Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Joy of Random Encounter Tables

Perhaps these woods and hills have more than 2d4 ogres in them? (Photo: stock art)

No referee should be without them- we all know that. But many might not realize that random tables can also be used for much more than simply adding an uncertain element of combat to one’s adventures. Not only can they help to provide encounters for those characters who happen to wander haphazardly away from your intended plot, but they can also bring an increased level of detail and realism to your game, for both players and you, the Almighty Referee, to experience.

In the process of playtesting Wyrd Ways of Walstock, I had the pleasure of using a number of random tables from Divinities and Cults: Volumes I & II. These tables are designed to be more than a mere ‘monster factory’ list of things wandering around for adventurers to stab to death. Instead, they allow characters to also experience such things as a change in the weather, wildlife that isn’t trying to kill them (right away), some notable landform, or other occurrence to make their trip more memorable. These are things that one might likely experience during a journey through the woods or hiking along a pleasant meadow, for example. But don’t worry: there are still plenty of encounters listed for the party to stab to death.

Like all random encounter tables, these not only make the game more interesting for the players, but also for myself too, as Referee. I always enjoy being pleasantly surprised with something unsettling and randomly determined to throw at the party, especially in a module that I was still writing and hadn’t had the time to detail every square foot of yet. And even better, when something did arise that was terrible for the party, it wasn’t really my fault, because it occurred at random.

And not just that, but these unique encounter tables help with guiding the plot too.  Their more universal range of possible experiences (weather, terrain, sights, etc.), as well as how they are organized by Divinity, allow mini-adventures to be built on the fly more easily. Thus, when adventurers are wandering around in a forest, far away from the place I want them to go, I can at least take solace in the fact that they are wandering around in a place sacred to Artemis, far away from where I want them to go.

That is the magic of random tables. And for yet more magic, here is part of a table I’m working on for Wyrd Ways, which involves a great deal of political intrigue in the form of everyone knowing everyone else in a small town. To use this table, roll on all three columns if the NPC is someone from the character’s family; only roll on the last two if the NPC and character might know each other another way.




Distant Relation



Third Cousin


Second Cousin


First cousin



Aunt or Uncle



Brother or Sister









Great or grand- (reroll 1d8)


Laid back

The full table will be released with Wyrd Ways of Walstock, coming this Spring.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Clerics of Frey (Part IV)

Illustration: Frederick Sander, 1893
of Skirnir, the original matchmaker

Cleric Spells (Freyr)

Clerics of Freyr have access to the following spells:

1st Level: Create Water (when near a field), Cure Light Wounds, Detect Evil, Light (with an appearance from Gullinbursti), Purify Food & Drink, Protection From Evil, Sanctuary, Charm Person*, Enlarge* (on one’s ‘sword’ only: see Fertile Ways results 12-13 for details), Divine Weather D, Entangle D, Faerie Fire D

2nd Level: Augury, Bless, Delay Poison, Holy Chant, Resist Fire (when mounted), Speak with Animal (boars and horses only), Rope Trick* (rope leads to the extradimensional galley of Skidbladnir instead)

3rd Level: Cure Blindness, Cure Disease, Prayer, Remove Curse, Striking (on swords and other pointy objects only), Tiny Hut* (as Rope Trick, above), Plant Growth D, Summon Animal ID (boars and horses only)

4th Level: Create Food and Water, Cure Serious Wounds, Divination, Neutralize Poison, Protection from Evil 10’ Radius, Blodughofi (as Dimension Door*, but requires cleric to be mounted), Enchant Arms (swords only), Summon Sylvan Beings D, Temperature Control D

5th Level: Cure Critical Wounds, Dispel Evil, Plane Shift (to Alfheim only), Distort Distance*, Gullinbursti (as Faithful Hound*, but is a phantom boar that can also cast Light at will), Commune with Nature D

6th Level: Find the Path, Heal, Summon Aerial Servant (can only be used to retrieve a suitable mate for the cleric, though making threats is fine too), Control Weather D

7th Level: Regenerate, Restoration, Magic Sword*, Skidbladnir (as Teleport*, but requires a folding ship model that can teleport up 12 individuals at a time or alternatively, transform into an actual sea vessel), Control Weather (greater) D

Fertile Field Encounters

Roll or pick to determine what one might find in such places sacred to Freyr.

Special Features (roll 1d8)
1. Magic Node (see Divinities and Cults, Volume II)
2. A nice well
3. Abundant crops
4. Especially fertile livestock
5. Unclaimed gold coins (1d20)
6. Potent Nature Spirit (see Divinities and Cults, Volume II)
7. Great sunbathing spot
8. Burial Mound

Folk (roll 1d6)
1. Swedes
2. Elves
3. Other Norse
4. Other humans
5. Attractive Giants
6. Unattractive Giants

Notable Wildlife (roll 1d6)
1. Boar
2. Horses
3. Weather change
4-6. Per Meadow Encounters (see Divinities and Cults: Volume I)

Events (roll 1d4)
1. Group Fertility Rite
2. Random spirit encounter (see Divinities and Cults: Volume II)
3. Wagon or Ship procession
4. Lovers in the fields

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Clerics of Frey (Part III)

Another masterpiece of Collingwood, drawn back during the Freyr revival of 1908. Oh, those were the days! 
See: even Fertility Gods can get lovesick, but not for long!

Fertile Ways

Divine Tests
1-3. To be fecund and prosperous, one needs to rest. The cleric must sleep for at least 1d3 hours. He will likely dream of fertile fields and finding an attractive giant wife.

4-7. Fruitful Acts. The priest of Freyr experiences a reduction in spells available (50% chance for each one) for the rest of the day. Roll 1d6 for each spell lost to determine what act the priest needs to engage in order to regain it before then: [1] work a new field, [2] lay with a new maiden, [3] assist some elves or Swedes, [4] gain 1d20 gold pieces, [5] view one’s surroundings from a high place, or [6] find either a burial mound or a wild boar.

8-9. Freyr declares that no maid must weep. The cleric is compelled to immediately find a woman to satisfy, a process taking a total of 1d20 hours, and a successful Charisma, Dexterity, and Constitution check once she is found. During this time, he can only use his spells for the ends of courtship and consummation, though he will luckily remain ithyphallic to increase his chances of success. Even followers of Tyr might agree that such is a noble task, though unless the cleric is a Vanir, his sister will not do.

10-11. All this fertility and maiden-sowing ultimately leads to family, or at least, it should. As Yngvi, Freyr founded lineages and so must the priest. He must now father a child, or if he already has children, then he can simply spend 1d6 hours with them instead. If away from both his children and any suitable, potential mates, then he must acquire 5d20 gold pieces instead. Otherwise, he will lose access to all his spells for the next 36 hours. One must earn the honor of being called a ‘Lord’, just like Freyr.

12-13. Though it might not be quite as big as Freyr’s, the priest’s ‘sword’ becomes much larger, granting a +2 bonus to all rolls relating to fertility and well-being, but also a -5’ speed penalty and -1 Dexterity penalty, due to it also being more cumbersome. What is more, every time the priest experiences this result, both the bonuses and penalties increase again by the same amount.

14-15. Froblot. Not everything about Freyr is smiles and sunshine. Sometimes a living sacrifice is needed for fertility to work, and one is needed now, especially a dark-colored one. Until the deed is done, the cleric cannot use any of his spells.

16-17. My Beli’s rumbling... A hill giant arrives to fight the priest. And though his allies might help, the priest can only use an antler to attack in this fight (with a -1 ‘to-hit’ rolls and does only 1d3 base damage). The giant remains for either 3d6 combat rounds or until either it or the priest has been slain.

18+ Someone has to go and woo Gerdr! The cleric must journey to retrieve her from Jotunheim. Such a journey takes 1 day per Fertile Ways result over 17 and causes 1d20 damage per day, due to outraged giant attacks, large hazards, and such, if the quest is not roleplayed. Alternatively, the cleric could send an emissary to go in his stead, like Freyr did with Skirnir, though he must then give him his sword and steed (if any) and can also cast no spells during that time. In either case, if the cleric or emissary survives, then the cleric can reuse his spells, sword, and steed again, and there is a 20% chance (+15% per Charisma bonus the cleric has) of returning with an attractive giant wife, one with amazing glittering arms. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Clerics of Freyr Part II)

picture by W.G. Collingwood, 1908: aren’t Gerdr’s glittering arms hot?

As god of fertility, Freyr grants healing, along with a little something something more.

1-3. Wooing Health: The healing may occur, but only after the patient gives up his or her most prized mount or weapon. It will be returned within 1d6 hour's time, or the patient can opt to have Skirnir take it permanently. In this second case, there is a 1% chance (+ 1% per Charisma bonus the patient has, if any) that Skirnir will return with an attractive giant spouse for the patient within 1d6 hours. Otherwise, there is a 10% chance of him returning with an unattractive giant spouse instead! Finally, if the patient has neither mount nor weapon to give, then the healing occurs without any side-effect.

4-5. Gullinbursti-ride: Like Freyr, the patient will need either to ride in a chariot, enjoy the sun’s rays, and/or bask in some other golden wealth for at least 1d20 minutes first, before receiving the healing, preferably with a boar present.

6-8. Fertile Tilling: The healing needs a little encouragement from the cleric before it can commence. Whether it be a field or a maiden, the cleric will need to lay plow for at least 4d6 minutes. Afterwards, the healing will occur and with double the effect, if the field or the maiden is either a giantess, elvish, or a Swede.

9-12. Blessing of Freyr: The recipient is automatically healed for the spell’s full amount. What is more, if he or she happens to have made love, received at least 3d6 gold pieces, or has interacted with either giants, magic boar, elves, and/or Swedes sometime during the last 12 hours, then he or she also gains a +2 bonus to all Saves for the next 1d12 hours, +6 if all three apply.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Clerics of Freyr (Part I)

Neutral God of Fertility, Well-Being, and Prosperity

Tenets of Freyr
* Spread fertility wherever you can, both in the folk and in the land
* Favor peace, only showing one’s war-prowess when necessary
* Let the bounty of life provide for you with joy and wealth
* Honor Elves and Swedes

Clerics of Freyr
Special: Clerics of Freyr are also known as priests, can be male or female, and often honor Freya too (see Divinities and Cults: Volume I)
Allowed Weapons: Sword, spear, dagger
Allowed Armor: None
Holy Symbol: Boar, Ship, Chariot, Phallus
Can Turn: None

Freyr Mysteries: Clerics of Freyr are so well-loved that all rolls made to harm them suffer a -1 penalty. They also gain a +2 bonus to a casting roll when engaged in matters of fertility or prosperity, up to once per day per level.

illustration: Johannes Gehrts, 1901

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Maurian Stats (The Maurians, Part III)

Maurian Greyshirt
No. Enc.: 2d8
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30’
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 (cudgel) or 1d6 (light crossbow)
Special: +2 to morale checks when under the direct command of a black hat
Save: F1
Morale: 8

The mass troops of Mauriatown, greyshirts need only their loyalty to the Leader and their humanity as requisite for their caste. Protected with little more than their uniform and sense of devotion, they can prove surprisingly resourceful and resilient when under proper command.

Maurian Black Hat
No. Enc.: 1d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30’
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2+1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d6 (crossbow pistol) or 1d8+1 (longsword)
Special: +1 to all rolls made against (non-human) humanoids
Save: F2
Morale: 12

The elite caste of Mauriatown, black hats are bred and selected for their strength, intelligence, and charisma- their other abilities are often superb, as well. Dressing much as Ancient watchmen in full uniform, they are an imposing sight to both ally and enemy alike. One can be sure that the black hats will be central to whatever task that the Leader may set, whether it be espionage, police action, security, battle, or other, special projects.

Maurian Blueshirt
No. Enc.: 2d4
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 25’
Armor Class: 6 or 4*
Hit Dice: 1+2
Attacks: 1 or 2*
Damage: 1d6+1 (short sword) or 1d8 (repeating crossbow)
Special: may attack twice per round with repeating crossbow or drop their crossbow to use a shield for better AC
Save: F1
Morale: 10

Mauriatown’s shock troops, the blueshirts are sent to where fighting might be fiercest, as well as to harden any vulnerable positions and locations.  Bred for strength and toughness, they have little to say, except to follow the commands of the Leader.

Maurian Wizard
No. Enc.: 1d3
Alignment: Neutral
Movement: 30’
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 2-1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d4 (torch)
Special: Can cast magic-user spells of a fire and light variety and cleric spells that espouse the glory of the Leader, Mauriatown, and purging  humanoids.
Save: M2
Morale: 9

Philosopher-Kings presaged by the Great Prophet Plat, Maurian Wizards are the masterminds behind founding, maintaining, and expanding Maurian society. Together they form the highest caste in Mauriatown, with the Leader as their pinnacle. Though the Wizards remain secretive to the extreme, their power and presence can be felt throughout that land, whether through potent ‘M’ symbolism, the Leader’s edicts, or not.

Gnomish Revolutionary Slaves
No. Enc.: 1d30
Alignment: Chaotic
Movement: 25’
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1-1
Attacks: 1
Damage: 1d2 (small knife) or 1d2 (rock)
Special: +1 to attack rolls vs. Maurians
Save: F1
Morale: 3

Though allowed to remain under Maurian protection, some gnomes tire of constantly having to toil in the fields and bow to Maurian passers-by. Instead, they sometimes go ‘Gnome-Crazy’ and begin to riot, set up ‘Revolutionary Gnome’s Committees’, and/or  flee to other lands. That such uprisings are almost never successful is well-gnome by all.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Maurian Encounters (The Maurians Part II)

While moving about Mauriatown ‘on official business’ can be relatively safe and easy, moving about Mauriatown while ‘not on official business’ isn’t. The area is heavily patrolled, not only to keep out invading monsters and humanoids, but also to suppress the work of spies from rival settlements, (especially Helltowne) as well as to keep down any pesky gnomish uprisings.

Mauriatown has a variety of area types to which the locals refer to as ‘Zones’. Though their land is often characterized as being dominated by ‘militaristic humans bent on killing all other races, each area demonstrates its own local flavor of that stereotype.

Mighty One Trail
The main thoroughfare of the Vale and therefore Mauriatown, many still travel this age old path, just as the Ancients did in centuries past. Though folk may no longer hurtle down the roads in their magic drive-cars, it remains a good trade route and method for adventurers to get to other lands quickly, even if it is only now via horse and foot.

1-3. 1d10 Foreigners from (roll 1d12):  1. Middlechest (a feudal monarchy), 2. Stephania (an amazon matriarchy), 3. Strass Hill (viking warbands), 4. Columba Furnace (dwarf miners and smiths), 5. Fjord Vallee (human noble savages), 6. Caelum Mount (Olympian human magocracy), 7. Monjaksen (undead-overrun society), 8. Narquay (Frankish nationalists), 9. Timber Fell (Celtic hamlet), 10. Madisonburg (cosmopolitan duchy), 11-12. Other (per Referee). Wherever they may hail from, foreigners have a base 85% chance of traveling on ‘‘official business’. (Helltowners are arrested on site, though they sometimes pose as folk from other lands while spying on Mauriatown- a 10% chance of any Foreigner encounter actually being the case)

4-7. Maurians (roll 1d12): 1-2. 1d4 Greyshirt Scouts, 3-5. 2d6 Greyshirt Farmers or Workers, 6-7. 3d6 Blueshirt Soldiers, 8-9. 3d4 Leader Scouts, 10-11. 1d4 Black Hat Constables, 12. 1d2 Secret Police (Black Hats disguised as other types of Maurians or Travelers)

8. Weather change or Notable view (per Referee)

Elder Pike and other roads that wind through Mauriatown
Use the following encounter matrix instead:

1. Foreigners
2-7. Maurians
8. Weather Change or Notable View

Despite being a major industrial power (at least for the Vale during this period of history), much of Mauriatown remains farmland.

1-2. Empty field (10% chance of Nature spirit, Ancestral spirit, or other being is present)
3-4. 1d10 Greyshirt farmers at work
5-6. 3d12 Gnome slaves with 1d4 Maurians supervising them

Clutch Houses
Following in the teachings of the Great Philosopher Plat, the Maurians do not have families per se. Instead, they are grouped together, based on the dictates of the Maurian Wizards, never really knowing who their real parents are. Such an arrangement certainly helps solidify citizens’ loyalty to Mauriatown, but also gives them somewhat of a sense of loss for never knowing a nuclear family. Children then forge close bonds with their clutch mates that include the same Caste (Greyshirts, Blueshirts, or Black Hats), as well as others they meet in the Leader Scouts that come from any Maurian Caste,

1-4. Greyshirt Clutch House (1d20 residents present)
4-5. Blueshirt Clutch House (1d20 residents present)
6. Black Hat Clutch House (1d10 residents present)

Town Holds
Including Old Mauriatown in the south, Brookstown further north, and Exitia to the west of that, these hamlets give Mauriatown the appearance of having a similar arrangement to other lands, though they are mainly locales for the manufacture of Maurian arms and other equipment, as well as fronts for the Maurian Secret Police, rather than being any actual social entities of their own.

1. Tavern
2. General Store
3. Smithy
4. Carpenter
5. Hopeful Mother (courtesan licensed to breed with fitting fathers)
6. Other (per Referee)

(Secret Bases)
Though they officially aren’t supposed to exist, a number of secret bases are rumored to be found throughout Mauriatown, offering anything from keeping their land on the cutting edge of arms, working their strange magic, and especially keeping their gnomish slaves in check. How else will they keep their society together?

1. Weapon development
2. Maurian Wizard Temple
3. The Leader’s Headquarters (one of many)
4. Secret Weapon (too secret to even describe)
5. Other (per Referee)
6. Gnomish torture black site (don’t ask!)

Coliseum Park
Once a great reserve of the Ancients, the Maurians have converted the place to a spectacle of blood and valor. Here the various castes of Maurian society can compete for the privilege of having the Leader wear their color as his uniform for a time (if he is so inclined, of course) not to mention practice using the more unusual Maurian weapons on each other. Rebellious gnomes can even attempt to win greater (temporary) rights in gladiatorial combat- a true extravaganza to behold..

1. Jousting with tank barded horses (yes)
2. Maurian dive-glider competition
3. Repeating crossbow ‘tag’
4. Foot race
5. Wrestling match
6. Gnomish Gladiatorial combat!