Levels, levels, levels!

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I’m adapting a Level Advancement campaign system for Otherworld Skirmish from the 7TV Summer Special‘s Ratings War chapter.
It’s actually pretty straight forward and the Otherworld rules as they already stand allow for a few ways to approach it.

One can start with a traditional adventuring party faction of already-classed 1st Level human and demi-human D&D characters, or one can create a DCC-style 0-Level funnel faction.

For the former I do the following:

  • Any number of these Humans: Apprentice (see below), Bandit, Fighter, Worshipper (upgrades allowed);
  • No more than 1 of each of these demi-humans: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling (upgrades allowed);
  • Up to 1 Expedition Mule (upgrades allowed); and
  • Up to 1 War Dog.
  • No Henchmen allowed.
  • No Mounts allowed (except for a Mule as listed).

Maximum value for the entire party: 100 GP

Here’s that Apprentice I mentioned:


For a DCC-style abattoir, uh, funnel, I do this:

  • No more than 1 of each of these demi-humans: Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Halfling (no upgrades allowed);
  • Any number of Townsfolk, each with one 5 GP upgrade from the following list:
  1. Increase one statistic by one;
  2. Gain one ability from traits (no more than one each of Leader (x), Luck (x), Pickpocket (x) or Treasure Hunter (x));
  3. Improve Brawl to 5+; or
  4. Learn one new basic weapon at 6+ (and pay the minion cost for the weapon as well);
  • No mule;
  • No dog;
  • No Henchmen; and
  • No Mounts.

Maximum 100 GP

One could also play a Monsters! Monsters! faction of all evil Humanoids. Use these as your guides:

  • No more than one each of: Bugbear, Drow, Gnoll, Goblin, Hobgoblin, Kobold, Lizardman, Pig-faced Orc, Troglodyte;
  • No upgrades allowed;
  • No mule;
  • No dog;
  • No Henchmen; and
  • No Mounts.

Maximum 100 GP


Hell, one could go all out and play a full-on Monsters! Monsters! faction including any evil creatures of 25 GP or less, no upgrades, 100 GP max.

From then on advancement of characters/models happens pretty much exactly as it does in Ratings War. Just read that chapter in Summer Special, swapping these words as you go:

Episode = Encounter
Production Points (PP) = Experience Points (XP)
Ratings = Gold Pieces (GP)
Show = Faction
Cast = Faction
Star = Legend
Co-Star = Companion
Extra = Minion
Mechanoid = Animated
Repair (re: Animated) = Magic (x)

A note about Mules, Dogs and Mounts:
I see no reason to not allow Level advancement (XP upgrades) for them. See these three excellent articles (the first two for Labyrinth Lord and the third for GURPS) for inspiration on heroic animal companions. Then go for it!:

Deadlands has excellent horse and dog creation rules in Rascals, Varmints & Critters.

First edition Chivalry & Sorcery — if you can find a copy — also contains some good heroic horse rules.
And finally, FGU’s Wild West has some rules for creating horses akin to supporting characters.

These concepts can easily be generalized to other mounts (like Dire Wolves for Goblins, or camels from 7th Voyage) or other “pets” (like, say, apes, lions or bears). Mounts could include bears, giant goats, terror birds, smilodons (populators are my favourite), podogs, or cold ones.

After reading the above sources I decided animals can advance in the following ways:

  • Raise their stats;
  • Gain new abilities; and
  • Improve the attack rolls for their natural weapons.

Animals cannot gain new attack types. But “pets” like bears, big cats, etc. — as long as they’re not Small — can gain the Mount ability as a Level upgrade. That lets gnomes ride schnauzers, dwarves ride bears, halflings ride dragonettes and barbarians ride smilodons.

I also grant bonus XP for Fate tokens:

Keep track of how many Fate tokens each faction spends throughout the encounter. At the end of the encounter, each spent Fate token = +1/2 VP (round down).


Re: Gaining new abilities: human, demi-human and humanoid models may choose abilities from any category except Monstrous. Monsters may choose any abilities including Monstrous.

Re: New attacks: all new attacks start out at 6+. Gaining a new attack also incurs the cost of the weapon itself (i.e., +5 GP for the new attack +x GP for the weapon).

Re: Special Powers: a character may take a Legend or Companion special power for 10 XP. This adds 5 GP to the cost of the model. A character may only ever have one special power. [They all work except the Immortal Fiend’s Eternal Spite; that power doesn’t have legs, to my way of thinking.] 7th Voyage star qualities could also serve, especially Destiny and Free Spirit.

Re: Upgrades in general: every model in your faction can be given one upgrade after each encounter. Rules like no-Trained-weapons-unless-Martial-Training and Set-Traps-before-Gotcha! apply.

Re: Upgrades in general: upgrades should try to reflect the encounter that just ended. E.g., selecting a new attack of Javelin 6+ after fighting some Gnolls or gaining the Light Armour ability after defeating a band of Dwarves.

Re: Adding new members: any model that can ride may purchase a Mount. This does not count as an upgrade to that model.

Re: Henchmen: this campaign Level progression system doesn’t use the Henchman rule for factions.

Re: Dismounting: any mounted character can dismount. If the Mount has not been given any upgrades it remains stationary and unresponsive after dismounting, though it can be attacked and will defend itself or run off as actions dictate. If the Mount has been upgraded even once it can be moved and controlled like any other member of your faction.

Romancing Little China

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Surprised I’ve not posted about this yet.

Two of my favourited films from the ’80s, Romancing the Stone (’84) and Big Trouble in Little China (’86) are great fun to watch at the same time.


There’s quite a bit of synergy in them even though they’re not quite the same length. The weirdest bit of simultaneity though is this:

a woman being kidnapped at high speed in a red sports car driven by young punks.

That is weird, right?

There’s also a really good downpour on both screens at one point, but that’s not so very strange.

I loves me the two Jacks, Colton and Burton. Hell, I’d watch that movie!

Sinister Pane

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I wrote this monster for the Lamentations ref book. But, sad face, it was rejected. So here, it’s yours:

Sinister Pane

Armor 12, Move 0′, 9 Hit Dice, 27hp, see text for attack information, Morale 12.

Brought into being by centuries of religious and political bigotry, scheming and murder, this window from Prague causes all who see through it to view the world with a jaundiced eye that looks askance.

Whenever a person looks from the room at a passerby outside, the Sinister Pane dredges up and projects all of the viewer’s negative thoughts and reactions onto the subject. “Look at that idiot.” “Cheap bastard.” “That is an ugly face.” “I hear he tortures animals.” “Bloody peasant!” Etc., etc. All that disdain, mistrust, envy and rumour – however slight or fleeting – are spewed upon the subject with the effect of a Bestow Curse spell as cast by a 9th Level Cleric. The subject is allowed a saving throw versus Magic.

These curses will be minor hamperings, hindrances and ailments to be sure, but eventually everyone in town will be afflicted with one. And the settlement itself will develop a dark reputation as more and more travelers to and through the area are affected.

And whenever a person outside looks through the window at someone inside, the viewer will be affected by a False Seeing spell as cast by a 9th Level Cleric. The viewer is allowed a saving throw versus Magic. If the saving throw is failed, everything about the person in the room will be seen in the worst possible light. Capable leaders become incompetent schemers, honest priests become depraved manipulators, conscientious merchants become conniving short-changers.

A creeping pall of misfortune and ill will spreads around the Sinister Pane’s aspect. The window is an artist. It relishes the slow twist of corruption it weaves through a community, pouring one person’s poison onto another, and his onto hers, and on and again, never ceasing. It’s willing to perpetrate its torment upon a town for decades if it will lead ultimately to an explosion of chaos, rage and violence. It experiences ecstatic joy the very moment someone is thrown through itself to die in the street below. That is precisely the event it works tirelessly toward.

If somehow the nature of the Sinister Pane is discovered and the window is attacked it will defend itself. Once per round it will lift a handful of minor curses from persons not present and – with this flow of fresh hate – smite one of its attackers with a Bestow Curse spell as cast by a 9th Level Cleric. Madness is a preferred instrument in these moments because bedlam ensues. By inflicting insanities the Sinister Pane can turn its attackers upon themselves. The target of the spell is allowed a saving throw versus Magic. Though it does adore an angry mob, the Pane will never resort to such heavy-handed display unless and until it is physically assaulted; it much prefers the slow-simmer of a subtle years-long game.

The Sinister Pane cannot be harmed by forces of nature. Fire, water, stone, wood, lightning, earthquakes, etc. cause it to no more than shiver in its frame.

It takes half damage from metal weapons but it suffers double damage from unarmoured strikes (i.e., bare-knuckle punches). Anyone hitting the Pane bare-handed takes damage to their fingers equal to what they cause the window.

The Sinister Pane can be destroyed instantly and forever by someone voluntarily and willingly self-defenestrating through it. This act of clear-minded self-sacrifice will also immediately lift all curses and wipe away all false seeings caused by the Pane.

If reduced to zero hit points the Pane will shatter. But unless destroyed by self-defenestration all its curses and false seeings will remain in effect and it will reform and relocate over the next 6d6 years.

[I also posted it here among a number of other people’s entries.]

Cutthroat Mummy

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My latest foray:


There are a number of cool things about watching this pair of flicks at the same time:

1. They’re the negative — role-wise — of each other: Cutthroat Island has a power woman and bookish man, The Mummy has a power man and bookish woman;

2. They’re the same length;

3. The palettes are often similar;

4. Sailing ships and camels, the ships of the desert (my wife groaned at that one);

5. This one I wondered about in advance and was happy when it did occur: both films have the woman rescuing the man from prison at the same time, with nearly identical palettes;

6. Mayhem, mayhem, mayhem;

7. Crazy piles of golden treasure; and, my fave …

8. Both villains die at the same time, traveling backward left to right across the screen to land in water. For reels!

And now, because we truly live in blessed times, I find this on the interweb:


This will inevitably end up happening on my game table, so I should probably get a copy. You know, for “research.”