Nice post from Throne of Salt that I think could also be used to generate characters for Carcosa.

I really like the CONCEPT table where once per session, a player can either add 1d6 points to a roll or re-roll a skill check provided they are acting according to their character concept.

This sounds like a nice house rule to mix with 5e's backgrounds, ideals, bonds, and flaws in some manner.

1) AdventurerGo out there and find some excitement.
2) CreatorWorking, building, making.
3) MentorTeacher and keeper of knowledge.
4) MartyrSelf-sacrifice for others' sake.
5) RulerControl and command
6) SeekerLooking for answers.
7) HealerFights against the world's decay.
8) TraditionalistUpholds the old ways.
9) MediatorThe point between two parties.
10) HermitIsolation, solitude, wisdom.
11) HereticUpends faith, casts doubt.
12) ConquerorGlorious victory at all costs.
13) AbominationSomething's broken inside.
14) DestroyerLet nothing remain standing.
15) ChosenHailed as the doer of a great task.
16) DefilerBlame and undermine all others.
17) ProtectorProtect and preserve what is precious.
18) VisionaryBig-picture ideas of a better tomorrow.
19) ZealotOf absolute faith and conviction.
20) DiscipleFollower of teachers old and new.
21) RighteousUnshakable confidence in their path.
22) TravelerThe open road still softly calls.


These are three creations for a cult that was allowed to run loose in my Yoon-Suin campaign.
Henry Clarke

A giant hydrocephalic hedgehog with a locket head and hands for feet.
HD 12 HP 70 AC 16  ATK Two enormous reflections of the heads in the room extend out 10' to bite for d20 dmg

  • Immune to fear, poison, flame
  • Magical immunity 50%
  • The creature floats 3 feet off the ground
  • Can curse one word and any character or player uttering it takes d8 dmg to their character
  • All within 20' must save or fall in LOVE with their reflections. Clerics/paladins may autosave or give 2+ to everyone else's save

Headless cultist of THE GUEST who carries its egg in the form of a choker with a locket face. 
HD 3 HP 10 AC 13 ATK 1d6 with a short sword or large dagger

  • Will attack with the inverse of any previous attack on it (reflection) but only if the attacker shows their true face
  • Unconcious, disabled, or incapacitated victims will be fitted with a locket choker. Any reference to it will always be answered with a sentence ending in " mother gave it to me."
  • Can cast reversed spells

Stalking mirror-headed collectors of those who are trapped by the beautifying and perfection it offers.
HD 4 HP 17 AC 16 DMG 1d6 tail as whip

  • A large mirror makes up their face. Anyone within 15' feet are charmed by the reflection which shows a perfect version of their lives. The person will attempt to crawl into the mirror face and be imprisoned.


Above is one of the early results from Necropraxis/Questing Beast survey they put up. For my own edification, I modified this graph to show which editions came out what years.


3D shell by Aki Inomata; crab by Evolution
One of the better ideas I had was, after seeing this picture, how the Kuo-toa/Deep-Ones might travel around in huge crab cites. The crabs themselves would be half-elemental and carry the tide with them where ever they go.

This city would move from the coast inland all the while flooding anything in its path and leaving brackish marsh in its wake. All the shell would be is a living reef of Kuo-toa singing mad hymns all the while. A tide pool from a briny hell. Maybe the crab would pick up chunks of cities, towers, and landscapes like decorator crab. Maybe it even has torn a piece of the night sky with it. Maybe this is actually the water elemental protecting itself from the eyes of other gods by disguising itself as a normal spiritual thing (See I have worshipers, cities, bits of land, factions, & sacrifice!). But really its just a crab that wants to eat everything.

The Kou-Toa themselves would be divided into two factions: THE TIDE (Kuo; pious majority) and THE DEEP (Toa; seditious and heretical minority).

Since the Kuo-Toa half the unique ability to make their own gods, I'd include rules that any extraordinary act, natural 20, or use of magic of a level equal to or greater than the observing Kuo-Toa's HD would result in them worshipping the PC. This would grant powers and abilities, but if left unchecked the PC would become a chaotic godling (and essentially dead). This would be the urging of the Toa who always seek to undermine the Kuo.

Maybe this would be a great dungeon idea or just become a wetter version of Broodmother Skyfortress. Maybe that is not so bad a thing. Maybe run it as a point-crawl with several small dungeons in it. Sorta like Legend of Zelda.

Also, a great time to fold together Kuo-toa, Deep-Ones, and Sahuagin. Plus tritons, mermen, and so forth-- I mean who really needs these many fish people. Also add those intelligent octopus found in the 2e MM.

Central to this idea is movement (because its a giant crab city) and time (because its going somewhere). So what if players are given a literal host to play with. They have to infiltrate, destroy or accomplish X in Y days or the crab destroys a capital. Magic weapons, wishes, artifacts, and such abound but little time to collect it all.  Or two phase I- deal with the city and phase II- deal with the aftermath.

  • Crab elemental constantly adds collections of stuff to its back
  • Calendar tracks the progression of crab as it travels along the coast destroying towns/cities/temples at regular intervals
    • this adds a new location
    • adds new armies
  • Deep-ones most emerge when civilizations are raided
    • they also emerge to take sacrifices
    • when emerging to raid, most other locations close up shop
  • Some NPCs are influenced by the deep-one minority faction and have become god-like in their abilities in one particular thing
  • Being so close to the origins of divinity, or something like it, dreaming allows ethereal scouting but that comes with its own predators


Emmy Allen can't stop making great stuff. As if The Gardens of Ynn and Stygian Library aren't good enough, she's blazing her trail toward the OSR throne with rules like these for a dreamscape campaign. Or these for astral projection.

Might be great when combined with Through Ultan's Door and maybe a OD&D/Holmes ruleset instead of my beloved B/X...


What I think is interesting is that it describes the DM as being a moderator who keeps things interesting, allows players to fail if foolish, in a game with an unpredictable nature. It’s all good advice that we hear now, yet it was written in 1979.



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.


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).


Influenced by Darkest Dungeon & Into The Breach, here is a way to remind myself to mix in melee and ranged units with intelligent antagonists. I think there are really four basic components: Melee, Ranged, Damage, Effect. This gives four combinations:
Melee X Damage; Ranged X Damage; Melee X Effect; Ranged X Effect.

Thinking of the Beastmen in my Thracia campaign and keeping it simple:
Ax-1d6 dmg; Bow-1d6 dmg; Ram!-Push 1d4 x 5'; Caustic Spit- 1 dmg; blinded 1d4 rounds.


Arnold K from Goblin Punch has a nice list of things to include in a dungeon. Something to...

  1. steal; 
  2. be killed; 
  3. kill the PCs; 
  4. chose between; 
  5. talk to;
  6. experiment with;


Great post from Hmmm Marquis on backgrounds, starting equipment, and goals for characters in a wasteland, Carcosa, Black Sun, or Synthexia campaign/hexcrawl. I might be tempted to change the d20 to a d30 table and add more overtly strange techno-stuff to make it more Carcosian.


I play a mostly B/X or LotFP flavored D&D which leaves little room for cleric diversity. Ideally, you'd want to have an individual spell list for each deity, but that can involve almost too much prep work depending on how big the pantheon is (which has posed a problem for my Yoon-Suin campaign). Here is my fix:

  • Turn Undead becomes "Turn the Unholy".  Define what "unholy" is for the cleric. If it is as frequent as undead, keep it to one thing. If it rarer, maybe make it 2-3 things.
  • Steal Lay on Hands from the Paladin and have the cleric do something thematically similar once per day. Pick a level 1 spell and add PC level to any number. The cleric class is basically a paladin anyway.
  • Favored Weapon- cleric gets one, but disadvantage or -2 to-hit with anything else.
  • Reduce spell list to only gaining 1 spell per level, it has to be thematic, and each spell, or miracle, can only be performed once per day.


Goblin Punch using Triple X Depletion rules. Anti-Hammerspace rules from Matt Rundle has good appeal due to simplicity as does using STR/CON as the number of "slots". Currently, I use LotFP's 5 slots equals 1 encumbrance point method.


D&D has its own set of strange creatures that could function as good substitutes as any Lovecraftian horror they are inspired by and, when placed together, offer an equally strange, dangerous, and morally questionable environment for the humans to move around in.
  • Neogi (as a substitute for the mi-go)
  • Mind Flayers (substitute for the Primordial Ones)
  • Grill & Grick (as a unified hive species or mi-go substitute)
  • Slaad (substitute for Deep Ones)
  • Gith (substitute for Space Aliens)


It wasn't until I made a Hex Kit map of Carcosa that I realized just how many human settlements there are. There are also two human "cities" (hex 0313 & 2113). I think three things help a DM maximize this: (1) the encounter reaction roll; (2) Chaotic, Neutral, & Lawful alignments; (3) PCs natural tendencies to ascribe all sorts of weight to Carcosa's non-mechanical color system. A key question for the PCs in a Carcosa campaign: "What are you going to do with all these people?"