Spear! Fang! Raygun! (Attribute/Ability Score Generation)

A few months ago I started an Astonishing Swords & Sorcerers of Hyperborea campaign I was calling Spear! Fang! Raygun! which centered around “pantless barbarians”–basically ultra-cliche badass heavy metal inspired barbarians in woolly triceratops fur loincloths and boots and helms adorned with the horns of the Shaggy Hellcows of Crom!–and their adventures in the lost world-ish, dimensionally permeable realm of the Forlorn Plateau. (A very special snowflake campaign, obviously.) PCs ranged from Fly Stargroove, a jive knight who used the Funk, to Murrl, a monk devoted to Ar’nuuld! the Mightily Thewed and trained at the Golden Domed Gym. Anyway, you get the idea. I also stole the name “Pantless Barbarian” from Chris Kutalik outright. Sorry, Chris.

Putting this together, I made a bunch of special character creation rules and added a Luck attribute to the game. I wanted to share all of that here since someone may get some use or inspiration out of it. I’ll be dropping these piece by piece so as not to overwhelm.

So here’s the first article in the series.

Ability Scores Generation

Ability scores for Player Characters in the Spear! Fang! Raygun! campaign may be generated according to one of the following methods. It is the player’s choice which to use.

Worthy of Crom!

barbarian dude

To generate ability scores as Crom! intended, use the following method:

    • Roll 3d6 straight down, assigning results in order.
    • Roll a 1d6, add points to ability scores however (but no score may exceed 18)


  • Worthy of Crom! – Accept what the universe has given you and make something of it! Crom! cares not for the weak and snowflakey, only those who are worthy and that means you! The character gains a +2 bonus to Luck. Additionally, the following two rules apply to characters using this method:
  • Crom! Grant Me this One Request! – 1d3 times per a year (this roll is secret, only known to the DM), he may call on Crom! for assistance (whether that be to grant you revenge or make it with the Sexy Giant Cave Amazon queen, it doesn’t matter) and Crom! will answer (the DM will intervene in your favor).* After the character has reached the limit of his worthiness, for a year and a day from the last intervention, Crom! is displeased with his weakness, so to hell with you! (You now suffer the To Hell with You! curse below and lose the +2 bonus to Luck.)
    *In order to call upon Crom! you must give an impromptu, dramatic monologue worthy of the gloomy god. If you fall to do so, then To Hell with You!–you immediately suffer from the curse below.


    • To Hell with you! – Crom! suffers not the weakling, the whiner, the seeker of handouts! Your character is cursed by Crom! for not being able to pull himself up by his own sandlestraps! Whenever you are in Crom!’s domain (or what Crom! considers his domain), you may be called upon to make Tests of Luck or Extraordinary Feats of Luck at random, totally arbitrary intervals, suffering grave and/or hilarious consequences in the event of failure (of a sort entirely meaningless and as a result of an uncaring universe).

Unworthy of Crom!

To generate ability scores as a pansy and feel the cold, stern neglect of Crom!, use the following method:

  • For each ability score, you start with a 3d6 but may assign additional die from a dice pool of seven d6 dice.
  • Decide how you want to arrange the dice pool among your rolls. For example, an array could be 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6, 4d6 or 10d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6 or 5d6, 5d6, 6d6, 3d6, 3d6, 3d6, etc.
  • Once you have distributed your dice pool, roll for your scores, taking the highest three points for each roll and adding them.
  • Distribute the scores however you wish.

Unworthy of Crom! –  Crom! suffers also not the writer of extravagant, meaningful backgrounds! Your character  (perhaps rightly) believes he is destined to leave his mark upon the world but Crom! finds only those worthy who achieve greatness via the sheer, uncaring randomness of the universe! But you may still attempt Crom! Grant Me this One Request! as above except it only works if you succeed at an Extraordinary Feat of Luck. Failure, though, means that Crom! will curse you for your groveling.  (The nature of this curse is up to the DM). Additionally, upon failure you immediately suffer the effects of To Hell with You! for a year and a day, at which point you may try to call upon Crom! once again, though the curse may or may not be lifted.


Shirriffs and Bounders

To begin, here are the design concepts  of the Southfarthing Confidential, a halfling police procedural game/setting I’m writing:

Shirriffs and Bounders

Re-reading the prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring about a year back, it dawned on me that I had never seen anyone do anything, as far as I was and am aware, game-wise with the concept of halfling policemen. Ol’ J.R.R. writes about the ‘Shirriffs’ in “Of the Ordering of the Shire:

‘The Shirriffs was the name that the Hobbits gave to their police, or the nearest equivalent they possessed. They had, of course, no uniforms (such as things being quite unknown), only a feather in their caps; and they were in practice rather haywards than policemen, more concerned with the strayings of beasts than of people. There were in all the Shire only twelve of them, three in each Farthing, for Inside Work. A rather larger body, varying at need, was employed to “beat the bounds”, and to see that Outsiders of any kind, great or small, did not make themselves a nuisance.

At the time when this story begins the Bounders, as they were called, had been greatly increased. There were many reports and complaints of strange persons and creatures prowling about the borders, or over them: the first sign that all was not quite as it should be, and always had been except in tales and legends of long ago.’

Wow! Somehow, in the dozen or so times I’ve probably read that prologue, this never quite stood out to me as prominently as it did this once. I’d encountered the idea of halfling guards or policemen-like operators only one other time in the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying Game career of ‘fieldwarden.’ I’m not familiar enough with the Middle Earth Roleplaying Game to say if there is anything there about, but I’ll be investigating that soon.

My first impulse was to run a Middle-earth campaign set in the shire where the PCs were bounders, but quickly the whole idea sounded really boring–lots of fighting off dwarves, goblins, and men. That didn’t really sound all that exciting and to be honest, I’m not a very serious person and while halflings are inherently hilarious, this wasn’t doing it for me. Then it hit me: pipeweed!

Pipeweed Prohibition

Back when Peter Jackson’s movies came out I remember a lot of jokes about Old Toby’s purported mildly hallucinogenic effects, which is, of course, entirely untrue, but I digress. Still, the halfling love of the leaf was an interesting element, seeing that Tolkien had just devoted an entire section of the prologue to it, as well. So, I wondered, what if pipeweed was more marijuana-like, or at least, what if it came to be seen as a social ill among the Shirefolk?

Quickly, the whole idea of setting this in the Shire was dropped, and I started thinking of the consequences of pipeweed being made illegal. Not by any leap of the imagination this led to the idea of organized crime, increased police (Shirriff) funding, and the idea that Bounders (having jurisdiction across and outside the Farthings) were pretty much G-men. Then what about dwarves? They were more accepted into the halfling lands than others, but it was clear they weren’t exactly welcome…

It all started to come together. All it needed was a bit of a push. Halflings always had that shtick in games of being slightly not on the up-and-up anyway. So why not take the bucolic wonderland of the Shire and its almost Elysium-like pastures and treat it as if it were really as sleazy as 1970s NYC or ’80s Miami?

Of course, this was absolutely ridiculous, but somehow it made so, so much sense. Halfling mafioso and cow-path pushers. Hardboiled halfling shirriffs whose experience chasing roving cattle has given them the tools to take them on. Or the younger Shirriffs like the loose sling who, at any moment, might go over the edge. Or the gloomy bounder who’s close to being discovered after years working ‘underhill.”

‘It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.’


Yeah, this was the shit. But I had to find a way to make it work. So that’s what I’ll be doing in this blog (some of the times). Any ideas anyone has to throw my way are appreciated. So far I’ve ran a brief campaign using D&D 5th ed. and a con game at NTRPG Con. They were both well-received and a lot of fun. I might start up an online game, too, for the purpose of working things out. If anyone is interested, I’ll definitely be looking for players.

Back into the Thick of Things

As a couple of you might’ve noticed, I dropped out of the RPG scene (minus playing in a couple of G+ crowd games online–though not as many as I’d like) for the past few months and neglected a bit of map work, as well. I blame a lack of personal responsibility and the vagaries resulting from a new (thought not more demanding) job.  In the meantime, though, my map work for Jacob Hurst’s Swordfish Islandswhich just had a successful Kickstarter campaign and is now being delivered, has finally seen the light of day.

What’ll be different:

  1. I got burned out on mapmaking. After a couple years, I got bored with them, so I won’t be posting a lot of maps. Nor will I be begging for money for (poorly delivered) content via Patreon.
  2. Instead of maps, I’ll be posting a range of things: game ideas, RPG content, some maps, and a lot about an RPG setting/rule set I plan to write called Southfarthing Confidential, which is a game about halfling (don’t use the other H-word) sheriffs who have to deal with the criminal fallout of pipeweed prohibition in the Five Farthings.
  3. I’ll also be talking about ideas from the games I’m currently running at home and online. My current roster includes: Spear! Fang! Raygun! (my home-brew AS&SH campaign that’s a mix of He-ManConan, and Hanna-Barbera), a Deadlands-ish weird western, a home-brew Traveller game, and my G+/Roll20 Metamorphosis Alpha-inspired Mutual of Omaha Starship Vonnegut campaign, which has been running for a year now with only a couple players.
  4. This won’t follow a regular schedule. I’ll post when I post. But I plan on being more active again in the community; hopefully, that’ll lead to some fun games and DIY endeavors.

All right, that’s it. You can likely expect a real “first post” in the coming week.

Tomb of Idiosyncratic… [Area A]

This is the first section of my Tomb of Idiosyncratic Glandular and Neurochemical Response to Abrupt Sympathetic Nervous System Stimulation. This is an ongoing project where I draw isometric maps of individual areas of the dungeon and detail them.

The full map and background for the Tomcan be found here, but as of right now it is unlabeled. I’ll be labeling it and updating as I go.

Area A – Pool of the Disgruntled Gator-People
The smell of rotting fish and non-aquatic organisms overpowers anyone who area-a-bwapproaches this 40′ by 20′ by 30’pool. The water is the color and general low viscosity of baby poo following an
abundant helping of pea mash. Dead fish float and bob in the water, along with the occasional human hand (1 in 6 chance of bearing a magic ring) belonging to some previous ne’er or e’er-do-well who sought the lich Gabothax’s treasure.

Two gator-men (one a gator-woman) by the names of Slackmaw and Ralph are stationed at this pool to guard the entrance. They were hired recently after Lazzgrazzathax attended a conference on advanced dungeon stocking methods. Slackmaw and Ralph are unionized and disgruntled due to Gabothax’s paternal leave policies. At any given time there is a 2 in 6 chance that Slackjaw will be away from the pool while Ralph remains  behind alone, due to said policies banning the father from taking time off to sit with his clutch. When not guarding the entrance at the pool, Slackjaw can be found tending to their clutch of eggs at a nearby river or creek. It is important to note that gator-men are loving parents. If Ralph is found alone at the pool, PCs might be able to convince him to let them pass by offering sympathy for his situation.

Creatures: 2 Gator-people. room-a-iso

Cryo and Med Bay [Friday Map]

The following map is from my Wednesday night Voyages of the Mutual of Omaha Starship Vonnegut Metamorphosis Alpha/Mutant Future game. We’re three sessions in and the PCs have spent the majority of their time attempting to escape from the cryochambers in which they’ve been frozen for 500 years. The facility is embedded in a false cliff face along the wall of a deck which contains a 30 mile wide lake biome, which can be seen from the glass elevator at the top left and through the viewing area/lounge (with conversation pits) at the bottom left.





Don’t Call it a Hill Fort [Tuesday Map]

James Aulds, one of my Patreon backers and fellow player in Chris Kutalik’s Hill Cantons campaign, asked me to draw a war-bear hill fort, since he’s been playing Starilak (sp), a war-bear who has a healthy relationship with his polearm.

So, I’m obliging, I think. I’m not too happy with this sort of a hill fort, so I might return to it later, but in the meantime, here’s a war-bear hill fort for James.


Mountainside Redoubt [Friday “classic” map]

I drew this map a little over a year and a half ago, and… Well, it’s interesting to see how much my style has developed since then. But I still think it’s an cool map. I always liked cliff-side structures.


I have a few maps I’m working on which I’ll be posting soon. I’ve got the second part of the bathhouse I posted last week, an overland map of a new style I’m trying out, and a massive castle map.

We’ll return to our regularly scheduled Tuesday map next week. I got a little swamped this week at work, but new and interesting things are on the way!