Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting ideas from Birth Augurs

One of the elements that my original table liked most about DCC RPG is the Birth Augur (they were also fans of Warhammer Fantasy’s Doomings, which are familiar). We liked to give wide interpretations to a PC’s Birth Augur. If a PC rolled the augur “The Bull”, for example, then we would like to picture that character as a brute, not only in physical strength but also on his approach to everything. That could either mean that the PC believed that a forceful approach was the best, or simply a character that was blunt and direct.

Here are examples using the Birth Augurs from DCC Core Book. With “Positive” examples I tried to consider situations where a positive or neutral Luck modifier would work; for “Negative” examples I thinking on PCs with negative Luck.
- Harsh winter: (Positive) Either a “Winter is coming!” background (a grim and fatalist PC) or a PC that comes from war-ravaged or brutal homelands (Cimmeria, Mordor, Frozen North etc). (Negative) This is a PC that is probably traumatized by combat, maybe crippled or cursed (by a winter deity? A Crom-like god?). Perhaps - may the gods help us - you’re a pacifist!
- The Bull: (Positive) a violent PC that solves all his problems through battle. (Negative) You suck in melee combat. If you by the bull aspect, but inverted, then this PC might be a mutant or pariah, too weak to fight, who is seeking a cure for his debility (maybe through a Patron or arcane magic).
- Fortunate date: (Positive) the talented archer (Bard, the Dragonslayer-wannabe), sniper (an assassin?), blessed by some god of the hunt or maybe a daredevil spellslinger. If you go for the name of the Augur, then this is that irritable fellow that seems to always get the best girl, the best spot, and also the one that always leaves a battle without a single drop of blood on his mail. (Negative) No one trusts you with a bow or even a crossbow. Maybe your PC hates archers (and elves?). Going by an inverted Fortunate Date, maybe your PC was born on the day of some terrible catastrophe (like a battle that killed thousands). Most people know this and avoid you like the plague.
- Raised by wolves: (Positive) You was orphaned while crossing a jungle and was raised by beasts (not original enough, but what if you’re dwarf? This happened at my table and made me create a “Beastmaster” class). The bonus to unarmed attacks suggests that your PC learned to live by himself, without much, so maybe the orphan background is the best (or maybe you trained with Shaolin monks). (Negative) You can’t get yourself to do dirty works. Maybe you’re a pampered third or fourth son of a noble housed. Without any inheritance, you were forced to the perilous path of dungeon delver.
- Conceived on horseback: (Positive) You’re the true Mongol (or Dothraki, or Rohirrim etc) rider! You could came from a culture that worship horses (Warrior, Elf or Cleric), or maybe you started your career stealing horses (Thief, Halfling), or you could be that one apprentice who learned magic with a unicorn (Elf or Wizard? Obviously a virgin). (Negative) The perfect Augur for dwarves - you hate horses and they HATE you back (every horse on the world has Favored Enemy: You). Perhaps you actually was a horse shapechanged to humanoid (or a humanoid cursed by a nemesis to be donkey for 7 years… now it is revenge time!).
- Born on the battlefield: (Positive) The obvious one here is that you literally could have been born in a battlefield (your mom is probably a bit mad, I guess). This Augur can also represent a certain degree of bloodlust or even psychopathy on your “heroic” PC. (Negative) If you’re playing a wizard or halfling then please try a character who can’t stand the mere sight of blood. If you’re a Warrior or Dwarf, then I guess that you enjoy a good challenge. In that case, try to play a pacifist. You won’t kill most enemies (but you do love to use lots of Mighty Deed of Arms).
- Path of the bear: (Positive) The “bear” part is the secret. You can be a Beorn-like character: big, furred and cranky. This is actually the type of Augur that I enjoy most for non-Warrior (non-Dwarf) PCs - imagine an ogre-like brute who studied wizardcraft, or a really cranky and foul-mouthed halfling. Maybe your PC has a bear’s appetite or enjoys the company of animals. You probably break things by accident, a lot. Collateral damage is your surname! (Negative) OK, you punch like a pixie (if you’re an Elf or Halfling that’s perfect). Let’s think on the opposite of a bear - maybe a fox, a rat or anything small and cowardly. You’re the kind of PC that hates when the battles gets close. You like to stay away (far far away), duly protected by a cover. If you’re a Warrior then you’re (obviously) an archer.
- Hawkeye: (Positive) Play Green Arrow or Hawkeye. Really. Both are awesome PCs in terms of personality and charisma (and if your Personality is high, then you’re a natural candidate for the role). This is the adventurer that always note that one small detail that can save the party. You’re probably perceptive and keen-eyed. (Negative) Play a Mr. Magoo PC! And use glasses. And complain about goblin blood falling on your glasses every time.
- Pack hunter: (Positive) This is a really bizarre Augur for me, at least mechanically. You’re basically good with “peasant” weapons. This could mean that you never forget your lowly origins. You may be a big fuckinh hero now, but your dream is still to retire to a good and nice farm, to plant cabbages or turnips (if you can bore the hell out of your party by talking about turnips and cabbages you should deserve a +1 Luck point). Or we could go by the name - you’re a pack creature. You work better when in a team and you’re everyone’s second best friend. (Negative) You’re a lone wolf in a adventure party - which basically means you’re a diva or a hypocrite. Roleplay Wolverine/Logan; complain a lot about how everyone around hinders you (especially while been healed by the Cleric). If you go by the mechanical aspect, then your PC was probably a highborn fallen on harder times (or a bastard). You still keep your noble perks - you enjoy fine food, clothes and weapons. You would NEVER touch “dishonorable” weapons like a pitchfork or knife. [Variant Pack Hunter: actually, given the name of this Augur, I believe it would be nice if you gained your luck bonus on attack and damage rolls if you followed another PC’s action. For example, if a Warrior attacked a goblin, you would gain the Luck bonus by attacked that same goblin with your next action. If you have a negative Luck modifier, you have to be “original” every round or suffer a penalty to attack and damage rolls - yes, you really hate battles against only one adversary]

If like this approach I’ll post the other Birth Augurs later.

See ya!

Monday, October 9, 2017

Character Backgrounds, the OSR Way

It was really hard for the me to sell any OSR or retroclone-style game to my current table. They were coming from heavier games (Pathfinder, Warhammer 3rd and 2d20) or from FATE. All their previous campaigns were strongly character-driven, with complex PC backgrounds and a certain degree of plot immunity against sudden death (usually through the use of Fate/Destiny/Hero points). Even when I tried Midnight with them, the table insisted on a character-driven game, which made me hack the 3.5 rules.

I guess that DCC RPG worked for them because of the Funnel*. It was fun and easy to run. I’m sure that at the time my table only accepted DCC because it was a good change of pace. Lots of characters died and lots of (otherwise) unoptimized character survived. That’s when the DCC magic kicked in. After three to six sessions playing with those survivors, the players started to get used to them, to plot goals and to imagine all kind of perks and… finally!... backgrounds.
*OK, I also used a little bit of Destiny Points, after the Funnel, but that is for another post.

Image result for fantasy reading big scroll
I still have nightmares with 4-8 pages PC backgrounds...

Character Backgrounds aren’t something you start with, but something you earn...

I can’t remember if I read it at Matthew Finch’s excellent Quick Primer for Old School Gaming, but one interesting aspect of OSR-style campaigns is that most PCs start without detailed background. Actually, most start without any background, having only a perk or two (boisterous, grim, lordly etc.) or basic concept (drunken dwarf, elf minstrel etc.). That’s because in older campaigns a PC’s background was a result of surviving long enough the campaign… each PC was a blank sheet until returning from the dungeon and spreading his tales of adventure. A character’s background was - basically - his campaign log. That is an awesome concept, very different from modern games, but hardly something that I could sell to my table.

So, at my DCC RPG campaign, I tried something slightly different. After all the gore and fun of the Funnel passed, when the party was reaching 2nd level I started to poke my players with questions: why you decided to go adventuring? Are you mad? Do you have a family? Enemies? Any tragic past?

For example: one of the PCs that survived our first Funnel was a lowly gongfarmer. During Sailors on the Starless Sea, his player made a really good argument at the table, telling us that his PC wasn’t just a gongfarmer - he was only pretending to be one. That PC was actually a chaotic cultists running from the Law Churches. He journeyed to the dungeons of the Starless Sea to find a Chaotic relic, restore his powers and get revenge! (all this just to roll a d20 in a Int check instead of a d10… those players...). In the end, it was so cool that the entire table (and me, the judge) bought it (I also believe a force him to roll a Will save or suffer Corruption).

Image result for DCC RPG reaver
Go to a Funnel! Become a Badass!
Later, another PC that survived both Sailors on the Starless Sea and a homemade adventure was facing the deeps of The One Who Watches From Below. He was a squire or maybe even (another!) gongfarmer. I can’t remember. He became a mighty 3rd-level Warrior and his player proposed that his PC was actually the last scion of a fallen noble house, blamed unjustly with acts of witchcraft and black magic. We loved it and I already created a connection between that fallen noble house, a cult of Bobugbubilz (for The Croaking Fane) and the module Bride of the Black Manse.

The idea here is that a PC’s background is something that is built during the campaign as it progress, with a few bits of information provided by the player as a reward for surviving. Unlike “classic” Old School, a PC background isn’t just his adventures since 1st level, but also additional hooks crafted by the player as allowed by the game. The best of this “edited” background is that it allows a PC to play, for example, the (otherwise nigh unplayable) cliché of the Chosen One - the twist here is that it will make perfect sense only at higher levels. After all, if that PC survives to 7th or 8th level and only then reveals that he’s the Chosen One, that may sound true (after all, he survived this far). That way the Gamemaster avoids the classic problem of a 1st-level “Chosen One” that dies when facing his first orc.

Image result for Prydain oracular pig
No Chosen Ones at 1st level.

An organic background, developed during the campaign, also allows the PC and the party to better declare what types of adventures they want, thus reinforcing agency. If, after surviving a battle against orcs, one of the PCs declare that his parents were taken by an orc chieftain with red skin, then the Gamemaster just got a free hook to insert in future adventures a tribe of “red orcs” (if your players are really open minded with their intents, you can work with them, offering background “revelations” that better suit your material).

A good start here is allow each player “one true fact” about his PC after surviving an entire module or two (not just one game session!). The entire table and Judge must accept the “new” fact about the PC and the revelation should not be used to gain free access to magic items or power, but to provide hooks for greater adventures (that, in the end, may grant the PC access to magic and political power).

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Fear for (and from) 13th Age

Last year I did a short post on using the Entropic Gaming System’s excellent Fear rules for Pathfinder (and technically for other, similar, d20 fantasy games). Here’s my attempt to expand it to 13th Age. The idea came from a good discussion at the Forge of the 13th Age Facebook group.

As mentioned in my older post, those rules create a FEAR POOL that the Gamemaster can use to trigger all sort of cool effects. In 13th Age, each PC that fall below the Fear Threshold automatically add +1 point to the FEAR POOL (add +1 if the monster is double-strength/large, +2 if triple-strength/huge and +1 if it is an elite). If the monster is of a different tier than the party, please add +2 points. Finally - and that’s the catch - the Fear source (i.e. the scary monster) gains automatically +1 point to the FEAR POOL every time the Escalation Die goes up (yes, they’re that nasty).

A beholder in 13th Age?! FLY YOU FOOLS!
The Gamemaster can use the FEAR POOL in 13th Age to trigger the following effects:
- inflict the Shocked condition on a PC (i.e. roll twice and pick the worst result, check the amazing 13th Age’s Bestiary 2). A PC can roll a save to remove this condition, but see below about “Facing your Fears”.
- force a PC to go last in the round, or to go after the scary monster (Gamemaster’s choice).
- weaken the PC’s resolve against the monster (treat all the PC’s attacks as if the Fear source had Resistance 21; if the Fear source has Resistance against the attack, roll it normally and if it is successful the PC deals only ¼ damage).
- cancel a PC’s Rallying action (the PC still get his turn normally, but he must change his Rallying attempt to another action).
- if a PC’s attack miss, spend 1 Fear point to automatically inflict normal impromptu damage against him (for example, if the Fear Source is an Adventure-tier monster, deal 2d6/3d6 damage). This damage reflects the PC’s desperation or the monster’s powers.
- spend 3 Fear points to force the party to spend 1 Recovery for each PC. If they can’t spend that number of Recoveries, they must retreat and accept a Campaign Loss (OK, this is a Nastier Special).

Facing your Fears

13th Age is all about heroism, action and risk (and doing all that looking cool). But facing any creature that has Fear should be a tough call. When facing a Fear-inducing monster, the Escalation Die isn’t a gift. It must be earned. Every PC can declare that he’s “facing his fears”. If the PC wants the Escalation Die bonus he must roll a d6 at the beginning of his turn. If he rolls equal or above the current Escalation Die bonus, everything is fine. If he rolls below, the Fear source gains +1 point for the FEAR POOL (the PC can still use the ED’s bonus).

Finally, any PC inflicted with the Shocked condition by the Fear source can try to get rid of it at the end of his round by rolling a save (11+ if the monster is of the same tier, 16+ if the monster if of a higher tier). If the PC fails his rolls, the monster gains +1 point to the FEAR POOL.

Yup, these rules give a clear advantage to the monster and maybe are better suited to horror campaigns. But let’s give the party a bonus: if the monster is of a lower tier (i.e. an Adventurer-tier creature facing Champion-level PCs), than the Facing your Fears rules don’t apply.

Those damn Paladins...

What?! You have a Fearless Paladin in your party? Congratulations! The Paladin don’t count as a PC and don’t grant points to the FEAR POOL. Also, he can’t be affected by the FEAR POOL. Please, dear Gamemaster, concentrate fire on those holier-than-thou bastards.

Image result for paladins d20
I'm Old School... Paladins MUST have Char 17+

Enough with proselytizing about the awesomeness of 13th Age.

I don’t play 13th Age

Now, for those of you who don’t know 13th Age (are you mad?!), I talk about it at this post and you can check their official page (and the Archmage SRD). 13th Age, in a nutshell, is an awesome toolkit of ideas for d20 (and non-d20) fantasy. For example, their Fear rules.

Fear in 13th Age don’t make the PCs run away screaming in the night (which is cool in fiction or movies, but absurdly boring in RPGs). PCs affected by Fear in 13th Age can’t use the Escalation Die, which (again, in a nutshell), is a progressive bonus granted to the party during combats to simulate the action-driven heroism of that RPG. In other words, frightened PCs in 13th Age lose their edge and have a harder time facing monsters, which is a great way of simulating - mechanically - a Fear-effect (the dramatic part, including running away, can be perfectly roleplayed by the party, especially considering that 13th Age has other rules, like Campaign Loss, that work just fine for those horror encounters). The second aspect of 13th Age’s Fear rule is that it is triggered not by a failed save or attack, but when a PC falls before a certain HP threshold. The HP threshold is based on the monster’s level, which on 13th Age go up to 14th (that would be CR 20+ for most other d20 games I guess). When a PC drops below that mark, he’s instantly affected by Fear and can’t use the Escalation Die bonus on his attack rolls (until healed above the HP threshold).

That's the Fear Threshold Table

That’s a damn cool rule that could be adapted to other d20 games like Pathfinder, D&D and various retroclones. You just have to create a HP threshold. Because 13th Age’s PCs are really over-the-top heroes (Wizard or Rogue easily starts at 1st level with anything from 18 to 24 HPS), you have to adjust the threshold totals. In Pathfinder, for example, I would suggest the awesome (and unfortunately underused) Monster Statistics by CR table, available in every Bestiary. Just use half the table’s recommended Hit Points as a threshold. For example, a ½ CR critter usually has 10 hit points, so it provokes Fear when an PC has 5 or fewer hit points.

What happen when you’re affected by Fear? Well, if you don’t want to use my FEAR POOL rules, the there’s a simpler solution: PCs below the Fear HP threshold suffer Disadvantage (i.e. roll twice any check and pick the worst). If you’re playing DCC RPG, instead of Disadvantage, inflict upon the PC a -1 Die penalty (i.e. instead of a d20 for attack rolls, he now rolls a d16).

Cthulhu have stats! So it can be beated!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Scouts for DCC RPG (a Thief variant)


I probably spend more time reading RPG books and customizing stuff than actually playing… it’s that much fun for me, I guess. What I like more is customizing standard classes, races and other character details for my table, usually based on their backgrounds and character concepts. For DCC RPG I’ve tinkered already with variant Dwarves, small but vicious dogs, a Sage class, a Warrior Princess variant class, my Berserker class from the last post, a small hack on the Alice/Fool class (from A Red and Pleasant Land), and a post about using your Bad Luck as a weapon.

The Scout

In my current DCC RPG table, one of the PCs that survived the Funnel was a Hunter. The character was almost a Ranger in concept, but both me and the player didn’t want the old two-weapons-D&D cliché. Actually, the player was satisfied in turning his 0-level Hunter in a normal Thief - the idea was to use the class’ Luck Dice to execute deadly ranged attacks (spending Luck on damage). But the player didn’t mind me tinkering with the traditional Thief’s skills, so I came up this Scout variant:
- the Scout attack as a Thief but uses the Warrior’s Crit progression.
- the Scout loses Backstab, Disguise Self, Forge Document, Hide in Shadows, Pick Pocket, Pick Lock, Read Languages and Cast Spell from Scroll.
- instead of Backstab, the Scout gains Ambush (same progression). Ambush works like Backstab, but it can only be used right before a combat encounter, while the Scout is sneaking upon his enemy. The Scout can suffer a -1 penalty to his Ambush check for each ally going with him; he also suffers a further penalty on his check based on the heaviest armor used by his allies (i.e. the highest armor check penalty in the party). If a Scout succeed at this Ambush check, he and every ally accompanying him gains the benefits of Backstab for their next attacks (i.e. bonus to attack roll and automatic crit).
- a Scout gains Hide in the Wilds (same progression as Hide in Shadows). Hide in the Wilds works as Hide in Shadow but only on natural terrains (forests, plains, caves etc.) and the Scout can try to hide allies using the modifiers from above (see Ambush). The Scout is a master of camouflage and can hide even in places most people would deem impossible (like on a plain). The idea here is that Scout’s skills are like Thief’s skills - you just don’t hide, but you hide perfectly in shadows, becoming almost invisible; you don’t climb a tree or mountain (anyone can do that), but sheer surfaces etc. Following that line, a Scout using Hide in the Wilds is like Aragorn’s hiding his party in the Lord of the Rings.
- a Scout gains Track (same progression as Find Trap). The DC for following an easy trail is 5 (anything on soft ground, life after a rain or snow). The basic DC is 10 for most tracks on normal terrains, like forest, plains, deserts mountains etc. If the scout is trying to find/follow tracks on hard terrains like deserts or streambeds (or when the followed party is trying to hide its tracks) the DC is 15. Really hard or almost impossible tracks (like trying to find tracks after a snow or heavy rain, or in bare rock) are DC 20. If the Scout beat the DC by 5 or more, the Judge is encouraged to provide additional details (Aragorn-style) like “it is a group of 6 orcs, bearing 2 prisoners and the orcs are bickering among themselves because they’re short on food”.
- a Scout gains Set trap (same progression as Disable Trap). Ok, here we are entering non-OSR mechanics, so please bear with me. The entire idea of the Set trap skill is that a Scout always checks and prepares any place where the party stays for longer than 1d4 hours (or where the party decides to set camp). As always, the Judge has the final word. If the prerequisites are met, during any combat in those places, a Scout can spend 1 Luck point to declare that he had set a trap just where an enemy or monster is. Let the Scout make a special attack roll using his Set trap skill bonus (this is a free action). If he hits, the target must succeed at a Refl save (DC equal to the Set trap result) or suffers 1d6 points of damage. The Scout can spend more Luck points before the target rolls his save (+1 Luck for a +1 to the trap’s DC or +2 Luck for +1d6 to the damage). Instead of dealing damage, the trap can have other effects (like entangling the target) - these special effects are adjudicated by the Judge and can increase the Luck cost.
- a Scout can use Sneak Silently to benefit his allies, like Ambush and Hide in the Wilds above.
- the Scout can use Climb sheer surfaces, Find trap and Disable trap like a Thief.

Finally, because the Scout only use some of the Thief’s skills, I recommend that every Scout (no matter his Alignment) follows the Path of the Boss bonus progression (i.e. the Lawful Thief progression).

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Berserker (DCC RPG Class)

Howdy folks!

A few years ago I did a Barbarian class for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day - you can check it here. The design behind that class is that a Barbarian could be something other than the traditional "lots of hit points + rage + wilderness warrior". I wanted something more open so I came up with the concept of the "Barbarian" as a class that could react rather than act, besides resisting stuff that would drop other heroes (which is not necessarily more hit points). From that S&W original idea and DCC RPG's lovely tendecy to use random tables I made this Berserker, a class for players who don't like do make plans and who appreciate discovering new abilities every round (if you play 13th Age, this is the same principle behind the Bard's and Fighter's Flexible Attacks).

In fact, others had the idea of a different Barbarian before. If you like to dig for desing ideas, here are some suggestions. I first remember seing a new take on the Barbarian at Kolja Raven Liquette's site Waking Land (for D&D 3rd, you can still check his Berserker class and Savage template here). Basically, Kolja proposed that the Barbarian class for D&D was just an example of a Savage Berseker. You could create Savage Fighters, Clerics or even Wizards. It's a great idea and a better design for a class system IMHO. Other influences are D101's awesome Crypts & Things and Tales From The Fallen Empire.

One last commentary: I like classes that play (mechanically) different at the table. So, if you just want to play a slightly different Warrior or Rogue, I always suggest "reskinning" some abilities or just swapping one or two abilities (I hope to post soon how my DCC RPG's Scout and "Dwarven Tarzan" are). Finally, it's important to mention that lately I've been playing lots of 13th Age and The One Ring, but unfortunately no DCC RPG, so this Berserker isn't playtested yet (and I'm afraid it's a bit overpowered).

Here's the Berserker.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

A review for Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells – Addendum

One the best aspects of the OSR movement is the DIY attitude. In the last years, this principle gave us not only excellent retroclones but also original games; some of those are of particular interest to me because they’re clearly “built” from pieces of other RPGs, but in a very interesting way. Examples are Aspects of Fantasy, Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book and, of course, Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells.

Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells (or SS&SS) came to my interest originally because the author is a fellow brazilian – and the one responsible for translating to portuguese DCC RPG (one of my all-time favorites RPGs). However, after reading SS&SS I became instantly a fan of this little gem. You can see my review here, but the elevator pitch (in my opinion) is that SS&SS is a variant of Black Hack that incorporates a lot of cool rules in order to create a light Sword & Sorcery game. Its classes take the best of others games that I appreciate and its spellcasting system seems to me almost like a lite version of the DCC RPG casting system.

OK, enough for introductions. What Sharp Swords & Sinister Spells Addendum is about? First, it is a B&W PDF with 90 pages (the original SS&SS is just 50 pages). Like the core, the Addendum is available as PWYW product at DriveThruRPG.

The Addendum opens with guidelines for using Vocations (the hero’s open concept, like “Barbarian from the Iron Horde”) almost like FATE’s Aspects. This is something that I already did, but it’s great to see the author defining it with more concrete (but simple) rules. For those that don’t like Aspects, there’s no problem: the rules just show you how to use Vocations in a positive or negative way (with Advantage/Disadvantage), also allowing the hero to recharge his Luck.

Next topic is Multiclass. Here SS&SS takes my favorite approach: instead of pre-build kits, it provides simple rules for mixing and matching all Archetypes (Warrior, Specialist and Magic User). Actually, it goes further and lets you built different heroes, like nonhumans. I loved it. My only worry is the balance factor. Multiclass heroes usually requires more XP (game sessions) to advance. I’m not sure that’s the best approach and I’m tempted use in my tables something involving a few “free” Negative Die/Setbacks/Complications per session (or maybe something making Luck harder to recharge, I’m still not sure).

The next topics are a few guidelines for Languages and rules for Zero-level PCs (this last one clearly inspired by DCC RPG). Also inspired by DCC are the Learning New Abilities section, which show us how heroes may gain specific new abilities (like fighting techniques, mystic powers, etc.) and even list a few examples. It’s my favorite approach to PC development and I’m glad to see another RPG embracing it.

Next we get the Blood rule. This basically matches a PC’s Physique ability score as his hit points, which is nice because the game (like many D&D-derived RPGs) is very lethal at lower levels.

The SS&SS Addendum also provides a Sanity & Madness section. I missed more concrete rules here. I believe Madness could be faithful recreated in SS&SS by giving the poor hero a “Madness Vocation”.

Resources & Treasures gives you abstract rules for money and rewards and is another awesome example of the versatility of the Usage Die (I hope to write a review of Dungeons & Delvers - Black Book, which is a game that really shows you how far you can push the Usage Die). Of course, Resources & Treasures is followed by a now classic “Where did my gold go?” table, in perfect Sword & Sorcery fashion (although I missed a gamble aspect to table, like Jeff Rients’ carousing rules).

Next topic is Quick Equipment. It may seem silly, but ready-to-use equipment kits are in my opinion one of the most important rules for any game. Most of my tables hate to buy equipment and when you’re introducing the game to new players (or just want to get direct into action), things like skill/feat/equipment lists are true let downs.

Drunken Luck is our next academic topic, and it’s an awesome variant rule for heroes that bet in their liquor to keep kickass-ing (which reminded me of the equally great rule from the D&D 5E playtest).

Adventuring Companions is a rule to form bonds between the PCs.

Journeys and Travels is a good cut-scene rule, for when you the party must get to the next spot, but the referee also wants to keep verisimilitude – so the PCs make a Luck check to avoid hazards.

After travel hazards we get rules for ‘Strange Effects of Ancient Spellbooks’, 20 new spells, True Names and True Sorcery. This last one is where you get those earth-shattering spells and dooms usually employed by the Evil Wizard of many S&S sources. Here are the guidelines for spells that target armies and affect entire fortifications. While the SS&SS Addendum does provides concrete rules for using True Spells (including the caster sacrificing ability score points permanently), I prefer the old Swords & Wizardry approach, where you basically threat high-level (or epic) spells as unique magic items.

Still talking about the arcane, we get a lite but very flavorful rule for Arcane Corruption, where the more spells a Magic User knows the more inhuman he gets. The next wizardly topics are Rare Ingredients and Drugs & Other Preparations (yes, lotus dust is here).

All those variants and additional rules don’t encumbrance the game and rarely occupy more than a page or two. In fact, it’s amazing how broad the SS&SS Addendum is, because we just reached the middle of the PDF.

Next part is a Monster Generator. This is the supplement’s biggest section and is mostly covered by system-neutral tables with basic ideas and descriptions for monster (aberrations, animals, beings from the future, undeads etc), although at the end we get a list of 100 special abilities (with rules), besides suggestions for monsters’ Weaknesses and a rule for Mooks.

After the monsters we get an excellent rule for creating Rumors, in which the entire table participates. This is a brilliant way of engaging the players, besides helping the referee. I’m extremely tempted to use it in all my tables right now.

SS&SS Addendum isn’t done with us yet. So we get tables and rules for Forgotten Artifacts, Random Life Events, “What Has Changed Since We Left?” (a table used when the PCs return to a town or outpost they’ve visited before) and an Adventure Title Generator.

The SS&SS Addendum is a perfect example of a supplement that highlights its’ Core Book without changing the game’s strong points. There’s so much stuff you can use here that I can’t recommend it high enough – be it for SS&SS, Black Hack or other similar fantasy games.