OSR: Review: The Boudoir, the Stone, the Garden, and the Mine

I don't like doing reviews but here we go. 4 modules in one post: The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile, The Full Dark Stone, The Gardens of Ynn, and the Mind Mine.
Viktor Vasnetsov


I'm only going to review stuff I like. There's a lot of chaff out there. If it's on the list, I bought it and read it and liked it. You might too.

What type of module is this?
I've written about the 3 types of modules here. Was this one written as Art (to prove something, to show off an idea)? As a Manual (purely functional, to help a GM and nothing else)? Or as a Novel (to be a pleasure to read)?

What Am I Using It For?
I'm only going to review things I would be willing to use. I don't buy stuff just to own it. I'll explain how I plan to use it in the review.

Again, I'm only going to review stuff I like and recommend that you buy. That being said, there's always something to criticize. Don't take anything I say too seriously. Assume I'm praising anything I don't mention specifically.

I like short, punchy, well-formatted, easy to print and use modules.

The Bloodsoaked Boudoir of Velkis the Vile

Pay what you want here. It's also on tape! That's a new one. By Nick Whelan.

What Is It?
A 9 page gag adventure. This module is somewhere between a Manual and a Novel; exactly where a really good gag should be.

There's a creepy old dude with a supernatural power. Any request he makes must be obeyed. Luckily, his belfry is chock full of bats, so he's not going to rule the world any time soon. That idea alone isn't worth money, but the idea is expanded, given a location, a table of hilarious examples, and a bit of flavour. Basically, it's Odin from Long Dark Teatime of the Soul meets Koschei the Deathless. Every Velkis quote is worth paying for. The rest... not so much.

What Am I Using It For?
It's going into a file called "Emergency Mini-Adventures". If I need a quick adventure to flesh out a location, provide comic relief, or fill out an encounter table, I can grab something from the folder and run it as-is.

There are significant issues. The text curls around the images, making quick reference difficult. Boxed text prints slightly too dark on a standard laser printer. Statblocks are scattered, and in a 9 page module that's just silly. The art is very basic. It's straight off a scanner, yellow paper and all. That feels straight-up lazy. The map isn't keyed. The text is padded with unnecessary detail and is presented in a very strange order; vital stuff goes last, usually.

It could be edited down to 5 pages:
1. A cover. 2. Velkis' stats, history, and behaviors. 3. A half page room map and most of the rooms. 4. The rest of the rooms. 5. How to kill him and a FAQ.

The Full Dark Stone

Free here. By Michael Prescott.

What Is It?
A 2 page dungeon. This module is a Manual, and a damn fine one at that.

There's a giant magic battery underground. It's been building up charge for years. There's a guy trying to use it for unwise experiments. There are a few odds-and-ends creatures roaming about. It's 8 rooms with a gorgeous isometric map.

What Am I Using It For?
It went into a folder called "Emergency Mini-Adventures". I used it for my Steam Hill group. They had a great time.

My main criticism is structural and comes with these short 2-page adventures. The Storm Seals are excellent, but they aren't given an evocative enough description. I can't visualize them. The Dire Fleas are horrifying but difficult to track for a scatter-brained GM.

There's also no real adventure. It's a location - and a good one - but it feels very static, very flat. There's a giant magic rock that shoots bolts of wild magic, but it only does 6 things and none of them are particularly astounding. There's very little for the PCs to interact with short of looting and fighting. When I ran it, I made the four "wizard flowers" into control rods. Remove them (they are good loot) and boom.

It feels like this adventure (and some of the other Trilemma ones) were never run through the "scheming ambitious raving lunatic player character" test. The adventures are very easy for a GM to run, but there's no easy hook to grab an ambitious wizard or a scheming thief, no temptations. There's a giant magic battery but no battery cables.

The Gardens of Ynn

$3 PDF / $18 PoD here. By Emmy Allen.

What Is It?
A 79 page procedurally generated pointcrawl. I'd say its 1/4 Art, 1/4 Manual, and 1/2 Novel.

It's an overgrown garden plane. A bit victorian, a bit gothic, a bit romantic, a bit mad. There are tables and encounters and enemies, all in excellent style. You don't need to read the whole thing before using it which I really appreciate.

What Am I Using It For?
It's in a folder called "Magical Disasters". Players are always mucking about and chucking dryads into time machines or putting keys into inappropriate holes. This should help.

The margins are a bit too broad. The art is black and white public domain stuff. The art is excellently curated but some pieces are pixelated. You'll waste a lot of ink printing all the art and borders and flourishes. The font can be annoying in places. It could use an editing pass to trim some of the excess text.. but honestly, what couldn't?

The Mind Mine

Free here. By Markerslinger.

What Is It?
A 6 page adventure seed. It's exactly between a Novel and a Manual.

There's a giant beast in the ground. It's asleep but it's waking up, and when it does it will be apocalyptic. Someone came up with a plan; mine into its brain, remove hunger and hate, and implant happy memories and good cheer. The art and the use of space is glorious. There are excellent plot seeds. The entire document provides exactly what you need in adventure seed. It's not an adventure, but it's pretty clear how to make the seed grow.

What Am I Using It For?
It's in the "Magical Disasters" folder as well as the "Emergency Mini-Adventures" section.

The 6th page is just a "thank you" page. I get why it exists, and it's nice to keep all the stuff you don't need to print together, but... I'm not a fan of thanking patrons by name, in a big long list, every single time you publish something. It's more egregious in kickstarter products.

The background of each page is a fancy faux-parchment pattern. It's easy to read in PDF form but it's wasteful while printing. Speaking of printing, the PDF size is 5.5x8.8 inches.


OSR: Iron Gates - Quotes from the Greek Alexander Romance

The Alexandrian Dark Souls pointcrawl I'm working on is based on the myths, legends, and lies available to a 10th century traveler. One of the main texts is the Alexander Romance.
The narrative and correspondence in the Romance seem alike to have been devised by authors familiar with Alexander's history but with no interest in using it other than as a starting-point for romance. The historical element, therefore, is often as fanciful as such Hollywood epics as Spartacus; charters who lived centuries apart meet cheek by jowl (for example, the ten orators in Athens), or fictional characters (Alexander's friend Pheidon) mingle with real people (Ptolemy, Callisthenes) and join in remarkable adventures. One cannot overstress the aspect of popular entertainment in the Romance.
These models provide us with all the fundamental features of the apocryphal lives of the Apostles: a prolonged wandering by the hero, the performance of miracles, the regular presence of a companion as a foil, sea journeys, fights with dragons, discovery of sunken cities and great treasures, the worship of the hero as a god, the encounters with cannibals and monsters, wondrous plants, strange races and talking animals, struggles to escape erotic entanglements, the help of God given at crucial moments, and the incidence of oracles, prophetic dreams, and divine orders. 
-Richard Stoneman, The Greek Alexander Romance, introduction
The greek texts of the Alexander Romance are extremely interesting and remarkably incoherent. They were compiled by Egyptian messianic popular writers, Jewish nationalists, Rhodian separatists, nostalgic Romans, and a people who just like a good old tall tale. Letters switch from first person to third person and back again. Tales are repeated. When all the texts are put together Alexander meets and acknowledges half a dozen supreme deities in his travels: Zeus, Sarapis, Yahweh, Providence, etc. His parentage is traced to Ammon (both as Zeus-Ammon and Ammon-Ra), Nectanebo, and of course Philip of Macedon. His ancestors include Achilles, Hercules, and Dionysus.
But especially do Deïmachus and Megasthenes deserve to be distrusted. For they are the persons who tell us about the "men that sleep in their ears," and the "men without mouths," and "men without noses"; and about "men with one eye," "men with long legs," "men with fingers turned backward"; and they revived, also, the Homeric story of the battle between the cranes and the "pygmies," who, they say, were three spans tall. These men also tell about the ants that mine gold and Pans with wedge-shaped heads; and about snakes that swallow oxen and stags, horns and all; and in these matters the one refutes the other.
-Strabo, 2.1.9

Themes of the Iron Gates

Back in this post, I set up a few themes for this setting before doing a thorough re-reading of the Alexander Romance texts. Here are a few Dark Souls-esque quotes. In some places I've mixed Haight's 1955 translation with Stoneman's 1991 translation. Don't rely on these quotes to write your thesis. Go track down the source texts.
Igor Krstic

"For Gold, and Crowns of Gold"

For they say that Nectanebos, the last king of Egypt, after whom Egypt lost its great glory, surpassed all men in the use of magic.

There he saw the gods of Egypt steering the ships of the barbarians, and the armies under the command of the same gods. He realized that the end of the Egyptian kingdom was at hand. He shaved his head and beard to disguise himself, and, putting in his robe as much gold as he could conceal, he fled from Egypt.

"For what is more glorious than gold, with which we make our  honours to the gods?"

But Darius sat still, wearing his crown set with precious stones, his silk robes woven with gold thread in the Babylonian style, his cloak of royal purple, and his gold shoes studded with gems which covered his shins. He held a scepter in either hand, and the troops around him were innumerable.

Alexander saw that the tombs of the Persians were adorned with a great deal of gold. He saw the tomb of Nabonasar, who is called Nabuchodonosor in Greek, as well as the dedications of the Jews and the golden mixing bowls, so large as to be the work of heroes. Nearby he saw the tomb of Cyrus. It was a twelve-sided free-standing tower, and Cyrus lay on the topmost floor in a golden coffin roofed over with glass, through which his hair and every feature could be seen.

"You shall know no other king but Alexander. Keep to your ancestral customs, festivals, sacrifices, and holy days, as you did int he days of Darius. But if anyone leaves his own city or region to dwell in another, he shall be given as food to the dogs. Each of you shall retain all his own possessions, except his gold and silver."

[Alexander questions the Brahmans, the naked philosophers]. Then Alexander asked, "What is kingship."
"Unjust power used to the disadvantage of others; insolence supported by opportunity; a golden burden."

"And then we made another journey, arriving at the pillars of Heracles in ninety-five days. The local inhabitants told us that Heracle, in order to mark the limits of the lands he traveled, had set up two columns, one of gold and one of silver, each of them 20 feet high and 3 feet broad. I did not believe that they were solid, so I decided to sacrifice to Heracles and to make a hole in one of them. Then I discovered it was solid gold. So I filled up the hole again, which turned out to contain the equivalent to 1,500 gold pieces.

Alexander took his seat on high, surrounded by Macedonian children who were dressed in silk robes and golden girdles. Alexander himself was dressed in the garments of the sun; on his head was a crown of gold, precious stones and pearls, with a victory on top of it. He resembled no one so much as Zeus himself.

"Iron Must be Quenched in Blood."

Every house was pulled down and the whole city put to the torch. The hand of the Macedonian did not tire of bloodying it's greedy iron; and the helpless, deluded Thebans were destroyed by Alexander.

"Enter if you are pure, make obeisance, and receive an oracle. And Alexander," they went on, "no iron may be brought into the sanctuary."
Hubert Robert

A Cycle of Civilizations

There will be hints of past cycles in my setting. Not obvious ones, but they will slowly build.
Marquis (of hmmmarquis.blogspot.com) is working on a Bronze Age Dark Souls setting as a sort of prequel to mine. It looks very good.

Throughout the Alexander Romance, the name of Sesonchosis (or Sesostris) appears over an over.  Sesonchosis was the world-conquering King of Egypt who came before Alexander. He has his own romance and his own mythic history (see: Diodorus Siculus 1.53).

From there he traveled again for several days through the uninhabited world: after ten days he reached a wide plain of immeasurable breadth and extent. He decided to halt his army there, and look around in search of water. he saw a lake: as he approached it, he saw a huge statue set in a pile of stones. The statue was inscribed with Greek letters; the writing on it said that it was of Sesonchosis, ruler of the world. It represented a young man strongly resembling Alexander. It was inscribed: "He who has traversed the whole world may reach this far, but beyond this he may not go, just as I was stayed here and went no further. Here I, Sesonchosis, ruler of the world, turned back and departed from this life."

"We were exalting about finding the lake when we saw on a cliff a stone statue with this inscription: 'Sesonchosis, the ruler of the world, made this watering-place for those who sail down the Red Sea.' "
Yuri Hill

Prophecy and Dreams

And the god in the sanctuary of the Serapeum spoke an oracle to them. "The king who has fled will return to Egypt not as an old man but as a youth, and he will overcome our enemies."

"For there are interpreters of dreams, translators of ciphers, watchers of birds; one may utter oracles from the belly or prophesy from the fleece of the lamb; and there are students of horoscopes, magicians, astrologers. Now I have studied diligently all these arts, for I am a distinguished Egyptian prophet, and I am a magician and an astrologer."

After these words, he brought forth a tablet, very elegant and regal, which language cannot describe. It was made of ivory, ebony, gold, and silver. The symbols on it were in three zones: on the first circle the thirty-six decans, on the second the twelve signs of the zodiac, in the centre the sun and the moon.
"It is better for a mortal man, and more honourable
And less painful, not to know in advance
The time appointed for his life to end.
Men, being mortal, do not understand
That this rich, varied life is endless, as long
As they have no knowledge of its misfortunes.
You too I think will find it better
To choose not to know the future in advance.

But since you ask to learn about your fate
You may: I will tell it you in brief.
After death you shall be deified and worshiped
And will receive the gifts of kings. You shall live in Alexandria
For all time, dead and yet not dead.
The city you have built will be your tomb.
Darius was sitting on his bed, deeply disturbed. Then he saw an evil omen. A statue of King Xerxes, of which he was particularly fond because of its high artistic quality, suddenly fell through the ceiling.

"How many years have I left to live?" asked Alexander.
"It is best for a living man not to know when his end will come." was the reply. "As soon as he learns the hour of his death, from that moment he is as good as dead. But if he remains in ignorance, this helps him forget about his death, even though he must die one day."
Alex Konstad

Size and Appearance

Dark Souls games play with size. Humans can be as small as pygmies or grow to enormous sizes. Everyone seems to think this is perfectly fine. Generally, kings and powerful humans grow to 9 or 10' tall. In the game I'm writing you'll get bigger as you level up. This won't have any effect on stats (or gear; armour and weapons resize themselves somehow.) Incidentally, Sesonchosis is mentioned as being seven and a half feet tall.

In shape Alexander was a man, but his hair was that of a lion and his eyes were asymmetrical - the right one being dark and downward slanting and the left one white and clear, his teeth were as sharp as nails, and his movements were as violent and swift as a lion's. And his personality very clearly indicated what the boy would be like.

"There were also people in the wood, called Phytoi, who were 36 feet tall, their necks alone being 2 feet in length, and their feet of equally enormous size. Their forearms and hands were like saws. [...] Then we set out and came to a green country where there were wild men like giants, spherical in shape, with fiery expressions like lions. After them were another people, the Ochlitae, who had no hair at all on their bodies and were 6 feet tall. They were dressed in lion skins, very strong, and ready to fight without weapons."

[Alexander challenges Porus, King of India, to single combat.] Porus was delighted - he had noticed that Alexander was no match for himself in physical size - and promised to fight him single-handed. Porus was 8 feet tall and Alexander less than 5.

The next day Candace came out resplendent in a royal diadem. She was above normal human size and almost godlike in appearance.
Artem Demura

The Land of Darkness and the Fountain of Immortality (Greek version)

"After we had advanced for another two days, we came to a place where the sun does not shine."
"We came to a place where there was a clear spring, whose water flashed like lightning, and some other streams besides. The air in this place was very fragrant and less dark than before. I was hungry, so I called the cook Andreas by name and said, 'Prepare some food for us.' He took a dried fish and waded into the clear water of the spring to wash it. As soon as it was dippped in the water, it came to life and leapt out of the cook's hands. He was frightened and did not tell me what happened; instead, he drank some of the water himself, and scooped some up in a silver vessel and kept it. The whole place was abounding in water, and we drank from its various streams. Alas for my misfortune, that it was not fated for me to drink from the spring of immortality, which gives life to what is dead, as my cook was fortunate enough to do."
"After we had re-emerged, the cook told us what had happened at the spring. I was consumed with misery when I heard it, and punished him severely. But then I said to myself, 'What use is it, Alexander, to regret what is past?' I did not of course know that he had drunk some of the water, or that he had kept some of it. He had not admitted this, but only how the dried fish had come to life again. But then the cook went to my daughter Kale, who one of my concubines, Unna, had borne to me, and promised to give her some of the water of immortality, which he did. When I heard of this, I will admit, I envied them their immortality. I called my daughter to me and said, 'Take your luggage and leave my sight. You have become and immortal spirit, and you shall be called Neraida because you have obtained immortality from the water. Then I ordered her henceforth to live no longer among men but in the mountains. She left my presence weeping and wailing, and went to live with the spirits in the desert places. As for the cook, I ordered that he have a millstone tied around his neck and be thrown into the sea. He thereupon became a spirit himself and went away to live in a corner of the sea, which is called Andreas after him."

[Much later, Alexander speaks with the Brahmans, the naked philosophers.] Then Alexander said to them all, "Ask me for whatever you want and I will give it to you." At once they all burst out, "Give us immortality." But Alexander replied, "That is a power I do not have. I too am mortal."
Alexandru Negoiță

General Murderhoboing

Stealing Anything Not Nailed Down
[Alexander has entered the court of Darius disguised as a messenger]. As they began to drink more deeply, Alexander had an idea: he concealed every cup that he was given in the folds of his cloak. Those who saw him mentioned it to Darius. Darius stood up and asked him, "My good man, why are you concealing those cups as you dine at my table?" Alexander thought quickly and replied, "Great king, whenever Alexander holds dinner for his officers and body-guard, he gives them the cups as presents. I assumed you would do as he does, and I supposed that this was the right thing to do." The Persians were quite astounded when they heard what Alexander said. Any old tale can carry its listeners, if it is told with conviction.
Checking Corpses for Treasure
[The fish's] size was spectacular. He ordered it to be cut into sections, so he could see the arrangements of his internal organs. When this was done, a gleaming stone was seen in its belly, as bright as a lantern. Alexander took the stone, set it in gold and used it at night instead of a lamp.
Being Tricked by NPCs
When the army was resting, little men came out of the bushes growing near by. They had one foot rather like a sheep's, but the other foot, as well as the hands and head, were like a man's. They went very lightly on their feet as they approached. The soldiers ran and surrounded them, and with some difficultly captured a few and brought them to Alexander. Alexander told his men to go and fetch some more. When these creatures were brought near to him, they addressed him plaintively: "Have mercy on us, lord, because we are men like you. It is because of our timidity that we in this lonely place." At this, Alexander relented and ordered them to be released. When this was done, they went up to some high cliffs and began to mock Alexander. "Silly fool," they cried. "How inept you are. See how we have escaped. You cannot even touch us in judgement. Because your wits are inferior to ours, you were unable to capture us." So they jumped about and danced and made sport of Alexander. But when he heard and saw them, he laid aside his anger and began to laugh. And since he received the oracle, we have not seen him laugh again until this present moment. Yet what they said deserved a good laugh.
Ancient Flamethrowers and Massive Loot Piles
"Candace, queen of Meroe, and all her vassal kings, greet King Alexander. [...] We are to defend ourselves against all comers and treat them as as enemies. We have eighty flame-throwers ready to do harm to those who attack us. My messengers will bring you 100 solid-gold ingots, 500 young Ethiopians, 200 sphinxes, an emerald crown made of 1,000 pounds of gold, 10 strings of unweighed pearls, 80 ivory chests, and all kinds of animals that are common among us: 5 elephants, 10 tame panthers, 30 bloodhounds in cages, 30 fighting bulls; also 300 elephant tusks, 300 panther skins, 3,000 ebony wands. Send immediately people to collect all these goods, and send further news of  yourself, when you have made yourself king of the world. Farewell."
The Random Encounter Table
"A great variety of races dwelt there. We saw dog-headed men, and men without without heads who had their eyes and mouths in their chest, others with bulls' heads, and troglodytes and the wild strap-legs; still others were hairy like goats and had heads like those of lions. There were strange-looking animals of every kind.
There were scorpions 18 inches long, sand burrowers, both white and red. We were very frightened. Some of the men were killed; there was tremendous groaning and wailing. Then four-footed beasts began to come out to drink. Among them were lions bigger than bulls - their teeth alone were 2 feet long - lynxes, panthers, tigers, scorpion-tails [?], elephants, ox-rams, bull-stags, men with six hands, strap-footed men, dog-partridges and other kinds of wild animals. Our alarm grew greater. We drove some of them off with our weapons. Night foxes leapt out of the sand, some 8, some 12 feet long; and crocodiles emerged from the wood and killed the baggage-carriers. There were bats larger than pigeons, and they had teeth. Night crows were perching by the lake; we hunted them down and cooked a large dinner.
Poison to Kill A Man Who Would Be A God
So he laid a plot, and prepared a poison which could not be carried in any vessel of bronze, glass, or clay, because such a vessel would shatter instantly. Antipater put the poison in a jar of lead, and placed his in another jar of iron; then he gave this to his son and sent it to Babylon to Alexander's cupbearer Iolaus.


OSR: The Iron Gates - Merchants, Hunters, and Knights

Here are the first 3 classes for my Alexandrian Dark Souls / Iron Gates pointcrawl and setting. You can read some notes on the other classes here. Some ideas for these classes were taken from Arnold K and Lungfungus.

Classes are written for the GLOG system, for my homebrew here. They won't be included in the book. All classes also start with an item from the Dark Souls Trinket Table (not yet written). Only the Knight class has been playtested.

Ahmed Rawi


Starting Items: Iron dagger, traveling robes, 10gp. (1 Iron)
Starting Skill: 1. Mythology, 2. Sailor, 3. Diplomat

A: Evaluate, Market Protection
B: Flighty, Prominence
C: Bargain, Winning Smile
D: Forge

You gain +1 Inventory Slot for each Merchant template you possess.

Evaluate: You know the market value of any mundane item. Unique items may require an intelligence test to evaluate.

Market Protection: You are immune to the effects of any cursed, Iron, or supernatural items you carry as long as you intend to sell them. If you use the item or gain any benefit from it, you suffer the negative effects.

Flighty: If you choose not to attack in a round your armour counts as Plate. This only applies if you can see your enemies.

Once per round, you can choose to be the most prominent person in a group or the least prominent person in a group. This does not give you any bonuses to stealth.

Bargain: Anything you purchase gets a 20% discount.

Winning Smile: As long as no bloodshed has taken place, you get a +1 bonus to all reaction rolls as long as you are the one doing the talking.

Forge: You can spend 10gp to create a replica of any item smaller than a horse. If the item is mundane, it will pass inspection for 1d6 hours. If the item is supernatural,  your forgery will only pass inspection for 1d6 minutes.

Mechanical Notes on the Merchant
In combat, the Merchant's main ability is to attract attention and survive damage. Two Merchants can work together to keep an enemy distracted, changing who is the most prominent each round. They start with a dagger, but their main role will be running around doing stuff while the fight is taking place. In the boss fights I'm designing there will always be something to do.

Out of combat, the Merchant has many tools to assist a group with their schemes. Forgeries are useful. Being the most prominent person could allow another PC to sneak by a guard. Being the least prominent person can allow you - and your sacks of gold, cursed items, etc. - to be overlooked. Most games don't have items that are difficult to carry, but this one will. Oh my yes.


Starting Items: Bow, 40 iron-tipped arrows, iron dagger, leather armour, 1gp. (3 Iron)
Starting Skill: 1. Trapper, 2. Assassin, 3. Soldier

A: Wilderness Sense
B: Crippling Shot
C: +1 Attack per Round, True Caution
D: Impossible Shot

You gain +1 Stealth for each Hunter template you possess.

Wilderness Sense: After a GM gives you the Omen for an encounter, you can choose to reroll the encounter and get a different Omen. You must accept the new result.

Crippling Shot: If you hit an enemy with your bow, you can choose to deal 1 damage instead of rolling for damage. The next attack made by the enemy deals 1/2 normal damage.

True Caution: After the GM gives you the Omen for an encounter, you can choose to reroll the encounter and get a different Omen. You can choose between the two Omens and Encounters.

Impossible Shot: Once per combat, you can make an impossible shot with your bow. The arrow can strike a target around a corner, cut a falling coin in half, or ricochet half a dozen times before parting the hair on a hostage's head. The arrow automatically hits. Roll for damage normally.

Mechanical Notes on the Hunter
You can see some "Omen+Encounter"-based tables here, for the Veinscrawl. The Hunter is associated with water: scrying, seeing things as they are, and change. In combat, they can deal decent damage at range. Enchanted bows and arrows will give them several unusual combat options.
Bogdan Rezunenko


Starting Items: Iron chain armour, iron shield, sword, 1gp. (3 Iron)
Starting Skill: 1. Courtesy, 2. Duelist, 3. Soldier

You get +1 HP and Save vs Fear for every Knight template you possess.

A: Parry, Vows
B: Bodyguard, +1 Attack per Round
C: Aura of Courage, Tough
D: Dragon Slayer

Parry: Once per day you can reduce incoming damage by 1d12 points. If you also choose to sunder your shield, you can reduce the damage by 12 points instead of 1d12.

You may make one Vow for each Knight template you possess. Vows are short, specific, personal statements that you will not forget. You must Save to break them for one round, no matter the circumstances. Example Vows:

  • I will protect my friend Aloise.
  • I will obey the commands of the Lady of Meridia.
  • I will never harm an unarmed person.
  • I will reach the Iron Gates.
If you forget everything else from Iron's corrupting power, you will still remember and obey your vows. You might have heraldry, a homeland, a family, but chances are good that in the end you will only remember your Vows.

If an adjacent ally would take damage from a physical attack, you can choose to take the damage for them. This ability has a 4-in-6 chance of succeeding.

Aura of Courage:
Adjacent allies can use your Save vs Fear in place of their own. This ability has no effect if you are currently afraid.

Tough: Reduce all incoming damage by 2.

Dragon Slayer:
Once per day, you can cause one of your physical attacks to deal +X damage, where X is equal to the HD of the highest level monster your party has ever killed. You must keep track of this. If you miss, this ability is not expended.

Mechanical Notes on the Knight
The Knight starts off with a heavy Iron load, but they have an unparalleled ability to tank damage. They are a tragic class, easily corrupted by Iron. They are best roleplayed by melancholy players willing to run a knight who slowly... fades, to nothing but their vows.
Matias Trabold Rehren


Iron must be quenched in blood.
  • Iron daggers, swords, chain armour, and shields count as 1 Iron.
  • 20 iron arrows count as 1 Iron.
  • Giant hammers, giant shields, etc. count as 2 Iron.
  • Iron-infused spells count as 1 Iron.
  • Nails, wire, hinges, and iron items not related to violence count as 1 Iron, no matter how many a character carries.
Iron Capacity: 1+[Core stat bonus].

At character creation, select 1 Stat. This stat is your "core" stat. It is how you resist Iron's siren call of blood. You do not have to select your highest stat.

  • Strength: You overcome it by fighting yourself. You force your sword back into its scabbard. Your neck bulges, your teeth grind.
  • Dexterity: You overcome it by moving, distracting yourself. You tap your foot and twitch and make endless repetitive gestures.
  • Constitution: You overcome it by burying it, swallowing hot bile and forcing yourself to look away, forcing yourself to calm your hammering heart.
  • Intelligence: You overcome it by rationalization, by desperately thinking your way out of the red mist, by remembering you are human and not a beast. You mutter and squint.
  • Wisdom: You overcome it by meditation, by centering yourself, by drawing up  your own soul. You stop moving, close your eyes. Your breathing slows.
  • Charisma: You overcome it by laughter and joy, brushing aside the bloodlust with a wry smile. Such is the way of the world.

Capacity Effect Attack Bonus
At or Below No effect.  -
1 over If you kill an enemy in a particularly bloody fashion, Save or recklessly attack the next adjacent enemy. +1
2 over You cannot write. If you kill an enemy, Save or attack the nearest target, friend or foe. You can Save each round to regain control. +2
3 over You cannot read or write. You forget almost everything. If you kill an enemy, Save or attack the nearest target, friend or foe. You regain control when combat ends. +3
4+ over You become a mindless husk driven by bloodlust. This is irreversible. You gain +10 HP and reduce all incoming damage by 2. +#

Some classes have ways to reduce Iron's call. The Merchant can carry an unlimited number of Iron items without penalty as long as they intend to sell them. The Knight can take Vows, unbreakable sentences they will never forget. The Berserker can use the call of iron deliberately to great destructive effect.

You can't accidentally go over your Iron capacity. Someone can't toss you an iron sword and go "hah, you're mindless now". The change is slow. It takes at least an hour. Stat-draining effects, however, can reduce your Core stat and cause issues. Certain spells, curses, or items can increase or decrease your iron capacity temporarily or permanently.

"Attack Bonus" is your bonus to hit an enemy.


OSR: Boss Fight: The Wolf of Rhen

This fight is still very much in a draft stage. It hasn't been fully playtested.

The Alexandrian Dark Souls pointcrawl I'm working on will feature several boss fights.

Jussi Keteli

The Wolf of Rhen

This fight is optional. The PCs can chose to approach the Castle of Rhen by the Catacombs (leading to this fight) or by the Old Bridge (a much harder route guarded by knights and a giant eagle). It will probably be the second or third boss they face.

The Catacombs will be flux space, but eventually, all paths lead to this room. Beyond is a secret path into the heart of the Castle of Rhen (and the PC's target).

When the PCs arrive, they will probably know the following:

-Rhen was rebuilt above its own ruins.
-the first Kings of Rhen, before Iskandar's day, are entombed deep in the catacombs
-Rhen was blessed with an avatar of Nitan, god of war and iron.
-Something is deeply wrong with iron.
Pretty maps are not my strong point.

The Wolf of Rhen

1. An low iron door carved with a snarling wolf's head. Not trapped, but difficult to open. The rusted hinges howl in protest.

2. A large room, dimly lit by brass-caged flames along the outer walls. 110'x100', 20' ceilings. Four enormous pillars, crudely chipped into shape, support the roof. Ten corpses, wrapped in bandages and covered in dry resin, rest in on corroded bronze thrones, each in their own alcove.

3. Stairs, crudely carved, lead upwards to a giant bronze statue of a she-wolf. On her outstretched tongue is an iron key.

4. A low iron door with a large, complex iron lock and bars. The lock is faintly magical. With time, it could be cracked open or picked, but not easily. Even with the key, the door takes 3 rounds to fully open, though one very nimble or desperate person could squeeze through after 2 rounds.

A1-A10: The First Ten Kings of Rhen
Their names and details are not important, though a character well versed in mythology or history may remember their mythic deeds. 

1d10 Name Carries
1 Rheman A severed, crowned head.
2 Tarquin An iron tablet.
3 Marcus A masonry trowel and block of stone.
4 Severus An iron scythe.
5 Lucius A staff with the symbol of the sun.
6 Vibus An iron chain with shackles.
7 Allectius An iron shovel.
8 Caelius A pair of iron tongs.
9 Priscus A broken iron sword.
10 Gnomon An iron cauldron.

The Boss Fight

If the key in the wolf's mouth is touched, the brass lamps flare as the Ten Kings awaken to defend the avatar of their god. If players ignore the key and smash the corpses of the Ten Kings, they can spend 2 rounds destroying corpses before the remaining Kings awaken and Phase 1 begins.

Weta Workshop

Phase 1: The Ten Kings

They lurch to their feet, resin and rotting fabric falling to the ground.

Ten Kings Stats
HP: 6 each
Appearance: ancient kings in thin gold crowns. Their armor and robes are streaked with blue-green from their corroding thrones. Their steps are slow, but they do not stumble or stoop. Even in death they are proud.
Wants: to destroy interlopers, protect the wolf statue.
Armor: as chain
Move: 1/2 normal
Morale: 12
Damage: 1d6 from miscellaneous tools and weapons.

The Ten Kings are not very strong. In the end, they are just ten skeletons. They move slowly and can be herded into a group or picked off one by one. They will target anyone holding the key first.

When the last of the Ten Kings falls, Phase 2 begins.


Phase 2: The Wolf of Rhen

A few moments after the last of the Ten Kings is destroyed, the Wolf awakens. She shakes herself with a screech of iron, raises her head, and howls. Her howl grows louder and louder, cruel and metallic, and then shrieks into a orange jet of flame. The howl cuts off. She lowers her head, scans the PCs, looks directly at the best armed PC, and charges.

The Wolf of Rhen Stats
HP: 50
Appearance: a huge she-wolf, cast in bronze, with iron teeth and iron eyes. Fire drips from her jaws. She has no fur; her neck is covered with carved rings like chainmail instead. Her eyes never close and her expression never changes.
Wants: blood and conquest and death. Armor: Due to the wolf's size, all attacks gain a +4 bonus to hit. Reduce all incoming damage from iron weapons by 3. Move: normal Morale: 12

The Wolf of Rhen will only deliberately harm people with visible weapons. She will stare with unblinking eyes at swords and other weapons, ignoring everything else. Anything that a PC intends to use to harm the Wolf counts as a weapon, including spellcasting implements.

Each round, the Wolf of Rhen makes one attack from the list below. She can also move up to 30'. She will try to isolate, corner, and devour the most powerful and violent PCs first.

+Charge: The Wolf moves up to 20' in a straight line towards a single target. Anyone she passes over (including the Ten Kings) must Save or take 1d6 damage. The target of the charge takes 1d8 damage. If an 8 is rolled, the target is knocked prone, pinned under the Wolf's paw, and takes another 1d6 damage.

+Howl: The Wolf pauses and howls. 1d3 of the Kings of Rhen lurch back to their feet. They are stunned for one round, but attack normally at the start of the next round.

+Leap Back: If surrounded, the Wolf leaps back 20', swiping with one paw. A single target must Save or take 1d8 damage.

+Devour: Can only be used on a prone, incapacitated, or pinned PC. The Wolf spends the entire round clawing and biting them, dealing 3d6 damage, Save for half. If this kills a PC, the Wolf of Rhen gains +1 HP for each point of Iron* the PC had.

When the Wolf of Rhen is below 20 HP, she pauses for one round and howls again. Black smoke and dark orange flames burst from her wounds. In the middle of each round she also makes one of the attacks below.

+Flame Burst: The Wolf deals 1d6 fire damage to anything within 10' (including the Ten Kings). Save for half. The pillars block the flame.

+Brutal Cough: The Wolf belches up a 40' cone of flame. Anything in the cone takes fire 1d6 damage, Save for half. The pillars block the flame.

When the Wolf of Rhen is killed, she makes on final Flame Burst attack and slowly melts.


If the PCs did not retrieve the key before the fight began, it will be in her guts.

The Wolf's ten iron teeth can be used as arrowheads or forged into a weapon. On a hit, they burst with flame, dealing an additional 1d6 fire damage.

The ten thin gold crowns of the kings, assuming they were not melted by the Wolf's flames, are worth 20gp each.

Eddie Liu

Fighting the Wolf of Rhen

Drop your weapons, grab the key, unlock the door, and run.

Alternatively, use the pillars to block the Wolf's movement. She can only charge in a straight line. During the first phase, get close and force the Wolf to leap back. When she is below 20 HP, stay at range. If she pins or knocks a an ally prone, make sure they are protected or rescued.

Design Notes for the Wolf of Rhen

The first phase of the boss fight is just ten slow skeletons. Clever players, expecting an ambush, will race around the room smashing the skeletons before touching the key. They might not expect the wolf to animate.

The Wolf of Rhen's passive ability (reducing damage from iron weapons) makes sorcery more valuable. Despite the fearsome stats, some of the Wolf's attacks do minimal damage. Howling to raise a few skeletons gives the players a chance to regroup. Leaping Back has a chance to do no damage at all and can move the Wolf away from a vulnerable target.

The arena isn't particularly interesting. There are a few descriptive "zones": behind a pillar, on the stairs, at the top of the stairs, in an alcove, etc.

The Wolf is designed to introduce area-of-effect attacks, surround-and-control tactics, and multi-phase boss fights. The fight is fairly normal in all respects. Later fights will be stranger.

*Points of Iron
Iron must be quenched in blood. Tracking the number of iron items a PC has will be important in this game. Iron makes the best weapons and strongest armour, but its song can drive a person to bloodthirsty and reckless acts.