cantrips in D&D 5E and how it was one of my favourite parts of that system. One of my long-time online gaming-buddies Dennis Bach posted on Facebook that he thought there might be some duplication of existing spells if the effects were just to be ported over, which is a very valid point because the idea of Cantrips is to give magic-users some cool extra stuff they can do, not to replicate or replace the higher-level spell systems.

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Podcast Episode 47 – Midderlands, 5E, Sci-fi and other projects

In this podcast episode I talk about some of the projects that I’ve been working on and some stuff I’m about to start work on:

Title Music

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:

Used under creative commons licence:

Podcast Episode 40 – Over-production in RPGs

The edited version of our recent podcast recording “Over-production in RPGs” is now available on Anchor, I’m joined by Johannes Paavola, Mathew Bryan, Andre Martinez and Dennis Bach.

Music on Podcast Title

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:

Used under creative commons licence:

Podcast Episode 39 – Running a City Like a Dungeon

In the latest episode of the podcast I answer some voicemail messages about previous installments and muse on an idea I’ve been considering for my Rose of Westhaven campaign:

Music on Podcast Title

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:

Used under creative commons licence:

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

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).

Random Things – Fellow Prisoners

We’ve all been in the situation where our character has been caught bang-to-rights for some sort of indiscretion or perhaps has been falsely accused and has found themselves in prison. Perhaps you were taken captive whilst raiding a dungeon and now languish in a cell yourself?

One thing that can add flesh to these encounters are interactions with NPCs who have also been taken prisoner, but trying to figure out why these people are in prison can sometime be a bit tricky on short notice. Below are two tables for quickly generating these reasons, one for ‘civilised’ prisons and the other for dungeons or savage jails.

Civilised Prison
1D8 Roll Reason Prisoner is in Jail
1 This prisoner is a debtor who owes a large amount of money to a landlord, noble or guild (equal chance of each) and is currently being held until their debts are repaid. The captive swears that this is all a misunderstanding and her has the money. Roll a D6, on a 1 the person is lying and is a conman, 2-4 their possessions have been confiscated and they have no chance to repay the money, 5-6 their debts are being repaid and they will be released in 1D3 days.
2 They were caught stealing valuables from people at a local marketplace and are being held whilst the local authorities decide their fate. Roll a D6, on a 1 they will be executed, 2-3 they will have an appendage chopped of as punishment before being released, 4-5 they will be branded as a thief and released, 6 they will have to serve community service to repay their debt.
3 The person is a foreign agent caught spying and attempting to steal valuable state secrets, they will be held, tortured to find out what they know and then executed. If the PCs strike up a friendship with the prisoner, they may try to bribe the PCs to take a coded messenger to their handler, promising them rich rewards for doing so (even chance if they do so they get a reward or the handler attempts to have them silenced).
4 The prisoner accidentally killed someone in a tavern brawl and is scheduled for execution once the headsman has finished sharpening his axe.
5 The unfortunate prisoner claims to have no idea why they are in here, they were dragged by guards from their bed in the middle of the night and thrown in jail. Roll a D6 on a 1-3 the person is lying, roll again on this table or decide what their actual crime is, on a 4-5 it is a case of mistaken identity and on a 6 they are deliberately being framed by a third party.
6 The prisoner is a commoner who either refused to behave appropriately towards a noble or was found to have been carrying a weapon in public. Roll a D6, on a 1 they will be executed, 2-3 they will have an appendage chopped of as punishment before being released, 4-5 they will be flogged through the streets before being released, 6 they become the property of the offended noble.
7 The person has been arrested for outrageous drunken behaviour. Once they sober up they will be stripped and made to wear the drunkard cloak, a barrel with shoulder straps before being paraded through the town and mocked.
8 They have been arrested for a minor offence such as stealing a load of bread, they will be placed in the stocks for 1D3 days, pelted with rotten fruit and vegetables before being released.
Savage/Dungeon Jail
1D8 Roll Reason Prisoner is in Jail
1 Captured by raiding parties and bought back to the jail to serve as a either cheap labour or a source of food (even chance of each).
2 This person is the lone survivor of a previous adventuring party who attempted to raid the dungeon and has been left here to rot. Roll a D6 to see what happened to his companions, on a 1-2 they were killed exploring the dungeon, 2-3 they were taken captive but have since been removed by the jailors, 5 they died in prison, 6 they were eaten by the last survivor as the only source of food.
3 The prisoner is a member of the race who inhabit the dungeon, they once had status but failed in some manner of tribal testing and have been judged weak/unfit to remain amongst the tribe.
4 The prisoner is a spy for those who inhabit the dungeon, who has been placed here to wheedle their way into the confidence of the PCs and find out what they know before the dungeon owners decide what to do with them.
5 The unfortunate captive is covered in sores and strange markings, he has been tortured by the dungeon owners because they believe that he has valuable information (even chance whether he does or not). The captive will died soon of his injuries without help.
6 The current owners of the dungeon are not the original inhabitants, they seized it by force from the true owners, throwing the survivors into their own jail cells as a mark of their scorn.
7 The captive is a victim of magical experimentation by the dungeon owners, their skin is covered in strange glowing runes and brands. Roll 1D6, on a 1 the captive has gained a magical ability from the experimentation that made aid an escape plan, on 2-5 they have no useful abilities but some knowledge of the dungeon layout and on a 6 the torturous experiments have reduced them to the level of a mindless beast. Either way the experimentation will eventually prove fatal to the captive if they do not get medical help in 1D6 days.
8 The captive is being held for food, if they do not escape then in 1D3 days they are dragged screaming from their cell and never seen again.

Podcast Episode 36 – Combat in RPGs

In this episode, Johannes Paavola, Lloyd Gyan and myself talk about combat in RPGs, it’s role, the dynamics of combat and the dreaded topic of dice-fudging.

Music on Podcast Title

Shinigami by XTaKeRuX:

Used under creative commons licence:

You can find the live & uncut version of this recording on Twitch:

Watch Podcast Live & Uncut from RedDiceDiaries on