The ever-clever Scrap Princess has posted about mixing up the core four classes with each other- so the fighter learns spell-like fighting moves, while the wizard buys the halbard spell.

I really like her ideas about the cleric using the thief's percentage skill system to perform a limited set of magical tasks, spell-like abilities, and such. I also like it because it finally puts the cleric as a character class that is "skill" oriented like the thief more than the fighters "weapon" orientation and wizard's "magic" orientation.

This, in my mind, makes a good symmetry: The fighting-man uses physical weapons to defeat the opponents while the magic-user employs arcane weapons. The thief uses their skills to manipulate the physical realm for their betterment, while the cleric uses their skills to manipulate the spiritual realm for the greater betterment (of their god).

She lists the follows as short list of classic cleric abilities:
-banishing supernatural agents
-trapping said agents if they can tricked or convinced to enter a vessel
-casting out possession
-healing sickness, infertility, curses
-fertility (land /domestic animals/ people)
-weather prediction-dispelling illusions/detecting of supernatural influence
-protective wards against disaster or ill intend-assessing auspiciousness of dates , partnerships or signs-omens
-lay dead to rest/ placating angered ghost or spirit 

Of course, converting the thief abilities into spiritual ones could be fun:

Hide in shadows (of your god's glory): gain AC bonus (Lawful), attack bonus (Chaotic) or skill bonus (Neutral) as your god manifests through you
Move silently (and avoid the dead & fate): escape the notice of the dead or a failed saving throw (if you fail to, suffer twice the fate)
Find & Remove Traps (of the soul): remove curses, geas, alignment changes, & lycanthropy
Hear Noise (of the gods' whispers): with the appropriate sacrifice, you may attempt to prognosticate
Climb Sheer Surfaces (out of the grave): percentage chance you will arise provide your body is not eaten or desecrated
Open lock(ed hearts): Recruit folks to your cause provided they are of like alignment or neutral
Pick pockets (of those who should donate to your god): Gain funding from the common man for your pious quest from street preaching


Talk first, but keep someone hidden to slit their throat when it goes bad.
Sidney Sime
I am running a B/X/LotFP Caverns of Thracia campaign in a drop-in format at my local FLAGS. With 8 sessions under my belt so far, I've had players come up with some really clever ways of getting around combat encounters against with overwhelming odds or high-level adversaries. Below are 3 examples that stand out in my mind all performed by players with zero D&D experience and 1st level characters in an OSR system:

SITUATION 1- Clever use of the first level spell Message

In the very first game session, I had 10 players approach the ruins of Thracia and become alerted to the beastmen entrance A. While 7 of those players set up for an attack, the remaining 3 (elf, thief, wizard) swept around to entrance B. When confronted by the Death Cultist there, one thief player attempted to pawn herself off as a new prophetess of the cult with orders from their god to attack the beastmen at A.. Of course, the cultists are skeptical, but then the wizard uses their only 1st level spell slot of the day to cast Message at the cultist lead guard and pretend to be the voice of their diety backing up the thief's claim. I let that fly as the DM, and the cultists ran off to confront the beastmen at A. The combined efforts of a 1st level thief talking and 1st level wizard casting Message equals 10 dead.

SITUATION 2- Defeating a doppelganger with poison from a dead hireling

Hireling gets jumped by a spider, fails a saving throw, and dies by poison. After the defeat of said spider, this elf player pulls out one of the two bottles of wine he started with, downs it, and then uses it to collect some of the poison. Later, they unleash two doppelgangers who immediately mimic perfectly the party members they first meet. To solve this problem the 1st level elf player asks, "So does this monster copy everything Emma is doing?" Yes. The player then proceeds to cast Detect Magic to determine which Emma is the monster. Maybe not the exact wording of the spell, but as the DM, I'll let it pass. Then the elf player pulls out both identical bottles of wine, then hands the wine to the real Emma and poison to the doppelganger. They both drink- doppelganger fails the save vs. poison- dead. Not a sword is drawn.

SITUATION 3- Using a mirror to defeat

After the 2nd level dwarf is downed in combat with the guardian, the players have to choose a new champion. Other than the dwarf, no one is really in a good position to be locked in a one-on-one fight that locks out any other participant. Again the guardian calls out, "Choose your champion!". At that point, the same elf player as above grabs the cleric's mirror runs up to the champion and points toward its reflection, "This is our champion." I check my notes just to make sure there is no qualifying statements about champion choice. Nope. Boom, champion "defeats" itself, falls into a rusted heap leaving a Sword, +1 behind. Again, a mirror and clever thinking allow a 1st level character to defeat a 5 HD monster.

This is why I love DM'ing an OSR game. Its really delightful to watch players come up with clever solutions. And I believe the presence of death and asymmetry aid in the natural selection of smart solutions. Certainly, combat is fun, but its situations like the ones above that get the most cheers and claps around the table.


One of the interesting things about Into The Odd is the combat rules. Basically, there is no to-hit roll, but if you are in the range of an attack you just roll damage. Here is a version of those rules for 5e D&D. Given how super-charged PCs are in 5e, this might be a great way to check them.

I'd have to think about applying it to B/X or LotFP, but it would make combat much more deadly.

Edit: Now that I've had time to think it's really infected my brain. I can't shake the idea that it would really make combat quick, but require more tactics on both the part of the DM and PCs.
The Marigold Tarot by Amrit Brar

The Marigold Tarot by Amrit Brar

ENCOUNTER REACTION CHECKS: I'm a big fan, and making combat more deadly will increase the likelihood players will want to at least try to talk first. Of course, this puts more pressure on the DM to come up with what monsters, NPCs, and adversaries want from the PCs (which might improve adventures as a whole).

INITIATIVE- Becomes extremely important to keep and maintain this in combat because of a single hit yielding so much damage. Maybe light weapons increase the initiative die size?

RANGE- Another factor that increases in importance. In most D&D combat ranged weapons are "meh" because most combat does not take place on a wide enough battlefield. However, if a bow gets you 1 or 2 attacks without any response that's huge in this system.

MELEE- I would still want to try to give other properties to weapons beyond to-hit/dmg. Big weapons are already going to hit hard with 10 or 12 damage. Maybe add reach, parry, slow, reload to emphasize other combat aspects. Weapon choice should be distinct and easy to understand with different weapons giving different situational advantages.

COVER- need more of it on the table to help increase AC especially for those characters with armor restrictions.

MORALE CHECKS- like REACTION CHECKS above, I think this optional rule is strengthened when combat is made deadlier. Now its easier to perform a first strike, kill a leader, or 50% of the force, so it makes sense to force the conflict into a route or non-combat exchange.


Here is a nice post from Ars Magisterii on all the weird ways IRL spiders capture prey. Given that giant spiders are a (particularly low level) staple of D&D games with skeletons, goblins, orc, and traps, it's always helpful to have ways to freshen them up.

I especially like trapdoor spiders because its a nice way to combine pit traps and giant spiders.

I CAST LIGHT ON The OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire

Zak S. over at Playing D&D with Porn Stars has posted a nice questionnaire 

OSR Guide For The Perplexed Questionnaire 

1. One article or blog entry that exemplifies the best of the Old School Renaissance for me:


2. My favorite piece of OSR wisdom/advice/snark:

"There are 3 sections of drapery (east, west and north) and each one will adhere to any living flesh until a Dispel Magic has been cast upon it. The height of the curtains is 15'. The width of the side curtains is 8' and the back curtain is 16' wide (specifics are gone into here because someone is certainly going to figure out that these things can be used as weapons or traps)" [bold mine].
~pg 39. Caverns of Thracia

3. Best OSR module/supplement:

Yoon-Suin I still believe stands on the top of several other great supplements/modules/adventures because its both familiar yet a huge remix of those game familiar trope that drive fantasy: no elves, slugmen, yakmen, grasshopper men, no bars but lots of opium, a god generator, giant beetles as pack mules, and 5 separate area to campaign in. Its very different much like Planescape, but no so crazy players can latch on to something. It also very importantly communicates that world not through volumes of text, but several tables which help DM's create their own unique version of the world.

4. My favorite house rule (by someone else):

The overloaded encounter die. Because it compresses a lot of book keeping into an easy to remember die roll. And one a DM has filled out the table, they've thought a lot about their dungeon/adventure/world that the players will encounter. So its not just mental wheel spinning.

5. How I found out about the OSR:

In the begining I was actually Googling information about the King in Yellow for a CoC campaign. Then I stumbled upon this book Carcosa that for some reason was causing a lot of uproar but out of print. I thought it was a sorta joke- a profane out of print book called Carcosa- of course. Then I realized it was some sort of supplement for D&D, this company called Lamentations of the Flame Princess was publishing a delux version. Once I went to LotFP, I was hooked with the idea of Vornheim because I remembered how terrible almost all city supplements are.

6. My favorite OSR online resource/toy: Save vs. Total Party Kill's Random Carcosa.

7. Best place to talk to other OSR gamers: I would say currently Discord, but I am excited to see if everyone returns to commenting on blogs. I believe it will create some stronger connective tissue, increase creativity (or attempts at it), and help cool tempers and increase thoughtfulness.

8. Other places I might be found hanging out talking games: Reddit, but I hope to increase my posting at this blog- icastlight.blogspot.com

9. My awesome, pithy OSR take nobody appreciates enough: Combat should be run like Into the Breach and the enemy mix should be similar to Darkest Dungeon and dungeon exploration should be similar to Super Metroid. Also the NES Legend of Zelda is an amazing OSR game.

10. My favorite non-OSR RPG: TMNT and Other Strangeness

11. Why I like OSR stuff: Character generation is quick, the focus on rulings at the table, elevating exploration and clever player thinking, and the shear amount of phantasmagoric, yet high utilitarian, settings and adventures out there.

12. Two other cool OSR things you should know about that I haven’t named yet:

Perdition is a great "3rd wave" DIY D&D take on AD&D and a world taken over by devils.

Fire on the Velvet Horizon is the best monster manual out there and beats the hell out of all others.

13. If I could read but one other RPG blog but my own it would be: http://monstermanualsewnfrompants.blogspot.com/

14. A game thing I made that I like quite a lot is: Here is a character sheet that walk a player through character creation for LotFP. Includes all the modifiers, skills, a small selection of starting spells, and 5 compact tables of equipment generation.

15. I'm currently running/playing: My home campaign is based in Yoon-Suin, my drop-in campaign is The Caverns of Thracia, and the campaign I carry round cons is Carcosa.

16. I don't care whether you use ascending or descending AC because: Its the easiest thing to fix across all edition. You either convert them back and forth. Or you can use Delta D&D's Target 20 system: Roll d20 + level +target AC +mods = 20+ is a hit.

17. The OSRest picture I could post on short notice: Both from Tony Diterlizzi of Planescape fame.
Image result for tony diterlizzi sketches


At my local FLAGS I have been running a drop-in/drop-out game of The Caverns of Thracia. Since everyone starts out with level 1 characters, it is not surprising they die. This is not too crushing as using B/X-LotFP allows for fast creation. However, it would be nice to reward players somehow for their continued persistence in this game. This is where Kill Your Dungeon Master's fate points come in.  Leveling up, trying a new character class, or whatever the DM wants earns player points they can spend on their next character. So instead of 3d6 down the line, a player can spend points to swap two scores, roll a 4d6-drop lowest for another, maybe even start a level 2!


Elemental planes are boring because the environment is so extreme the PCs will have a hard time adventuring there. More interesting, as stated by others, is the border between two planes. Take FIRE & WATER.

The borderland would be STEAM and maybe as this elemental conflict rages a third party, dwarves, move in to build a city based on steam-powered everything. The elementals too embroiled in their own conflict are now slaves in these objects, structures, and mechanism.

And to add on top of this, since the planes have proximity based on belief and not actual distance, maybe this City of Steam is in conflict with The City of Brass. So even though they are planes apart it is easy to find gates from one to the other because they are believed rivals. Sorta like if New York and LA were as far away from each other as an inverse of their animosity toward each other.

So there are two policial factions in The City of Steam: The NEAR which believe an attack from The City of Brass is imminent and the FAR which seeks to eliminate knowledge about The City of Brass and deny its existence to keep it away (out of sight, out of mind).


Sime The ever-clever Scrap Princess has posted about mixing up the core four classes with each other - so the fighter learns spell-like...