Category Archives: Campaigns

Finchbox rules

Baseline rules are S&W Complete.

Character Creation

  • All classes in S&W Complete available
  • Theorems & Thaumaturgy classes (elementalist, necromancer, vivimancer) available
  • Clerics renamed Demon Hunters and use the LotFP cleric spells
  • 3d6 six times for ability scores
  • No class ability score requirements
  • No mods (bonus to AC, attack rolls, HP, etc) from ability scores
  • Magic-users use the Dying Earth spells
  • Class HD adjusted: d4 increased to d6, fighter HD is d10
  • No weapon restrictions, weapon damage = class HD
  • Spells learned only on level up (odd: random, even: pick)
  • Spell casting classes begin with 3 spells (no preparation, each may be cast)
  • Modified assassin class (d8 HD, poison-craft rules)
  • Starting background & equipment from Warhammer 1E (roll 1d100) + 1d6 SP

Other Rules

  • Silver standard for XP, prices remain as S&W Complete
  • XP will also be earned for defeating chaotic monsters
  • Save or die at 0 HP (success = unconsciousness)
  • Carrying capacity (equipment slots) = strength score
  • Equipment takes wear when rolling <= quality (default quality = 3)
  • Level limit = 10 (or lower for demi-humans, as per the rulebook)
  • Armor beyond class standards imposes penalties to all physical rolls
  • Enchanted equipment does not grant bonuses to rolls (but deals magic damage)
  • To recover, take a downtime action in a safe place and re-roll all HD.

Physical rolls include attacks, physical ability checks, and physical saving throws.

Encumbrance will be super strict and simple. Yes one torch or one dagger takes a slot (same as a spear or greatsword).

I will likely tweak the stranger classes a bit, so be prepared for that (for example, no dumb shit like rangers getting 2 hit dice at level 1), but I don’t want to clutter up the main list of house rules (which is happily short right now) with that stuff.

Level 1 Demon Hunter Spells

  1. Bless
  2. Command
  3. Cure Light Wounds*
  4. Detect Evil*
  5. Invisibility to Undead*
  6. Protection from Evil*
  7. Purify Food & Drink*
  8. Remove Fear*
  9. Sanctuary
  10. Turn Undead

Check the revised Lamentations rules for descriptions.

S&W Complete revised cover (lifted from here)

S&W Complete revised cover (lifted from here)

  • 2013-12-17 edit: added recovery rule.
  • 2013-12-20 edit: modified cleric spell total, link to assassin class


Lonely Grimmsgate

Codename: Finchbox.

Below is the preliminary background for a sandbox campaign based around only modules written by Matt Finch.

Intended atmosphere is decline and isolation. This is not medieval adventurers looking back to the past and delving Roman ruins for treasure, this is the Romans watching their world disintegrate. Good equipment will be rare and will fall apart as PCs use it (hence the recent posting about equipment deterioration).

The now lonely village of Grimmsgate was once a thriving trading post on the way to a great temple, since fallen into ruin, and now mostly forgotten. After the temple fell, the wizard Mordraas Kor arrived and built his tower, known as the Tower of Mouths.

The wizard’s attitude was one of mostly benign neglect, but the villagers were thankful for his presence, as it seemed to keep other dangers (both monstrous and human) at bay. They did not inquire into the doings of the wizard, who only rarely (and seemingly randomly) appeared in town to proclaim a new, bizarre law (such as no hats after dark) or hire for tasks about which it was forbidden to speak. As such, the town gained a reputation among adventurous folk who would come and wait for the wizard’s tasks.

As the years passed, Mordraas Kor emerged less often. Travellers and merchants also came less frequently, and brought darker news on each visit. Stories of famines, barons being overwhelmed by invasions, or bleeding themselves dry in petty squabbles. But Grimmsgate, at the edge of nowhere, abided, watched over by Mordraas Kor.

Several months ago, however, there was an earthquake seemingly centered on the Tower of Mouths, and neither the wizard nor his minions have been seen since. The villagers are becoming nervous.

Elves of Pahvelorn

Once elves have been discovered, players may opt to create elf characters.


  • Class: magic-user/fighter or magic-user/thief
  • HD as best of either class, but max HD = 6
  • Saves and attack numbers as most favorable of either class
  • Trained in use of medium armor
  • May not use iron or iron-alloy equipment
  • Take an extra point of damage from iron weapons
  • Begin with elf-metal equipment (use standard prices)
  • One fey characteristic
  • Detect magic by taste
  • 2 in 6 search
  • 1 in 6 chance per day of finding an entrance to Faerie in the wilderness
Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Bacchante (source)

Jean-Léon Gérôme, The Bacchante (source)

Elves are inherently magical. As such, they advance as magic-user and another class, either fighter or thief (decide at character creation). XP earned is divided evenly between the two classes. Effective HD is that of the greater of either class, but never rises above 6. Thus, elves progress more slowly, but also accumulate the benefits of two classes. Whatever power it is that grants clerics their spells refuses to treat with elves, and so elves may not be clerics. Elves are hindered by protection from evil effects, and detect as magical and chaotic.

Unlike humans, all elves are magic-users, though they cast spells intuitively rather than following long study. Human magical texts, be they grimoires, spell books, or scrolls, are incomprehensible to elves. Elf spells are determined randomly using the druid spell list on page 17 of Supplement III: Eldritch Wizardry whenever an elf gains another spell slot. For example, an elf that can cast three first level spells will have three first level spells to choose from and can cast them in any combination that adds up to three uses. Faerie fire is replaced by elf-light, which all elves get as a bonus spell at first level. Further bonus spells are gained at third magic-user level (levitation) and fifth magic-user level (invisibility). Elves that have cast all their spells are out of magic and must return to Faerie before any more spells may be cast.

Elves that stay too long in the mortal realm slowly lose their ties to Faerie, forget their enchantments, and become human. At the end of every month spent in the mortal realm without returning to Faerie, elves must save versus mortality. A failure means they lose a magic-user level. Elves that reach level zero in the magic-user class lose their enchantment and become mortal. It is assumed that elves can find a way back to Faerie as a downtime action in most areas. When exploring a wilderness hex, elves have a 1 in 6 chance per day of finding a shadowed glade or other location that exists in both realms simultaneously.

Though elves seemingly live forever unless killed in the mortal realm, their memories become strange and disjointed over time. Elves only gain experience points for treasure spent on artistic works, which is a form of memory creation.

Humans, especially magic-users, hunt elves for their essence, which is sorcery fuel, intoxicant, and the rarest of spices. Elves visiting mortal lands usually disguise themselves to avoid this danger. Legend also holds that elves kidnap human children. This is true, though more commonly practiced by elves of the Unseelie Court, who believe that the mortal realms sap the magic of Faerie and thus seek to annex the mortal realms to Faerie. The Unseelie also sometimes plant changelings as sleeper agents.


Level 1 elf spell. As per standard light spell, though the illumination is strange and lurid. Hidden elf signs are revealed with elf-light, and the power of elf-metal equipment is enhanced. Elf-light is dispelled by sunlight and painful to undead.

Fey Characteristics

Most elves have a distinguishing feature. During character creation, roll or pick.

  1. Devil horns
  2. Pointed ears
  3. Solid black eyes
  4. Skin iridescent under moonlight
  5. Genderless
  6. Antennas
  7. Snake tongue
  8. Antelope horns
  9. Tiger striped skin
  10. Casts no shadow
  11. Fangs
  12. Cat ears
  13. Culture small, blooming plants by touch
  14. Antlers
  15. Small mouths in palms which can sense extra tastes
  16. Skin transparent under moonlight
  17. Deer ears
  18. Multiple pupils, clustered together within the iris
  19. Culture dimly glowing fungi by touch
  20. Cloven hoofs

Elf Metal Equipment

Elf-metal rots in daylight. Items of this strange metal gain a notch at the end of any day during which they were exposed to sunlight. In moonlight or elf-light, elf-metal weapons are +1 to attack and inflict magical damage. Elf-metal weapons can only rarely be found outside of Faerie.


A weapon with 6 notches is ruined. System based on this thing from Logan. Elf-metal equipment may be repaired, but only in Faerie.

Some of this material is adapted from a previous post of mine on my old blog: Another Approach to Races.

Pahvelorn initiative

Back in June, I discussed potential rules for what happens when magic-users wear armor. I ended up settling on a d6-based individual initiative system, which makes armor increase the chances of spells being disturbed by penalizing initiative. I have been using this for the past three or four months now, and it has worked out well, though we still sometimes forget to enforce the declare spells step. From here on out though: if the initiative die has been thrown, but no spell has been declared, no spell will be cast! This is, of course, true for NPCs as well.

The procedure is as follows.

  1. Declare any spells
  2. Each player rolls 1d6 (including the referee)
  3. Subtract 1 for a dexterity of 13+
  4. Add armor penalty (see below)
  5. Referee counts up (so lower is better), and players act in turn
  • Armor category: heavy (plate) = 3, medium (chain) = 2, light (leather) = 1
  • Armor skill: fighter = 3, cleric = 2, thief = 1, magic-user = 0
  • Armor penalty = armor category – armor skill, minimum 0

That is a complicated way of saying that if you are wearing more armor than your class uses normally, you take an initiative penalty equal to the difference.

Magic-users or clerics casting a spell must chant and gesture, and are thus natural targets. If the character is disturbed before the spell resolves, the spell is interrupted, and a saving throw must be made or the spell is lost.

All retainers (or NPCs being controlled by a player) act on that player’s initiative number, and most of the time all hostiles act on the referee’s initiative number (though occasionally the referee may use multiple initiative dice for different groups of NPCs).

Armor penalty also applies to physical ability checks, physical saving throws, thief abilities, and other similar rolls. For example, even outside of combat, a magic-user wearing heavy armor will take a -3 penalty to attack rolls, strength checks, saving throws versus dragon breath, and so forth.

If a thief “wins initiative” (that is, acts before all hostiles), the option to hide in shadows while in melee is available (requiring the standard thief skill check). This allows thieves to then either retreat without chance of pursuit or take actions in future rounds with surprise (including backstabs). Thieves may always attempt to hide in shadows when not in melee.

Any character that has not yet taken a turn and is not casting a spell may attempt to intercept an attack directed at another character, as long as the action makes sense in terms of fictional positioning. Fighters may attempt one intercept per round without sacrificing their standard action. Retainers that have been directed to defend may need to pass a morale check before they will attempt an intercept, depending on the situation. Succeeding in an intercept attempt requires making an attack roll and hitting a better AC than the attacker (this is essentially a contested attack roll).

The formal hide in shadows rule is new. The intercept rule has been active for a while, but is one that we tend to forget about. It is worth remembering though, because it makes fighters and hired bodyguards more useful.

Echo of Fitzwalter

Echo of Fitzwalter

Echo of Fitzwalter (personal sketch)


  • +1 to hit, bolts fired from it inflict magical damage
  • Cumulative damage bonus of +1 per hit, max +6, resets after combat

This arbalest is said to have once been a standard light crossbow, of wood and steel, before it was taken into the Vaults of Pahvelorn during the time of the Order of Gavin. It was wielded by the adventurer Fitzwalter, warder of Eraria the Sorceress. Fitzwalter fell defending his mistress, but the energy released by his heroism in that cursed place bound something forever into the weapon, perhaps the soul of the fallen warrior or maybe the shades haunting that place. The crossbow’s wood was warped to dark ebony, the steel of the bow twisted into an amalgam of bone, and the tip became a grinning skull. The weapon is chill to the touch. When loaded, shadow seems to bleed from the aperture, which appears like dark, wispy drool from the skull’s mouth.

The Echo of Fitzwalter is a light crossbow +1 to hit that charges bolts with dark energy (counts as magical damage). Each time it inflicts damage during combat, it gains a cumulative damage bonus of +1. So, the first shot that hits does 1d6 damage, the second 1d6 +1, the third 1d6 +2, and so forth, up to +6. This damage bonus resets following combat.

Light crossbows may be loaded and fired in the same round, but don’t have a bonus against armor. (That is, they follow my crossbow rules from before the weapon properties post.)

I have so far avoided “plus” style magic weapons in my ongoing Vaults of Pahvelorn campaign, mostly out of a desire to rein in numerical inflation. However, Green Devil Face 5 (also available from RPGNow) has d30 critical hit and fumble tables that we have been using. Last session, this result was rolled:

18. If this attack is the killing blow, your weapon acquires a permanent +1 bonus to hit.

Further, it was indeed the killing blow. This just seemed like a golden opportunity to break my rule. So this is the first +1 Pahvelorn weapon: a bound spirit fused to a crossbow and sealed with the death of a retainer.

A report about the session that spawned the Echo can be found at Dungeon of Signs.

Shamans of Pahvelorn

In addition to the ancient mystery religion of the lost True Empire (to which traditional clerics belong), numerous spirits and powers are worshipped by the folk in the lands around Pahvelorn. Here is one example of a shaman class, which calls on Legatus Rattus, servant to the Mother of Thousands, rat goddess often worshipped by the poor and oppressed.

Shaman: HD, combat, armor, advancement as cleric. Prime requisite: charisma.

Proper obeisance is required each morning. Doing this lets a spirt (such as the mother or one of her high ranking servants) into you and makes the spirit’s spells available. While you have the spirit in you, you detect as chaotic. You turn as an undead of your own HD, but a successful turn drives the spirit out rather than causing fear or anything else (you must find a sanctuary and perform the proper rites, as in the morning).

Chant in High Murine (which sounds high pitched but echoey, like thousands of rats chanting in a draughty hall) and roll 1d20 and add level to activate a power. Beat the target by 5 and get some extra effects. Miss by 10 or more and there will be consequences. 1 is always a failure, 20 is always a success. Spells must be maintained after cast (meaning you can’t have more than one spell active at once, but you can take other actions after the initial casting).

Target numbers proceed spell descriptions.

Spirit: Legatus Rattus

  • 11 Speak with Rats: self explanatory.
  • 12 Sticky Feet: climb rough vertical surfaces at half movement, no chance of falling (save might be required if you take an arrow or something).
  • 13 Psychic Swarm: target is afflicted by a swarm of shadowy psychic rats swarming over them. -2 penalties to AC, saves, and attack. Further, save versus magic or must use actions to either attempt to flee or claw madly at the illusionary rats.
  • 13 Fever Bite: grow long ratlike incisors for one encounter/exploration turn. Hits require a save or the target becomes afflicted by a wasting disease that automatically does 1 HP damage per round. Ineffective against huge creatures or those with more than 6 HD.
  • 14 Hole Spotter: spend a turn and perform a smoke ritual that may reveal hidden hidey-holes. Only hidden things with gaps that smoke could find are discoverable, so some sophisticated secret doors might not be located, even on success. The smoke seems to take the form of thousands of tine, questing rats.
  • 15 Summon Dire Rats: 1d6 semi-corporeal rats materialize. 1/2 HD, 1d3 damage, +1 damage for each hit beyond the first if they gang up on an enemy. Semi-intelligent. Rats disperse following combat or one exploration turn. If slain, they may not be summoned again until the proper rites have been performed (that is, the next day).
  • 20 Summon Legatus Rattus: Miss by 10 here, and the Legatus will likely be hostile.
    HD 10, AC 3, attacks 3, Sv 5, Mv 24/12 (climbing)

Regarding more spells: other spirits can be discovered in play. Then before a session you can pick which you want to invoke. Basically, it is preparing a set of spells as a group rather than one by one.

Barbarians of the ruined colonies

Hercules (source)

Image by John Singer Sargent (source)

Castle Pahvelorn was once the mightiest stronghold on the edge of the western colonial frontier. Before the giants were driven back and Pahvelorn was built, the old kingdoms settled colonies on the coast of the Mirnilask Gulf, which lies to the east of Zorfath and Shem Nabar. Several generations ago, those colonies were overrun by savage warriors that swept down from the southeastern hills. The warriors fought fearlessly, and drove of interlopers from their colonies back to the sea, plundering the wealth of the colonies before retreating to the hills from which they came.

Some of their warriors still venture forth from their clans in the hills. Here is a class for their raiders. Hit dice, saving throws, attack, XP progression, and weapons as fighter. See below regarding armor.

When making a death saving throw in response to being reduced to 0 HP from combat, barbarians roll two dice and take the highest result.

A barbarian gains a rage point when the character:

  • Scores a hit on an enemy in combat
  • Takes damage during combat
  • Rolls a natural 20 on an attack roll
  • Slays an enemy in combat

These conditions are cumulative, so slaying an enemy with a natural attack roll of 20 gains 3 rage points.

Rage points may be spent to:

  • Add +1 to an attack roll
  • Add +1 to a damage roll
  • Add +1 to a saving throw
  • Improve AC by 1 (no better than 2 [17])
  • Improve a nearby companion’s AC by 1 (no better than 2 [17])
  • Save to shrug off damage from a mundane missile
  • Decrease damage taken by 1

Points must be spent for bonuses before dice are rolled. At the end of combat, all rage points are lost. AC improvements last until the end of combat. Companion AC improvements are only active when the barbarian is nearby. No more than six rage points can be spent at once on any given type of bonus.

Barbarians must make a successful saving throw (use most favorable number) to disengage from combat (this save is penalized by the current number of rage points).

Barbarians are deeply suspicious of the dark arts, and gain no rage points if in possession of enchanted objects that are not fetishes from their own homeland. This suspicion is connected to ideas of personal, spiritual purity and does not extend to travelling companions (though barbarians may be contemptuous of the unclean and strange habits of the civilized).

Additionally, no rage points are gained if the barbarian is wearing any armor (though shields are allowed). If not wearing armor, barbarians gain a bonus to AC equal to their HD (for these purposes, treat 1+1 as 2). For example, an unarmored barbarian with 3 HD has an AC of 6 [13].

Barbarians also often have misunderstandings with civilized people, and thus take a -2 reaction penalty. This includes loyalty and morale checks for civilized retainers (though close associates will come to understand and trust the barbarian over the course of successful adventures). Thanks to those that participated on Google Plus in the discussion about this aspect of the barbarian class.


Lucicrucilest (illustration by Gus L.)

Lucicrucilest (illustration by Gus L.)

Fragment of a dispatch from the Sage Strodastin of Zorfath to High Merchant Thracle.

Also know as chiastons by western mercenaries, crucilests are seemingly magical weapons used by the invaders known as tangles†. The weapon name comes from a heavy crossbar which always occurs near the business end of the weapon, giving an appearance something like a crossbow without string or lever. Speculation: the similarity between the symbol of the Old Empire and this weapon can’t possibly be a coincidence. In some instances, the crossbar curves forward, like horns.

Crucilests discovered so far include:

  • Electrocrucilest: a stocked weapon of approximately the bulk of a heavy crossbow. So named because it seems to discharge a ray of lightning.
    [Range as crossbow, to-hit as normal, 4d6 damage, save for half, may ignite flammables.]
  • Lucicrucilest: similar to the electrocrucilest in appearance, this weapon emits a beam of light as thick around as a clenched fist. The colors and strengths of lucicrucilest emissions seem to vary, and some devices have been seen with complicated crystal arrays at their tips. These crystals are of no mineral that I have so far encountered.
    [Range as crossbow, auto-hit, save versus death ray or die.]
  • Cumulocrucilest: similar in size to the electrocrucilest, this device emits a wide fan of malefic discharge, melting and burning all in its path.
    [Area of effect 45 degree fan, 60′ radius, Xd6 damage, save versus breath weapon for half.]
  • Tridoform Crucilest: a melee weapon, often with three prongs, used to deliver a powerful blast of corruption.
    [Melee range, to-hit as normal, 1d6 damage and save versus death ray or die.]

Forgive the impertinence, Lord, but I have named the devices myself for ease of reference. If you believe that other names might be more appropriate commercially, especially for sale in the north, please let me know your preferences at your earliest convenience.

The ammunition used by these weapons is unknown, and the tinkers we have hired to examine (and disassemble, in one case, with disastrous consequences) have not been able to make heads or tails of their workings. Crystals embedded in the device seem to reflect the shots remaining.

My Lord will be pleased to note that the few examples of these foreign artifacts that have come into stock at the Zorfath branch of the Grand Emporium have generated princely profits.

† The etymology of this word is unclear, but I have reason to believe that it originated with the soldiers of fortune known as The Company of Gavin, previously based here in Zorfath, but now in unknown locations. One of my apprentices, however, believes the term is derogatory, and derived from mercenaries operating in the service of Efulziton Necromanticus in the west.

Note to Pahvelorn players: the tangle weapons you have found so far are a lucicrucilest and tridoform crucilest (these were the first found early on in the Vaults) and a 4d6 cumulocrucilest (which devastated the party in the northwestern cliff barrows).

Necrology: Drona

During the previous Vaults of Pahvelorn session (February 3), there was another PC death. In fact, it came perilously close to a TPK. The setup was as follows: there were two chambers, one external (pictured to the south in the map) and one internal. The external room was a makeshift shrine to demonic invaders and was guarded by several fanatical savage worshippers and a priest dressed in demon-lookalike armor. These foes were dispatched quickly but without great stealth.

Following that fight, the party went through the door leading to the inner chamber, and encountered a black armored demon warrior (actually, these creatures have armor as skin, much like an exoskeleton). He was positioned behind a heavy table on the northern side of the room.

Both sides were aware of the other, so there was no need to check for surprise. We went directly to initiative, which the black armored demon warrior won. I asked the players where all the PCs were to confirm that no characters had stayed behind in the previous room, and they verified that everyone was in the 10′ x 20′ hallway leading to the chamber. The demon warrior then discharged an energy weapon, which was 4d6 area effect damage (save versus spells for half).

All PCs and retainers were in the weapon’s area of effect. The damage dice came up 16 in total, so even those that made the save still took 8 damage. The PC Drona (fighter 3) was killed, as were two retainers (Eraria’s apprentice Genk and Drona’s retainer Gillim). Given that this was combat damage that reduced them to 0 HP, the various characters also got the standard death saving throw that I use to determine if 0 HP means true death or just unconsciousness, and those three mentioned above all failed that save as well (if I recall correctly, Eraria and a few other characters were also reduced to 0 HP, but made their death saving throw and so were successfully revived after the combat).

Session as recounted by the player of Drona:

The party returns to the barrow, which looks to have been fortified since their last visit. Tarvis and Darulin foolishly step into a snare trap, and the party are ambushed in the entry way. They make quick work of the savages that attack them, and charm their leader. The party makes their way into the barrow, led by the charmed man. Entering the second level, the party is ambushed once more. They make short work of the fellows and continue South. Beyond that path leads to a room full of more savages. A sleep spell gets rid of most of the group, and Fitzwalter gets rid of their leader. Drona and Gillum run the rest of the sleeping fellows through. Beyond the final door is a short corridor leading into a small room. At a desk sits a demon, similar to tangle. He shoots the party with a crazy magical crossbow. DEAD!

Final thoughts. Engaging in a frontal assault robbed the party of potential surprise. Also, approaching in a tight formation exposed everyone to the demon’s weapon.

RIP Drona, fighter 3 (picture by Gus L)

Necrology: Satyavati

Tomb/prison of Ibarkaju

It seems like analyzing player character deaths might be a good way to discuss the issues of risk and fairness, so I am going to make this a regular feature. This exercise is not intended to be a celebration of lethality or a collection of macabre DM trophies. Instead, I want to think about the interplay between clues, hazards, and player decision-making. Basically, I’m interested in reflecting on the actual play experience of specific character deaths because I think they can help inform scenario design. Rulings required to adjudicate will also be noted.

The first entry is a relatively straightforward death. The magic-user Satyavati was slain by animated statues that were guarding the tomb or prison of an ancient wizard. This is how the session went down. The party entered a 50′ x 30′ hexagonal chamber that had pillars carved in the form of stately warriors running down the room. At the north end was a plain stone slab upon which was lain a perfectly preserved body in loin cloth. There was writing all over the body and slab recounting wizardly crimes. The figure on the slab was holding a stone tablet over his chest that was inscribed with magical symbols.

Satyavati cast read magic on the tablet, and it turned out to be the equivalent of a scroll of protection from evil, which he cast. As the characters were investigating the area around the body, two of the columns animated, stepped down from their pedestals, and attacked. There were several rounds of combat (one of the PCs needed to make a save against paralysis, which was successful; though the players didn’t know what it was for, it still scared them and they retreated).

As they moved away from the slab, the statues disengaged and resumed their pedestal positions. Safely at the south end of the room, the characters regrouped. Someone suggested that Satyavati approach and continue to investigate since he still had protection from evil active and had not been attacked previously. They didn’t know whether or not it would ward away the statues, but thought that it would be worth a shot. As he approached, the statues animated and attacked again. Satyavati lost initiative, and was reduced to 0 HP by the attacks. He then needed to make a save versus death (we don’t play with auto death at 0 or negative HP, but instead use a saving throw) which was automatically failed due to a previous effect (which the player knew about).

Ramanan (the player of Satyavati) described the session thusly:

The party ventures off to the glass forest of Pahvelorn. They investigate the statue of St. Azedemar, the disgraced cleric / wizard killer. They move on toward the Ziggurats, and come across some 6-legged moles, who are being eaten by a werid fury centepede snake. A battle ensues, but the party of Gavin are victorious. Entering the Ziggurat, a staircase leads down to a submerged chamber. The party manages to cross the first room they find, despite a giant ooze that makes their life difficult. The second room contains an altar, which the party decides to muck around with–twice: Satyvati didn’t survive the second time. My next saving throw is a automatic fail. DEAD!

Referee note: the chamber with the ooze was partially flooded, not totally submerged. The “automatic fail” saving throw was the result of a “natural 1s” LotFP table (from Green Devil Face 5) that we have been using, the text of which is:

7. Your next saving throw attempt automatically fails.

Yes, this effect is dissociated, but we have been having lots of fun with this table.
Were any rulings required? I needed to decide if animated statues counted as evil for the purposes of the protection from evil spell. This is something that I had already determined beforehand, though the players did not know the mechanics. Undead and summoned creatures are “evil” but constructs are not unless they are possessed by a spirit. I’m in favor of things like this being mysterious and requiring experimentation and discovery. The danger was clear here, and the choice to potentially reengage with the statues was made explicitly. Further, there were a number of second chances involved (initiative, statue attack & damage rolls), so chance could have still saved the intrepid magic-user.

RIP Satyavati, magic-user 2 (picture by Gus L)