PARS FORTUNA Complete Rules Are Go!

I’ve doggone gone and done it – PARS FORTUNA is up for sale. I’m nervous as hell about this one – so many more “moving parts” than the NOD magazines. If any errata come up, I’ll post it on the site as a free download, of course. Fortunately, Lulu is running a sale right now – 20% off anything with the coupon code DONE305 at checkout.

And don’t forget to pick up a PARS FORTUNA t-shirt – ’cause, you know, metal apes on t-shirts are all the rage these days.



A review has appeared at Geordie Goes Gaming!

The basic rules were given a thorough review at Aeons & Augauries by JD Jarvis.


So, I’m still waiting for one piece of art before I can publish the complete rules to PARS FORTUNA – hopefully it won’t be much longer, but I’ve seen a preliminary of the art and it is worth waiting for. Anyhow – missing that art doesn’t keep me from posting the free download of the basic rules, a link to which can be found HERE, or on the free downloads page (see above and to the right).

I’ve had a blast writing these rules, trying to take a randomly generated bunch of races, monsters and treasures and making them (sorta) make sense. There are some alternate rules to try out and hopefully people who play old school rules (or new school) can find something worthwhile for their game.

If all goes well, the Complete Rules will soon be available on The print book should go for $15, the PDF for $7. The Complete Rules will contain 12 race-classes, over 120 spells new to the old school, 120 new magic items, 140 new monsters, new magic rules, alternate rules for combat, equipment and encumbrance, rules for skills and knacks (i.e. a very simple skill system), a sample sandbox setting, a sample 1st level dungeon and general conversion notes for other old school rules – including adventurer, magician and warrior classes for folks who prefer to separate race from class. All packed into about 120 pages.

For now, check out PARS FORTUNA: Basic and let me know what you think.

UPDATE: I’ve incorporated some corrections suggested by JD Jarvis of Aeons & Auguries (and he wrote a review of the basic rules) and Gonster of Attack Plan R, one of the erstwhile followers and friends of the blog. All the links now point to the updated document.

PARS FORTUNA Preview – Weapons and Armor

Here are the pages I’m using to illustrate the basic weapon and armor types in PARS FORTUNA. Telecanter is doing something very similar on his blog.



Today I’m adding a few more monsters to PARS, working on the mini-sandbox and level 1 dungeon that are included with the rules, writing more encounters for Western Venatia (I’ll probably post a few tonight) and getting some work done on Hexcrawl Classics #2 – The As-Yet Unnamed Region that Might End Up Having “Badger” Somewhere in the Title. It feels good to be productive.

PARS FORTUNA Playtest Time

So, the old band got together last night to do a play test of PARS FORTUNA. It was fun, and generally I was happy with the results. A few take aways:

1. The olvugai (the tentacled critter to the right) was the belle of the ball. Dubbed “the potato”, he was the focus of most of the one-liners, i.e. pushing into the middle of a band of nizzertits (the kobolds of Pars Fortuna) so that he could attack to the front and back was termed a “classic potato maneuver”, the olvugai’s heavy armor was described as tin foil, “of the nizzertits show up with sour cream and chives, watch out”, “hand me my angry eyes”, etc.

2. Pars Fortuna is definite old school and my group is not really old school – the lack of combat bonuses for the warriors at first level (or second level) took a few people by surprise, and despite a gentle nudge, henchmen were rejected. Of course, henchmen were sounding better after the first TPK.

3. Oh yeah – I needed to adjust the wandering monster numbers – a large group of wandering nizzertits caused the TPK, and a later band of wandering osks came close to pulling a second. Easy adjustment.

4. The combat system worked very well, and everybody liked it. I was especially pleased with that. The special maneuvers system was also well liked (i.e. declare a special attack, make your roll at -2 to hit, if you hit AC normally, you do damage, if you beat AC by 4 or more, you do your special maneuver).

5. Tweaking the magic system a little, primarily in the random consequences of trying to cast more spells than normally allowed.

So, a few tweaks, but nothing too major. The other happy news is that I finished writing the last 24 magic items today. The game rules are now finished – 12 new race/classes, 100 new monsters, 120 new magic items, 100 converted spells new to Old School gaming and alternate rules for spell casting, combat procedures and weapons and armor. Now I just need to do a bit more editing, write a quick sample dungeon level and small wilderness hexcrawl and do an appendix with some conversion notes for other old school games, and PARS FORTUNA is ready to be published

Pars Fortuna Preview – 12 Magic Armors

For PARS FORTUNATM, I wanted to do something slightly different with magic items. To that end, I kept the concept of potions and scrolls (in a slightly tweaked format), but I decided to make all other magic items unique. I’ve used the treasure system in Swords and Wizardry quite a bit in producing my NODTM sandboxes, and so I knew that magic items in Swords and Wizardry are, by the rules, rare enough that unique magic items should work. After all, if the magic items in PARS FORTUNATM were not unique, it would have been pretty tricky to randomize them. Here, then, is the master magic item table, and the items in the Armor category.


1 Armor
2 Bauble
3 Cube
4 Raiment
5 Shield
6 Staff
7 Sword
8 Weapon – Melee
9 Weapon – Missile
10 Miscellaneous

Most magical armor carries an enchantment of +1 to +3. This bonus applies to the wearer’s AC, thus +1 light armor would give one a +3 bonus to AC rather than the usual +2 bonus. Magical armor resizes itself to fit its owner perfectly.


1 Hospitaler’s Helm
2 Ymbrym’s Bulwark
3 Champion’s Cuirass
4 Armor of Orth
5 Sollerets of ESP
6 Scales of Faduz
7 Hoden’s Mail
8 Crusader’s Breastplate
9 Gauntlets of Kriusaichon
10 Ruby Scales
11 Zena’s Robe of Spells
12 Emperor’s Armor

Armor of Orth: Orth was a kyssai scoundrel who have his life protecting a village from raiders. His armor was blessed by his heroism, and has long been lost by the champion of that forgotten village. Orth’s armor is a suit of leather armor (+1 light armor), the breastplate being stamped with a cornucopia. When the right fist is held aloft, the armor glows with light as bright as a torch. When the left fist is held aloft, the wearer and his comrades are immune to mind effects.

Champion’s Cuirass: Forged by the ilel and then lost during one of their many wars, this blue-steel cuirass is +1 medium armor and creates a 10-ft radius zone of magic resistance (10%) around the wearer.

Crusader’s Breastplate: This breastplate is washed in gold and has crimson leather straps. It counts as +2 medium armor and allows the wearer to control flames, making them brighter, snuffing them out, or causing them to leap at targets (treat as missile attack, 1d6 damage). The wearer gains a +2 bonus to save vs. fire.

Emperor’s Armor: This suit of plate armor is made of silvered steel, and the breastplate is marked with a noble crest of a hhai rampant. Owned by an ancient emperor of Vex, it was lost during the coup of the ilel, and it is prophesied that the person who will overthrow the ilel will come wearing this armor. Volzaar’s armor allows the wearer to fly (movement of 12), and the owner of the armor does not age. In daylight, it can be commanded to dazzle all in sight (saving throw allowed to negate the effect) once per day.

Gauntlets of Kriusaichon: These black boiled leather gauntlets allow the wearer to make a level drain attack with their touch. Treat this as a normal melee attack. Each time a level (or Hit Dice) is drained, the wearer permanently loses 1 point of charisma, their appearance becoming more ghoulish and unwholesome.

Hoden’s Mail: The famed olvugai adventurer Hoden wore this expansive coat of mail. The mail acts as +2 heavy armor and, on the wearer’s command, casts the spell Invulnerability.

Hospitaler’s Helm: This conical steel helm gives its wearer the ability to heal 2d6 points of damage with a touch once per day. The wearer, unfortunately, is struck with deafness while wearing the helm.

Mail of Ymbrym: Ymbrym was an olvugai smith of the highest order and arrogance. The coat of mail that reaches to the ankles and shines with an inner fire. It is +1 heavy armor and grants the wearer immunity to magical ranged attacks of level 1 to 3 (i.e. cantraps). Unfortunately, the wearer becomes an overbearing know-it-all while in the mail.

Ruby Scales: This +3 medium armor is composed of crimson-tinged scales of metal on a leather backing. On the chest, the armor is bejeweled with three perfect rubies that blaze with an inner fire. These rubies enable the wearer of the armor to cast three Maledictions. As Malediction is cast, a ruby loses its sheen. When all three have been cast, the armor disappears.

Scales of Faduz: Forged by the infamous osk smith Faduz, this +2 medium armor of lacquered black metal with gilded edges allows the owner to shape shift into the form of a beast. The chosen form cannot have more Hit Dice than the wearer of the armor. It has the side effect of making the wearer look more bestial.

Sollerets of ESP: Sollerets are, basically, armored shoes. This pair is made of steel and has long, pointed toes. The wearer of the sollerets gains the ability to read people’s minds, but each time this power is invoked, they develop a painful, ugly boil on their face. These boils effectively lower the wearer’s charisma by 2, and last for 1d6 days.

Zena’s Robe of Spells: Zena was a magician of olden times, claimed by all the magical races as one of their own. Her robe is made of thick leather, and acts as +3 light armor. Once per day, the wearer can cast any spell of a level equal to or lower than their Hit Dice.

PARS FORTUNA Election ’10 Results

A week ago I announced that I was going to commission a piece of monster art from Russ Nicholson. The question, of course, was which monster. I introduced these five candidates …

1. Fiend: A scaly demon carrying a barbed spear and sticking out a long, wavy tongue.

2. Meagle: Stunted piskie, looks like a cross between a hedgehog and gnome with bat wings; carry nets woven from human hair.

3. Nine: Humanoid otter with four beady eyes; carries a long knife and/or sling; quaff mystic beer; extremely quick.

4. Eight-Headed Creeper: Weird creatures with eight jabberwocky-ish heads on long necks, clawed feet, long arms with long, nimble fingers and large, bat-like wings.

5. Bounder: Giant bipedal grasshoppers wielding military forks and chakram.

And in the best democratic tradition put it up to a vote. It was a hard-fought contests, with two candidates, Eight-Headed Creeper and Meagle, leaping ahead in the polls and Bounder playing the role of third party spoiler. Well, the votes from comments and e-mails are in and tallied and the contest went to Eight-Headed Creeper. And to be honest, I’m kinda happy about that. The Creeper and me, we have a little history.

It had to be six or seven years ago. I was sitting in front of the computer, tapping away at the keys working on something RPG related, when my daughter scurried in to see what dad was up to. She had to be four or five at the time. I think at the time I was probably fooling around with converting lots of old monsters to a Castles and Crusades format (my system at the time), because she announced that she wanted to make up a monster. I suggested she start out with a drawing and she went to it, producing this little gem.

“Well, what is this monster called?”, I asked, and she thought about it for a minute and came back with “Eight Headed Creeper”.

“What does it do?”, I asked.

“It sneaks around and steals gold from people”

“What is is like? How does it behave?”

“It is scary, but it usually runs away from fights.”

So, I kept asking questions, and did my best to translate her Creeper into a monster, which is now going to show up in my own little RPG and is going to be illustrated by my favorite monster artist. Neat how things work out, isn’t it?

Oh, and my daughter thanks those who voted for her Creeper. If PARS FORTUNA sells well enough, the Meagle is next on my list for a monster commission.

Today I’m putting a little more work into Western Venatia, but I’m mostly working on the PARS FORTUNA dungeon I’m going to play test next weekend with friends. I’m about 50 magic items away from finishing the PAR-FOR rules, and I also just realized that I need to make a PAR-FOR character sheet. The Mystery Men! project has achieved funding (!!!) and I’ll post an update about that tomorrow.

PARS FORTUNA Monster Vote!

I’m going to commission a monster piece from Russ Nicholson, my favorite monster illustrator ever (yeah, I’m one of those Fiend Folio fans – I even like the flumph). The question is – what monster should I request? I’ve decided to let the readers of this blog make the decision for me. You will see below a description of five monsters – just leave a comment on this post with your choice or shoot me an email and in a week I’ll tally the results and see about making the commission.

1. Fiend: A scaly demon carrying a barbed spear and sticking out a long, wavy tongue.

2. Meagle: Stunted piskie, looks like a cross between a hedgehog and gnome with bat wings; carry nets woven from human hair.

3. Nine: Humanoid otter with four beady eyes; carries a long knife and/or sling; quaff mystic beer; extremely quick.

4. Eight-Headed Creeper: Weird creatures with eight jabberwocky-ish heads on long necks, clawed feet, long arms with long, nimble fingers and large, bat-like wings.

5. Bounder: Giant bipedal grasshoppers wielding military forks and chakram.

UPDATE – Interesting! After a day of voting, people have pretty much divided into the Meagle party and the 8-Headed Creeper party, with the Bounder showing up in the roll of the Libertarians. Keep the votes coming – I’ll collect them until next Sunday and then reveal the winner and request the commission.

Combat Notions for Pars Fortuna

While PARS FORTUNA started out as an experiment in randomly generated material for an RPG, I soon decided to add in optional rules for Old School games to make it a true tool box. To that end, I have an easy rule for encumbrance, a unique (I think) method of spell casting, a slightly different take on armor and weapons and an easy system for special combat maneuvers. Nothing necessarily ground breaking, but maybe bits and pieces that Referees will find useful for their own games.

Movement & Combat
Today, I’m thinking about movement and the fact that it is virtually useless in most games. My guy has a movement of 12 (or 30′ or whatever your system uses) and you have a movement of 9 and, let’s be honest, how often does this really come up. Maybe if we’re being chased, but usually movement in the dungeon comes down to “we walk down the hall” or “we walk into the room, carefully”. Movement might come into things in outdoor adventures where the spaces are larger, but it’s a rare dungeon chamber indeed in which movement (and missile ranges – more on that later) make much difference. So, what’s to be done?

One idea is to mark off movement on a grid, but in all my years of playing 3rd edition, I don’t think movement rates ever had much effect within the dungeon – again, the rooms are rarely large enough to make a movement of 30′ that much better than a movement of 20′ – and we all know how much grid movement can slow down a combat.

My idea is to link initiative to movement rates, as follows:

Combat Speed
Quick = a movement rate of 15 or higher (note, I’m using Swords and Wizardry’s movement rates here; in 3rd edition think 40′ or higher)

Slow = a movement rate of 9 or below (20′ in 3rd edition)

Everything else is considered “normal speed”

When combat rolls around, I use the following order of events:

1. Missile Fire: Ranged weapons are valuable because they attack first, and thrown weapons are included here. Determine first strike in this phase by casting dice. You can either let every person and monster (or monster group) throw a D6 and go high to low, or have each side throw a D6 to determine which side attacks first. If your character has a higher rate of fire than 1 shot per round, just make the first shot during this round.

2. Quick Creatures: Quick creatures move and attack – again, to determine first strike just throw dice, giving creatures/characters a bonus of +1 to their role if they have a longer weapon or reach than their opponent. You could also break up the movement and the attack – everyone moves, and then anyone within 10′ of an opponent is considered in melee and may attack, rolling to determine who strikes first.

3. Normal Creatures: Normal creatures move and attack – as above

4. Slow Creatures: Slow creatures move and attack – as above

5. Spells: Spells are fired/cast – I’m assuming that chanting a spell takes longer than knocking and firing a bow; also gives the side without a spell caster time to disrupt the spell casting with a well placed attack.

6. More Missiles: For those with high rates of fire (see above).

In essence, creatures with higher movement rate always win initiative, though their counterparts with the same combat speed might beat them to the first strike. This way, movement rates have a very tangible effect on character survival, and those who choose to stay light and mobile get some advantage over those who are burdened with gear, armor, etc. Weight management becomes a tactical decision.

Missiles & Ranges
We all know that in most fantasy games, ranged weapons are given a range or range categories, and these ranges impose penalties on ranged attacks. Much in the same way as movement, though, how often do these ranges come into play when most combats occur in rooms that are 10′ or 20′ or 30′ square. Outdoors, of course, ranges matter. This makes perfect sense, since the game was designed as a war game and then modified to support dungeon delving. My suggested optional rule for PARS FORTUNA is to give each creature an effective range, in feet, based on his Dexterity score. For monsters, you can just assume an effective range of 10′. Within this effective range you suffer no penalties. Outside of this effective range, you suffer a -1 penalty to hit for each increment beyond effective you go. Thus, a fighting-man with an effective range of 10′ would have the following modifications based on range:

0-10 feet: No penalty
11-20 feet: -1 penalty to hit
21-30 feet: -2 penalty to hit
31-40 feet: -3 penalty to hit

For a poor slob with a dexterity of 6, the ranges would be:

0-6 feet: No penalty
7-12 feet: -1 to hit
13-24 feet: -2 to hit
25-36 feet: -3 penalty

This gives the high-dexterity character a nice benefit in missile combat, and makes “short passes” easier than “long bombs” even within the confines of a dungeon.

Pars Fortuna Monster Preview!

To celebrate commissioning some awesome monster drawings from Michael Stewart and finally finishing statting all the monsters in the game, I present this preview of a few of the beasts …

Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 4
Attacks: Claws and bite (2d6)
Saving Throw: 13
Special: Surprise on 1-2 on 1d6 due to camouflage
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 4/120

These giant armadillos are the size of oxen, and are used in much the same way by the natives of Fortuna’s Wheel. In the wild, they dig massive burrows and feed on giant insects and other small creatures.

Environment: Grasslands and wastelands.

Moggie (Giant Cat)
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Claw and bite (1d4)
Saving Throw: 17
Special: Surprise on 1-2 on 1d6
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 1/15

Moggies are giant versions of the normal cat. They are the size of mastiffs and retain their specie’s love of stalking and playing with their prey.

Environment: Any.

Gongthrottle (Bronze Ape)

Armor Class: 2 [17]
Hit Dice: 6+6
Attacks: 2 Fists (1d6+2)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Gong, throttle
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

Gongthrottles are castings of gorillas in black bronze, with seams at their neck, arm and leg joints. They are hollow, and animated by wrath. A gongthrottle can pound its chest, sending out reverberations like those of a bell being struck. Creatues within 30 feet suffer 1d6 damage from the sonic waves and must pass a saving throw or be deafened for 24 hours. Gongthrottles who successfully attack with both fists grab their opponent and throttle them each round for an automatic 2d6 points of damage.


Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 3+1
Attacks: Greatsword or Axe (2d6) or net
Saving Throw: 14
Special: None
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 3/60

Hamazaks are amazons with scarlet skin and blue-black hair that they wax into bizarre shapes reminiscent of horns or complex antlers. They are tall and athletic, and excellent warriors. Hamazak warriors wear light armor in the form of hides and furs and wield two-handed swords and axes as well as heavy crossbows that fire bundled nets. Treat attacks from these weapons as ranged grapple attacks. Hamazaks are slavers and plunderers. Bands of hamazaks are accompanied by 2d6 slaves (random folk, usually commoners).

Environment: Highland, Montane, Wasteland and Sub-terranean environments.


Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 2+1
Attacks: Flail (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16
Special: Misfortune
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 3/60

Qwards look like stocky, humanoid felines with long, indigo fur and long, braided mustachios. Warriors wield heavy flails and wear medium armor in the form of brigandines.

Qwards are a nomadic people who ride giant beetles across the grasslands, alternately trading and raiding with the people they meet. They live in groups called clowders that are ruled by their females, or mollies. Mollies have shorter, grayer fur than the males and can afflict people with an eyebite (saving throw or suffer -1d4 penalty to all d20 rolls for the rest of the day). Qwards sometimes serve powerful adventurers as bodyguards. Mollies wear necklaces of tiny skulls.

Environment: Grasslands, in beetle caravans.


Armor Class: 6 [13]
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: Rod (1d6)
Saving Throw: 16 (14 vs. magic)
Special: Control winds, magic resistance 10%
Move: 9
Challenge Level/XP: 2/30

Zwunkers are black-skinned dwarves with long manes of gold hair. Their eyes are faceted and resemble yellow diamonds. Zwunkers live in caves overlooking the sea. They are skilled sailors and love nothing more than to feel the wind whipping through their manes. Once per day, a zwunker can control the winds, either calming them or whipping them into a frenzy. Zwunkers are highly resistant to magic, and their presence actually absorbs magical energy. Essentially, a zwunker’s magic resistance applies to all magical effects within 30 feet of of the zwunker. Zwunkers wear elaborate leather armor and carry steel rods for weapons.

Environment: Caves overlooking the sea.


Armor Class: 5 [14]
Hit Dice: 6+2
Attacks: 4 slams (1d6)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: None
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 7/600

Kruks are a tall race of white-skinned humanoids with four arms, duck-like bills and tall, bony crests which allow them to communicate over long distances with rumbling roars. They dwell in subterranean caverns they have carved into perfect squares, with each cavern connected to others via underground canals filled with oily water. Kruks trade humanoid flesh and slaves in markets well attended by other creatures of the underworld.

Environment: Underground


Armor Class: 4 [15]
Hit Dice: 5
Attacks: Bite (2d6)
Saving Throw: 11
Special: Swallow whole
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Rhuups are portly, furred ogres with a tigerish cast. They adore jewelry and fine clothes, and are remarkably intelligent (i.e. can answer questions about obscure lore with a successful saving throw). Rhuups have large, cavernous maws with frightful teeth, and their jaws are hinged in such a way that they can swallow people whole. Any bite that kills an opponent can also be assumed to result in the person being swallowed. This heals the Rhuup of 2d6 points of damage, and allows them to absorb the knowledge of the person swallowed.

Environment: Subterranean

Armor Class: 3 [16]
Hit Dice: 3+3
Attacks: Claw and bite (1d6) or weapon (1d6+2)
Saving Throw: 14
Special: Half damage from non-magic weapons, immune to cold, fire and poison
Move: 12
Challenge Level/XP: 6/400

Fiends are the foot soldiers of the demonic dimensions. They have a highly variable appearance, often taking forms so bizarre and unnerving that the mind reels. Each fiend has one of the following aspects (roll 1d4).

Random Aspect
1 Scaly, covered in matted fur, scabby: Improve AC to 1 [18]
2 Horns, tusks, spines, spikes, serrated limbs: Improve bite/claw damage by +2
3 Special Attack (see below)
4 Spell Ability (see below)

Random Special Attack
1 Venomous: Poisonous bite, save or 2d6 damage
2 Vomit acid on opponent: 1d6 damage and armor bonus reduced by 1
3 Belch fire in 10-ft cone: 2d6 damage
4 Sulpherous Blast forms a 20-ft diameter circle; those within suffer a -2 penalty to hit and 1d3 damage each round

Random Magical Ability
1-2 Random level 1 spell, use once per day
3 Random level 1 spell, use once per round
4 Random level 2 spell, use once per day
5 Random level 2 spell, use once per round
6 Random level 3 spell, use once per day