Monday, January 30, 2023

15 More Magic Items

See also here and here.
  1.  Blessed Bag. Sanctified to carry relics or perhaps an important skull. Will preserve what it contains and protect it from evil forces. If you put a cursed or evil object (like poison or a hateful screed) inside, it starts to sweat red foam.
  2. Amazing Boots. +1 to all rolls that involve your feet or legs, like climbing. +2 to rolls that are very leggy or footy, like sprinting, marching, or kicking.
  3. Twisting Spit. Heads cooking on the spit murmur secrets, most cogent at the point in cooking where the twisting of the spit negates the rotation of it, and just before the fire burns up the head from the bottom up.
  4. Rivendine Steel Cutlass. Cutting blade forged in the forges and choruses of Rivendell, or some other such place. +1 to hit. Cuts through undergrowth with ease, allowing full-speed single-file travel through jungle hexes. Can be cleaned of sap or blood with a single, cool-looking flick.
  5. Somnal Spear. Pale-hafted spear, ready at-hand in dreams. Can dowse for the dreams of nearby warriors if held by the worthy.
  6. Obnulate Long-Axe. Ceremonial axe. At will, can be the most prominent thing or the least prominent thing about your party.
  7. Arcane Rod: Polished staff with a minor, mindless will. Will aid its wielder by creating small flames, doing sums, telekinetically stirring brews, etc. If a magician attempts to invade its owner’s mind, the Rod can temporarily distract them with psychic struggle.
  8. Chemic Polesword. Sharp, flat +1 blade that softly weeps a gigre as oil, creating a dose per day.
  9. Ilten, Reluctant Khopesh. Chipped sword of arsenical copper. On its wielder’s turn in combat, it can attack once with THEWS 14. It will only do so to end violence or punish the grossest offenses. Capable of betraying its user.
  10. Sober Pipe. Mauve wood pipe worn smooth. Smoke from the pipe is corrosive to illusions, disguises, and charms. Makes anyone mid-lie cough.
  11. Singing Spear. Functions as a 1st-level wizard.
  12. The Many Implements of Sainted Eleazer. Indeterminately-sized collection of +1 daggers, sickles, and pokers. Enough to arm a large band, or two sworn duelists. None slain by such an implement will bear witness against the slayer; inspecting the corpse reveals they were stabbed, but nothing else.
  13. Censer-Flail. When lit, embers deal +1 damage. Also functions as a narcomanta for any drugs burned, infusing all nearby allies with the drug's effects.
  14. Lover's Flask. Immaculate silver vial, engraved with two robins. Keeps all fluid warm. Renders a limb or torso immune to frostbite, etc. If worn over the heart, can be sacrificed to downgrade a critical hit to a normal hit.
  15. Master Tools. Handled hooks, prods, and picks, the ends covered in sensitive aluminum hairs. A lock picker can use these to stretch a lock up to a 12-inch diameter, revealing the presence of any additional mechanisms that would give away a trap or alarm.

Saturday, January 14, 2023

Recreating Prepublished Thief Skills (B/X)

The story I have been told is that the fellow who originally came up with the thief class, Gary Switzer, originally pitched a skill system very different from what made it to official print. Rather than the much-maligned percentile chance to climb sheer surfaces, pick pockets, and so on, a thief simply attained their skills with the progression that a magic-user attained their spells, with varying levels. The main difference of course was that a skill was not expended for the day upon use.

This always seemed interesting to me, so I've decided to try to recreate that here, using a few thoughts of my own for diffent thief skills but largely stealing them from ktrey's list of alternate thief skills I commented on once before. Unfortunately I don't have the OG list Switzer came up with, but I think the result is still strong.

A skill system cannot replace cautious play or save reckless play.

A thief learns follows the magic-user's spell slot progression, learning a 1st-level skill at first level and a new skill each level, gradually selecting from more powerful skill lists. They can practice new skills in the same way a magic-user researches spells, learn from manuals and mentors in the way a magic-user does, and so on. With a week of practice, a thief can switch out skills known into their skill slots, which represent the abilities they're keeping up on and can employ while adventuring.

In general, the effect of a skill should be clear from its name. I will provide parenthetical clarification and advice. This article assumes that a PC is generally competent and can do anything with the right tools and time, so thief skills should go above and beyond that standard.


  1. Climb Sheer Surfaces
  2. Trap Circumvention
  3. Hear Noise (6-in-6 chance)
  4. Hide in Shadows (will not be seen if holding still in shadow. Remember, an area with a single light has many shadows)
  5. Open Locks (only requires a dagger or similar tool. Takes 1 Turn for good locks, 1 round for shoddy ones. Ineffective against magic locks)
  6. Breath Control (among other things, hold your breath for 3 minutes while exerting yourself or 10 while keeping still. Can decline to inhale even when surprised.)
  7. Identify/Diagnose Poison (know mechanical effects and any medical recourse. Must see effects or get a waft or something.)
  8. Law (among other uses, may ask DM "is there any legal trick I can use to do X?" Learn alien law codes in an hour with a law book. Attain a frightful reputation in any settlement in a week.)
  9. Juggling (among other uses, skilled enough to hold three hands'-worth of objects at once)
  10. Balance
  11. Appraisal (anow value in normal circumstances, always spot a forgery)
  12. Contortion (among other things, slip most bonds automatically)

  1. Move Silently (+1-in-6 chance of surprise when you might be spotted, automatic surprise when you can't be.)
  2. Find/Remove Traps (6-in-6 chance of discovering when searching an area. Requires the minimum conceivable time and tools)
  3. Pick Pockets (can discern what's in a container by brushing past it. Automatically succeeds with plausible objects, but foe can save vs devices to notice 1d4 Turns later.)
  4. Mob Agitation (turn a grievance into immediate action. Normal peasants test MOR before participating in deadly violence.)
  5. Impersonation
  6. Ventriloquism (range 30 feet in normal circumstances, 60 in echoey spaces) 
  7. Forgery (only requires a writing implement, paper, and, if copying a specific person, a handwriting sample)
  8. Smattering of Language (speak all unrestricted languages with the fluency of a two-semester course. No alignment languages, secret tongues, or dead script)
  9. Arson (fires spread 1 room each Turn, or 2 with accelerants. Requires flammable floors or beams, but can greatly damage constructions that are mostly stone.)
  10. Snares and Alarms (by default, you're assumed to have string and a few bells. By default, snares catch all unintelligent creatures who pass by and can't free themselves easily, but with better preparation can have stronger effect.)
  11. Innuendo (communicate message to specific people without saying it outright)
  12. Decryption (at slow reading speed)

  1. Drug Tolerance (still get benefits, if any)
  2. Explosives (can manufacture in any village. 50 gold makes a petard, 500 makes enough powder to level a small building or tear the floor out of a ballroom. Other forms are possible. Takes 1 hour of work per 25 gp in cost.)
  3. Antidotes and Antivenom (always specific to particular types of poison and venom. Each dose costs 100 gp to manufacture, but in some places the cost may be halved due to the knowledge of herbalists or availability of ingredients. Must be applied within 3 Turns of the affliction, or 1 Turn if deadly.)
  4. Double Life (maintain a secret identity. Among other things, can replace most required sleep with disguised socializing and relaxation.)
  5. Sapping (with a team, can dig 50 feet in one day. At will, can choose when an undermined wall will collapse.)
  6. Camouflage (by default, you're assumed to have the needed supplies. +1-in-6 surprise when traveling through a specifically appropriate area, or automatic surprise when lying in wait.)
  7. Propaganda (published or preached criticism always finds purchase, either with the have-nots against the haves or vice-versa)
  8. Open Magical Lock (Requires Open Lock skill. only requires a dagger or wand. Takes 1 Turn for good locks, 1 round for shoddy ones. Always works as long as there's a mechanism, even one as simple as a hinge.)
  9. Poison Manufacture (can manufacture in any village, forest, or badland. 50 gold makes a contact numbing agent, 500 makes an odorless bane that causes a save vs death when ingested. Other forms are possible. Takes 1 hour of work per 50 gp in cost.)
  10. Hide Infravision Signature (Requires Hide In Shadows skill. Will not be seen if holding still in shadow, even thwarting infravision/darkvision)
  11. Identify/Diagnose Curse
  12. Appraise Magic Item

  1. Venom Immunity
  2. Poison Immunity
  3. Sopoforic Manufacture (can manufacture in any village, forest, or desert. 25 gold makes an inhaled knockout fluid, 250 makes an grey paste that causes a save vs death or fall asleep when introduced to the bloodstream. Other forms are possible. Takes 1 hour of work per 50 gp in cost.)
  4. Sense Benevolence
  5. Gambling (determine outcome in all games of chance. Once per settlement, may spend a week to win a lot of coin.)
  6. Find/Remove Magic Traps (Requires the Find/Remove Traps skill. Detects even when there is no non-magical sign. Deconstructs even when there is no non-magical mechanism.)
  7. Smattering of Restricted Language (speak and write all restricted languages with the fluency of a two-semester course-- alignment languages, secret tongues, and dead script)
  8. False Death (fake death utterly, even stilling heartbeat. Cannot be made to cry out, cannot be tickled, don't need to blink, etc.)
  9. Sincerity (Defeat magical scrying and truth-compelling magic utterly with doublethink that says you really are telling the truth, or that you're not really there, etc.)
  10. Echolocation (range 100 feet in normal spaces, limitless in echoey spaces.)
  11. Deathtraps (may construct them with minimum conceivable tools and time.)
  12. Wall-Running (up to 30 feet)

  1. Scroll Use
  2. Alchemical Duplication (create potions as a magic-user can)
  3. Lie Detection
  4. Sense Ambush (and therefore, can't be surprised by them)
  5. Bushwhacking (when camping and lying in wait, always get surprise)
  6. Diving Dodge (go prone to avoid a ranged attack or beam spell, etc.)
  7. Deprogram (Published or preached criticism always finds purchase among the charmed, compelled, indoctrinated, and others who are normally rendered unable to be persuaded.)
  8. Radiation/Mutation Immunity
  9. Belong (your presence alone is not suspicious except to the inner circle of secure locations)
  10. Hypnosis (with a Turn of work, can make someone sleep, make them suggestible, change their habits, implant a trigger, etc. Extended or drastic triggers can be thwarted with a save vs devices. Cannot hypnotize someone into harming themselves directly.)
  11. Incite Strike (Requires the Propaganda skill.)
  12. Jailbreaking (from the inside. Creates an escape opportunity in 1d6 days unless in solitary confinement or similar.)

  1. Cursebreaking (always specific to particular types of curse. Each ritual costs 100 gp to develop, but in some places the cost may be halved due to the knowledge of seers or availability of relics.)
  2. Exorcism (takes 1 Turn per HD of the target spirit. Interruption does not foil any progress as long as you can keep chanting.)
  3. Magical Law (among other uses, may ask DM "is there any linguistic trick I can use to thwart this magic compulsion?" Understand the effect of combining two forms of magic before it is done. Attain a frightful reputation among fey in a week.)
  4. Sense Doom (get a funny feeling before something bad happens to you, not caused by you or your allies)
  5. Blast Immunity (requires freedom of movement. Applies to fireballs and most things that require a save vs breath.)
  6. Greater Pick Pockets (Requires the Pick Pockets skill. Automatically succeed with any object not in the target's hand or that would require a disassembly process, but foe can save vs devices to notice 1d4 Turns later.)
  7. Incite Coup (Requires the Incite Strike skill.)
  8. Catch Spell (beads, beams, bolts, etc. Can set down carefully or try to throw back on your turn.)

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Murder Mystery Set-Up Generator

 in a classic murder mystery, circumstances limit the number of suspects to a handful of people. The killer cannot be someone we've never met before. This generator will establish the crime and characterize the suspects, only one of whom had the motive, means, and opportunity to kill the victim.

Once the set-up is generated, the DM will have to fill in blanks. They may benefit from making a timetable of events surrounding the murder, just as the players will in trying to solve it. An explanation or clue should be designed for every motive, means, or opportunity that seems to be solid when it's not, or vice-versa-- why does it seem other than it is? Over the course of play, revelations regarding these facts should come both through the work of the players and the squabbling interference of the suspects. There should always be a risk that the perpetrator will escape, destroy evidence, or kill again. In fact, each new murder tends to spur the story forward even though it is nominally a failure of the PC investigators.

Some thoughts:

  • If the murderer seems right off the bat to have motive, means, and opportunity, they must be proactive from the onset in throwing off investigators. They should also have a violent back-up plan.
  • Other suspects may think they were responsible. They may cover for the murderer, even confessing themselves.
  • Lacking means can be more than lacking access to the murder weapon. It can be the lack of a key, failure to produce the language that was heard from outside the room when the murder took place, or lack of knowledge needed to commit the crime.
  • Seeming to lack means or opportunity may sometimes mean that while you truly do lack it, you've contrived a workaround or red herring.
  • Some "suspects" can be only distant suspects-- children, servants, strangers, and others you might only list for completeness's sake.
  • Culprits can learn unlikely things through eavesdropping, blackmail, and snooping.
  • You start with one suspect as the culprit. You may end with several.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

Darke Renegade (GLoG Class: Cool Rogue)

Feels like it's been a while since I've done a quick, uncomplicated GLoG class.
art by Dia Nak

Starts with: cool sword (d8, describe with at least three adjectives) that you don’t need a sheath for, spiked blackleather (as leather but +1 to sneaking, breaking grabs, and dark poses), 6 ninja stars (d6), goggles, pomade, metal bar

A: Dark Past, I Work Alone, choose +1 Modus Operandi

B: Ultraviolence, +1 random Modus Operandi

C: +2 random Modus Operandi

D: Omegaviolence, +1 random Modus Operandi

Dark Past

The vague yet malicious group that ruined your life is still out there, and you owe them a revengeance. The DM will designate certain results on all random encounter tables as being agents of that vague, malicious group. Such agents never get the drop on you, and you can always track them.

I Work Alone

When the party is about to undertake a dangerous mission from a place of relative safety, give a moody excuse for why you’re going to help them this time to get +1 to your initiative roll in your next encounter.


+4 to your first attack from the shadows. When catching a foe by surprise or when fighting creatures with 1 or less HD, after a successful hit you can attack them again and again until you miss.


May use Ultraviolence against any foe of fewer HD than you.

Modus Operandi

  1. Nothing Personnel- each night, summon up to [level]x2 shadowy minions. They have 1 hp, have peasant stats except they use your attack bonus, and look like dark clones of you.

  2. Bad Girls and Bad Boys- In every dungeon (broadly defined), the same hot adversary in blackleather can always be found aiding the dungeon’s master. They are opposed to you but will not allow you to die if they can help it. They have HD equal to your Darke Renegade level.

  3. Motorcycle- Inexplicably, you acquire a loud metal steed. When riding by foes your cool sword gets a bonus to hit and damage equal to your darke renegade level. If you deliberately leap from it you take no damage from road rash.

  4. I Walk in the Shadows- When standing in the shadows, you can teleport to another shadow you can see up to [level]x20 feet away. It makes a cool humming sound when you do.

  5. Welcome to my Twisted Mind- +[level] to resist all mental effects inflicted by another creature, and if you succeed they must save or suffer the effects.

  6. Without Goodbyes- You can “enter stealth” even if someone looks away just for a second.

  7. Pact- Gain a magic die and two random, edgy spells. You can use magic items as though you were a nerd wizard.

  8. Underworld Connections- There’s always [level] contacts you have in any given town that you can bully into selling black market goods or giving information about what’s going on.

  9. Haunted- The ghosts of the life that was taken from you manifests in your shattered, cool psyche.The first time each session that you sleep, a ghost of a loved one gives you a guilt trip them warns you vaguely about [level] dangers the DM thinks might come up. If they do, you automatically win initiative if it’s a foe or get +3 to the saving throw or whatever.

  10. Alter Ego- Sometimes, you’re not you— you’re a more normal-looking but still attractive and cool guy who is edgy. When in this disguise, no one can tell you’re the same person as long as you don’t carry weapons or armor, and you get +1 reaction with the sheeple who normally hate your guts.

Monday, January 2, 2023

Ghosts So Quiet: a Victorian Hexcrawl (🦁🦌)

 After completing the latest draft of Great and Terrible, my America hexcrawl, I decided to treat myself to a smaller project.

See below the link to Great Britain and Ireland in the same style. It is a Gygaxian version of the 19th century, reduced to a timescale and scale of distance that makes everything happen much closer together. Though the hexes are large, they add up to islands much smaller than they are in real life but which are proportional to the continental US map that I made for Great and Terrible.

Check out the map, key, and encounter table HERE.