Sometimes, You Get Lucky …

Sometimes you get lucky … but only after wasting lots of time getting it wrong.

I had a request, probably back in 2017 when I wrote Pen & Paper Football, to come up with a scheme to put stats to actual historical football teams. It was an interesting idea, but it required more work than I had the time for then, so I let it go.

When I was playtesting my game, I came up with a crude way to generate stats for teams using the 2016 stats of pro football teams. For my playtesting, I wanted a wide range of stats so I could see how the rules would work with extreme differences in stats. To do this, I took each team’s rating in passing, rushing, receiving, etc. and assigned stat scores starting at 18 for the top two teams, 17 for the next two, and so on from there. Fortunately, the league has 32 teams and I had 16 numbers between 3 and 18, so the process was pretty simple. This approach was crude, but it served my needs. Unfortunately, it was not what the person making the request was looking for to simulate old teams.

The problem with generating ability scores from game stats is that the ability scores in PPF are abstract. The QB/Passing stat, for example, overlaps to some extent with the WR/Receiving stat. It involves not only a team’s starting quarterback, but also the back-ups, and the offensive line’s ability to protect the passer and give him time to find his targets. Then there’s the coaching – the head coach, the quarterback coach, etc. – and their game plan and philosophy. How do you quantify this?

What I needed was an approach that didn’t just compare one team to another team in a given year, but which laid down an ideal quantification and compared any team, from any era, to that ideal. Back in the 1960’s, the league created the concept of a Quarterback Rating, and I figured I could use that as a basis for my work. It’s a somewhat complex formula (at least for hobby gaming), and I put some work into modifying it to rate running backs, but I would need it for receivers as well, and the defense, but defense stats weren’t compiled very well in the old days, and the receiver stats for a team were bound to mirror the quarterback stats, and … oh boy – what a mess!

My post showing off my brilliant scheme was going to appear last weekend, because I was sure I could clear it all up and produce a spreadsheet for people to use. Oh brother – what a huge waste of time. My whole philosophy about gaming is that it should be simple and fun – quick and easy. This wasn’t.

And then it happened. I was working at my desk the other day when a thought popped into my head. A simple way to simulate a team’s stats, using easily obtainable information, without any formulas or much work involved at all. Like I said – sometimes you get lucky!

Player-By-Player Stats

We begin by dividing among the PPF stats (QB, RB, WR, LM, LB, DB) the actual player positions. For each stat we take the three best starting players on a team that are tied to that stat. The position-to-stat breakout is as follows:

QB Quarterback, center, offensive guards
RB Running back, fullback, offensive tackles
WR Wide receivers, tight end
LM Defensive tackles, defensive ends
LB Linebackers
DB Cornerbacks and safeties

We rate players by their highest level of achievement while playing. This can make things a little tricky if we’re trying to recreate teams from the recent past, or from the present day, but with a little brain work and argument, I think one can figure it out.

Each player is scored for their lifetime achievement in pro football:

Achievement Score
None in particular 3
One pro-bowl/all-star game 4
Multiple pro-bowls/all-star games 5
Hall of Fame 6

Rookies deduct two from their score. One can also knock a point off for a player in the twilight of their career if they have clearly lost a step.

For each stat, you take the three best players, by rating, associated with that stat and add them up to get the relevant ability score.

For an example, I give you the 1984 Miami Dolphins:

Stat Players Score Bonus
QB Dan Marino (6), Dwight Stephenson (6), Ed Newman (5) 17 +5
RB Tony Nathan (4), Woody Bennett (3), John Geisler (3), Cleveland Green (3) 10 +3
WR Mark Clayton (5), Mark Duper (5), Dan Johnson (3) 13 +4
LM Bob Baumhower (5), Doug Betters (4), Kim Bokamper (4) 13 +4
LB Bob Brudzinski (3), AJ Duhe (4), Charles Bowser (3), Mark Brown (3) 10 +3
DB All players rate a 3 9 +3

The Minnesota Vikings were less successful that year – their stats are as follows:

Stat Players Score Bonus
QB Tommy Kramer (4), Ron Sams (3), Curtis Rouse (3), Terry Tausch (3) 10 +3
RB All players rate a 3 9 +3
WR Sammy White (5), Mike Jones (3), Steve Jordan (5) 13 +4
LM Charles Johnson (5), Neil Elshire (3), Mark Mullaney (3) 11 +3
LB Matt Blair (5), Scott Studwell (5), Dennis Johnson (3), Fred McNeil (3) 13 +4
DB John Swain (3), Rufus Bess (3), Tom Hannon (3), Carl Lee (5) 11 +3

The value of this system is that it requires little in the way of mathematics, and it is broadly applicable to different eras of football, since concepts like all-star games are pretty old, and players from the very beginning of football have been enshrined in the Hall of fame.

You can also use this system to create pro squads from the starting players of a given year instead of rolling a team’s stats. Use a random draft for the first year of play, then hold real drafts each year thereafter.

Earlier Eras of Football

To prove one can use this for different eras of the game, I present the 1920 Canton Bulldogs, with a couple caveats:

First – the game of football was different then, so the ability scores must change a bit. This is something else I’m working on for the next edition of PPF. For football before the forward pass dominated that game, you use the following ability scores:

BK (Backfield) = Tail Back, Full Back, Blocking Back, Wing Back, Center

RL (Right Line) = Right End, Right Tackle, Right Guard

LL (Left Line) = Left End, Left Tackle, Left Guard

Note that you only need the one set of stats, since players played both offense and defense in the same general spots.

In this version of the game, the defense commits to stacking their defense on the right or left, rather than against the run or pass, and the offense runs their plays to the right or left. Also keep in mind that the offense’s right is mirrored by the defense’s left, etc.

Using these stats, the 1920 Bulldogs look as follows:

Stat Players Score Bonus
BK Jim Thorpe (6), Pete Calac (3), Tex Grigg (3), Joe Guyon (6), Al Feeney (3) 15 +4
RL John Kellison (3), Pete Henry (6), Bulger Lowe (4) 13 +4
LL Bob Higgins (3), Cub Buck (3), Cap Edwards (3) 9 +3

So the Bulldogs are stronger on the right than the left, and have a pretty good backfield. With just one more all-star in the backfield, that could bump their backfield bonus to +5. Even without another all-star, Coach Thorpe can win some ballgames with these guys.

Ready for Some Pen and Paper Football

It’s an October Sunday, and by golly I was in the mood for some football. I’m not a huge fan of the modern iteration of the game (or the modern iteration of anything, for that matter), but I am a fan of a little game I wrote called Pen & Paper Football. It’s easily my top seller – being priced very affordably probably helps that. I haven’t really messed with it for a while, so this weekend I rolled up a quick league, spent a ridiculous amount of time designing uniforms to go with my helmets, and even made a few football cards (because it was fun, that’s why) … and eventually got around to rolling up some quick games. For the playoffs and championship I’ll play the games out longhand.

In the process of opening old files, I found a bit I wrote a while back and never published … well, I don’t think I ever published. It was some random “quirks” for football teams, to give them a little more personality.




No quirk


+1 to d20 rolls during the first half of the game


+1 to d20 rolls during the second half of the game


+1 to defense while leading in a game


+1 to offense d20 rolls when more than a touchdown behind


+1 to offense in dome stadiums; -1 in outdoor stadiums


+1 to offense attacks in the red zone


+2 to passing attacks on 4th down


+2 to running attacks on 4th down


+1 yard per dice while passing in second half of game


+1 yard per dice when running  in second half of game


+1 to offense attacks on special plays


+1 to DR inside the red zone


+2 to DR when opponent is still scoreless in the 4th quarter


+1 to passing attacks when opponent is down by more than a touchdown


Anytime the defense sacks the QB, there is a 1 in 10 chance he must sit out the remainder of the offensive series (i.e. lose star QB, or -1 to QB bonus)


Get do-over when playing on the road instead of at home


Launch one cheerleader battle per game; roll 2d6 – opponent has to roll higher; if they do, you have to roll higher still, and so on until somebody falls; winner gets a do-over on the last play


After one blitz results in a sack, sacks now occur on a roll of 1 or 2 on offense attacks


Gain one do-over when opponent is ahead in the second half

Sorry for the brief post, but it’s been a busy weekend, and between California setting itself on fire and blowing the smoke in Vegas’ face and good old fashioned fall allergens, I haven’t had much sleep. Still, not a bad weekend overall – I made my pumpkin pasta that officially begins the fall season in the Stater household, discovered that Mr. T made a show in Canada (T and T) that ran from ’87-90, watched Rock & Rule for the umpteenth time and had the family over for a birthday party.  Ooo – I also found a Sony combination DVD/VHS player for my old TV for $4 at a thrift store … and it works!

There’s plenty of cruddy stuff going on out there folks, so accentuate the positive and do the best living you can do!

Black Death Preview

Today, I’m talking about my next Quick & Easy (though that classification might not fit exactly) game, Black Death. Obviously, it’s a cheery game about rainbows and gumdrops.

The idea for Black Death was really just an image of a guy being molested by a skeleton. From there, it turned into a game set during the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries, culminating in the devastating Thirty Years War, in which all the fighting and condemnations and general hatred have allowed Hell to burst forth on Earth. Now the Catholics and Protestants also get to deal with demons, the undead and other fantasy creatures. Into this cesspool of violence, black magic and disease (lots of disease), a band of mercenaries, picaros and itinerant scholars does their best to survive and thrive.

Here are a few bits and pieces from the game as it currently stands. Right now, it’s about 80% there – written, but with lots of editing and tweaking needed, but well on its way. I’ve also got the hex map for NOD 28 done (need to start writing my buns off), and I’m doing another round of edits on GRIT & VIGOR.

Abilities: Strength, Agility, Constitution, Intelligence, Willpower, Perception and Charisma.

Allegiance: This can be to a religion, nation or other concept. Characters get to allegiances, and they get an experience bonus when they serve them (which may pit characters against one another, if their allegiance’s clash)

Classes: Hoo boy, there are a few of these. Since classes in Q&E games are just a collection of skills, it’s not too hard to build them. Each of these classes also have a special ability each. Here are a few examples:

HexenhammerHexenhammers are witch hunters, scouring the countryside for the tools of Satan (or harmless-but-scary old women, as the case may be). Hexenhammers are possessed of a frightening determination, and once they are on the scent of a witch, they do not stop their hunt until they have their quarry. Every hexenhammer carries with her a well-worn copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, a guide book for witch hunters.

Primary Skills: Fighting (Str)
Secondary Skills: Endure (Con), Intimidate (Str), Prayer (Wil)

Special Ability: After long study of the Malleus Maleficarum, hexenhammers know well their ways. They can use a Sixth Sense task check to sense the presence of witches, conjurers, heretics and tools of Satan within 60’.


The landsknechts are mercenaries, fighters-for-hire that care little about the cause, only the reward. English mercenaries might instead be called “gentleman adventurers”, Italians “condottieri” and the Swiss “reisläufer”, but they’re all just mercenaries. When a general is willing to pay them, they are happy to fight battles. When clients are in short supply, they are happy to turn to brigandage or adventuring to earn a living.

Primary Skills: Fighting (Str)
Secondary Skills: Marksmanship (Dex), Carouse (Con), Endure (Con)

Special Ability: Landsknechts are well trained in the fighting arts, and may use any armor and any melee or missile weapon, regardless of their current Fighting or Marksmanship skill values (q.v.).


Magicians practice the scholarly magic of the Renaissance. While they themselves may be benevolent, they must have truck with demons to produce their magical effects, and therefore are considered suspect by most decent folk. Magicians are usually to be found in the robes of a magic, or in the dress of a gentleman or gentlewoman with one or several grimoires on their person, heavily annotated in the margins and smelling slightly of sulfur. The most famous of their number is perhaps Doctor Faustus.

Primary Skills: Invocation (Int)
Secondary Skills: Flee (Agi), Fortune Telling (Wil), Learning (Int)

Special Ability: Conjurers receive their magical knowledge from books, and are thus always literate. When they have a grimoire in hand, they can use it to aid in their magic. For each grimoire they possess, they can add +1 to their Invocation score during a task check, but add one combat round to the time it takes them to cast the spell.

Other classes include the archer, barbarian, cleric, courtesan, doctor, flagellant, fool, gypsy, hunter, inquisitor, knight (dame), mariner, musketeer, picaro, professor, rakehell, rat-catcher, resurrectionist, robber, satanist, student prince, trader and witch.

When these classes run around killing things (or trying not to be killed), they’ll have a big list of weapons. I went a little nuts on the weapons, and each weapon is capable of a “weapon trick” in place of doing damage – things like tripping people, backing them up, disarming them, crushing armor.

There’s a section on disease – lots of opportunities to catch something nasty – and on damnation. Damnation points are collected when people do bad things – absolution by the church can remove them, as can holy quests and pilgrimages.  The more damnation points, the harder it is for holy magic to work on you, and the more likely you bear a “mark of Satan” – i.e. a mutation.

There are lots of monsters – undead and demons, but also fey creatures. The monsters are mostly from Central European myth and folklore, but some other bits and pieces as well, such as from Dante’s Inferno.

It’s still a pretty quick and easy game to play (I think), but it does look like it’s going to be about 88 pages long – about twice the size of earlier efforts. I’ll keep folks updated.

Oh, and here’s an early draft of the map, broken into regions for easy travel rules.


I have three new (or recent) releases to bring to your kind attention.
Before I talk about them, though, HERE’S A LINK to those Bloody Basic printable character sheets I mentioned (including Weird Fantasy edition), with background color removed.

NOD 27

This issue of NOD features:

* Gloriana’s Blessed Isle, Part 2 – The continuation of the Ulflandia hex crawl that started in NOD 26 – this one covers a little of the island, the Bragart Hills, the southern portion of the Klarkash Mountains and a wee bit of the Wyvern Coast … a real cross roads. Features some groovy art by Denis McCarthy

* d20 Mecha I: The Classes – The first part of a three part article on adapting d20-based games for giant robot adventures – by my good friend and mecha-aficionado Luke DeGraw. Part 2 will cover equipment, and in Part 3 we’re going to collaborate on simplified rules for the mecha themselves, using some of the rules I’ve developed for GRIT & VIGOR.

* The Nodian Bestiary – Featuring 10 new monsters

* Strength: A Primer – Exploring the strength ability score

* The Muscleman – A new class that puts strength to the test … yeah, he can bite through chains and throw halflings … nice art by NOD regular Jon Kaufman

* You Pull the Lever and … – Ideas for lever-based traps and tricks … with more from Kaufman

* Racial Variations: Earth – Elemental twists on the classic fantasy races … and a third Kaufman piece

* Plan 9 from Outer Space: The RPG – A Quick & Easy minigame for Halloween … I’m super excited about this silly thing

* The Grey Planet Beckons – The negative-energy planet Pluto for the Nodian cosmos

$4.99 for the e-book … print edition coming soon 


I know some folks have been waiting for this one. The Weird Fantasy Edition rules are inspired by the wondrous prose and poetry of Clark Ashton Smith and Lord Dunsany and the art of such luminaries as Aubrey Beardsley and Sidney Sime. It include rules for the races, classes, spells and monsters of weird fantasy tales. Ever wanted to play a grotesque puissant? Now’s your chance.

This one was briefly in the Top 10 hottest titles on rpgnow … pretty cool!

$4.99 for the e-book … print edition coming soon


Can you survive the mean streets of New York City in the 1970’s? Muggers, psychos, junkies, sewer-gators, street punks, and gangsters! Oh My!

Deviant Decade is a quick and easy game to learn and play. All you need is a few friends, some pencils and paper, a few ordinary dice and this book … leisure suits are optional.

$2.99 for the e-book (no stagflation here) … print edition coming soon

For sale now at both Lulu and Drive Thru / Rpgnow


Well, I think that’s enough productivity for the moment. I’m working on Black Death (coming along nicely – and a little more meat than past Quick & Easy games – I think Swords & Sandals will need a revision next year) and NOD 28 (exploring the northern Land of Og in this one) now, and I’m determined to get GRIT & VIGOR released by the end of the year.

Then I can focus on the revisions of BLOOD & TREASURE, MYSTERY MEN!, SPACE PRINCESS and PARS FORTUNA. I’ve already commissioned new cover art for B&T!!! Super excited.


A week or so ago, I started fooling with the idea of a mini-game called Manbot Warriors based on a Saturday morning cartoon show that never existed. I like the idea of a little 6×9 booklet, short and to the point, played only with normal dice (i.e. d6) that people could take on trips or pull out on a rainy day and have fun with. Cost should be minimal – maybe $6 or $7 for a book and a couple bucks for a PDF.

Well, Manbot Warriors is getting some play testing and I already have a first draft being printed at Lulu so I can see how I did on the technical side. I’ve also worked up a rough draft for a Greco-Roman fantasy mini-game called Swords & Sandals – based more on old Hercules and gladiator movies than actual history, of course.

I’m super excited about the idea of inexpensive mini games at the moment, and if I can get the rules right, I should be able to have lots of fun with the concept. In fact, my imagination has been racing. Here are the ideas/titles that I’ve pondered trying to make:

Deviant Decade – 1970’s era role playing on the mean streets – the adventurers are a party of vigilantes, cops and frightened citizens trying to make their way from one point to another in Big City (probably based on New York)

Emergency Rescue – firemen, paramedics, police fighting fires and rescuing people from harm; inspired by plastic firemen I had as a kid and the old Emergency! TV show (which I still watch to this day)

Love & Pain – a soap opera RPG – I think I have a clever way to make it work, but I’m not sure yet

Badmen – Old West – just feels right

Damask & Demimondaines – court intrigue, duels, factions, with lots of silk and snuff and lace and fancy facial hair

All-Out War – inspired by plastic army men; missions behind the line

Grenadiers & Gorgons – Napoleonic fantasy

Vaults of Gold & Sorcery – a modern take on dungeon delving (inspired by some stock art I got online)

King of the Surf – inspired by Endless Summer and 1960’s beach movies – I think this one could be a really fun rainy day game

Hippie Hijinks – inspired by the old Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics I inherited from a friend (I was always a Fat Freddy’s Cat guy myself) – sneaking into Disneyland, fighting “The Man”, etc.

Goblins & Pagodas – Asian fantasy; got the name from a poetry book in the public domain

Justice For All – A quick and easy superhero game

Teen Mystery Club – inspired by Scooby Doo, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew type of stuff – mostly “catch the fake ghost”

Kaiju vs. Mecha – you play the mecha operator – fight the kaiju in your machine, and try to discover, on foot, it’s secret vulnerability

MegaRuin Explorer Tatakai – dungeon exploring anime style – again, I have some cool stock art, and I want to use it

American Empires 1800 – I think I’ll resurrect this idea as a mini game

Mutant Truckers – Likewise, this would work well in the mini game format

Astronauts & Aliens – I’m thinking a 1960’s, space age game of Astronauts (and Cosmonauts as well, I guess) exploring alien ruins on the moon. The technology would be “of the time”, so no ray guns and such.

Don’t Go In There – Horror RPG – party of normal folks being stalked by a monster or slasher or whatever. Might try to do this one for the next issue of NOD and include it as a mini-game for the Halloween season.

B for Barbarian – I’ll probably change the name, but I wrote this mini-game a year-or-so-ago and will definitely publish it in the 6×9 format.

Pen & Paper Football – Not quite the same, but the rules for the mini-game I published in NOD a few issues back. This is a no-brainer, so it will definitely happen at some point.

I did a poll with five of these on Google+, and Deviant Decade and All-Out War were the most popular (which is cool, since I figured I’d be writing them soon anyways). Let me know which one’s spark your imagination. I’ve also considered doing a combo of easy rules with actual short adventure included, something like the one-page dungeons.

In the meantime, I have GRIT & VIGOR and NOD 27 to finish up.

Remember – if you’d like to submit something to NOD, please contact me – email in the column to the right.

Manbot Warriors!

These guys would be great for a game of Manbot Warriors. Buy them HERE.

There was no Dragon by Dragon on Sunday because I was visiting relatives in the great state of Iowa over the weekend. While I was doing that, I was formulating this, which I now present to you …

A Mini-Game by John M Stater

For 3 to 5 players, aged 13-1/2 and up (sorry 13 year olds, but you’ll understand why you’re not allowed to play this intense sci-fi RPG when you get older)

When evil threatens from the Galactic Core, the planets of the outer rim call out for … the Manbot Warriors!

Manbot Warriors was a Saturday morning cartoon that never existed, but could have in the late 1970’s or early 1980’s. It would concern a band of warriors, human minds encased in robot bodies, defending the outer rim of peaceful planets from the evils of the Galactic Core. Each episode might entail some crisis that the Manbot Brigade would respond to, from hijackings of pleasure spaceships, to the heist of the First Cosmic Bank, to a threat of planetary invasion.

The game is played by up to 5 people. One is the Game Master, who concocts an evil plot and assembles various monsters to see the plot through. The Game Master must draw up any necessary maps or plans of spaceships or secret hideouts, and must also adjudicate the game fairly on behalf of the players. He is not their opponent, per se, but rather the referee of the game.

The players must roll up their manbot characters, and then counter whatever evil machinations the Game Master has invented for them.

Rolling up a character involves rolling ability scores, choosing a class of manbot to play, choosing and rolling up skills, and finally equipping your manbot with kits.

Manbots are a collection of abilities and skills. All manbots have the same seven ability scores. Ability scores range from 1 to 6 (though some monsters might have higher scores).

Power (POW): Power measures physical strength.

Reflexes (REF): Reflexes measures how quick and accurate a character is.

Fortitude (FOR): Fortitude measures how well a manbot stands up to punishment.

Intellect (INT): Intellect measures a character’s smarts and mental quickness.

Willpower (WIL): Will measures a manbot’s mental toughness.

Awareness (AWR): Awareness measures a manbot’s perception and situational awareness.

Charm (CHR): A manbot’s charm is their ability to manipulate people.

For each of these abilities roll two dice and write the value of the higher dice roll next to the ability score.

Manbots are manufactured to one of five series, called classes. These classes are named after colors, and each class carries with it a bonus and a penalty to ability scores, and determines which skills are prime and secondary for the manbot.

Manbot Black
A manbot black is designed for stealth missions, like the ninjas of ancient Earth. They reduce their POW and FOR scores by one point each (to minimum of one), and increase their REF and AWR scores by one point.

Primary Skills: Stealth
Secondary Skills: Dodge, Fighting, Thievery
Tertiary: Choose any three

Manbot Blue
The manbot blue series is designed for science. They reduce their POW and FOR scores by one point each (to a minimum of one), and increase their INT and WIL scores by one point.

Primary: Science
Secondary: Detection, Engineering, Fighting
Tertiary: Choose any three

Manbot Gold
The gold series of manbots is designed for command and control. They reduce their POW and FOR by one point each (to a minimum of one), and increase their WIL and CHR scores by one.

Primary: Psionics
Secondary: Detection, Fighting, Psychology
Tertiary: Choose any three

Manbot Green
Green manbots are designed for commando operations in the wilderness. They reduce their WIL and CHR by one point each (to a minimum of one), and increase their REF and AWR by one.

Primary: Fighting
Secondary: Detection, Stealth, Survival
Tertiary: Choose any three

Manbot Red
The red series of manbots is designed for military operations – they are warriors par excellence. They reduce their INT and CHR by one point each (to a minimum of one), and increase their POW and FOR by one.

Primary: Fighting
Secondary: Dodge, Drive, Endurance
Tertiary: Choose any three

Each manbot has seven skills (see above). One skill is prime, three are secondary, and three are tertiary. Skill scores range from 0 to 12. Each skill (see below) is associated with an ability score. For the prime skill, roll 3 dice and use the two highest values. For secondary skills, roll 2 dice and used their combined value. For tertiary skills, roll 1 dice and use that value.

The following are considered skills in Manbot Warriors:

Acrobatics (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to leap, tumble, survive falls and flip over opponents.

Astronavigation (INT): Governs a manbot’s ability to navigate the stars.

Climbing (POW): Governs a manbot’s ability to climb sheer surfaces.

Detection (AWR): Governs a manbot’s ability to find clues and avoid ambushes.

Dodge (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to dodge traps or other attacks that cover a large area.

Drive (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to drive tanks, cars and hovercraft.

Endurance (FOR): Governs a manbot’s ability to endure pain and maintain focus despite confusion.

Engineering (INT): Governs a manbot’s knowledge of engineering and mechanics.

Fighting (POW/REF): Governs the manbot’s ability to inflict damage in combat. Melee fighting (i.e. hand-to-hand combat or combat with hand held weapons) is associated with Power, while missile fighting (i.e. shooting guns and laser beams) is associated with Reflexes.

Flight (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to control himself in flight, or to pilot spaceships and aircraft.

Medicine (INT): Governs a manbot’s ability to provide first aid and surgery to biological creatures.

Psionics (WIL): Governs a manbot’s ability to manipulate or damage another creature’s mind, or to detect the psychic emanations of others.

Psychology (CHM): Governs a manbot’s ability to figure out a creature’s motivations and to “use psychology” to fool or manipulate and deceive people.

Science (INT): Governs a manbot’s knowledge of the sciences, including physics, biology, and astronomy.

Stealth (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to move silently and hide.

Survival (INT): Governs a manbot’s ability to survive in the wilderness.

Thieving (REF): Governs a manbot’s ability to pick pockets, palm small objects and get past security systems, either mechanical or electronic.

Obviously, you should feel free to add additional skills as you deem necessary.

Once a manbot has his ability scores and skill scores, he can pick out the kits to equip himself. Each manbot can be fitted out with five kits. The kits are as follows:

Avionics: Avionics improve a manbot’s Flight skill by +1.

Communications: A communications kit can either be used to radio up to 5 miles away (on planet, or to an orbiting spaceship), or to jam all communications (including from other manbots) within 1 mile.

Countermeasures: Countermeasures force smart missile attacks against the manbot to add +1 to the dice roll.

Energy Shields: Energy shields force missile attacks against the manbot to add +1 to the dice roll.

Energy Sword: Energy swords deal one extra point of damage.
Fire Suppression: A fire suppression kit permits the manbot to put out fires. Putting out a fire takes 1-6 combat rounds (roll one dice).

Flame Thrower: A flamethrower forces all creatures within a cone measuring 20 feet long and 10 feet wide to succeed at a Dodge check or suffer a point of damage to Fortitude.

Grapple Fist: A grapple fist can be fired up to 100 feet, and always latches on to a surface with hand holds. It can pull up to two manbots (or the equivalent to 400 pounds) up to the grapple fist.

Jackhammer Fist: A jackhammer fist can be used in melee combat, scoring one extra point of damage against Fortitude, or to break through one foot of concrete per minute and one inch of metal per minute.

Laser Blaster: Laser blasters deal one extra point of damage to Forti-tude on a successful missile attack.

Machine Gun: A machine gun allows a manbot to make three missile attacks per round, but for each additional attack, they must roll one extra dice for their Fighting check (i.e. 3D if attacking two targets, and 4D if attacking three targets).

Mind Gem: A mind gem allows a manbot to project his mental power as a beam of piercing light. The manbot makes an attack using his Psionics score, but deals damage to FOR instead of WIL.

Psi-Helm: A psi-helm deals 2 points of damage to Willpower on a suc-cessful Psionic attack.

Repair Kit: Can be used to effect repairs on other manbots. The repair kit is no good without the Engineering skill.

Rocket Boots: Rocket boots allow a manbot to fly at a speed of 1 mile per minute.

Science Scanners: Can be used to detect radiation, life forms, and the like. The data must be interpreted using the Science skill.

Smart Missiles: A smart missile hits unerringly, unless its target can de-ploy countermeasures or makes a 3D Dodge check.

Sonic Disrupter: A sonic disrupter allows a manbot to make a missile attack using his Fighting skill that deals one point of WIL damage.

Tritanium Armor: Tritanium armor forces attacks against the manbot to add +1 to the attack roll.

To resolve conflicts, add a character’s skill score and relevant ability score. This number is called the target. Roll 3 dice. If the roll is equal to or lower than the tar-get number, you succeed. If the roll is higher than the target, you fail.

If you are rolling against an opponent with a higher skill or ability score, add +1 to the roll. If you are rolling against an opponent with a higher skill and ability score, add +3 to the roll.

If you are rolling against an opponent with a lower skill or ability score, add +1 to the target. If you are rolling against an opponent with a lower skill and ability score, add +3 to the target.

The Game Master can also rule that there is a modifier to the roll or target based on other conditions, such as working under pressure or attacking from behind. For an advantage, add +1, +2 or +3 to the target. For disadvantages, add +1, +2 or +3 to the roll.

Psionic acts that are passive (mind reading, for example) are rolled on only 2 dice (2D).  Psionic acts that actively impact the real world or a creature’s mind (such as telekinesis or controlling a person’s actions) are rolled on 3 dice (3D). Psionic attacks that deal damage are rolled on 4 dice (4D).

Combat is handled in combat rounds, with each round taking 10 seconds of time. To determine who goes first in a round, each player should roll 1 dice and add their REF score. Highest roll goes first, followed by the next highest, and so on. Ties go to the combatant with the highest REF score. If there is still a tie, flip a coin.

Combat uses the conflict resolution method detailed above, using a character’s Fighting skill, and either their POW ability for melee (hand-to-hand) attacks, or their REF ability for missile (ranged) attacks.

A successful physical attack roll deals one point of damage to the opponent’s FOR score. Psionics attacks deal one point of damage to the opponent’s WIL score. If the attack roll succeeds by 3 or more points, the attacker can also impose a special condition on his opponent, such as putting him in a grapple hold, tripping him or erasing a memory from his mind.

A creature reduced to 0 points of FOR or WIL is knocked unconscious and critically wounded, and they can be killed by one more attack.

Characters can be healed with the Engineering skill (for manbots and other mechanical creatures) or Medicine skill. Light healing requires a 2 dice task check, and restores one point of FOR. Serious healing requires a 3 dice task check and restores two points of FOR. Critical healing requires a 4 dice task check and restores three points of FOR. Other ability scores regenerate at a rate of 1 point per day.

Characters walk at a speed of 260 feet per minute (or 40 feet per combat round), and can sprint at a speed of 2300 feet per minute (or 390 feet per second). A sprint can last up to one minute. Running at half sprinting speed can last up to 10 minutes. An Endurance check can double the time a character can sprint or run.

Each character begins a game session with a Luck score of 6. A luck score can be substituted for an ability score or skill score when making checks. Each time this is done, the character’s Luck score is reduced by 1 point. Points of Luck can also be spent in place of damage to ability scores.

Most Manbot Warriors games involve an initial criminal or in some way hostile act by the bad guys, followed by the reaction, investigation and apprehension or destruction of the bad guys by the manbots.

For example: There is an explosion on an asteroid used as a radar station by some planetary authority, to alert them to incursions into their star system by potentially hostile aliens. The planet has two other radar stations – if they are both destroyed, they will have no warning of an invasion.

The manbots are dispatched to discover who bombed the radar station, and stop them from bombing the other two stations. This will involve investigation, follow-up on clues and confrontation.

The Game Master’s job would be to figure out who the bad guys are, and how their plot is meant to proceed. If the players are slow on the uptake, there will be a second explosion. If they fail to stop the third explosion, they will have failed their mission.

Manbot Warriors can be played as a stand-alone game, or characters can be used in multiple sessions and advanced in their abilities.

Whenever a manbot warrior survives a mission and completes it successfully, he may attempt to make two advancements, one of an ability score or primary skill, and one of a secondary or tertiary skill.

To improve an ability score, roll 1d6. If the number rolled is higher than the existing ability score, advance the ability score by one point. A manbot warrior can never have more than three ability scores at 6, and never more than five ability scores at 5 or higher.

To improve a skill, roll 2d6. If the number rolled is higher than the existing skill score, advance the skill score by one point. Primary skills can be advanced to a maximum of 12. Secondary skills can be advanced to a maximum of 9. Tertiary skills can be advanced to a maximum of 6.

Alternatively, the manbot warrior can add a new tertiary skill to his sheet, with a value of 1. A manbot warrior cannot have more than five tertiary skills.

A manbot warrior can swap out one kit at the beginning of each adventure.

A monster’s threat level is calculated using the following formula: Add FOR + Fighting or Psionics (whichever is higher) + 1 per offensive or defensive kit and special ability. A value of 0 to 9 being a Level I monster, 10 to 13 a Level II monster, 14 to 17 a Level III monster, 18 to 20 a Level IV monster and 21 or higher a Level V monster.

Amazon of Ouroboros
The amazons of Ouroboros are reptilian ladies with narrow faces. They are fearless and without emotion.
LVL IV, POW 5, REF 4, FOR 5, INT 3, AWR 3, WIL 3, CHM 2; Fighting 8, Endurance 8; Energy Sword, Laser Blaster, Tritanium Armor

Androids are robots that look like human beings, or nearly so. They are stronger and more logical than humans, but lack imagination. Most androids work in boring jobs, but some develop a wild circuit and head out to explore the galaxy as a robotic hobo. They attack with their fists.
LVL I, POW 3, REF 4, FOR 4, INT 6, AWR 3, WIL 3, CHM 2; Fighting 4, Engineering 8, Science 4; Communications Kit, Science Scanner, Repair Kit

Android Prime
Android Prime is a massive artificial intelligence that forms the nexus of all androids, and most computers. It moves on tank treads, and can trample (2 points of damage) and strike with sonic blasts.
LVL IV, POW 6, REF 1, FOR 10, INT 8, AWR 4, WIL 4, CHM 2; Fighting 4, Psychology 6, Science 10; Communications, Energy Shields, Science Scanner, Sonic Disrupters (2), Tritanium Armor

Celestial Siren
These beauteous star maidens actually look something like long, green worms with indistinct faces. They are capable of creating the illusion that they are beautiful women, and use their psionic powers to lure spacemen to their dooms on asteroids or drifting space hulks.
LVL III, POW 1, REF 3, FOR 4, INT 3, AWR 4, WIL 4, CHM 1; Fighting 2, Endurance 6, Psionic 10, Stealth 8

Comet King
The Comet King is a squat, unattractive man with the ability to control the paths of comets, but also to levitate and move bits of metal and earth. With his magnetic powers, he can hurl up to three bits of metal per round as a missile attack, and he can form the spinning metal into a magnetic shield (treat as tritanium armor and energy shield).
LVL III, POW 4, REF 5, FOR 6, INT 5, AWR 3, WIL 8, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Science 10; Communications, Energy Shields, Science Scanner

Crystal Killer
These monsters look like crystal statues, with glowing lights in their hands and heads. Their thick skin reflects lasers and psionic beams, so add +1 to rolls made to attack them with these means. Sonic attacks deal +1 point of damage to the crystal killer’s FOR. Crystal killers attack twice per round with their razor sharp fingers, or once per round with the equivalent of a mind gem.
LVL III, POW 3, REF 7, FOR 4, INT 3, AWR 4, WIL 7, CHM 2; Fighting 8, Psionics 8

Death Howler
Death howlers are quadrupedal monsters about the size of grizzly bears, with smooth skin of scarlet and black, fierce white claws and gnashing teeth. Each round, they can attack twice, once with claws and once with teeth. In place of an attack, they can howl, causing those who fail a WIL check (roll 2d6) to lose one point of POW and one point of FOR for one minute.
LVL II, POW 6, REF 3, FOR 4, INT 1, AWR 6, WIL 1, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Survive 10

Espers are powerful psychics with a desire to dominate other creatures. They have throbbing temples, bald heads and wear robes in weird, brilliant patterns.
LVL III, POW 2, REF 3, FOR 3, INT 5, AWR 4, WIL 7, CHM 3; Fighting 2, Psionics 9; Mind Gem, Psi-Helm

The ruffians and ne’er-do-wells of the galaxy, froglodytes look like big, bulky, humanoid frogs. They wear bits of scrap armor sometimes, and fight with normal hand weapons and firearms.
LVL II, POW 5, REF 3, FOR 4, INT 2, AWR 3, WIL 2, CHM 2; Fighting 8, Endurance 6; Machine Gun

Gaseous Ghoul
Gaseous ghouls are cannibal humanoids that, when destroyed, turn into a puff of sulfuric smoke. They can reform in one minute. They attack with their claws.
LVL I, POW 4, REF 3, FOR 3, INT 1, AWR 3, WIL 3, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Psionics 2; Stealth 10

Grimdark Commando
The grimdark commandos are fierce humanoids with noseless faces and grey skin. They hire themselves out as mercenaries, and are much feared in the cosmos.
LVL III, POW 5, REF 6, FOR 4, INT 3, AWR 5, WIL 3, CHM 2; Fighting 9, Stealth 8, Survive 6; Energy Sword, Laser Blaster, Tritanium Armor

Junk Ape
Junk apes are primates that live on vast junk worlds. They are expert tinkers, and have a passion for taking mechanical things apart and turning them into other things. They look something like orangutans with blue-tinged fur and pale green skin. They make two attacks each round with their fists.
LVL II, POW 5, REF 4, FOR 3, INT 3, AWR 3, WIL 2, CHM 2; Fighting 6, Engineering 10, Stealth 3; Machine Gun, Repair Kit

Killbots are robots designed for combat. Their forms vary, but most are bipedal and bristling with weapons. They attack twice per round.
LVL IV, POW 5, REF 5, FOR 5, INT 1, AWR 3, WIL 1, CHM 1; Fighting 10; Energy Shields, Laster Blaster, Sonic Disrupter, Tritanium Armor

Moondragon Warrior
The Moondragon Warriors are a shadowy cabal of psychic warriors who sometimes appear to oppose the Galactic Core, and other times to be aiding it. They are humanoids, and dress in long, grey robes and grey pleather clothes.
LVL III, POW 4, REF 6, FOR 5, INT 4, AWR 6, WIL 5, CHM 3; Fighting 10, Psionics 6, Psychology 6; Energy Sword, Mind Gem

Nebula the Space Witch
Nebula is the self-proclaimed Queen of Space Witches, and a major power of the Galactic Core. She is a tall, gaunt woman, graceful and elegant, in luxurious silks and a tall collar. She is usually guarded by four gaseous ghouls (q.v.).
LVL V, POW 2, REF 4, FOR 6, INT 6, AWR 5, WIL 6, CHM 4; Fighting 6, Psionics 12, Psychology 9, Science 8; Energy Sword, Mind Gem, Psi-Helm

Psiborgs are robots with the minds of psychics. They are dangerous physically and mentally, but their wild emotional states sometimes prove their undoing.
LVL III, POW 6, REF 5, FOR 5, INT 4, AWR 5, WIL 5, CHM 2; Fighting 8, Endurance 6, Psionics 8, Science 3 [7]; Engineering Kit, Psi-Helm, Tritanium Armor

Radiation Dragon
These massive reptiles dwell in space, soaking up the rays of stars and of radioactive materials in abandoned spaceships (usually abandoned because of the dragon) or asteroids. They can fly through space and in atmospheres, and attack three times per round, with a bite, claws and tail slap. All of these attacks deal 2 points of damage. In place of these attacks, they can spit radioactive fire in a 30-ft long cone, 15-ft wide at the base, that deals 2 points of damage to the FOR and POW scores of everything caught in its path.
LVL V, POW 8, REF 6, FOR 9, INT 3, AWR 5, WIL 5, CHM 2; Fighting 10, Astronavigation 6, Endurance 8, Flight 7, Psionics 5

Rust Viper
Rust vipers are large serpents with metal scales (treat as tritanium armor) and fangs that can pierce metal. When they do, they inject a venom that quickly corrodes and dissolves the metal, ruining tritanium armor and inflicting one point of FOR damage to mechanical creatures (including manbots) per round until repaired. Injected into a biological creature (which also includes manbots), the venom causes mild nausea and hallucinations.
LVL II, POW 3, REF 6, FOR 3, INT 1, AWR 3, WIL 1, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Dodge 6, Stealth 10

Salt Mummy of Kor
The infamous salt mummies of Kor are long-dead aliens preserved in pleather bandages and animated through dark space magic and an undying hatred for living things. They are found in ruins and sometimes on abandoned spaceships, often with a small cult of spacers or space bandits serving them, with an esper as the high priest.
LVL IV, POW 6, REF 2, FOR 8, INT 4, AWR 2, WIL 6, CHM 1; Fighting 8, Endurance 12, Psionics 9; Mind Gem

Saucer Man
Saucer men look like small, grey men with large, black, almond-shaped eyes and oversized heads. They are tremendously annoying, wanting to touch and probe everything they meet, and they have no respect for other forms of life.
LVL I, POW 2, REF 3, FOR 2, INT 6, AWR 4, WIL 4, CHM 2; Fighting 3, Psionics 4, Science 11; Repair Kit, Science Scanner, Sonic Disrupter

Shimmering Death
A shimmering death appears as a cloud of glowing, shifting motes of light. They drain the psyches of creatures, and are notoriously hard to kill. A shimmering death can only be harmed by psionics, sonic disrupters, and energy swords. They attack by enveloping a creature, who must make and Endurance check each round to avoid being stunned with fright while his mind is probed and his psyche gnawed on. Each round spent in a shimmering death drains one point of WIL.
LVL III, POW 1, REF 6, FOR 4, INT 1, AWR 6, WIL 6, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Flight 11, Psionics 8, Stealth 4

The boisterous Vikings of the space lanes are raiders, pillagers, warriors, poets and spacemen extraordinaire. They wield energy axes (treat as energy swords) and go berserk in combat, attacking twice per round and ignoring wounds on a successful Endurance task check.
LVL III, POW 5, REF 4, FOR 5, INT 3, AWR 3, WIL 3, CHM 3; Fighting 8, Astronavigation 7, Dodge 8, Endurance 8, Engineering 4; Energy Axe, Machine Gun

The Slime God
The Slime God is a horrible creature, a blob of cyan slime covered with blinking black eyes. A major power of the Galactic Core, he is bent on consuming everything in his path. The Slime God can strike up to six creatures per round with its pseudopods, or try to overrun creatures and smother them (Endurance check each round or lose one point of Fortitude).
LVL V, POW 8, REF 4, FOR 10, INT 3, AWR 3, WIL 6, CHM 1; Fighting 10, Endurance 9, Stealth 12

Space Whale
These magnificent creatures look like humpback whales with shimmering black hides and brilliant eyes of star shine. They attack with their flukes and fins, striking two creatures per round and dealing 2 points of damage when they hit.
LVL III, POW 9, REF 4, FOR 8, INT 2, AWR 1, WIL 4, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Astronavigation 12, Flight 8, Psionics 5

Spacers are traders who drive cruisers across the galaxy, trading exotic goods. They attack with handguns and daggers, one attack per round.
LVL I, POW 3, REF 3, FOR 3, INT 3, AWR 3, WIL 3, CHM 4; Fighting 4, Astronavigation 6, Engineering 5, Psychology 7

Star Bandits
Star bandits are pirates. Some operate from space cruisers, others in starfighters that launch from asteroids and planetoids.
LVL II, POW 3, REF 4, FOR 3, INT 3, AWR 4, WIL 2, CHM 2; Fighting 7, Stealth 6; Energy Shield, Machine Gun

Stone Man
Stone men look like humanoids formed of stones. They stand about 10 feet tall, and have deep, raspy voices with which they speak very slowly. Their skin is as tough as tritanium armor, and their hands can strike like jackhammers. They attack twice per round.
LVL III, POW 8, REF 2, FOR 5, INT 2, AWR 2, WIL 2, CHM 2; Fighting 6, Endurance 12

Sun Tiger of Yaoloo
The sun tigers look like cats formed of flame and light. They radiate intense heat, forcing creatures within 10 feet to pass an Endurance check each round or suffer a -1 penalty to all physical ability scores (POW, REF, FOR). They attack twice per round, once with eye beams (up to 30 feet) and once with claws.
LVL III, POW 5, REF 5, FOR 8, INT 1, AWR 6, WIL 2, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Endurance 6, Flight 6, Stealth 5

Vampiric Plant Man
A vampiric plant man looks like a thin creature with indistinct features, pale green skin and long, thorned fingers that can tear into flesh and drink blood. They attack twice per round with their fingers. Each successful attack forces a person to pass an Endurance task check or lose one point of POW to blood drain each round until receiving first aid. Lost POW returns at the rate of one point per hour.
LVL III, POW 4, REF 4, FOR 5, INT 2, AWR 5, WIL 4, CHM 2; Fighting 8, Psionics 5, Stealth 9

Voltons are large avians with leathery skin, long, jagged beaks, and 20-ft long, whip-like tails that carry a powerful electric charge. Creatures struck by the tail must pass a 3 dice Endurance check or be stunned for one combat round and unable to move or attack, in addition to suffering 2 points of FOR damage. Their tiny minds make them immune to psionic attack.
LVL II, POW 7, REF 4, FOR 4, INT 1, AWR 4, WIL 1, CHM 1; Fighting 6, Flight 8

Xodiac, Lord of Space Magic
Xodiac is an ancient wizard steeped in cosmic magic. He is a major power in the Galactic Core, commanding many froglodytes and space bandits. He travels on a boomer, seated on a golden throne before a giant crystal ball, through which he spies on the galaxy. His awareness of the future allows him to force opponents to re-roll an attack or task check once per combat.
LVL V, POW 2, REF 5, FOR 6, INT 5, AWR 5, WIL 8, CHM 4; Fighting 6, Psionics 12; Mind Gem, Psi-Helm


These would be pretty awesome as well. Buy HERE.

A boomer is a cruiser-sized spaceship that carries cargo, passengers or perhaps two or three starfighters. They carry three laser blasters, energy shields and tritanium armor. They move at a speed of 2 miles per minute (or 1400 feet per round), and can hyperspace one parsec away, once per day.

These ships are operated by the saucer men. They are quick and maneuverable, and are capable of teleporting up to one parsec away once per day. They are unarmed, but carry science scanners.

These small, one or two-man spaceships carry a laser blaster and six smart missiles. They can operate in space or in an atmosphere. They move at a speed of 35 miles per minute (or 6 miles per round).

A zipper is a small cargo ship designed to be a blockade runner. It is equipped with two laser blasters and energy shields. A zipper moves at a speed of 3 miles per minute (or 2600 feet per round), and can hyperspace one parsec away, once per day.

What I Did Over My Christmas Vacation

Back to work today (real work, where I get a paycheck), and I thought I’d get the first post of the new year knocked out before I have to get down to business.

What did I do on my Christmas vacation this year?

But it didn’t stop there. Let’s take a trip down memory lane …

When I was but a young slip of a boy, I was obsessed with three things: Star Wars, World War Two, and Football. I was the original football geek – knew all the stats, knew the team histories, watched the games (rooted for the Steelers first and then the Raiders – I was a Las Vegas kid, so I didn’t have a home team to root for), etc.

While I had never heard of D&D, I was already a gamer at heart. One summer, I invented my own football league. Lots of teams organized into conferences and divisions. Teams like the Las Vegas Aces, Billings Mountaineers, New Jersey Battleships (there’s my WW2 obsession leaking through), Jacksonville Oranges, Birmingham Yellowhammers, Canton Bulldogs (I was retro before retro was cool), Georgia Peaches and my personal favorite, the Ottumwa Hogs (my family hails from Ottumwa, IA, thus the placement of a professional team in such a small market).

I designed helmets and team colors, and then I invented a very simple way to play games between them using a dice (and when I say dice, I mean d6 – back in those days, that was just a plain old dice, no extra description required). For each quarter of the game, I rolled the dice for each team to see how many points they scored. I don’t remember the exact scheme now, but I’m sure it went something like this:

1 = 0 points
2 = 3 points
3 = 6 points
4 = 7 points
5 = 10 points
6 = 14 points

For example: Ottumwa Hogs vs. Las Vegas Aces

I would roll those dice, total up the scores, and have a winner. Then I recorded the wins and losses and ties, and eventually had them in playoffs and a championship game. I kept it all in a notebook, figuring out the schedules, etc. On a long road trip back to Iowa, it kept me occupied and entertained as only a geek can be entertained by rolling dice.

Flash forward to 2015.

My brother-in-law gets me that electronic football game. I start playing with it, and realize quickly that all those game scores I’m generating are going to waste. What if I resurrected those old pretend football teams, plus a few others, and made a sort of tournament. Yeah. A tournament.

Four conferences – North, South, East and West. Eight teams per conference, so a round of games, then conference playoffs, then conference championship, then league playoffs and league championship.

And I can organize the teams in Excel, with team logos and colors.

Oooh – what if I make a random table for determining off-season stuff, like teams folding or moving to new cities or picking up or losing star players.

Yeah – star players. They can give bonus offense and defense rolls that change the final score of the electronic games.

AND – I can grab demographics on the different MSA’s in the US (metropolitan statistical areas) and the different stadiums, and come up with a random way to determine attendance and TV viewership and generate money earned for each team. Then they could spend money to build the teams even more.

Now I’m trying to figure out how to put together a pen & paper version of this, a little more in depth.

So, that’s what I did with my Christmas vacation, along with writing about half the next issue of NOD (which will cover the Klarkash Mountains) and finishing up the first draft of GRIT & VIGOR.

Oh, and the Ottumwa Hogs are playing for the North Conference championship, against either the throwback Browns (with their classic Brownie logo) or the Minneapolis Marines.

B is for Barbarian II: The Improvening

Oh yeah, it’s already time for the second edition of B is for Barbarian! A few things occurred to me since yesterday:


I think the combat table would work better if it compared attacker skill to defender skill:

Armor: With this matrix, armor provides an armor save, as follows:

  • Leather Armor/Thick Skin: Avoid losing a life on a roll of 6 on 1d6
  • Chainmail/Thick Scales: Avoid losing a life on a roll of 5-6 on 1d6
  • Platemail: Avoid losing a life on a roll of 4-6 on 1d6
  • Magic Armor: Avoid losing a life on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6

Mounted Combat: It was also pointed out that an attacker on horseback should get a bonus. Let’s turn that around – fighting a mounted attacker while on foot will count as “fighting from an awkward position”, and thus degrade the attack ability of the person on foot.

Reach: One might also consider fighting somebody with better reach, either because they are larger (like a giant) or because they have a longer melee weapon fighting from an awkward position. In this case, when fighting somebody with a longer weapon, your first successful attack can be counted as disarming them rather than taking away one of their lives.

II. Companions

A few additional companions occurred to me:

Eagle/Falcon/Hawk: A bird of prey serves you loyally. It fights as a beast and has 2 lives. It also has Eagle Eyes and can fly, which is pretty sweet.

Panther/Lion/Tiger: This can either be a big cat or a mysterious, dark woman who can turn into a big cat. It fights as a beast and has 5 lives. It has Cat-Like Reflexes and can Intimidate.

Giant: Not a real giant, just a huge warrior played by Richard Kiel or Wilt Chamberlain. Skilled fighter with 7 lives and armed with leather armor and a maul. Can Intimidate.

Ninja: What the heck, it’s the 80’s! The ninja is a skilled fighter with 5 lives armed with a sword and shuriken (treat as chakram). Can fight like a Whirlwind and has Cat-Like Reflexes.

If anything else occurs to me, I’ll release the 3rd edition.

B is for Barbarian I

And not just any barbarian, I’m talking about b-movie barbarians. You know, those bare-chested outlaws that littered the cinemas back in the glorious ‘80s. I was watching Deathstalker the other day, and it inspired me to put together a quick mini-game of ‘80s barbarian action.


You are a barbarian warrior. Heck, not just a warrior, a freaking barbarian lord! That means you don’t need to worry about races or classes or all that nonsense.

As a cat-like barbarian lord, you have 9 lives (more on that later) and you’re a kick-ass combatant. In combat, which uses a D6, you score a hit as follows:

vs. unarmored foes roll 2-6 on 1d6
vs. leather armor or thick skin roll 3-6 on 1d6
vs. chainmail or thick scales roll 4-6 on 1d6
vs. platemail roll 5-6 on 1d6
vs. magic armor or ethereal foes roll 6 on 1d6

Each hit takes one life from a foe.

Of course, less skilled fighters use different hit scores. The full attack matrix is there to the right.

In the attack matrix, a 6 followed by another number means if the attacker rolls a “6”, they must roll another 1d6 and roll in the additional range to succeed.
Attacking from horseback or in an awkward position or without a weapon drops one’s effective skill level (for each such problem) by one column.

Okay – so that’s combat!

So, how do we distinguish one barbarian from another (other than hair color and style of loincloth) – with the extras.

Each barbarian hero can choose two pieces of equipment. Each weapon causes a special effect when the hero rolls a “6” in combat and follows it up with a second “6” on 1d6

  • Axe: Can be used to chop down doors (roll 3-6 on 1d6); in combat, decapitates foes for instant death
  • Bow: Range of 200 yards; in combat, can pin foes to walls
  • Broadsword: In combat, decapitates foes for instant death
  • Chainmail Bikini: Can negate hits on a roll of 4-6 on 1d6; and if you’re a guy, the bikini is also going to get you a few weird looks
  • Chakram: Range of 50 yards; in combat, can decapitate foes for instant death
  • Flying Guillotine: Range 5 yards; in combat can decapitate foes for instant death
  • Francisca: Range 10 yards
  • Helmet: Can negate one hit and is then destroyed; can have wings, horns or a plume
  • Maul: Can be used to smash down doors (roll 2-6 on 1d6); in combat, can knock foes flat on their back
  • Shield: Can negate one hit and is then destroyed
  • Spear: Range 10 yards; in combat impales foes for extra loss of life

Each barbarian hero can choose one extra skill to possess:

  • Beastspeaker: Can communicate with animals, and can control their actions on a roll of 4-6 on 1d6
  • Bull Strength: Can tote wenches, kegs and other heavy objects on his shoulders; up to 300 pounds
  • Cat-Like Reflexes: Can climb walls and move silently on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Cleave: Can make a free attack on an opponent within reach after successfully killing another foe
  • Eagle Eyes: Can spot ambushes, traps and secret or concealed doors on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Fortitude: Can ignore the effects of fatigue, poison or disease on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Horseman: Can attack from horseback with no penalty
  • Intimidate: Can get information out of foes or cause unskilled combatants to flee him on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Iron Will: Can ignore the effects of magical control and fear on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Savage Cunning: Can hide in the wilderness and surprise foes (free attack) on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Scholarly Mein: Can read ancient inscriptions, disarm traps on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6 and produce 1d6 bombs (range 10 yards) per day if he has the ingredients for gunpowder (watch the gorn episode of Star Trek for the formula)
  • Skullduggery: Can pick pockets and find and disarm traps on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6
  • Whirlwind: Can make multiple attacks against foes within range, reducing his combat skill by one column for each additional foe attacked during the round
  • Woo Women: Can make the ladies knees weak and cause their hearts to flutter on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6


A good barbarian does not travel alone. The barbarian hero can choose two companions for his adventure from the following list. Each companion can fight by his side and brings other abilities to the table as well.

  • Amazon Warrior: Expert warrior with sword and bow, can intimidate foes; has 6 lives
  • Charming Warrior: Expert warrior with sword and shield, can woo women; has 6 lives
  • Cunning Outlaw: Skilled warrior with sword and bow, capable of skullduggery; has 6 lives
  • Feisty Peasant: Unskilled warrior with club, can carry stuff and use common sense to get out of predicaments on a roll of 4-6 on 1d6; has 3 lives
  • Hedge Wizard: Unskilled warrior with staff, possesses a scholarly mein, can cast simple spells of detection and can counter the spells of other wizards on a roll of 4-6 on 1d6; has 3 lives
  • Holy Man: Skilled warrior with mace and chainmail, can hold spirits and undead at bay on a roll of 3-6 on 1d6; has 3 lives
  • Wily Thief: Skilled warrior with dagger, possesses cat-like reflexes, eagle eyes and skullduggery; has 3 lives
  • Young Barbarian: Skilled warrior with axe, possesses savage cunning and bull strength; has 6 lives

With each adventure, a barbarian hero has one of three motivations: Greed (i.e. gold, jewels, etc.), Lust (for a prince or princess, feisty peasant girl, dashing swordsman, etc.) or Revenge. Some adventures might allow more than one such motivation. Whenever the barbarian hero (or a comrade) would be destroyed during the adventure, he or she can play a motivation card and manage an amazing feat that ensures their survival.


So, you have your barbarian hero and his retinue. Adventures are simple – come up with a patron, a cause, a villain and his lieutenant and soldiers, a fortress for the villain, dangers along the way, and you’re done.

For evil high priests, wizards and sorcerers, give them whatever spells make sense – usually things like teleportation, gaseous form, fireballs, lightning bolts, mind control, invisibility, etc. To resist a spell, a barbarian hero or hedge wizard needs to roll a 3-6 on 1d6, while others need to roll a 4-6 on 1d6.

For monsters, dig into your game books. A monster has as many lives as it has hit dice, fights like a monster, beast or demon (use your best judgment) and has as many attacks as you think it should have. Give the monsters skills (as above) where necessary. The main thing – don’t overthink it. This is a barbarian b-movie, after all. It’s not the story, it’s the action!

Cave Brawl – The Rules

Rules of Play

Flip a coin to determine which team starts out with the ball – or simply discuss and come to a decision. The team with the ball is the offense, the team without the ball is the defense.

The defense coach moves first. All of the players begin the game in the “tunnel” leading to the playfield, and thus each one must be moved from their goal cave. The light colored square counts as the first square of their movement.

Play proceeds in turns. The defense coach makes the first move, then his opponent, and so on.

On a coach’s turn, he may move all of his players.

A player can move as many squares as they have movement points and take one action. A player that has been knocked down can stand up and take one action, but cannot move.

All actions are resolved by comparing one of the attacker’s ability scores to one of the defender’s ability scores to derive a modifier. If the attacker’s score is higher, then the modifier is a bonus equal to the difference between the two scores. If the defender’s score is higher, then the modifier is a penalty equal to the difference between the two scores. The attacker rolls 1d20 + the modifier to resolve the action. If the roll is equal to or greater than 10, the action is a success. If not, the action is a failure.

The following actions can be attempted in Cave Brawl:

Block: A block is an attempt to push an adjacent opposing player. Compare the blocker’s BT score to the defender’s BT score to derive the modifier. If successful, the blocker may move the defender one square in any direction. If they have any movement left, they can follow up an end the turn adjacent to the defender. The victim of a successful block suffers 1d6 points of damage. Deduct this from their hit point total. If the roll is a failure, the blocker’s turn is over.

Tackle: A tackle is an attempt to knock an adjacent opposing player over, forcing them to drop the ball. Compare the tackler’s BT score to the defender’s BT or CD score (whichever is higher). If the tackle is a success, the defender is knocked down and loses 2d6 hit points. If they were carrying the ball, it bounces into an adjacent square chosen by the defender. If the tackle is a failure, the tackler is knocked down in the square they occupy and loses 1d6 hit points.

Pass: A pass is an attempt to throw a ball from a passer to a receiver. Compare the passer’s PK score to a difficulty class (DC) based on the range of the attempted pass. For each opposing player adjacent to passer, the d20 roll suffers a -1 penalty.

Short Range (1-5 squares) = DC 4
Medium Range (6-10 squares) = DC 8
Long Range (11-20 squares) = DC 12

If the pass is successful, it is on target and the receiver may attempt to catch it and then move. If the pass is a failure, it lands 1d6 squares away from the receiver, placed by the passer’s opponent.

Catch: This is the attempt by a player to catch a ball that has been passed to them. Compare the receiver’s CD score to the same DC as for the original pass. For each adjacent opposing player, the d20 roll suffers a -1 penalty. If successful, the receiver now holds the ball and can move their allotment of squares. If the catch is failed, the ball is placed one square away from the receiver by the opposing coach.

Kick: Kicking works as passing. The ball is aimed at the tiny hole above the goal tunnel of the opposing team. A successful kick instantly ends the game in victory for the kicking team. The DC of the kick is determined by range, measuring from the kicker to the goal square. For each opposing player adjacent to kicker, the d20 roll suffers a -1 penalty.

Short Range (1-5 squares) = DC 14
Medium Range (6-10 squares) = DC 17
Long Range (11-20 squares) = DC 20

If the kick is a failure, the ball is placed 1d6 squares away from the goal square by the opposing coach.

Pick Up Ball: A ball that is loose on the ground can be picked up by a player. The player must move to the square containing the ball and pick it up. That player’s movement ends in that square.

A team that scores a goal by kicking wins the game automatically.

By moving the ball into the opponent’s goal square, a team scores one point. The first team to score an agreed upon number of points (3 can be considered the default) wins the game.

When a point has been scored, the ball is given to the opposing team and play begins again with each team in their goal tunnel. As always, play begins with the defender.

Keep It Moving
Ungawa demands action! If the offense (i.e. the team with the ball) has not moved the ball for two turns, Ungawa’s priests release one of the following terrors from their animal pits. Roll 1d6 to determine the beast:

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Roll Beast POW DMG MV
1 Stirge Swarm 2 1d6 4
2 Smilodon 6 2d6 6
3 Stegosaurus 8 3d6 5
4 Giant Snake 4 1d6 6
5 Mastodon 10 3d6 5
6 Pteranodon 4 1d6 7

Special: The victim of a pteranodon attack must roll 1d6. On a roll of “1”, they are picked up and carried off the field of play, never to return. The victim of a giant snake attack must roll 1d6. On a roll of “1”, they are constricted and unable to move until they make a successful Block attack against the snake. Each round they are constricted, they suffer automatic damage. The victim of a stirge swarm attack must roll 1d6. On a roll of “1”, they lose one point from each of the ability scores (BT, CD and PK).

The released animal either emerges from the left cave or right cave (flip a coin). It heads towards the nearest player on the team that has failed to advance and attacks. After that, the animal moves toward and attempts to attack (if it moves far enough) the nearest player from either team. The animal does not leave the field of play until a point is scored or the animal is killed.

To attack, compare the beast’s Power value to the defender’s BT or CD (whichever is higher) and roll 1d20 as normal. The type of beast determines the number of hit points the player loses on a successful attack. The beast rolls a number of 1d6 equal to its Power value to determine its hit points.

Attempts to block or tackle a beast are made by comparing the attacker’s BT to the beast’s Power value.

League Play
League play can be accomplished by forming a number of teams and then having each team play each other team, recording wins and losses, during the season and allowing the two teams with the best win-loss records play a championship at the end of the season.

Alternatively, you can put the teams in brackets, allowing them to play an initial round of games, the winners playing each other in successive rounds until only two teams remain.

Players that do not survive a game are replaced by new players for the next game. Each player that survives a game can improve one of their ability scores (BT, CD or PK) by +1. No ability score can be improved higher than a score of “8”.