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

A whole mess of new systems

Jerry Stratton, September 29, 2007

There are some huge changes this time around. You may want to keep your current version available just in case. I know that some of the specialties, spells, and spirits still reference the old way of handling skills and some of the other changes, but I wanted to get this version out so that people can start playing with the new character creation, skill, and carry systems.


Before I get started on the rulebook updates, a note that I haven’t been recording changes to the World of Highland here. Since it’s still in a very early stage of development, there are just too many changes to keep track of. But if you take a look at it you’ll see that the section about the Celtic valley is starting to be fleshed out. Thanks to Rory Keating for many of the ideas and places there. He’s been running our game for the past year as our group has passed through the southern edge of the Celtic lands. Because of this, the empty map of the Celtic valley is now only “mostly empty”, and there are a few more towns on the northernmost section of the main map.


I’ve added a short section on when and how to use narration for player characters.

Character Generation

First level mojo has been added into the system, which means fewer skills and equipment during initial character creation; acquisition of skills and equipment is now spread across a character’s first level.


The skill system has been replaced with the Fields system, with minor changes.

There is no longer any distinction between archetypal and general skills/fields. The growing distinction between archetypal and non-archetypal actions is making this both confusing and unnecessary.


Carry has been completely redone. Instead of a factor to multiply against the character’s weight, a character’s Carry is half their strength, modified by endurance as a major contributor. This is the number of items they can carry. Each item must have a bulk that is less than or equal to the character’s strength. As part of this, the following changes have been made to item bulk:

  • Reduced Shield to 6 bulk and Large Shield to 13 bulk. Shield bulk increases if carried rather than worn.
  • Clubs have a 10 bulk. Quarterstaffs have a 12 bulk.
  • Weapons only require two hands if they require it for mechanical reasons. Otherwise, the item’s bulk is compared against the character’s strength for whether it requires one or two hands.


Arrows now cost .1 monetary unit. Gun bullets have been added, and cost .05 monetary units with a bulk of .05.

Sorcerors and mojo

Acquiring new spells costs three mojo per spell level. Commonly-known spells (or spells for which the classical sorceror has the mnemonic formula) cost two mojo per spell level.

The character must also have ten times the basic spell components on hand for experimentation. When spending archetypal mojo, the player may choose to retroactively spend the money necessary for this, if this makes sense.

When using archetypal mojo, if a sorceror turns out to be incompatible with a spell, the player may choose not to spend the mojo on that spell.


Injury point gain for falling has been simplified; injury point gain has been reduced but extended to all heights. When falling, one point of the survival point loss for every die rolled goes directly to Injury Points. Below twenty feet, Injury Points are only gained if the Evasion roll is failed.

Time in the air has been simplified to 1 second for every die of damage.

Ability score increases

Archetypal abilities may be increased for only twice the current ability, instead of two plus twice the current ability. Other abilities can be increased for ten plus twice the current ability.


Firing into close combat

When an attacker misses a target that is in close combat, only the opponents of their target are likely to be hit, and only one of them. On a miss, a random adjacent opponent of the target must make an Evasion roll, with their Defense as a bonus, to avoid being hit.

Immobilized Targets

Against sleeping or otherwise unconscious or completely unmoving targets, the called shot is not necessary: half of damage will add to the target’s injuries.

When trying to immobilize an opponent, the attacker has a penalty of two to defense against anyone, not just the person they’re trying to immobilize.

Unaware and non-defending opponents

The line about “If the defender is aware of the attacker’s basic location but is still unable to see the attacker, and is attempting to defend, the attacker’s attack bonus is halved (round down)” has been removed. I’m not sure what it even meant.

Group effort

The group will also have more than one action per turn. The group gains a number of extra actions equal to the bonus.

Groups no longer have longer rounds than everyone else. This was confusing and difficult. Groups do take longer to change their mind than individuals do. When changing their course of action to something that was not in its original plan, a group will take a number of extra rounds equal to their group effort bonus, to complete the change of direction.


Non-riding animals will have an upkeep of 5% of their cost every month.


I’ve added the Detective track to the list of specialty tracks. A player wanting to play a detective-like character might choose the provisioning, contacts, and scholar specialties.

Players may choose personal binding as a specialty, binding their character to some special item, person, or place.

Characters with a familiar can now control their familiar if they have the familiar puppet specialty.

Animal Form and Aquatic Animal Form no longer automatically restores a percentage of survival points. The player may spend one mojo to restore half of survival points lost.

Restoration now restores consciousness automatically.


The first level See Whole spell has been clarified. It shows the caster a fleeting image of the entirety of a piece of a broken object, as it appeared when it was last whole.

The third level Bar Passage spell’s duration has been changed from one day per level to level minus two days.


The stone hail spirit manifestation was incorrectly listed as stone rain in the list of manifestations by type and by level.

Protection from Temperature has been renamed Endure Extreme Temperature. Energy Weapon has been renamed Elemental Weapon.

Purpose/Indecision has been added as a third-level manifestation.

Firewalk and Animal Aid have been added as fourth-level manifestations.

Branch of Truce, Deathmask, Divine Messenger, and Lightning have been added as fifth-level manifestations.

Treeshape has been added as a sixth-level manifestation.

The existing eighth level Night Road has been added to the list of Trickster spirits.

Experience points

I’ve added the new experience point rules to the main rules, with further advice in the Adventure Guide’s Handbook.


The bonus for chanting cultists cannot exceed the prophet’s level.


I’ve added the Saurians, the Gorillas (including giant gorillas), and three new world cats (the bobcat, the cougar, and the jaguar).

I’ve updated the bubbling eyes, and added glamer of life as a demonic power.

  1. <- New reference sheets
  2. Seventh 2005 Updates ->