Sunday, May 30, 2021

There Are No Mundane Towers


Yoshitaka Amano
[Yes, this post is going to be metaphysics of magic. Stick with me, I promise it's usable in-game]

Magic rolls uphill, searching for the quickest route to the highest point, like lightning in reverse. This may be because spells love the sun (which is made of magic) or abhor the earth (where the Dark dwells).

This means that in any structure that is taller than all other nearby structures, magic will slowly accumulate over time. This magical buildup makes the structure weird; the older and taller it is, the weirder it gets.

What's Wrong With The Tower You Built Last Year?
The tower begins to animate. Gargoyles, mimics, and other “trap” monsters are born. In severe circumstances, the tower may pick itself up and attempt to climb the nearest mountain.
The tower begins to grow, both upward (approaching the sun) and downward (to set strong roots). The rooms are unsettlingly “organic”, and nothing is as it should be; the ceilings are too high, the walls slope inward, the stairs are all different heights.
The tower attracts 1d4 demons; goblins; shades; pigs, who grow fat and dangerous lapping up the excess magic.
The tower’s inhabitants change. The bats, the rats, and the lichen on the cobble grow dangerous, intelligent, or downright odd.
The tower is levitating upwards at a glacial pace. It’s currently 30 ft off the ground and rising faster with each passing month.
The tower is slowly filling itself with riches, inciting all sorts of brigandry and territorial disputes between nobles. The madness of greed settles over the countryside

Yes, this happens to non-tower things too: tall trees, mountain peaks, etc. Frequent "venting" can prevent a tower from weird-ing, although it's a dangerous and mishap-prone process.


When a tower falls down, all that built up magic is suddenly released, causing any number of magical catastrophes.

What Happened To The Tower You Knocked Down Last Week?
The nearby land becomes haunted. dead things buried here start waking up.
a FRACTURE opens: a tiny crack between two realities. Left alone, it will expand into a full-fledged portal to another plane
Time or spatial distortion; infinite labyrinthine woods and impossibly huge lakes. May cause backwards aging
Chimeric fusion zone. Bifurcated stone-trees and liquid hillsides. Owlbears come from these
Everyone in a ten mile radius has nightmares about the same previously-unknown figure. If enough of them gather in one place, a sermon begins and a god is born.
New tower. An enormous spire of bone and mineral sprouts from the ruins of the previous tower. It is impossibly tall, full of impossible things. Looking directly at it is bad luck.

Pawel Hordyniak

Wizard Towers

This is also why wizards always build their own towers; to gather magic more efficiently.

In bygone eras, they climbed the tallest mountains where they build the tallest towers and installed enormous vessels at the top—orbs of finely-sculpted crystal, barrels full of ghosts, whatever’s on hand really—within which they collect unstable arcane energy.

Then, they hauled these batteries into their dungeons, which were dug deeper than the deepest trenches, and release them. The upward current of magic powers all the equipment and experiments between the highest and lowest point. The deepest, weirdest dungeons are decrepit wizard-engines from before the end of the world.

You can spot them from a distance; just look for the tower.

Oh, and if you start running batteries up and down the structure, you might be able to turn on the machine again, but this would take ten armies worth of manpower.

Today's takeaway: If you're going to write magical metaphysics, make sure your players can interact with them.

Words to live by from


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Hit Dice for PCs

Guillaume Singelin
You have no maximum HP.

Both PCs and NPCs have Hit Dice. All Hit Dice are d6s by default.

PCs can gain HD by leveling up, drinking from the fountain of youth, and eating the hearts of dragons.

PCs can turn their HD into MD permanently, sell their HD to the devil, or lose HD to level-draining monsters.


Your HD become HP at the end of a rest.

After a long rest, roll all of your HD. If the sum is greater than your current HP, it becomes your HP. You may reroll one HD for each luxury you have.

After a short rest, roll one of your HD for each luxury you have. If the sum is greater than your current HP, it becomes your HP.

After a week of downtime, your HP becomes the maximum possible value on all of your HD.

Luxuries are any comfort items you take into the dungeon that exceed the essentialist lifestyle of an adventurer. An item doesn’t count as a luxury if bringing it into the dungeon has a negligible cost; comfort always has its tradeoffs.

Example Luxuries:

  • alcohol
  • protein
  • tea
  • a dedicated masseuse
  • cheese from the motherland
  • the object of your addiction

All magical and non-magical healing sets your HP to some value if it is greater than your current HP. For example: a "potion of minor healing (3d6)" sets your HP to the rolled sum if it is greater than your current HP.

Design Thoughts

The motivation behind this mechanic is entirely frivolous: i just like the idea of handing a player a hit dice more than telling them to write +4 HP on their character sheet.

I also like the idea of giving players mechanical opportunities to role-play moments of weakness. Just like how an 8 HP, 8 HD dragon might be critically injured or sick compared to the average, sometimes an adventurer just has a bad day. Narrating a low roll on HD as “This PC is looking rough today, maybe they caught a chill?” could inspire some cute moments between players: “Let me carry that for you, you’re not looking so hot” etc.

Sacrificing HD has a lot of weight because it’s a tangible loss. It could be a cool resource to spend for some class mechanics; maybe you can use hit dice as an alternative resource, like GLOG MD.

Last but not least, there's something comforting about having universal mechanics for PCs and NPCs. I don't think its a virtue by any means, but knowing that "[dice] HD target" means something similar for both PCs and NPCs feels very good somehow.

Is any of this worth using in a hack?????? Probably not. It’s just something I’ve been thinking about.

Monday, May 17, 2021

All The 5e House Rules You’re Already Using (And Some You Should Be)

ismail inceoglu
I wrote this post so I could beat my playgroup over the head with it.

Most of these houserules are pretty standard. You may already be using them.
Underlined rules are the wild ones. They aren’t for everyone.


At the beginning of the game, decide as a table whether to play with or without an inventory limit.

  • Option 1 (default): You have no inventory limit, and can carry anything you could feasibly hoist on your back. The only downside is, if everyone else at the table agrees you’re carrying "a lot of stuff," you sink like a rock and can't move quietly to save your life.
  • Option 2: You have a number of slots equal to your Strength score. You simply cannot carry more items than you have slots, end of story.

Regardless of which option you pick, NEVER add mundane ammunition, food, water, light sources, etc to your inventory. (If you want to run a campaign where scarcity of these resources is important, feel free to reintroduce them. By default, however, these are assumed to be on your person in quantities sufficient for expected use.)

During character creation and when leveling up, you can defer decisions about your character until later in the game. Here’s an incomplete list of deferrable character features:

  • age/weight/height/other cosmetic factors
  • subrace/draconic ancestry
  • sex & gender
  • alignment (alternatively, ignore alignment completely)
  • background
  • extra languages
  • skill proficiencies
  • ability score improvements
  • feats
  • spells/cantrips
  • druid circle/wizard school/fighter archetype/etc.
  • if you're really crazy: race/class/name
  • pretty much anything in the PHB that says “of your choice” or “you choose”

Mark these on your character sheet with question marks. At any point in the game, you may make one of these decisions. For example, if you defer an extra language and stumble upon some ancient runes: “Truth be told, Abyssal was my elective back in knight school.”
You don’t gain the benefits of a given feature until the next rest if it takes you more than 10 seconds to consult the PHB and write it down. Keep the game moving.

Armor proficiencies are stupid. Ignore them.
Multiclassing prerequisites are stupid. Ignore them.
Ability score prerequisites for feats are stupid. Ignore them.

ALL players ALWAYS roll for a trinket at character creation. (it's the best piece of content in all the published 5e sourcebooks)



If you have advantage from 2+ different sources, you automatically succeed.
If you have disadvantage from 2+ different sources, you automatically fail.
If you have advantage/disadvantage from 3+ different sources, you automatically crit.
Yes, this means you can guarantee a crit an AC30 demon with some grease and a lesser invisibility spell. Smart planning will always be rewarded appropriately.

There are 3 DCs: Easy (10), Hard (20), and Nearly Impossible (30). The DM should use these exact words when describing a task’s difficulty.
(For conversion’s sake, always round up: 5 -> 10, 15 -> 20, 25 -> 30)
The DM should reveal a task’s DC or a monster’s AC when asked explicitly by the players. None of this is secret information; PCs just have a better sense of how difficult something is in-universe than anyone at the table.

One person elected by the group rolls. No other PC can attempt the check afterwards.
If everyone needs to succeed, only the character with the lowest modifier rolls.
- Example: sneaking around undetected
If only one person needs to succeed, only the character with the highest modifier rolls.
- Example: perception, remembering historical trivia
If it makes no difference how many PCs attempt the roll and for how long, don’t call for a check in the first place.

Here’s are the rules for using ability checks in social interactions:

  1. Don’t. Rolling the dice to determine success means the players have fucked up somehow and are leaving things up to fate. Neither the player nor the DM should WANT a social interaction to come to this, but sometimes all the good ideas in the world can’t help the bumbling adventurers.
  2. Call for an ability check only if failure is meaningful; if the roll comes up short, the conversation is going to come to a screeching, unfavorable halt.
    (alternatively, there is something at risk; the vizier learns whatever secret the players are trying to keep from him, or decides to execute his captives effective immediately.)
  3. Before rolling, players are told what the DC is and what the stakes are, as well as given a chance to walk whatever they said back. (You should do this for all ability checks, but especially for social encounters.)
  4. If they succeed, they get what they want. If they fail, they lose what they risked. There is no opportunity to interject; the die is cast, and the conversational thread has been snipped with great prejudice.

In combat, these are 6 second rounds.
In the dungeon, these are 10 minute crawls.
In settlement visits, these are 1 hour jaunts.
In overland exploration, these are 8 hour treks.
Each turn, each PC gets 1 action and some movement. The scale of action and movement changes depending on the turn’s scope.
For more information, read this post on turn structures.

5’ = “within reach”
10’-30’ = “in the same room”
30’-100’ = “within shouting distance”
100’+ = “visible from a distance”
If you’re 5’ short of reaching the lever on the other side of the room, you reach it anyway, because counting feet is for caterpillars.

The DM writes down your marching order. Unless you explicitly decide to change your marching order, this is it for the rest of the campaign.

artem demura


NPCs/monsters don’t roll initiative. Treat all NPCs as if they rolled a 10 on their initiative. Everyone can see the initiative order; again, this isn’t hidden information.
(Alternatively, fuck turn-based initiative, do it my way instead.)

A target with half cover has advantage on Dex saves, and attacks against it have disadvantage.
A target with 3/4 cover has half cover. 3/4 cover is a myth, a kid’s tale.

Moving through another creature’s space is NOT DIFFICULT TERRAIN (seriously, who wrote this?????)

Critical failures in combat are not opportunities for PCs to fuck up; they’re opportunities for monsters to be absolutely terrifying.
When you roll a 1 in combat, the nearest/scariest enemy takes advantage of it. The dragon frightens the player, no save. The orc gets a free attack. The goblin farts in your face, poisoning you.
This is upsetting, but infinitely less frustrating than dropping your axe for the 3rd time this session. Seriously, you should get a wrist strap for that thing.

When you drop to 0 HP, you aren’t unconscious, just unhelpful. You fall on the ground, unable to do anything but clutch your wounds and maybe scream.
If you attempt to do anything helpful while at 0 HP, including shouting advice or crawling to safety, you automatically fail one of your death saves. If you’re stable, you destabilize.

You don’t kill NPCs/monsters, you defeat them.
When you defeat an enemy, they are completely at your mercy; you can send them running witless into the hills, knock them off a cliff (no save), or slay them where they stand. By default, you knock them unconscious unless you describe otherwise.
You can immediately extend a helping hand to a defeated foe, restoring them to 1 HP. Maybe this brings combat to an end, or maybe you’ve doomed yourself by putting your faith in another. That’s up to you and your DM.

Hit Dice are stupid. Don’t use them.
There are two types of rest: short and long.
Short rest: Take an hour, have a snack, catch your breath. Regain up to half your max HP.
Long rest: Rest for a solid eight hours without interruption. Regain full HP.
Recuperating in downtime takes a week of rest. Remove all non-permanent, non-magical injuries, poisons, and diseases affecting you.

Optional: Feasting! You can spend a slot of high quality food per PC (if playing with inventory limits) to turn a short rest into a long rest. It's a feast, and everyone's invited! If a monster/NPC shows up (very likely, given the smell), you must invite them to join in peacefully or forfeit the benefits of the long rest.


Any purchase that costs less than 1% of your total wealth is a trifling sum, and costs effectively nothing. This includes daily expenses, such as lifestyle and hireling costs.
Players who attempt to abuse this mechanic (for example, by buying 100 swords at 100 different shops) pay in full.

If this information ever becomes relevant in your campaign, just nuke it from fucking orbit.

Ignore all the rules for long jumps and high jumps. Ignore movement rules in general.
You can move around as much as you need to, unless:

  • Your DM tells you its risky. They tell you the DC. You choose to take the risk (make a check, suffering consequences on a failure) or do something else.
  • Your DM tells you it’s impossible. Not “near impossible”, impossible. You can’t do it, so you don’t try.

You can hold your breath for five minutes or until you get the wind knocked out of you. Make a death saving throw (+CON mod if your DM is nice) each round spent without air. You don’t drop to 0 HP and can still act while suffocating.



If you ever invoke the 5e Exhaustion rules, you lose the game of D&D. Everyone packs up and goes home.
If you absolutely must use exhaustion in your game, you’re exhausted instead. (disadvantage on everything, speed = 0) You don't die from exhaustion; something else comes along and kills you instead.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Abstract Inventory & Stress

by mulebits
I ditched weight-based inventory for slot-based a while ago. The system is simple: each PC has 8 slots, and each slot holds 1 thing (or 1/2 for bulky items).

Spells also take up 1 slot each (blame Mausritter and Knave). It doesn’t matter where you’ve put it—a tome, a scroll, a carved stone tablet, or your own brain—it’s still 1 slot. I like this dynamic a lot; instead of introducing a new mechanic in spell slots or mental inventory, the system asks players to use existing resources in new ways.

Enter Grave. Tocci’s stamina system is great; simply put, you can spend inventory slots to pull off stunts or cast spells. It’s another bolt-on system, reminiscent of the slot-based fatigue system which I swear was in the original GLOG but it isn’t???? I like it.

So we have spells, items, and stamina all fighting for inventory space. So, what else can we shove in inventory?

Oblidisideryptch had some ideas that I want to follow up on.

Here’s The Pitch

Your Inventory holds everything that your character is holding, things that you can lose/get rid of/hand off to a friend. This is the place for:

  • items
  • spells
  • fatigue
  • injuries
  • stress
  • ideas (the bad, mind-breaking kind)
  • anything you’re likely to change more than once per session

Each of the abstract inventory-things has an overflow mechanic (for when you need to add it to your inventory but have no room) and a removal mechanic (for when you want to remove it from your inventory).

Overflow: Drop an item OR be unable to move until you have a proper meal or a nap.
To Remove: Have a proper meal or a nap. 

Overflow: Drop an item OR have the injury become permanent.
To Remove: Receive specific medical treatment OR spend a week of downtime recuperating. 

Overflow: Drop an item OR roll for a Crack.
To Remove: Spend a week of downtime on emotional therapy and/or heavy drinking.
You can get rid of stress FASTER by sharing it with a friend. Anyone who hears you out over a meal can take your stress from you. 

Overflow: Drop an item OR have the idea become permanent.
To Remove: Forget or fulfill your dark desire.
You can get rid of an idea by sharing it with a friend. Anyone who hears you out over a meal can take the idea from you. Alternatively, you can spread the idea to others with an unsettling speech.

There’s probably a hack out there where skills, class abilities, languages, race, background, and even HP all take up inventory slots. (I know Bonepunk does the last one.)

Some personal takeaways:

  • Track only the things you care about. Stress is in; arrows are not.
  • Bolt-on subsystems should build upon existing gameplay loops without distracting from them. stay focused on what the game is about
  • Know your audience; anticipate their needs. Think about what all this shit looks like on a character sheet.
  • It's easier to write blog posts when you have other work that you need to be distracted from.

Sunday, May 9, 2021

The Eboshi (MononokeGLOG)

Studio Ghibli Gifs | Studio ghibli quotes, Studio ghibli movies, Studio  ghibli

You're a woman with a gun. Those rejected and degraded by polite society flock to you. Then you give them a gun.

You get +1 HP and +1 to hit for each Eboshi template you have. This increases to +2 to hit per template against men who have betrayed you.

The Eboshi
A: Perfect For Ruling The World
B: A Wolf’s Head Still Bites
C: Irontown Militia

D: Very Impressive Piece of Paper
Δ: How to Kill a God

A: Perfect For Ruling The World
You carry two prototype firearms. They’re bulky, single-shot, medieval hand cannons that deal 3d6 damage and take three rounds to reload. If the powder gets wet, it’s useless. New prototypes, ammunition, etc. are not cheap to produce, but you can easily teach others how to make more.

If you roll doubles on damage dice, something fucks up. It’ll take an hour to fix. You also take 1d6 damage.

When you gain an Eboshi template, choose or invent an upgrade for your prototype firearms.

  1. Damage dice explode on 6
  2. Ignores half armor/AC
  3. Automatically shatters shields/natural armor on hit
  4. No longer bulky
  5. Rifled, +2 to hit
  6. Can fire flare-type ammunition
  7. Can fire a steady stream of flame for 10 seconds
  8. Sets enemies hit on fire
  9. Gun only fucks up if you roll triples
  10. Breech loading, takes 1 less round to reload

B: A Wolf’s Head Still Bites
When you arrive At Death’s Door, you can make a free attack. It is guaranteed to hit.

C: Irontown Militia
Your followers can reload firearms in one round. You can have 2 additional followers without issue.

D: Very Impressive Piece of Paper
The emperor sends you a missive. They want you to bring them the head of a god, in a desperate bid for immortality. They promise you something ludicrous in return.

Δ: How to Kill a God
Shoot at a god with the intent to kill.
You gain the benefits of this template immediately, before your shot makes impact.

Your firearms deal double damage to gods, including those that would otherwise be intangible, immortal, and indestructible, so long as you do not fear them.



Friday, May 7, 2021

Druid Variety Hour

Rachel Suggs
Here’s some Druids based on this format. In summary: Druids have SD (analogous to MD) which they replenish by completing Rituals. Their SD are more or less reliable depending on how close you are to your Sanctum. They also start with a Relic.

(All the spells below use the minimalist glog/knave spell format.)

Fae Druid 

Sanctum: Fae space. An extra-dimensional space accessible through any doorway, so long as you’ve been there before or are being led there by another fae.

  1. Pixie breeding hollow. They’re always fucking. Poachers may approach you with ludicrous offers.
  2. Forgotten Elven gravesite. Any liquid poured on the headstone turns to wine. If the elves find out you're here, they’ll be pissed.

  3. The Fearsome Teatime. Keep your wits and manners about you. Roll thrice to see who’s at the table today: (1d4) a noble fae; a mundane animal in fancy clothes; an illusory messenger from a faerie court; sentient candy.
  4. A time-displaced tavern. Anachronistic adventurers from past and present gather here.
  5. The door between doors. 1/session open a door to somewhere (1d4) dangerous; you’re not supposed to be; alien; convenient.
  6. Fox den. 

Ritual: Restore SD by

  • Hosting an elaborate tea party.
  • Destroying a clock or other time-keeping device.
  • Eating a shit ton of candy. 

Relic: A beautifully filigreed and painted wooden mask, marking you as an honorary member of faerie society. You can guide mortals through fae space without mutating. 

Spell List

  1. Illusion: You create an illusion of your choice with [dice] sensory properties.
  2. Charm: [dice] creatures treat you like a friend.
  3. Betwixt: Treat two objects as adjacent to each other.
  4. Delicious: Object smells and tastes delicious.
  5. Masquerade: [dice] characters’ appearances and voices become identical to another character’s.
  6. Oops: [dice] creatures trip whenever they run.
  7. Babble: A creature must loudly repeat everything you think. It is otherwise mute.
  8. Sleep: [dice] creatures fall into a very light sleep.
  9. Vision: You fully control what a creature sees.
  10. Menagerie: An inanimate object transforms into a mundane animal of similar size. It has no allegiance to you.
  11. Time Slip: An object disappears, leaping forward in time. It reappears unchanged at the end of the spell duration.
  12. Looking Glass: A mirror becomes a gateway to another mirror you looked into today.

Mike Azevedo

Grim Druid

Sanctum: A respectable graveyard, entrusted to you by the last sentinel. (1d6)

  1. Space-efficient grave archive. Has a registry of everyone who’s died in a six-mile radius over the last few centuries.
  2. Cyclopean tomb. The runes are inscrutable, and the coffins are much too long.
  3. Misty headstone labyrinth. Outsiders get lost immediately and can’t escape without your help.
  4. Ancestral burial ground. 1/session, you can consult with your dead wise-yet-eccentric great-great-grandmother.
  5. (g)Raveyard. There’s undead all over the place, but its, like, totally chill. They all know and like you; some are even quite chatty. They’ll get pissed if you kill undead outside the sanctum (they’ll know).
  6. The Hive Dead. 

Ritual: Restore SD by

  • Naming and honoring an unmarked grave.
  • Burying and honoring a corpse.
  • Petting a cat. 

Relic: A shovel with a vial of holy water tied around the handle. As long as the vial is full, the shovel blade counts as if consecrated. The handle is always cold to the touch. 

Spell List

  1. Pit: A 10ft wide, [sum] + 5 ft deep hole opens up.
  2. Summon Candles: Candles sprout wherever you touch.
  3. Fog Cloud: Dense fog spreads out from you.
  4. Wisplight: A floating light moves as you command.
  5. Phantom Limb: [dice] body parts can’t touch physical objects, only incorporeal ones.
  6. Speak with Dead: A dead body answers [dice] questions. It doesn’t have to tell the truth if it dislikes you.
  7. Bury: [dice] objects (or memories) bury themselves entirely in an area (or creature). If it’s a living thing, it is buried up to the neck.
  8. Phantom Coach: You flag down a ghostly coach. It moves unnaturally fast over land or water.
  9. Ward: Draw a circle on the ground and choose a category (i.e. living, dead, good, evil, metal, bees). Things of that category cannot cross it.
  10. Glaciate: A thick layer of ice spreads across an object or surface.
  11. Fast: [dice] creatures ignore [dice] of their biological needs (food, water, air, etc) and the symptoms of their absence (hunger, thirst, suffocation, etc).
  12. Danse Macabre: Corpses in an area follow peacefully wherever you go. If you die, they go berserk.

A. Shipwright

Gutter Druid

Sanctum: Behind a door, down a back alley, in a cruel, unfeeling cityscape. (1d6)

  1. Secret tea house for the rebellion. Each week, an informant offers (1d4) good news; bad news; useless information; exotic tea.
  2. Celestial speak-easy. An angel is tending the bar. Kind but strict; no blasphemy in the bar.
  3. Stomach of a (tame?) tavern mimic. Disposes of bodies easily and efficiently. Drools a lot.
  4. Entrance to the mythic sewer rave. You know two party rats, but the rest are strangers.
  5. Shrine to Kon-Fabulate, god of cities.
  6. Marijuana garden.

Ritual: Restore SD by

  • Tagging a wall with an obvious and inflammatory symbol/phrase.
  • Shouting “Hey, I’m walkin’ ‘ere!” at some bastard.
  • Dumping a bucket of strangers’ spit in the street.

Relic: A conspicuous piercing that abhors attention; peoples’ eyes skip right over it. You can go anywhere unnoticed so long as you act like you belong and don’t draw attention to yourself. 

Spell List:

  1. Knock: Up to [dice] nearby doors, chests, belt buckles, etc. unlock and fly open.
  2. Grease: Object or surface is covered in slippery, flammable grease.
  3. Filch: [dice] items you see fly into your hands.
  4. Oops: [dice] creatures trip whenever they run.
  5. Babble: A creature must loudly repeat everything you think. It is otherwise mute.
  6. Vermin Sovereign: Rats and other vermin obey you so long as you wear an appropriate crown.
  7. Spider Step: You walk securely on any surface: walls, ceilings, water, etc.
  8. Haste: You are thrice as fast at all tasks.
  9. Scry: You can see through the eyes of a creature you touched earlier today.
  10. Like a Shadow: You can’t be perceived by up to [dice] senses.
  11. Mob: Creatures in an area despise an object, symbol, or signifier of your choice. They act rationally, but are likely to join in if someone starts a riot.
  12. Strike: Creatures in an area abandon their obligations until a demand of your choice is met.

geng kun

Some design takeaways: The format works! These were fun and easy to write, so well done to owlbearchickenhawk. Sanctum perks and relics may be a bit redundant, but that’s on me for adding the former instead of opting to merge the two conceptually. I still feel like the chassis has room to improve. Still, great stuff.

Minimalist Spell Scaling

Rachel Suggs

I like GLOG spellcasting. I like Knave spells. Here’s a system that combines the two, with a lot of inspiration drawn from Mimics & Miscreants’ spell list.

The Format

Spells are written in "[title]:[effect]" format, using plain language and as few words as possible.

Unless specified by the spell text, the following spell properties change based on the [dice] invested in the spell:


Object Size

Area Size




Smaller than a head

Smaller than a bedroom

Within reach

[sum] rounds


Smaller than a person

Smaller than a courtyard

Across the room

[sum] minutes


Smaller than a wagon

Smaller than a hillside

Across the battlefield

[sum] hours


Smaller than a house

Smaller than a city

Within earshot

[sum] days


Smaller than a castle

Smaller than a country

Visible from a distance

[sum] eternities


Some examples:
Menagerie: Inanimate object transforms into a mundane animal of similar size. It has no allegiance to you.
“Object” changes with [dice]. If [dice] = 2, the object can be anything the same size or smaller than a person. If [dice] = 8+, you can turn a castle into a dinosaur.  

Dredge: Buried objects (or memories) rise to the surface in an area (or creature).
“Object” and “area” change with [dice]. If [dice] = 3, you can dredge any number of wagons out of a swamp within shouting distance. If [dice] = 8, you can raise Atlantis.

Objectify: You become an inanimate object between the size of a grand piano and an apple.
“Object” would change with [dice], but the size is specified by the spell description.

Why This Format?

I use this format because its easy to write, I don’t care to specify range and duration for every spell, and I like giving players the freedom to define how “Summon Candles” scales to 8+ MD.

Here’s d20 of my favorite spells using the format, most of which are stolen or half-stolen:

  1. Arms to Arms: Your hands become weapons.
  2. BEES: Object contains more bees than one would expect.
  3. Blazing Gaze: Anything you glare at catches fire.
  4. Delicious: Object smells and tastes delicious.
  5. Dinnertime: Object is edible AND eatable.
  6. Dull Senses: Creature loses [dice] senses.
  7. Feather: Object weighs as much as a feather.
  8. Forecast: The weather changes as you wish after one day/hour/minute/round (based on MD).
  9. Gate: Open two linked portals. If cast for 1 hour, open a portal to a random plane instead.
  10. Mutate: Creature gains a random mutation.
  11. Oops: [dice] creatures trip whenever they run.
  12. Raise Dead: Corpse rises as a [dice] HD undead. It has [dice] special abilities it had in life.
  13. Smite: Creature rolls [dice] additional damage dice on their next hit.
  14. Spider Step: You walk securely on any surface: walls, ceilings, water, etc.
  15. Take Aim: Name a creature. Object will always strike that creature when thrown.
  16. Time Jump: An object disappears, jumping into the future. It reappears at the end of the spell duration.
  17. Umbrella: Falling objects don’t touch you.
  18. Upwell: A spring of seawater appears.
  19. Vermin Sovereign: Rats and other vermin obey you so long as you wear an appropriate crown.
  20. Ward: Draw a circle on the ground and choose a category (i.e. living, dead, good, evil, metal, bees). Things of that category cannot cross it.

Monday, May 3, 2021

Horde (HD 8; AC 0)

Dominik Mayer
this started as a Joesky tax, then i realized it was 100x more interesting than the article it was attached to

Never run zombies as individual monsters ever again.

Zombie Horde
8; Morale 12
There are as many zombies as the horde has HP. Attacks automatically dispatch as many zombies as they hit.
Horde "Tactics":
The horde doesn't attack conventionally; instead, take 1 damage for each zombie within arms reach at end of round (no save), and 1 damage for each zombie you pass through the reach of while moving (save for half, round down).
Characters who look, sound, and/or smell like zombies (at least 2 of those) take no damage.
Only Slowed Them Down:
Each round, half of the zombies you dispatched get back up and rejoin the horde, so long as their bodies are still intact.
They Just Keep Coming: Each round, 1d6 new zombies shamble around the nearest corner. This continues until the source is discovered and neutralized or the horde stops chasing you. (you're probably fine if you walk around the corner; they're very dumb)

Other monsters to horde-ify: goblins; orcs; swarms of bees; sharks; town guardsmen; plant monsters; velociraptors