Monthly Archives: April 2021

OSR 2d6 Checks for more than Reactions

I propose using 2d6 (+possible ability modifier – possible difficulty) the resolve situations that can not just be role played in OSR games (where ability modifiers are -3 to +3).

General
-4: Failure, with extra negative consequences
-5-6: Failure
7: Partial success or failure with some unexpected twist
8-9: Success
10+: Success, with some extra good outcome

Bluff
-4: Not believed, hostile reaction or plays along
5-6: Not impressed
7: Bluff is not called, but reaction is unexpected (and not in a very good way)
8-9: Bluff is believed
10+: Bluff is believed and target is extra helpful

Breach or Destroy
-4: No success, exhausted some resources (equipment or possibly HP)
5-6: No success
7: Partial success, some malfunction or unexpected side effect
8-9: Success
10+: Success with style or some advantage

Climbing, Swimming
-4: Falling, Drowning
5-6: Did not start, had to go back if previously made progress
7: Some progress
8-9: Reached goal
10+: Reached goal in style or with some advantage

Fish, Hunt & Gather Food
-4: Found nothing eatable, exhausted some resources (possibly eating something bad)
5-6: Found next to nothing
7: Found one days ration
8-9: Found 1d4+1 days rations
10+: Found 2d4 days rations

Jumping
-4: Fall
5-6: Hesitate (on retry, -7 is Fall)
7: Partial success if possible, otherwise hesitate (on retry, -6 is Fall)
8-9: Success
10+: Success with style or with some advantage

Luck (like setting an ambush or a bait)
-4: Things turn out very much the opposite of the desired outcome
5-6: The desired thing does not happen
7: Be careful what you ask, you just might get it
8-9: The desired thing happens
10+: Things turn out remarkably well the way it was supposed to

Make item or mechanism
-4: It fails later, or loss of resources/injury immediately
5-6: No success
7: Not quite fit for purpose, 50% chance of malfunction or requires some support
8-9: Success
10: Unexpectedly good result

Make Shelter
-4: Shelter fails later on, loss of resources
5-6: Inadequate, possible loss of resources if used
7: Decent shelter if something is paid/used/wasted
8-9: Good shelter
10+: Shelter with some benefit

Perform
-4: Failure, making a fool of oneself, possible injury
5-6: No one is impressed
7: Audience is undecided or split
8-9: Good performance
10+: Surprisingly impressive performance, some advantage follows

Recall Knowledge (Lore, History, Geography)
-4: Remembers incorrectly, sure about oneself
5-6: No memory
7: Recall something relevant but not quite useful
8-9: A good general idea about the topic
10+: Knows significant details

Track
-4: The tracked party is aware of being tracked and can choose to escape or ambush
5-6: Lose track
7: Sudden encounter with tracked party
8-9: Localized tracked party at a distance
10+: Undetected, close enough for ambush (or just observing)

Background

Classic OSR games use 2d6 + CHA modifier for Monster Reaction and Retainer Reaction. There are multiple outcomes, not just success and failure.

OSR games don’t really have skills but sometimes things need to be randomly resolved.

Why not using the 2d6 + ability modifier, and comparing to a table of outcomes, not only for reactions? I see some advantages with this. The multiple outcomes drives the story forward in different/random directions, rather than the open/closed gate mechanism of success/fail skill check. Also, the focus is on what the characters want to do in the story, not what skills the characters may have.

A first nice thing about OSR is that things can play out without rolling dice. This is what we call player skill. But occationally I find it unreasonable as a DM to judge the outcome based on the players description on their actions alone. This is where the second nice thing with OSR comes into play: also the DM can be surprised and needs to adapt and improvise.

Difficulty and Ability

The primary purpose of these Reaction-like checks is to produce random reasonable outcomes in significant situations. If the characters are already good (or bad) enough, or the task is easy (or hard) enough to simply decide the outcome, no dice should be rolled at all. Thus, the default is that the DM and the players do not really have any real insight into the probabilities of different outcomes (it would suffice to roll 1d5 with no modifier).

It is not necessary to add an ability modifier. It is not like it is the right of the player/character to add a strong ability score. DM shuld not consider difficulty much and probably most of the time should not add difficulties. After all, the purpose is to take the story in an unknown direction.

Thieves/Rogues

Thieves (or Rogues) have skills of their own. Those are not to be replaced or made redundant by above rules. If a fighter can climb a wall using these rules the thief probably succeeds automatically, and if the thief needs to roll for his special ability no other class need to even attempt.

Custom Outcomes

Obviously nothing stops you from defining your custom outcomes for a specific situation, in advance or when the situation comes up. Something like:

-7: Sentenced to death by hanging next morning
8: Queen approves (back to prison)
9-10: King approves (back to prison)
11+: Both Queen and King approves (released)

Other options

There are options to rolling 2d6 + ability modifier.

  • 1d6 + modifier (which is seen in B/X for kicking open doors for example): gives very much significance to the ability score and not too many possible outcomes.
  • 1d12 + modifier: I have never seen it but it could work just as well.
  • 1d20 + modifier: gives too little significance to modifier in my opinion, and creates longer more arbitrary intervals of outcomes. Also the natural 1 and 20 are very uncommon and I prefer more variation in results more often.
  • 1d20 under ability value: feels too much like BRP to me.
  • 3d6 under ability score (as for Phantasmal Killer in 1e): Mostly just produces two outcomes and feels overly complicated

So I think 2d6+modifier makes sense, and it is established in old D&D versions (also for Clerics Turn Undead). The BECMI employer reaction table (Rules Cyclopedia, p132) looks like:

2: Resuse, insulted
3-5: Refuse
6-8: Roll again
9-11: Accept
12: Accept, impressed

This scale makes the middle results much more likely and the extreme results less likely than the scale I have proposed above. I think “6-8 roll again” (that will be almost 50% of the cases) is not optimal. The scale I propose leaves more of the options more likely, even when an ability modifier is applied.

If you really prefer 1d20+mod to 2d6+mod, I propose:

-4: Failure, with extra negative consequences
-5-9: Failure
10-11: Partial success or failure with some unexpected twist
12-16: Success
17+: Success, with some extra good outcome

Testing Paul John whisky

First check out my general whisky tasting list.

I got a Paul John whisky tasting kit. There are five whiskies, one is peated, so I will start with the other four, here listed in preference order

  1. Edited
  2. Bold
  3. Classic Select (cask strength)
  4. Brilliance

Brilliance vs Edited
Color: Edited is darker, I would say both are quite pale
Nose: I like brilliance, fresh and malty perhaps with sweet citrus to it. Edited is a different story: leather, oil and dirt, not bad at all, but more challenging.
Mouth: Brilliance tastes very young, a bit raw wood and strange sweetness. Also Edited tastes quite much wood, quite light compared to what I expected after smelling it.
Winner: Very comparable quality, I pick Edited.

Bold vs Classic Select
Color: Classic Select is darker, also after being diluted
Nose: Bold is a bit leather, sweet, quite subtle, somthing perhaps tropical about it. Classic select, at first I was confused but it has a more classic bourbon aroma, with something young/sour about it.
Mouth: Bold taste as it smells, young wood and leather. It has a long lingering woody/metallic taste. Classic select is clearly sour in the mouth (I cant write fresh).
Winner: Bold wins.

Edited vs Bold (for Gold)
Color: Very similar
Nose: Bold is heavier, young wood, not necessarily a good thing. Edited is more classic (scotch). Quite similar.
Mouth: Both tastes decent but quite immature, Edited is the more soft and sophisticated one.
Winner: Edited.

Brilliance vs Classic Select (for Bronze)
Color: Classic Select is darker.
Nose: Brilliance very light, fruity like citrus with something unusual tropical about it. Classic Select more sweet, and back to Brilliance it is more raw/wood.
Mouth: Quite much bourbon in Classic Select now, Brilliance is unrefined wood and fruit.
Winner: Classic Select

Paul John vs Other Whisky

Bold vs Johnny Walker Gold
Color: JW darker
Nose: JW is more mellow and oily, Bold more tropical/raw wood and spicy
Mouth: Bold is more rough, young, fruity. JW sweeter, richer, softer and more complex.
Winner: JW wins.

Brilliance vs Mackmyra Brukswhisky
Color: Brilliance is darker
Nose: Brilliance has a woody, sour aroma (with good intentions some citrus fruit). Mackmyra is a little sweeter, more honey, and less agressively woody.
Mouth: Brilliance is really sour, with a dry wood lingering. Mackmyra a bit softer but also more bitter.
Winner: These are bad in different ways, with a bit of doubt, I prefer Paul John Brillance.

Edited vs Johnny Walker Gold
Color: JW is darker
Nose: JW is more oily, leather and dirt. Paul John is lighter, more sour (not writing fresh) and raw wood.
Mouth: Edited is quite classic malt whisky, a bit raw. JW a bit chemical and odd-tasting.
Winner: With little margin, Paul John Edited wins.

Edited vs Glenfiddich 12
Color: Same color
Nose: Glenfiddich is more dry, salty and malty. Edited is more sour raw wood.
Mouth: Glenfiddich is more soft and mature. Edited is more rough, unrefined.
Winner: Glenfiddich 12.

Classic Select vs Motörhead
Color: Motörhead is darker
Nose: Both a bit on the fruity and sweet side. Motörhead more soft and subtle, John Paul more raw wood.
Mouth: Motörhead quite sweet, soft and gentle in flavour, John Paul a little bit more kick, and more odd and woody. I add more water to it.
Winner: I prefer Motörhead: more classic and soft.

Brilliance vs Bushmills Original
Color: Similar, both pale
Nose: Bushmills lighter, Brilliance more terpentine.
Mouth: Bushmills more delicate and complex. Brilliance more sour and raw.
Winner: I prefer Bushmills.

Bold vs Makers Mark
Color: Markers Mark much darker
Nose: Makers Mark is sweeter, perhaps even lighter. Bold is a bit dirtier and oilier.
Mouth: Makers Mark has a strong bourbon character and at least I need water with it. Bold is quite classic in comparison. Back to Makers mark it is softer with water but still this strong bourbon flavour is an aqcuired taste (and it tastes like glue).
Winner: Bold is better.

Classic Select vs Crown Royal Rye
Color: Same
Nose: Crown Royal has a sweet fruity aroma with some flowers. Classic select is a dirtier, woodier experience.
Mouth: Crown Royal definitely has a bourbon flavour, spiced with flowers and fruits. Paul John is rougher and more tropical wood.
Winner: Crown Royal

Bold vs Jim Beam Rye
Color: Jim Beam slightly darker.
Nose: Paul John has a classic, somewhat oily, almost peated aroma. Jim Beam is bourbon, vanilla.
Mouth: Paul John has a quite classic flavour as well, a bit thin, sharp and raw. Jim Beam is very spicy in its bourbon way. In comparison Paul John is rather soft.
Winner: Paul John wins.

Bold vs Bushmills 10
Color: Bushmills a little paler
Nose: Bushmills is light fruits, like green pears. Paul John really smells heavy and solid.
Mouth: Bushmills light and soft in flavour, flawless but without much of an impression. Paul John is heavier, more of an acquired taste.
Winner: Paul John

Edited vs Chivas Regal 12
Color: Similar
Nose: Chivas Regal is lighter, best thing I can write is classic. Edited dominated by young wood, a bit tropical.
Mouth: Chivas is very classic and balanced. Edited has a little bit more kick, more dry young wood and more character. After Edited, there is something cheap blend about Chivas.
Winner: Chivas Regal (Paul John is too odd to me)

Paul John Peated Select Cask

I think what I have experienced as raw wood in a bad way for unpeated Paul Johns work out better with the peated one.

PJ vs Bowmore 12
Color: PJ a little paler, and also cask strength.
Nose: PJ has a soft, fruity peated aroma, quite pleasant. Bowmore a bit more oily and malty.
Mouth: I try PJ first at cask strength and it is distinctively peated. I try Bowmore and there is something unatural chemical about it, and I simply dont find it very tasty. Paul John is more fresh and coherent.
Winner: Paul John.

PJ vs Laphroaig 10
Color: Similar, Laphroaig perhaps slightly darker.
Nose: Laphroaig is more dry, PJ more fruity.
Mouth: Laphroaig has a rather smooth and dry, obviously dominated by peatiness. PJ is less integrated, it has a sweet – not bad – experience which kind of competes with the peat. PJ is interesting and not bad, but Laphroaig is more rich, complex and lingering.
Winner: Laphroaig

PJ vs Mackmyra Reserve Svensk Ek Extra Rök
Color: Mackmyra is much darker
Nose: Mackmyra is more deep, rich and powerful. Paul John is more fruity. Both smells a bit like a dry piece of wood getting burnt in a machine saw. Mackmyra reminds more of a sweet wine and Paul John is more odd.
Mouth: PJ (almost at cask strength) is rather raw with some peat. Mackmyra also raw, perhaps more smoke than peat, and a bit sweeter. PJ is lighter and its flavour disappears a bit in comparison with Mackmyra. Mackmyra on the other hand keeps needing more water. With more water Paul John has a more burnt (rather than raw) flavour, a quite straight experience but not too impressive. Mackmyra is more rich, complex, with more woody notes and it lingers longer.
Winner: Mackmyra

PJ vs Hven Tychos Star
Color: Hven is darker
Nose: Hven is a bit softer, PJ is a bit more woody in a sweet burnt way
Mouth: Hven is a bit classic, with some sour peat and some bitterness. Paul John is sweeter and fresher.
Winner: Paul John

PJ vs Bunnahabhain 8 Heavily Peated
Color: Similar
Nose: Very different, Bunnahabhain smells old closet and Paul John like a freshly built piece of furniture.
Mouth: Bunnahabhain is smoth, rich, a bit salty and lingering. Paul John is rather raw and thin.
Winner: Bunnahabhain