Posts

The Drummer - Wolf-packs and Winter Snow

One of my favorite games in the OSR field is Wolf-Packs and Winter Snow by Dying Stylishly. Most of my Spirit Magic related blog posts actually started out as houserules for my own sessions of this neat eldritch caveman simulator.

Anyway, there's a bit of a lack of a cavalier or bard analogue in the game, so I made my own. Short post, but I hope you enjoy.

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The Drummer

Drummers memorize a set number of Rhythms to use per day.
They cannot cast spells without their drum. Each dancer follower adds +1 to their Art roll.
Every Rhythm requires an Art roll unless success is guaranteed.

Level XP Total Hit Points Save Att. Bonus Rhythms / Day 1 0 D6 Flesh, D6 Grit 15 +1 2 2 20

Crafters & Casters

Magic items don't get enough love. They really don't. I mean, sure, you can go online and find a list of magic items over a hundred entries long easy. But that doesn't mean that they're all appropriate for your players or setting (nevermind actually being good). And has anyone really fallen in love with D&D's magic item creation system? If you know of a good one, send it my way. Otherwise, I've had to make due with nebulous and poorly structured GM fiat, and that's no bueno for the soul.

It's simple to slap a +1 on a dagger and throw it at your players as a quick bone, but does that dagger really carry any meaningful weight behind it? Does it have a history? Does it have character?

It probably doesn't, and I'll admit that something as banal as a dagger probably doesn't need it. But you know who had a cool sword that had a ton of history for the better? Guts from Berserk. Demon Breaker was s-i-c-K with a capital "K for Kill". T…

Bad Alchemy

Alchemy is pretty dang cool. It mixes together dangerous concoctions and doesn't afraid of anything. I remember playing through Skyrim the first time around, stunned by the scale of everything, but it wasn't until I hit "X" on the first alchemy table that the dedication to building a full and consistent world really sunk in. (Un)fortunately, OSR ain't Skyrim, and while it's not *difficult* to find a decent d100 table that tries to mimic the grand scope of the Elder Scroll's encyclopedic knowledge of its biology, those tables are often crunchy, dense and sometimes esoteric.

Besides - what do you do when your player picks up a random flower (sure, why not) then wants to use it to make a poultice (ah, fuck), or asks you about using an animal part that you had no idea anyone would even dream of licking? Front-loading this information is time consuming, and do you really want to whip out another PDF and search for a single microscopic entry?
No, the answer is …

Spirit Magic

I love Magic in OSR games. It's often quick, visceral, and difficult. However, there are many occasions where the prohibitive nature of acquiring or using spells can interfere with what may have been a very rewarding narrative experience. I don't love that so much.

A few published games and independent game-design philosophers have floated the idea of experimental magical casting - warping the intent of a spell along the same lines that it was originally created. For example, what is the real difference between Create Light and Darkness? Well, it seems obvious at first, but there's a very real paradigm here that implies these are, in fact, two facets of the same spell. Both deal with the amount of light in a given area, and most often, these sources of light/darkness do not behave as normal darkness/light.

So, what if someone were to create the spell... Un-Darkness? This is the big step forward made by experimental casting. Create Light and Darkness become the same thing w…