Friday 28 February 2014

[OSR] Barbarian berzerker, a Fighter variant

Inspiration and concept by +Venger Satanis Three Swordsmen.

This is a revised 1.1. version. Thanks for JJKM for ideas. Also +Brett Slocum that morale is written with an "e".

Barbarian Berzerker

The men and women who have battle running through their veins as from their birth they learn the ways of their tribe and culture. Endless wars between rival tribes and pillaging expeditions to far away lands make barbarians tough and ruthless. From deepest rainforests and their amazonian woman tribes to northern vikings barbarians all share a common feature: fearlessness of death.

Alignment: Neutral

All barbarian abilities need him to wield two-handed magic weapon.


Once a day per 4 levels a Barbarian Berzerker can fall into a rage. In rage his bloodthirst makes him a killing machine of deadly blows but makes him an easier target. In a rage Barbarian Berzerger gains damage bonus equal to his level but suffers 4 penalty to AC.


As fierce warriors barbarians also have intimidating gestures to make their opponents to flee. Once per day for every 3 experience levels barbarian can taunt as many opponents in HD as his level is. Taunted opponents must success a *moral roll or they flee.

Example: A 5th level barbarian has two taunts per day (one from levels 1 to 3 and second from levels 4 and 5). He has opponents varying from 1HD to 3HD and he decides to taunt the 3HD and two 1HD's. Two fail the moral check and flee.

Additional Attack (from Three Swordsmen)

At 3rd level, barbarians may attack two times a round using a two-handed weapon, but this secondary swing is granted only once per day. At 6th level, barbarians may use this ability twice per day, and thrice at 9th level. Upon reaching 12th level, they receive two attacks every round.


*Moral check. If your game doesn't have morality rules it's a simple rule to apply. Monsters have morality values of 2-12 (where 2 is worst) and when taunted (or badly wounded, half of the enemies are fallen etc.) 2d6 is rolled. If the roll result is higher compared to the morality score the enemy flees.

Peasants might have a morality of 4, seasoned thugs 8 and demonic entities 12. Mindless, controlled, constructed etc. monsters might not have moral at all thus cannot fail the test.

Original Rage:
When a barbarian has suffered more damage in total than half of his HP he may choose to fall into a rage. He has an option to gain bonus to hit and to damage maximum of his level - or less if he chooses to - in equal cost of his AC. The rage lasts as long as the barbarian is alive, the fight is over or his HP is restored over half of the maximum.

Example: A 5th level Barbarian has suffered enough damage to fall in rage. He can gain a +1 to +5 bonus to hit and damage and decides to go full-out with +5. Because blinded by rage and recklessly attacking his opponents he suffers a penalty of 5 to his Armor Class. As unarmored his (descending) AC 9 is now 14.

New spell: Curious Wound (G+ community project)

Curious Wound

Spell level: Magic-User 2nd level
Range: 150 ft
Duration: Immediate

Causes 1d6+1 HP of damage on target. Roll 1d12 for curious effect:

  1. Bleeding wound, take additional 1d4 HP of damage each round. The blood turns into a number of gold pieces equal to bleeding damage.
  2. The wound turns into a mouth that yells loudly, may attract attention from enemies.
  3. The wound turns into writing that spells out the character's inmost secrets.
  4. Psychic scarring. The wound makes no physical HP damage but causes the character to develop a phobia.
  5. Contagious wound. All within 10 ft of the target must save or take the same amount of damage.
  6. The wound never fully heals. Loose one HP permanently.
  7. The wound is permanent, as is all HP loss from the spell. The wound forms an extra-dimensional pocket, capable of holding 100 coins.
  8. The wound leaves a permanent hole through the target's body. There is no HP loss, but subtract 1d4 points from Charisma.
  9. The wound permanently glows with a greenish light equivalent to a torch.
  10. The wound festers, and will kill the target in 1d4 days if not treated with Cure Disease.
  11. Wound grows into an eye that the caster can see through.
  12. The wound turns into a portal to darkness. 1 in 6 chance every day that a shadow comes through.
3HD, AC 5 (15), immune to physical attacks

The shadow tangles itself on the nearest target and sucks lifeforce from it until destroyed or banished. Loose 1d3 CON per turn. If the CON reaches 0 the target turns into a shadow and the two tangle on two individual nearest targets (and so on).


Original idea, spell description, first entry: +Terje Nordin 

I wrote number 12.

Wednesday 26 February 2014

[Review] Three Swordsmen by Venger Satanis

Link to Drivethru, get it for FREE!
Venger's blogpost about Three Swordsmen

Additional Quirks For The Classic Fighter Class

Don't hate me but in my humble opinion the classical Fighter class is a little dull. I know they can endure most blows, they have a widest variety of weapons and armor available and they hit best. But mechanically by-the-book players got two things they can do: roll to hit and roll for damage (naturally player can declare all kinds of actions like throwing sand on the eyes, tackling against a wall, kick down the shaft etc. but those are up to the Referee to decide mechanically as in old rules don't have these special maneuvers covered.

This PDF gives three optional Fighter templates you can add on your classic Fighter class.

The product starts with an introduction what is good read. Basically it's what and why but it's well written and I enjoyed it. Obviously once you read it you don't need it anymore so we carry on to the mechanics.

Three Fighters And Their Powers

The three different Fighters each have three special skills/powers which of one is same for everyone, so they each have two unique skills/powers. The more powerful the Fighter becomes in levels, more often or more powerful his skill becomes. This doesn't happen every level though so the new Fighter doesn't seem to be too overpowered. The shared skill is an additional attack once, twice etc. per day depending on a character level.

Also a brief description for every Fighter type explains who and what they are. Templars aka paladins are kind of knights. They don't necessarily fight for religion but for duty. They might attend to holy wars but still can adventure as their devotion dictates. Their skills are deflection (with nice rule quirks) and the other leadership what also works as turn undead but on any enemy!

The second one is titled as a Slayer. He is a mercenary, bountyhunter, hired sword. Generally a guy who can -and will- fight. He can use his power with a magic blade with some conditions (blade was used to slay a chaotic wizard for example) to deal an automatic critical hit (how do you handle criticals? Maximum damage, double damage, additional attack?). Other skill is additional attack when Slayer kills an enemy.

Reaver is the third and the last Fighter variation. They are chaotic descendants of assassins. The blood-soaked reavers. The more they kill the more stronger they get in a battle and they get bonus against an opponent under any kind of unawareness (unnoticing, condition, under spell).

The classes are different enough and the Reaver is way more different than the first ones. All of the Fighter types (for me at least) work as an inspiration how the character would be played instead of just to-hit-damage rolls. The special skills/powers are not making Fighters more special or overpowered, they are mere things that Fighters do. Fight well.

The Sword Is Important Too

What about the sword? When a Fighter dies roll the table to see what happens to the swords. It will become a legendary weapon, but in which way? This is a really nice addition what makes Fighters really those heroes bards sing about. And makes iconic blades special without always being enchanted by the wizard next door.


I love this! Well written, interesting types of Fighters with nice powers which don't make them superheroes.

In my arrogant opinion this is worth 5/5 skulls. Even if it wasn't free.

Saturday 22 February 2014

[Review] The Land Of Mithgarthr, volume one

This review contains general opinions. Reviewing a PDF of The Land Of Mithgarthr Volume 1 I got from Mithgarthr Entertainment when I asked nicely.

And the review begins...

The Looks

The cover is nice explaining well with a subtitle what's this about. "Being an overview of the Land of Mithgarthr, with focus on the Kingdom of Karak". The game is compatible with Labyrinth Lord which is shown clearly on the cover.

The layout is clear two columns and the pages have nothing extra but text and few pictures. Extremely clear to read but a bit boring.

There are few pictures, most of them like emblems. Not bad. There are only a couple of bigger pictures which are ok.

The big complaint goes to the area map. The resolution makes it messy and unreadable. You can download the map online too (haven't done it though) but I can't understand why they didn't see that the map in this product is horrible. Or is it just my computer doing tricks?

Also I think colorful hex map might be a good for gaming purpose but in my opinion the setting map could be fancier and nicer to look. Gaming material maps can be what ever as long as they serve the purpose.

The map alone for these two reasons takes ½ points away from the final score.

The Land Of Mithgarthr

As earlier said this is a setting book volume one focusing on overview of the Land of Mithgarthr focusing on the Kindom of Karak. Mithgarthr is a large island on the planet Cairnvarthi. There's no more information about the planet or what other islands and continents there are. And then it explains there's mild weather in the island.

After that brief overview in the beginning the product promises a solid foundation for adventures and more supplements to come to cover other locations and realms of Mithgarthr.

Then the history part. Usually I dislike history parts in roleplaying games. At worst those are long, boring and unnecessary for me as I want to know what happens now when the player characters adventure and what will happen in the future. Naturally history can hide some good adventuring hooks and that I approve. It's just those all the other years with boring information.

But how's the history in Mithgarthr. Not too long, short texts per year easily focusing on the point. Not too much boring included. Actually this was one of the first history sections I read through (partly because I review this but also because it wasn't dull wall of text).

The history begins with men founding the island, making friends with the older races already in there (elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes) and settling. These people are the Karakians (what's this book focuses on later). Then from the north came Wikinger people and some conflicts they had. Wikinger also settled here making another kingdom. Then evil wizard happened and a war... and to the present day there's another evil wizard starting to be evil. It reads straightforward and I liked it. And the elves dislike people and avoid them.

I feel a little influence in the history and settling America. Just a little but enough to spot it (vikings, finding a new land).

 After the history we get a calendar. It's like ours but simplified (28 days per month) and with different month and week names what are not too silly. Sunday is the first day of the week like in Germany.

People Of Mithgarthr

Two nations of men. Other more civilized and other kind of like vikings but lacking information of how. Then elves, dwarves, halflings and gnomes are presented. Elves don't like people because from men the evil wizard rose. And because other races are ok with humans elves are wary of them too. So generally no elves here, they hidden.

Why no elves? Is it important design decision to make Mithgarthr what it is? I don't mind though. Just interested in details.


This book gives five gods for humans. The origin of these gods is interesting as they were originally war heroes. Also different gods have different gimmicks for clerics who follow them; one god's clerics can use any metal weapon and other's can use lutes as a club). The history of a god is interestingly written and their personalities differ enough from each other. Interesting gods but their actual purpose is not clear enough. Why should one worship them? What they do for the worship in general?

Also all the gods are men. No girl power here.

Generally the gods are interesting and how they affect cleric character's making them a little different is cool.

And then there is Chaos. They hate gods and are a constant and ever-present threat to the good people of Mithgarthr. Ok. Maybe other supplement opens this up. Not too imaginative at the moment though. Good versus evil because...? The Advanced Edition Companion of Labyrinth Lord is suggested here for demons and devils.


All the basic fantasy monsters found in a rule book of Labyrinth Lord focusing on green skins, lizardmen and that sort of things. There's also plenty of dragons. And a new race ratten is included here. Kind of basic rat men.

One thing I dislike this book suggests is that Labyrinth Lords scale the monster HD to the current party level. This means that no matter what level you are the orc raiders are going to be tough (also the exp is more though). The purpose is that the monster(s) should frighten any man no matter of level.

I get the point but I hate this in computer games. When you level up you get special powers but still have to (more or less) grind those same monsters but with more special powers.

But I do get the point. Could there be any other way to do this than scale the monster HD up? And I think they should have explained that better. Is it:
Player level + monster HD -1? That's 1:1 isn't it?
I know that Labyrinth Lords and Referees can quickly make up rules like this or just put a random HD they feel right for the situation but when the writers make up something like this they should explain what their original idea was.

This is something that cannot be reviewed without longer game test. And more I think about this more I kinda like it...

The Kingdom Of Karak

And then we get to the area fluff of Karak starting with geographic overview. A nice map would work great here.

First we get towns. Plenty of those but not too many. Few lines of information per town. The town leader's name is told but not much "who" he is. General explanations no hooks. In a sourcebook of Karak we get town names and general short overview except for the biggest of them. Still there's lots to do for a Labyrinth Lord to run a city adventure (quick Vornheim hype here). But if you want to spend time fluffing towns there's just enough information to distinct them from each other.

Also a place called Dyson's Delve is located here. It's a free dungeon you can get from HERE.

The Rest

Briefly holidays (what and when but no how), laws (unimaginative) and finally churches/temples with little information and some prices for services.

What's The Score

I like it but there are so many little flaws. For me the things I like are:

+ It is short. I hate settings that take ages to read and memorize
+ There's plenty of room for your own ideas
+ A sandbox

And things that are not that great:

- There are general ideas (it's a town) but no explanations or meat (what is the town)
- Feels more like a blog post than an actual product
- You get the idea, maybe inspiration but there's so much to fill yourself
- It doesn't tell the most important thing: what the adventurers do and why this setting is a great place to run roleplaying games? Unfortunately, I don't know
- The map sucks

If the product told me why the adventures in Mithgarthr are awesome and there were a little more details this would have been better. I don't say I wouldn't use this in my own game (planning to use this in my forthcoming LL campaign) but this is just a sketch I need to make my own world into. The text in this has no meaning.

I give this 3/5 skulls. Enjoyed reading it, wanted more details and cool.

Friday 21 February 2014

My custom 4 volume booklet of Labyrinth Lord's Advanced Edition Companion

Finally bought myself a printer and I am having a blast with it! Gotta love its simple booklet printing option and the duplex printing so I don't have to manually re-feed anything for two sided prints.

My plan is to run Labyrinth Lord but I wanted the player to have more options as a character. So I decided that for player character creation I would use rules in Advanced Edition Companion. Rest of the setting uses basic LL rules for NPCs.

Anyways I felt that I don't need everything in the PDF provided (will buy the softcover from Drivethru later for my collection and easier read though) so I decided I just print the things I need. But then I decided I'll print the last of it also as a separate volume. Then I decided, I'll divide the PDF into booklets for different contents. So here is my four volume Advanced Edition Companion! (I think I got the old school feel in the covers pretty nicely!)

The volumes are:

The Book Of Heroes: Includes character creation and equipment (26 pages)

The Book Of Spells: Includes Cleric, Druid, Illusionist and Magic-User spells and spells lists (57 pages)

The Monstrous Codex: All the monsters (39 pages)

Appendix: This and that... Magic items and weapons, new rules including combat options, poisons, stun and paralysis, vision, humanoid spell casters, cosmology, random tables, height and weight and monster lists and finally table of contents of all 4 volumes (32 pages)

You can find Advanced Edition Companion and other free Labyrinth Lord downloads from the link below:

Sunday 16 February 2014

[Review] The Baleful Sorcerer Of Tsathag'kha

Venger Satanis' blogpost of the product

Download free at RPGNow

The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag'kha is a small booklet of 6 pages. But the actual character class material is covered in two pages only.

One page for character class information and rules and the other page for total of 9 new spells for this class.

Other pages are cover, one full page illustration (which is quite nice), credits page and an introduction page explaining the product. The text is nice but obviously after you have read it once...

The focus of this product is obviously those two pages. The new character class The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag'kha.

The rules of the class are really OSR compatible to those traditional fantasy rules. It doesn't matter what kind of save system you use or is the AC descending or ascending, as those are universal here. If you need more customized converting it should be extremely easy.

The character is based on the wizard or magic-user of the game you use. But there are some minor differences. For example Sorcerers of Tsathag'ka can use some bladed weapons and they have their unique spell list - with unique mechanics.

Even though this product introduced a new spell cost compared to vancian magic, it is not too hard and not full of mechanics to remember. Basically it is a CON drain where CON act as magic points. But there are also options to drain the CON to fuel the spell from enemies.

The Sorcerers of Tsathag'kha can only learn 9 spells. One at each level. In addition they have some powers from the Cleric class. The spells are fun and weird and horrible.

Because of the spells variation I see this character class for a traditional vanilla fantasy of the bad guy. And still he might be a little too sinister. As a player character this class is absolutely not a part of "fellowship of the ring".

But for darker games (especially Swords & Wizardry what +Venger Satanis says to be inspiration behind the Sorceror) this is great villain - or even a player character.

I am sold, I like this character class a lot but I know it is not for every game or setting.

Oh, and there is some fluff text for The Baleful Sorcerer of Tsathag'ka too. Unfortunately that is too short. For six pages I would have liked a little more fluff text than just few (physical) inches on my laptop screen. They are powerful, like remote realms and worship this nasty frog god. I want more! This is a huge disappointment. I understand this is a free product but still.

And there is the frog god Tsathag'kha who is behind the power of the Sorceror. But that power has its own price. The frog god is not that friendly god to know.

This I am not 100% sure but there might be a small change that the Sorcerer might turn to a Lich. Makes sense if you know how Lichs are born but this is a little unclear for me and is not expanded at all. Can your player character (if "lucky") turn into a Lich? Isn't that awesome for bad sorcerer? Or is it a bad thing and you loose your character as a NPC?

I don't claim that would be too hard for a Referee to decide himself but that was an interesting part in the text and wasn't not expanded. What was Venger thinking himself? This is his product, his idea and his vision after all. I can make my own shit up myself.

And well, this is not all Venger's work. It's a collection of shared ideas Venger made available.

I'd give this 4 skulls of 5. The product is neat. There's too many pages but you can easily print only those two you need. The introduction is nice but I hoped that the Sorcerer had more meat wrapped on its bones. It is a good character class but the fluff is stub.

For people who like darker and weirder fantasy I recommend this. For those Referee's also who are looking for a good villain for good guys to pursue.

Grab it!

Saturday 15 February 2014

The crypt is open - Introduction

Hello traveler and welcome to the Crypt of Rabies!

Some of you might already know my earlier blog Cradle of Rabies. Today the cradle has matured and evolved into a crypt.

I started blogging when my gaming was a little different compared to today's interests and style. After 428 blog posts at Cradle of Rabies I started to see what I want my blog to be. Cradle of Rabies is too much of a kitchen sink to just start to change the old ways.

So I decided to have a break, and start again. This is the new beginning. This is the new coming. This is the Crypt of Rabies.

The focus of this blog is in old-school styled similacrum games. But I won't restrict this blog only to OSR. Sometimes I might post something else. But the main focus is in the reneissance era of retro gaming.

The articles here will contain reviews, material, thoughts, findings from all over the web... well anything actually.

Few words about me and my gaming, then I am ready with the first post here. Who cares about the past? So I'll start and quit at the present.

Currently I am into OSR games and gaming for three simple reasons:

1. There's tons of material to use both free and commercial
2. The rules are simple and super versatile
3. The community is huge

The games of my choice (as a writer) are Labyrinth Lord and Lamentations Of The Flame Princess and for post-apocalyptic and gonzo Mutant Future. Still looking for a scifi-game and Stars Without A Number might be the one.

Even though those are the games of my choice I always keep my eyes open for other games.

There are also other games I like or have played a lot, but this is not a time to talk about them.

I think this is enough for an introduction. I hope you will find this blog entertaining, fun, useful and sometimes terrifying.

Nice to see you and hope to see you again!

Thaumiel Nerub