Thrift's Infinite Cookie Generator

It's time to make some cookies.

To be perfectly clear, I'm fully expecting/hoping that you will actually bake these, with your own hands, using actual physical ingredients for consumption by real live human beings. I'm also not a very good baker and don't have any exact recipes I'd trust to share with you, so you'll have to find that yourself. But wild, near-heretical flavor combo ideas? That I've got.

Roll 1d6 times on the Ingredients table and use those flavors in your preferred cookie base. If you get repeats then double up on that flavor. If you want an even more random cookie, roll on the Type table too and use that to determine what sort of cookie base you'll be using.

You'll likely need to do some parsing to figure out exactly how the parts will fit together, but I have confidence in you.

Cookie Ingredients (d100)

1) Rosemary
2) Sage
3) Thyme
4) Lavender
5) Dill
6) Cumin
7) Marsala
8) Chili powder
9) Cayenne pepper
10) Black pepper
11) Mint
12) Rose
13) Jasmine
14) Violet
15) Hibiscus
16) Black tea
17) Early Grey
18) Green tea
19) Matcha
20) Chai
21) Anise
22) Fennel
23) Licorice
24) Cinnamon
25) Cardamom
26) Clove
27) Ginger
28) Nutmeg
29) Allspice
30) Caraway seed
31) Sesame seed
32) Poppy seed
33) Sunflower seed
34) Almond
35) Cashew
36) Walnut
37) Pecan
38) Pistachio
39) Hazelnut
40) Peanut
41) Peanut butter
42) Pine nuts
43) Macadamia
44) Coconut
45) Lemon
46) Lime
47) Orange
48) Raisin
49) Grape
50) Cherry
51) Apple
52) Blueberry
53) Fig
54) Date
55) Apricot
56) Raspberry
57) Cranberry
58) Blackberry
59) Elderberry
60) Strawberry
61) Banana
62) Pomegranate
63) Pear
64) Peach
65) Pumpkin
66) Marmalade
67) Jam
68) Cider
69) Sea salt
70) Cocoa powder
71) Dark chocolate
72) Milk chocolate
73) White chocolate
74) Vanilla
75) Coffee
76) Brandy
77) Rum
78) Amaretto
79) Whiskey
80) Honey
81) Maple
82) Caramel
83) Toffee
84) Praline
85) Butterscotch
86) Molasses
87) Fudge
88) Marzipan
89) Marshmallow
90) Dulce de leche
91) Buttercream
92) Ganache
93) Icing
94) Meringue
95) Cream cheese
96) Brown sugar
97) Crystal sugar
98) Powdered sugar
99) Shortbread
100) Oatmeal

Cookie Type (1d10)

1) Bar
2) No bake
3) Chewy
4) Crispy
5) Biscotti
6) Giant
7) Sandwich
8) Pressed
9) Rolled/cut
10) Raw dough*

Here are some that I rolled:

3/36,2,81/1 - Walnut maple-sage bars
2/8,73/3 - White chocolate chili chews
4/21,78,74,77/6 - Giant vanilla and anise with amaretto-rum
5/95,15,13,67,38/3 - Pistachio thumbprints with cream cheese and jasmine-hibiscus jam

They actually sound pretty good...

* Consuming raw eggs, yadda yadda. You're an adult, make your choices.

1d30 Casino Consternations

Like I wrote last post, casinos have major potential for chaos.

The tension and emotion of gambling, combined with the qualities of large crowds and whatever shenanigans brought the party to the casino, means something is going to happen. Might be something small and banal that only catches the party's attention for a moment, might be something that starts small but spirals out of control and engulfs the party, or it might be something massive that ends in tragedy for everyone.

Whatever form it takes, the chaos will be something a shrewd party can exploit, confront, or should have the good sense to run from.

1) Spilled drink
2) Chips or coins spilled on the floor
3) 52 card pickup
4) Table overturned
5) Rigged game or table
6) Unwarranted accusation of cheating
7) Warranted accusation of cheating
8) Caught a cheat red-handed
9) Loudly arguing couple
10) Crowd packed around a high-stakes game
11) Spectators commenting on games and players unfavorably
12) A very drunk VIP taking offense
13) Celebration over a win
14) Pickpocket
15) Creditor come looking to collect
16) Clandestine meeting in progress
17) Assassination attempt
18) Run into a rival
19) Run into an enemy
20) Mistaken for someone else
21) Recognized by someone inopportune
22) Security removing someone out the front
23) Security removing someone to the back room
24) Someone trying to outrun security
25) Security's closing in on you
26) Raided by the authorities
27) Brawl over [roll again]
28) Dueling challenge over [roll again]
29) Weapons drawn over [roll again]
30) Fire

Slot Machine Rules

Casinos are excellent locations to add into games. They're glamorous, there's tons of money changing hands, and people from every facet of society come to play and lose money at different speeds. It's a perfect venue for plots, surreptitious business deals, "chance" introductions, and other intrigue. There's also opportunities for everyday mayhem on the casino floor where emotions are running high.

Problem is, at some point the player are going to want to gamble. They might join a table to socialize with NPCs and make introductions or try to get information, but in that situation the actual gambling is usually handwaved and something that's happening in the background. I wanted a way to let my players have a real game of chance without having to break the flow of the session by pulling out a deck of cards and playing actual hands of poker or rounds of blackjack. (Also I'm very bad at cards and playing against me as the House and NPCs wouldn't be fun.)

The simplest solution was to adapt a game that has no dealer, no skill component, and is already designed to be played on impulse in real life: Slot machines.

Here's how it works:

The player makes their bet and rolls 3d8.

  •  If any die comes up 7, you get your bet back.
  •  On doubles win 2x your bet.
  •  On a sequence (1-2-3, 5-6-7, etc) win 3x your bet and another play.
  •  On triples win [that number]x your bet and 21 GP. (Ex: 5-5-5 = 5x the initial bet, plus 21 GP.)

Machines have a max payout of 100 GP at once. For larger prizes players have to find casino staff to collect the remainder.

Gem Valuation and Gemcutting Rules

Gems are a traditional treasure staple in RPGs for their "ooh shiny" factor and as a convenient, lightweight way to carry large amounts of cash. Problem is most people don't know that much about the minutia of gemstones, so unless you go out of your way to attach meaning to them a 30 GP agate ends up being the same as a 30 GP obsidian or a 30 GP ruby: A very pretty rock that's shorthand for a lump sum of money. There's none of the magic and wonder that should accompany finding jewels.

Here's what we can do to change that:

First, go do some research on gems. Don't just find a chart of birthstones and call it a day, do actual research on different minerals and what goes into producing and valuing cut gems. What's the difference between a ruby and a sapphire? Why do opals refract light into internal rainbows? Which sorts of cuts make gems sparkle and which show off their color?

Read, learn, be interested. If you're knowledgeable about a subject you can give much better descriptions of it and that will make your players more excited about their new rocks.

Next, step outside the list of gems everyone knows and give them something unorthodox. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and topazes are fine; but giving them a stone that's unusual will be more memorable. Throw a zircon at them, or a fistful of differently-colored beryls, a sunfire orange pearl, or a niche stone like a demantoid garnet. Make it weird, make it cool, and either describe the stone well or show them a picture of one to solidify what riches they've got.

Finally, unless the gem you're giving them is some mythic stone with a name and history of its own, don't describe it until after your players have had a chance to stop and roll dice to determine how much it's worth. Here's why:

- Letting the players roll to see how valuable each gem is makes it more meaningful. They're directly involved in determining their fortunes.

- Keeping the exact nature of the gems uncertain until the players have a chance to examine them makes it more exciting. There's a spirit of "What did we get?" that creates more impact than just being given a list of goods.

- Leaving the gems a mystery until the value is known lets you give a description with more teeth. The value of a gem doesn't just depend on what type of stone it is, it also depends on other details like how strong its color is and whether there are any cracks or inclusions in it. Once your players roll to see how much it's worth, you know the quality of that particular specimen and can tell what the stone actually looks like. A 100 GP aquamarine might be a gorgeous blue, but so full of inclusions that it's nearly opaque. Still a good stone, but not the best of its type. Meanwhile an 800 GP aquamarine looks like a perfect, sparkling drop of seawater made solid. Its only flaw is a tiny chip on the edge of a facet, barely noticeable. Both are the same type of stone, but that valuation makes a world of difference in how you describe it, so wait.

Now, how to assign values with rolls. I originally came up with these rules because I accidentally gave my players way, way too many uncut gems to individually value without some sort of system to make it fair and fast. (Something to the tune of 88,000. Oops.) It made for rules that are simple enough to be applied on a large scale, but also able to get granular if my players wanted to be specific with particular stones. It also assumes you're starting with raw uncut gem stock, something freshly mined or only roughly shaped for later faceting and polishing.

Uncut gem stock:

- Max value is 500 GP

- Roll 1d10 * 50 to determine value

- The type of gem is pure flavor and decided after a value is rolled. (I usually ask the players to give me a color, then I give them gems that are that color.)

Cut gems:

- Max value is 1000 GP

- Roll 1d10 * 100 for gems that are already cut, or the 2x the value of the uncut gem if you're giving it to an artisan for faceting.

- If more than one gem is cut from a single piece of raw gem stock, divide the GP value between the cut gems produced.

Ex: Raw stock = 400 GP * 2 = 800 GP. If 8 gems are cut from the stock, 800/8 = 100 GP each.

It takes an artisan 1 day to cut 1 gem in a traditional style. You need to pay them for their work and shop overhead each day. If you have them cut more than 1 gem from a piece of raw stock, it will take another day for each additional finished gem you request. (Because of the amount of money involved, I set daily rates for gemcutting at 10 GP/day per each artisan working and a 30 GP/day shop fee. It works out to be a noticeable but not ruinous portion of the profits, fair pay for the work the NPCs are doing.)

Unusual or custom cuts take longer (1d12+2 days) and require a specialized or highly skilled artisan. If you want to grind an emerald lens to be part of a magic scope to see into dimensions beyond your own, you need a master gemcutter; apprentices and journeymen just won't do. You'll also need at least one consultation and a detailed plan of exactly what's needed.

Findings: Only Humans

Back at the end of January I wrote about how there were only going to be humans in the new campaign I was about to start. No other humanoids, just humans. I outlined my reasons for the decision and sat back to see how it went.

Now, since an experiment is meaningless without results, here are my findings:

Humans are enough.

We've run 6 sessions so far and the absence of other humanoid species hasn't even been noticed. It's working out exactly as I hoped it would. Even the conceit of "humans still use the old languages from when other humanoids were around" is going smoothly and my players are managing to use it to their advantage.

The game's currently on hold on account of plague, but thus far I think the experiment has been a success.

Medicinal Amphibians

(Up from the depths crawls Penicillin Vol.3! Not only is it an early release, it's on sale. Go buy it, commune with it, absorb it into your being. This latest volume's almost twice as long as the last two and the unofficial theme is d r u g s, hallucination, and other altered states. The art is gorgeous. The material is system-agnostic and inspiring. It's incredible and you need it.)

Usually when you see a frog, toad, newt, or whatnot in fiction it's either of the "really generally poisonous" or the "gets you high" varieties. That's fairly realistic (because dosages are king in pharmacology), but I wanted more, so here's a suite of tables to generate medicinally useful amphibians of your very own! They're pretty self-explanatory, though you may need to look up some terms if you're not familiar with biology, ecology, and pharmacology. (Go wiki-walking! Learn! It's good for you!)

 While you're researching, here are some topics of interest when it comes to real-world amphibians (that can also be adapted for use in games):

 - Aposematism: Honest warning coloration on animals. It's often bright colors, but applies to any distinctive coloration or pattern that makes the creature conspicuous and says "go away" when you really should leave it alone.

 - Ecological indicators: Indicator species are plants and animals that are highly sensitive to changes in their habitat. When they're thriving, it's a good sign for the whole area. When they're declining, it's a sign that something's wrong and you need to sit up and take notice. Amphibians are often important indicator species because their highly permeable skin and water-reliant lifecycle makes them very vulnerable to pollution and disruption in their habitats.

 - The real-life toxins produced by amphibians in nature. They tend to fall into a similar band of nerve-disrupting chemicals and are absolutely fascinating.

 What's cool about these is that usually the amphibian doesn't produce the toxin itself. It gets it from its diet of other poisonous things (usually insects), either by sequestering the chemicals in their tissues or transforming them from a precursor chemical found in their prey to something even more toxic. If these amphibians are caught and kept, they'll gradually lose their toxicity because their diet in captivity doesn't contain the right chemicals. If they're raised in captivity and never eat a wild diet, they're not poisonous at all!

 This is why you have to adventure/quest for your medicinally valuable amphibians, they can't be farmed and still retain their potency. (Unless you create a free-range amphibian ranch, which sounds adorable.)

 Once you've finished reading about the delightful, mildly morbid world of poisonous amphibian toxicology, roll some dice!

 For some of the tables I've only given guidelines, it's up to you to fill in the details and make it work. Like the coloration table. If you roll "brilliant" it could be brilliant blue, red, orange, whatever so long as it's retina-searing and screams "do not eat!" Follow your heart and make something cool.

 (Remember! If you'd like to own these tables in a PDF or print format, along with all the excellent work from other contributors, go grab yourself a copy of Penicillin Vol.3.)


Type (d6)
1) Frog
2) Toad
3) Newt
4) Salamander
5) Axolotl
6) Caecilian

Size (d6)
1) Tiny - Fits on fingertip
2) Small - Fits on finger
3) Medium - Fits on palm
4) Large - Fits on whole hand
5) Huge - Need two hands to lift
6) Massive - Larger than a cat

Skin Texture (d8)
1) Smooth
2) Smooth
3) Smooth
4) Rough
5) Bumpy/warty
6) Wrinkly
7) Spiked/horned
8) Dendritic/lacy

Coloration (d10)
1) Dull/earth tones
2) Subtle
3) Bright
4) Brilliant
5) Iridescent
6) Metallic
7) Translucent
8) Achromatic/grayscale
9) Roll again x2
10) Roll again x3

Pattern (d12)
1) Solid
2) Countershaded
3) Zones/patches of color
4) Spots
5) Flecks of color
6) Mottled/camouflaged
7) Stripes
8) Single stripe
9) Characteristic symbol/shape (like a black widow's hourglass)
10) Mobile/changing (chromatophores)
11) Roll again x2
12) Roll again x3

Body Shape (d6)
1) Average proportions
2) Slender/skeletal
3) Beefy/solid
4) Round/chunky
5) Stubby limbs
6) Flabby

Potency (1d8)
1) Weak - Need 10 to affect 1 adult human
2) Moderate - Need 1 to affect 1 adult human
3) Strong - Need 1 to affect 5 adult humans
4) Dangerous - Need 1 to affect 10 adult humans
5) Lethal - Need 1 to affect 100 adult humans
6) Increases with exposure - Starts weak and gets 1 degree stronger each time it's used after until it's lethal
7) Decreases with exposure - Starts lethal and gets 1 degree weaker each time it's used after until it's weak
8) Placebo

Habitat (d12)
1) River
2) Pond
3) Marsh/wetland
4) Bog
5) Vernal ponds
6) Stagnant water
7) Forest floor/understory
8) Trees
9) Jungle/rainforest
10) Epiphytes
11) Prairie/grassland
12) Desert

Administered By (d20)
(H is harmless to the creature, NL is not lethal but stressful, and F is fatal to it)
1) Skin contact (H)
2) Hold to an open wound (H)
3) Press to eyeball (H)
4) Lick it (H)
5) Soak it in oil and mix the oil into food (H)
6) Sit in a sweat lodge/sauna with them and breathe the steam (H)
7) Run on gums/under tongue (NL)
8) Just hold it in our mouth for a while, then spit it out (NL)
9) Wash it in alcohol and drink the tincture (NL)
10) Blotting paper (NL)
11) Eat it (1 whole, 2 raw, 3 dried, 4 powdered) (F)
12) Pills (F)
13) Mixed into tea or broth (F)
14) Snort it (F)
15) Smoke it (1 dried whole, 2 powdered, 3 mixed with resin, 4 shredded) (F)
16) Cut out the parotoid glands and squeeze into eyes (F)
17) Render down the skin, put drops of the liquid in boiling water and breathe the steam (F)
18) Render down the skin, apply liquid to a skewer/needle and stab the patient (F)
19) Roll again x2, the second method is less effective (1 lower potency)
20) Roll again x3, the second method is more effective (1 higher potency), the third method is lethal

Toxin Effect (d60)
1) Analgesic/numbing
2) Anesthetic
3) Sedative
4) Soporific/hypnotic
5) Serenic (decreased aggression)
6) Choleric (induces aggression)
7) Oneirogen (dream producing)
8) Narcotic
9) Hallucinogenic - Psychedelic
10) Hallucinogenic - Dissociative
11) Hallucinogenic - Deliriant
12) Stimulant
13) Depressant
14) Orexigenic (appetite stimulant)
15) Anoretic (appetite depressant)
16) Emetic
17) Laxative
18) Vasodilator
19) Vasoconstrictor
20) Hemorrhagic
21) Anticoagulant
22) Coagulant
23) Antipyretic (fever reducer)
24) Anti-inflammatory
25) Antihistamine
26) Diuretic
27) Contraceptive
28) Conceptive
29) Aphrodisiac
30) Anaphrodisiac (decreases libido)
31) Immunosuppressant
32) Vertigo (balance disruptor)
33) Irritant/inflammatory
34) Capsaicin analog (just pain/burning)
35) Menthol analog (chemical frostbite)
36) Blistering/caustic
37) Necrotic
38) Neurotoxic
39) Antibacterial
40) Antifungal
41) Antiviral
42) Antiparasitic
43) Antimiotic (disrupts cell division)
44) Paralytic
45) Hyperactive nerve conduction (seizure, paralysis, heart attack)
46) Hypoactive nerve conduction (peripheral nerve signaling blocked, paralysis, suffocate)
47) Antispasmodic
48) Muscle relaxant
49) Anxiogenic (increases anxiety)
50) Increased suggestibility
51) Induces insomnia
52) Eugeroic (promotes wakefulness)
53) Nootropic (enhances memory/thought)
54) Euphoriant
55) Entheogen (induces spiritual experiences)
56) Roll again x2
57) Roll again x3
58) Roll again x4
59) Roll again x5
60) Placebo

What is O5R?

A while back I was talking about how I like 5e, but run it in an O5R way, and was asked "What's O5R?" Turns out that's a perfectly reasonable question because, despite running all my 5e games in the style, I had a hard time pinning down an actual set of rules/rulings and changes that make an O5R game different from vanilla 5e.

I've given it more thought and come up with an answer.

O5R isn't a distinct system, and it's not 5e that's been houseruled into something unrecognizable. It's 5e mechanics lightly molded and paired with the DM style and decisions to create an old-school feel at the table.

So what does that actually look like? The first, most important differences are:

1) Ignore balance.

Challenges don't scale to the PCs' abilities. There are real dangers confronting them and no guarantee that an encounter will be level appropriate. Your players should have to learn to judge if a situation is too dangerous for them, and if it is, to run away.

You should still at least check a creature's CR to see how dangerous it is, but don't treat it as the deciding factor in whether to use a monster or not.

2) Cut out all the standard D&D/WotC lore.

Keep the D&D IP creatures if you want (I love owlbears and rust monsters), but the setting lore gets pitched. No Faerun, no Sword Coast, no Underdark, etc. Can you have an ocean with pirates? Of course! A winding subterranean realm underlying nearly the entire world filled with unspeakable monsters? I'd be disappointed if you didn't! Just make them your pirates and your lightless underground hellscape.

Don't include things just because The Lore says they exist, and don't hesitate to bring out the gonzo. Throw true weirdness into the mix for your setting, give it some wondrous and bizarre style.

(The corollary to this is you have to explain it to your players clearly. Present them with the important setting details so they can make meaningful choices based on the conditions in the world you've made. Do this before the game starts, at session 0 at the very least, to give them plenty of time to ask questions and understand.)

3) Don't let the PCs start bogged down by a lot of backstory. 

Starting characters should be mostly formless. A basic personality and a handful of details like hometown, family business or previous profession, and a like, dislike, or goal is plenty. Let the rest emerge through play and the characters develop instead of coming to the table as an established entity with a specific build in mind.

(Do make sure your players have their characters take a background in the game mechanic sense though. That's a sizable chunk of their abilities. They can reflavor the backgrounds however they like.)

After you've done that, address the more mechanical aspects:

A) Good plans don't roll. 

If players do something clever or come up with an unorthodox plan that might work, reward them. They've done a good job. Their plan works without needing to roll for it. At the very least it should give them a partial success, positioning them to succeed later or to have an advantage in their current situation.

B) Move the focus away from combat.

This ties into ignoring balance because combat is more dangerous now and usually the worst option in a situation. Give players ways to solve their problems beyond "sword." A good way to do it is to put the focus on exploration. Have the PCs go out into the unknown and face obstacles that they literally can't fight. Rockfalls, deep chasms or cliffs, weather, crumbling structures, etc. Present them with things they need to work through or find ways around instead of a band of goblins that'll only slow them down for a few minutes.

There will still be some combat, but you don't need to change any rules or tweak death save mechanics to make it more lethal. You just need to make enemies smart. Have them use tactics, teamwork, have goals to achieve beyond plain slaughter, use the environment to their advantage, and care about their own lives. Sometimes the PCs have to retreat to survive, sometimes it'll be the enemies who cut and run; but it'll only take a few encounters with competent, coordinated enemies to teach your players that combat's not the default reaction and should be avoided if possible.

C) Homebrew! 

Throw your own stuff into the mix, but don't alter the player-facing mechanics. Instead of trying to lop off sections of the system or make radical changes to basic rules, have your homebrew material add to the existing game.

Pay attention to what the players are interested in and create spells and items that play on that. What you make doesn't have to be powerful, just interesting. For example, when my players fought and slew a bus-sized magically mutated scorpion they asked if they could harvest the chitin to make armor. Of course, they could! (I'm so proud of them.) They took some, dragged it back to town, and found someone to work it into gear. The finished armor had the same stats as a breastplate plus a little magic resistance. Not an exceptionally powerful magical item, but better than what they had and cool to them because of the origin.

Same goes for rules. Listen to what the players want to do and find a way to make it happen. The same group of players found several statues and wanted to try auctioning them off, hoping to get more money than they would with a direct sale. So I made auction rules that leave the exact amount of profit up to luck and keeps the party engaged in a mini game.

Whatever you decide to add, be sure it makes the game more fun and the world more wondrous instead of just harsher.

That's mostly it. Also for consideration is:

- Non-standard treasures and loot. Go beyond coins, gems, and magic items. Give out rare plants, harvested monster parts, spell components, and just generally bizarre artifacts that are maybe valuable, maybe powerful, but definitely intriguing.

- Magic is weird. Represent magic as the distortion of reality and entropic strain on time that it is. Encourage players to reskin the existing D&D spells to better suit their characters. Create new ones. Make it abberant and unsettling.

- Characters are beloved, but expendable. Make sure your players know their choices have consequences and you won't shield their characters. Also, let them retire their characters and make new ones if they want.

TL;DR O5R relies mostly on the DM's choices and flexibility to step away from vanilla 5e. They need to put in the thought and effort to apply basic old school concepts in how they run the game and make a world that's both engrossing and incredibly dangerous.

The price for my help is...

Do not deal with the fae.

Their values are incomprehensible and prices disproportionate. Their bargains are vague, riddled with loopholes, and held to the exact letter of the agreement, spirit be damned. Their power lets them claim the otherwise inviolable intrinsic properties of things, so with an incautious word you can accidentally barter away shards of your selfhood. And you're not getting them back.

Do not deal with the fae. It's folklore rule number one.

So when your players decide to deal with the fae, here's a d30 list to decide what it will cost them. I tried to leave each item vague enough to allow for classic loophole/"exact words" shenanigans from both sides, and to give hasty adventurers plenty of opportunities to doom themselves. If your players are clever, they might come out unscathed, maybe even better off. If they rush headlong into a deal without taking the time to determine exactly what they're promising, hit them with the full fairy tale treatment. Each possible result has a range of interpretations from whimsically innocent to horrifically inhuman.

The price for my help is...

1) A memory (happy, painful, inspirational, formative, childhood, forgotten)
2) A name (of my own, yours, your enemy's, my enemy's, your love's, a stranger's, a hero's, a god's)
3) A favor (small, large, specific, unspecified)
4) A dream
5) A surprise
6) A gift
7) An answer
8) A child
9) Your opinion
10) Your cooperation
11) Your company
12) Drink with me
13) Join me for a meal
14) Accept this small token…
15) Carry a message to…
16) Bring me…
17) Find (someone, something, a place, information)
18) Entertainment (riddle, song, story, game, wager, dance, combat, hunt)
19) What's most important
20) What's least important
21) Praise
22) Service (day, month, year, unspecified)
25) HAIR
26) EYES
27) BONE
30) Kill...


Roscoe is an exceptionally large mastiff. He's not very bright and is terrified of loud noises (like combat), but he's very gentle and loyal. No one owns Roscoe. He's his own dog, but he'll stay with the party through any hardship. Roscoe loves belly rubs and pets, thinks he's a lap dog, and he will slobber on you. 

Canecorsodog (en.wikipedia) bearbeitet von Caronna 12:25, 6 February 2008 (UTC) [CC BY-SA (]

"Good boy"

Roscoe's solid presence and encouraging boofs give an advantage to saves against fear. He won't fight but he'll stand by and bark supportively. He won't let himself be hit by enemies and he won't abandon his people. 

"What's wrong, boy?"

His keen senses let him detect threats and alert friends with a warning boof. The party can't be ambushed while Roscoe is with them. If there's an opportunity to hide, the party can use Roscoe's warning to prepare and get a surprise round against approaching enemies.

"Roscoe? What are you eating? What's in your mouth?! Roscoe! Spit it out!"

Roscoe has a habit of rooting around and scarfing down random things. Occasionally he throws them back up. When the party stops for a rest or runs into an obstacle there's a 40% chance Roscoe will throw up something unlikely, but useful, he's eaten. It will be completely spit-covered. 

Unlikely-But-Useful Things (d12)
1) Ring
2) Marbles (small pouch of 10)
3) Folding pocket knife
4) Pocket first aid kit (waterproof)
5) Chalk (box of three sticks)
6) Wax paper (smells like meat/cheese)
7) Key
8) Small coil of wire (3')
9) Coin
10) Gem
11) Stoppered glass vial (oil, water, holy water, alcohol, empty, unknown potion)
12) Cake of beeswax

Roll one D12 to see if the item is:
1 - 6 Mundane
7 - 10 High quality or made with precious materials
11 - 12 Magic

When bringing up an item, Roscoe makes audible horking noises that may alert nearby creatures.

(Roscoe is originally from an item I contributed to a list of d30 followers in the OSR discord.)


I made a new system!

It's a lightweight, flexible skeleton ruleset that's easily adapted to any setting. Runs on a d4 dice pool, because the d4 doesn't get enough love. 

Get the PDF now here. It's free!

An Experiment

Last Thursday I took over DMing for my long-running in-person game group. We'll be starting this Thursday with a fresh 5e campaign and I'm going to try something that I've not done before: An all human setting.

This world will have no humanoids except humans. Not as playable races or monsters. None.

There were once elves, dwarves, orcs, etc; and there are still humans with maybe 1/32 or 1/64 non-human ancestry, but currently there aren't any full-blooded humanoids around except humans.

The humans don't know exactly what happened to them. Some species had mysterious slow declines, others just vanished. Whatever happened, it wasn't a war or human action. (And that's true, not just human historical revision.)

Humans still use the other species' languages (with linguistic evolution over time) as everyday languages. It's a cultural artifact from when the other humanoids were around and is treated normally. A human's first language might be dwarvish or gnomish or ettin, it all depends on where they grew up.

My goal with this is to:

1) Avoid fantasy stereotypes. If a player wants their character to be a cheerful farmer-turned-reluctant-adventure who loves good food, great! They certainly can, but they'll be playing it because they want to, not because they're a hobbit halfling and that's what Tolkien said they're like.

2) Avoid fantasy racism. If two characters have a beef, it'll be over their deeds, not because one's a dwarf and one's an elf. (This could really be item 1.1)

3) Let the characters have equal experiences of terror. Everyone will be spooked by the things prowling in the dark. Everyone will be exhausted after being on the run for days and unable to sleep. There won't be the one elf with darkvision who can see just fine and doesn't need to sleep so they're fresh as a daisy.

4) Let there be mysteries. The mysteries of the past, magic, and the underpinnings of the world are actually unknown. Lost to time or only vaguely recalled in folklore, not a living part of an active contemporary culture. You can't pop back home to Elfington and ask your grandma what words were used to sing the world tree into being at the dawn of time, you need to adventure to learn it.

I'm curious to see how it turns out. The probabilities that it'll go as intended or mutate into something bizarre seem about equal; and it'll likely take a few sessions before I can get a solid idea of how my players will respond to the idea. My suspicion is that it'll be more of an exercise for me in remembering to not reflexively add dwarves (it's a habit) and that my players will adapt just fine.

1d20 Reasons the Squirrel Broke Into Your House

1) Deeply confused
2) Just incredibly high
3) *chittering noises*
4) It knows you have cashews
5) It knows you have an N64
6) For snuggles and scritches
7) Wanted to ride on the roomba
8) Something about injustice and the cruelty of automobiles
9) On a dare
10) As a distraction
11) To deliver a dire warning
12) On a mission from your arch enemy
13) Drunk on fermented pumpkins
14) You left the window open
15) You've been feeding it
16) You live in a tree
17) Stubbornly insists you're the squirrel and this is its house
18) Rabies! :D
19) You know why, don't pretend
20) No reason :3

Kilodungeon Definition

One of the things I like most about the OSR is how often old tropes are tossed by the wayside. Ask folks what a gnome is* and watch how many different answers you get. That said, I also like solid definitions. Having a clear category with specific criteria so I can say [a term] and whoever I'm talking to knows exactly what I mean. It makes exchanging ideas easier because everyone is already on the same page.

It's especially useful when describing game materials. Knowing that something is a megadungeon gives me specific information about scale, play style, how much of a commitment is required to use it (either as intended or hacked), and how much game time and enjoyment my players will get out of it.

Photo by PtrQs [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

Right now the terms I see used most often to describe dungeon sizes are:

One-page dungeon: Compact. Quick, light, and easy to use. Will probably get a session out of it, maybe two.

Microdungeon: A few rooms, maybe more than one floor. Quick to prep and run, but probably at least two sessions worth of stuff. Good for a site in a hex crawl.

Dungeon: The standard unit of adventuring space. Needs at least one read-through before running it, two if you're a conscientious DM. It's got multiple levels, plenty of rooms, maybe a distinct ecology of its own, and loot. Sweet, sweet loot. It's large enough to keep a party occupied for multiple sessions, but eventually they'll clean it out and move on.

Megadungeon: This place is your whole campaign. It's a world unto itself, an endless roil of brick, stone, and earthen chambers burrowing ever deeper. If you are lost inside, you'll never emerge. If by luck you find one of the scattered enclaves of safety and life, your descendants will grow never having seen the sun. A megadungeon is a huge commitment for both the DM and the players. Your game is here. You're exploring this endless maze and not going anywhere else. Granted, megadungeons tend to have a lot of variety in the form of factions, different underground ecosystems, and magically warped areas. It's still a lot. [Public domain]

The jump from manageable, discrete dungeon to sprawling, bottomless megadungeon is too extreme; especially when compared to how close in scale one-page and microdungeons are to the dungeon. It's more than a logarithmic step up in scope. We need something in between.

So we have the kilodungeon. A neat, logical step from the main dungeon unit to the mega-.

Let's define it. There's a lot of range between dungeon and megadungeon to cover, so we should give kilodungeons a distinct size/complexity band to fall into. Make it clear where they exist instead of leaving them in a gray haze of being either a massive dungeon or a tiny megadungeon.

The criteria required to be a kilodungeon is:

  • 5 to 7 levels
  • Multiple paths between levels
  • At least 12 rooms/areas per level
  • At most 60 rooms/areas per level
  • Multiple exits
  • A single cohesive theme

So the bare minimum needed to be considered a kilodungeon is 5 levels, 60 rooms, and 2 exits. The maximum possible while still in the range is 7 levels, 420 rooms, and as many exits as you can shake a stick at.

How did I come up with these numbers and requirements?

The level and room counts: I thought about the relative sizes and complexities of the dungeons I've run/been run through and aimed to have the amount of stuff in an average dungeon be roughly equal to one level of a kilo dungeon.

For example, Skerples' Tomb of the Serpent Kings is a solid-sized dungeon. It has 3 levels, 52 keyed rooms/locations, and 4 exits. Ignore the levels and flatten it down into 52 rooms, then make an area like that into 1 level out of 5 to 7. That's the step up in size I'm looking for when going from dungeon to kilodungeon.

The number of levels came from 1) looking at how many levels a dungeon usually has (1 to 3 is what I've seen most, sometimes 4) and wanting to go beyond that, and 2) just being realistic with my upper bound. Once you pass 7 levels or 420 rooms, it might as well be a megadungeon.

The multiple paths and exits: That's just good design. Can you imagine how boring a completely linear delve would be on this scale? Ye gods.

Also kilodungeons are large, but you can find your way out of them eventually. If you die or disappear in a kilodungeon, it's because you fell foul of a monster, trap, or your own poor planning; not because you had to settle down and make a life there after getting lost. It would be like deciding you live at the mall now because you forgot where you parked your car.

A single cohesive theme: The way I see it, a kilodungeon is a distinct, purpose-built structure. It has a specific role or job it was created to fulfill and it does that and only that. The role might be a necropolis, a stronghold, a mine, a magical research facility, whatever. The important thing is that the whole place is dedicated to its single purpose.

Megadungeons can have a wildly varying patchwork of interlocking cities, biomes, and architectural styles that make them feel like underground worlds. You won't find that in a kilodungeon. Kilodungeons have their own distinct flavor and stick to it.

Apart from size, that stylistic difference is what distinguishes a kilodungeon from a megadungeon in my eyes. When something is on the boundary between the two, ask yourself "How much is going on here? Is there one main theme?" If yes, it's a huge kilodungeon. If no, it's a small megadungeon.

0x010C [CC BY-SA 4.0 (]

*For the record gnomes are 12 foot tall, spindly, fungal beings with leathery skin that eat primarily tar. They are usually very well-spoken and famous for their complex, regionally varied tea culture. You can find them pretty much anywhere, but they're good at hiding, which is strange for something 12 feet tall that smells like hot tar and Earl Grey.