Role-playing design notes

Random notes on the design of Gods & Monsters, and maybe even Men & Supermen if I can remember what I was drinking when I wrote it.

Gods & Monsters Fantasy Role-Playing

Beyond here lie dragons

More things to buy and more things to do!

Jerry Stratton, March 17, 2006

Quite a few changes this time involving survival points for creatures, options for warriors, and the usual slew of specialty, spell, and spirit changes.

I’ve also added several very nice public domain images from the Wikimedia commons. Now I need to find a good one for thieves and for monks.

Low ability rolls

Since a nine is required in at least one of the six ability rolls, I’ve added a rule for the rare chance that no ability score of nine or higher is rolled:

At least one ability score must be nine or higher in order to choose an archetype. If a player does not roll a nine or higher in at least one of the six rolls, the player may choose to either (a) re-roll all six rolls, choosing the best of the twelve, or (b) switch the lowest of their six rolls to an eighteen.

I’m not really sure that this is worth even the single paragraph that addresses it. Let me know what you think.

Warrior combat bonus

Warriors may now use their combat bonus to increase their combat movement. One combat bonus can give a bonus of 1 to combat movement (which should generally mean one point for one foot of extra movement).

Warriors may also use their combat bonus to increase their chance of success at quickdraw.

Herbs and carvings

Because these are commonly needed by sorcerors, I’ve added them to the equipment table. As with any equipment, costs can vary widely depending on the item in question.

Animal part, common.3.3small animal parts such as the beak of a crow
Animal part, uncommon1.5.3small animal parts such as the claw of a wolf
Animal part, rare4.3small animal parts such as the claw of an eagle
Carving, simple.5.1small wooden carvings, such as tiny arrows
Carving, complex2.5small wooden carvings, such as faces or intricate designs
Herb, common.1.1
Herb uncommon.5.1
Herb, rare1.1rare herbs often have a bulk of .3 to keep them extra safe

Bone carvings cost twice as much as wood carvings. Stone carvings cost four times as much, and have four times the bulk.

Extremely rare animal parts (such as the parts of Fantastic creatures) will usually be much more expensive due both to their rarity and to the difficulty of acquiring them.


The bulk for sling bullets has been increased from .02 to .05. The bulk for arrows and bolts has been increased to .2, and the bulk for heavy bolts has been increased to .3.

Sample characters

Charlotte Kordé was missing two weapon familiarities: with a Charisma of 17, she should have had three rather than one. She is now familiar with the quarterstaff and sling as well as the dagger. She also had the wrong surprise (it should have been zero, not a penalty of one). And her defense should have been a penalty of one, not a bonus of one.

Sam Stevens didn’t have her Warrior abilities mentioned (she is multi-typed and has pre-chosen Warrior as her next archetype), mainly because they don’t mean much. But I’ve added them for clarity. She had search listed incorrectly as a Charisma skill, and both backstab and cram were missing from her list of thieving skills. (Under the new backstab rules recently introduced, backstab might be useful for her now even though she hasn’t put any points into it.)

Injury points

If a character dying because of injury points has their injury point total drop to zero, death is “thrown off” automatically.


There is no longer an initiative bonus for having won initiative previously. “All opponents” was too vague, and we never used it anyway. If you want previous initiative rolls to affect subsequent ones, I’d recommend just rolling once for initiative and using that throughout the combat. I’d prefer to do it that way, but our group has fading memories and we would have to write down the numbers or memorize them; it is easier to simply re-roll each round. (And this time, I managed to update both the individual combat example and the mass combat example.)

Any character or creature with multiple attacks chooses one attack to use first; each subsequent attack takes place at +5 on the initiative roll later. This was clear in the combat example, but never mentioned in the rules.

Movement is now announced in reverse initiative order. The combatants with the worst initiative announce their movement and any visible actions first, and those combatants with better initiatives can choose more readily to react to those movements. Movement and actions continue to occur in initiative order. I’m not sure if the added complexity is worth the benefits, so I reserve the right (as if I don’t anyway) to remove this rule later.

New combat action: quickdraw

Normally, it takes one action to draw a weapon. A character can attempt to draw and use an available weapon in the same round. An Evasion roll is required to do so successfully. On a successful roll, the character attacks as normal. On an unsuccessful roll, the character acts as if surprised.

The quickdraw skill has been modified accordingly.


The farmer occupation listed animal husbandry as a late skill. This should have been animal training.


The Familiar specialty has been clarified regarding what may be used when the familiar and character are near each other: the familiar may use the character’s charisma and saving rolls, and may draw from the character’s survival points and attack bonus. The character may draw from the familiar’s survival points.

Focused attack has been added as a specialty: it grants a bonus to attack for a limited time if the player can make a perception roll.

The Multi-type specialty was clarified with regards to first-level bonuses. Bonuses such as the 12 points for thieving skills instead of 6, and automatic spells for sorcerors, are not gained on multi-typing to those archetypes.

A character with the specialty Nature Friend may learn the languages of animals. This is the skill “Animal Speak”, based on Wisdom, which counts as an archetypal skill. There are five “animal languages”: mammals, birds, snakes and lizards, fish and water-creatures, and insects. If it exists, the forest language of the Elves may also be taken under this skill.

One requirement for the priestly circle specialty is the prophet archetype.

Restoration has been modified to use mojo points, simplifying the requirements for invoking restoration. The character can restore lost survival points, to up to half their normal total (round up) or their first-level survival total, whichever is larger. Restoration costs one mojo point. Only survival points are restored. Injuries, if the character has any, remain. If the character is unconscious, an additional mojo point is required to restore the character to consciousness.

Symbolic alchemy has been modified: if a scroll allows for choice, it can only be used by a member of the same archetype as created it. This should always have been there but was left out.

The scholar specialty was modified: the outdated paragraph about rolling to gain new skills was removed.

The weapon master specialty mentioned the now non-existent blindfighting skill. This has been removed.


Unconscious characters are now allowed a saving roll against physical effects. Any saving rolls against physical effects are at a penalty of six when the target is sleeping, or ten when the character is unconscious.

The Minor Phantasm spell should have had its saving roll listed as “active”. The text made this moderately clear. Similarly, Illustory Terrain should have had its saving roll listed as “Perception (active)”.

The ingredients for Fire dart have been changed to “spark”. The flint and steel used to create the spark are re-usable.

The duration for the second level Armor has been reduced to six hours, plus six hours for every level greater than two.

The description of the second level Mend Wounds spell has been modified for the new injury point and death rules.


Restore Vitality allows the target another chance to throw off death, if the target is still dying after being restored. They can make a Willpower roll to throw off death. This roll will be at a bonus of the prophet’s Wisdom as a major contributor. If the sorceror Mend Wounds spell can stop death, divine restoration definitely ought to be able to.

Adventure Guides

I’ve added a short section on managing game sessions: what should be going on during an adventure? I’ve also added some clarification on when rolls are required for things that involve the mental abilities: charisma, intelligence, and wisdom.

I’ve added a section on where the horizon is, as well as a handy table for various heights and the distance to the horizon from those heights. Try it, it’s fun!


Some creatures have a bonus or penalty after their level. This is the number of additional survival points that creature receives (or that the creature loses) per survival point die. This modifier also applies to Health, Fortitude, Endurance, and Strength rolls.

The following creatures gained per-die bonuses to survival points: bears (+1 to +2), giant ground sloths (+1), giant lizards (+1), orochs (+1), giant rats (-1), dire wolves (+1), centaurs (+1), dwarves (+1), halflings (+1), ogres (+1), orcs (+1), trolls (+1), and ghouls (+1).

Some creatures had ranges of levels listed as x-y, which is the same form used for survival point penalties. Level ranges have now been changed to “x to y”. This was necessary for giant snakes, giant octopuses, brood of Kerberos, lesser dragons, bubbling eyes, creeping slimes, ketelekrae, splinters, trolls, and barrowmen.

Some undead had levels listed as simply +x, when what this meant was their life levels plus a certain number of undead levels. These creatures were the restless dead (half life, plus two levels), revenant (life, plus one level or more), vampire (life, plus one level or more), and vampire slave (life, plus zero to two levels). Note that the vampire slaves description was very unclear about this, and that’s been changed, too.

When level is listed as 1/2 or 1/4, this means a d4 (one half) or a d2 (one quarter) for survival points, respectively. The creature is otherwise treated as a level one creature.

Undead now get d10 survival per level rather than d8.

The Cheimon has been added as dragon-kin.

The Bean-si has been added as an undead.

  1. <- Example Characters
  2. Basic Weapons ->