This is a repeat of an idea I put into a few other posts, such as my comment about Marcus the Paladin’s fighting ability as well as the Barbarian. I want to be able to refer/link to it independently.
The gist of it is: going toe to toe with a melee expert should be a bad idea. You can spend your own HP to inflict more damage on a foe when you hit them in melee.
Going face-to-face with Sir Cuisinart should really be scary. Granted, with plate and a shield, AC 20 (more with magic) is nothing to sneeze at, so they’re harder to hit. But the per-turn damage ability of fighters is really second to a lot of characters that are second-rankers. 
I was thinking that it might be interesting to allow something like a fighter to spend his own actual Hit Points for more damage. Say, 2d4 to a blow for every 5 HP you spend. You probably don’t have to limit it other than not being able to spend below 10 HP plus your CON bonus times your level – those are mostly physical toughness, not skill or grit or honed combat instinct. So Marcus could exchange HP for extra damage dice as long as he’s above 28 HP (3 for CON x 6th level + 10 HP). 
If you did want to limit it, perhaps you can only do it a number of times equal to, say, half your level plus some attribute score. Not STR, because that double-dips. CON might work, but that seems odd since those are physical HP, and this bonus damage is from skill. DEX might be fun, since honestly for heavy fighters there’s not much reason to do DEX. Well, unless you’re an archer. WIS might be a good one, as it’s the ability to notice an opening (tied to Perception). CHA makes no sense, nor does INT. Half level plus WIS? That would allow Marcus to do this five times, trading 25 HP for 10d4 damage to his foes.
I’d make you select whether or not to spend HP before you roll to hit, because I would double these damage dice on a critical hit – that means, though, that you probably lose the HP if you miss. You exerted yourself to strike the foe, but it didn’t work. 

That’s a change from the last few times I posted it, where I said you only spend HP if you succeed. I could see it either way. Sharpshooter gives -5 to hit for +10 damage, and that’s automatic if you hit. So you could do variants. Spend first and  lose them right away, but for eveyr 5 HP spent you do 3d4 instead of 2d4. Declare first, but if you miss you don’t lose 5 HP but if you hit you only do 2d4.

So Marcus might announce that he’s spending 5 HP. On a hit he would do 1d8+2d4 + 5 (8-21 HP), but on a critical hit the dice would double: 2d8+4d4+5, for 11-37 HP range. 
This would leverage a fighter’s higher HP for something other than a damage sink and pincushion, and make it quite risky to stand face-to-face with a fighter type. For that reason (and since Hunter’s Mark and Colossus Slayer stack already for archers, and give plenty of extra damage from a distance where the archer can’t get hit back) I’d make it melee only. 
Hrm. That might be a good Feat, actually. Or even a Fighting Style? Class feature for combatives, and Feat for those that might want it?
Obviously it would need playtesting.

This review of Manor #8 by Follow Me and Die might be the nicest review I’ve ever received for something I’ve written.

I think this system is what we have been needing for a simple mechanic for grappling, that makes grappling an option players would choose. Various options and outcomes that are realistic in grappling are discussed and addressed. While not perfect, I can’t think of how else to handle it without building yet another new subsystem just for grappling. This is simple enough that it can easily be implemented at your next session. I know that I will use it, if I need to resolve a grappling issue.

Thanks to the proprietor of the blog, and I sincerely hope he enjoys it! I’m sure +Peter V. Dell’Orto and +Tim Shorts will be pleased to see it as well!

When I wrote Technical Grappling for GURPS, I had a basic design philosophy: use the same concepts as a striking roll – attack, defense, damage – to inflict a variable amount of effect on your foe. In this case, the effect is control and restraint, rather than injury.

+Peter V. Dell’Orto liked the concept enough to strip it down a bit and use it to great effect in his Dungeon Fantasy campaign.

I wanted to see if I could break into the D&D world a bit, and when I saw that Swords & Wizardry, my reintroduction to the D&D world courtesy of +Matt Finch, has some mechanical issues with the grappling rules, and that D&D5 was interesting but not that much better, I decided to collaborate with Peter and see if we could bring TG to D&D.

We decided on the OSR and Swords and Wizardry rules because they’re simple. One can extrapolate from S&W to other editions of D&D because you can add stuff. Feats if you’d like, treating monsters (which in S&W have a fairly minimal stat block) like characters, or using D&D5‘s Conditions to define results? All of those can be added to the system, but stripping them out to play S&W would be quite difficult on the fly.

In any case, Peter’s big on just enough rule for the job, so he’s a perfect compliment to my tendencies to the reverse.

I hope you like Gothridge Manor #8 – go, um, grab it, wrestle it to the ground, and let us know what you think!

Today is Swords and Wizardry appreciation day, and since I’ve been involved in a S&W campaign for a bit thanks to the kind invitation of +Erik Tenkar, I thought I’d throw my own thoughts into the ring.

I came to S&W after being reintroduced to playing D&D through a short tour in a Pathfinder campaign. Pathfinder was cool, though as you got into higher levels, you really needed to up your game in terms of system mastery.

S&W is the other side of that coin. The rules start simple and stay that way. The ascending AC system provides a mostly unifying mechanic that’s easy to understand. There’s just enough structure to adjudicate fights, and plenty of room to improvise outside of that.

The biggest thing I’ve grown to enjoy with S&W is, of course, playing with the group. Erik, +Peter V. Dell’Orto+Tim Shorts+Joe D and Reece, to name a few. We spend a bunch of time each game, sometimes as much as an hour, just shooting the breeze, largely because we only play monthly, so there’s usually a bunch to catch up on. Also, both the D&D5 game that +Rob Conley runs and Erik’s game is basically cheek-to-jowl with really excellent content creators.

I’ve learned a ton about small-encounter design from Tim. S&W in general has taught me the joy that is a simple and flexible mechanic, a trait that I hope Peter and I have properly exploited in the upcoming issue of Gothridge Manor.

S&W has reconnected me with the broader world of D&D and its flavors. It’s also given me a great opportunity to not fight the system, and settle into gaming mechanic and roles that I did not get to groove on when playing GURPS. Things like not having any active defenses; it’s not my favorite way to play, but I’ll tell you what: it’s fast as heck.

Likewise, running adventures and dungeon crawls as a resource management challenge, rather than a tactical one. Different way to play it, but still a lot of fun.

I’m very much looking forward to the new S&W layout by +Stacy Dellorfano and her team. The prior work she’s done on her zine was top notch, truly amazing stuff, as I noted in my Firing Squad interview with her. So I bet the new book will look fantastic. I’ve got a paper printout of a PDF now, and I will eagerly add it to my hardback collection when it comes out.

So . . . how many potions of Extra Healing does the vendor outside the dungeon have today? I’m going delving.

After something like a three-month pause (Peter says 1/9/2015), we return to the Castle of the Mad Archmage. We’d abandoned the arena, and returned to Level 3, looking for stuff to kill and loot in the fine, grand old tradition of delvers everywhere..

After shooting the breeze for nearly an hour, we got down to business. We were moderately loaded with healing potions, so Rul went shopping, and bought 3 more for 500gp.

We decided to continue to avoid the mass of Hobgoblins to the Northeast (“because there’s a ton of them and they have a terrible Treasure Type.”) We elect to head to the area round the pink room, and as per usual, the three ST 16-17 characters all fail to open the door, rollng 5-6 three times on 1d6. Odds of that? 1 in 27.

Guess we need to find another door.

We do, and then Rul actually managed to kick open a door. The occupants of the room are dead, standing, and they turn to look at us but don’t turn to attack just yet. There are four of them.

“Greetings, denizens of the underworld,” says Mirado. We don’t see any treasure about – we say “sorry guys!” and leave.

As we walk, Minister finds a secret door as we go, and opens it. There’s nothing obvious, but we continue down the corridor, finding a dead-end. We all fail the secret door roll, so we miss the obvious second secret door in the dead-end corridor.

We continue. Continue reading “Swords and Wizardry – You can’t roll a ballista up a 5% slope”

I’m reading Playing at the World, by Jon Peterson, a history of fantastic gaming, currently pointed pretty hard at D&D, the force that animated (and still animates) the industry, and could easily be said to have created the industry to begin with. 

I’m on page 96 right now, and this thing is 632 pages of, like, 5-point font.
Going to be a while to finish it, I think. 
I’m finding some of it fascinating and very (ahem) interesting. I had no idea that D&D took root here in the Twin Cities in the form of Arneson, though of course I was aware of the Wisconsin origins of Gygax.
It does read like a history book, which of course it is. The exhaustive footnotes can be quite informative. I find it fascinating, for reasons that will start to be obvious on April 5, at the strong influence and mark military wargaming left on our hobby, a genealogy that will only be pried from cold, dead hands, as it were.
But if my posting velocity is a bit sparse (though I will have a bit of something starting up next week), you know why.
Note: Jon Peterson has a blog, unsurprisingly titled Playing at the World. Plenty to read there.
Hmm. I wonder if he’d be interested in an interview on The Firing Squad . . .
Over on Google+, +Benjamin Baugh was thinking about damage reduction in place of increased hit difficulty for D&D armor.

This obviously strikes a chord with this GURPS (and D&D) player, and I replied:

Even if you run screaming from the game, the implications of negated attacks and armor as damage reduction/resistance are fully fleshed out in GURPS. It assumes that an attack “good enough to hit” is only the first step, and there are two different opportunities to negate it – a defense roll and the “damage soak” provided by armor.

Lots of concepts implicit in the rules that you could choose to ignore or map to D&D mechanics.

In fact, I think I’m going to yoink this thread and see what I can make of it. :-)

Rather than write a post that says “do this,” I’m going to start with thinking about the kinds of things that might have to be true in order to map a GURPS-like combat sequence to D&D mechanics.

Why Bother?

Well, firstly, I obviously like the GURPS sequence of attack-defend-penetrate armor-resolve injury. I feel that it involves more player agency, since the defense roll also comes with a plethora of tactical options, including yielding ground, special parry types, damaging parries, and the ability to do a “riposte” that sacrifices the ability to defend this around for an extra increase to hit in a following round. 

So yeah: if you just like roll 1d20+bonus vs. your AC, by all means keep doing it. I do it five times a month and have a riotously good time, so this is in the nature of a thought experiment.

The Key Questions

GURPS asks different questions for resolving attacks than does D&D. They are, basically

1) Did you throw a blow good enough to hit a target, assuming he doesn’t do anything about it?

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s not. If you’ve even been in martial arts training, you’ve either thrown, or seen thrown, kicks and punches that are terribly, awfully mistimed, or (more often) where the distance is just completely wrong. The defender could just stand there, and the attack would still miss. In fact, more advanced students will do exactly that, while beginners will attempt to defend anyway. 

In GURPS, the basic hit chances can start out pretty low, especially for Joe Normal. A punch would default to DX, while a weapon attack would probably default to something like DX-5, which is a crazy-low Skill-5 which you can see in one of my more widely-read Melee Academy posts is really, really awful. If you’re attacking another Joe Average, you’re probably looking at an All-Out Telegraphic attack. That would be an 83% chance to throw a blow worthy of landing (but your foe’s defenses will be 50% or higher in that situation). 

But I digress. The key is, the first question is “did you throw something worthy of hitting a doofus who’s basically just standing there?” It doesn’t take that many points in skill, plus the All-Out and Telegraphic options, to make the answer to this question “Yes, yes I did” often enough that you can presume it. 

Of course, you can’t defend if you do that.

2) OK, here comes a blow worthy of hitting. Does the foe defend, and how?

This one gives you three options. You may always try and dodge; and if terrain and your maneuver selection allows, you can also retreat for a big honkin’ bonus. If Joe Untrained can back the hell up, this one will start at about 62% chance of success, boosted to 83% if he’s receiving a Telegraphic Attack.

He can also parry, which is to use a weapon or unarmed technique to ward off the blow. This is based on combat skill, and the more skilled you are, the better your defenses. But it takes a +2 in your skill to give you a +1 to defend – it’s presumed to be harder than attacking.

Finally, if he’s got a shield, he can block. This is basically a parry with a shield, but it also works with arrows (which normal parries do not) and has some advantages when parrying weapons like flails. 

Dodge is based on your speed, equal to 3+(DX+HT)/4; Parry and Block are 3+Skill/2.

3) OK, you hit the guy. Was he wearing armor? If so, did you hit it hard enough to either penetrate it or deliver damage through it anyway?

Once you hit and your foe fails to defend, you roll damage . . . and if your target has no Damage Resistance, he takes HP of injury. If he does, you subtract the DR from the damage. This can nullify the attack, even if it hits.

4. You penetrated his armor. Is he dead yet?

This one’s pretty universal. Get down to 0 HP or lower, and Bad Things happen.

Good grief, get to the D&D part already!

Right. Now we start to play.

The D&D question set is smaller. It basically treats steps 2 and 3 as a single, passive score. If you overcome this score, you proceed to 4. Now, there are a few exceptions. You can Dodge in D&D, a whole-turn action that, well . . . the rules are now online. So:

DODGEWhen you take the Dodge action, you focus entirely on avoiding attacks. Until the start of your next turn, any attack roll made against you has disadvantage if you can see the attacker, and you make Dexterity saving throws with advantage. You lose this benefit if you are incapacitated (as explained in appendix A) or if your speed drops to 0.

With apologies to WotC, I’ve linked some commentary I made about Advantage and Disadvantage, a mechanic that keeps on giving. Really, it’s genius.

Still, what happens here is you roll your attack, and if you beat the Armor Class of your foe, you injure him – or if you’re bugged about injury in the face of short rests, you at least reduce his Hit Points.

A starting D&D character – who is probably NOT Joe Normal – swinging at a guy with average stats in mail armor (call it a chain shirt) will roll 1d20+2+his STR bonus, and that’s likely to be a +3 if you choose from the Basic Array and play a human. So 1d20+5 vs an AC 15 (assuming DX bonus of +2, from the Standard Array). Basically a 50% chance of doing injury.

It of course will depend on how far you want to go with this, but in general, if you’re going to look at attack, defend, absorb damage:

  • Hitting should probably be easier, and you should get better at it as your level increases. The second part (thanks to proficiency bonuses) is true already.
  • Defending should be a thing. Dodge and defensive movement might still be rolled into a passive effect, or they might be active effects. 
  • Damage resistance would have to be worked out by armor type. Weapon damage might need to increase to compensate. Maybe not. If high level means you are negating more and more attacks with active defenses, this may mean HP need to come down. Maybe way down.

Let’s Try

OK, so we’re going to GURPSify D&D. [Cue howls of outrage. OK, better now? Good.]

The attack roll

I’m tempted to just say Roll 1d20 plus the usual bonuses vs. a DC of 10. This gives our Joe Average (well, not exactly average, if he’s a 1st level fighter with STR 16, CON 15, DEX 14, INT 11, WIS 13, CHA 9) at first level 1d20+5, and a 20th-level character with STR 20 and a proficiency bonus of +6 a 1d20+11. He’s always going to hit. As he should.

I’m going to speculate that we’ll want how well he hits to matter. In GURPS, this is done by the mechanic of Deceptive Attack – you take a penalty to your hit roll, and half that penalty applies to your foe’s defenses.

This is a bit more risky than the Margin of Success method, but this is D&D, not GURPS – let’s forget that. We’ll go with a single roll, which determines your quality of hit:

Make an attack roll vs. DC 10. Note your margin of success.

Level 1 character: average hit chance 75%; average margin of success on a hit 7.5.
Level 17 character (assumes STR 20): 95% hit chance; average margin on a hit 12

The Defense Roll

The defender gets a roll to ward the blow. The skill of the character (or level of the monster) should matter for parries and blocks. Many animals and monsters will simply try and dodge. Let’s call that Evade, to distinguish it from the official Dodge rule above.


This should probably be a DEX-based roll, against something like 8 or 10 plus the foe’s DEX bonus, and maybe the proficiency bonus as well. At 1st level, that’s going to be about +4, while the incoming hit roll will have succeeded (or else you wouldn’t defend) and so have a margin from 0 to 15 (assuming another 1st level assailant). If you want two first level characters to stay more or less the same chance of a successful blow landing, defenses are going to be pretty low. Something like only succeeding 30-35% of the time. So if you’re rolling with DEX and proficiency of +4, you’re looking at DC 18 or so, which conveniently means your target might be something like 10+Margin.

How does that work for our Level 17 hero? A fighter gets seven ability score increases, each of which is a +2. He can get to his STR 20 with a two +2 bonuses, or a single +2 and two well-chosen Feats. That leaves four or five others. Let’s assume he gets a single +2 to DEX, with another +2 for CON, and then two or three actual martial Feats. So STR 20, DEX 16, CON 18, and a bunch of Feats, probably four (one of which probably raises STR by 1). Lots of ways to get there, but the point is, our Level 17 fighter is rolling 1d20+9 against a DC 22 incoming blow. He’ll succeed 40% of the time vs. a foe of his own quality, and against the 1st level guy at DC 17, 60% of the time. 

I don’t think this is enough disparity between Level 1 and Level 17 here. But then, our Level 1 character will be rolling 1d20+5 against our Level 17’s AC of 20 assuming non-magical plate and a shield. 30% chance to hit. Against the active defense roll, he’ll make a successful attack 75% of the time, and Level 17 will fail to defend 40% of the time . . . for a 30% chance to hit. Maybe not so bad after all.


This is just a defense using a shield. Again, skill matters, so proficiency counts. I’m tempted by four options here:

  1. The shield’s usual bonus to AC of +2 adds to the roll, making it 1d20+Proficiency+2 (Shield Bonus)
  2. Double the shield’s usual bonus to the roll: 1d20+Proficiency+4 (1d20+6 for Level 1)
  3. You get your STR bonus plus the shield bonus. For our +3 STR guy, that’s 1d20+7 (shield, STR, proficiency).
  4. You get your DEX bonus (retaining DEX as the thing that makes you harder to hit with armor), proficiency, and another 2 for the shield. Our sample Level 1 guy is 1d20+6 in this case, picking up 2 for each.

The DC of the incoming attack doesn’t change – about 17 for the Level 1 attacker and 22 for the Level 17 one. In theory, you want about the same as dodge, but maybe a little better. So I’ll pick option 4, and retain DX.


Again, this one is going to be similar, with proficiency counting to your ability to parry. However, for this one, I’m sorely tempted to allow STR to be the dominant factor here, since it’s your STR that gives you bonuses to hit when attacking, and so perhaps it should also give bonuses to parry.

That would make our Level 1 guy parry (with STR 16) at 1d20+5. That means his best defense would be a block if he carries a shield, second best is a parry, and third is dodge. Not unintuitive for a STR-based fighter.

Damage Resistance

A bog-standard longsword will do 1d8+2 in one hand for our level 1 guy, and 1d10+2 in two hands. If that has to (say) punch through armor before it does injury . . . well, that’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax.

We’re not going crazy here – no calculations of armor thickness. I’d just start with the native AC of the armor – 10. So hide will only remove one point of damage from an attack, while full plate will provide 8 points of protection.

Clearly, this begs for a modifier to the hit roll to aim for chinks in armor, which might (say) halve the damage resistance, rounded down.

The implication there, though, is that instead of doing 1d8+2 for 3-10 HP per hit, against our guy with the standard chain shirt (AC 13, or in this case 3 points of protection), he’ll do slightly less, 0-7 points, but 90% of his blows will still be telling. Against more serious armor, like plate, he’s looking at 0-2 HP of penetrating damage per hit, and 75% of his swings will be nullified.

I’m guessing you’d want to cut HP in half, roughly, to keep the fights from taking forever.

Parting Shot

Why would you ever do this rather than just play GURPS or some other system with active defenses? 

Well, for one, D&D-type games are the #1 force in the tabletop RPG market (though other kinds of games, like card games, are likely even bigger). So if you want a system nearly everyone plays, you’re into D&D, Pathfinder, and the OSR. 

The other reason, of course, is because it might be fun. One of the nice things about playing Dungeon Fantasy with GURPS is that you get more options on both attack and defense. The game is very interesting from a tactical perspective. You can go all-in on your attacks, sacrificing your defenses to try and strike home accurately. You can do the same thing and trade off defenses for a really hard hit. You can aim for various hit locations. You can retreat bit by bit and hold a foe at bay with a long-reach weapon.

Some of these things you can do in D&D, but many you cannot. While the games I play in that are helmed by +Erik Tenkar and +Ken H are outstanding fun, I do miss some of the cool things I could choose to do with GURPS that take combat beyond “I hit him with my sword again for 8HP more damage.”

I also really like not just sitting there when attacked. Yeah, it’ll slow down the game by making every contest two or three times as long from a rolling dice perspective. Every time the GM or player rolls a notional hit, you have to defend (or not – there needs to be an option and a benefit to not defending), then roll damage, subtract armor DR. I’m used to that in GURPS, and I feel it enhances my game experience rather than detracting from it. 

Personally, I really like the agency. I also like that the quality of the hit in the concept presented above matters. The better you roll, the harder it is for the foe to defend. 

Obviously it would need tons of testing – but I started out wondering if you can map the attack-defend-damage paradigm onto D&D, and whether or not it’s a good idea, it seems plausible and not inherently game-breaking off the bat.

One-Step Opposed Resolution

I had a funny feeling this would be true, and it is. My reliance on 10 as a base DC for both attack and defend allows me to write the following:

Hit occurs: 1d20+Attack Bonuses > 10, or 1d20+Attack Bonuses – 10 > 0

Defense Successful: 1d20+Defense Bonuses > 10 + 1d20+Attack Bonuses -10

Defense Successful: 1d20+Defense Bonuses > 1d20 + Attack Bonuses

No surprise there. It’s a contest. The only caveat is if your attack or defense roll inlcuding the bonus is less than 10 (the base DC for most of this stuff), you fail anyway. 

So the sequence, without the math, would simply be:

Attacker rolls his to-hit roll: 1d20+Bonuses; Defender simultaneously rolls his chosen defense: 1d20+Bonuses. 

  • If Attack roll < 10, you miss.
  • If Attack roll < Defense roll, you miss.
  • If Attack roll > 10, defense roll is <10, you hit
  • If attack roll > 10, Attack Roll > Defense Roll, you hit

This combines well with +Peter V. Dell’Orto‘s idea in the comments, since Dodge gives advantage (roll twice, pick the best) to the Defender, while an All-Out attack would give advantage to the attacker, and rather than have them somehow cancel out, you can just use the rules independently.

Another Swords and Wizardry session with +Erik Tenkar . We got off to a slow start, and wound up shooting the breeze for an hour. We check for potions and other interesting stuff, but there’s nothing to be had.

We only have three this time: +Peter V. Dell’Orto (Mirado Bluebeaten), +Tim Shorts (Minister the Pink Buster), so we decide that what we really need to do is kick down as many doors as possible. Of our three delvers, Rul Scararm (me) is a 6th level fighter with AC 18, a small golf bag of magic swords (his usual is a +2 longsword, but he’s got a +3 vs. undead that comes out when necessary), as well as a +2 bow. Mirado of the many names is likewise a 6th level fighter, prone to two-weapon fighting with one of his weapons being a severed ogre head he uses as a morningstar or flail. Finally Minister was a 5th/4th (after this delve anyway) Magic User/Cleric.

We don’t really have the oomph to take on deeper levels, since Minister is of somewhat limited in value for offense, and even two sixth level fighters are only so strong.

We decide to hit some areas on Level 3 and hit some doors we’d left. We get there uneventfully, and kick in the first opportune door, one of two. We actually surprise five Duergar. Mwa ha ha,

Mirado opens up with two kills and a wound. Not too shabby.  Rul hits but does not kill. That was the surprise round.

After the surprise round, two doors open from both the north and south, disgorging six more duergar from the north, all with light crossbows. In formations. From the south comes a Druergar in plate and shield.

Here we go.

Mirado hits and kills his wounded guy; his second attack hits the last remaining unwounded fellow, wounding but not killing. Rul takes out a single foe, and Minister throws a Sleep spell, rolling 12. Six fall asleep. He just put to sleep the entire formed rank of crossbowmen (crossbowdwarves?).

The Big Guy attacks Minister, but missed. We win initiative again.

Mirado misses, Rul steps up to the guy with plate armor, rolls a net 19, and misses (!) by a tiny bit. The duergar swing and miss, and now Minister casts Hold Person on the heavily armored guy, which pings off of a pretty good saving throw.

We barely win initiative again, and Mirado steps up to try and kill the wounded one. He hits solidly, for middling damage, leaving him still standing. Rul hits plate-and-shield for 5 HP. He attacks me back (AC 18) and hits for 5 HP – not too bad. Mirado’s foe hits as well for 3HP. So minor damage exchanged all around.

Minister kills Mirado’s foe with a melee attack, but can’t cleave due to distance. We once again split initiative: Mirado and Rul (both miss), plate guy (attacks Mirado) hits and does 7 HP. Minister misses too.

We trade blows for a few more rounds; the fighters score a few telling blows, and are missed in return. Minister eventually hits for 10 HP . . . and our foe starts to grow gigantic . . . and gets pasted in the nuts. He goes down in a bloody pile of misshapen goo. In plate.

Mirado uses his blood-drinking sword to heal himself for 6 HP. “I’m neutral; I’ll kill anybody to get HP back.”

We check the rooms. And treasure. 8 gems and 14gp. He’s got a standard hammer and shortsword, dented dwarven-sized plate, and 4 gems and 16 gp.

The crossbow guys had 20gp and 11 gems all told.

We head to the south, and check out the chief’s private room. Nothing there.

OK, so we keep going around the corner. We find a trio of dessicated corpses in a nearby room, and hear a tick drop from the ceiling (thanks to Minister). Giant bloodsucking TICK.

Minister gets ticked (see what I did there) and the tick starts to burrow into Minister.

Mirado hits for 8 HP, Rul misses, as does Minister. The tick burrows in for 1HP, and has to make a saving throw (at +1 for Mirado’s ring, and another +2 for a Cloak of Protection), and another +2 for Poison for something else he’s doing. He nets out a 10, but uses a Luck point to make that a success (taking +2 to the roll), so he only takes a few points of damage.

Rul crits, and kills the tick for 15 HP of damage. We pry the tick off of Minister, taking some flesh along the way.

We return to search the corpses. A pouch on one contains three gems, and another holds a very nice looking dagger. When grabbed by the hilt, it takes on a slight glow. Hmm. We decide it has a low battery and a proprietary charger.

We continue down the corridor, with many funky angles and choices. We decide to keep going, and we happen upon a Secret Door, which Minister finds by dint of elvish blood.

Natrually, we open it up. Mirado opens the door, makes a saving throw, and a 2.5″ circular spiked ball comes for his head (would have been 3d6 to the head), but Mirado cooly dodges out of the way.

Inside the room is a large, locked chest. Mwa ha ha. We look around for more traps, or duergar runes that say Front Towards Enemy.

We throw a loop of rope around it and drag it into the corridor. We scrape the thing across the ground, just begging for a Wandering Monster. Which we get.

We get the attention of a verlaang. Mirado and he attack each other at the same time. Mirado slams down 10HP and takes nothing in return. The verlaang laughs. Mister pulls out the 2′ copper disc with the lightning bolt spell on it . . . the resolution will be next round.

Rul hits for 8 HP with a bow; the verlaang misses. Minister fires off his lightning bolt, a 7th level spell equivalent – 28 HP, but he makes his save, only taking 14 HP.

Mirado kills him next round. In the monster’s luggage, he’s got 10 sp, 11 ep, and 25 gp.

Back to the chest, and Rul opens up the chest. Or tries. We all fail, actually. So we’ll have to break the lock open; Mirado has a pick. We open it up.

There are 8,871 sp in the chest – 89 lbs of silver. We check the chest for secret compartments find none, and then head on our way.

We hit a teleporter.

We continue down the only way we can, and then try and head back west as we can. We are metagaming the map, of course, and pass by a bunch of alcoves, which we search for doors, finding none. We keep going straight until we can’t, and then turn to the north. We find a spiral staircase going down, but bypass it for now, finding and opening a door instead – two of them, actually.

We find a way back to the exit, linking up to prior mapped areas. So we have a way out. We keep looking until we find doors to open. And we keep opening them.

There’s a red-skinned creature in a skimpy nurses outfit behind a desk.

No, really. We make succubus jokes.

Despite an offer to have an appointment with the doctor, we back out of the room instead. We keep looking around, and find stairs going up eventually. We note that, and find another door.

There are five skeletons on a small wooden platform in the middle of the room. They start playing instruments. These are undead, and Rul has an undead-slaying sword.

Well, that settles that. Mirado attacks the flautist, killing him, because, well flute. Rul misses, as does Minister.

One of the skels bashes Minister with his lyre; another misses Rul with his recorder.Another tags Mirado for 4 HP. We do a lot of missing, as do they, really.

Rul cleaves four times and kills the remaining band members. Everyone’s a critic. In the hat there is 8 cp, 3 sp, and one lonely ep.

We keep going, and find a door that sounds like the other side is nothing but drunken debauchery. We decide to go pick a fight.

In this room, we find two rows of tables, benches, and long firepits between them. There are a least 50 drunken berserkers in here. There’s an enormous vat of mead, and a never-dimishing slab of roast pork.

OK, maybe we won’t fight. We say we’re from the Jarhead clan, and drink a toast of mead and eat some roast pork. This is like dungeon valhalla.

We eat, we drink, we’re merry. We wander around a bit and find a magic mouth, who say

a chicken bone, an ivory throne, an orcs green thumb, a princely sum
a stirges wing, a golden ring, a dragon’s tooth, you’ll know forsooth!

We consider to wander. We kick down doors, look in alcoves, and generally check stuff out. We find a room decorated like Gothridge Manor, and then keep kickin’ down doors. We find a room with more rat droppings and holes along the base of the walls. We press on, and find more poop. This entire dungeon is full of poop. And 20 giant rats.

We close the door, and back out to where they can’t get out. There’s really no value to be had in fighting giant rats. Odds of finding a +3 sword in a pile of crap is low.

We look around quite a bit, finally finding three giant blue flies, which we attack. Mirado hits for a bit, and Minister takes 5 HP. Big ol’ fly. And a poison saving throw avoids paralysis.

Mirado kills one, wounds another. Rul misses, but Minister finally makes contact with his morningstar, and rolls 2d4 for two 1s, for 5 HP.

The last fly rolls a natural 20, does 8 HP to Minister, who saves again. Mirado acts first and kills some, while Minister finishes him off. Three giant bluebottle flies down.

We wander and kick doors, and find a bunch of ghoul, who surprise us. Rul gets hit twice for 12 HP, burning luck to avoid a failed paralysis save. Rul kills both. Each is wearing a piece of fine jewelry, and there’s a small chest in the room, with 841sp inside. 

We call it there, due to time.


5,215gp is the total value of the gems and jewelry. For rooms and combat, 5,300XP. Coinage and other haul totals 2095gp including the jewelry. So total XP is 8,504 including bonus for writeup and prime req.

This brings Rul to about 52,000XP, needs about 12,000 to get to level 7.

After a six-week hiatus, +Erik Tenkar , +Peter V. Dell’Orto , +Tim Shorts , +Joe D , and a new player Reece, playing Bronan the 3rd level fighter.

We carefully negotiate the 5% slope, assuming Bronan the level 3 fighter (yay, more meat shields!) cannot detect it.

After securing healing potions and whatnot, we head to something that looked like a New Yorker flipping a bird to the dungeon, and find a 20×20 room. With a letter in it.

We head back the other way, because as Peter says, everything in his dungeon marked with a letter is “Capital A” bad.

We need to open a door, so Rul and Mirado biff it, but Minister “he who rolls 1’s” . . . rolls a 1 to open the door. There’s glass on the floor, broken bottles and such. We search the room while Mirado waits outside for the rest of us to be teleported elsewhere.

We search to no avail, and move on.

We keep searching, find a door or three. We start kicking again, and once again Rul and Mirado wimp out. The freakin’ STR 17 Cleric/Mage kicks in the door. 

Shouldn’t you be studying spells or praying or something?No, today is legs day.

We find orange cones, yellow tape, and it looks like a storage room. We decide we’ll set up coins in a “lane change” configuration into a spiked pit, and just level up while we sleep as they all go right into the pit. What could possibly go wrong with this plan?

We go find more doors to kick down, and this time, we find stairs down!

We decide to head downstairs, where the monsters are more badass and the experience points will pile up. If we live.

We enter a room with nine guys wearing blue surcoats and mail working out, all engaged in fight training. We debate whether actually talking to them would violate our idiom. We send Reece in there to “get massive.” And we go in and talk. 

They notice us, and slowly arm themselves. One of them goes and bangs on a nearby door.

We ask if they don’t mind if we do a set? No? They summon a half-orc, who says “volunteers for the arena?” We stutter and stammer a bit. More warriors come from the south. We stall. Another voice from the back (that would be Joe D’s halfling). He steps forward. They ask what color we’re fighting for, and if not, what the f**k are you doing here?

Mirado tries to ask about the arena, finds out that this is the blue team (no surprise there). They ask him if he’s a good fighter. “Better than you,” he says, hefting his ogre head.

Oh, it is so on.

First blood or first death? Death first, shouts the halfling.

We place bets within ourselves on whether Peter gets killed. Ours is a different kind of party. 

They tie for initiative, and someone tries to cast a spell on Mirado, but he nails him with a solid hit roll and hits for 8 HP. They trade blows for a bit. They seem evenly matched at first, but we note that he’s adding +9 to his roll for level. 

“Do you yield?” the blue haasks?

“No!” Mirado shouts. 

The blue guy tags him again; even against Peter’s AC 18, this guy has a 55% chance to hit, and Peter’s dice are not with him. 

“I take no pride in beating my lessers,” he asks Mirado, who has already taken 26 HP of damage. He yields, and Roscoe (Joe D) collects his 10 cp. The foe takes Mirado’s silver dagger in tribute . . . and heals him for 5 HP. Fighter and some sort of spellcaster too. 

At this point, there are about a dozen humans, two large trolls wearing blue tabards.

We decide that we’re going to beat the trolls to death with the halfling. It’s traditional

There are four factions. The blues, greens, reds, purples, and whites. The blues are the only ones who would have spared us, and the purples are those looking to hire, perhaps. 

Mirado: We’re happy to fight. For gold.
Blue Guy: The gnome (halflng) can work concessions.
Roscoe: I just won money off of this shit, I’ll run your m********f***ing concessions stand for you.

The purples are the most likely to embrace us rather than enslave us. The blues don’t need us. 

Oh, what the hell. We’ll follow that railroad.

We go find the arena, which is impressive as hell. Rare hardwoods, stadium seating. Nothing’s currently going on.

We do a reconnoiter to see if we can get back to the stairs without crossing through blue territory. We find a split corridor, but they do join up, so there’s an escape.

We ignore the challenge of battle in the purple arena, and start kickin’ in doors. Minister heals up Mirado to 35 HP. “35HP is plenty,” says Mirado, tempting fate. We continue to explore, finding lots of variously colored rooms, color coded to the factions they belong to. We also find a betting parlor and a heavily locked door.

“Hey, hey, hey. Let’s try the subtle way,” says our halfling. He rolls 97. “Have at it, meat puppets.”

Minister casts a Knock spell, but the door is cursed, but he saves. We find lots of loot: 6,000sp, 4,000gp, 19 gems, and 2 pieces of jewelry. 

The curse would have been 1 HP per day until the treasure was returned. Ouch.

We debate leaving, because the jewelry could be worth a ton, but instead keep on. We find a statue of the God of Atheletics (who we decide is His Lord Ahnold).

We wander and explore a bit, and come to a door, and all the high-ST people and all the rest of us beat on the door, and are defeated. We pour acid on the door, and Bronan busts it open. Finally.

This is a jail, or at least cells. A giant scoprion, a bonesnapper, a clacker, a panther that fades in and out – a phase panther, and a gnome and a half-elf handling the panther. The panther is outside the cage. Yeesh.

They threaten us. we threaten back. The halfling wants to pet the phase panther. Mirado pays for the broken door, encouraging tyranny.

We move on, and wander for a while more. We find another tiny door. We go through it, and find a colony of 12 “eye-killers.” This is not good. We try and withdraw, successfully. We keep looking, and find skeletons instead. Rul pulls out his +3 vs undead sword.

The halfling is first, and he tags one for 3HP. Rul hits for 10HP. Bronan pushes his way in, and hits for 12 HP. Minister goes for the funky undead turning, which does not work.

Our halfling gets tagged for 4HP, and that’s the extent. We whittle away a bit more at the skeletons.

Next round, we kill them all, and look for treasure. We find a 2-foot diameter copper disc on the back wall, with etchings on it – it looks magical. Minister sees the equivalent of a scroll of lighning bolt, etched into the copper foil, 7th level equivalent.

We decide to hit one more door. Rul kicks in the door and finds a turkish bath.

We bail. Heading back to the surface to cash out.


So we killed two skeletons, but stole a bunch of money.

3800gp for the gems, 2,500gp for the jewelry. 6,300 gp for gems and jewelry, 600gp in silver, 4,000gp. Total is 2180gp, 2159 XP for rooms and combat. 4339XP each, bonus pushes to 4,990XP and 2180 gp.

So all in all we had a gigantic amount of fun, but it was a fairly lousy run given where we are in required XP for leveling up. Bronan does level up, though, as does Roscoe.