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

Pars Fortuna Monsters

I’m currently working on the monsters for my Pars Fortuna project. Here’s a quick preview of the monsters (by challenge rating) I’ve statted up.

1 – Hraeth: Giant ravens.
1 – Hrogo: Leaping lampreys.
1 – Moggie: Giant cats.
2 – Giant Snail: Main meat animal of Fortuna’s Wheel.
3 – Arakhun: Raccoons the size of black bears.
3 – Dol: Pack dogs the size of mules.
3 – Haloot: Large, quadrupedal, wingless owls.
3 – Maimun: Giant monkeys.
3 – Olph: Carnivorous, predatory sheep.
3 – Topi: Cross between and octopus and spider; live on land and in the sea.
3 – Woin: Bat-winged wolverines.
3 – Xerg: Foxes the size of leopards.
4 – Armadillox: Giant armadillos used like oxen by the natives of Fortuna’s Wheel.
4 – Gangarou: Giant, carnivorous kangaroos that hunt the savanna.
4 – Hhai: Winged cougars.
4 – Jumart: Like a cross between a horse and bull.
4 – Peca: Like feline baboons.
5 – Onkeyn: Swift, horse-sized rhinos with long legs.
6 – Bebb: Giant herbivorous bears with massive heads and long beards.
6 – Orpo: Giant swine who live in rivers and lakes.
6 – Urleel: Cross between a moray eel and sea turtle.
7 – Giant Gulper Eel: Google them.
8 – Giant Mantis: Stalk the jungles.
8 – Mursa: Cross between a walrus and polar bear.
9 – Opur: Penguins the size of killer whales.
9 – Rho: Giant lynx with a large horn jutting from its forehead.
11 – Tragelph: Giant, elephantine goats, kept for their wool but hard to control.
12 – Criniger: Sleek, fur-bearing whales with massive tusks.
12 – Lhee: Beetles the size of elephants, and used by the natives of Fortuna’s Wheel in much the same way.
12 – Snee: Giant terrestrial eels that constrict and send out electrical shocks.
17 – Singawale: Stingrays the size of whales.
20 – Aiwhah: Catfish the size of whales.

B – Mercurial: Rats composed of mercury with poisonous bites.
2 – Moonmaid: Tiny figurines carved from moonstone, powers reminiscent of Circe.
2 – Revenant: Animated corpses.
3 – Retriever: Clockwork dogs.
3 – Skeloid, Lesser: Skeletons bound in silver wire with wooden raven head. Absorbs spells.
4 – Ningyo: Guardian puppets with gaze attacks.
5 – Abominid: Spider creatures stitched together from amputated limbs.
5-10 – Imposter: Statues sent to kill their living doubles.
6 – Deruu: Tree women.
6 – Iconogryph: Alabaster vultures created as temple guardians.
6 – Skeloid, Greater: Skeletons bound in gold wire with wooden hawk head. Absorbs spells.
7 – Gongthrottle: Bronze gorillas animated by wrath.
8 – Fulminator: Lightning men.
14 – Sanctus: Images of saints carved in green stone.

A – Nizzertit: Slimy, stunted goblins.
B – Nurg: Short, stout savages
1 – Cakrol: Pangolin warriors.
1 – Ilel: Cloned warriors.
1 – Nif: Wasp women.
1 – Nine: Quick, furry humanoids who live in swamps.
1 – Oraenca: Stout warriors with iron bones.
1 – Skathra: Antelope centaurs.
1 – Tachi: Ape warrior.
1 – Vindlu: Scaled lion.
2 – Caledjula: Flying tricksters.
2 – Jae: Mounds of tricky kelp.
2 – Kyssai: Ethereal scouts.
2 – Olvugai: Tentacled warriors.
3 – Bo’al: Tall, burly humanoids.
3 – Hamazak: Amazon warriors.
3 – Qward: Stocky feline nomads.
3 – Zimbad: Reptilian flyers.

B – Tomb Robber: Grey men who burrow into graveyards.
1 – Osk: Golden skinned smiths with pointy teeth.
1 – Ouph, Black: Subterranean fairies who consume hallucinatory mushrooms.
2 – Meagle: Stunted pixies who summon demons.
2 – Zwunker: Swarthy dwarfs with golden hair, negate magic by their presence.
4 – Ouph, White: Pious sculptors.
6 – Ingala: Amazonian nymphs of the rain forest.
8 – Ouph, Blue: Berserk zealots.

B – Jeyah: Like furry, giant geckos who produce psychic static.
B – Sand Rat: Scaled rats the color of sand.
1 – Dreak: Voracious giant polliwogs.
1 – Vazin: Sinuous lizards who give off electric shocks.
2 – Byn: Siren lizards.
4 – Frosseleth: Woodland carnosaurs.
4 – Palasm: Victims of a disease that become faceless baboons that blend with shadows.
5 – Meerskin: Giant weasels with emerald eyes; surrounded by a miasmic yellow cloud.
5 – Nanc: Copper-furred capybaras with scorpion tails.
5 – Tharp: Swarms of steel-gray wasps; their stings cause hemorrhaging.
6 – Isaelen: Titanic beasts who simply shift from the ethereal plane to capture creatures in its stomach.
6 – Rhuup: Portly, furred humanoid tigers; swallow people whole.
7 – Aeloll: Arachnid horrors with legs that end in noose-like loops.
7 – Kruk: Four-armed ogres who trade in flesh.
8 – Idekel: Cross between an alligator and boa constrictor; uses illusions to look like dead wood.

X – Demonic Beast: Template for altering beasts.
X – Elemental: Templates for altering beasts.
X – Tabib: People possessed by feral spirits.
7 – Volp: Crystalline wolves who spread rage, cause misfortune.
8 – Nokt: Green, five-headed crows who spread misery and desperation.
6 – Fiend: Lesser demons with variable abilities.
9 – Haunt: Ghostly creatures with a touch of death.
9 – Nature Spirit: Humanoid spirits composed of natural materials.
10 – Greater Fiend: More powerful demons with more abilities.
10 – Lunarch: Amorphous, silvery bears with spider eyes; serve the Moon Goddess, cause madness.
15-18 – Archfiend: Most powerful demons.

Pars Fortuna Basic Set?

Basic sets are a well-regarded bit of nostalgia in fantasy gaming and apparently are making a comeback in the modern iteration of Dungeons and Dragons. They also happen to be an excellent way to introduce a game to new players!

It occurred to me that I could create a “basic rulebook” for my little game experiment, Pars Fortuna that would cover levels 1 through 4, four of the twelve playable races, a nice assortment of monsters (low level and mid-level) and magic items, all the cantraps (level 1 to 3 spells), all the basic rules needed for play, a dungeon adventure and all the bits of advice I can muster. My goal would be to present this item as a free download and for sale “at cost” on, to be followed by the full game at normal prices (I don’t know how long it is going to be, so I don’t know how much it will cost yet). The full “Expert Rules” will include all 12 playable races, spells and monsters, and would include a sandbox along with deeper levels of the dungeon in the basic rules.

I’d love some feedback to whether this seems to be a good idea or just a silly gimmick. Let me know what you think!

Mulling Over Monsters

I’ve been mulling over monsters for PARS FORTUNA the last couple of days – creating stats but also trying to figure out where they fit in to the larger scheme of “killing things and taking their stuff”. For most fantasy role-playing games, right back to the first, monsters were drawn from mythology, folklore and fantasy literature – you have the basic concept and you just apply some stats. As monsters are added, they slowly fill in some “ability gaps” – i.e. we have a monster that can hit, but maybe we need one that can hit AND is immune to fire. With PARS FORTUNA, the process is a bit different. The monster concepts come from random generators, but the stats do not, so right from the start I’m trying to figure out where a given monster fits in as far as how powerful it is, how it endangers the PCs and where it lives. And, of course, you want to do this in such a way that the beasties don’t just seem to have been stacked and sorted in a spreadsheet – you want them to live and inspire (probably too lofty a word, but it will work for now) and make the game experience enjoyable (I won’t say “fun” or the heavens may split and the hand of Raggi* may descend to smite me verily).

To my thinking, there are four classes of opponents in most RPGs

Muscle – Your basic creature who kills you with weapons, sometimes a claw or slam, usually roughly humanoid, few (if any) special abilities – in other words (and to use Swords and Wizardry terminology) the Hit Dice and Challenge Level are usually the same. The main different between these creatures is the Hit Dice and maybe Armor Class and Damage – usually all ascending at the same time. This category has the axis of kobold – goblin – orc – hobgoblin – gnoll – bugbear – ogre, but also probably includes the minotaur and the simpler giants.

Magic – The flip side of muscle, these guys have a big gap between Hit Dice and Challenge Level because they are really all about the special powers, which are usually magical. What these creatures lack in hit points they need to make up with difficulty in hitting, or the fights will be too short to be interesting. Here, you can file the dryads, nymphs and pixies, among others.

Monsters – This category is just muscle + special attacks and defenses, physical and magical. The focus here is usually on a physical attack form (constriction, poison, etc) or maybe a magical power (petrification, confusion). They often have multiple attack forms, so unlike the muscle, which challenge with numbers, the monsters can take on a full party by themselves. These things can be humanoid, but usually are not. Things like chimeras, giant spiders and gorgons.

Ubers – The uber category combines Muscle and Magic, and are often used as BBEGs in the game – rakshasas, hags, ogre magi, storm giants, etc.

Of course, no little system, especially one so hastily assembled, can fit everything in, but it seems to me that these are the four bases to cover in monster design – you want a good variety of these kinds of monsters at different power levels to scale with the adventurers as they gain levels and keep each dungeon from being exactly the same – i.e. you would like multiple “monsters” for “mid-level” play, so the mid-levels of every dungeon don’t play quite the same.

So – is there anything I am missing here? Let me know.

Art from Robots and Monsters, a charity website that produces custom-made drawings to help others. Check it out.

* I think I’m adding a St. Iggar to NOD. Or maybe St. I-Gar.

Pars Fortuna Preview #5 – Magic!

So, part of my concept for PARS FORTUNA is introducing alternate rules. While the RPG will contain the old tried-and-true Vancian system for those who love it, the assumed magic system for the game is something different.

The Spell Interval System
The Spell Interval system assumes that casting spells involves gathering eldritch energies and then releasing them, with the words, gestures and tools that are involved shaping that “energy” to produce the desired effect. The more powerful a spell, the more energy it takes – i.e. the higher the level of the spell, the longer it takes for the magician’s body (and soul?) to absorb the needed energy to power the spell.

The spell level intervals are as follows: Each hour, you may cast one first level spell; each day you may cast one second level spell; each week you may cast one third level spell; each month one fourth level spell; each year one spell each of the sixth, seventh eighth and ninth levels.

Naturally, the average magician will not be satisfied with these restrictions, and will seek a way around them. Magicians can attempt to cast spells over and beyond what is allowed, but doing so can be dangerous. When a spell-caster wishes to cast additional spells of a level, he must make a saving throw, subtracting the level of the spell he wishes to cast from his roll. If successful, he channels and masters the energies necessary and casts the desired spell. If he fails, he must face the consequences, which include mental and physical deformities and supernatural curses. The more powerful the spell a magicians fails to cast, the more potentially disastrous the consequences!

Magical Tools
I’ve always enjoyed the idea of magicians carrying all sorts of odd objects and materials in order to work their art. Advanced versions of our favorite game have included material components for years, and they are often ignored because they are difficult to track. PARS FORTUNA uses a similar concept, as follows:

Level 1 to 3 spells are classified as “Cantraps” and require a fetish to cast. Each spell requires a different sort of fetish, and the fetish is not consumed in casting the spell – it is merely a cheap tool, composed of ordinary, mundane objects, that the magician must hold in his hand to successfully shape his magical energies into a spell.

Level 4 to 6 spells are classified as “Invocations” and require a tool (or set of tools) to cast. These tools are more expensive than the fetishes required by cantraps, and include arthames (mystic knives), censers and wands.

Level 7 to 9 spells are classified as “Rituals” and require expensive gems to cast. Unlike the fetishes and tools, these gems are consumed during the casting of the spell.

Sample Cantraps

Irritation (Cantrap)
Spell Level: 1
Range: 30 ft.
Duration: 1d4 rounds
Focus: Leaves from poison ivy, oak or sumac tied into a bundle with twine

You cover the target’s body in an itching sensation that lasts 1d4 rounds. For the duration, the target takes a –1 penalty on attack rolls, damage rolls and saving throws, and suffers a –1 penalty to its Armor Class if it fails a saving throw. The creature can scratch, negating the penalties for that round. Creatures that have thick hides are immune to this version of irritation.

Pitch Sight (Cantrap)
Spell Level: 2
Range: 30 ft.
Duration: 1 minute per level
Focus: A small piece of phosphorescent lichen held tightly in right fist

The caster and her allies can see normally through normal and magical darkness.

Curse of Light (Cantrap)
Spell Level: 3
Range: Touch
Duration: 1 hour/level
Focus: A tiny sack of phosphorus

You make the subject extremely sensitive to light. Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds the subject for 1d4 rounds. On subsequent rounds, they suffer a –1 penalty to all attack, damage and saving throw rolls.

Sample Invocations

Exorcise (Invocation)

Spell Level: 4
Range: 10 ft.
Duration: Instantaneous
Tool: Bolline (sickle) swung over the target’s head

You negate possession of a creature or object by any force. When you cast this spell, the possessing force may make a saving throw to resist you. If unsuccessful, the possessing creature is ejected from the host and stunned for one round. A creature affected by this spell cannot attempt to possess the same host for one day.

If cast against disembodied spirits, the spell forces those spirits to make a saving throw or flee away from the magician and keep at least 30 feet away for 1 hour.

Ghost Walk (Invocation)
Spell Level: 5
Range: Personal
Duration: 1 minute/level
Tool: Amulet set with a mirror

You become incorporeal, similar to a ghost. While ethereal, other ethereal creatures can harm you, as well as material creatures that use magic weapons and spells. You are immune to all non-magical attack forms, are not burned by normal fires, and are unaffected by natural cold or harmed by mundane acids.

You can move in any direction (including up or down) at will and with perfect maneuverability. You do not need to walk on the ground. You can pass through solid objects at will, although you cannot see when your eyes are within solid matter.

You are inaudible unless you decide to make noise. You pass through and operate in water as easily as you do in air. You cannot fall or take falling damage. You have no weight and do not set off traps that are triggered by weight. You do not leave footprints, have no scent and make no noise.

Your physical attacks are ineffectual against material creatures. Your spells affect material creatures normally.

Gem Guard (Invocation)
Spell Level: 6
Range: See text
Duration: 1 hour per level
Tool: Athame, used to split the focus gem

You transform a gem into a scrying device. When the spell is cast, the two halves of a corundum worth at least 1,000 gp become linked. When you hold one, you may scry on the other at will. You can see everything within 50 ft. of the other half. Any creature with at least a 12 intelligence has a 1-2 on 1d6 chance of sensing your attention. Spells may be cast freely through the linking gem, and may target any creature within its sensor range. Area effect spells may damage the other half of the focus, which has 30 hit points.

Sample Rituals

Infinite Step (Ritual)
Spell Level: 7
Range: Sight
Duration: Instantaneous
Gem: Jacinth (50 gp)

You (with one other willing party) instantly transfer yourself from your current location to any other spot within sight. At 12th level, the magician may make a second step from the destination.

Edge of Oblivion (Ritual)
Spell Level: 8
Range: 60 ft.
Duration: Instantaneous
Gem: Onyx (100 gp)

This spell assaults the mind and body of the subject. The subject must make two saving throws, one boosted by any wisdom bonus the creature enjoys, the other by any constitution bonus. If the subject fails the wisdom saving throw, the spell deals 1d6 permanent ability damage to the target’s intelligence, wisdom or charisma, determined randomly. If the subject fails the constitution saving throw, the spell deals 1d6 permanent ability damage to the target’s strength, dexterity or constitution, determined randomly. The caster is stunned for one round following the casting of this spell.

Prismatic Helix (Ritual)
Spell Level: 9
Range: 60 ft.
Duration: 10 minutes per level
Gem: Opal (500 gp)

The visible effect of the prismatic helix is a stationary, slowly rotating, seven strand helix, one for each color in the spectrum. This helix is 5 feet in diameter and up to 20 feet high. Any creature of 8 HD or less that looks at the helix from less than 60 feet away is fascinated, unable to do anything but stare at the helix. There is no limit to the number of creatures that can be captivated in this manner.

Once per round, the helix shoots one ray at the nearest creature, using the magician’s attack bonus. Roll randomly on the table below for the effect.

1. Red: 2d6 points of fire damage
2. Orange: 4d6 points of acid damage
3. Yellow: 8d6 points of electricity damage
4. Green: Poison (save or die)
5. Blue: Turned to stone
6. Indigo: Stark, raving mad
7. Violet: Sent to another dimension
8. Struck by two rays, roll twice, ignore any “8”

Individual strands are destroyed by opposite effects (as determined by the Referee). If a particular color has been destroyed, and that color is rolled for a ray attack, re-roll until a valid color is selected.

Pars Fortuna Preview #4 – Final 4 Races

These are the final four playable races populating the world of PARS FORTUNA. My next task will be to preview some aspects of magic and a few of the spells.


The attractive quadruped on the crest of the hill is a Skathra. The Skathra look like centaurs with the lower bodies of antelopes and spiral horns atop their heads. They have light brown skin and darker, auburn fur with black markings on their faces and sides. A skathra stands about 5 feet tall from hooves to head. They are wise, though sometimes confounding, creatures who dwell in the wild, green hills. Skathra have a natural wanderlust, and a desire to see everything there is to see before they die.

In game terms, Skathra are one of our magic-using classes. They combine their magical abilities with a talent for archery, lightning quick reflexes, survival skills and a knack for divinatory magic.

Slinking down the hill next to the Skathra is a Vindlu. Vindlu resemble long, thin lions covered in scales of silver tipped with aquamarine. They have long “whiskers” like those of a carp. These whiskers are extremely sensitive, making vindlu difficult to surprise and allowing them some insights into the emotions of others. Their four legs end in clawed hands. Outside their home city, they live in tight-knit family bands, hiring themselves out as “problem solvers”.

In game terms, Vindlu are one of our skill classes. Vindlu are stalkers and pouncers, and have a talent for avoiding traps and getting into places they are not wanted.

In the middle of the group is a Tachi. The Tachi are intelligent macaques who live in lattice-work cities on the thickly forested southern coasts, west of the lands of the Cakrol (and often in competition with them). The Tachi are merchants, moneylenders and bankers extraordinaire, and are always looking for a new path to riches.

Tachi are another skill class. They can literally smell gold and silver, and couple their natural proclivity for finding treasure with a head for business and a silver tongue. Tachi make natural spokespersons for adventuring parties in PARS FORTUNA.

And so we come to the last of the races of PARS FORTUNA – the Oraenca. The Oraenca are a race of stout, heavy warriors with skin like scarlet sandpaper and bones of iron. They measure four to five feet in height and are broad and muscular. Oraenca have flat faces, golden eyes, nose holes set high in their faces and broad mouths filled with chisel-like teeth. They are egg-layers and amphibious, having evolved in a shallow sea that is now a dry, salty wasteland. Exiled from their homeland, they found a home in the Empire of Vex, and have served as the foot soldiers for that empire and its Ilel rulers, for generations.

Oraenca are the heavy warriors of the game – they can use any kind of weapon and armor, and their fighting skills are primarily defensive – they gain an increased bonus with shields and can apply that bonus to a nearby comrade. Unfortunately, they are natural followers, and suffer a penalty when saving against mind-control effects.

And there you have it, the race of PARS FORTUNA – from slightly different to what-the-heck!

Pars Fortuna Preview #3 – More Races

Four more of the strange races in the PARS FORTUNA setting …

In the back of the pack we have a JAE. The Jae are clumps of walking vegetation that can assume a humanoid form by wrapping themselves around a skeleton of wood or metal. They use their morphic form and a little magic to make themselves appear to be members of other races – or even a person’s close friends or family. In their real form, the so-called kelpies can detach from their skeletons and move about almost like oozes – fitting into tight spaces and such. They are natural charlatans.

Jae are another spell casting race, with the added abilities of impersonating people and crawling around like an ooze when it suits them. They can communicate with plants.

Next to the Jae is a KYSSAI, also known as a ghost. The Kyssai are happy anarchists who view bodies of solid matter as prisons. Kyssai are capable of becoming ethereal for short periods, and are generally sneaky sorts. In the game setting, they are wanderers who pick up all sorts of useful information that a Referee might wish to introduce into game. They are the only race besides the Oraenca (see next preview) who can tolerate the Ilel – mostly for the spectacle.

Kyssai are another skill class, this time working as spies and scouts. They are good at sneaking about and surprising others and their power to become ethereal helps them infiltrate areas and escape with their lives. They are, alas, a bit emotionally stunted and have difficulty forming close relationships.

The bizarre creature that looks like a tentacled potato is an OLVUGAI. The Olvugai are nicknamed the visitors by the other races. They are, in fact, alien visitors to the setting, stranded on the strange world (dimension?) of PARS FORTUNA and dedicated to unraveling its mysteries.

Olvugai are a race of scholarly warriors. They are capable of attacking opponent in front and behind at the same time, and they are capable of becoming invisible for short periods of time. Olvugai have a knack for logical thinking and are skilled as sages.

In the foreground, we have a NIF, or wasp-woman. The Nif are the female counterparts to a mindless race of drones called the Nef. They dwell in hive-cities in the Cinnabar Flats, a desert of poisonous mineral springs. Each Nif belongs to a brood of sisters. The broods serve their queen mother and dote on their over-protective (and sentient) fathers until they get the call to strike out on their own. Nif have honey-colored carapaces marked with black patterns that they share with their brood-sisters.

The Nif are our third magic-using class. Their carapaces make them slightly more durable than the Caledjula and their talents run to elemental spells rather than illusions. Nif are resistant to poisons and acids, have thick carapaces and a knack for chemistry.

Our last preview of the races of PARS FORTUNA will appear next week, and include fire-loving lions, mercantile monkeys, wise antelope-centaurs and creatures with bones of steel.

Pars Fortuna Preview #2 – Races of Pars Fortuna (with ART!)

A month back I hired Jon Ascher, a gentleman known on DeviantArt as Pachycrocuta, to draw the odd, randomly generated races that populate the world of PARS FORTUNA, and boy did he knock it out of the park. I had him draw the races in groups of 4 (there are 12 total) and have now received the inked drawings and want to share them with everyone, along with some brief descriptions of the races, how they will be presented in the game and where they fit into the rules and setting.

The tall “gentleman” is a BO’AL. The bo’al are a race of hermaphrodites with bluish-green to deep green waxy skin reminiscent of the skin of a dolphin. In the setting, they dwell on a wide prairie bisected by a great river and crisscrossed with hundreds of canals, locks and irrigated fields. Nicknamed the engineers, they are taught from a young age the disciplines of mathematics, physics and architecture. Bo’al respect hard work and personal liberty – they’re happy to come together for a cause, but dislike the concept of kings. They are usually jovial sorts, and intensely curious about how things work.

In game terms, bo’al are one of the “skill” classes – and by this, I mean you tend to have three sorts of classes in class-based games – the fighting classes (good attack bonus, best hit dice, worst saving throws), the magic classes (spells, low attack bonus, low hit points, good saving throws) and the skill classes, which muddle about in the middle. The bo’al get a bonus to detect sloping passages, sliding walls, secret doors and large, room-sized traps (most folk do it on a 1 in 6, they do it on a 2 in 6), as befits their skill in engineering. They also have some skill at disabling traps, setting traps and repairing damaged items. Adding to their usefulness, they can withstand a pretty good amount of damage – they get an extra hit dice at 1st level and can regenerate some damage after each battle. So, the bo’al is a skill class with a nod towards combat.

At the center of the group is an ILEL, nicknamed the imperials. The ilel are a race of clones – copies of a former marshal of the Empire of Vex grown in vats to form a personal guard for the emperor. They have skin the color of burnished gold, hair as black as night, solid black eyes and a well developed sense of megalomania – probably why they now run the empire they were hired to protect. Ilel are accomplished swordsmen, specializing in fighting with broadsword and a wavy-bladed dagger called a kris. They are haughty and arrogant, often treating their comrades as henchmen, and if not for their ability to cut a path of red ruin through their enemies, they wouldn’t be tolerated.

The ilel is a fighting class. They are mobile fighters, so less armor but a boost in initiative. They also have some bonuses when fighting with two weapons (higher bonus to hit and the ability to trade their bonus to hit for a bonus to AC round by round). Because of their commanding attitude (and admitted skill at command) they improve the fighting-ability of their henchmen (no, not the other player characters, even if the ilel treats them like henchmen) and can have one henchman more than their charisma score would normally allow.

Next to the ilel is a CALEDJULA. The caledjula’s claim to fame is their ability to fly without the need of wings. Caledjula have tawny to reddish fur, pupil less white eyes, huge ears and six fingers on each hand. Caledjula are natural tricksters, having an inborn ability to generate illusions. In the game setting, they dwell in the tall mountains that surround Fortuna’s Spire (the literal “tent-pole” dungeon of the setting) in cliff dwellings. They are nicknamed the aeolians.

Caledjula are one of the magic race/classes in the setting, filling the role of a trickster class. All of the spell casters in PARS FORTUNA use the same spell list (126 spells, level 1 to 9), but each magical race gets a small list of spells open only to them – illusions in the case of the caledjula. The caledjula can also work on people’s emotions with their deep, melodic voices (i.e. a bonus to reaction checks) and they have a bat-like radar sense that lets them operate in complete darkness.

Finally, the little scaly bugger is a CAKROL. The cakrol resemble humanoid pangolins. Nicknamed zealots, cakrol are devoutly religious folk who live in little villages on a lush peninsula covered by rain forest. They make their way harvesting tropical crops, carving wooden idols, trading in beautifully crafted sailing barques and doing their best to protect themselves from the evil spirits that infest their homeland. They are a clannish people, and possessed of a fearful anger when they feel their adopted clan / guild / adventuring band is being threatened.

Cakrol are primarily a fighting class – they have the good attack bonuses, the hit points and the ability to use any weapon. They come with their own armor, which can be supplemented. Adding to this, they have some ability to detect and repel evil spirits (not unlike a cleric’s turn undead ability) and the ability to go berserk in combat.

All of the races in PARS FORTUNA will be presented as races separate from classes, and as racial classes (the default for the setting). My hope is that even people not interested in playing a “PARS FORTUNA” are able to find something useful in the book for their own game.

Next Preview – A ghostly adventuress, a walking heap of kelp, something from beyond the stars and a waspy woman …