Dungeon exploration proceeds in turns, a somewhat abstract unit of time lasting about 5 minutes, in which time a party of characters may:
Move: Unencumbered characters can move about 120 feet at a duly cautious and stealthy manner while mapping and otherwise carefully exploring the dungeon, or up to five times that at a brisk pace through familiar areas.
Traverse an Obstacle: characters may attempt to climb a wall or rope, cross a narrow bridge, jump a pit, grapple across a chasm, etc., with the referee adjudicating a chance of success based on the player’s tactics (a base 4-in-6).
Explore a Room: characters can carefully examine and map a room of abut 20’x20’ in one turn.
Search: characters can carefully search a 10’x10’ area or large object for traps, secret doors, or treasure, with a base 2-in-6 chance of success.
Listen: doff helmets and remain quiet, straining to hear noises nearby or through doors. Base chance of 1-in-6, assuming anything that they may be able to hear employs due care to be stealthy.
Open a Stuck or Locked Door: either by forcing it, with a base chance of success of 2-in-6 and making considerable noise, or by quietly picking the lock (1-in-6) or using a key. Alternatively, characters may hammer in iron spikes to hold a door shut.
Rest: characters need to rest for 1 turn out of every 12 (once per hour) and for 1 turn following combat or they will become fatigued and suffer -1 to most checks.
Miscellaneous Actions: the characters may converse, cast spells, or perform other actions, with time needed and chance of success at the referee’s discretion.
Limit on Repeated Actions: generally, the characters may make no more than three repeated attempts at any given action, such as listening at or forcing a door, before they must give up all chance of success without a significant change in tactics. Dungeons being fickle places, they may find a new opportunity for success on their next visit.
Most actions, including safe movement, require adequate lighting to perform, so the characters will wish to bring ample sources of light with them. Lights such as candles, torches, and lanterns must be held in a hand and preclude wielding a weapon or shield in that hand, although a torch counts as an improvised weapon. The following table summarizes common sources of light:
Continual Light spell
2′′ (10 ft)
8′′ (40 ft)
6′′ (30 ft)
12′′ (60 ft) cone
8′′ (40 ft)
12′′ (60 ft)
Many monsters have the ability to see or otherwise sense their surroundings in total darkness, and will be able to easily see the characters from much farther away than the lights themselves allow the party to see. Characters must also be wary of having their lights blown out or doused.
In order for the players to have a map, a character must also be making a map. This requires that the party move at a cautious pace and that the mapping character have both hands free, adequate lighting, and some parchment and writing materials with which to create the map. If the character’s map is lost or damaged, the referee is well within rights to deny the players access to their map as well.
Depending on the relative danger and traffic through the area of the dungeon the characters occupy, the referee will check for an encounter every 2-6 turns or so, usually with a 1-in-6 chance of something running into the characters or vice versa.
Exploration of the Wilderness usually proceeds in days, and terrain is broken up into somewhat abstract areas called hexes, usually about 2 leagues (5-6 miles) across. In one day, the party may:
Travel: characters can travel their move in leagues over open country, representing a steady, sustainable march for most of the day, with many maps scaled such that this amounts to two hexes.. This rate is modified depending on terrain and the availability of a trail or road.
Search: characters can search a single hex for dungeons, lairs, villages, buried treasure, etc., with a base 1-in-6 chance of finding something. Hexes usually represent a quite large amount of territory (a “small” 2-league hex works out to almost 32 square miles), and it may take several days to thoroughly search such an area.
Hunt or Forage: characters can forage for plants and small game while traveling at their normal pace, having a base 1-in-6 chance of finding 1d6 person-days of food. Alternatively, characters may spend the whole day hunting for larger game having a +1 chance of finding twice as much food, with declining results for repeated attempts.
Secure a Base Camp: characters can establish a base camp, including shelters for themselves and their gear and a defensive ditch or fence. Characters may improvise simple structures such as cabins or palisades over several days of similar work, given adequate tools and available materials.
Rest: characters need to make camp and rest each night and one day per week or else become fatigued and suffer -2 or -1 (respectively) to most checks. After several days without sleep, characters will begin to hallucinate or collapse. Sensible parties will look for relatively safe locations and set a watch during rests.
Miscellaneous Actions: the characters can generally cast spells or do anything else that they would do during dungeon exploration with a negligible impact on their rate of travel.
The lay of the land has a large impact on the speed of travel and the chance of getting lost while moving about. The following table summarizes basic types of terrain:
The movement modifier is given in leagues per day; this is added to the move of an pursuing party (see Evasion & Pursuit), but not an evading party, as difficult terrain has abundant places to hide. The chance of getting lost is obviated if characters can readily see a landmark or are following a clear path (a marked trail might give a +1 bonus).
Further, the characters must have adequate clothing and shelter for the season and terrain, such as heavy wool clothing and fires in the winter, robes and shelter from the sun in deserts, or oiled cloaks and tents in rain, else they will be fatigued or come to worse harm.
Depending on the relative danger and habitation of an area of the wilderness the characters travel through, the referee will check for an encounter 1-3 times per day, usually with a 1-in-6 chance of something running into the characters or vice versa.
While most of the time that the characters spend in towns and cities can easily be handled in a free-form manner, when the characters are in a city that is unfriendly to them, that suffers a calamity such a war, fire, or plague, that is largely deserted ruins, or in situations where they are attempting to defend a city or secure a conquered one, the referee may call for a more structured approach.
When exploring relatively safe areas in cities and ruins time is counted in watches, each about 3 hours long, and the city is broken up into wards, a largely abstract area resolving to one identifiable district or neighborhood. Over the course of a watch, a character can:
Travel: moving around a city under ideal conditions takes negligible time, but under adverse circumstances such as travelling across rooftops, moving through crowds or ruined streets, or dealing with checkpoints and gates it requires one watch to travel to a given ward of the city. Alternatively, the character may travel several leagues into surrounding settled lands.
Explore or Patrol a Ward: characters can thoroughly walk through the streets of one ward. If exploring, the characters can construct a map noting streets, alleys, businesses, buildings, and landmarks. If patrolling, the characters can become aware of any unusual activity or developing dangerous situations and deal with several minor incidents.
Search: characters can search a single large building or a small block of lesser buildings amounting to about 20 rooms while looking for loot, contraband, secret rooms, fugitives, etc. Characters have a base 2-in-6 chance of discovering something.
Gather Information: a character can hang about a gathering place such as a public garden, well, square, market, or tavern trying to overhear news and rumors and automatically learn the local gossip, or can chat up locals for information with a base 1-in-6 chance of learning something about a particular subject, modified by the character's Charisma bonus. A character can generally only gather information at a given location once per day without drawing suspicion.
Conduct Business: a characters can browse the wares available in one market or street, interview hirelings such as specialists or mercenaries, fence loot and treasure, or negotiate the price and settlement of a significant business deal such as fitted armor or provisions for a large expedition.
Rest: characters must rest at least two watches per day or else become fatigued and suffer -1 to most checks.
Miscellaneous Actions: the characters can generally cast spells, converse, or do anything else that they would do during dungeon exploration with a negligible impact on their use of time, but they should take care to avoid drawing untoward attention to themselves.
While the player characters will not have to do the fine accounting of lights and rations needed in other exploration scenarios, city life nonetheless drains resources. The characters will have to secure food and lodgings, usually at an inn. Even basic accommodations are likely to run the characters a silver penny a day each, and costs easily run up from there. If the party is large or accompanied by a significant number of retainers they may wish to secure a town house or an entire inn for their stay.
While the characters are moving about town the referee will check for an encounter every 1-3 watches, usually with a 1-in-6 chance of something significant, but substantially greater if the characters draw attention to themselves or attract the notice of the local authorities.
Surprise: At the start of an encounter each side, unless somehow forewarned of the presence of the other (such as by lights or excessive noise), has a 2-in-6 chance of being surprised. A well-prepared ambush or other such favorable circumstances may increase this chance by 1 or 2.
Evasion: A party with the advantage of surprise may always evade by quickly running off in a different direction. Otherwise, if one side attempts to evade and the other gives chase, both roll 2d6 + the move of the slowest character, modified by terrain and relative group size. If the evaders have a higher result the pursuers loose sight of them, otherwise the chase can be played out in combat rounds until the pursues catch or loose sight of their quarry. Without a preplanned escape route evading characters move in a random direction determined by the referee and may become lost in the wilderness or arrive in an unexplored area of a dungeon. Mapping is impossible during this movement.
Reactions: Not all encounters are automatically hostile. While most monsters will immediately attack, many, especially intelligent humanoids and lawful creatures, may be parleyed with or peacefully avoided. Their initial reaction is determined by a roll of 2d6, modified by alignment, disposition, and general conditions:
Unfriendly, re-roll at -4
Indifferent, re-roll at +4
Generally, any re-rolls that follow as the players interact with the other party are modified by the Wyrd modifiers of the involved characters. Minds are usually made up their to attack or depart after three rolls.
Initiative: Every round each side rolls 1d6 and adds the move of the slowest member of the group. The side with the higher result goes first and has the initiative. On a tie, the players may go first, but they are not considered to have the initiative and thus may not Counter the actions of their opponents. Action always proceeds clockwise around the table.
Each round, a somewhat abstract period of time lasting about 10 seconds, a character can do one of the following things:
Move: a character can move up to their current move (in inches on the table) in one round. No movement can be made on the first round of combat or the round after being surprised. If no other movement is made the a character may shift one inch on the table for miscellaneous maneuvering.
Attack: roll 1d20 and add your HD and opponent's defense. You hit if this number is at least 20. A successful attack deals damage based on the weapon, adding your Might modifier for melee and thrown attacks, but with all hits doing a minimum of one point of damage regardless of any penalties. You must be within about 5 feet (1 inch on the table) to make a melee attack unless using a weapon with long reach, and must have at least that much clearance from any opponent to make a missile attack.
Charge: a character can move up to their full movement rate and then make an attack that deals +1 damage but leaves them open to a countering maneuver. Charges cannot be made on the first round of combat unless the other side is surprised.
Cast a Spell: a character can cast almost any spell in one round. Success is usually automatic, except for encumbered Wizards.
Counter an Opponent’s Action: a character can attempt to counter the action of an opponent, such as by tripping a fleeing combatant, blocking an attack, fouling the words or gestures of spellcasting, etc. You must either have the initiative over your target to counter their action in the current round, or use both this round’s action and the next’s to counter the action of a target in the next round. Making a countering maneuver requires successful attack roll or allows the target a Saving Throw.
A few special circumstances apply to countering:
Ready Equipment: a character can retrieve and prepare for use a readily accessible item. This includes drawing weapons and readying shields. Bows do not require a round to reload, crossbows and slings require one round, and an arbelest or scorpio requires two rounds.
Use Item: a character can do something with a readied piece of equipment or magic item, such as reading a scroll, drinking a potion, or using a wand.
Banish Horror: a character can rely on Faith to keep certain monsters at bay; see later section for rules.
Miscellaneous Feats: characters can attempt to do anything else players can dream up that it’s possible to do in about 10 seconds, with the results being adjudicated by the referee.
Limit on Actions in One Round: certain magic and Warrior disciplines may allow characters to do more than one thing in a round. In general, neither source shall be interpreted to allow the character to do more than two actions per round by itself, and even both together shall never allow more than three.
Morale is checked, subject to referee whim, under the following circumstances:
NPCs have a base morale of 7, modified by their Faith, their leader’s Wyrd, and by their general alignment, discipline, and disposition. When morale is checked, the NPCs must roll their morale or less on 2d6 or make an attempt to retreat, flee or surrender. Penalties to this roll include unfavorable lighting conditions (-1 for goblins in daylight or men in darkness) and the odds of the conflict (-1 for two-to-one odds). If retainers make a fighting retreat a player character may use their action for the round to attempt to rally them, granting a new morale check.
Foul monsters such as the undead, demons, and the horrors of the outer darkness cannot abide the power of faith, so long as mortals have the courage to face them with it. To Banish Horrors the character must hold a blessed ankh, pentacle, or other symbol of their faith and forcefully present it to the creatures they wish to affect. Roll 2d6 and add the character’s Faith modifier:
The un-ordained may only hold such creatures at bay with a successful roll. Clerics may add their own HD to the number indicated for affected HD, and are thus able to banish much more powerful creatures. Further, if a Cleric is able to affect the monster’s HD + 2 they may drive them away in fear, and if able to affect their HD + 5 they may burn them to ashes. Certain very powerful monsters may resist this Banishing as if stronger than their HD would indicate.
A character’s hit points represent more than just physical capacity for damage; rather, they are an abstraction of general fighting ability and endurance, the ability to fend off damage by skill of arms and endure blows and cuts that would incapacitate a lesser fighter. After this ability is exhausted the character must roll on the Death & Dismemberment Table with every hit:
Instant Death: the character is beheaded, impaled, crushed, eaten, etc.
Mortal Wound: the character is hors de combat and will bleed out in 1d6 turns. Nothing short of powerful magic can save them.
Serious Wound: the character loses a limb or suffers a fractured skull or sucking chest wound. Unconscious, will die in 1 turn without serious medical intervention.
Maim & Knocked Out
Maim: the character suffers from a major fracture or similar injury and cannot effectively use the affected limb until it is healed (1 season). May continue fighting.
Light Wound & Knocked Out
Knocked Out: the character is unconscious, but will recover after 1 turn.
Light Wound: the character suffers a serious cut, broken rib, or the like and is at -1 to most rolls until the injury is healed (1d4 weeks). May continue fighting.
Knocked Down: the character is on the ground and vulnerable, but may recover next round.
Lucky Break: the character manages to fend off the attack, but is still at risk.
Second Wind: the character recovers in a heroic surge, regaining 1d6+1 hp.
These results are adjudicated by the referee depending primarily on the nature of the attack; death and dismemberment resulting from fiery dragon breath or poison gas would be of similar severity but obviously different in description and detail. Generally, this table only applies to the player characters and major NPCs, other characters are usually assumed to be killed outright.
Location: When in doubt as the location of an injury resulting from a roll on the Death & Dismemberment table, roll a d6:: 1:head, 2:left leg, 3:right leg, 4:right arm, 5:left arm, 6:torso.
Shields will be shattered: A character wearing armor may choose to reduce the severity of a wound by one step by having the armor become damaged as well. The armor loses its defense bonus until repaired. Magical armor may be used in this fashion as well, but it only actually takes damage if struck by a magical weapon or creature or magic of similar puissance.
Since hit points primarily represent skill, verve, and luck, they can be recovered quickly if the character has opportunities for rest and relaxation. A hot meal, a spirituous drink, a night in a warm bed, amorous companionship, or religious mass will restore 1d6 hit points, up to once a day each. Lesser comforts available on the trail restore but 1 hit point each.
Wounds and broken bones on the other hand require treatment lest they become infected or set improperly. The services of a chirurgeon or cleric are needed at regular intervals, in addition to the necessary convalescence. Wounds that go untreated will worsen in severity instead of healing.
Characters will frequently face deadly challenges with nothing but sheer luck and resourcefulness to turn to. Almost any calamity the character might be subject to not otherwise subject to some other die roll allows a Saving Throw or Save. To make this check, roll 1d20 and add the character’s HD and a flat bonus of +5. If the result is 20 or higher, the character successfully avoids or mitigates the danger, as adjudicated by the referee. Depending on the circumstances, the referee may assign additional bonuses or penalties to the roll.
Most sources of venom or injected poison are deadly. Once exposed, the character makes a Saving Throw and if successful shrugs off the damage. On failure, they are rendered hors de combat and will painfully die over 1d6 turns of convulsions, foaming at the mouth, etc. Through extraordinary means, other characters may be able to save their life during this time: a Cleric’s Purification ritual (requiring a vial of holy water) grants an additional Saving Throw, and forcing a bezoar down the character’s throat or utilizing powerful spells may neutralize the poison entirely.
Poison gas and smoke are resolved similarly. The character makes a Saving Throw for each round of exposure, with failure rendering them unconscious and death coming a turn thereafter, although those dragged back into fresh air may have some chance of recovery (roll on the Death and Dismemberment table).
When characters face undead, fairies, demons, or other eldritch horrors they may suffer more than just the usually expected danger to life and limb; such creatures put the character’s very soul at risk. A blow or spell from such a powerful being could result in any of the following, or other stranger results at the referee’s option, as could being in the presence of cursed lands or other sources of chaotic taint:
At the referees option, and depending on the power of the creature or emanation that caused the taint, a Cleric’s purification ritual or powerful spells may grant a saving throw or remove the curse of chaos from an affected character.