Saturday, April 29, 2017

Back to Whining... the State of the OSR... Again... and Simple Cantrips

For some reason at least once a year there is blowup followed by a ridiculous contest to determine what the OSR is and isn't. Rob Conley responds to this discussion better than I could. Check out his response. I agree 100%. We have a great thing going here. Digital tools and constant connectivity have given anyone the ability to create and publish. The only limiting factors are time and drive. I have the drive, but not the time... at least not for the next few years. I am just trying to keep this humble little blog up. It gives me a little space to rant, share some of the great buys I have made, and put some new things out there every once in a while. 

My last post promoted Wormskin 5 from Necrotic Gnome. And I just have to revisit this topic and say again that it is a great purchase. I want to point out that pages 12-15 feature a simple hex crawl system which when bolted onto either your own awesome map, or any randomly generated map (which is now your new awesome map) is a great procedural tool to simplify a DM's life while keeping hex travel interesting. I have basically printed these pages off and pinned them into my screen.

I also want to bring your attention to 2 new blogs which I am now following:

Drink Deeply of the Goatman's Goblet: An Old School style blog which has a dark-fey feel (like the Dolmenwood) to its content. So far I most like his posts about fantasy canine companions; there is also a boy adventurer class which seems like it could be kinda neat too.

Coins and Scrolls: Another OSR style blog which focuses more on D&D generally with some Star Wars thrown in for good measure. The blog features a series of posts that focus on different wizard specialists. There are some great ideas in these articles... especially the summoner. I may not use them in my game right out of the posts, but I am going to use these posts for some inspiration as I look at specialists in my own game.

Joesky Tax (...and now for something gameable!) D6 Cantrips for Magic-Users/ Specialists:

I love the simplicity of skills in older editions of D&D. At first they didn't even exist. Then they were something that was slowly added in bits and pieces and there were many approaches taken. One early method used to model racial skills/ abilities: simply rolling a d6 was, and still is, an easy way to come at it.

As I start looking at how magic is going "work" in my Boreal Bohemian Borderlands campaign, I want to have some way to include cantrips for MUs and specialists. I want wizards to be able to do the basics without putting themselves at risk as well as having a simple system for hedge magician NPCs to employ basic spells, rituals, and magical wards. Cantrips are basically like skills. These are the day-to-day bullshit things which a Sorcerer uses magic for while the rest of us schmucks have to get down on our hands and news and apply some physical effort and sweat.

Last year JB suggested using a d6 to represent magical skills as cantrips. It is simple and easy but still allows for successes and failures. I need magic to be Vancian in nature but at the same time it is not a 100% fire and forget thing. You have to work and train and et stronger over time.

The list of cantrips I am starting with mirrors JB's list. Players, feel free to come to me if you think your PC needs access to different cantrips. We can always add to the list.

The list:*
  1. Charm of Opening
  2. Dowse for Traps
  3. Ignite
  4. Premonition (detect creature/ presence)
  5. Revelation of Secrets (doors, etc.)
  6. Scent of Water
* See JB's post, linked above, for fuller cantrip descriptions. As a rule of thumb, ranges are in multiples of 10 feet multiplied by a factor of the character's level.

MUs, including specialists get 8 pips to apply to the cantrips listed above. Characters get 2 pips to add to their totals every time they advance a level in their magic using class. One's skill in any cantrip (measured in pips out of maximum of 6) can never be higher than the character's current casting class level plus 2.

Next Post: More shilling, plus Dwarves talking to rocks.


  1. Thanks for the heads up about Goatman's Goblet. I'd not encountered it before.

  2. I highly recommend putting together a family and friends convention.

    dallas seo consultant