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Welcome  •  Stories  •  Powers  •  Monsters  •  Races  •  Sheets


Table of Contents
Your Character
Estimating Skill Ratings
Imagine Your Character
Increasing Skills and Talents
Skill Checks
Skill Check Difficulty
Rolling Dice
Bonus and Penalty
Degrees of Success
Skill Contests
Order and Turns
Stamina and Armor
Damage and Defeat
Example Skill Contests
Skill and Talent Descriptions
Skill Descriptions
Crafting Descriptions
Talent Descriptions
Runeblock Basics
Runeblock Effects
Economic Rules
Magic Item Impact
Magic Item Examples
Non-Crafted Magic Items

Welcome to Nine Powers, a storytelling game of fun and memorable adventures.

Playing this role-playing game requires these rules, paper and pencil, a set of polyhedral dice, and two or more people eager for stories of excitement, challenge and humor.

Nine Powers an excellent introduction to pencil-and-paper role-playing games, as well as an exceptionally kid-friendly storytelling game. It works great for "theater of the mind" adventures, or can use maps and miniatures.

The people playing Nine Powers have different roles. One acts as narrator to describe the setting. The other(s) play the role of one protagonist, making choices and developing personality for that protagonist. The game's rules help determine if characters succed at what they try to do, and what consequences happen.

For historical reasons, this type of cooperative storytelling game is called a role-playing game, the narrator is called the Game Master or GM, and the other people in charge of the protagonists are called the Players.

With Nine Powers the GM and Player(s) take turns telling the story. This is a cooperative storytelling game.

Two other traditional acronyms call the main characters Player Characters or PCs, as opposed to the side characters controlled by the GM who are called Non-Player Characters or NPCs.

The Player's job during the storytelling is to describe what the PC tries to do. Be daring, dramatic, and confident! Try to keep the pace of the story quick and exciting.

The story becomes suspenseful and exciting when the PC must deal with difficult situations. Numeric skill and talent ratings measure how well the PC overcomes problems. Just like in real life, difficulties can be easier or harder to overcome based on the circumstances and available equipment. A clever Player will arrange situations to benefit his or her PC.

As the story unfolds, the PC accomplishes objectives and is awarded with increased skill and talent ratings, and with wealth that can be spent to craft or buy special equipment.

The rules are an aid to help the GM and Players decide whether the PC and NPCs are successful in their intentions. The rules surround the story with an unobtrusive layer of structure that provides consistency and a shared understanding of what might reasonably happen. The rules allow the players to cooperatively develop an adventure story that sometimes unfolds as planned and at other times develops in unexpected ways.

Nine Powers uses dice so luck can play a role in the story's development. Allowing luck to steer the story in a surprising way puts the GM and Players on more equal footing as improvisational storytellers who feel suspense and excitement. Strategy and tactics are rewarded, but careful plans and high skill ratings do not always guarantee success.

A fun GM prioritizes helping a thrilling and dramatic story unfold, and will sometimes ignore the rules and dice. On the other hand, the rules and dice are there to help lead the action in an unexpected direction, and a wise GM trusts that the story will naturally flow into places even more colorful and memorable than what was planned or predicted.

The game includes the fantasy setting of Spyragia. Very few tweaks are needed to adapt the rules to other settings.

Fox-like Unseemly (by Esther Young) Spyragia is a world ruled and shaped by its Creator and by the nine Powers that the Creator made and gifted with authority, power, and status . The Creator also put boundaries on their influence by assigning them dominions:

The people of Spyragia belong to six fantasy races inspired by old folk tales and refreshed with new delights.

I have written many stories to help you enjoy meeting Spyragia's people, monsters, Powers! Compared to the rule pages the stories have simple words for young kids to read.

Arlinac Town by Jereme Peabody

illustration of Arlinac Town by Jereme Peabody

Playtesting thanks go to my wife and kids, and to Nathan Brown, Wyatt Waggoner, Jonah, and Andy Crawford. Thanks for other helpful feedback go to D.J. Mckenna, David Berg, Eero Tuovinen, and DinDenver.

The name Nine Powers: Tales of Adventure and Daring was suggested by Yasha and catty_big.

Nine Powers is written by David L. Van Slyke © 2010—2023. Artwork by various people is given credit individually, including linking to the artist's website or blog when that is available. This work is not public domain, but I will almost certainly grant permission to other game developers wanting to steal from my ideas if they promise to give credit to this and their other sources. That is how good RPG design works, and what I have endeavored to do!

Your Character





Point blank range is ____



Can reserve ____ vetoes to next turn



Skill ____ to stop adjacent foes' movement



After grappling ignore ____ armor




Skill ____ to avoid some foes



Sneak attacks cause ____ extra damage



Skill ____ to find special treasure



Wondrous feats have ____ rating



Have ____ social armor




Skill ____ for animal control



Fast talking lasts ____ hours



Skill ____ to identify alchemical items



Reroll ____ dice when noticing traps



Enchantments can have range of ____



Extra spell resistance with skill ____

In Nine Powers all characters have skills and talents rated between 1 and 4. As characters gain experience they increase in proficiency with these skills and talents.

(This is different from a role-playing game in which characters instead advance through "levels". These skills are used as general approaches to overcome obstacles, the same as in a role-playing game that calls them "actions".)

In the chart to the right, the skills are written in brown, and each skill has an associated talent written in italicized green.

New characters should have skill ratings that total 30. New characters have no talents.

There are only a few skills. This mimics the exaggerated prowess of protagonists in classic heroic pulp fantasy stories and films. In this genre, heroes and heroines demonstrate unrealistic expertise at broad categories of real-life skills. For example, Yu Shu-lien fights expertly with any melee weapon, James Bond uses all pistols with equal mastery, Benedict of Amber optimally leads any army on any battlefield, and Buckaroo Bonzai can expertly drive any vehicle.

Because characters are described with only a few small numbers, the GM can readily improvise NPCs. This helps the story go quickly and encourages a focus on creativity and adventure.

These rules sometimes refer to half of a skill's name when doing so aids contextual clarity. For example, these rules will sometimes discuss "the Wrestle skill" instead of "the Wrestle/Disarm skill".

In these rules skill names are always capitalized. This helps differentiate situations from skills. For example, a character bargaining while purchasing equipment will certainly use the Bargain skill, but could also use the Identify and Intuition skills to appraise the value of items, the Etiquette skill to earn favor with the merchant, or the Disguise skill to pretend the purchase is for a local noble.

The point of the previous paragraph deserves repeating. One situation can be approached with many skills!.

One Situation, Many Skill Options

Consider a PC who leaps off a ledge onto a monster. What is the hero trying to accomplish?

If the PC is trying to knock it over, that would use the Wrestle skill.

If the PC is trying to stab it with a weapon as he or she lands, that would use the Melee skill.

If the PC is trying to subdue it with the force of his or her personality, that would use the Wonder skill.

If the PC is trying to land unnoticed on a giant's backpack, that would use the Stealth skill.

If the PC is trying to ride it, that would use the Animals skill.

Nine Powers includes a sample fantasy setting named Spyragia. It is very easy to replace this sample setting with any other setting (even a modern or futuristic one). The dominant features of this setting are the nine Powers that oversee the world and the six fantasy races that live there. (There are no plain humans in Spyragia).

The rules about skills, talents, dice, and crafting are general rules and almost independent of setting. They can get trumped by setting-specific rules.

(Here is one example of a setting-specific rule that trumps a general rule. Characters do not start with any talents according to the rules below. However, the setting-specific rules about Spyragia's six fantasy races provide an exception to that general rule: members of each race start with one point in a certain talent as part of their racial heritage and expertise.)

Estimating Skill Ratings

Skills and talents are rated between 1 and 4.

The following table provides examples of who might have a certain skill rating, and an example of what that skill rating can reliably accomlish when using the Hearthwork skill to do some baking.

RatingExample CharactersExample Baking Task
1 Peons, pawns, flunkies, mooks, and expendable allies wearing red shirts who have minimal training and experience Following a recipe after someone else set out the ingredients and cookbook
2 Guards, thugs, laborers, and others who get occasional training and perhaps daily practice Making a crumb crust cheesecake
3 Veterans, diplomats, craftsmen, and others showing fine experience from daily use Making a cake with jam between the layers, patterned frosting, and pretty piped icing decorations
4 Guard captains, bandit chiefs, master craftsmen, and other experts and leaders in their fields Making the wedding cake for a noble family

Skills in SPECTRE

Consider the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

The common SPECTRE agents employed at Piz Gloria were easily fooled and fought by Bond (skill raing 1 in most skills, perhaps 2 in Melee/Protect).

Blofield is far more clever, perceptive, dangerous, and even athletic than these men (skill rating 3 in most skills).

Since Blofield does not employ a mercilessly tough or trained bodyguard like Odd Job or Jaws, the story lacks a villain who can match Bond's skill rating of 4 in Melee and Shoot.

Tracy does match Bond's skill rating of 4 in driving, as well as proving his equal in courage both before and during their brief marriage.

Imagine Your Character

Remember the guideline that a new PC should have skill ratings that total 30, with every skill rated 1 to 4, and no talents. Those starting limitations allow a rewarding sense of progress as the PC adventures and grows stronger.

There are no rules for what a new PC is like. If you look at the character sheet file you will see that the sample starting characters are quite robust. They have features specific to their setting. They start with fun equipment that might even be magical. The fantasy race they belong to grants them one or more abilities. They have one or more wondrous feats and one or more extra talent points to enable using those wonderous feats. A new PC could also be the champion of a Power, questing to break a curse, or have great wealth due to an interesting backstory involving political intrigue.

Nine Powers is a storytelling game, not a "balanced" game. The GM and Players should create PCs and NPCs that are interesting and fun, and agree to add or remove rules to help create the kind of story they want.

With that preface behind us, let's discuss creating a new PC.

The Player needs to have a mental image of what his or her PC is like.

Some Players consider an archetypical protagonist or a character from another story.

Two Character Concepts from Others Stories

"My hero is like Robin Hood in the Errol Flynn film. He is energetic, physical, and charming. He is the best archer, and a very good swordsman. He is pretty observant. He is not an acrobat, but he can swing from chandeliers or safely jump down from a high place. He was wealthy, but was betrayed and is now an outlaw."

"My heroine is like Kerowyn from the Mercedes Lackey stories. Maybe she even has some kind of magic sword. She works as a mercenary. She is a dangerous swordfighter and a capable team leader. She values honor and fair play. She could teach and inspire people. She rides a horse very well. I want her to be good with all animals, not just horses."

Whether or not your character is based on another or completely original, the best next step is to answer questions as you decide on skill ratings.

Start with all skills rated 1. For the 15 questions below, answer the question and then choose a skill that fits that aspect of your character's background to increase by 1 (to the maximum of 4). When you are done you will have skill ratings that total 30 and be ready to start your adventure!

Character Background Questions

1. What is a short phrase that would describe the character?

2. Pick two unusual features of the character's appearance: two details of smell, sight, sound, feel, or temperature.

3. Who are are three characters that are very special to the character? Where do they live? What are their issues and problems?

4. Who is the character's friendly rival or antagonistic nemesis? Describe that person.

5. What is one thing about the character's home or birthplace that needs to change? What is one thing the character would fight to protect or keep the same?

6. Which of the character's possessions are most sentimental or beautiful?

7. Who taught the character to fight—or to survive without fighting? Where is this person now? Did they have any enemies?

8. What was the character's most memorable dangerous situation? Who died, or nearly died?

9. How has the character experienced sudden changes of fortune (quick gains or losses of wealth, status, or power)?

10. What was the character's greatest mistake? Is it secret? Does the character have other secrets to protect?

11. Does the character pursue any particular recreational activity or hobby? What are the character's favorite expenses? Which vice or virtue does the character use to unwind? With whom?

12. How has the character been hurt and/or helped by corruption? How does he or she cope with types of violence that are common in the story's setting?

13. Which imminent events does the character plan for? What are his or her immediate hopes, goals, worries or fears? What is an important upcoming event?

14. What is a significant or repeated misunderstanding that causes trouble for the character?

15. What is the character's source of income? Why is money tight? What are his or her inescapable needs for money?

These questions are intended to be deep enough to help make interesting heroes and heroines, but generic enough to fit any setting. Feel free to use other questions.

Here are some example responses. In this example, a Player is thinking about playing an adventuer named Nimsy who grew up as the daughter of adventurers and is now an alchemist starting her own professional life.

Example Responses Character Background Questions

1. What is a short phrase that would describe the character?

Nimsy looks like a sloppy alchemist. She wears a bandolier that holds glass bottles, many of which are the colorful potions and flasks she uses when adventuring. Her hair is up in a messy bun. Her leather apron has many stains and burn marks. (The Player increases the PC's Alchemy skill by 1.)

2. Pick two unusual features of the character's appearance: two details of smell, sight, sound, feel, or temperature.

She is well-spoken and uses careful diction. Her voice is musical. (The Player increases the PC's Etiquette skill by 1.)

3. Who are three characters that are very special to the character? Where do they live? What are their issues and problems?

Nimsy works at the zoo taking care of elderly monsters. She loves three geriatric bigbeast hamsters. They are the size of pigs. They and still very clever and curious, but naturally very tired. Her potions help them stay active enough to be happy. (The Player again increases the PC's Alchemy skill by 1.)

4. Who is the character's friendly rival or antagonistic nemesis? Describe that person.

When she was in school her rival was the other girl in her class who loved alchemy, named Viozet. But Viozet was always bigger and stronger. When bullied, Nimsy would run and climb a tree. Viozet still enjoys making trouble for Nimsy, but now in more subtle ways. (The Player increases the PC's Climb skill by 1.)

5. What is one thing about the character's home or birthplace that needs to change? What is one thing the character would fight to protect or keep the same?

The teachers at her school would hint that there some alchemy recipes were taboo or evil. Of course this made students more curious, and some students got into trouble trying to research what they were or invent a recipe that would be outlawed. Nimsy has a hunch there must have been some better way to handle that issue. (The Player increases the PC's Intuition skill by 1.)

6. Which of the character's possessions are most sentimental or beautiful?

Her father was a famous tracker. On her fifth birthday he gave her a book about learning to identify animal and monster tracks. He went missing that year. She treasures that book as the last gift her father gave her. (The Player increases the PC's Stealth/Track skill by 1.)

7. Who taught the character to fight—or to survive without fighting? Where is this person now? Did they have any enemies?

That would be her mother. She is a famous adventurer. When Nimsy's father did not come home, her mother went looking for him. Her mother still spends about a month each year searching. She once said that Nimsy should learn to defend herself, and that summer had fencing lessons. (The Player increases the PC's Melee skill by 1.)

8. What was the character's most memorable dangerous situation? Who died, or nearly died?

The last time her mother left to search for her father, Nimsy snuck after her mother. Nimsy managed to follow her mother onto a boat, but while aboard some men in dark blue cloaks started a fight. Nimsy almost died. Her mother saved her, and then sent her home. Those men did not seem like normal thieves or bandits. (The Player again increases the PC's Stealth/Track skill by 1.)

9. How has the character experienced sudden changes of fortune (quick gains or losses of wealth, status, or power)?

She recently inherited a mysterious magic sword from a distant relative. She is trying to work up the courage to quest in the Enchanted Forest to learn what it does and how to use it. (The Player increases the PC's Bargain/Wonder skill by 1.)

10. What was the character's greatest mistake? Is it secret? Does the character have other secrets to protect?

Nimsy spends too much time alone. She still goes out into the wilder-ness to get rare herbs. Someday she might meet a monster, or those men with dark blue cloaks. (The Player increases the PC's Wilderness skill by 1.)

11. Does the character pursue any particular recreational activity or hobby? What are the character's favorite expenses? Which vice or virtue does the character use to unwind? With whom?

Nimsy loves to spy on other alchemists. At night she likes to sneak across the city's rooftops and look in windows to see what other alchemists are doing. (For a third time the Player increases the PC's Stealth/Track skill by 1.)

12. How has the character been hurt and/or helped by corruption? How does he or she cope with types of violence that are common in the story's setting?

Her only contact with the seedy side of city life is when she sees other people on the rooftops at night. She stays away, hiding before they notice her. (The Player increases the PC's Perception skill by 1.)

13. Which imminent events does the character plan for? What are his or her immediate hopes, goals, worries or fears? What is an important upcoming event?

Nimsy is excited about a "practical household alchemy" contest that Lord Ronyld and Lady Jularna are putting on next week. She thinks her newest invention—a recipe for a an air freshener that neutralizes fishy smells—will win a prize, and perhaps help her start selling alchemy supplies privately to suppliment her zoo income. (For a third time the Player increases the PC's Alchemy skill by 1.)

14. What is a significant or repeated misunderstanding that causes trouble for the character?

Nimsy also likes tinkering with machinery. Some of it is practical: she could save money if she learned to blow glass, to make her own alchemical supplies. But she also likes cute devices with lots of moving parts. Some of her friends who are alchemists and who have seen disassembled devices in her workshop have convinced themselves that Nimsy is getting bored of alchemy, but she can't convince them that she is not. Maybe Viozet is spreading a rumor? (The Player increases the PC's Machinery skill by 1.)

15. What is the character's source of income? Why is money tight? What are his or her inescapable needs for money?

That zoo job is her only income. She really wants to start a side business, but is not yet well-known. There are always more alchemy recipes and equipment to buy! She has been practicing her salesmanship, and gathering information about what alchemy products she might make that would sell reliably. (The Player again increases the PC's Bargain/Wonder skill by 1.)

This type of background brainstorming might be too much for very young Players. They can just start the story, with the GM forming skill ratings by asking questions as the story develops. (For example, "You might be able to jump over that pit. How good is your character at jumping?") Limiting a new PC to skill ratings that total 30 means that if the Player consistently describes the PC as capable at everything, the PC will soon run out of available points and the GM will set the remaining undecided skill ratings to the minimum of 1.

Some players simply want to picking the character's initial starting skill ratings.

A Skill Based Character Conept

"My hero is great at fighting. All four Brawn skill ratings are 4. Hm. That leaves me with only 30 − 16 = 14 more points to spend. Let's do a 3 in Perception/Escape, a 2 in Animals/Wilderness, a 2 in Stealth/Track, and 1 everywhere else. Maybe I was a barbarian who came to the big city to work as a gladiator?"

This can work, tends to result in two-dimensional characters and less interesting and exciting stories.

Notice how many details of Nimsy's personal history could pop up in her story: her family, her job, her childhood rival, her inherited magic sword, her time alone in the forest and on rooftops, the mysterious men in blue cloaks, etc. In contrast a character that is merely "a barbarian seeking work as a gladiator" is a more shallow hero that will be doomed to more shallow stories unless the GM and Player can work together as the story develops to elaborate on that barbarian's history.

If you are a Player reading these rules, take a moment to imagine what type of character you would like to play. Do you have answers for the 15 questions above?.

As a Player, you will probably use a piece of paper called a character sheet to keep track of the PC's skill and talent ratings, wealth, advancement tokens, inventory, and known recipes.

The GM will also need to imagine characters. NPCs are like "partial PCs" and often described by a few dominant skills and talents, as well as other information important to the story. For the sake of brevity, everything else is improvised by the GM.

A short description of an NPC can be helpful for the GM.

Caul the NPC Merchant

Caul the merchant is capable haggler, but might still be no match for an experienced PC. He has a booth in the small market square near the port. He sells potions: primarily antidotes for seasickness, hangover, scurvy, and "deckhand's fever". It is a rough part of town, but he finds the people-watching there amusing and relaxing.

Caul recently aquired a treasure map pointing to a location in the nearby mountains, but is unsure how much to sell it for.

Skills: Melee/Protect 1, Wrestle/Disarm 2, Perception/Escape 2, Identify/Lore 3, Bargain/Wonder 3, Disguise/Etiquette 1, Alchemy 2

Talents: Identifying potions has 2 skill

This sample description shows that the adventure's designer is not expecting Caul to be very significant in the story. The merchant is described with just enough detail to help the GM improvise the rest of the character.

The GM should use NPCs to link locations in the story. In the example above, Caul's map links the port to the nearby mountains.

Locations in Star Wars

Consider the film A New Hope.

Obi-Wan links Tatooine to Alderaan. Vader links Alderaan to the Death Star. Leia links the Death Star to Yavin IV.

Increasing Skills and Talents

As the PC adventures, he or she develops greater skills and talents, and becomes capable of attempting greater challenges.

Adventures will contain many significant objectives: the PC uses an important clue, makes an important ally, reaches an important location, wins an important fight, etc. Whenever a PC successfully completes one of these accomplishments, he or she receives as a reward an advancement token. The GM may also reward unusually great moments of Player creativity or role-playing with extra advancement tokens.

Advancement tokens can be physical tokens or just a tally mark recorded on paper. They are used to increase skill or talent ratings. They may be saved up, spent during an adventure, or spent between adventures.

Increasing a skill or talent to the next higher rating costs as many advancement tokens as the new rating. A talent's rating can never exceed the corresponding skill's rating.

Skill Checks

During the story most situations have trivial difficulty. Skill use is automatically successful and not even mentioned by the GM or Player. A PC does not need to formally use the Acrobatcs skill to jump a short distance, use the Animals skill to calmly ride a pet horse, or use the Perception skill to notice obvious features and items in a room.

Appraising a Normal Sword

GM: The blacksmith shows Vroy a display case with swords for sale. Which does he want to inspect?

Player: Vroy looks at his second-favorite. What does he think it is worth?

GM: Although it looks nice, and the metal seems high quality, it has poor balance. Perhaps 200 coins.

The sword is not magical or unusual. Vroy is a warrior who has experience with swords. The appraisal automatical succeeds.

What happens when there is a chance of failure?

First the GM should affirm that a failure could be interesting in the story. The GM should ask the Player for help with brainstorming if needed. What could go wrong if the PC does not successfully impersonate a bandit when visiting their camp? When the PC visits several seedy taverns to ask about a smuggler, who might overhear and care? If the PC cannot open a certain door in the evil wizard's tower by breaking it down or picking the lock, where might the wizard have hidden a key?

Then the GM and Player roll dice to check if the action is successful.

Skill Check Difficulty

The GM secretly picks one of three difficulties for the action: easy, medium, or tough.

A single obstacle can have multiple difficulties based on which skill the PC uses. That door in the wizard's tower might be a very hard wood (tough to cut through with an axe using Melee), standard hinges (medium to break with a crowbar using Wrestle), and a simple lock (easy to pick using Machinery).

Rolling Dice

polyhedral dice Nine Powers uses a traditional set of six polyhedral dice.

The Player rolls as many different dice as the appropriate skill rating. The hope is to roll low numbers, so the dice with the fewest sides are picked first. This group of one or more dice is called the dice pool for that skill check.

If any die rolls a 3 or less then the PC succeeds with a skill check of easy difficulty.

If any die rolls a 2 or less then the PC succeeds with a skill check of medium difficulty.

If any die rolls a 1 then the PC succeeds with a skill check of tough difficulty.

Notice that only one die needs to be low enough.

There is no arithmetic in skill checks! Simply pick an appropriate skill, roll the proper number of dice, and identify the lowest value rolled.

Appraising a Magic Sword

GM: The enchanter shows Vroy a display case with magic swords for sale. "Try holding this one, which has a simple enchantment that keeps it sharp and unbreakable."

Player: Vroy gently hefts the sword. What does he think it is worth?

GM: Vroy does not have much experience with magic swords. Make an Identify skll check.

The GM decides this skill check has easy difficulty.

Vroy's Identify skill rating is 2. So the Player rolls 2 dice: the four-sided and six-sided. The lowest number rolled is 3, which is low enough to succeed against weak difficulty.

GM: The metal seems high quality, and the sword has good balance. The enchantment is probably worth 100 coins. So a total price of 500 coins.

Some skill checks are reactive. Those types of skill checks are called avoidance checks.

Eluding a Dart Trap

Player: Loot! Vroy opens the treasure chest.

GM: The chest is trapped. A dart flies out from inside.

Player: Ack!

GM: Roll an Acrobatics avoidance check.

Vroy's Acrobatics skill rating is 3. So the Player rolls 3 dice: the four-sided, six-sided, and eight-sided dice. The lowest number rolled is 1, which would be successful at any difficulty.

GM: Vroy's quick reflexes save him. The dart flies past his ear and sticks into a wall.

The Wrestle skill can represent the bodily fortitude needed to resist a poison. The Wonder skill can measure the mental resiliance needed to avoid being magically charmed. The Etiquette skill can show the social graces needed to avoid harm from a slandrous rumor. The Perception skill can rate the passive awareness needed to notice a trap before it is triggered.

Some dangers cannot be completely avoided, and a successful skill check only lessens the harm. For example, an avalanche might hurt all characters caught within it, but those with high enough Acrobatics or Escape suffer much less harm.

Bonus and Penalty

Characters can benefit from finding an approach that raises their chances.

Design Notes

What is the chance for success when each skill rating attempts a skill check?

At skill rating 1, easy is 75%, medium is 50%, and hard is 25%.

At skill rating 2, easy is 88%, medium is 67%, and hard is 38%.

At skill rating 3, easy is 92%, medium is 75%, and hard is 45%.

At skill rating 4, easy is 95%, medium is 80%, and hard is 51%.

These dice mechanics feel fun. Studies have shown that when people say they want a fifty-fifty chance to win in a recrational game, they really are happy with a two-thirds chance of winning. A skill rating of 2 attempting a medium skill check feels fair because it feels like a coin flip situation, but has the psychologically desirable chance to win.

Also note that the expected value of a skill check is usually highest for medium difficulty. But if a character has a dice pool of 5 or 6 dice then the tough difficulty becomes equally optimal.

Maybe the suspicious guard allows almost anyone wearing noble's clothing to pass. Maybe the novice minstrel's music is delightfully improved when she plays a magic lute. Maybe the sage cannot recall a needed piece of information from memory, but might find it in a certain rare book, or if he had access to the royal library. Maybe the machinist cannot repair the ancient device with her traveling toolbox, but probably could if she brought it back to her workshop.

A benefitial circumstance, item, or enchantment can make a skill check's dice pool include one more die than normal. This is called a small bonus. For example, if the appropriate skill rating was already 4, a small bonus would allow the dice pool to also include the twelve-sided die.

Multiple benefits that work together can make a skill check's dice pool include two more die than normal. This is called a big bonus. If the appropriate skill rating was already 4, a big bonus would allow the dice pool to also include the twelve-sided and twenty-sided dice.

Similarly, unfavorable circumstances or using improvised equipment can make a skill check's dice pool use one or two dice fewer than normal. This is called a small penalty or a big penalty.

Bonuses or penalties can not make a dice pool smaller than one die, or larger than six dice.

Degrees of Success

Some challenges degrees of success, with harder difficulties representing superior results.

Degrees of Success

GM: As Siron approaches the rubble the slime on its surface flows together to form a humanoid shape that blocks his way.

Player: What does Siron know about this kind of creature? Roll using Siron's Lore skill?

GM: Yes.

Siron's Lore skill rating is 3. So the Player rolls 3 dice: the four-sided, six-sided, and eight-sided dice. The lowest number rolled is 2.

The GM's reply is based upon the difficulty achieved by the Player's die roll.

GM: The creature is an ooze of dangerous size. Oozes can be intelligent. Besides attacking, perhaps Siron can intimidate or appease it? Also, the five traditional ways to attack oozes are by cutting, bludgeoning, burning, freezing, or splashing with salt water. These might cause damage, do nothing, or cause the creature to split into two smaller oozes. For this particular ooze ou do not know which types of attack cause which results.

A character who fails a skill check need not give up and go home! Often the character can find another plan that allows success.

As mentioned above, the character might be able to try again using a different skill. For example, a character who could not pick a door's lock could next try to force it open with a crowbar or hack it down with an axe.

Skill Contests

When important struggles, obstacles, complications, contests, and combats have uncertainty about the outcome, the story needs a slower and more suspenseful way to resolve what happens.

Skill Contests allows multiple characters to take turns using their skills to compete for their desired outcome.

Each skill contest happens in rounds. In each round:

A skill contest could be a combat where two characters duel with swords until one resigns.

A skill contest could be an argument where many characters plead with a queen to grant their request.

A skill contest could be a character trying to sneak past many bandits to get to the bandit leader's tent.

(We will soon see some detailed examples.)

Order and Turns

The first part of each round involves deciding the order in which characters will take turns that round.

In what order do they act?

Often either the PCs or NPCs clearly initiated the skill contest. During the first round those characters go first. They started the haggling, leapt from ambush, etc.

In future rounds (and in the first round if no characters acted with initiative) take turns by following these priorities:

Now everyone is aware who gets to act first. But before characters resolve their turns, they all declare what they will be trying to do.

When the PC is interacting with NPCs the Player should describes the PC's intentions, not actions.

Usually the PC's plans or desires are immediately successful: they could just as well have been phrased as actions. But assuming success is actually crowding out the GM's turn. Describing intentions provides the GM with opportunities to inject details and complications. Furthermore, intentions are easy to word in exciting and realistic phrasing with details that can make the story more interesting.

For example, during an archery contest the Player expects the PC will use the Shoot skill. But the GM has information that the PC lacks. That action gets interrupted.

A Crooked Archery Contest (Version 1)

GM: It is Boxley's turn in the archery contest.

Player: Boxley politely smiles at her opponent as she calmly looses an arrow at the target.

GM: As Boxley sets the arrow to the string she notices her opponent is attempting to switch arrows unnoticed.

Player: Boxley lowers her bow and frowns at the cheater.

The story would have more flow if the Player had described an intention, not a completed action.

A Crooked Archery Contest (Version 2)

GM: It is Boxley's turn in the archery contest.

Player: Boxley politely smiles at her opponent as she calmly aims her arrow at the target. This will be an easy shot.

GM: As Boxley sets the arrow to the string she notices her opponent is attempting to switch arrows unnoticed.

Player: Boxley lowers her bow and frowns at the cheater.

Similarly, the Player knows things about the PC that the GM does not. Since both the GM and Player have kinds of unique knowledge, they should both ask each other questions and be aware of speaking with intentions.

A Crooked Archery Contest (Continued)

Player: Boxley looks at the new arrow, to check if it seems unusual or enchanted.

GM: Does she have any experience with the different types of arrowheads used by the northern barbarians?

Player: She does not. So Boxley tries to look happily excited. "That looks like a neat arrow. May I?" She holds out her hand to accept it.

GM: Her opponent mumbles, "Sorry, only fiddling to pass the time" and begins to put that arrow back in his quiver.

Note that questions are not intentions. Players often ask the GM questions about the PC's observations, hunches, and knowledge of the game world. The GM might not answer these questions, but it cannot hurt to ask. Asking a question does not "use up" the character's turn.

"What does my character see?"

"Does my character remember if these creatures can climb trees?"

"What does my character think is a fair price for selling the gem?"

"Does my character think he could defeat both of them without getting wounded?"

"Does this merchant seem trustworthy?"

"What does my character think are his best options?"

Similarly, the GM often asks the Player questions about the PC's background, clothing and equipment, bearing and demeanor, and other details that might influence how NPCs react to the PC.

Stamina and Armor

Before describing rounds and turns in more detail, we must define two measurements of how well a character is doing during the contest.

A character's stamina measures how solidly that character is "still in the fight". Its decrease might represent being wounded during combat, being shamed in a social situation, or being noticeable when sneaking. When a character's stamina reaches zero, that character is defeated.

Most characters start a skill contest with 6 stamina. (Huge and tough monsters might start with more stamina.)

A character's dice pool size is limited to be no bigger than the character's current stamina.

Thus a character attempting to use a skill whose rating is 4 will initially roll four dice as described above, and having stamina reduced to 5 or 4 would not change that. However, that character would be forced to roll fewer dice when their stamina is reduced to 3 or lower, as they near defeat.

A character whose dice pool has 5 or 6 dice (due to a small or big bonus) would be limited by stamina more quickly.

A character's armor is only used during combat. It acts as a buffer that opponents must usually reduce first before that character's stamina becomes vulnerable.

Most characters start a skill contest with armor equal to the base armor value from the armor they wear plus their choice of either their Acrobatics or Protect skill rating. (Very resilient monsters with thick scales or tough hide might start with more armor.)

Below is a table with examples of armor for a fantasy setting. Use this table as a guideline, knowing characters might wear armor piecemeal, or use less traditional types of armor. (Feel free to create your own armor table for other settings!)

Armor imposes a maximum effective skill rating for the Build category of skills. (It is difficult to do laboratory work while wearing stiff clothing and gloves!) The table's final column uses the term "impact" which will be described in the economic rules.

Armor TypeBase Armor ValueMaximum Build SkillImpact
no armor06n/a
gambeson or soft leather152 (20 coins)
boiled leather244 (160 coins)
chain shirt345 (400 coins)
brigandine tunic436 (1,200 coins)
full plate627 (3,200 coins)

Metal armor gets really expensive. Characters may move down the table one step by wielding a shield, which is much more affordable than buying better armor. (Full plate with a shield has a base armor value of 7, and a maximum Build skill of 2.)

Damage and Defeat

Now we can return to our description of rounds and turns.

During a character's turn, a skill check is used to try to reduce an opponent's stamina.

(If the skill contest is a combat, the character will probably reduce an opponent's armor first.)

The Player whose turn it is will pick whether the character makes a easy, medium, or tough skill check using the skill rating appropriate for how he or she described the character's intention.

Design Note

Notice this huge change!

When not in a contest, the situation determines whether the skill check is easy, medium, or tough. A higher degree of success might accomplish more.

But in a contest the Player picks the difficulty, and can only accomplishes that much.

Remember that only one die needs to roll a low enough number for skill check is successful.

During a contest, picking to attempt an easy skill check means you are very likely to succeed, but will not accomplish much. In contrast, picking to attempt an difficult skill check means you might accomplish a lot but your bigger effort telegraphs your intentions in a manner that your opponent might more easily avoid.

Dice that roll 1s are special! Not only do they allow success with a tough skill check, but when rolling to deal damage each die that rolls a 1 potentially allows a point of damage to bypass armor and reduce stamina directly.

Vroy's Swordplay

GM: The zombie shambles towards Vroy. What does he do?

Player: No sense trying to talk to this thing. Vroy draws his sword and attacks, attempting a medium strike.

GM: You are quicker, and get the first blow.

Vroy's Melee skill rating is 4. The Player rolls 4 dice: the four-sided, six-sided, eight-sided, and ten-sided dice. The lowest number rolled is 2, which succeeds in a medium skill check.

GM: You connect, but the zombie's brigandine tunic absorbs the blow. It tries to claw you...

The GM decides the zombie is attempting a medium strike. The zombie's Melee skill rating is 3. The GM rolls 3 dice: the four-sided, six-sided, and eight-sided dice. The lowest number rolled is 3, which fails a medium skill check.

GM: ...and misses.

Player: Vroy swings again. Another medium strike.

The Player again rolls 4 dice, and this time rolls a 1, 1, 2, and 5. The fact that the lowest number rolled is 2 or mess means Vroy succeeds in a medium skill check and dealt 2 damage. Moreover, rolling two 1s means both of those points of damage bypass the zombie's remaining armor and reduce the monster's stamina.

Player: Nice! Vroy manages to drive his blade into a joint of the zombie's armor. Take that!

GM: The zombie reels, and is now unsteady.

The GM had decided the zombie was a wimpy monster with only 4 starting stamina. With its current stamina reduced to 4 − 2 = 2, the zombie is now limited to only using the four-sided and six-sided dice for its dice pools.

Experienced GMs and Players have practice describing damage in interesting ways.

Damage during a combat can represent injuries, being breifly dazed or shaken or stunned, getting knocked down or pushed back, having equipment to crack or break, being disarmed or grabbed, or being forced into an unfavorable positioning.

During a social situation damage can represent speaking clumsily, getting distracted or disoriented, being caught using an exaggeration or lie or staw-man argument, getting caught going off on a tangent, or being ridiculed.

After the skill contest ends the PCs involved regain two points each of stamina and armor as they catch their breath, get back to their feet, deal with scrapes and bruises, readjust armor, etc.

The rest of the PCs damage to stamina and armor represents more lasting problems. These problems may have been described during the skill contest. Or perhaps, after the struggle ends, the PC notices he or she is bleeding or limping, or sees that his or her armor was damage much worse that he or she realized.

This damage is temporary. To keep the story moving quickly, it will always be healed when the PCs get somewhere completely secure, have a good night's sleep, or can otherwise fully recover in safety. Only a defeat causes a truly serious and enduring problem, as described below.

However, that temporary damage to stamina and armor does threaten to make the PC's upcoming skill contests more dangerous. It can be regained quickly—often immediately—if the Player wants that recovery to happen and is willing to pay a price.

For each point of extra stamina or armor regained quickly the Player's chooses from:

If the latter options are chosen multiple times, the Player must pick different skill contests or checks to which the penalty applies. (For example, perhaps the PC recovers three points of stamina immediately, but that injured leg will be a problem during the next three combats.)

The rules above are for PCs. Very strong monsters might do more damage with each successful easy, medium, or tough skil check.

A character that loses a skill contest by having stamina reduced to zero is defeated.

The victor usually chooses what defeat looks like in the story.

For example, a wrestler could say he securely pinned his foe, or that his foe was disarmed and became exhausted, or his foe was knocked unconscious by a blow to the head, or his foe was killed by asphyxiation.

A swordswoman could say she backed her foe against a wall with the sword point touching her foe's neck, or struck down her foe until the opponent was too beat up to rise, or she slew her foe with a thrust through the heart.

The GM always has the option of deciding most of what defeat looks like. The GM has more detailed plans for how the story will develop, and is therefore allowed to use defeats to guide the plot in a desired direction.

Siron's Defeat

Player: Siron fires an arrow at the bandit.

GM: The bandit screams as the arrow hits. Unfortunately he is not alone, and his friend is both sneaky and wielding an enchanted mace. Does Siron do or say anything as he slumps to the ground, losing consciousness?

The PC was defeated by a stealthy melee attack. Given that this happened, the GM has a strong preference for how the story should continune.

Player: Only "Oof!"

GM: Siron wakes up in a dark room. His feet are tied, and he has a huge lump on his head.

Perhaps Siron's circumstances would have changed if he had insulted, plead with, or sleep-gassed the nearby bandits as he lost consciousness.

A defeat should not abort or trivialize the story's development. It would be an awful story if the defeat of the first villanous minion let the PC learn all about the main villain's identity, plans, weaknesses, and secret lair. Similarly, it would be an awful story if the Player's first foolhardy decision caused the PC to die.

Memorable defeats make memorable stories.

When a PC is defeated, he or she usually acquires some limitation or negative condition that requires effort in the story to remove or cure. This happens even if that PC has allies that end up winning the skill contest. (If you are humiliated in a debate, or knocked unconscious during combat, there can be lasting consequences even if your friends do well in that situation.)

A defeated character might have lasting wounds after a fight, enduring ridicule from townsfolk, chill after swimming in icy water, nausea after falling into sewer sludge, equipment taken away by the bandits who captured him or her, and so on. Such consequences can often be represented by a lower starting stamina (either in combat or in certain social situations) or changes to the character's inventory.

In some situations the GM decides a skill contest ends before any participants are reduced to zero stamina. Perhaps the wounded lizardfolk flee, the haughty noble realizes he should apologize for starting a public argument, the haggling merchant agrees to a compromise, or in some other way the situation resolves in favor of the characters who were winning.

Notice that contests may theoretically end in a draw. Characters that do not clearly have initiative from narrative reasons and choose to use the same skill will cause damage simultaenously, and can both reduce the other's stamina to zero.


Both the GM and Players should be intentional with verbosity. They can include all sorts of details that do not affect a situation's outcome. This slows down the pace of the story, which can be done well to create a dramatic effect or done badly (which can be annoying).

Archery without Details

Player: Boxley cautiously fires an arrow at the highwaymen from her hiding place behind the wagon.

Succinct and sufficient. There is nothing especially right or wrong about using few words.

Archery with Steps

Player: Boxley cautiously fires an arrow at the highwaymen. She readies an arrow, leans from her hiding place behind the wagon, selects a target, aims carefully, shoots the arrow, and ducks back behind cover.

Verbose but not boring. When the situation is suspenseful the Player often slowly states a series of steps to provide the GM opportunity to interrupt if the bad guys do something unexpected.

Archery with Extra Actions

Player: Boxley quickly looks at the highwaymen from her hiding place behind the wagon, hollering, "Head down, Friar!" She touches her lucky rabbit foot and prays for luck before drawing her arrow. "Your mother stinks of gooseberry!" she yells as she fires an arrow at the nearest enemy.

Saying so many actions in one rush implies only the shooting can actually affect the situation. If rubbing the rabbit foot caused a magic effect, or if Boxley's insult could demoralize the enemy, the Player should slow down so each was resolved before the next is mentioned.

Note that outside of skill contests, the Player can carry the story forward without the GM when the PC is alone, in a familiar place, or doing trivial tasks. For example, the Player might talk at length about how the PC is at home alone, selecting equipment to take into a dungeon, working at an alchemy table to prepare some useful potions, and packing everything carefully.

Remember to only used skill contests when there is a meaningful situation that involves genuine competition, contest or struggle whose outcome could be victory or defeat.

A character who wants to kill an unconscious or bound prisoner with a weapon can almost always do so quickly and easily. A customer at the shop can buy a backpack without haggling. A witty and honey-tongued princess can insult uncharismatic visiting nobles all afternoon without effort.

Even combat does not always warrant skill contests.

The Player can keep talking without GM involvement when the PC doing tasks whose outcome is certain.

Icky Yet Trivial

GM: Vroy falls down the pit, and lands amidst a bunch of hungry giant snails.

Player: Has Vroy heard of such creatures? How dangerous are they?

GM: They are as long as his forearm, but move very slowly. He can easily avoid their bites.

Player: Ick. Vroy kills them all.

GM: Okay.

A good GM will use verbosity with purpose. The GM will slow down the pace by providing more detail when the PC has the luxury of slowly looking around and thinking. The GM will foster a sense of urgency when the action is rushed by sharing less detail and concluding with phrases such as "What is your character doing?" or "How does your character react?"

Combat Without a Skill Contest

Player: Siron smiles at the thug. "I mean no harm."

GM: The thug draws his sword and rushes towards Siron. How does Siron react?

Player: Siron can't question a corpse. He wants to subdue this thug but not kill him. So he moves into a compact stance, ready to disarm. He hopes to gague his opponent's strength and skill, then disarm.

GM: The thug's swings are forceful but not skilled. Siron parries two blows, and on the third has an opportunity to disarm.

Player: Siron knocks away the thug's sword. "Who sent you? Why did they not tell you that I am the finest swordsman in the city?" He shrugs, a bit slowly, to show he is so unafraid of the thug that he can make that gesture during a swordfight.

GM: The thug looks down at his blade, then up at Siron's eyes. He tries to grab at Siron's arm. The thug is definitely less skilled but stronger. What does Siron do?

Notice how the GM and Player both used details to make the story more fun. They both gave each other enough to build off of. The scene could be interesting and exciting without a skill contest.

Nine Powers is designed to excel as introduction to role-playing games, and as a kid-friendly storytelling game. So it puts the burden of carrying the story forward on the GM, who hopefully has experience and maturity. The GM and Player could instead more equally share of the burden of carrying the story forward, with the Player describing PC actions (not only intentions) and even NPC actions. This requires both to have flexibility, initiative, and comfort in trusting the story to flow synergistically.

A Player Carrying the Story Forward

Player: Siron smiles at the thug. "I mean no harm."

GM: The thug draws his sword and rushes towards Siron. How does Siron react?

Player: Is Siron a vastly better swordsman?

GM: Definitely. That is obvious just from how the thug moves and holds his sword.

Player: Siron's smile broadens. "Oh, please!" he groans. He parries one or two of the thug's swings, then knocks away the thug's sword. "Who sent you? Why did they not tell you that I am the finest swordsman in the city?" He shrugs slowly, showing a lot of teeth.

GM: Okay. The thug is about to grapple, foolishly trusting in his greater strength. Fanaticism shines in his eyes. What does Siron do?

Player: Siron sighs. He stabs the thug in one knee. "I am losing patience." He stabs the thug in the other knee. "I am out of patience." As the thug falls to the ground, Siron holds his sword lightly against the thug's throat. "Who sent you?"

The GM never resolved skill use. The Player knew enough information to make those decisions, and "stole" that role from the GM. This works fine if both the GM and Player want that type of story telling.

As a final note about story pacing, remember that the time it takes a character to use an item could span different amounts of GM and Player speech. Slow tasks that happen without any problem when the story is moving slowly could span several turns if the story switches to a hectic skill contest. Without urgency a character might have no worries while picking a tricky lock, repairing worn-out machinery, setting up a trap, climbing a high wall, bandaging a hurt ally, or crossing a large pile of rubble. But those actions might span several rounds of a skill contest.

Example Skill Contests

Example of Fast-Talking

Vroy wants to get into a castle. He knows the guards do not normally let in anyone who does not have an appointment with a member of the royal family.

(Notice that nothing inherent to fast-talking a guard means that a skill contest is needed. This example situation must be important to the story to deserve a skill contest instead of simply using a skill check.)

Vroy Fast-Talks a Castle Guard

GM: The guard watches Vroy approach. He says "Good day" without a smile.

Player: Vroy replies, "I wish it were. The prince summoned me to discuss the city's wererat problem. However, I lost his letter."

The first round beings. Vroy wants to enter the castle. The guard wants to require proof of an appointment. Both will use the Bargain/Wonder skill. Vroy will take his turn first since he initiated the conversation.

Vroy has a Bargain/Wonder skill rating of 2. The Player will roll two dice, saying Vroy decides to attempt an easy skill check. The dice roll a 4 and 3. This counts as success because one die rolled 3 or less. The guard's stamina is reduced by 1 (because of the easy skill check), from 6 to 5.

GM: The guard is slightly flustered, but frowns. "No entrance without the letter. Pay an official courier to ask for another. Or perhaps His Highness will hire a more responsible adventurer." The guard stands straighter, hoping the solidity of his presence causes Vroy to leave.

The guard also has a Bargain/Wonder skill rating of 2. The GM rolls two dice, and attempts a medium skill check. The dice roll 2 and 5. Success with at least one die 2 or less. Now Vroy's stamina is reduced by 2 (because of the medium skill check), from 6 to 4.

Player: Vroy pauses a moment to collect his thoughts, then continues talking...

The second round begins. Both characters continue using the Bargain/Wonder skill. The guard has caused more damage, so it goes first.

GM: The guard interrupts. "Really, sir. Please abide by the rules."

The guard rolls poorly. No damage.

Player: Vroy acts shocked. "Pay a courier? You want me to pay to risk my neck fighting wererats? Hmph. I think I will offer my blade to another city that takes its monster infestations more seriously! Perhaps tomorrow His Highness will ask his royal guards to explore the sewers?" (Hopefully that's a strong argument in my favor!)

Vroy still has a Bargain/Wonder skill rating of 2. (It is not yet reduced since Vroy's stamina is still greater.) The Player once again rolls a two dice, this time attempting a tough skill check. Success, with at least one die rolling 1! The guard suffers three damage from the tough skill check, and his staimina is reduced to 2. The GM decides this is sufficient progress to end the contest.

GM: The guard looks abashed. "Sorry, sir. You speak truly. Go on in, sir. Better you than me in the sewers."

As always, circumstances, items, and enchantments might change the size of the skill check's dice pool.

Perhaps Vroy had a magic hat of mesmerizing glibness? Perhaps the guard's best friend was recently slain by a wererat? Either might have influenced the contest favorably for Vroy and increased his dice pool.

Perhaps Vroy is inebriated? Perhaps the gate guards were recently reprimanded for lack of strictness? Either might have influenced the contest unfavorably for Vroy and decreased his dice pool.

Example of Combat

Boxley has been hired to deal with a giant lizard that has been eating a village's sheep. After talking to a few villagers and tracking the monster into the forest, she has finally found the small cave that is its lair. She draws her sword and enters the cave, quietly stepping over the rocks and bones on the ground. The lizard was resting in the back of the shallow cave, but lifts its head as she enters.

Both Boxley and the giant lizard have the typical 6 stamina. Boxley wears soft leather armor (base armor value 1) and the higher of her Acrobatics and Protect skill ratings is 3, for a total of 4 armor. The giant lizard has thick hide (base armor value 2) and the higher of its Acrobatics and Protect skill ratings is 3, for a total of 5 armor. (The GM or Player may, of course, still describe those otherwise successful attacks blocked by armor as minor injuries or setbacks.)

Notice that neither the GM nor Player need to describe aloud which skill they intend to use that round, nor the difficulty of the attack. They certainly could say those aloud, but do not need to.

The character sheet has small boxes to help track current armor and stamina, and the difficulty of the current skill attempt. Dried lentils work great as small objects to place over those boxes. An object can similarly be placed beside the currently chosen skill.

Boxley and the Giant Lizard

GM: As Boxley steps into the shallow cave the giant lizard lifts its head.

The first round begins.

Player: Boxley studies the beast. How thick is its hide? Does it appear to have any weak points?

Boxley has a Perception skill rating of 4, so the Player rolls 4 dice. The Player is attempting a medium difficulty skill check. At least one die rolls 2 or less, so she is successful. The skill check was medium, so for the next two turns the Player's dice that roll 2 will also bypass armor.

GM: The lizard's scaly hide looks as tough as hardened leather armor, but is thinner under its neck. It stands and gets ready to charge you.

The second round begins. Both combatants decide to use the Melee skill with medium difficulty.

Player: Boxley yells as she rushes at the giant lizard, swinging her sword. If only she still had her bow!

Boxley has a Melee skill rating of 3, so the Player rolls 3 dice. The dice roll 1 and 4. At least one die rolls 2 or less, so she is successful with the medium attack. One die rolls a 1, so of the two points of damage from a medium skill check one bypasses the lizard's armor and reduces the lizard's stamina (now 5). The other damage reduces the lizard's armor (now 4).

GM: The lizard hisses as Boxley approaches. It tries to move past her, but her sword strikes it hard. Its thick hide absorbs most of the impact.

GM: The lizard bites at Boxley's leg...

The GM rolls for the lizard's atack: 1 damage to armor.

GM: ...but her armor protects her.

The third round begins. Both combatants continues to use the Melee skill with medium difficulty.

Player: If it is holding onto her leg, Boxley kicks at its head.

GM: Go ahead!

The Player again rolls 3 dice. The dice roll 2 and 2. Because of the previously successful Perception skill check, both of these bypass armor and reduce the lizard's stamina (now 3).

GM: It shrieks as Boxley strikes it! She kicks very hard into the softness of its front armpit, badly injuring that front leg.

The GM rolls for the lizard's atack, which fails.

GM: It tries biting her, but is moving awkwardly and she easily steps back to safety.

The fourth round begins. Boxley continues to use the Melee skill with medium difficulty. The giant lizard will switch to using the Wrestle skill with easy difficulty.

Player: Does it look ready to charge at Boxley?

GM: No, it seems to be trying to get past Boxley to leave the small cave. It makes a half-hearted attempt at a second bite, but scurries closer to the cave entrance.

Player: Boxley growls, "No running away!" as she swings again. "I am in no mood to track you again. Feel my steel!" She aims for one of its hind legs.

The Player again rolls 3 dice. The dice roll 2 and 5. The benefit from the earlier Perception skill check has ended. At least one die rolls 2 or less, so she is successful with the medium attack, causing 2 damage to the lizard's armor (now 2).

GM: She manages to lunge forward a hit a hind leg. But the creature can still walk. The beast turns on her.

The GM rolls for the lizard's atack. The lizard has a Wrestle skill rating of 4, but with only 3 current stamina the lizard is limited to a dice pool of only 3 dice. At least one die rolls 3 or less, so it is successful with the easy skill check and applies 1 wrestling effect. The GM picks reducing Boxley's movement rate.

GM: Once outside where it has more room, the giant lizard turns to face Boxley and with surprising speed lunges at her leg. It clamps down on her knee and twists, trying to pull her to the ground. Boxley will have trouble moving quickly for a while.

Player: Yikes! Boxley falls to the ground. That knee made an unpleasant noise, too. She is breathing heavily. She gets up onto one knee, preparing to stab with her blade.

This combat is not over. Will Boxley slay the lizard?

Notice how both the GM and Player contributed to describe the giant lizard's successful Wrestle attack.

Skill and Talent Descriptions

The rules so far have described how skills and talents work without really describing what they are. Let's get into the details.

Skills measure how capable a character is at the most common actions in a fantasy story. Talents are advanced ways to use skills differently, achieving a distinct kind of benefit that can never be acquired through normal skill use.

Because talents provide characters with such special flavor and abilities, the benefits of talents should not made availble from other means such as magic items.

Certain skills mention distances, such as when Acrobatics is used for jumping. These distances can be meters or yards, or squares on a battlemap such as this classic vinyl version manufactured by Chessex.

Tangentially, these rules never mention how far a character can move during one turn of a skill contest. The GM and Players should aim for relaxed reasonableness with these decisions. If a battlemap is used, they should decide how many squares of movement each characters is allowed each turn, which might be based partially on that character's Acrobatics/Climb skill rating. (Hint: for most battlemaps 4 squares per turn works great.)

Skill Descriptions


This skill is used for distance attacks. Shoot is used for bows, crossbows, and handheld devices created with Machinery. (Seige weapons are operated with Machinery instead of Shoot.) Throw is used for throwing either sharp or blunt objects.

As a rule of thumb, the distance a character can shoot a projectile without penalty is ten times his or her skill rating. The distance for throwing without penalty is four times the skill rating. Beyond this distance the attacker suffers a penalty.

Normally a character uses Shoot while stationary. Moving while shooting causes a penalty.


This skill is used to safely and successfully jump, fall, roll, climb, etc. Acrobatics is used when moving along or onto horizontal surfaces. Climb is used when moving along or onto vertical surfaces.

Characters with greater skill rating can jump farther, fall safely from higher distances, and climb trickier surfaces. As a rule of thumb, at higher values a character can:

This skill is also used (actively and passively) to avoid threats or obstacles, such as diving away from an explosion, avoiding harm in a rockslide, or leaping from an out-of-control mount.

Compare Acrobatics skill ratings to find the victor when foot racing through a forest heavy with underbrush and branches, because coordination and strength are both required.

During skill contests, the Acrobatics/Climb skill can be used to devote a turn to defensive movement. Successful die rolls do not cause damage, but instead each successful die roll can veto one opponent's attack. (Without the corresponding talent these vetoes must be used before the acrobat's next turn.) It is harder to hurt someone ducking and leaping around the room!


Melee involves up-close combat focused on causing wounds. The skill can be used with punches, kicks, claws, bites, or stings as well as with sharp or blunt weapons.

Protect is used to intercept danger. When a character uses Protect, successful die rolls do not cause damage, but instead each successful die roll allows the protector or an ally within melee reach to veto one opponent's attack. (Without the corresponding talent these vetoes must be used before the protector's next turn.)


Wrestle and Disarm are for attacks not focused on causing wounds, but instead attempting to restrain, reposition, or inconvenience an opponent. This usually requires having at least one hand free, but can also used with weapons that ensnare, such as a net, whip, mancatcher, or bolo.

When using the Wrestle/Disarm skill during combat, successful die rolls do not cause damage. Instead, for each success the wrestler may choose one of five wrestling effects:

These effects represent how the wrestler can grab the opponent, hinder or control their movement, establish a dominant position, tire them out, and even use the opponent as a shield.

The chosen wrestling effect lasts one to three rounds, depending upon if the wrestler attempted an easy (1 turn), medium (2 turns), or tough (3 turns) skill check.

Remember how the usual small or big bonuses and penalties may only change a skill rating by at most +2 or −2? These wrestling effects can provide an additional +1 or −1. For example, a character that has the high ground, a magical weapon, and an ally grabbing an opponent will have a +3 bonus. A character that is demoralized, nauseous, and being restrained by an opponent will have a −3 penalty. However, an upper limit of 6 dice in the dice pool is a consequence of characters only having 6 stamina.

The Wrestle skill is also important as an estimate of the general physical strength of a character: a higher Wrestle skill rating denotes deeper reserves of physical endurance and greater ability to resist fatigue, poison, etc.

As a rule of thumb, a character can comfortably carry a backpack and other equipment weighing at total of fifteen times his or her skill rating (in kilograms) without penalizing physical skills such as Acrobatics and Dodge.

Compare Wrestle skill ratings to find the victor when foot racing on a clean track or street. Strength is much more important than coordination for those foot races.


Perception measures alertness, awareness, and attention to detail. It is almost always used passively to determine if a character who is not actively searching still notices something. Perception applies to all types of noticing, whether a tiny item carefully hidden in a room or a mystical plant growing somewhere in a large forest.

A character that is actively looking for an item is normally able to find it. A situation that would prevent success, such as a key hidden within the false bottom of a drawer, is better handled through role-playing than by consulting a numeric skill rating.

A character can use Perception during a skill contest to notice weaknesses in an opponent's defenses. For the next one, two, or three rounds of the skill contest (corresponding to a weak, medium, or tough attempt with Perception) any dice that roll 2s also count as bypassing the armor of the designated opponent.

Escape refers to noticing how to gain freedom from a diffiuclt situation. It could be escaping a physical confinement such as a trap or net. It could be escaping pursuit while fleeing down a busy street by noticing a timely opportunity to duck under a cart or through a doorway.

Some sources of confinement are not appropriate to the Escape skill. For example, a character stuck in locked manacles or a well-maintained wrestling hold cannot gain freedom simply by noticing something opportune.

The difficulty an Escape attempt is often the difficulty used to create the source of confinement: Wilderness for a snare, Machinery for a mechanical trap, Wrestle for a thrown net or a sloppy wrestling hold, Etiquette for a conversational trap, etc.

A character may use the Escape skill to flee a skill contest, but only if he or she suffered no damage that round and the previous round.


Stealth is used to hide, move quietly, walk tracelessly, use a disguise, or be physically sneaky in other ways. Stealth is also used for sleight of hand and pickpocketing.

The difficulty chosen for Stealth skill use determines the difficulty of passive Perception skill checks to notice the sneaking character, or Track skill checks to follow the sneaking character.

It is harder to be stealthy while moving. As a rule of thumb, moving at crawl is a big disadvantage, and creeping with barely any movement is a small disadvantage.

Track attempts to follow someone's trail, which often involves the same knowledge and tricks as Stealth. Trackers can follow a recent trail at one-fourth normal walking speed. A trail is "recent" for one day in relatively quiet places (such as a forest during a hot, dry week) or one hour in frequently distrubed places (such as a town square or a forest during a rainstorm).

As a rule of thumb, for each point the tracker's Track skill rating is higher than the target's Sneak skill rating, either double the tracking speed or add one more day or hour to the possible age of tracks that can be followed.


Identify refers to appraising valuable items, recognizing famous cultural artifacts, recalling which nobility owns certain jewelry, verifying the authenticity of a signature, and other situations of recalling information about a particular item.

Lore refers to knowledge of general helpful facts and cultural information: details about history, society, laws, notable families, religious practices, and so forth.

Either can help a character fabricate reasonable-sounding falsehoods.

A character may use Identify/Lore during a skill contest to recall useful information. If successful, all future dice pools used against that type of opponent include a twenty-sided die (weak Identify/Lore success), twelve-sided die (medium Identify/Lore success), or both (tough Identify/Lore success). The inclusion of these dice might mean the character gains no additional benefit from a small or big bonus.


Bargain is used to haggle over prices or otherwise steer a conflict of interests to a workable compromise. Usually the price is changed by 5% for each point the seller's skill rating is higher or lower than the buyer's.

Wonder measures the ability to produce practical attitudes and understandings through feeling the grandeur and drama inherent in a situation. Awe and amazement can be a form of thinking, and insight and wisdom can spring from encountering the indescribable.

Wonder also measures how resistant a character is to harmful magical mental influences.

A character may use Wonder during a skill contest to startle, intimidate, or awe an opponent using impressive solidity, energetic charisma, and stunning force of presence. For the next one, two, or three rounds of the skill contest (corresponding to a weak, medium, or tough attempt with Wonder) the designated opponent cannot use the four-sided dice in its dice pools. For example, if it was allowed to use three dice then the best it could do is use the six-sided, eight-sided, and ten-sided dice.


Disguise measures a character's ability to impersonate someone else using a costume and mannerisms. This difficulty chosen for this skill use determines the difficulty for other characters to notice the disguise passively with their Perception skill.

Impersonting a general type of person can provide a bonus or penalty. It is easier for a Therion to disguise itself as a generic Therion merchant than the specific merchant who owns a popular shop. It is harder for a Therion to disguise itself as Kobalt.

Etiquette is used to successfully navigate social situations. It includes clarity in conversations, ease in making a good impression, smoothly dealing with unfamiliar cultures, skill at getting attention at parties, and success when gambling.


Animals applies to training, riding, taming, misdirecting, or caring for any animals, as well as maintenance of a riding animal's tack and other gear. Compare skill ratings to find the victor when racing on mounts of similar speed.

Wilderness applies to swiming, fishing, locating food, setting snares, navigation, and other tasks related to surviving in the outdoors, both above ground and underground.

As a rule of thumb, the skill rating in Wilderness measures the number of people for which that character can provide decent food and shelter.


Intuition refers to confidently reaching correct conclusions despite having neither the facts for logical deduction nor an encounter with sublime grandeur to provide awe-inspired wisdom. A practiced intuition includes both experience with accurate hunches and well-developed habits of calming the mind, looking at the big picture, and acting purposefully instead of reacting to circumstances. The skill of Intuition can also be used to instill a false sense of intuition in someone else by subtly planting ideas that the victim will mistake for his or her own insights and hunches.

A character may use Intuition during a skill contest to gain a useful hunch. For the next one, two, or three rounds of the skill contest (corresponding to a weak, medium, or tough attempt with Intuition) the Player decides whether that opponent will attempt a weak, medium, or tough skill check during the opponent's turn.

Hearthwork refers to skill in domestic situations, including cooking, sewing, child care, gardening, farming, and basic home repair and construction.


Runeblockery is skill with casting spells by quickly assembling magical blocks (called runeblocks) into small stacks.

Runeblocks are described in detail below.

Crafting Descriptions

The final three skills are crafting skills used to make magic items. (In a modern or futuristic setting these "magic" items might instead be high-tech.)

Often the three crafting skills can create functionally equivalent items. A character that wants to fly could drink a flying potion, use a backpack-helicopter machine, or expend one charge of an embroidered enchanted cape.

Functionally equivalent magic items will have an identical monetary cost per use. However, the crafting skill used to create them will make the items distinct in many ways.

Here is a summary of the differences, before we look at details. (For now ignore the parenthetical remarks about ratings.)

Alchemy Machinery Musing
Costly Materials alchemical ingredients lots of fragile springs, gears, and tubes expensive artwork (that can be artistic tools or weapons) to be enchanted
Duration 30 minutes up to 8 active hours a charge will last until midnight
Area of Effect radius 2 per skill rating
(potions/goo have area rating 0)
(flasks have area rating 1)
radius 4 per skill rating none
(area rating 0)
Range Option flasks may be thrown to splash liquid or release a gas cloud machines can launch projectiles equal to talent rating
Multiple Uses duration may be shared among a batch of 6 items with 5-minute duration run-down machines may be rebuilt inexpensively artwork becomes magic items with charges
Crafting Time 5 minutes per impact, needs a laboratory 1 hour per impact, needs a toolbox 10 minutes per impact, crafter enters a trance
Source of Delay after exposure 1 minute to take effect
(convenience rating 1)
devices need to be set up at the location
(convenience rating 0 or 1)
no delay, can have immediate effect
Other Issues effects can be resisted with avoidance checks machines can be bypassed or destroyed item vanishes after last charge used
(never victory rating 5)

A crafter can create a magic item if the magic item's total impact (minimum 1) is equal or less than the crafter's skill rating. No die roll is needed.

Most crafters follow a clear recipe or procedure, either memorized on written down. If the crafter is improvising, he or she suffers a big penalty. This penalty is reduced to a small penalty if the crafter has a prototype to reverse engineer.

For all types of magical crafting some recipes are carefully guarded secrets, and a few recipes have effects considered illegal or taboo.

Characters should keep track of which recipes they know. Most new PCs with crafting skills know only a few common, inexpensive recipes. During adventures the PC will find new recipes. Thus the Player slowly gains options as the PC gains a different type of power than measured by skill or talent ratings.

(Most GMs and Players do not find it fun to actually detail the recipes and keep track of required ingredients. We want nifty magic powers, not mundane bookkeeping chores!)

If you are using these rules with a different setting, create other columns for the above table. What type of duration, area, and range would items have when created with the spaceship's nano-tech fabricator?

Consider that certain stories might focus on a crafting task. For example, a very powerful recipe might be too tricky to create without a rare location that is the goal of a quest, or a potent alchemical gas can only be made in the royal alchemy laboratory, or a uniquely powerful musing item can only be made where research and obscure equipment have proven three ley-lines converge.


Alchemy is an old, diverse, and widely-studied art whose history and recipes have flowed together from many cultures. Helpful potions are well-accepted everywhere. Healing potions have helped almost every family. Professional potion makers are respected unless their business practices are unethical or their prices are unusually high. Amateur potion makers are common.

The magic items created using the Alchemy skill are either bottled potions to drink, flasks thrown to release gasses, or goo spread on items to enhance or damage them. The alchemist must prepare them in a lab and store them in glass bottles. Throughout the adventure's perils the glass bottles must be kept intact.

A potion only affects its drinker. A flask releases a cloud of gas where it breaks. A goo only affects one item. After the drinking of a potion, breathing of a gas, or spreading of a goo the alchemical magic needs one minute to take effect. Harmful effects can be eluded with an avoidance check using one or more appropriate skills, such as using Acrobatics to move away, Wrestle to shrug off a poison, Perception to avoid entering a cloud of gas, or Wonder to resist being charmed.

Although flask making is as old and diverse as potion making, flasks are more threatening, so most places have laws that restrict or prohibit the crafting, purchasing, and/or owning of flasks. Amateur flask makers are rare.

Potions and flasks that heal or cure do so immediately after their one minute delay. Alchemical items that cause an ongoing effect have a duration of 30 minutes. Skilled alchemists can divide this duration among a batch, so the same cost of materials can create 6 smaller potions with a 5 minute duration. These short-duration versions must be used by their own crafter instead of being bought and sold.


The magic items created using the Machinery skill are clever clockwork and steam-powered devices and vehicles. The Machinery skill is also is used to bypass both mundane and magical locks and traps.

Trap building is as old as using tools to ensnare animals for food. Laws restricting the construction or sale of traps are very rare. The more general laws about public safety suffice to punish people who set up traps in places that threaten the public. Amateur trap makers are common, and many children learn a little Machinery as their first magical crafting skill.

Most mechanical devices can wait indefinitely in a dormant state. Once triggered, they become active for up to 8 hours. A device that has expended its active time no longer functions, but can be repaired for half its original crafting cost.

(The half cost for repairs combines with how crafters pay half the retail cost to create magic items. So repairing a device yourself costs only one-quarter the retail price of that trap.)

Building a machine requires a toolbox. If the machine is portable, no toolbox is needed to set it up in its intended location.

More complex mechanical devices remain unintelligent. They can sense and react to their environment, and make rough comparisons involving size, weight, or color. But they only do what they were instructed to do when designed. No machine can use other equipment, nor act cleverly enough to benefit from a small or big bonus.

Some machines that cause harmful area effects can be deadly if the target is already slowed, weakened, or distracted.

The use of large clockwork or steam-powered machines is common in some places and taboo in others.


Characters use musing by holding completed pieces of artwork during a magical trance to enchant them.

The legal restrictions on musing can vary widely from place to place. Some cultures view musing as a natural redirection of flows of magical energy. Other cultures see musing as channeling greed and materialism to corrupt pieces of art.

Enchanted artwork can be made to do just about anything. However the magic of musing only affects a single target (no area of effect option is avaialble). With talent, effects can happen at a distance. Magic wands are a popular type of enchanted artwork.

All enchanted artwork crafted using musing has "charges". Each charge creates an effect that lasts until the next midnight. (Or the effect is instantaneous, like causing a lightning strike.) The piece of enchanted artwork vanishes after the final charge ends.

The artwork must have a value equal to its impact multiplied by its number of charges.

In some cities the criminals are especially bold shortly before midnight because law enforcement will be hesitant to inefficiently use expensive magic effects.

Talent Descriptions


Talent in the Shoot/Throw skill allows making incredibly accurate point blank distance attacks. This talent's rating shows the maximum range of point blank shots (in either meters or map squares).

A point blank shot never suffer circumstantial penalties. It no longer matters how fast the target is moving, what cover the target is attempting to hide behind, how windy it is, etc.


Talent in Acrobatics/Climb represents the quickness and alertness that allows a character to better avoid attacks, even while occupied with another activity. With this talent the attack "vetoes" granted by successful Acrobatics use during a skill contest can last longer. This talent's rating shows how many of those, if not used up before the character's next turn, will remain for one more additional turn.


Talent in the Melee/Protect skill allows a character to guard a location by becoming "sticky" to adjacent opponents. When an adjacent opponent attempts to move away, this character gets an extra Melee attack. If that extra attack causes damage, the opponent not only suffers that damage but is also prevented from moving away.

This talent's rating determines the skill rating of that extra attack.


Talent in the Wrestle/Disarm skill represents techniques of grappling and weapon grip that allow the character to ignore an opponent's armor.

Each turn after this character causes damage with the Wrestle/Disarm skill, this character may ignore as much armor as this talent's rating, which might allow more of the character's next attack to affect stamina.


Talent in the Perception/Escape skill shows defensive habits of positioning and evading that allow a character to better focus on a single opponent at a time when dealing with an enemy group. This character can physically or socially position a primary opponent in between himself or herself and the non-primary opponents, so the latter have a harder time being effective.

The character designates one opponent as his or her primary opponent each turn of a skill contest. For all other opponents, this character may attempt to veto their attacks with a tough avoidance check, using either Acrobatics or Block as appropriate.


Talent in the Stealth/Track skill represents attunement with shadows that has become so advanced that "shadow stepping" is possible: teleportation from one shadow to another, with locations in line of sight. Each meter of stepping takes one round of preparation while remaining stationary in a shadow. This talent's rating measures the maximum number of meters traveled.

Additionally, this talent's rating determines the amount of extra damage caused by a successful attack against a target unaware of this character. An attack with this benefit is called a sneak attack.


Talent in the Identify/Lore skill represents knowledge of items with historic significance or sentimental importance to notable people.

When a character with this talent finds a notable amount of treasure, he or she attempts a skill check using this talent's rating. The degree of success determines the value of an extra item, if that item is returned to a person who especially cares about its safe return.


Talent in the Bargain/Wonder skill shows development of wonder so advanced that the character can perform wondrous feats of physical prowess. These wondrous feats allow character concepts that do not otherwise fit into the Nine Powers rules.

In the sample setting of Spyragia, there are nine flavors of wondrous feats, each corresponding to one of the nine Powers.

The Player and GM can also work together to create new flavors of wondrous feats.

This talent's rating determines how well a character uses wondrous feats.


Talent in the Disguise/Etiquette skill allows a character to use wit, charm, and deceit to shrug off social awkwardness and say the right thing. This character has "social armor" that works in social situations the way normal armor works during combat.

This talent's rating determines the amount of social armor.


Talent in the Animals/Wilderness skill allows a character to control tame animals. The rating measures three factors: the maximum length of a sequence of steps the animals will perform, the numer of animals that can be simultaneously controlled, and the maximum difficulty of any requests.

How difficult are requests? The optimal situation would have six characteristics:

An optimal situation has a difficulty of 1. The difficulty increases by one for each of the above six items missing from the situation.

For example, with a talent rating of 1, a character could ask his or her own pet mouse to go eat a visible piece of cheese in an empty, safe room. (The instruction has only one step. There is only one animal. The situation is optimal.)

With a talent rating of 4, the character could ask his or her friend's four pet mice (whom the character knows well) to each go to an empty and safe room, pick up some cheese, bring it back instead of eating it, and drop it in front of the character even though the mice will not get an immediate reward of food or positive attention from their owner. (The instruction has four steps. There are four animals. The situation has a difficulty rating of 4 because it is not optimal for three reasons: the animals have not done similar tasks for the character, are asked to do the unnatural behavior of giving up potential food, and will not receive an immediate reward.)


Fast-talking might use the Etiquette, Bargain, Intuition, Hearthwork, or Wonder skills. It normally fools someone for only a few minutes.

Talent in the Intuition/Hearthwork skill represents the kind of interpersonal intuition that allows more effective fast-talking, with the beneficial result that people who are fast-talked remain duped for a much longer time.

In other words, the fundamental technique of fast-talking is a skill. But it is a talent to have the right hunch about whether the target will respond best to a rushed excuse, a call to honor and duty, an emotional plea, a haughty aristocratic attitude, an appeal to nostalgia or sentimentality, a request for a favor that enables saving face, a promise of future compensation, etc.

This talent's rating shows how many hours successful fast-talking lasts.


Talent in Alchemy allows the alchemist to identify magical potions and flasks.

Those potions and flasks are immediately seen to be magical. After a minute's inspection, the talented alchemist might learn what the magic item does and may reverse engineer the alchemical recipe.

The character makes a skill check using this talent rating. An easy check suffices to identify items with impact 1 or 2. A medium check is required for an item with impact 3 or 4. A tough check is required for an item with impact 5 or greater.


Talent in the Machinery skill aids in noticing mechanical traps. When this character might (actively or passively) discover a mechanical trap, as many dice as this talent rating may be rerolled to try switching from failure ot success.


Most artwork enchanted with musing affects the individual using or touched by the item. However, with talent in the Musing skill a person can learn to create enchantments that can affect a distant target. This talent's rating measures the maximum range, in either meters or map squares.


Talent in Runeblockery allows someone to be especially resistant to other dangerous runeblock magic. When targeted by a hindering or damaging spell, this character gets an extra avoidance check with skill equal to this talent rating, and difficulty appropriate to the incoming spell. If successful, this character completely avoids that spell.


Depending upon your setting a "monster" could be a dangerous animal, fantasy creature, alien, time traveller, person changed by a curse, or any other creature exempt from certain game rules.

As examples, very fast creature can move much farther each turn than a person. An enormous creature could trample opponents while ignoring their equipment and armor. A pouncing creature could rake with several claws simultaneously. A constricting creature could use the Wrestle skill multiple times each round.

Most adventure stories involve at least one monster. Yes, the butler is guilty—but why does he secretly keep a box with air holes in the attic?

The simple and intuitive rules for Nine Powers make inventing monsters easy!

Even if the example monsters below are not useful in your stories, they are designed to provide a GM and Player with numerous ideas and details that can be used in other creative ways.

For the sake of efficient notation only skill ratings of 3 or 4 are included in the example monster tables on this page, and talent ratings are written as superscripts above the corresponding skill ratings.

Monsters described as having venom will penalize foes to whom they cause stamina damage: each venomous injury causes an extra point of damage at the end of each target's turn.

Many monsters deal extra damage with their attacks. This extra damage applies to any of that monster's attacks that hit, and always applies to the target's armor before the target's stamina.

Some monsters have a buffer of extra armor that replenishes at the start of each combat round. This is shown by a number in parenthesis. For example, a monster with a base armor value of 1+(2) has 1 point of armor that is used up normally, but also 2 points that are replenished at the start of each round.

Round down when monsters suffer half damage from certain sources.


Bigbeast (by Ellwood Zwovic)

Bigbeasts are monsters that combine the features of one or more animals (but never people) and exaggerate the innate abilities of those animals. They are smarter than normal animals, and increase in intelligence as they establish a lair.

When a type of bigbeast is encountered more than once that type is often given a name: a gryphon, hippogriff, pegasus, chimera, peryton, peluda, seps, simurgh, etc. The Sagacious look for patterns about when and where these bigbeasts appear, and compile records about successful hunting tactics for each type.

Some bigbeasts are unsociable and live alone. Others live in families or packs.


Bigbeasts have an innate desire to explore until they claim an isolated but distinctly describable location: a butte, signal tower, signpost at a crossroads, remote shrine, memorial, etc. When exploring and first claiming such a site and establishing a lair they do not disturb the local wildlife and are only dangerous if provoked.

However, bigbeasts who have finished their lair become aggressive and strive to expanad their territory. They roams farther and farther from their lair, ignoring small animals but hunting other large predators and attacking any intelligent creatures.

Bigbeasts that have expanded their territory sufficiently gain enough intelligence to participate in conversation and the ability to change into a humanoid form. But these humanoid forms have a some feature that marks them as different from other people, such as scales or fur, a strangely shaped head or limbs, too many limbs, or fins and gills. Some Bigbeasts use their humanoid form regularly, while others ignore this new ability and always remain in their normal form.


Bigbeasts are much bigger and tougher than a normal animal of their kind. As examples of size, a bigbeast rat is as large as a normal wolf, a bigbeast wolf is as large as a normal pony, and a bigbeast bear is as large as a normal elephant. Very dangerous bigbeasts are often so large that enough that only traps especially designed to catch a such a huge target can ensnare them.

Bigbeasts gain exaggerations of their innate animal abilities. As examples, bigbeast snakes are peternaturally able to detect heat and hypnotize, bigbeast crows have a shriek that causes pain and panic, and bigbeast centipedes have nearly impervious chitin and can dig with incredible speed. Similarly, bigbeasts have their personalities exaggerated from those of a normal animal of their kind. A bigbeast jay is an especially vicious bird. A bigbeast maltese is dangerous in its doggy desire for attention.

Bigbeasts always have extra intelligence, even before they establish their territory. Bigbeast insects are as clever as normal rats, bigbeast squirrels deceive with elaborately planned tricks, and bigbeast boars can read road signs.

Bigbeasts that are a hybrid of several animals may have strange powers that extend beyond exaggerations of their innate animal abilities. These might include an incredibly tough rocky hide, additional horns, or bony protrusions.

Bigbeasts are usually at least as alert as a normal animal of their kind. Most have high Perception skill, although those at the top of their local food chain may have become fat, spoiled, and unperceptive.

Bigbeasts are sensitive and vulnerable to an enemy with potential. A person attacking it can display one or two unspent advancement tokens to gain a small or big bonus to their dice pool. This does not use up the advancement tokens.

Flavorful Treasure

The hides or scales of bigbeasts are often prized by armorers.

The tongues of bigbeasts are useful for alchemy. The appropriate extract of bigbeast tongue might grant a small or big bonus when crafting powerful alchemical recipe.

Nothing about a bigbeast hints at which recipe will be augmented by including the creature's tongue as an ingredient. However, an extract of bigbeast tongue is considered a "potion" for using talent in Alchemy to identify which recipe would benefit from that extract.

Example Bigbeasts

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Disguise/Etiquette Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Chimera 22 44 33 32 6 3 venom, quadruple attack: bite, bite, stench cloud, claw
Crocodile 4 4 3 33 1 8 5 only suffer half damage from bludgeoning weapons
Griffin 3 4 42 1 6 2 flying
Hydra 3# 2 8 4+(2) regrowth, Melee talent rating is number of heads (max. 4)
Manticore 32 33 22 33 3 6 2 flying, special venom, tail spike +5 extra damage
Mist Spider 43 2 3 44 4 1 venom, mist form, mist travel, webs and climbing
Stenchbird 42 3 3 4 5 2 flying, venom, noxious fumes, uses Wonder with screech
Tyrannosaurus 4 4 44 3 3 10 6 triple attack: bite, energy fist, frosty breath
Worg 3 4 31 32 22 1 6 2 knockdown

A chimera has trouble thinking straight, but can still be dangerous. Often they live and hunt in pairs. They like to roam ruins, often in a humanoid form that looks like a large lion-headed man or woman with goat horns and a snake's tongue shrouded by a heavy leather cloak. As a monster they resemble a giant lion with a goat head growing oddly from its back and its tail replaced by a fanged serpent. During combat they can do four things on each of their turns: bite with each of its lion and serpent heads, breathe a cloud of stench from its goat mouth, and claw with one forepaw. The serpent's bite has venom. The cloud of stench causes a small penalty to enemies within it.

Bigbeast crocodiles sometimes infiltrate a town or city's sewers. Lazy and hungry, they use their humanoid form to demand drink and food from people they meet: often sewer workers and thieves. They usually appear in groups, and most will sleep while one remains in its humanoid form, awake and alert but nearly unmoving with reptillian patience. If they hear anyone approach without first calling out their password, they submerge in their monstrous form and wait in ambush. Their thick hide can deflect many blows.

Many hunters try to bring home a griffin egg, for stories say that the monster will be tame if raised by a kind person, and can then be useful as a mount and squire. Griffins have the body, tail, and back legs of a lion, with the head and wings of an eagle. Some griffins have leonine forelegs and paws, whereas others have large eagle's legs as forelegs.

A hydra is a strange bigbeast, some odd combination of dinosaur and snake. It knows that its heads multiply when a neck is severed, and so will try to weave its heads through the air to intercept incoming attacks with its necks. All attacks that only cause 1 stamina damage hit a neck, and every two such blows severs a neck. Each time a neck is severed the hydra regenerates all lost stamina and armor, and gains another head.

A pack of manticores considers itself the aristocracy of its territory's sky. The pack will chase away all other large or carniverous flying creatures. They love to toy with the creatures who live below them. They normally approach first in their humanoid forms: nobles with shaggy hair who are nicely dressed and elegant of speech, with their overly toothy mouths hidden behind masks, scarves, or gaiters. They might scold their prey for intruding on private property, discuss survival of the fittest in abstract ways, or explain that the concept of "hero" is a fiction created to give hope to the masses. They have inner and outer jaws in both forms. The outer jaw has two rows of teeth like a shark. The inner jaw has more spikey teeth. In ther monstrous form they look like a shaggy lion whose fur has matted into spikey bits, with large bat-like wings and a long tail that is lined with bony spikes on both sides and tipped with an extremely large and deadly spike. The tail's side spikes can be shot out at prey. Despite not normally having their tails visible in their humanoid form, they can momentarily manifest the tail to attack with it while remaining in humanoid form. Any wound they cause is filled with their deadly but slow venom: the prey reduces all Brawn skill ratings by 1 at the end of each hour unless cured with magical healing, until it collapses (a single Brawn skill rating reaches zero) and dies (all Brawn skill ratings reach zero).

A nest of blue spiders the size of large dogs would be frightening enough, but mist spiders are especially deadly predators. Like all bigbeast spiders they are venemous, can move unhindered on their webs, and automatically succeed in Perception skill use within their webs. At the end of each combat round, every mist spider that has not suffered damage that round turns into blue mist. It becomes solid again as it makes its next attack: the mist streaming unnaturally through the air to manifest as a spider immediately behind its prey. Stories tell of some mist spiders whose mist is invisible: then their attacks from mist form count as an attack on a target unaware of the attacker (unless the target has some means of seeing invisible creatures).

The stenchbird is a bigbeast vulture whose bite has venom. It is surrounded by a cloud of noxious fumes that cause a −1 circumstancial penalty to adjacent enemies. Opponents intimidated by its screech (using the Wonder skill) are also stunned for one round.

No bigbeast tyrannosaurus has ever been successfully hunted. Not only is it even larger than before, but it can breathe fire and the claw on ts right forearm is replaced by a huge, glowing green ball of energy vaugely shaped like a fist. During combat it can do three things on each of its turns: bite, breathe fire, and shoot a copy of its "fist" at one opponent. Its fiery breath causes creatures to suffer damage according to its Shoot/Throw skill use, doubled if its Shoot/Throw skill rating exceeds their Acrobatics skill rating, and doubled if its Shoot/Throw skill rating exceeds their Escape skill rating. (The damage is quadrupled if its Shoot/Throw skill rating exceeds both.) Those with a humanoid form only use it while eating in their den. This form is round-faced and bald, dressed in hides, and notable for its scaley green skin, spikey teeth, a glowing right hand.

A worg is a bigbeast wolf that hunts in packs. Any worg that successfully causes a damage to a target's stamina while another worg flanks that target will knock the target prone. Their humanoid forms resemble bipedal werewolves with greasy, matted fur, often wearing leather clothing and iron chains.

Fantasy literature is full of fights between heroes and dangerous animals.

Many times the favorite fantasy animal of a GM or Player can be included in the setting as either a non-monstrous animal or a bigbeast. Does the fantasy world contain rocs and unicorns as "normal" animals, or are these bigbeast eagles and horses?

Squirrels really are deceptive, using false caches of food to minimize thefts from rivals. Pigs really do have a talent for understanding print: they have been taugh to differentiate known scribbles from new scribbles they have not seen before.

The bigbeast tyrannosaurus breathes fire and shoots its fist because I had a Shogun Warrior Godzilla toy during my childhood.


Witches look like women but are ephemeral creatures able to create magical effects to help them fulfill a mission.

There are no bald witches. All witches have hair at least long enough to reach their shoulders.

Many witches live or travel alone. Others live in groups that most often have three members: a maiden, matron, and crone.

Most witches are easy to distract, befuddle, or dupe.

A rumor claims that a witch can be identified because the relection of the sun in her eyes will be shaped like a crescent moon instead of a circle. Another rumor claims that speaking a witch's true name can force her to grant a wish.


A witch's mission is usually to initiate a story. Examples from legends include a witch who kidnaps an oppressed princess to introduce her to valiant suitors, a witch who arrives in a village disguised as a traveling apothecary charlatan but whose lotions and balms have amazing effects, and a witch who drew magical hopscotch courts that changed the children who used that pattern.

Many witch stories tie the witch to a magical building, such as a house made of candy, a wooden hut with legs, or a pet store that only appears at midnight and sells monsters.

A rare witch will be assigned the story of disguising herself to join an adventuring party. The witch will appear to be in need of help or useful as a potential ally. She will initially be genuinely helpful to whomever she meets. However, as time goes on she will become more and more demanding. As soon as any demand is not met, the witch becomes hostile. She tries to take back any sources of aid that she has lent to her former companions, fairly offering trades if appropriate but willing to fight if resisted. Then the witch flees and disappears forever.


Witches can elongate and shrink their hair, and also use it as a dextrous, prehensile limb to reach up to four meters away. Even physically weak witches can do feats of immense strength with their hair.

Witches can do fearsome magic. Many tales tell of witches turning a person into a frog, turning vegetables into vehicles, or instantly creating a house made out of cupcakes.

Most people believe a witch can do anything with her magic. Yet a witch can only use magic to advance her assigned story, and cannot use magic on herself or other witches.

A rumor claims that each witch must use a specific eldritch implement (usually a wand, ring, cauldron, hat, or box) to create her magic.

Flavorful Treasure

When a witch is killed or fulfills her mission she turns into a puff of scintillating smoke. After several seconds, the smoke coalesces into a green pearl. Touching one of these pearls to a treasure map adds a new location to the map and causes the pearl to vanish.

Example Witches

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Disguise/Etiquette Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Coven Witches 4 3 21 4 3 4 6 0 hair, three ages correspond to three kinds of magic
Dryads 33 4 22 4 4 42 1 6 4 hair, charm people and animals, illusionary terrain, animate plants
Night Mice 33 3 4 4 o hair, mouse form, floats, ethereal form, haunt sleepers
Sea Hags 3 32 3 4 3 4 6 2 hair, illusionary disguise, swims, chill/frighten/suffocate

A set of coven witches always appear as a maiden, matron, and crone. The young-looking maidens are enchantresses whose magic must affect the mind. Examples include granting boldness and luck, forcing people to speak the truth, granting intelligence to animals, or helping couples fall in love. The middle-aged-looking matrons are conjurers whose magic must create items or terrain effects. Examples include summoning a flying carpet, creating fog banks, aiding heroes by creating disguises or armor, blocking passages with walls of fire, or trapping foes in suddenly appearing pits. Elderly-looking crones are transmogrifiers whose magic alters objects or bodies. Examples include turning people in animals, making animals intelligent and talkative, granting objects flight, making people huge, shrinking objects to toy-sized, or cursing foes with muteness or blindness.

Many forests are protected by dryads who use charms and illusionary terrain to prevent people from finding and entering the deeper parts of their forest. They can also cause plants to grow and move, to block paths or entangle intruders. When forced into combat they use bows and knives, and each round they can both attack and have a nearby plant wrestle on their behalf. Their skin is tough and bark-like.

The witches called night mice are hideously ugly but usually are only seen as mice. To avoid being noticed or attacked they can float in the air and become insubstantial. They draw nourishment by sitting on the chest of a sleeping person and "drinking" in the sleeper's exhalations. They avoid combat, but if forced to fight will extend their hair to great length in either mouse and humanoid form. While insubstantial they only take damage from heat, cold, poison gas, etc.

Witches that embody the perils of questing for sunken treasure are named sea hags. They appear in groups of three or more, wearing an illusionary disguise that make them appear fair of face (and sometimes male). Their true forms are unnerving and slightly aquatic. When they decide to attack they shed their illusionary disguises and try to gang up on one target at a time. The first sea hag who touches a creature chills it, and for the rest of the combat that creature can only act every other round. The next sea hag to touch the creature frightens it, and for the rest of the combat that creature will never voluntarily move closer to any sea hag. The third sea hag to touch the creature starts its suffocation, and for the rest of the combat that creature suffers 2 damage at the start of its turn.

Why do witches fly through the air on or in household items? Because they cannot grant themselves the ability to fly!

Prehensile hair is a trope linked to RPG witches by Pathfinder and the film The Forbidden Kingdom.

The rumor about a witch's eyes is a reference to the song Witchy Woman by the Eagles.

Green pearls are a tribute to Jack Vance's novel The Green Pearl, the second part of the Lyonesse Trilogy.


Bugaboos are monsters created when the scary things children imagine become real. Most bugaboos feed on fear, and attack using hallucination and grabbing.

Because children are so creative, bugaboos have tremendous variety in appearance and behavior.


Bugaboos are invigorated when people near them are frightened. Most bugaboos are not very smart, and have few motivations other than creating fear. (To a bugabo, nearby fright provides a small or big bonus during skill checks. For bugaboos it is as helpful a condition as flanking a foe or pouncing from higher ground.)

Although nearly every bugaboo is violent, not all children have nightmares about aggressive monsters. For example, one famous tale describes a bugaboo that strode brazenly into a tavern and for two days told amazingly creepy and frightening stories augmented with subtle, harmless hallucinations.


Most bugaboos attack by grabbing their prey and strangling or squeezing. When a bugaboo succeeds with the Wrestle skill, it may choose to cause damage instead of causing a wrestling effect.

Bugaboos believe in imaginary friends. When a bugaboo is visible, the person hunting it can pretend to receive help from a vividly described imaginary friend. The bugaboo will believe the imaginary friend is real and act accordingly. (For example, a hero may gain a small bonus from flanking by describing the position of an imaginary friend.) The imaginary friend cannot touch the bugaboo.

Bugaboos are afraid of magical weapons, which they mistakenly believe were all created specifically to hunt them. Magical weapons are more effecive than usual against bugaboos: a person wielding a magic weapon is always considered to have a big bonus to skill checks.

Flavorful Treasure

When a bugaboo is defeated it explodes into a small shower of treats: mostly candy and coins, but sometimes strange gadgets, magical tools, or in rare occasions a shiny token that grants the owner an advancement token.

Example Bugaboos

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Disguise/Etiquette Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Basher-Puller-Popper 2 3 4 3 4 3+(2) fear bonus, special Wrestle, consecutive attacks worse
Coffee Treant 4 2 5 fear bonus, special Wrestle, Wonder use causes AoE sleep
Compost Shambler 2 4 8 0+(3) fear bonus, special Wrestle, Wrestle can engulf
Dead Kitten 3 3 3 0* fear bonus, special Wrestle, rotting touch, only hurt mid-leap
Flesh-a-Blob 4 3 4 1+(3) fear bonus, special Wrestle, shoots beam from yellow eye
Garb-Grabber 3 6 9+(1) fear bonus, special Wrestle, causes hallucionations
Hinkypunk 4 2 4 4 0+(2)* fear bonus, special Wrestle, flying, armor buffer only outdoors
"Look at Me!" Lady 2 2 3 2 4 8 fear bonus, special Wrestle, meeting gaze petrifies, disguised
Mister Broccoli 4 3 3 6 1 fear bonus, special Wrestle, extra damage vs. one opponent
Riding Hood 1* 4 44 6 fear provides bonus, flying, control the mind of wrestled prey
Shadow Squid 4 3 3 5 0+(3) fear bonus, special Wrestle, fast, touch causes weakness
Skin Man 3 3 3 6 0* fear bonus, special Wrestle, only hurt when tied with rope
Soot Thrower 4 3 1 6 4+(4) fear bonus, special Wrestle, leaves harmful trail

The basher-puller-popper looks like a horse-sized morel mushroom with six tentacles that it uses as arms and legs. It whispers hungry thoughts into your mind. It is hard to get past its regrowing tentacles to hurt it. Once it grabs you it bashes you against the ground or a wall, pulls you close to squeeze you, and then pops your head off. (Each consecutive successful Wrestle attack against a target causes an extra damage.)

The coffee treant stands guard for other monsters. It is made of hard wood. It starts yelling, "Wake up, everybody! Time to get going!" Its beans give people energy because the tree drains energy so people fall down. (Its Wonder damage causes sleep in an area unless targets are wearing ear pugs, have recently drunk coffee, or get equal or greater successes with Escape.)

The compost shambler is what happens if too many bones are put in the compost. It looks like a compost pile. But then it swallows you whole.

The dead kitten wants to get back in the house. It comes from its grave at night. It wants more food and petting. It does not realize it is dead. Do not touch it or your skin will rot. It can only be hurt in mid-leap.

Flesh-a-Blob (by Wesley Banse) The flesh-a-blob is a quivering mass of orange flesh with a dangerous yellow eye that shoots a beam. You don't want to attack it because it is spongy and full of acid instead of blood, which would make your weapons dissolve. So run away! But it tries to chase you, awkwardly leaping and sticking to the walls and ceiling. Squelch! Stick! Zap! Squoosh! Stick! Zap!

The garb-grabber rises from a pile of clothes. Maybe more than one if the pile has more sets of clothes that go together. It looks like someone invisible is wearing the clothes. But no one is, the clothes are the monster that tries to grab you. It takes too long to kill. Run away, but do not fall as it causes you to see things that are not there.

Hinkypunks are flying lights. They appear in groups. They want to guard a grave or tomb. If one has no grave or tomb to guard, it lures you to a lonely place and kills you with sparks so you fall into a ditch. Outside they can flit about very fast

The bad Mister Broccoli is tall and green. He hunts people who eat his vegetable cousins. He reaches out his long arms. When he hugs you the leaves on his sides go down your throat and choke you. Run away or rush close so he won't throw sharp leaves at you.

The "Look at me!" lady is at least twice as tall as you, and screams, "Look at me while I am talking to you!" But if you look at her you turn to stone. She seems to be a normal lady until she wants something and does not get it.

Do not get surprised by the riding hood. It looks like any normal cloak, cape, or hood. But if you put it on it can control you. (Against a person wearing it, it always rolls all six dice for Wrestle skill checks.) It can fly, and likes to pounce from the shadows and wrap around you. Once it is wrapped around your friend, your blows will hurt that friend too. (When riding on a creature, half the damage to the riding hood is instead applied to the ridden creature.)

It is hard to hurt a shadow squid because most of it is only shadow. Kill it quick! It is fast and hard to run from. When it touches you, you feel weak. (A successful Wrestle attack causes the prey, for the next two rounds, to roll each die twice and use the least favorable result.)

The skin man is empty and only made of skin. He has no teeth. His tongue is icky. He drags himself across the floor with a noise like the wind rustling leaves. He can only be hurt when tied up with rope.

Soot Thrower (by Wesley Banse) The soot thrower is a bone covered with soot that throws soot. When it scampers across the floor it sounds like many bones rattling even though it is only one bone, and it leaves a trail of dangerous soot that does strange things if you touch or breathe it.

The word bugaboo is a variant of bugbear, which is similar to bogeyman. Historically, the word bugbear emphasized being obsessed with the fear, whereas bogeyman emphasized that the childhood fear was purposefully implanted by the child's parents.

Yes, defeating a bugaboo is like smashing a piñata.

The "garb-grabber" and "skin man" were inspired by illustrations in the Libris Mortis.


Oozes are rubbery and nearly transparent creatures (slimes, puddings, jellies, molds, cubes, and lurkers) that gain shapes and intelligence as they consume animals and people.

Oozes can slowly undulate across the ground or creep along a wall or roof.

The smallest oozes are useful and easily capturable. Full-size oozes are very dangerous monsters.

Compost size oozes are the smallest. They can only dissolve cellulose (plant material) and are not dangerous to people. These are often purposefully put in compost piles.

Outhouse size oozes are medium-sized. They can also dissolve proteins, which means they can harm people. But they can be safely kept in a smooth-walled metal container.

Dangerous size oozes are the largest. These can also dissolve fats, making it a threat to animals.

Rumors say the biggest oozes can even dissolve rock.


Oozes perceive the world around them using the five normal senses and two special senses: they can sense heat and detect magical energy. They can sense trails of heat and magic, to follow where a warm creature or a magic item has recently gone. (In a setting without magic, oozes can instead detect electricity, force fields, Bluetooth receivers, etc.)

The least intelligent oozes act like slow-moving hamsters: curiously exploring, tenatively probing their environment, searching for food, movement, and magic.

Oozes feel pleasure when they surround magic things. Unintelligent oozes usually move towards magical items. Intelligent oozes might attack anyone carrying a magical item. Oozes keep their magical items in a special vesicle, safe from digestion.


The rubbery bodies of oozes do not negate damage like armor. But their texture and lack of internal organs can protect them. The "base armor" for an ooze is instead the chance (out of 6) that any successful attack against the ooze does no damage.

The five traditional ways to attack oozes are by cutting, bludgeoning, burning, electrifying, or splashing with salt water. Depending upon the type of ooze, these might cause damage, do nothing, or cause the creature to split into two smaller oozes.

Oozes attack by bludgeoning with a pseudopod, or by stretching their entire body around prey. Once they succeed in causing harm with a Wrestle attack they begin constricting. Until the prey breaks free, the ooze will cause extra damage to that creature each turn, whether or not its subsequent attacks hit. An ooze that succeeds in two Wrestle attacks against the same prey has grabbed and pinned that creature's arms or forelimbs, and the prey cannot use those limbs until freed.

Many oozes die in a dramatic and dangerous fashion: splattering, exploding, or expeling spores. Adventurers who attack a ooze should try to kill it from a distance.

Flavorful Treasure

Small oozes are useful for sanitation, and some people collect them as a profession. Big oozes usually carry multiple magical items inside them.

Example Oozes

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Extra Damage Stamina Armor Chance
Amber Slime 4 6 3 / 6 superior wrestling, immunities and splitting, flammable goo, acidic death throe
Invisible Mold 3 4 4 6 1 / 6 superior wrestling, immunities and splitting, mimicry, venom
Phosphorescent Jelly 4 3 4 3 6 2 / 6 superior wrestling, immunities and splitting, blinding death throe, spits napalm
Squelchy Pudding 3 4 5 3 / 6 superior wrestling, immunities and splitting, electric death throe, noise stuns
Sucking Lurker 3 3 3 3 5 / 6 superior wrestling, immunities and splitting, flammable death throe, asphyxiates

Amber slimes are the most acidic oozes. When killed they splatter acid. They are hurt by bludgeoning and cold, immune to fire and salinity, and split in two if cut. Amber slimes spit flammable goo at torches or other fires they sense.

A pool of invisible mold is truly bizzare. It is naturally nearly transparent and very difficult to see if not moving. It can change shape and coloration to mimic that of any creature it has digested, and has practiced moving as that creature normally does. In a creature's shape it remains rubbery and able to move along walls in addition to any mimicked movement. Its attacks are poisonous, independent of their shape. Some stories claim an intelligent invisible mold can mimic any object. Most invisible molds are hurt by cutting and fire, immune to bludgeoning and cold, and divide if doused with salt water.

Phosphorescent jellies are oozes that radiate heat. A bright light shines from them when they are killed, which can cause temporary blindness. They are hurt by bludgeoning and cuts by sharp objects, immune to cold and salinity, and split in two if burnt with fire. They are one of the few oozes that does not normally grapple, prefering to spit blobs of fiery jelly at prey.

Squelchy puddings are annoying oozes that can make an obnoxious sucking noise that causes erratic nerve impulses in the brain. (Targets who fail an Escape skill check lose their next turn.) They are hurt by fire and salt water, immune to cold and bludgeoning, and split in two if cut with a sharp object. When killed they emit bolts of electricity.

Sucking lurkers are very slow moving oozes. They seldom ensnare moving creatures, preferring to first attack by sucking in a tremendous amount of air to extinguish fires and asphyxiate. When killed, they blow out spores that turn into toxic smoke if burned. Sucking lurkers are hurt by fire and cold, immune to being bludgeoned or cut, and are split in two when splashed with salt water.

The first published version of Dungeons and Dragons had several creatures on the "clean up crew": black pudding, gray ooze, green slime, ochre jelly, and yellow mold. That is 5 out of 51 monsters—about ten percent of that old game's opponents were ooze creatures!

Sean K. Reynolds has written a great rant about D&D infravision.


Miscreations are normal animals changed to have magical mutations and cleverness.

Some miscreations are barely more intelligent than their original animal. Their language is only vicious hisses, bickering grunts, or maddening babbling. Their tool use is primitive. They attack any people they see, and cannot be reasoned with.

Some miscreations are fully intelligent. This makes them more dangerous.

Many bands of miscreations will have one leader who is much larger and more intelligent.


Miscreations organize themselves as bands of raiders. They attack travelers and small settlements to steal food and shiny valuables.

All the miscreations in a band will have the same mutation. Adventurers trying to save people from miscreations should learn about the mutation they will be facing before rushing into combat.


Here is an example table of random mutations. The GM and Player can also invent their own.

The use of color and appearance is intended to reward the Players for learning about miscreations during a series of adventures. It is not intended to be a resource that enables PCs to easily know in advance what mutation they face because of library research or a farmer mentioning that the monsters that ate his livestock had (for example) yellow tongues. The GM should change or shuffle the appearances when the Players begin a new series of adventures.

Appearance Drawback Benefit How to Counteract
1 Yellow tongue Speak in a gurgle An uninterrupted roar heals the character Interrupt the roar
2 Lemon spikes Difficulties with clothing and armor Successful wrestle always causes at least 1 damage Attack ranged
3 Lime teeth/claws Teeth and nails falling out Causing a wound also causes an explosion Stay apart
4 Chartreuse mouth Lips, nose, ears wither Spit arcane globs pull hit characters together Stay apart
5 Pea green eyes Hair falling out Gaze causes disadvantage on Brawn skills Avoid the gaze
6 Green skin Skin blisters and molts Your aura weakens foes, a stacking −1 to mental skill use Attack ranged
7 Emerald arms Knobs grow on arms Causing damage also grants temporary armor Timing—don't waste attacks
8 Cyan chest Chest glows Can explode chest energy, then reabsorb it Stay apart, attack ranged
9 Turquoise aura Unwanted teleportation Get stronger when ally with this mutation defeated Timing—be simultaneous
10 Blue neck Breathing clean air is painful Defeat causes curse that is worse with more distance Stay close
11 Ultramarine pool Aquatic features Heal when cause damage within pool around feet Dodge, attack ranged
12 Violet eye Eyes merge like cyclops Gaze causes paralysis Avoid the gaze
13 Purple tentacles Have tentacles Can reposition foes Positioning
14 Magenta tendrils Move slow, but can climb walls/ceilings Magic cast on ally with this mutation affects me too Runeblock choice
5 Red motes Eerie noises around you Buffer of 1 extra temporary armor each round Positioning
16 Maroon abdomen Mouth on abdomen Explode when defeated, creating small enemies Stay apart, attack ranged
17 Orange hands Extremely farsighted Tossed arcane balls wound characters if distant Stay close
18 Ochre eyes Vision limited to 10 meters Lifesense 10 meters Attack ranged
19 Tangerine hands No opposable grip Throwable arcane blades appear in hands Use cover
20 roll twice more, using both results, ignoring this result on subsequent rolls

Flavorful Treasure

The leader of a band of miscreations carries a runeblock.

Many miscreations have other treasure, appropriate for their intelligence, equipment, and past success in raiding.

Example Miscreations

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Disguise/Etiquette Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Argle 2 2 3 2 2 2 3 1+(2) mutation(s), perhaps must be defeated with one blow
Giant Argle 3 3 4 4 3 3 1 7 4+(2) mutation(s)
Ratling 2 42 2 2 41 5 1 mutation(s), their attacks never bypass armor
Ratling Bomber 4 42 2 32 3 42 3 3 6 2 mutation(s), alchemy bombs
Moggie 4 3 3 4 6 1 mutation(s)
Gibbering Moggie 42 4 7 3 mutation(s), blinding spit, gibbering
Mutt 3 3 42 31 3 31 3 6 2 mutation(s), can cause mutation
Alpha Mutt 43 42 4 32 8 3 mutation(s), can cause mutation, can cause rampage
Penguin of Doom 32 32 3 3 3 4 8+(2) mutation(s), flies, copies damage to nearby opponents

The basic argle is a mutant stone age lizard-person. It may have adaptations to fit is biome: long fingers and a prehensile tail for forests, gills for lakes or rivers, immunity to cold for tundra, etc. Many small argles regenerate: their wounds heal almost instantly; these argles must be defeated with one blow, or a combination of attacks carefully timed to impact simultaneously. A few argles are giant in size, at least three meters tall.

Most ratlings are less than a meter tall, wear scraps of leather as armor, and wield makeshift knives and spears. They are cowardly sneaks who are sometimes overwhelmed by violent urges, especially when hungry or in large groups. Their small size helps them avoid being hit, but also means their attacks never bypass an opponent's armor. There are also big ratlings called bombers, who know enough alchemy to make fiery bombs.

Ratling Bomb (1 use, Impact 3 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 1 victory)

Use the Shoot/Throw skill to target a location. A gas fills a 5 meter radius centered at impact. At the start of your next turn, the gas explodes, igniting all flammable inanimate objects not being worn or carried. The explosion extends around corners. Creatures in the explosion suffer damage according to your Shoot/Throw skill use, doubled if they fail their choice of an Acrobatics or Escape avoidance check.

A pack of moggies screeches and wails like the angry cats they once were. Some are nearly mindless, others are extremely clever. The former eventually turn into gibbering moggies who avoid melee combat and instead spit a glob of mucus that blinds the target for one round while babbling magically in a way that causes anyone failing a Wonder avoidance check to either flee for a turn (50% chance) or attack the nearest ally (50% chance). When a gibbering moggie defeats a foe it absorbs that foe's energy, which fully heals the monster's stamina.

Dog-like mutts are at least as tall and clever as people. They are feral, resisting even their warlords' efforts to direct their productivity towards crafting or self-governing. They use their own blood to make a poison they put on their arrowheads and the blades of their swords and spears. A hit with these poisoned weapons that causes two or more damage also causes the target to mutate (roll randomly on the table above). When the alpha mutt that leads the pack causes two or more damage with one hit then all nearby muts may "rampage" and immediately attempt an extra melee attack.

Penguin Miscreation (by Wesley Banse) Fear the penguins of doom! Not only do they have webbed feet and flipper arms, but their two wings magically make them nimble fliers. Their fierce beaks are on their chests, their eyes are on stalks, and two large spikes growing from their back hint at how their skin is rock hard. Any damage they suffer is magically copied onto their nearby opponents, so keep your distance!

The word Argle is old British for argue or dispute. It also sounds like a blend of Runequest's "Slarge" and Elder Scroll's "Argonian".

Rat-people are common as a fantasy trope. In Warhammer and Dungeons of Drakkenheim they are called Ratlings. In Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder they are called Ratfolk.

The word Moggie is an old British word for an unrespectable cat without a pedigree.

Animated Objects

As needed for the setting, animated objects could be magically enchanted items, robots or other advanced technology, a type of fantasy creature that merely looks similar to an object (the way gargoyles resemble statues), an alien race with a mineral-based biology, or all of those in different places in the story.

With so much variety, we will not talk about goals for animated objects.


Two features make a monster an animated object.

First, most animated objects are indistinguishable from normal objects until they move. They seem to be a normal statue, stalagmite, weapon, rug, rope, chain, suit of armor, or other item or construction. Yet the animated objects can move (some can fly) and attack.

Second, when a PC hits an animated object with a weapon this feels like hitting a thing instead of a creature. Damaging an animated object, whether a sturdy living boulder or a giant plant's entangling vines, is an attempt to crack, break, or sever it rather than the way a normal creature slowly accumulates damge.

Therefore animated objects do not have an armor rating. Instead, a number counts the minimum amount of damage from consecutive attacks that happen before subsequent damages is applied to the monster's stamina.

In other words, the first few attacks in a row that hit an animated object probably cause no damage. Then more attacks in a row that also hit will cause lasting stamina damage. However, any attack that misses will reset this "how many hits in a row?" counter because the monster's magic, nanites, or alien biology has had a moment to pull itself together and reform. (This does not normally heal stamina damage the monster has suffered.)

Often whatever animates these monsters also renews their abilities. An animated lamp or chandelier might toss its flame, then reignite. An animated crossbow or living ordnance might shoot, then have more ammunition appear from nowhere.

Animated jars, barrels, crates, and other containers can have unpleasant or dangerous contents: rotten eggs, sticky tar, boiling oil, poisonous gas, etc.

If an animated object has wrapped itself around a victim (often attempted by animated ropes, chains, rugs, tapestries, cloaks, etc.) redirect up to half the damage aimed at these animated objects to the victim they are wrapped around.

A few stories tell of animated objects that reform after being destroyed unless they are burned to ash, submerged in water, etc.

Flavorful Treasure

Most animated objects have no treasure. But some guard treasure. And a few are themselves treasure, such as a flying sword that will serve whomever defeats it.

Example Animated Objects

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Extra Damage Stamina # Damage in a Row
Before Damaged
Animated Chemistry Set 4 3 12 1 attacks might cause wrestling effects
Flying Sword 4 4 4 2 4 magical flight, tracking, dice pools not limited by stamina
Gargoyle 4 3 4 * 6 2 maybe flying, body parts hit separately, weakens as broken
Self-Constructing Toolbox 3 3 3 3 6 2 the main problem is all the stuff it has built!

The numerous clamps, grips, pincers, and stands of an animated chemistry set are hinged and flexible, allowing the monster to throw all manner of esoteric alchemical supplies at targets. The chemistry set is not intelligent, and always attacks using a Throw skill check with medium difficulty. When an attack hits, roll a twelve-sided die. If that die rolls equal or less than the monster's current stamina than instead of causing 2 damage it causes a wrestling effect that lasts 2 rounds. (Allow the Players to describe what happens as their PC is briefly nauseated by gas, slimed with goo, knocked back by an explosion, frozen in a block of instant ice, etc.) The first time the monster is hit, part of that impact merely smashes through racks and glassware, not penetrating to the sturdy workbench beneath. When an attack misses, the monster has time to reform its layer of protective outer apparatus. Adventurers who defeat this monster can loot alchemical ingredients as treasure.

The flying sword is created as a guardian monster, with the ability to magically track the first living creature it sees. Its steel is simple and sturdy: the first four consecutive points of damage it suffers merely stresses its metal, and only the fifth and subsequent points of consecutive damage cause lasting cracks and breaks. A flying sword starts with only 2 stamina, but is dice pools are not limited to its current stamina so it still can use its skills rated 4 with full effect. (With small adjustments this monster could be an animated rope, a terrible tapestry, etc.)

A gargoyle is a winged bipedal statue-monster. Some are big, and others are small. Some look wicked and others look angelic. When a gargoyle is damaged, roll a six-sided die to determine whether a left or right wing, left or right arm, or left or right leg was injured. Each of these six locations represents one of the gargoyle's points of stamina. Some gargoyles can fly or glide until one of its wings is broken. A gargoyle can make two attacks each round until one of its arms is broken. A gargoyle does one extra point of damage until one of its legs is broken. (When a broken location would be hit, shift to the next location in the list. The attacker can aim carefully in exchange for a penalty to its dice pool: a small penalty on the attack allows shifting the rolled location by 1, a big penalty allows shifting by 2.)

Be very careful what you say near a self-constructing toolbox. It yearns to be helpful! When it hears muttering such as "It would be nice to have better tools!" it starts building those. When it hears complaints about "If only my workshop was bigger!" it crafts machines to knock down and rebuild walls. The bards sing several stories about a town or city thought to be suffering from a maniacal mad scientist, but in truth the source of the lightning turrets, darkness bombs, and giant war robots was a self-constructing toolbox doing what it thought was making people happier.


Collectors are monsters become smarter, stronger, quicker, and more dangerous as their hoard increases.


Different collectors try to hoard different types of items. Dragons prefer treasure. Swamp-muck monsters prefer bones and magical items. Strange huts with chicken legs prefer household items.

But there are some typical patterns.

Usually, a collector that owns at least one book is intelligent and can talk. Additional books in a collector's hoard might increase its intelligence.

Usually, a collector that owns at least musical instrument can sing. Additional music intruments in a collector's hoard can increase its musical ability, and perhaps even allow its music to be especially charming or enchanting.

Usually, a collector that owns at least one coin can fly. This flight is clearly magical because the collector can fly and hover whether or not it has wings or is large. Additional coins in a collector's hoard can increase the speed of its flight.

Usually, a collector that owns at least one piece of jewelry has a breath weapon. This breath weapon might be fire, steam, lightning, frost, gas, or an intoxicating floral scent. Additional jewelry in a collector's hoard can increase the potency of its breath weapon. (The Impact of the wealth in jewels and jewelry it owns determines both how many targets the breath weapon can simultaneously hit and the collector's minimum Shoot/Throw skill while using the breath weapon.)

Usually, a collector that owns at least one magic item move more quickly. A collector can do as many actions each turn as the overall Impact of its magic items. Up to three of these actions can be Melee/Protect (such as attacks with two claws and a bite). The other actions must each use distinct other skills—usually Acrobatics, Shoot, Perception, Identify, Wonder, or Intuition.


Collectors radiate an aura of imposing presence. This aura causes all nearby creatures to suffer weakness unless their Wonder skill rating equals or exceeds the Impact of the collector's total treasure.

When a collector is awake it is intuitively aware of the contents of its hoard and the location of each item. However, an item stolen is no longer owned by the collector, who immediately loses the knowledge of its nature and location. Therefore an alert collector can notice much about what looters at its hoard are doing, but a sleeping collector is only able to realize upon waking that items are missing. (If the missing items were especially valued, the waking collector would quickly deduce which they are.)

Some legends describe collectors who can change their shape to disguise themselves as people. The Sagacious do not believe these stories.

Flavorful Treasure

Collector prioritize collecting panoply items. Most large hoards contain both incomplete and completed panoplies, as well as more mundane treasure.

Example Collectors

Because collectors gain size and abilities as they hoard they cannot be generalized like other monsters.

If you want some ideas, read about Maw Lute's dragons.


The undead are corpses of animals, people, or monsters animated by the curse of necromobility as resilient predators that drain energy from the living.

An undead is a vivified dead body, not a revived living individual. It retains no memories, skills, habits, or spiritual connection from before its prior life.


The curse of necromobility grants irresitable cravings at each stage of undeath. For example, zombies want to eat a brain, allowing them to change into a ghoul or skeleton. Those more advanced undead have their own cravings, as described below.


Undead do not age or breathe. The curse that animates them mimics metabolism by preventing natural decay and healing wounds.

The touch of an undead drains the target's energy. Depending upon the undead, this could cause weakness, fear, paralysis, rot, or blindness.

Undead can sense nearby living creatures and feel an estimate of each creature's intelligence. This ability even works through walls. The Sagacious debate whether undead can sense plants: do undead truly have "life sense" or are they actually sensing brains? An undead with healthy sensory organs might have exceptionally keen senses, especially smell. Many undead can see in the dark.

Only magical weapons and injuries hurt undead, because they are animated and held together by a resilient curse. When suffering stamina damage their skills are not reduced. Their curse heals them rapidly: it is not noticeable during combat, but after being defeated they must be beheaded or they will rise again in a few moments.

Undead also have vulnerabilities. Sunlight interferes with their life sense and metabolism, and penalizes their skill use. Sunlight also negates their immunity to non-magical damage. Many undead cannot cross certain borders unless invited: into someone else's home, across running water, or between countries.

Undead are also limited by an inability to cooperate. Zombies are mindless. Vampires are regional: their unity with their land means cooperating with beings from another territory bothers and hinders them. Liches can control monsters, including other undead, so all undead will shun liches to avoid becoming subservient thralls.

Flavorful Treasure

Perhaps the most powerful weapons are the intelligent necrotic weapons created when an undead carries a weapon for a long time.

Example Undead

Undead that happened to grow extra wings or limbs when first becoming zombies might have quite different skill ratings.

Undead that wear armor should add that armor's base rating to their inherent base armor rating.

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Zombie 3 3 3 6 0 life sense, touch causes nausea, suffers only half damage (round up)
Zombie Hulk 43 31 6 6 life sense, touch causes nausea, suffers only half damage (round down)
Ghoul 3 3 3 3 6 0 life sense, touch causes fear
Ghoul Elite 31 4 43 31 4 4 3 6 1 life sense, touch causes fear
Wight 32 4 3 4 3 6 3 life sense, touch causes paralysis
Vampire the struggle is getting to the vampire itself life sense, touch charms, animal and weather unity
Skeleton 3 3 4 2 6 life sense, touch causes weakness
Wraith 3 4 4 4 3 10% life sense, touch causes weakness and blindness, insubstantial
Lich the struggle is getting to the lich itself life sense, touch causes weakness and rot, monster and object unity
Banshquirrel 4 2 4 3 3 0 life sense, touch causes paralysis, screech prevents healing
Basilisk 3 3 3 5 6 3 life sense, deadly gaze, venomous bite,
touch charms, animal and weather unity
Lindworm 4 44 6 12 life sense, touch cause nausea and panic,
suffers only half damage (round up)
Wyvern 3 4 44 3 6 12 life sense, touch cause nausea and panic, flying,
suffers only half damage (round up)

Newly created undead are mindless zombies. While becoming a zombie the creature (especially an animal or monster) might grow extra wings or limbs. A creature touched by a zombie feels nauseous and suffers a small penalty on its next few skill rolls (roll a four-sided die to determine how many). The curse of necromobility makes zombies difficult to put down: they suffer only half damage. Bigger zomies are nicknamed hulks.

If a zombie eats a brain it changes. It begins changing, evolving along one of two paths. The creature begins merging with either the land or a bane.

The first stage of merging with the land turns the zombie into a ghoul. Its body begins healing but it still looks like a rotting corpse. Ghouls behave like clever, feral animals and often gather in packs. A creature touched by a ghoul becomes frightened and spends its next turn using the Acrobatics/Climb or Escape skills to move as far away as possible. The oldest ghouls are elite: they stand more upright and have learned to use ranged weapons.

The second stage of merging with the land is called a wight because it looks like a person except for its teeth, and is fiercely intelligent. A creature touched by a wight is paralyzed and can do nothing its next turn. However, many wights begin to shun melee combat and instead use ranged weapons.

The final stage of merging with the land is becoming a vampires. Truly one with their lands, vampires gain the ability to control and empower the lands' animals, and see through the animals' eyes. They learn to manipulate its weather. They eventually can transform themselves into animals, or clouds of mist. Perhaps most dangerous is how vampires can charm people in their land by implanting suggestions—including forgetting about meeting the vampire and having been charmed in other ways. The slow process of becoming one with the land makes vampires feel less like a person, and they drink people's blood to regain some of their personhood.

In contrast, the first stage of merging with a bane causes the zombie's body to rapidly decompose until it turns into a skeleton, alert but still barely intelligent. A creature touched by a skeleton is weakened and cannot run quickly until it rests. A more severe weakness happens when a skeleton causes a wound: the damage is more permanent than normal, and instead of being recovered after combat are converted into advancement tokens that cannot be spent until the character earns a new advancement token.

The second stage of merging with a bane is called a wraith because its skeletal form is almost insubstantial (instead of having Base Armor, damage that does not bypass armor has only a 10% chance to harm the wraith's stamina). A creature touched by a wraith is not only weakened (as by a skeleton) but also blinded for two turns, making many types of skill use more difficult or impossible.

The final stage of merging with a bane is becoming a lich. Truly one with that curse or cause of distress, a lich works to make the affected location dangerous and unpleasant. It gains the ability to control and empower the location's monsters, and see through the monsters' eyes. Liches learn to animate and manipulate some objects. They eventually can transform themselves into clouds of poison. Perhaps most dangerous is how liches can stupify people in that location or implant a curse of attunement—anytime the lich would suffer harm its attuned people protect it by instead suffering half the harm. A lich might eventually learn how to create a phylactery: unless that item is destroyed the lich and its curse will always reform. A creature touched by a lich is not only weakened (as by a skeleton) but also is contaminated with a rotting disease that will require an herbal cure.

Some undead creatures that are not humanoid are called by other names.

The tiny but dangerous banshquirrel is a squirrel wight whose shrill screech makes any person who hears it unable to heal until the next sunrise.

A basilisk was a bigbeast adder before it become a vampire. As a bigbeast its hypnotizing gaze was enhanced to become deadly and its venom became so prolific that it drooled from its mouth. As a zombie it grew several sets of legs. The most famous basilisk was given the nickname "Little King" because of a crown-shaped white spot on the top of its head. For a dozen years adventurers tried to kill it but failed—then a roaming bigbeast weasel killed the Little King in the darkness of its underground burrow.

Lindworms are large zombie constrictor snakes that grew one pair of legs when becoming undead. These legs look absurd and are nearly useless because of the beast's long, heavy body. However, large constrictor snakes are normally very dangerous, and an undead version is nearly unstoppable. Its touch is worse from most zombies, and besides nausea also causes people to try to hide behind their nearest ally.

A wyvern is a lindworm that also grew wings when becoming undead. A few unreliable stories claim wyverns who live near pools or lakes will so favor eating hairy animals (goats and sheep, not cows or fish) that a person who removes his or her clothing is no longer appetizing to the wyvern.

The undead are classic fantasy monsters.

A basilisk, lindworm, and wyvern are not traditionally undead creatures. That change adds an ironic twist to the King of Serpents, and is no odder than imagining a cockrel hatching a snake's egg. (Note that the choice of "adder" is arbitrary: no snakes actually hynotize their prey.) Lindworms have such varied descriptions that the change is comparatively minor!


Outsiders have traveled to the "normal" world from alternate planets, planes, or dimensions.


Generally speaking, there are two types of outsiders.

The first kind of outsiders arrive in some sort of vehicle or device. They are often looters, or the advance scouts of a population looking for worlds to conquer. These type of outsiders can be defeated and killed.

The second kind of outsiders arrive through a portal. Sometimes only they can see this portal and use it to return home. They cannot take objects from Spyragia back to their home world, so their goal is usually exploration or finding knowledge. These type of outsiders cannot be killed, but when defeated return to their home world.

Outsiders provide an excuse for the GM and Player to have any type of opponents. Other fantasy settings have elementals from primal planes, trooping seelie fairies from a fey land, adventuring parties invading from an afterlife dimension, angels and devils from alignment-themed realms, or lost expeditions to the Barrier Peaks. What if the story involved defending Arlinac Town from the Stormtroopers of Star Wars, the Borg of Star Trek, or the Daleks of Dr. Who?

Outsiders can work well as a rival adventuring party. An aggressive pair of huge cat-like warriors with strangely sharp swords are also trying to learn the secrets of the ancient ruin. Mysterious flame cultists have claimed the abandoned volcanic lair of a dragon and are trying to summon their unearthly Lord of Fire. Two teenagers need rescuing after their plan to research the music of actual fantasy worlds goes humorously awry.

Outsiders can work as a ruthless humanoid tribe that views the inhabitants of Spyragia as "not real" and thus undeserving of kindness or mercy. Classic fantasy monsters such as orcs, harpies, and gnolls can all be outsiders.


Combat can be boring for human-like outsiders. In almost every situation, their optimal intention would simply be to try to attack a PC using Shoot/Throw or Melee. For combats to be interesting we need to give these outsiders something else they can do for free each turn in addition to their normal attack.

Roll an twenty-sided die and consult the table below. The table also specifies which skill is the signature skill for the outsider. This skill's rating should be at least the average of each PC's maximum skill rating.

1 — use Acrobatics to try to interrupt what a PC is doing (Acrobatics/Climb)

2 — fill map squares with dangerous terrain (exhaling poison gas, spitting acid or fire, etc.): 1 square the first turn, 2 squares the second turn, 3 the third turn, etc. (Acrobatics/Climb)

3 — heal 1 stamina per PC with regeneration (Acrobatics/Climb)

4 — recover 1 stamina per PC (Acrobatics/Climb)

5 — a sense like sonar allows "seeing" around corners (Melee/Protect)

6 — a 10% chance per PC to either call for a reinforcement or create a copy of itself (Wrestle/Disarm)

7 — grow bigger if it did not suffer any damage since its last turn, increasing its Melee skill rating by 1 (Wrestle/Disarm)

8 — grow bigger if it did not suffer any damage since its last turn, increasing its Melee talent rating by 1 (Wrestle/Disarm)

9 — use a limb (or tendril, tentacle, or tongue) to reposition one PC (Wrestle/Disarm)

10 — use Wrestle to try to reduce a PC's mobility by grabbing, ingesting, etc. (Wrestle/Disarm)

11 — use Wrestle to try to make a PC easier to hit (Wrestle/Disarm)

12 — use Wrestle to try to make a PC take extra damage from subsequent attacks (Wrestle/Disarm)

13 — fill map squares with magical darkness that only the outsider(s) can see through: 1 square the first turn, 2 squares the second turn, 3 the third turn, etc. (Perception/Escape)

14 — crawl along walls and ceilings like a spider (Perception/Escape)

15 — a 20% chance per PC to create an illusionary copy of itself (Stealth/Track)

16 — screech or shout, attacking one PC with Wonder (Bargain/Wonder)

17 — screech or shout, attacking all PCs with Wonder (Bargain/Wonder)

18 — sing or chat to begin putting the PCs to sleep (Bargain/Wonder)

19 — use a trick or telepathic command to reposition one PC (Bargain/Wonder)

20 — levitate at walking speed, but it falls if it suffers any damage (Bargain/Wonder)

Flavorful Treasure

Outsiders often have interesting other-worldly equipment that is flavorful treasure for the people of the "normal" world.

Example Outsiders

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Extra Damage Stamina Base Armor
Handzard ? 4 3 3 3 ? 6 6 replaces hands, might have ranged attack or extra damage
Yellow Candy 3 4 3 31 6 6 radiates hunger

Handzard (by Wesley Banse) A handzard is an orange humanoid from another world, who can replace its hands with a big hand, hook, drill, pair of spikes, or other options. (Some of these allow its attacks to do extra damage, or shoot distant enemies.) Their two great joys are racing fast vehicles and breaking things. When they arrive in our world they find a town and wreck all of its ships, boats, carts, wagons, chariots, and other vehicles.

Yellow Candy (by Wesley Banse) The yellow candy creatures come from a world where the candy eats the people! They move like a seven-legged spider and have a single eye. Any people near them feel such extreme hunger that skill use suffers a big penalty unless the person is eating. They are small and sneaky, and people often feel their aura of hunger before noticing the creatures themselves.

More Example Outsiders: NPCs from D&D 5e

This chart translates NPCs from Appendix B of the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual. Perhaps it will help you borrow ideas from your favorite D&D 5e adventures to use in your Nine Powers stories.

The next section of these rules describes the runeblocks that can be used instead of fifth edition spellcasting while retaining the flavor of these NPCs.

A few of these NPCs have special abilities that resemble the wondrous feats of Spyragia, with links provided.

Shoot/Throw Acrobatics/Climb Melee/Press Wrestle/Disarm Perception/Escape Stealth/Track Identify/Lore Bargain/Wonder Disguise/Etiquette Animals/Wilderness Intuition/Hearthwork Alchemy Machinery Musing Runeblockery
Acolyte 3 3 3 3 runeblocks include Floating Lantern, Silence,
Misfortune, Aura of Doom
Apothecary 3 4 3 3 44 3 carries healing herbs and potions
Assassin 4 3 4 32 3 44 3 3 an elite killer who uses poisons
Bandit/Cultist/Guard 3 3 3 might know Fortunosity or Raging
Cavalier 3 42 4 3 3 4 3 uses good armor, rides griffon or warhorse
Cult Fanatic 3 3 3 4 3 4 runeblocks include Feral Fighting, Spy Eyeball,
Spy Tether
Gladiator/Veteran 42 32 43 42 4 3 runeblocks include Mystic Armor,
Block Immunity, Protection from Monsters
Knight/Noble/Thug 3 42 31 3 3 knows Touristry (Dauntless)
Mage 32 3 4 3 4 4 runeblocks include Useful Hand, Invisibility,
and two or more types of direct damage effects
Priest/Chaplain 3 4 3 3 4 3 runeblocks include Detection, Mystic Armor,
and two or more types of hindering effects
Scout 42 43 3 4 4 3 4 might know Touristry
Spy 31 32 3 32 4 42 3 3 42 4 might know Rewinding
Scoundrel 3 4 32 3 3 3 3 may give up 2 damage to cause a Wrestling effect,
might know Emptiness (Empty Palm)
Urban Ranger 3 42 4 3 4 42 3 3 3 4 might know Touristry and/or Forensics,
can sense chaos with Intuition


In the sample setting of Spyragia, people use magic by stacking runeblocks that are shaped and colored like pattern blocks. But these are magic blocks, and each has a rune on it.

pattern block shapes

In Spyragia, normal spellcasters do not have a spellbook—but do carry a pouch of runeblocks.

Different spells are built by which blocks are used and how they are stacked.

In Spyragia, anyone can use a rune blocks, but some people are much better at it than others. Effect runeblocks for the bottom layer can be rare and valuable. Runeblocks from the other three layers are interchangeable and not expensive. Defeating a villain who owns runeblocks means you get those are part of the treasure. If that villain owned blocks your PC did not, now your PC can cast new spells!

If you are using these rules for a different setting, please keep reading! The runeblock system is awesome, and you might find a use for it in your game. Owning physical blocks is not necessary, but adds a pleasing tactile experience.

Runeblock Basics


runeblock layers

A stack of runeblocks can be up to four layers tall. Each layer contributes differently to how the spell is built.

Each layer is limited in size to be equal or less than one hexagonal block. As examples, a layer of maximum size could be one yellow hexagonal block, two red trapezoidal blocks, three blue parallelogram blocks, or six green triangular blocks.

The lowest two layers may have more than one block, including combinations of different shapes. The highest two layers must have a single block or be empty.

Each layer must have a value equal or smaller than the one before. Only nice, stable stacks!

The bottom layer determines what targets the spell affects. In this layer each green block allows affecting either the caster or one touched creature. (Multiple green blocks may affect that many creatures, as long as the creatures are touching.) A blue block targets a thin path 5 meters long, which may either be a straight line or a "ribbon" that bends as the caster desires. A red block means the effect will fill a cone equal to one-quarter of a circle of radius 5 meters, with the caster at the cone's apex. A yellow block means the effect will fill a circle of radius 5 meters, with the caster at the circle's edge.

When spells affect a shape instead of a certain number of touched creatures, that shape may not be moved after the spell begins. An effect in a shape, whether beneficial (perhaps invisibility) or hindering (perhaps being charmed) no longer affects creatures who move out of the area.

The second layer determines the spell's effect. There are many examples below. Effects that change how spells work use a green block. Helpful effects use a blue block. Hindering effects use a red block. Damaging effects use a yellow block. The description of an effect includes which skill(s) are used by unwilling targets in an avoidance check that attempts to resist the spell.

The third layer determines the difficulty for resisting a harmful spell. This layer will be empty for a beneifical spell. A green or blue block makes an easy avoidance check. A red block makes a medium avoidance check. A yellow block makes a tough avoidance check.

The top layer counts the damage the spell could cause. This layer will be empty for beneficial or hindering spells. A green block causes 1 damage, a blue block 2 damage, a red block 3 damage, or a yellow block 4 damage. This damage applies to every target that does not avoid the spell.

Click on the summary image for more information about the layers.


Each stack of runeblocks has a trickiness rating equal to its number of red and yellow blocks plus the base armor value of whatever armor the caster is wearing. (It is trickier to arrange blocks quickly when wearing something less flexible than normal clothing.)

Each stack of runeblocks has a stamina risk equal to its number of red blocks plus twice its number of yellow blocks. If a spell has no red or yellow block, it still has a minimum stamina risk of 1.

To cast a spell using runeblocks, the caster attempts a Runeblockery skill check. An easy skill check suffices for a stack with trickiness rating zero. A medium skill check is needed for a stack with trickiness rating 1. A tough skill check is needed for a stack with trickiness rating 2 or 3.

If a caster succeed with the Runeblockery skill check, the spell happens. The caster does not lose any stamina.

If a caster fails the Runeblockery skill check, the spell does not happen and the caster reduces his or her stamina by the amount of the stack's stamina risk.

A caster may only attempt to cast a spell if he or she currently has the stamina to pay for its stamina risk.

Runeblock Effects

The only runeblocks that need special explanation are those for the second layer that create the different magical effects. The descriptions below are phrased as if affecting multiple targets, but spells can be constructed so they only affect one target.

These examples are not intended to be exhaustive! The GM and Player should create new effect runeblocks appropriate to their stories.

Examples of Metamagic Effect Runeblocks

Metamatic effect blocks are green triangles. More than one can be used in the second layer of a runeblock stack.

Ongoing - Without this effect block the spell will happen quickly. With this effect block the spell can be sustained by the caster's concentration. Maintaining an ongoing spell does not take time (the caster may use a skill or cast another spell in subsequent rounds). But each round the caster must repeat the Runeblockery skill check, and if that skill check fails the spell ends and the caster pays the spell's stamina risk. An unwilling target effected by an ongoing spell may attempt a new avoidance check each round to break free of the spell. A caster's ongoing spell ends if the caster suffers stamina damage or loses consciousness. A caster may only sustain one ongoing spell at a time.

Outline - With this effect block the targeting blocks for a cone or circle only occur at the shape's border. Combined with the Ongoing effect block, this can create a magical trap that is triggered whenever creatures touch that border.

Large - Each copy of this effect block adds 5 meters to the distance of a spell's path or the radius of its conical or circular area.

Fill - Without this effect block a spell targeting a path, cone, or circle will target all the creatures in that shape. With this effect block the spell will fill the area, allowing spells to affect inanimate objects.

Examples of Helpful Effect Runeblocks

Helpful effect blocks are blue parallelograms. Helpful effect blocks can be comined in the second layer of a runeblocks stack to cause a spell to create two or three helpful effects. Duplicating the same helpful effect block does nothing.

Blink Step - The targets immediately teleport to an unoccupied space up to 20 meters away. The caster must be able to see the targets and the destination location. If cast with concentration, the caster repeats a teleport each turn. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Mystic Armor - Each target is surrounded by a protective aura of glistening magic. Each round they recover 1 missing armor.

Copies - Two illusionary copies of each target appear near them. Anyone who attacks one of the targets instead attacks and destroys an illusion, unless the attacker succeeds with a Perception avoidance check.

Quick Reflexes - Each target receives a small bonus to its avoidance checks.

Block Immunity - The targets cannot be affected by runeblock spells. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Feral Fighting - Each target grows claws and fangs. Now people other than Therions have fun fighting tooth and nail. Or cast this on furniture for really bad feng shui. An avoidance check using the Animals skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Fly - The targets can fly. Willing targets fly independently with their normal Acrobatics skill at running speed. Unwilling targets and inanimate objects are moved by the caster, and the fourth layer's damage counts is how tiring this flight is for them and how many meters each round they are moved against their will. Unwilling targets may make several avoidance checks: using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to completely resist the spell, or failing that using the Escape skill to completely avoid suffering damage, or also failing that perhaps the Acrobatics or Protect skill to grab hold of something and reduce how much they suffer damage.

Spy Eyeball - The caster creates a spectral, floating eyeball that moves at walking speed. The caster can choose to close his or her eyes and see what the eyeball sees. It cannot pass through or manipulate physical objects. If it suffers damage it disappears. Because the eyeball is itself the "target creature" of this spell, any spell with this runeblock must include one green triangle in the second layer of its stack.

Useful Hand - The targets each control a spectral, floating hand. The hand can manipulate objects but cannot use skills. Itdisappears if it suffers damage or moves a distance greater than 30 meters. This spell only makes sense with the caster concentraining to make it ongoing. When the spell ends, each target spends additional stamina equal to the heaviest object his or her hand manipulated: one stamina per kilograms. (During the spell's duration this future cost limits the weight of objects each hand can manipulate.)

Floating Lantern - The same as Useful Hand but the spectral hands are replaced by floating lanterns. If something is tied to the lantern, the lantern can carry it using the same stamina cost as Useful Hand.

Invisibility - The targets become invisible until the spell ends or they (independently) moves more than 20 meters. An avoidance check using the Wonder or Wrestle skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Trumpet Fanfare - From the air around the heads of the targets comes the inspiring noise of a trio of trumpets playing up to a dozen notes. Announce your famous guest at your party, spotlight yourself at a sporting event, or demoralize your opponents after an ally strikes a strong blow! An avoidance check using the Etiquette skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Air Bubble - A bubble of air appears around the targets' heads, allowing them to breathe underwater.

Detection - There is a large variety of types of this effect rune. The rune might detect poison, metal, illusions, invisible things, secret doors, runeblock magic, crafted magic, etc. The targets get enhanced eyesight up to 10 meters away.

Protection from Monsters - A nearly transparent sphere of magical energy appears around the caster that monsters cannot enter. Each time monsters try to damage the barrier there is a 10% chance per point of damage that the effect immediately ends and this effect runeblock breaks and becomes useless.

Silence - The targets cannot be heard by any creatures or machinery nearby. However, creatures or machinery farther than 10 meters away can hear them normally, as if this spell was not happening. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Examples of Helpful Spell Stacks

runeblock example stack

A stack with one blue effect block above two green blocks allows the caster to put a momentary helpful effect on two people.

This stack has a trickiness rating of zero, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor, or even a chain shirt.

Lacking any red or yellow blocks, this stack has the minimum stamina risk of 1.

runeblock example stack

A stack with a blue and green effect blocks above six green blocks allows the caster to put an ongoing helpful effect on six creatures.

This stack has a trickiness rating of zero, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor, or even a chain shirt.

Lacking any red or yellow blocks, this stack has the minimum stamina risk of 1.

runeblock example stack

A stack with two blue and one green effect blocks above six green blocks allows the caster to put two ongoing helpful effects on six creatures.

This stack has a trickiness rating of zero, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor, or even a chain shirt.

Lacking any red or yellow blocks, this stack has the minimum stamina risk of 1.

runeblock example stack

A stack with blue and green effect blocks above a red block allows the caster to put an ongoing helpful effect on everyone in a cone-shaped area.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 1, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor.

This stack has a stamina risk of 1.

runeblock example stack

A stack with two blue and two green effect blocks above a yellow block allows the caster to put two ongoing helpful effects on everyone in a larger cone-shaped area.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 1, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor.

This stack has a stamina risk of 2.

Examples of Hindering Effect Runeblocks

Runeblocks that hinder targets are red trapezoids. Hindering effect blocks can be comined in the second layer of a runeblocks stack to cause a spell to create two hinderances. Duplicating the same hindering effect block does nothing.

Butterfingers - Targets must drop one item of their choice that they are holding in their hands. An avoidance check using the Etiquette or Acrobtics skills allows unwilling targets to resist.

Repeat - Targets must use the same skill on their next turn that they used on their previous turn. An avoidance check using the Etiquette skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

To the Rescue - Targets must spend their next turn trying to assist an injured ally, if one exists within 5 meters. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Command - Targeted people attempt to spend their next turn obeying one order spoken aloud by the caster. The command cannot include anything obviously risky or harmful to the targets. An avoidance check using the Etiquette skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Slipperiness - The floor becomes very slippery under the targets or in the target area. There is no immediate avoidance check when the spell is cast. Anyone who tries to move along the floor will fall down unless they succeed (each turn) with an Acrobatics skill avoidance check using this spell's threshold. (Versions of this effect rune exists that create webs or a pit, instead of making the ground slippery.)

Charm - Targeted people regard the caster as a kind acquaintance until the spell ends or the caster acts in a way that a kind acquaintance would not act. When the effect ends, the people are aware they were charmed. An avoidance check using the Intuition skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Misfortune - Targeted creatures suffer a small penalty to their dice pools until the effect ends.

Aura of Doom - Everyone trying to harm the targeted creatures receives a small bonus to their dice pools until the effect ends.

Wrestling Trap - This effect block only works in a runeblock stack that also contains the Ongoing and Outline metamagic effect blocks, and the targeting blocks for a cone or circle. The caster picks one wrestling effect. The first creature to cross the outline triggers the trap and suffers that wrestling effects until the end of its next turn.

Spy Tether - You reach into the minds of targets and create mental connections. An avoidance check using the Etiquette skill allows unwilling targets to resist. For targets who fail, you know their location. This means they gains no benefit against you from sneaking, hiding or becoming invisible. If you speak a common language and succeed in a Disguise/Etiquette skill check you may either implant a phrase into all target minds or while concentrating cause them to adopt one of your own habitual mannerisms. You can choose to hear what a single target a time hears, but if their hearing works differently from yours this might cause disorientation or even insanity.

Examples of Hindering Spell Stacks

runeblock example stack

A stack with one red effect block above a blue and green block, and below a green block, allows the caster to put a momentary hindering effect on a specific creature and every other creating along a thin path, with an easy avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 1, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor.

This stack has a stamina risk of 1.

runeblock example stack

A stack with one red effect block above a red block, and below a green block, allows the caster to put a momentary hindering effect on all targets in a cone-shaped area, with an easy avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 2, so it could be used by a character wearing soft leather armor.

This stack has a stamina risk of 2.

runeblock example stack

A stack with one red and green effect block above a yellow block, and below a red block, allows the caster to put an ongoing hindering effect on all targets in a circular area, with an moderate avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 3, so it could only be used by an unarmored character.

This stack has a stamina risk of 4.

runeblock example stack

A stack with one red and three green effect blocks above and below yellow blocks allows the caster to create a magical trap: an ongoing hindering effect on all targets who cross the border of a large circular area, with a tough avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 3, so it could only be used by an unarmored character.

This stack has a stamina risk of 5.

runeblock example stack

A stack with two red effect blocks above and below three blue blocks and below a yellow block allows the caster to cause two momentary hindrances to all targets along three thin paths, with a tough avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 3, so it could only be used by an unarmored character.

This stack has a stamina risk of 4.

Examples of Direct Damage Effect Runeblocks

Runeblocks that directly deal damage to targets are yellow hexagons. These effect block descriptions include not only which skill(s) the targets use for avoidance checks, but also how the effect differs from simply dealing the damage appropriate to the top layer block. Most direct damage effects apply their damage to armor before stamina. Damage to a target's armor does count as "targets damaged by this effect". If an effect bypasses armor this will be specified in its description.

Rushing Wind - Wind might knock people, bipeds, and objects over. Any creature damaged by this spell might be knocked to the ground. Unwilling targets may make two avoidance checks: using the Wrestle skill to completely resist this effect, or failing that using the Acrobatics skill to avoid falling down after suffering the damage. Creatures that fail both avoidance checks also drop one object of their choice they were holding.

Eldritch Lurching - Cloudy tendrils of sickly energy extend from the caster's hands towards each targeted creature. An avoidance check using the Acrobatics, Protect, or Wrestle skill allows unwilling targets to fully avoid the tendrils. Creatures damaged by this spell move unsteadily. The damage also counts the number of turns in which they can move or use a skill, but not both.

Entanglement - Ropes appear and wrap around the targets, cause a wrestling effect selected by the caster for each point of damage. An avoidance check using Wrestle or Acrobatics allows unwilling targets to resist. Failing that, targets may then make one avoidance check (with the spell's difficulty) at the end of each of their turns to remove one wrestling effect.

Hypnosis - This spell works like Entanglement. However the avoidance checks use Escape or Wonder (instead of Wrestle or Acrobatics).

Nausea - This spell works like Entanglement. However the avoidance checks and use Wrestle or Etiquette (instead of Wrestle or Acrobatics).

Fear - Targets are terrified of the caster. The damage also counts the number of turns on which that target will doing nothing but attempt to hide (break line of sight with the caster) or flee (move as far away as possible). On each turn each target may choose whether to hide or flee. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist. A target may close its eyes to automatically succeed with the avoidance check, but then suffers a big penalty when trying to hit the caster.

Corrupt Flesh - Targets that take damage from this spell permanently gain one mutation from the random list used by Futhorc's miscreations. An avoidance check using the Wonder skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Firebolts - Bolts of fire leap from the caster's hands to each targeted creature. Targets may attempt an avoidance check using the Acrobatics or Escape skills to dodge. Each target that does not avoid this effect suffers one extra point of damage.

Sleep - Targets who suffer damage from the spell fall asleep. They will be woken by being roughly touched, suffering any harm, or hearing loud noises. An avoidance check using the Wonder or Wrestle skill allows unwilling targets to resist.

Lightning Touches - The caster's hand crackles with electricity. This spell works like Firebolts. However, the caster attempts additional skill checks that turn, trying to use Wrestle to touch each target within arms' reach. Damage bypasses armor and is applied directly to the stamina of targets who both failed their avoidance check and were unlucky as the caster reached towards them.

Frost Chill - Freezing cold assault the targets. An avoidance check using the Wrestle skill allows unwilling targets to resist. This spell causes only half the usual damage (rounded down). However, no targets gain any benefit from cover, and its damage bypasses armor.

Examples of Direct Damage Spell Stacks

runeblock example stack

A stack with one yellow effect block above three blue blocks and below stacked blue blocks allows the caster to do 2 points of direct damage along three thin paths, with an easy avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 1, so it could be used by a character wearing soft or boiled leather armor.

This stack has a stamina risk of 2.

runeblock example stack

A stack with one yellow effect block above a yellow blocks and below a yellow block topped by a blue block allows the caster to do 2 points of direct damage to all creatures in a circular area, with a tough avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 3, so it could only be used by an unarmored character.

This stack has a stamina risk of 6. If the caster fails the Runeblockery skill check, he or she will be knocked out by the mental effort!

runeblock example stack

A stack with one yellow effect block above six green blocks and below a stack of two yellow blocks allows the caster to do 6 points of direct damage to six specific creatures, with a tough avoidance check.

This stack has a trickiness rating of 3, so it could only be used by an unarmored character.

This stack has a stamina risk of 6. With most yellow effect blocks this spell will create a "one of us is about to be defeated" situation.

Economic Rules

The sample setting of Spyragia uses two types of coins. Most common is a silver coin that weighs 2.5 grams. Merchants and nobles also use a gold coin that weighs 5 grams and is worth 40 silver coins.

Gems are also used for trade. Jewelcutting has not yet been invented in Spyragia, so all traded gems are nicely polished cabochons (and pearls). The standardized weight is 24 carats. Most gems weight less, and have proportionately less value.

Without using the Bargain skill, a PC can sell items for about half their retail cost.

Impact Silver Coins Examples
0 2 wool belt pouch, arrow
1 10 cheap boots, wax candle
2 20 linen tunic, pick axe
3 80 short bow, cast iron pot
4 160 longbow, wool clothing
5 400 nice horse, one-handed sword, anvil
6 1,200 warhorse, chain mail
7 3,200 plate armor, noble's silks
8 8,000 warship, noble's estate

For the sake of simplicity, the costs mundane objects are generalized. Prices are sorted into nine categories called impacts that describe how impactful that purchase would be for a PC in the game. The actual cost of a specific item is usually within 30% of the generalized price for its impact.

An exceptional quality item that provides a bonus of 1 to appropriate skill use costs more: price it using the next higher impact.

Similarly, a low quality item costs less. It might be a shield or bladed weapon lacking durability, with a chance to break after use. Or might might work poorly, penalizing skill ratings by 1. Price those using the next lower impact.

(Historical records do show such dramatic price differences between normal and exceptional swords for knights, and for the swords used by peasants! In Spyragia, golem labor makes coal and metal ores less expensive than otherwise, and magical heat sources explain the early development of cast iron and drawn iron wire.)

The prices listed are for an item's retail price. For crafted goods, the crafter need only pay half that amount as a material cost.

Tangentially, a year in Spyragia has 400 days. Each lunar month has eight 5-day weeks that mark the eight phases of the moon. Ten of these 40-day lunar months make a year.


Impact Zero items cost about 2 silver coins, which is also 120 of a gold coin.

The least skilled laborers earn 2 silver coins in two days. An adventurer visiting any settlement can assuredly find a job with only slight danger to do in exchange for 2 silver coins.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are commonplace and cheap. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of garden produce, flax, hemp, flour, or cheap wine. A few silver coins also buys a day's prepared cheap food, a chicken or gander, a wool belt pouch, a pillow, a tallow candle, an arrow, or a crossbow bolt. This price range can also buy a small tool such as an awl or small hammer. The most commonplace cabochons, such as tourmaline or amber, cost 2 silver coins for a nice 24-carat stone.

Impact One items cost about 10 silver coins, which is also 14 of a gold coin.

The least skilled laborers earn 10 silver coins in two five-day work weeks. An adventurer visiting almost any settlement can probably find a job with some danger in exchange for 10 silver coins.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are commonplace and inexpensive. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of copper, zinc, brass, bronze, sugar, honey, almonds, rice, most spices, or good wine. This price range can buy a day's prepared common food, a goose or ram or wether, nice shoes or cheap boots, or a wax candle. This price range can also buy a medium-sized tool such as a knife, shovel, or hoe. The dullest rare cabochons, such as topaz and citrine, cost 10 silver coins for a nice 24-carat stone.

Impact Two items cost about 20 silver coins, which is also 12 of a gold coin.

The least skilled laborers earn 20 silver coins in four weeks (half a month). An adventurer visiting a large town or city might find a job with significant danger in exchange for 20 silver coins.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are commonplace but getting expensive. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of cast iron, dried tree fruit, milk, or butter. This price range can buy a day's prepared lordly food, a ewe, boar, or billy goat, a hat, a hemp apron, a wool vest or gambeson, a linen tunic, or a quiver. This price range can also buy a large tool such as a pick axe, crowbar, or spinning wheel. Pearls cost 20 silver coins for a nice 24-carat one. Enrolling a child as a crafter's apprentice costs 20 silver coins.

Impact Three items cost about 80 silver coins, which is also 2 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 2 gold coins in two months. An adventurer would need some fame in a large city to find a job with enough danger to pay in gold coins.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are expensive. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of salt, tree fruit, or dried berries. This price range can buy a week's good food for a traveler, a sow or nanny goat, a cart, a nice set of linen clothes, a cheap set of wool clothes, a backpack of waxed linen canvas, a dagger with a leather sheath, a shortbow, or soft leather armor. This price range can also buy well-crafted metal tools such as steel lockpicks or a cast iron casserole pot. Attractive cabochons such as garnets cost 2 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. Enrolling a child as a merchant's apprentice costs 2 gold coins.

Impact Four items cost about 160 silver coins, which is also 4 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 4 gold coins in four months. An adventurer would need fame and luck in a large city to find a job with enough danger to pay 4 gold coins.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are getting rare and too expensive for some people. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of pepper or vivid red carmine dye. This price range can buy a commoner's wedding feast, a cow or ox or poor quality horse, a nice set of wool clothes, a longbow, a knight's shield, or hard leather armor. This price range can also buy very well-crafted tools such as a brass lantern, polished tin mirror, or thick wool blanket. Diamond cabochons cost 4 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. Joining a crafting guild costs 4 gold coins.

Impact Five items cost about 400 silver coins, which is also 10 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 10 gold coins in one year. An adventurer would need to work for nobility to earn 10 gold coins for one assignment.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are rare and too expensive for most people. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of silver or saffron. This price range can buy a merchant's wedding feast, a nice horse, a cart, a fur-lined robe, a chain shirt, a one-handed sword, an anvil, a vise, or a small cottage. Amethyst cabochons cost 10 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. Joining a merchant guild costs 10 gold coins.

Impact Six items cost about 1,200 silver coins, which is also 30 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 30 gold coins in three years. An adventurer would need to work for royalty to earn 30 gold coins for one assignment.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are rare and too expensive for almost all people. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of silk, a common family's annual food budget, a warhorse, a war chariot, a two-handed sword, a brigandine tunic, a suit of lamellar armor, or a craftsman's house. Emerald cabochons cost 30 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. A year's stay (board, instruction, and clothing) at a university costs 30 gold coins.

Impact Seven items cost about 3,200 silver coins, which is also 80 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 80 gold coins in eight years. An adventurer would need to be a royal's right-hand agent to earn 80 gold coins for one assignment.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are rare and too expensive for even some nobles. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of vivid purple shellfish dye, a noble's funeral expenses, a small merchant's ship or large barge, a fancy set of silk clothing, a knight's plate armor, or a merchant's row house. Sapphire cabochons cost 80 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. A year's stay for a noble (board, instruction, and clothing) at the leading university university costs 80 gold coins.

Impact Eight items cost about 8,000 silver coins, which is also 200 gold coins.

The least skilled laborers earn 200 gold coins in twenty years. For almost everyone this seems an amount of money difficult to imagine.

The items that can be purchased in this price range are owned or gifted by royalty. Goods at this price range include a kilogram of gold, the annual cost to feed an entire merchant's estate, a large merchant's ship, a warship, a royal set of clothing, the best plate armor for a noble, or a noble's estate with a courtyard. Ruby cabochons cost 80 gold coins for a nice 24-carat stone. A noblewoman's dowry costs 200 gold coins.


As a rule of thumb, each major chapter in the story should reward the PC with wealth whose impact equals the average of the PC's most important and frequently used skill ratings. This wealth is usually a combination of treasure found while adventuring and a payment from a patron for the successful completion of a job.

This type of treasure is usually not carried by an NPC. It is the treasure pile in the back of Ogre's lair, the treasure chest in the bandit leader's tent, or the magic item found behind a secret door in the ruins of a watchtower.

In addition, each defeated enemy NPC might carry treasure worth the impact one less than that enemy's highest important skill rating.

As with retail prices, the GM should feel free to vary treasure's worth by at least ±30% from the generalized impact price.

For example, consider the treasure from a chapter in the story about dealing with a bandit camp. The PC needed to find the place, rescue a prisoner, and either fight or frighten the bandits so much they no longer bother the nearby town.

First, the main treausre. The PC mostly deals with the bandits using Stealth/Track, Perception, Shoot/Throw, and Melee/Protect. The PC's average of these skills is 4, so this chapter in the story rewards about 160 coins. This might all be in the main treasure chest in the bandit camp, or it might be divided between that treasure chest and what the PC is being paid by the local town to deal with bandits. (The PC also used a bit of Alchemy to prepare some potions in advance, a little Acrobatics during combat, and Wrestle/Disarm to capture one bandit for questioning. But those skills were only used once or twice, so they are not relevant.)

Next we consider the treasure caried by each NPC. The leader of the bandits has a Melee/Protect skill rating of 4. So this bandit's treasure is worth about 80 silver coins, appropriate for Impact 4 − 1 = 3. This treasure could be some recently looted merchant's clothing in good condition, a pouch of coins, and other items of little consequence. Or this treasure could be an exceptional dagger, and the leader has dirty clothing and only carries a few coins.

The leader's second-in-command has a Shoot/Throw and Melee/Protect skills rated 3, and has treasure worth about 20 silver coins, appropriate for Impact 3 − 1 = 2. Or this treasure might be a recently looted quiver in good condition, 10 arrows, a pouch with a few coins, and other items of little consequence.

The bandit flunkies have both Shoot/Throw and Melee/Protect skills rated 2, and have treasure worth about 10 silver coins, appropriate for Impact 2 − 1 = 1. These bandits have worn out and dirty clothes and very used bows, but they carry useful arrows, a few coins, an occasional nice knife, bag of food or bottle of wine.

The children in the bandit camp have a Shoot/Throw skill of 1, and have treasure worth less than 2 silver coins, appropriate for Impact 1 − 1 = 0. Even their arrows are probably not worth claiming as treasure. Some of the children have a bit of food, a usable pouch, a wax candle, or a few coins.

Magic Item Impact

A magic item is a fun piece of equipment with nifty powers.

Some magic items merely provide a bonus to skill use. Others dramatically change a scene and decisively determine how the encounter resolves.

In a fantasy setting a magic item might be a magic potion, flying carpet, or dancing sword. In a science fiction setting a "magic" item might be a nanotech restorative, a personal levitation belt, or an electrified net launcher.

The same rules for pricing and crafting these items can be used whether or not the setting justifies their effects with magic, technology, or some other narrative hand-waving.

Magic items have four factors that determine how much they can impact the world. These are color-coded in their descriptions below, and in the following section with sample magic items. Possibility is pink, area is avacado, convenience is crimson, and affect on victory is violet.

With these rules the GM and Players can design any magic item they can imagine! Simply see how the four factors describe its effect and then total its impact.

Magic items cost as much as other items with the same impact. Remember the guideline for haggling: for most purchases change the price 5% for each point one character's Bargain skill rating exceeds the other's, and for a purchase especially important to the story use a skill contest.

Magic items that people create have a cost per use. Details about range and duration depend on which type of crafting skill is used to create the item, as explained below. As two quick examples, the same effect could have a slightly greater range if made with machinery, but would be much quicker to craft with alchemy.

(In the sample setting of Spyragia, only the Powers create magic items that never run out of uses.)

As always, the crafter of a magic item need only pay half that retail amount for materials. This means that characters who craft their own magic items only spend half as much for the benefts.

Note that a normally priced magic item does one thing. A magic item that does multiple things is equivalent to multiple magic items merged together, and its crafting time and price should be equal to the totals for its components.

For example, a pair of magic glasses might allow the person wearing them to detect poison, or criminals, or Ogres. But if those glasses detected all three things, with separate color-coding for each, then that magic item is clearly doing three things. To be fair, that combination item should be crafted and priced as if it were three different magic items.

Magical Possibility

Add to Impact Possibility
0 inexpensive equipment
1 expensive equipment
2 paid labor
3 mundanely impossibe
1 small bonus (1 more die)
2 big bonus (2 more dice)

The first quality of a magic item is its possibility.

The smallest effects only duplicate what inexpensive mundane equipment can do, but perhaps do it more rapidly or conveniently. These items might be used to quickly kindle a fire, befriend a domestic animal, spin wool into yarn, season firewood, provide a meal's nourishment, etc. Or these items might have an ongoing effect such as radiating as much light as a torch, whistling like the sound of blowing on a blade of grass, obscuring vision like a smoky campfire, or making a room smell like roses. These effects add 0 to the impact.

Other magic items duplicate what expensive mundane equipment can do, but again perhaps more rapidly or conveniently. The magic item heals as well as the best mundane herbs or medicines, heats or cools as well as a stove or block of ice, protects someone as well as the best armor, or makes an area deadly like a spilled vat of boiling oil. Those effects add 1 to the impact.

Other magic items duplicate what not what equipment can do, but what labor could accomplish: lifting, carrying, searching, removing disguises, mimicking noises people make, delivering a message, etc. Again magic can allow these effects more rapidly or conveniently. These effects add 2 to the impact.

Effects that are mundanely impossible are the most dramatic, wondrous, and fun: levitation, flight, invisibility, telekenesis, shared sight, etc. These add 3 to the impact.

A different manner of affecting possibility to to make a tool or weapon easier to use, or have it simply work better than a mundane counterpart. Magic items that provide a small bonus (one more die) add 1 to the impact. Magic items that provide a big bonus (two more dice) add 2 to the impact.

Magical Area

Add to Impact Area
0 no area
1 set up the area
4 immediate area

The second factor that determines impact is the effect's area.

Many effects only affect the character using the magic item, or a single object. These add 0 to the impact. (All alchemy potions and goos are of this category. All musing effects are also of this category.)

Some magic items effect an area, but only after the character using the item personally sets up the area. This could be assembling a device, arming a trap, drawing a magic circle, waiting for a flask's gas cloud to spread, etc. That adds 1 to the impact. (All alchemy flasks are of this category.)

A few, expensive magic items effect an area immediately. That adds 4 to the impact.

The maximum radius of the effect depends upon the type of magic item and the crafter's skill.

Magical Convenience

Add to Impact Convenience
0 not portable, no range
1 portable, delay or touch
3 portable, immediate, range

The third factor that determines impact is the effect's convenience, which is a combination of range, improvisatoinal potential, and speed of use.

The least convenient magic items must be created in advance and are not portable. Their effects have no range. These effects add 0 to the impact. (This category includes traps that must be built in their location.)

Magic items of medium convenience are portable but lack either immediacy or range. Often these must be created in advance at a laboratory, workshop, magic shrine, or other noteworthy location. Perhaps the effect starts immediately but only affects what the item or its user touches. Or perhaps the effect can reach away from the item and its user, but has a delayed start as a glue dries, a gas spreads, a crossbow trap is installed in its new location, a handheld machine warms up, a piece of enchanted artwork is activated with a song or a long chant, etc. These effects add 1 to the impact. (All alchemy items are of this category, as are portable traps.)

The most convenient effects can be created anywhere, have range, and have an effect that begins immediately. Effects like these add 3 to the impact.

Magical Victory

Add to Impact Affect on Victory
0 no damage, or skill dependent
1 special twenty-sided die
2 also special twelve-sided die
2 speed
skill rating acts independently
5 determine victory

The fourth factor that determines impact is how the item effects victory.

Effects that do not involve victory add 0 to the impact.

Some effects can cause damage, but only based upon the same skill use as mundane equipment. These also add 0 to the impact. If someone prefers not to use a bow and arrow but wishes to craft or buy a wand that shoot icicles to the same effect, it is inexpensive to do so.

Some tools or weapons are more dangerous than their mundane counterparts. These allow the user to include a special twenty-sided die in the dice pool. (This is in addition to the usual twenty-sided die potentially provided by a bonus or by success with the Identify/Lore skill.) Use a different color die if possible. If this die succeeds during a skill contest, it causes an extra point of damage. These magic items add 1 to the impact. (If the wand of icicles was more threatening than a mundane bow and arrow, either because it chilled whomever it hit or caused larger wounds, then it would have a higher impact.)

Similarly, some magic items allow the user to also include a special twelve-sided die in the dice pool. These magic items add 2 to the impact.

Items that grant their wielder speed also add 2 to the impact. This effect allows the wielder to go first during each turn of a skill contest.

Some items attack independently, such as traps and turrets. This adds impact equal to the item's skill rating.

The most potent effects decisively win the conflict themselves, and add 5 to the impact.

Tangentially, it is advised that Nine Powers stories do not include "divinations". Many fantasy stories include objects or rituals that predict the future, or in other ways learn what is not normally knowable. Wizards scry with crystal balls, sages read the future in tea leaves, and necromancers make corpses answer questions. Although divination magic can work well in a story we read, it is difficult to do well in a two-person role-playing game. Plots about solving a mysteries or gathering information from an enemy stronghold get ruined by this kind of magic. It makes no sense to limit the kind of adventures the GM and Players can enjoy just because the PC has become highly skilled with magical crafting.

Magic Item Examples

Here are some sample fantasy magic items. Within an adventure most would have more interesting and fun names. But simple names are best for making text searchable.

Impact Zero — 2 silver coins retail price

Fancy Fire Pit (Impact 0 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 0 victory)

This fire pit has some mechanical augmentation. When active, it emits large sparks to help kindle a fire. It is not portable, but it is still an affordable convenience because its 8 hours of active use can be spread out over months or years.

Impact One — 10 silver coins retail price

Energizing Potion (Impact 1 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This potion removes all fatigue from the drinker. It can restore stamina lost due to exertion, such as needing to flee for a long time or to swim in frigid water.

Domestic Animal Friendship Potion (Impact 1 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This potion is given to a domestic animal, often by mixing it in food. For the potion's duration the animal becomes very fond of the person who fed it the potion, as if that person had been a kind and caring pet owner for many years.

Cooking Disk (Impact 1 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This practical device causes items placed on top of it to be heated. The change in temperature is not quick enough to harm a creature mobile enough to move away.

Impact Two — 20 silver coins retail price

Silent Shoe Soles (Impact 2 = 1 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This alchemical goo is spread on the soles of a pair of shoes. It hardens into a material that allows silent steps.

Pressure Plate Dart Trap (Impact 2 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 0 convenience + 1 victory)

This trap is intended to be a warning to scare away burglars. It shoots darts when a pressure plate is triggered. The darts are small, and their attack only has skill rating 1.

Alarm Wire (Impact 2 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

When a creature steps on or across this wire device, a noise happens. Guards set up alarm wires to monitor seldom used doorways, and some adventurers use these devices to sleep more safely in a dungeon. These magical wires are much more difficult to notice than a mundane wire and noise-maker.

Alchemist's Undervest (Impact 2 = 1 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This under-vest has internal pockets lined with hinged metal plates. It is designed to store flasks safely, yet enable smashing one against the body when needed.

Imperishable Sack (Impact 2 = 1 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

Fancy embroidery and colorful drawstrings show this sack is special. When the drawstrings are tied a certain way, the enchantment activates and food within is prevented from spoiling. There is no temperature change, so the food need not be thawed like food stored in a normal icebox.

Linked Earrings (Impact 2 = 1 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

Two pair of enchanted earrings are magically linked. When two people each wear a pair, the enchantment activates a minute after the first time either person says the other's name. Then they can telepathically communicate while in range of each other. The sounds "heard" in the mind are distorted, as when talking across two tin cans linked by a taught wire of the appropriate length.

Minor Weapon Enhancement (Impact 2 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 1 victory)

This is the classic example of a weapon that has a small chance to do a little extra damage each time it hits, because of the special extra twenty-sided die described above in the "victory" section.

Sparkly Searchstone (Impact 2 = 1 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

A ring with a gemstone is enchanted to sparkle with a radiant light after the gemstone is squeezed. The gleams of radience sometimes appear to bend if the wearer is looking for something, as if pointing the way. The effect grants the wearer a small bonus to Perception/Escape and Track.

Tempest Leaves (Impact 2 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 0 victory)

A serving of magical tea leaves that makes a teapot of boiling water release a cloud of steam (as well as a tiny bit of lightning in the teapot). Above the teapot, the steam shapes itself into a clue about the location of a nearby commotion that was created on purpose to cause bother or stress. Most often the steam forms the shape of someone's face or an image of a building. Each serving of tempest leaves only works once for the magical property, but the tea is high quality and can be enjoyed for several infusions. (The only clues revealed are those that could have been learned from spending several hours investigating. The magical tea leaves can sense auras in the neighborhood, but they do not read minds.)

Impact Three — 80 silver coins retail price

Automated Butler (Impact 3 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This primitive robot can fetch and carry.

Acidic Gas Flask (Impact 3 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 1 victory)

The chemicals in this flask react with air after the flask breaks. The gas speads for a minute, then turns into a pink fog that harms to any creature in its area (as if attacking with a skill rating of 1).

Flask of Blinding Cloud (Impact 3 = 1 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

After this flask breaks the area fills with dense, fragrant smoke. After a minute the smoke has become so thick that it interferes with sound as well as sight, smell, and taste. Within the smoke, all ranged perception and combat skill use automatically fails.

Footstep Faker (Impact 3 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

Black market machinists prepare these devices wrapped in thick wool. A minute after being shaken, they begin to flex and crack. This causes taps and creaks that sound remarkably like footsteps. Burglars and spies use footstep devices to distract people. They drop them from the rafters into a shadowy corner, or throw them under or behind furniture. Few guards have enough experience with these items to recognize that the noise is not footsteps.

Linked Gloves (Impact 3 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 3 convenience + 0 victory)

Two pairs of enchanted gloves are magically linked. The wearers activate their magic by flexing the fingers in certain motions. Then the gloves immediately become useful for secretly signaling. While in range, when one pair is used to make intuitive certain gestures, the wearer of the other pair feels gentle taps on the hands in an understandable code.

Major Weapon Enhancement (Impact 3 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 2 victory)

This is the classic example of a weapon that has a notable chance to do more extra damage each time it hits, because of the special extra twelve-sided and twenty-sided dice described above in the "victory" section.

Maleable Mickey (Impact 3 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 2 victory)

This alchemical potion is slipped into a victim's drink. After a minute the drinker becomes more agreeable to any reasonable request he or she hears. (A big bonus to persuation skill checks against the drinker.)

Musing Sensing Miniature Settlement (Impact 3 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 0 victory)

This table-sized replica of a town or city, made with colorful clay, is not portable after being constructed. When the proper phrases are spoken, the buildings on the replica begin to glow if their corresponding actual buildings contains one or more items crafted with musing.

Spy's Glass (Impact 3 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 0 victory)

This mirror, permanently affixed to a wall, can be entered as if it was a doorway. A minute later a temporary, invisible copy of yourself steps out. Your real self is trapped until/unless the copy returns.

Super-Stumbler (Impact 3 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 1 victory)

Guards tasked with protecting an entryway can set up this device to cause anyone crossing the threshold to fall down and bruise their hand or knee (as if attacking with a skill rating of 1). It works like a tripwire, but is not broken by the first person to trigger it.

Treasurehunting Compass (Impact 3 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This compass was made by a pirate to help find his buried treasure. When activated, it points the way to the most valuable other item it has ever touched.

Wellness Zone (Impact 3 = 1 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This noisy device slowly fills the area with ethereal vibrations that make people rested and healthy (healing small wounds and restoring stamina).

Impact Four — 160 silver coins retail price

Anti-Magic Zone (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 1 area + 0 convenience + 0 victory)

No magic will function inside this circle. Some are made by spreading alchemical goo in a circle on the floor. Others are constructed with wires that emanate from a special device. Others are drawn with chalk and artistic symbolism.

Cloud Climbing Crampons (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

These crampons radiate a soft blue glow. When attached to any shoes or boots, the glow intensifies and the wearer can walk on air.

Cummerbund of the Careful Tongue (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

Some nobles use musing to enchant a piece of their young children's clothing to help the children remember their manners while being introduced at parties. If the child is about to make an egregious mistake in etiquette, the piece of clothing constricts slightly as a reminder. The effect provide a big bonus to the Etiquette.

Fair Dueling Enforcer (Impact 4 = 2 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This banner, once unfurled and waved, causes a big penalty to all nearby ranged attacks, whether mundane or magical.

Honest Mirror (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

After a mystic phrase is uttered, this this ornate mirror begins to reflect people's true faces. It is appreciated by guards for its ability to penetrate both mundane and magical disguises, as well as to reveal shapechangers such as Ogres or Therions. It is hated by vain noblewomen who do not want their face seen without its makeup.

Inquisitor's Watch (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

After this watch is wound a special way, the hour hand will point to the closest person telling lies and the minute hand to the closest person telling the truth, while the second hand ticks normally.

Invisibility Potion (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

There are many versions of this potion. Many towns and cities have laws limiting their use, to help prevent crime. Most potions of invisibility also affect what the drinker is wearing. Some cause a limited invisibility that ends if the drinker is touched by sunlight or moonlight, attacks anyone, etc. All invisibility potions provide a big bonus to Sneak skill use.

Liaison's Lantern (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This ornate lantern only sheds light for the person holding its handle.

Purifying Stove (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

An expensive but practical kitchen device is this stove whose machinery will remove from food placed within any parasites and diseases, quickly and without needing to change the food's temperature.

Rocket Boots (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)


Shared Sight Potion (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

This potion is shared by two people or animals. After a minute they can close their eyes and concentrate to see what the other is seeing.

Telepath's Tiara (Impact 4 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

Fancy jewelry that, starting immediately after activation, lets you hear thoughts of anyone with whom you are shaking hands.

Impact Five — 400 silver coins retail price

Pointy Hat of Protection (Impact 5 = 3 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 0 victory)

After activation with a long chant, this pretty pointy hat causes a big penalty to all nearby magical attacks.

Telekenetic Gloves (Impact 5 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 3 convenience + 0 victory)

This pair of gloves allows its wearer to pick up and manipulate objects anywhere in range.

Impact Six — 1,200 silver coins retail price

Glasses of Forced Sharing (Impact 6 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 3 convenience + 0 victory)

After this pair of glasses is activated, you can switch your point of vision as if seeing from any other glass in range (windows, mirrors, glasses).

Targeted Tiny Potion of Sleep Gas (Impact 6 = 0 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 5 victory)

Small vials of sleep gas can be thrown or used as arrowheads. Because they contain such a small amount of chemical, they only cause sleep with a well-placed hit to the face, represented by a successful tough Shoot/Throw attempt.

Deadly Pit Trap (Impact 6 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 0 convenience + 5 victory)

The ultimate trap, falling into this pit causes the intruder to die, impaled on sharp wooden stakes while instantly cooked in deadly scalding steam.

Impact Seven — 3,200 silver coins retail price

Untargeted Flask of Sleep Gas (Impact 6 = 0 possibility + 1 area + 1 convenience + 5 victory)

Breathing more than one breath of the cloud of soothing gas released when this flask breaks puts any creature to sleep. Sometimes these are crafted so the gas is invisible, to capture tresspassers. A Wrestle avoidance check allows creatures to hold their breath and resist the gas that turn.

Impact Eight — 8,000 silver coins retail price

Ultimate Handcuffs (Impact 8 = 2 possibility + 0 area + 1 convenience + 5 victory)

Once these warm up, the person they are put on is paralyzed for their duration.

Evil Portal (Impact 8 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 5 victory)

A doorway that grants terrible power, but only after you lure someone else to touch it and be forever lost into its pocket dimension.

Life Insurance Sarcophagus (Impact 8 = 3 possibility + 0 area + 0 convenience + 5 victory)

An immobile marble sarcophagus with the image of its creator carved in bas relief on the lid. If someone living is inside when that creator dies, the creator's mind replace the other person's.

Non-Crafted Magic Items

What about magic items that are not crafted and priced per use?

The sample setting of Spyragia certainly includes those! They are created by the Powers. You can read about them in the next page of rules.

Those are the items that adventurers go on quests to obtain, that villains use to make people fear them, that nobles plot to steal from each other, and that are special delights to find in a town's magic item store. Those items help make stories happen!

In contrast, the crafting economy is about the PC preparing for an adventure. What should he or she make? Does anyone know the recipe? Does the PC have time to make it? Is it really worth the cost? Must the PC spend double for the retail price because crafting it is beyond their skill?