Monday, March 27, 2023

The Clerics of Caiyagi

One of the gaming podcasts that I listen to is the Nerd’s RPG Variety Cast by someone called “The Other Jason.” On his podcast, March has been “Martial arts March.” He was running a contest for listeners to call in and tell their favourite martial arts property, and a gaming idea inspired by that property. This post is an extended and updated version of my 90-second phone call entry.

My Favourite Martial Arts Properties

My initial thought to the contest was “well, that leaves me out. I don’t like martial arts movies.” But then I thought about it, and it dawned on me that there were three properties that I was a fan of. For some reason I don’t think of them as martial arts, but there’s no denying that they are:

  1. 1972’s Kung Fu television series.
  2. 1984’s The Karate Kid motion picture.
  3. 1994’s The Next Karate Kid motion picture.

Their Influence on my Gaming

The second part of the contest was to say a way that the properties influenced my gaming. To be honest, they hadn’t, but that would make for a boring contest entry. So I thought about what they had in common. The answer was that both Kung Fu’s Caine and Mr Miayagi from last century’s Karate Kid movies were pacifist heroes. So it occurred to me to make a pacifist character class for OSR style games.

While the monk might seem like the obvious class to serve as the base for this new class, I never felt the monk truly fit into my fantasy world. So I decided that this new class would really be a type of cleric. The Clerics of the God of Peace, Caiyagi. (See what I did there?)


These are clerics, just like any other, except they have taken the following vows:

  1. Never attack anyone (though see “Special Abilities” below). Turning Undead is not considered an attack.
  2. Never pursue the fleeing.
  3. Never refuse mercy to your enemy.
  4. Defend the innocent whenever possible.

Breaking a vow will result in the loss of all clerical abilities and all special abilities

Special Abilities

In addition to all the normal clerical abilities, Clerics of Caiyagi can do the following:

  1. Defense Rolls: If an opponent makes a successful attack, the cleric is allowed a saving throw to avoid the attack completely. Depending on the game/edition this could be a save vs Petrification, a reflex save, or a Dex save. Because this is a divine ability, some DMs may decide to allow the cleric to use his Wisdom bonus instead of Dex.
  2. Counter-attacks: If an melee opponent makes an attack roll and misses, the cleric can immediately make a counter attack. This is the only circumstance in which a Cleric of Caiyagi is allowed to make an attack. There is no limit to how many times per round this can happen, so if two different opponents attack and miss in the same round, the cleric can make counter attacks for each. If your game/edition allows monsters to have multiple attacks per round, the cleric is allowed a counter-attack for every attack that misses.


I thought that this would make for an interesting character, though maybe it’s best suited as an NPC.

That’s all for this time. I know I haven’t posted in a while. The podcast has been sucking up all my free “creative time.” I haven’t even been getting any work done on Lucky 7. When I started the podcast I didn’t realize how much time went into the edit. It’s not bad on the episodes I record alone, but when I have a guest host the conversations seems to go on longer and go off track more frequently, which leads to a lot more editing.

I’m going to try to get back to blogging regularly though. Maybe semi-weekly instead of weekly.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Lucky 7: Complicating Weapons & Armor

When James and I record the first episode of the podcast, we talked about how weapon and armor interact. That made me think of a way I could add some crunch to the Lucky 7 rules. Of course, L7 is supposed to be low crunch, so this would be an optional rule.

Damage Types

The current version of D&D (5E) introduced common damage types from weapons: Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning.

This might be new for D&D, but as far back as 1985 GURPS used cutting, impaling, and crushing. Same things, different names.

Going back a couple more years, it looks like the Palladium system used Cut, Chop, Thrust, and Impact.

What if we do the same thing for L7? We rate each weapon for each of those categories, then we do the same with the Armor.

The Weapons

Name Cut Crush Impale Description
Axe, Great 6 3 0 9 out of 10 Minotaurs who use axes, use Great axes. Big, double headed axes. Two handed.
Axe, Hand 5 2 0
Axe, Long 6 3 0 A 4.5-foot pole with a big axe head. Historically used by the Vikings. Weighs about 5 pounds. Requires 2-hands to use.
Axe, Small 4 2 0 A hatchet
Axe, Throwing 5 2 0
Bastard Sword (1 hand) 4 2 0
Bastard Sword (2 hands) 5 3 0
Blackjack 0 2 0
Brass Knuckles 0 2 0
Broadsword 4 2 2 The classic sword of history and fantasy. About 2.5 feet long and weighs in at 5 pounds.
Claymore 6 3 2
Club 0 4 0 A heavy piece of wood swung at the opponent. Used one handed.
Dagger See Bodkin or Knife, Large.
Fist 0 1 0 Used for punching. Rather handy because it can almost never be dropped.
Flail 0 6 0
Gladius 3 2 1 The classic Roman short sword. Two feet long and about 1.75 pounds.
Javelin 1 3 4
Knife, large 2 0 2
Knife, Small 1 0 2 Small stabbing weapon
Longsword See broadsword.
Mace 0 5 0 About 2.5 feet long, and weighing in at about 4.5 pounds, this crushing weapon is a fantasy favorite.
Mace, Small 0 4 0
Maul 0 6 0 It’s not a war hammer, it’s a war-sledgehammer.
Morningstar 0 5 2 A mace with spikes on the smashing bit.
Pick 0 2 6
Quarterstaff 0 4 0 A six-foot long pole without a stabby bit on the end. Can be swung, though, which is more effective than poking. Requires 2 hands to use.
Scythe 4 2 2 A spear with a curved, cutting blade at the end. Used two handed. Don’t throw it.
Spear (1 hand) 2 2 5 A 5 foot long pole with a sharp stabby bit on the end.
Spear (2 hands) 2 2 6
Sword, Broad See broadsword.
Sword, short See Gladius
Sword, Two-Handed See Claymore.
Warhammer 0 5 3 A maul with a spike. Smash with one side, stab with the other.

The Armor

Name Cut Crush Impale Description
Shield This is the basic hand-held shield; this is the only armor that can be used in conjunction with other armor. Remember that using a shield in conjunction with a weapon requires an AoE for the appropriate fighting style, or the user will suffer a -3 non-expertise penalty.
Quilted 1 1 0 This is armor made of of cloth and filled with fibers to cushion the effects of weapons.
Leather 2 1 1 The is a thinner version of quilted armor, with a hard leather facing designed to deflect blows.
Ring 3 1 2 This is leather armor with metal rings sewn to it in order to decrease the chance of a sword or spear poking through it.
Scale 3 2 3 This is leather armor with a bunch of metal plates sewn to it. The metal plates often resemble the scale of a fish. It provides more metal coverage than rings, with a corresponding increase in weight.
Chain 4 2 2 A series of interlocking metal rings that forms a metal cloth, that’s worn over the quilted armor. Fairly weighty, but flexible.
Segmentata 4 3 3 A favorite of the Roman empire. They did away with the leather altogether and had metal strips (or bands) running across the width of the body. The overlapping strips (or bands) still allowed free movement.
Breastplate, bronze 5 4 5 This armor goes as far back as the Greeks. Amazingly heavy, and rigidly uncomfortable.


I still need to figure out how to handle shields.

I also need to add some more snarky descriptions.

I also notice I left off the ranged weapons.

What do you think? Do you like the idea? Do you disagree with any or my ratings?

Monday, October 17, 2022

Searching for My Ideal D&D Retro-Clone

There are a ton of Dungeons & Dragons retro-clones. So many that there isn't a complete listing anywhere. The best listing I've seen is the one at Taxidermic Owlbear, though I believe that list is now out of date. The second best listing is the one at Tenkar's Tavern.

Anyway, I certainly have not had enough time to read every ruleset out there, but I've read a lot. The one I like the best is White Box Fantastic Medieval Adventure Game, but it's still not an exact match for my preferences.

Maybe one of my readers knows of a better match for me.

Here are my preferences:

  • Armor Class should be Ascending.
  • Limited number of classes: Fighter, Magic-User, and Cleric (like OD&D). Druid is ok. I can barely tolerate Thief. Rangers, Paladins, and Bards are unacceptable. 
  • Race as class. Allowing all races to be thieves is acceptable.
  • There should be some serious disadvantages for being non-human. The disadvantage should be so severe that most players would rather play a human. 
  • Three alignments  (like OD&D). Or none.
  • Savings throws based on attributes. Second preference is the 3E categories. Third preference is a single save. Recreations of the original D&D savings throw category is unacceptable.
  • d6 based Hit Dice is preferred (like OD&D).
  • All hits should do 1d6 (like OD&D).
  • Most monsters get only 1 attack per round (like OD&D).

The problem with my preferences is clear: I want something that emulates OD&D, except where I don't want it to. Most retro-clones are written to emulate a specific version.

So what retro-clone would you recommend for me? How do you preferences differ from mine?

Sunday, October 9, 2022

OSR October: Is D&D the only valid OSR Game?

A bunch of bloggers and podcasters have decided to dedicate October to the OSR. I'm not sure who started the idea, but I thought I'd play along. Some of that group seems that we should spend this month only promoting OSR game products.  I reject that notion. I feel that any positive presentation of the OSR that serves to get people interested in the older form of play is a good thing.

Another popular notion that I reject is that the OSR is exclusive to 20th Century editions of D&D and the retro-clones. This seems silly and limiting to me. In A Quick Primer for Old School Gaming [PDF], Matt Finch lays out the four cornerstones of OSR play:

  • Rulings, not Rules
  • Player Skill, not Character Abilities
  • Heroic, not Superhero
  • Forget "Game Balance"

I agree with all of those points (to a degree). The important thing here is that all of these points refer to a style of play and not a particular rules set. While modern rules will often get in the way of these goals, D&D wasn't the only game in the 1970's to rely on this playstyle.

Tunnels & Trolls came out in 1975 and should easily be considered an OSR game. It doesn't need a retro-clone because they already sell the old versions for a song!

Want to play in the OSR style in space? Sure there's White Star: White Box Science Fiction Roleplaying but that's just the D&D rules with spacesuits. Why not just play classic Traveller or its retro-clone?

There is more to the OSR than just D&D.

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

Podcast Episode 3: Alignment Systems

This is the first episode of OSR October. We talk about the three different alignment systems used in D&D's history, and a little about alignments in general. Surprisingly, there's a lot that we agree on in this episode!

You can listen to the episode at, or using the embedded player right here:

Sunday, October 2, 2022

Turn West at the Squirrels

A while ago I talked about how sailors would navigate in my Moana campaign. If you don't want to read that post, the short version is that they would look through the clear water and use the landmarks on the sea floor to navigate.

James said, "They would use the fish, too."

That seems wrong to me.  That's like saying "You want to go to the mall? Sure... Just drive north on this road until you see squirrels, then turn west. You can't miss it!"

It sounds crazy to me.  What am I missing?

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Podcast Episode 2: Character Backgrounds.

The newest episode of the podcast went live, and I can now embed it into the blog. So if you want to list, just click this button:

In this episode, we discuss character backgrounds. I like them short and emergent, while James is in favor of slightly longer and more defined ones.

Apparently James likes longer episodes, too, because this one is 21 minutes long.