Blackletter Fantasy: The beginnings

blackletterheader

What is this?

If any of you know me from NSR (which should be most of you), you’ll know I have a habit of starting more, and more, and more projects. This is sort of the logical endpoint: a v2 for ALL of my games, the Ultimate Fantasy Heartbreaker.

Ok, so what sets this apart from *gestures around*

Several points:

  • Lifepath chargen that is both simple and integrated
  • Classless!
  • Non-D&D mechanics like a Chaos Die (Want to know more? Read on!)
  • Combination of stats and traits
  • Unlike my previous attempts, actually longer rules
  • Taking pointers from Wolves upon the Coast, OZR, OD&D, and too many of my own games to count

How finished is this?

Currently I have chargen, adventuring essentials, basic resolution, danger, encumberance, magic of several flavours, and simple advancement.

Where can I read it?

Here!

Blackletter Fantasy v0.1

Character Generation

6 Backpack slots (Normal item = 1 slot, Bulky = 2 slots)

6 Memory slots (Learning = 1 slot, Spell = 2 slots)

6 stats:

Stat High Base Low
STR +1 Dmg, +1 Backpack slot +0 Dmg, +0 Backpack slots -1 Dmg, -1 Backpack slot
DEX +1 Armour (Evasion) +0 Armour (Evasion) -1 Armour (Evasion)
CON +1 Wound +0 Wounds -1 Wounds
EDU +1 Learning, +1 Memory slot +0 Learning, +0 Memory slots -1 Learning, -1 Memory slot
ATT +1 Spell at start +0 Spells at start -1 Spell at start
CHA +1 Retainer at start +0 Retainer at start -1 Retainer at start

You start at age 18 with one stat High and one stat Low, a backpack, and 3d6 silver pieces.

You can then wager for more bonuses (at the risk of more maluses) by rolling 3d6 as many times as you like. Each roll represents 1d6 years of your life. You should state what stat you are rolling for before rolling. High and Low bonuses and maluses stack and cancel. (2 High + 1 Low = 1 High)

3d6 Life Event
3-4 Disaster. Gain a bane and a Low result.
5-8 Setback. Gain a Low result.
9-12 Nothing of note. Gain a common item.
13-16 Advance. Gain a High result.
17-18 Fortune. Gain a boon and a High result.

A bane can be another Low result, the loss of an uncommon item, a negative connection to a person or an organisation (for example, being hunted by a bounty hunter for an unpaid debt), or some kind of curse. A boon can be another High result, an uncommon item, a positive connection to a person or an organisation (for example, a wizard owes you a small favour), or some kind of blessing.

You should write down what life event led to this result. For example:

Stat: CON

Event: My character was drafted into the army.

Length of time: 1 year

3d6 roll: 5 (Setback - Low CON)

Result: My character was injured during training and discharged, never making a full recovery.

At any time you can choose to “muster out” and start your adventuring life. If you gain 2 banes, your character dies prematurely. If you gain 2 boons, you must muster out.

When you muster out, items that don’t fit in your backpack are left at home. Learning and spells that don’t fit in your memory are forgotten. All remaining Learning is then converted into either skills, languages, or areas of general knowledge based on your life experiences. Finally, roll 1d6 for starting Wounds. You can’t start with less than 0.

Skills

Depending on your life before you start adventuring you can gain skills. Each pre-muster roll earns you 1 XP. You can also cash in XP from adventuring to earn skills. Each skill can only be taken once.

Martial

  • Weapon Training (1XP) - You are now trained with one type of weapon. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Armour Training (2XP) - You are now trained with one type of armour. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Combat Veteran (3 XP) - Gain 2 Hit Protection (HP). Spend 1 HP to negate one hit from a melee or ranged weapon. Can be taken multiple times.

Arcane

  • Cautious Casting (5XP) - You now roll 2d6 and take the lower when you roll on the Misfire table. Incompatible with Reckless casting.
  • Reckless Casting (5XP) - You can hold two spells in your head at a time, releasing them both if you are hit but only one if you fail the EDU test. You now roll 2d6 and take the higher when you roll on the Misfire table. Incompatible with Cautious casting.
  • Arcane Shield (10XP) - You are no longer harmed by magical explosions that occur as a result of misfires.

Specialist

  • Education (3XP) - You gain another knowledge domain, skill, or language after a few months of study. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Preparation (3XP) - If you are in town and have knowledge of your next destination, if the destination is nearby you can spend Nd6 silver and N days gathering information. Specify N slots in your inventory as prepared slots. When at that location, you can turn any prepared slot into a common item at will.

Adventuring

Tests

If you encounter a trial that is risky, important and uncertain you can choose to Test a stat. To do this roll 1d20 and aim to roll above or equal to 12. If you have multiple High results for that stat, roll additional d6 equal to the number of results and add the highest. If you have multiple Low results, roll additional d6 equal to the number of results and subtract the highest.

Example: John chooses to test STR to force open a door with guards running down the hallway. John has 2 High results in STR. This means John rolls 1d20 (14) and 2d6 (2 and 3). The final result is 14+3 = 17.

Correct tools and correct training unlock checks that weren’t possible before. Any fool can swing a sword, but only a trained swordsman can hope to parry a blow with deft efficiency. Based on the situation, the DM can also give you extra High or Low results temporarily.

Encumbrance

You can hold one item in your left hand and one in your right hand. Everything else is in your backpack that you start with. Carrying too many items makes you Deprived until you unload.

Hunger and exhaustion

You regain 1d6 Wounds each night you spend with food and rest. Marked stats take 1 week to recover.

Not eating or resting for a week makes you Deprived. After that, you take 1d6 damage each day.

If you are force marching or rushing, the time limit becomes three days.

Deprivation

You can’t heal any Wounds while Deprived. All attacks you make are Hindered.

Danger

Initiative and turns

Dangerous situations take place in rounds of 6 seconds. Each round, each character can perform a significant action (find and use an item, attack, manipulate a device or object) and move (this is their turn). When it is unclear who acts first, everyone tests DEX. Those who succeed go, then the NPCs go, then those who fail.

Damage and Harm

Weapons deal 1d6 damage automatically. Small weapons deal 2d6 (taking the lower) and large weapons deal 2d6 (taking the higher). If you are Hindered (using a weapon or armour you are not trained in, acting under fire, shooting blindly) you deal 1d4 damage. If you are Enhanced (striking with advantage, attacking a surprised opponent etc) you deal 1d12 damage.

Damage is subtracted from Wounds after being reduced by armour. If you are out of Wounds you start taking Critical Damage. Roll 1d6 and Mark the stat indicated (STR = 1, CHA = 6) - you now fail all Tests of that stat. If you run out of stats or are forced to Mark a stat you’ve already marked you are Downed.

Stunts

You can make an attack Hindered to perform a stunt. A stunt causes a special effect with your weapon. For example, an axe can strip shields or armour, and a rapier can disarm.

Downed Characters

Downed characters die at the end of the next turn or when they next receive damage (whichever comes first) and can’t do anything except crawl and whisper. Downed characters can be stabilised with a WIS Test, whereupon they become unconscious but stable.

NPCs

Most NPCs have Traits instead of stats. For example, a dragon might have the following Traits: Winged, Scale-skin, Fire-breathing. When you deal critical damage to these foes you strike out a Trait of your choice. You can also bypass dealing damage to Wounds by attacking these Traits directly - using magical rope to bind a dragon’s mouth removes Fire-breathing automatically.

When NPCs run out of traits they are defeated or dead.

The Overloaded Chaos Die

At the start of each round when the characters are in danger, the GM rolls 1d10.

1d10 Effect
1 Curse: The party suffers a setback, twist, or other inconvenience. A resource may be used up, a position made more precarious, a key disadvantage introduced, a danger revealed etc.
2 Omen: Some future badness is set into play. A foe may be foreshadowed, a resource in danger of running out, a timer introduced.
3 Altercation: Something is not what it seems. A boon may be made a bane or vice versa, what appears to be a position of security may reveal a hidden vulnerability, a powerful foe may show their tail.
4-7 None: Nothing changes.
8 Altercation: Something is not what it seems. A boon may be made a bane or vice versa, what appears to be a position of security may reveal a hidden vulnerability, a powerful foe may show their tail.
9 Benediction: Some future goodness is to be bestowed upon the party. An ally’s arrival is heralded, a resource not used up, a timer slowed or reversed.
10 Blessing: The party receives assistance, aid, or some other convenience. A foe may suffer a setback, a position made secure, a key advantage come into play, a danger removed etc.

Using Magic

Spells

You can keep one spell in your foreground thoughts at a time. You can do this by spending a turn recalling a spell from your Memory slots or spending one round reading a spell from a spellbook or scroll. While reading from a spellbook or scroll you’ll need to pass a EDU Test if you do this while in danger. Once you have a spell in your head, you can unleash it at any time.

If you get hit with a spell in your foreground thoughts or fail the EDU Test to read a spell, roll 1d6 and consult the Misfire table.

1d6 Misfire
1 Nothing happens and you keep the spell
2 You lose the spell
3-5 The spell is released at a random target
6 A magical explosion of appropriate magnitude occurs

Potions

When you drink a potion, make a CON Test. For each potion you have already drunk today, subtract one from the result. If you fail, the potion’s overdose effect occurs.

Intelligent Items

When you attempt to wield (not merely possess or pick up) an intelligent item, make an ATT Test. If you fail, the item plants 1-3 ideas in your head based on its personality. Whenever you reject these ideas you must make another ATT test. If you succeed, you shake off the item’s influence. If you fail, the item gives you a new, persistent goal or flaw.

Safety Note: Please make sure that players are aware of the nature of any intelligent items they meet. You can do this by giving them strong, distinctive personalities that broadcast themselves - for example, a brash, bragging talking sword or a sly, seductive telepathic crown. (This makes them more interesting anyways.) If they do fail the second ATT test, make sure they are ok with their character’s new goal even if their character isn’t. Everyone having fun is more important than any game. If players suggest that they are uncomfortable with the idea of intelligent items taking over in the first place, don’t include them in your game.

Advancement

Each session survived earns you 1 XP.

Items

See any game.

3 Likes

Great to see you trying something longer. Anything specific you’d like feedback on?

How does it look? Does it feel cohesive? What does it remind/not remind you of?

I’m having trouble picking out any one thing to comment on, to be honest. It feels like a serviceable set of middle-weight OSR rules, like the Black Hack or something. Maybe you’d get better feedback by putting together a playtest?

Perhaps some part of me hopes that, by finally putting together some rules with bulk, the osr design demon can be exercised once and for all. It’s a fool’s hope, but one persists nonetheless. And naturally the price of merging a bunch of ideas is lack of uniqueness.

1 Like

I really like this rules, you should add the Item list and the Bestiary

I love the simplistic life path system. I’ve always been kinda fascinated by them but they always end up taking way too long. A random table of life events, banes, boons could be cool. Maybe just a spark table to help come up with ideas.

Blackletter Fantasy v0.2

By Nakade

Inspirations and Credits

Character Generation

6 Backpack slots (Normal item = 1 slot, Bulky = 2 slots)

6 Memory slots (Learning = 1 slot, Spell = 2 slots)

6 stats:

Stat High Base Low
STR +1 Dmg, +1 Backpack slot +0 Dmg, +0 Backpack slots -1 Dmg, -1 Backpack slot
DEX +1 Armour (Evasion) +0 Armour (Evasion) -1 Armour (Evasion)
CON +1 Wound +0 Wounds -1 Wounds
EDU +1 Learning, +1 Memory slot +0 Learning, +0 Memory slots -1 Learning, -1 Memory slot
ATT +1 Spell at start +0 Spells at start -1 Spell at start
CHA +1 Retainer at start +0 Retainer at start -1 Retainer at start

You start at age 18 with one stat High and one stat Low, a backpack with 2 common items, and 3d6 silver pieces.

You can then wager for more bonuses (at the risk of more maluses) by rolling 3d6 as many times as you like. Each roll represents 1d6 years of your life. You should state what stat you are rolling for before rolling. High and Low bonuses and maluses stack and cancel. (2 High + 1 Low = 1 High)

3d6 Life Event
3-4 Disaster. Gain a bane and a Low result.
5-8 Setback. Gain a Low result.
9-12 Nothing of note. Gain a common item.
13-16 Advance. Gain a High result.
17-18 Fortune. Gain a boon and a High result.

A bane can be another Low result, the loss of an uncommon item or 3d6s, a negative connection to a person or an organisation (for example, being hunted by a bounty hunter for an unpaid debt), or some kind of curse. A boon can be another High result, an uncommon item or 3d6s, a positive connection to a person or an organisation (for example, a wizard owes you a small favour), or some kind of blessing.

You should write down what life event led to this result. For example:

Stat: CON

Event: My character was drafted into the army.

Length of time: 1 year

3d6 roll: 5 (Setback - Low CON)

Result: My character was injured during training and discharged, never making a full recovery.

At any time you can choose to “muster out” and start your adventuring life. If you gain 2 banes, your character dies prematurely. If you gain 2 boons, you must muster out.

When you muster out, items that don’t fit in your backpack are left at home. Learning and spells that don’t fit in your memory are forgotten. All remaining Learning is then converted into either skills, languages, or areas of general knowledge based on your life experiences. Finally, roll 1d6 for starting Wounds. You can’t start with less than 0.

Advances

Depending on your life before you start adventuring you can gain advances. Each pre-muster roll earns you 1 XP. You can also cash in XP from adventuring to earn advances. Each advance can only be taken once.

Martial

  • Weapon Training (1XP) - You become trained with one type of weapon after a few months. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Armour Training (2XP) - You become trained with one type of armour after a few months. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Combat Veteran (3 XP) - Gain 2 Hit Protection (HP). Spend 1 HP to negate one hit from a melee or ranged weapon. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Mercenary Qualification (30XP) - You are introduced to a mercenary band that accepts you. Work with your GM to determine what this means. Requires Combat Veteran.

Arcane

  • Cautious Casting (5XP) - You now roll 2d6 and take the lower when you roll on the Misfire table. Incompatible with Reckless Casting.
  • Reckless Casting (5XP) - You can hold two spells in your head at a time, releasing them both if you are hit but only one if you fail the EDU test. You now roll 2d6 and take the higher when you roll on the Misfire table. Incompatible with Cautious Casting.
  • Arcane Shield (10XP) - You are no longer harmed by magical explosions that occur as a result of misfires.
  • Collegio Arcanum (70XP) - You become part of an arcane college, given access to their secrets and made a full member of their council. Work with your GM to determine what this means.

Specialist

  • Further Education (3XP) - You gain another knowledge domain, skill, or language after a few months of study. This takes up 1 Memory slot. Can be taken multiple times.
  • Preparation (3XP) - If you are in town and have knowledge of your next destination, if the destination is nearby you can spend Nd6 silver and N days gathering information. Specify N slots in your inventory as prepared slots. When at that location, you can turn any prepared slot into a common item at will.
  • Trade Guild Membership (35XP) - You become part of a trade guild, whether aboveground (such as the Most Worshipful Guild of Cartographers) or underground (a band of thieves or outlaws). They share unique techniques and secrets with you. Work with your GM to determine what this means.

Adventuring

Tests

If you encounter a trial that is risky, important and uncertain you can choose to Test a stat. To do this roll 1d20 and aim to roll above or equal to 12. If you have multiple High results for that stat, roll additional d6 equal to the number of results and add the highest. If you have multiple Low results, roll additional d6 equal to the number of results and subtract the highest. This is known as Advantage or Disadvantage.

Example: John chooses to test STR to force open a door with guards running down the hallway. John has 2 High results in STR. This means John rolls 1d20 (14) and 2d6 (2 and 3). The final result is 14+3 = 17.

Correct tools and correct training unlock checks that weren’t possible before. Any fool can swing a sword, but only a trained swordsman can hope to parry a blow with deft efficiency. Based on the situation, the DM can also give you extra High or Low results temporarily.

Encumbrance

You can hold one item in your left hand and one in your right hand. Everything else is in your backpack that you start with. Carrying too many items makes you Deprived until you unload.

Hunger and exhaustion

You regain 1d6 Wounds each night you spend with food and rest. Marked stats take 1 week to recover.

Not eating or resting for a week makes you Deprived. After that, you take 1d6 damage each day.

If you are force marching or rushing, the time limit becomes three days.

Deprivation

You can’t heal any Wounds while Deprived. All attacks you make are Hindered.

Meeting Others

When first meeting another intelligent creature, if there is no immediate cause for friendliness (i.e. saving their life) or cause for alarm (i.e. attacking mob) then their attitude may be assessed by a 2d6 roll (+1 if the party leader has high CHA, +2 if the creature is outnumbered by the party). Rolls below 7 indicate a generally negative attitude, between 7-9 a neutral attitude, and above 9 indicate a generally positive attitude. Very low or very high rolls may indicate immediate hostilities or offers of assistance.

It should be noted that these values should be squared with the general demeanour of a creature. A neutral dragon may still attack the party if they do not hand over tribute while a hostile knight may not attack unless provoked.

Danger

Initiative and turns

Dangerous situations take place in rounds of 6 seconds. Each round, each character can perform a significant action (find and use an item, attack, manipulate a device or object) and move (this is their turn). When it is unclear who acts first, everyone tests DEX. Those who succeed go, then the NPCs go, then those who fail.

Damage and Harm

Weapons deal 1d6 damage automatically. Small weapons deal 2d6 (taking the lower) and large weapons deal 2d6 (taking the higher). If you are Hindered (using a weapon or armour you are not trained in, acting under fire, shooting blindly) you deal 1d4 damage. If you are Enhanced (striking with advantage, attacking a surprised opponent etc) you deal 1d12 damage.

Damage is subtracted from Wounds after being reduced by armour. If you are out of Wounds you start taking Critical Damage. Roll 1d6 and Mark the stat indicated (STR = 1, CHA = 6) - you now fail all Tests of that stat. If you run out of stats or are forced to Mark a stat you’ve already marked you are Downed.

Stunts

You can make an attack Hindered to perform a stunt. A stunt causes a special effect with your weapon. For example, an axe can strip shields or armour, and a rapier can disarm.

Downed Characters

Downed characters die at the end of the next turn or when they next receive damage (whichever comes first) and can’t do anything except crawl and whisper. Downed characters can be stabilised with a WIS Test, whereupon they become unconscious but stable. They wake up 1d6 hours later with 1 Wound.

NPCs

Most NPCs have Traits instead of stats. For example, a dragon might have the following Traits: Winged, Scale-skin, Fire-breathing. When you deal critical damage to these foes you strike out a Trait of your choice. You can also bypass dealing damage to Wounds by attacking these Traits directly - using magical rope to bind a dragon’s mouth removes Fire-breathing automatically.

When NPCs run out of traits they are defeated or dead.

The Overloaded Chaos Die

At the start of each round when the characters are in danger, the GM rolls 1d10.

1d10 Effect
1 Curse: The party suffers a setback, twist, or other inconvenience. A resource may be used up, a position made more precarious, a key disadvantage introduced, a danger revealed etc.
2 Omen: Some future badness is set into play. A foe may be foreshadowed, a resource in danger of running out, a timer introduced.
3 Altercation: Something is not what it seems. A boon may be made a bane or vice versa, what appears to be a position of security may reveal a hidden vulnerability, a powerful foe may show their tail.
4-7 None: Nothing changes.
8 Altercation: Something is not what it seems. A boon may be made a bane or vice versa, what appears to be a position of security may reveal a hidden vulnerability, a powerful foe may show their tail.
9 Benediction: Some future goodness is to be bestowed upon the party. An ally’s arrival is heralded, a resource not used up, a timer slowed or reversed.
10 Blessing: The party receives assistance, aid, or some other convenience. A foe may suffer a setback, a position made secure, a key advantage come into play, a danger removed etc.

Using Magic

Spells

You can keep one spell in your foreground thoughts at a time. You can do this by spending a turn recalling a spell from your Memory slots or spending one round reading a spell from a spellbook or scroll. While reading from a spellbook or scroll you’ll need to pass a EDU Test if you do this while in danger. Once you have a spell in your head, you can unleash it at any time.

If you get hit with a spell in your foreground thoughts or fail the EDU Test to read a spell, roll 1d6 and consult the Misfire table.

1d6 Misfire Effect
1 Nothing happens and you keep the spell
2 You lose the spell
3-5 The spell is released at a random target
6 A magical explosion of appropriate magnitude occurs

For an example spell list see OZR.

Potions

When you drink a potion, make a CON Test. For each potion you have already drunk today, subtract one from the result. If you fail, the potion’s overdose effect occurs.

Example potions:

  • Potion of Ogre’s Strength - Gives you Advantage 2 for STR tests. Overdose: You fly into a blind, murderous rage.
  • Potion of Conflagration - Your skin erupts into magical flames dealing damage to whoever comes into close contact to you (1d4/Round). Overdose: You are hurt by the flames too.

Intelligent Items

When you attempt to wield (not merely possess or pick up) an intelligent item, make an ATT Test. If you fail, the item plants 1-3 ideas in your head based on its personality. Whenever you reject these ideas you must make another ATT test. If you succeed, you shake off the item’s influence. If you fail, the item gives you a new, persistent goal or flaw.

Safety Note: Please make sure that players are aware of the nature of any intelligent items they meet. You can do this by giving them strong, distinctive personalities that broadcast themselves - for example, a brash, bragging talking sword or a sly, seductive telepathic crown. (This makes them more interesting anyways.) If they do fail the second ATT test, make sure they are ok with their character’s new goal even if their character isn’t. Everyone having fun is more important than any game. If players suggest that they are uncomfortable with the idea of intelligent items taking over in the first place, don’t include them in your game.

Advancement

Each session survived earns you 1 XP.

If you complete a mission that earns you renown in a town, gain 1d6 XP.

If you complete a mission that earns you renown in a city, gain 2d6+3 XP.

If you complete a mission that earns you attention in a region, gain 4d6+6 XP.

If you complete a mission that earns you the recognition of a king, gain 6d6+12 XP.

Money and Equipment

Blackletter Fantasy uses the silver standard. Prices are listed as Amount / Price (silver).

Common Items

Most common consumable items (5 torches, 30ft. rope, 5 spikes, 1 roll of bandages, 5 oil flasks etc., 1 day’s rations) cost 1 lot /5s.

Wooden tools (Clubs, staves, rods etc.) cost 15s.

Items or tools containing metal or medicinal properties (Lanterns, pitchforks, picks, shovels, swords, medicinal herbs etc.) cost 20s.

Illicit items (dark lanterns, skeleton keys, daggers, common poisons) cost 20+2d6s. Carrying them in the open risks attracting hostile attention (-2 to all reaction rolls from townsfolk)

Uncommon Items

Leather armour costs 30s and mail 50s.

Parchment costs 35s per sheet (usually a spell requires 2d6+3 sheets to copy down). Ink and quill costs 30s per set.

Metal weapons cost 40s.

Rare Items

Plate must be tailored to the bearer and thus has a custom cost based on stature (usually 200s+).

Horses and their ilk cost 100s and increase in increments of 4d6 based on quality. They consume 2 rations per day when ridden or loaded and 1 when unloaded.

Magic items are not sold on the common market. Anyone foolish enough to buy a magic item from a public antiquarian or vendor will find it horribly overpriced (at least 50s for the cheapest “lucky charm”), low in potency, in short supply, and have a 5-in-6 chance of being a scam.

Monsters

There are three monstrous archetypes: humanoid, beast, and titan. Humanoids can be used for bandits and the like, beasts can be used for lions, tigers, panthers etc., and titans are most suitable for dragons and their kin. An example of each is given below.

Humanoid: Bandit

Nimble, Cowardly

2d6 Wounds, Scimitar (Normal)

Nimble: Advantage 1 on any DEX related check.

Cowardly: If cornered, will throw sand and attempt to knock enemies down before escaping. (Stunt)

Beast: Bear

Large, Territorial

4d6 Wounds, Claws (Large)

Large: Advantage 2 on any STR related check.

Territorial: Does not venture beyond its territory unless threatened or scavenging.

Titan: Basilisk

Gigantic, stone-glare, scale-skin, crushing

6d6 Wounds, Fangs (Large)

Gigantic: Advantage 3 on any STR related check, Disadvantage 1 on any DEX related check.

Stone-glare: Characters looking at the basilisk’s eyes must make a DEX check to move, losing 1 High DEX result or gaining 1 Low DEX result per turn. When they reach 3 Low DEX results, they turn to stone.

Scale-skin: The basilisk has armour 2.

Crushing: The basilisk coils together, dealing 6d6 wounds to anyone trapped within its body.

Downtime

During downtime, each turn takes place over 1d6 months. Spend 3d6+3 silver to stay alive each month. Time can be used to convert XP into advances and invest into your home. When you run out of money, get a job and retire from the adventuring life or get back into adventuring.

2 Likes