Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Qasira, a City on the shores of the Seas of Sand

Written for the Cities Challenge (its rules are "make an interesting city") floating around the OSR discord, particularly #glog-ghetto.

Presented as a series of tables. Yes, the names of cities are ripped from M&B; I make no claims of originality. This city comes from my deep-in-progress desert-naval "Seas of Sand" setting, where sailors travel on an ocean of thin sand, more liquid than solid.

You should be able to hack this into any given system.

1d6 Ships in Port
  1. The Shrike, a privateer, battered and patched; its sails, once black, have run to a dusty brown. 
  2. The Sultana's Fancy, a silk merchant, fresh and trim; its figurehead depicts a handsome young man, shirtless, face hidden behind a cowl.
  3. The Pride of Veluca, a captured warship, cracked and weathered; its hull is in the process of being repainted to Qasiran red. 
  4. The Ariadne, a salt trader from distant southern ports; its crew speaks a strange tongue, and bedeck themselves in bronze.
  5. The Bantu Haya, a "merchant" of unspecified goods; hooded strangers come and go from its grey-painted deck. 
  6. The Laila, a fishing craft, bristling with nets and spears; the fishers aboard always offer up at least a copper coin each in sacrifice before setting out.
1d6 Things Guests are Offered by Rite of Hospitality
  1. A bit of thin metal on the end of a stick, to scrape off the dust from your boots, plus a place to but those boots after entering.
  2. A clay tub full of silken sand, to bathe yourself in—not quite as good as water, but far better than nothing.
  3. A cupful of tea, usually anise or cardamom—almost always made with milk, rather than water.
  4. A simple woolen scarf and quill, in case you have an urgent prayer to make.
  5. A bit of flatbread, about as big as your hand; not a meal, but enough to take the edge off.
  6. A very tiny cup, really a thimbleful, of water; princes will sometimes offer shot-glasses or even tumblers of water to guests.
1d6 Cargo Hauls
  1. Casks of high-proof liquor, primarily tequila; its merchants are reviled by the ascetics, but sailors and decadents of all stripes will pay through the nose for it in public houses.
  2. Amberglass jars of spice mixtures—za'atar, baharat, and harissa—plus their raw components: cumin, coriander, allspice, cinnamon, saffron, turmeric, and black pepper.
  3. Cords of luxurious woods: oak, larch, and pine from the south for ships, plus mahogany, teak, and rosewood for princes' courts.
  4. Bolts of cloth and textiles: linen, cashmere, silk, shahtoosh, chiffon, taffeta, jacquard, and chamois. Princes buy them, yes, but so do common folk at cheap prices, to make into prayer-scarves.
  5. Cuts of meat, both common and exotic: camel, goat, and lamb, always, but also quail, dormouse, peacock, crocodile, and locust.
  6. Skins upon skins of water, clean and pure, barreled from mountain stream and ancient spring. Qasira's great oasis provides for many, but water merchants can always trade their cargo. 
1d6 Common Building Materials
  1. Brick of sandy mud, left to dry and bake. They're cheap, using only a little water, but crack easily; the slums and warrens are made of these bricks almost exclusively.
  2. Hewn sandstone, lifted from the quarry. Brittle but strong, expensive to haul but available in huge quantity. The city walls, both the elder and the younger, are made from this stone, and many streets are paved with it.
  3. Cloth, as for a tent, doorway covering, or stall roof. Usually simple or cheap linen; the more expensive cloths are dyed, usually in red or lavender.
  4. Marble, polished and shined to a mirror sheen. Typically only seen in prince's halls, and even then only in the more opulent and luxurious spaces. 
  5. Thin clay over wood, to make a kind of wattle-and-daub; the wood is nearly always repurposed from shipping cargo and driftwood, but its lighter and less hot than pure clay. 
  6. Limestone and granite; more expensive and rarer than sandstone, but harder and longer-lasting. The foundation of the Unkeyed Hall is made from it, as are the city's Twin Lighthouses.
1d6 Streets and Their Names
  1. A broad, paved thoroughfare: Mercer's Way. It's lined with stalls jostling up against each other, selling cloths, tents, rugs, bedding, prayer scarves, and cuts of fabric all on their own. 
  2. A dried lane, called the Western Runoff, that cuts between the outermost ring of slums and the city's main outer walls. It's mostly used by guards on their breaks, and those who ply to guards.
  3. A twisting maze of alleys and cut-throughs, with no official name; this bit is nicknamed Razor Alley, but it has no defined boundaries. It's a slum, primarily, frequented by the destitute, the criminal, and the ascetic.
  4. Two linked streets, Butcher's Row & Tanner's Lane; the Eastbound Road cuts between them, but there's heavy traffic across. Camelherds bring their stock to the Row for the meat, and then to the Lane for their hides. 
  5. A tree-lined street, more often traversed by palanquin than foot: the Northbound Road, the most elite of the four great Qasiran roads from the oasis. It's where princes and merchants and the decandents travel, to best see and be seen.
  6. A series of rough-hewn steps now worn down by time, cut into the rocky bluff overlooking the oasis—the Verdant Stair, leading up to the sacred Mount of Flame. For many of the city's pilgrims and ascetics, the Stair is more important than the Mount itself, for what good is enlightenment without the struggle to reach it?
1d6 Meals Available for Less Than a Half-Skin
  1. A skewer of camel or goat meat, seared over flame and spiced with cumin and pepper. Cheaper places load their skewers with onions or okra; nicer ones keep those to a minimum.
  2. A thin slice of toasted flatbread, laden with chickpeas, cabbage, and a cheese (usually halloumi); good places will serve it with a creamy sauce, worse ones without.
  3. A clay bowl of couscous with a ladle of stew dumped over it. The stew will always have lentils, fava beans, and vegetables, plus the occasional bit of meat. The bigger the stall's pot they serve from, the cheaper. 
  4. A salad of tomatoes and spinach or chard, plus any of: beets, onions, eggplant, carrots, turnips, okra, squash, and garlic. The salad is almost always doused in olive oil; if it's not, the server is being a cheapskate.
  5. A small dish with a dollop of camel yogurt on it, plus a few thin triangles of toasted flatbread, a sliced tomato, and bunch of spinach (or other leafy vegetable). Eateries that serve cool or chilled yogurt are much sought-after.
  6. Two pints: the first is a medium-viscosity drink made from camel milk, not unlike drinking yogurt, but salty and lightly alcoholic. The second is a medium beer, sometimes with a dollop of honey or fruit juice in it. Together, they'll feed you for a while and get you buzzed.
1d6 Prayers and Their Scarves
  1. "May my daughter, Safiyya, return home once again from the war in distant Veluca; if you do this, O Almighty Hunter, I, her mother Rabia, shall offer to you two black camels, slaughtered and burned." The scarf is made of muslin, stained a deep blue.
  2. "I have sacrificed three barrels of water to you, Queen of Sun and Lightning, boiled in dull iron. Please do not bring a storm, of sand or salt or fire, onto my ship, the Dunecutter, when we travel to the city of Ahmerrad." The scarf is made from cashmere, rich and lush.
  3. "Do not let my husband, Yussuf, die from the worm in his belly. Do this, Exalted Sword-Singer, and I, his husband Tariq, shall vow to you one of year of silence." The scarf is made from a bloodstained scrap of linen.
  4. "I, the dweller of #6 South-twist Lane, wish a curse to be placed on my neighbor, who lives in #7 South-twist Lane. I have burned eleven rats to any who will listen, and will burn any more my cat catches." The scarf is made from camel-hair, dyed a dusty black.
  5. "Tomorrow, the merchant ship Saffron Storm leaves port. I, Humayda, wish to land a job their as carpenter's apprentice; I am going to speak to their quartermaster now. Grant me this job, Wise Bearer of the Sickle, and I will carve your icon into the ship's prow." The scarf is made of simple pale wool.
  6. "I, Malek, am to be married tomorrow, and am deathly afraid. I have spent the past two months following a vow of poverty, and I ask you, Lion-Mother and Vulture-Caller, to ensure that this marriage goes well, please." The scarf is made from extravagant white silk. 
1d6 Issues Faced Today by the Conclave of Merchant-Princes
  1. Velucan warships have just crossed the Azure Band, bristling with soldiers and ballistae; they'll arrive in Khemu in less than two weeks.
  2. A diplomat from the Kingdom of Synnius has arrived to discuss the tariffs levied by Qasira and Ahmerrad against Synniot goods.
  3. Two camel caravans both claim to have reserved the Second North Stable for the week; their captains are here, and things are getting heated.
  4. A Kreitene ship from the south, the Allagosa, has overstayed its berth by two days now; they pitched the first customs agent into the sea to be fished out, and stripped the second one down before knocking out his front teeth.
  5. Pirates struck an Ahmerradi salt merchant, meaning prices in Qasira will rocket even higher.
  6. A band of some thirty ascetics have taken up a very loud and aggressive seminar outside of the Smoothed Haft, a well-known sailor's bar and house of ill repute.
1d6 Tattoos Visiting Sailors Get in Qasira
  1. Two matched lighthouses, for the city's famous ones. Usually mirrored, either on the wrists, shoulder blades, or calves.
  2. A set of scarves, one for each important prayer they've offered. Particularly superstitious sailors will get an initial or set of three letters tattooed onto the scarf, to match their prayers. Ostentatious sailors get them on their necks; quieter ones on the collar or shoulder.
  3. An upside-down letter 'A', done very simply and precisely, usually on a knuckle. Initially, it was for sailors to remember the city's well-known ascetics, but now has become just a catch-all fashion statement.
  4. The Seven of Diamonds, drawing from the ancient Codex Cartocartesius, written by a half-mad monk obsessed with fitting playing cards to cities. Nowadays, sailors try to get a full suit or even a full deck; because sailors are terrible planners, these cards appear all over the body.
  5. A lime, for a sailor who participated in the much-loved Festival of Limes. The traditional lime is placed on the upper chest, usually on the side of the pectoral.
  6. A bowl full of yogurt, usually on the foot or ankle. Given the city's southern position, it can be a first stop for many in the Seas, and thus is the first time many sailors have tried the food.
1d6 Well-Known Qasiran Landmarks
  1. The Mount of Flame, and the Altar of Ash atop it. Here is where ascetics, pilgrims, faithful, and other enlightenment-seeking individuals go—to hear seminars, sacrifice offerings, reflect on the world, and meditate.
  2. The Twin Lighthouses, on the northern and southern sides of the city. They reach roughly 250 ft. into the sky, towering over everything but the Mount itself.
  3. The Green Oasis, at the city's center, where most of the water is drawn and most of the crops grow. In ancient times, the oasis was believed to have healing properties, and some zealots still wash themselves in its murky waves, but this has fallen out of fashion.
  4. The now-ruined-but-enhanced Adamant Gate. The Gate stood at the western edge of the city for some four centuries, but close to a hundred years ago, a merchant-prince antagonized a glasswyrm, who came and melted the gate down to slag in vengeance. Now, atop the twisted adamant core, there are strange congealed glass structures, which still wink in the sun.
  5. The Unkeyed Hall, a gilt structure of marble and glass, where the Conclave meets. Famously, the gates to the Hall can only be sealed from the inside, meaning that once the Merchant-Princes have shut the doors, only they can open them again.
  6. The Ascetic Pits, a squatting ground / lecture ampitheatre / philosophical deathmatch arena / charity service yard. Essentially, a series of loosely-descending conical pits, where the city's ascetics dwell in squalor; charitable often come by with food and water, which they leave in exchange for narrow chance they might receive some new bit of knowledge to lead to Enlightenment.
1d6 Pleasures This Particular Qasiran Ascetic Has Decided to Give Up
  1. Light. This ascetic wraps themselves in cloth so no sunlight touches their skin, and they hide their eyes with bandages. 
  2. Metal. This ascetic only uses clay, driftwood, and cloth, and refuses to touch any metal, worked or otherwise.
  3. Speech. This ascetic not only refuses to speak (as vows of silence are relatively common), but has also clogged their ears with dry mud, so they cannot hear any speech.
  4. Grooming. This ascetic is completely naked; their hair and nails grow long, their teeth are yellowed, and they reek of mud and sweat.
  5. Touch. This ascetic has coated and buried themselves in mud, so as to feel as little as possible. Their mouth (and sometimes face) is exposed to eat and drink and breathe, but otherwise they touch nothing.
  6. Violence. This ascetic refuses to engage in harm, anger, hatred, pain, contention, or any other form of attack, assault, or conflict; these ascetics never partake in debates.
1d6 Highly-Coveted Works of Decadence
  1. An entire robe made from legendary nimbus silk, said to be as light and as strong as the very clouds themselves. No matter what the wearer engages in, a light breeze tugs at them, to keep them cool and waft their robe dramatically.
  2. A suit of armor forged from a thousand interlocking pieces, like the scales of a serpent. The armor is as free and light as wearing nothing, but is inlaid with gilt.
  3. A huge glass case of locusts, marinated in the juices of lime and dragonfruit, and then spiced with ginger, amchoor, and galangal.
  4. A camel whose hair has been brushed and combed to a mirror sheen, and has been bred for speed from birth. It comes with an intricately-made saddle and bridle, fit for a slim and youthful rider.
  5. A vial of poison from the infamous Imperator cobra, among the most dangerous of the Seas' beasts; its venom is said to sap the will of humans and bind them to the poisoner's mind.
  6. A decanter of thrice-distilled Kreitine moonshine, spiced with cinnamon and left to mature in a cask of ancient southern redwood.
1d6 Rumors In and Around Qasira
  1. Smugglers are bringing in salt by the crate, pulley'd over the walls or broken up into myriad pouches; any merchant with half a brain will get any salt they can, no matter its legality.
  2. An ascetic in the Pits has learned the secret of levitation, but will only teach it to the most worthy and able of apprentices.
  3. A popular pub has some dug a true well in their cellar, and will sell skins or even barrels of water to the right buyer.
  4. If a weapon is anointed in the blood of its wielder, smith, and mortal foe and then placed on the Altar of Ash, it will burst into flame.
  5. The Northern Lighthouse also encloses the tomb of three of the ancient Sand Kings beneath it, but the key to the tomb in question is only found in the Unkeyed Hall.
  6. A Merchant-Prince seeks to defect to Veluca, but will not reach out to the the city's military for fear of Qasiran reprisal.

I hope you enjoyed these tables. Here are some other blogs that have posted cities for the challenge:
As always, feel free to rip, tweak, and adjust this content however you choose. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

GLOG Class: Scavver

This is a class based around the idea of someone who is trying to maximize their wealth-to-danger ratio. The type of scoundrel out to make as much money as possible while being in as little danger as possible. It's a real rat bastard of a class; the kind of class that joins a war to loot bodies.

It draws inspiration mainly from Nobby Nobbs, but also from some of the soldiers in Monstrous RegimentArnold K's Kludger class, some Apocalypse World playbooks, orks from 40k in general, and that murder-hobo joke class I wrote for 5e a couple years ago.

GLOG Class: the Scavver (aka the Gutter Rat, the Bastard, the Second Mouse)

A: Practical Looting, Nicked It
B: Iron Rations, This Is A Knife
C: Nobody's Nobody, Survive Famous Massacres By Not Being There
D: Extremely Practical, Human Canary

Starting skills [d3]: 1 = Street Urchin, 2 = Deserter, 3 = Petty Thief

Starting equipment: roll four times on the most appropriate random NPC table. From the first NPC, take whatever they would feasibly be wearing as your clothes and armor. From the second, take whatever tools and weapons they'd have on-hand as your gear and weapons. From the third, take whatever valuables they might have on them as yours. From the fourth, take any form of identification they might have on them; if they have none, you at least know their name and hometown.

You always start with 1d4 hand-rolled cigarette butts, a rusty knife, 1d6 verdigris-y copper pieces, and someone else's half-eaten breakfast. You are missing 1d4-1 fingers, 1d6 teeth, and have 1d10 tattoos of varying size and quality. You can produce more of the above at any given time, except when doing so would be helpful or necessary.

(A) Practical Looting
When you loot a humanoid body (a relatively generic body, that is, not an assassinated noble or ancient deadking's tomb), roll twice and take both results. If somebody else has already searched the body, roll once anyway.

If you would receive money, gems, or other "direct" valuables like jewelry, the valuables take the form of something of equal value that you can immediately wear on your own person. Examples include:
  • Clothing and footwear of all varieties
  • Any weapons that can be stuffed into a bootleg or clipped onto a belt
  • Earrings, studs, and other piercings
  • Boot-laces, coat buttons, cuff links, and such accouterments
  • Gold teeth, glass eyes, wigs, and sundry prosthetics
  • Gator fangs, rabbit's feet, and other lucky or badass bits you can string onto a necklace
You have an extra 3 bonus inventory slots, which can only be filled by the above type of items.

(A) Nicked It
When a small item is left in the open and unattended, even for a moment, you have a 3-in-6 chance to steal it without being (immediately) noticed. If searched, you have a 1-in-6 chance to successfully conceal it about your person. If you elect to not nick an item in the moment, you later have a 1-in-6 chance to retroactively declare that no, actually, you did nick it, even if it looked like you didn't.

All three of these of these increase by 1-in-6 per Scavver template you have.

If you nick something belonging to a party member, they or any other party member can make a Strength or Charisma check to bully you into giving it up.

(B) Iron Rations
You have a 2-in-6 chance to find and prepare those most desperate of meals: rats, pigeons, roaches, acorn bread, dungeon fungi, cave-damp, and ditch-water. This increases by 1-in-6 per Scavver template you have.

You have no gag reflex, and can temporarily suppress your senses of taste and smell.

You have advantage on saves against eating bad food: indigestion, food poisoning (but not poisoned food), food- and water-borne disease, the runs, that kind of thing.

(B) This Is A Knife
Whenever you want, you can cause a weapon you're wielding to deal an additional 1d4 damage, immediately after which the weapon is lost or destroyed. It might split in half, lodge in the enemy's flesh, fall off a cliff, splinter into pieces, bend irrevocably, or clatter into the darkness—whatever it is, that weapon can't be used again.

Depending on how your GM's feeling, you might be able to get away with using this to deal 1d4 damage with a non-weapon item by destroying it in the process, like a broken bottle or table leg.

(C) Nobody's Nobody
Whenever in the presence of a faction or organization that you're at all familiar with—such as a military force, religious cult, political party, social club, or noble house—you can pass yourself off as a lowest-level member of that organization. You can present, fake, or excuse the proper documentation, pass-phrases, uniforms, and other necessary info and gear to do so, enough to pass basic inspection. Any greater level of scrutiny will almost certainly detect you, but ordinary observers won't.

If an authority figure ever examines the party to determine who is most important (to hit with an horrible spell, say, or to assign blame), it's never you.

(C) Survive Famous Massacres By Not Being There
When initiative is rolled, you always go first, but only if you use your first turn's movement and action to run, hide, avoid danger, cower, or otherwise do anything to get yourself out of harm's way. After the first round, you're free to do whatever you like.

(D) Extremely Practical
When you loot a body using Practical Looting, roll three times and take your two favorites (or twice and pick one, if it's already been looted). Furthermore, you can now loot non-humanoid bodies; you're just really good at finding the bits and bobs that you can somehow wear on your own body, even if they weren't originally intended to be worn in such a way.

You now have 5 bonus inventory slots for such items, instead of 3.

(D) Human Canary
When you save vs. physical danger (so spinning saw blades and petrification count, but charm and fear don't), you gain a bonus to your save equal to the number of your comrades that are physically between you and the source of the danger.

If you are forcibly volunteered (since you would never volunteer yourself) to be the first one to go into danger, you gain a bonus to your save equal to the number of your comrades that didn't go first. Those bastards.


As usual, this class hasn't been playtested. If you do get a chance to try it out, let me know!

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Six Slow Ritual Spells

These are spells written for my Slow Ritual Magic spell system. Because they're pretty slow to cast, relatively speaking, they need to be punchy, versatile, and interesting.

It's because of this that they don't have saves to resist their effects—if you want to stop a caster from turning you into a frog, you need to stop their ritual.

I've only included a handful of spells here, both because this is all pretty tentative and because they're hard to write. I tried to choose spells that are classic D&D-ish spells, but also have mixed utility in and out of combat. You can and should write your own spells like this, or adjust these ones.

As before, STR means your Strength score, [STR] means your Strength modifier. If you don't have modifiers, this'll be a little dicey to figure out, sorry. Modifiers usually have a floor of 1. 


Effects: [INT] creatures you can see transform into an animal of your choosing.
Duration: [WIS] hours
Materials: Bones of an animal similar to the chosen form. Cat bones for a lion, maybe, or sparrow bones for an eagle.
Conditions: a patch of bare earth.
Overcharge: For every three overcharged segments, you can transform one additional creature.
Acolytes: If acolytes bring their own animal bones to the ritual, they can transform into that animal instead of the primary caster's.
  1. Pour the bones out of the bag.
  2. Arrange them on the bare earth.
  3. Scribe the name of the bones into the earth.
  4. Depict the image of the chosen form over the bones.
  5. Detail it. Make it like life.
  6. Scribe the name of the chosen form.
  7. Speak the name of the bones.
  8. Speak the name of the chosen form.
  9. Place a palm over it all.
  10. Be silent for a heartbeat.
  11. Utter an arcane word of growth.
  12. Point to each of the creatures to be transformed.


Effects: [INT] 10 ft. by 10 ft. walls, about 6 inches wide, emerge from the ground in a formation of your choosing, so long as you can see all the walls. The material—and thus the armor and durability—of the walls are the same as the materials used during the ritual.
Duration: Permanent
Materials: A hammer, a silver nail, chalk, and a flat piece of building material. Stone, clay, or wood, maybe.
Conditions: Relatively clear areas to build your walls (small rubble and undergrowth is fine, significant isn't)
Overcharge: Each overcharged segment increases the length and height of the walls by 2 ft.
Acolytes: In addition to the primary walls, for each acolyte that contributed at least two segments of the ritual clock, the primary caster can have a wall emerge from the ritual to that acolyte, regardless of where they are currently.
  1. Flatten the material. Use the hammer if you need to.
  2. Smooth the top side.
  3. Mark the center of the material in chalk.
  4. Draw a square on the ground in chalk.
  5. Place the material in the center of the square.
  6. Hold the nail on the center of the material, in the center of the square.
  7. Hammer the nail.
  8. Hammer it again.
  9. Hammer it again. At this point, it should be driven through the material.
  10. Lay the hammer to rest, perpendicular to the nail.
  11. Utter an arcane word of strength.
  12. Place your foot on the flat piece of material, and stamp down hard.


Effects: [INT] creatures that can hear you become friendly to you and your allies.
Duration: [WIS] hours
Materials: A bottle of wine, silver goblets, a silken scarf, and a red candle. A scented one, ideally.
Conditions: Neither you nor any of your allies can directly deal damage to the targets of the spell. If you can do the ritual in romantic lighting, that helps, too. 
Overcharge: For every overcharged segment, increase the duration of the spell by one hour.
Acolytes: Each acolyte can charm one additional creature that can hear them, so long as they have their own filled goblet.
  1. Don the scarf, with flair.
  2. Uncork the wine. Waft it. Savor it.
  3. Let the wine breathe.
  4. Light the candle.
  5. Take a second to collect yourself dramatically.
  6. Set out the goblets, one for each target creature.
  7. Pour the wine.
  8. Take the time to do it properly.
  9. Beckon the creatures towards you. If you know their names, use them.
  10. State how glad you are that the creatures are here, with you.
  11. Utter an arcane word of grace.
  12. Sip your own wine.


Effects: [INT] humanoid corpses are animated with undeath, under your control. After the duration expires, they are no longer under your control.
Duration: [WIS] × 6 hours; after this expires, the undead still walk
Materials: Corpses (obviously), a knife that has killed before, and a small living animal. A rat or pigeon, say.
Conditions: Complete darkness for the entire duration of the ritual.
Overcharge: For every overcharged segment, you maintain control over your undead for two more hours.
Acolytes: At any point during the ritual, an acolyte can (willingly or unwillingly) suffer 1d6 damage to give one undead +1 HD. This can be done multiple times.
  1. Array the corpses in front of you.
  2. Scribe the rune on the corpses using the knife.
  3. Take the animal in your hand. Feel it squirm.
  4. Name the animal.
  5. Kill it with the knife.
  6. Speak the animal's name aloud.
  7. Drip the blood over each corpse in turn.
  8. Trace the rune on the corpses in blood.
  9. Cut the eyelids off the corpses.
  10. Drip the blood over the corpses' eyes.
  11. Utter an arcane word of wakefulness.
  12. Name each of your servants.


Effects: Up to [INT] creatures that you can see teleport to a location up to [WIS] × 100 miles away.
Duration: Instantaneous
Materials: A gold coin per creature teleporting, an object from or depiction of the location being teleported to, a source of flame, and a brass bell.
Conditions: Every creature teleporting must be at knee-deep in water or higher.
Overcharge: For every three overcharged segments, you can teleport an additional 100 miles away. If you reach 1000 miles, you can teleport off-plane.
Acolytes: Acolytes add their [INT] to the total number of creatures that can be teleported.
  1. Step into the water.
  2. Ring the bell.
  3. Wait for the ferryman—literal or otherwise—to arrive.
  4. Politely greet the ferryman.
  5. State the location you wish to teleport to.
  6. Proffer the object or depiction of the location.
  7. Wait for the ferryman to recognize it.
  8. Burn the object or depiction.
  9. Scatter the ashes in the water.
  10. Pay the ferryman with the coins.
  11. Utter an arcane word of the sea.
  12. Step aboard the ferry.


Effects: Create a visual and auditory illusion no larger than a [INT] × 5 ft. cube you can see. Physical objects pass through it, but it otherwise seems—to sight and sound—real.
Duration: [WIS] × 10 minutes.
Materials: A lump of grey wool, slate and chalk, and a whistle.
Conditions: The caster, ritual circle, and acolytes cannot appear in a mirror or any other reflection for the performance of the ritual.
Overcharge: For every overcharged segment, the illusion last another 10 minutes and can be an additional 5 ft. larger.
Acolytes: Provided they have their own slate and chalk, each acolyte can add a single independently-acting illusory humanoid to the illusion. Victims fleeing a dragon, or guards on a wall, or travellers crossing a bridge.
  1. Place the wool in your mouth.
  2. Chew it. Get it damp and squishy.
  3. Place the whistle in your mouth.
  4. Blow the whistle through the wool continuously through steps 5-7.
  5. Begin to draw what you wish your illusion to appear as.
  6. Continue your drawing. Make it feel real.
  7. Finish the drawing.
  8. Remove the whistle from your mouth.
  9. Take a breath, wool still in your mouth.
  10. Remove the wool.
  11. Utter an arcane word of storytelling.
  12. Using the wet wool, wipe the slate clean.


Some Notes
You are, of course, free and encouraged to hack and remix these spells however you want, and write your own. 

These spells are complicated; there's just a lot to them. I tried to make spells that can be used in a lot of situations for a lot of things, but are always kind of weird and intriguing. 

For all of them, I encourage you to think a little non-literally about the materials and procedures. Like, for teleport, you could probably hack it so you're all just standing in a big basin of water; for reanimate, you can probably get away with just huddling inside a tent that's been covered in big coats. Likewise, the ritual procedures are meant to be a little flexible; there's fixed things that have to be done, sure, but they've got wiggle room.

From a design perspective, I'm a strong proponent of wizards and wizard-types being both intelligent and wise, hence INT and WIS both scaling the strength of spells. I generally tried to have INT be the direct efficacy of the spells, but WIS be the raw muscle and capability backing it up. Characters that have lots of book-learnin' can get their spells do what they want, but cleverer, more willful characters can get more out of their spells. I don't know if that 100% makes sense, but that's the vibe I was going for.

Since these spells don't have levels, their power is sort-of gated behind their materials. Like, gold pieces and silver goblets aren't that hard to get, but aren't exactly easy to find, either. I imagine that for really big spells—your meteor swarms or planar gates or what have you—the material components will be rare and steep indeed.

Anyway, let me know if you get a chance to play with these spells and rules.

Slow Ritual Magic

This is a magic system—or, really a spell system—designed for OSR games; it assumes you're using something with modifiers (like Knave) and de-emphasized classes (also like Knave), but can be hacked around pretty easily. Only minimally-tested thus far.

It draws inspiration in part from this Ben Milton tweet and also this part of the Diablo 4 trailer (up until about 3:20), but here are the basic design goals:

  1. Spells should be slow, but punchy. They should feel like the centerpiece of an encounter.
  2. Spells should use both Intelligence and Wisdom, and don't have levels; this lets casters feel different to each other based on stats and materials available, rather than class packages. 
  3. Spells and their casting should have some depth to them; they should be involved, engaging, and factor into the tactics of OSR-style play well.
  4. Spells should feel ritual; they should be arcane and complicated and weird and specific and kind of otherworldly.
Quick notation key: STR is Strength score, [STR] is Strength modifier.


This is the most-adjustable of things on here, but as a basic rule of thumb, a caster should know about as many spells as they have levels. A caster can cast [WIS] spells per day; if you don't have modifiers, call it WIS - 10 times per day or something. It should be fewer spells than normal, probably, and it should scale off of WIS, but you can adjust it past that.


All spells have rituals; these are complicated magical procedures that are required to get the magic itself to behave in the way you want. 

To cast a spell, a caster must start the spell's ritual: when it's complete, the spell fires. Every spell has a clock (a la Blades) that represents the steps of the ritual; when the clock is filled, the spell fires. By default, a spell's ritual clock has 12 segments, and thus has 12 steps to complete the ritual. 

I assume that rituals take up physical space roughly equal to one square, where you've got a circle of salt and candles and whatnot. To participate in the ritual, you have to be next to the ritual circle. 

Basics of Casting
On their turn, a caster can use their full action to perform steps of the ritual. To do so, they make an INT check. Before they roll, they declare how many steps of the ritual they're attempting to perform, which determines how fast the clock fills, but also alters the DC of the check:
  • To fill 1 segment, the DC is 5
  • To fill 2 segments, the DC is 10
  • To fill 3 segments, the DC is 15
  • Certain powerful magicians—like liches, exalted archpriests, witch matriarchs, and very-high-level PCs—can fill 4 segments with a DC 20 check, or possibly even more
(If you're using roll-under stats, make 2 segments a standard INT roll; 1 segment gives you +5, and 3 segments gives you -5. That math isn't 100% the same as it is with modifiers, but it's close enough.)

The caster decides how many segments, and thus which DC, they're aiming for ahead of time for each roll. If they fail the roll, they erase one filled segment of the clock. 

Just to be clear: if you declare that you're making a DC 10 check for two segments and then roll a 7, that's a failure—you can't say that you were actually trying for DC 5. Similarly, if you declare that you're making a DC 5 check for one segment and then roll a 13, you can't say you were actually trying for DC 10. What you declare before you roll is final.

Failing the Ritual
If the ritual goes more than 1 minute without any segments being filled, the spell fails, but does not misfire. If a filled segment segment must be erased but there are no filled segments, the spell fails and misfires. 

Basically, this means that you can cook a spell for a few minutes, sure, but you can't keep it at 11/12 segments filled for an hour until the bad guy shows up. Once the ritual starts, it has to finish.

Taking Damage
If a caster takes damage in the middle of casting the ritual, they need to make a CON save against a DC of the damage taken (or otherwise save vs. big physical pressure, modified by quantity of damage taken). On a failure, erase one filled segment; if it was really big walloping damage, erase two.

Firing Early
If a caster wishes, they can attempt to fire a spell before the ritual is complete, before the clock is filled. To do so, they must make an INT check with a DC of 15 + empty segments remaining. On a success, the spell fires as normal; on a failure, it fails and misfires. 

Overcharging the Ritual
After the ritual is complete and the clock is filled, the caster can choose to continue the ritual to overcharge the spell, which means they add additional filled segments to the clock by making INT checks as normal. Spells have different effects based on overcharged segments; these vary on a spell-by-spell basis. 

When a caster fires an overcharged spell, they make a WIS check equal to 10 + overcharged segments filled. On a success, it works, and fires with overcharge benefits. On a failure, the spell still fires, but only in its regular, non-overcharged form—and it misfires as well.


People other than the primary caster of the spell can assist with the ritual of the spell; these people are called acolytes. No spell requires acolytes, but all spells are helped by them. Acolytes can be fellow PCs or NPC hirelings either, but they have to be sentient humanoid-ish creatures—so your ranger's dog probably can't help, but your clever chimpanzee buddy probably can. 

Aiding the Ritual
When an acolyte is at the ritual space, they can use their action to perform the ritual, just like the primary caster. They make an INT check as normal, but can only make a DC 5 check to fill 1 segment or a DC 10 check to fill 2 segments.

If an acolyte fails their check, they erase one filled segment, as normal—which can cause the ritual to fail, as normal, too. 

Taking Damage
If an acolyte takes damage while performing the ritual, they don't have to make a save and never clear any segments. Acolytes are part meatshield, after all; their will is not bound to the spell in the same manner.

Firing the Spell
If an acolyte fills the last segment of the ritual clock, the primary caster chooses: the spell can fire then and there, on the acolyte's turn, OR the ritual can move into being overcharged. If the caster's down and out, the spell fires on the acolyte's turn. 

To count as an acolyte (as per a spell's effect), the acolyte must have participated in the spell's casting within the last round before the spell fires. If an acolyte contributed one segment right at the beginning and then took off, for example, they don't count. 

Overcharging and Firing Early
Acolytes can overcharge spells by making INT checks as normal, but only the primary caster can fire an overcharged spell. Acolytes cannot attempt to fire a spell early. 


Materials are the physical objects and things required to perform the spell's ritual. They're usually somewhat rare, expensive, and specific. Materials are usually used by the primary caster, and can usually be reused again later.

Conditions are the conditions under which the ritual must be performed. Generally, the conditions must be present for the entirety of the ritual; they stop being present halfway through, they don't count.

If you try to cast the spell without the necessary materials or conditions, you lose the spell and nothing happens. If a material or condition is present for the start of the ritual but then is gone midway through (like a torch is lit, or your bag of salt stolen), the spell fails and misfires. 

Ritual Accouterments
While all spells have specific ritual materials and conditions, there are known-magical quantities of each that can add to any given ritual. Here is a non-complete list of possible accouterments to your ritual, but work with your GM to come up with some more:
  • Big fat yellow candles
  • Burnt incense
  • Glyphs and runes drawn in chalk
  • Magical implements made of silver
  • Circles of salt or sand
  • A notebook or scroll covered in arcane scrawlings
  • An auspicious bit of an spooky animal (like adder's fork and blind-worm's sting)
  • Twilight
  • The witching hour
  • A circle of standing stones
  • A consecrated or desecrated location (or otherwise the site of great good or evil)
  • The full moon, or no moon
If three or more of these are present before the ritual starts (so candles are lit and circles drawn, not in the midst of being set up), the ritual clock starts with 1 segment filled in. For each acolyte that is present, an additional three accouterments can be used for 1 segment, up to a maximum of six segments total. (So to get to six segments already filled in, you'd need yourself, five acolytes, and 18 ritual accouterments.)

However, if, at any point over the course of the ritual, an accouterment is lost, one segment is erased, and then every three accouterments erases another. (Basically, 3 accouterments = 1 segment, but round down; if you would be at 2.66 segments, that's only 2 segments. 0.66 segments is zero.) 

Lost accouterments can include snuffed candles, broken circles, the shattering of stones, or the rising of the sun—whatever disrupts the accouterment itself. This can, of course, cause the spell ritual to fail.


You can use basically whatever magical mishap table you want, but here's a decent (if kinda goofy) one:
1d20 randomly-determined limbs in the vicinity transform into tentacles.
One eyeball from every living thing in the vicinity bursts. Just, like, pops. 
The skin of everything in the vicinity turns bright green.
2d6 randomly-determined people in the vicinity are transformed into pigs.
1d6 grandparents of people in the vicinity die suddenly of a heart attack.
Every article of clothing in the vicinity suddenly bursts into flames.
A huge acid spider with thirteen eyes bursts up from under the floor.
You lose one of the following four senses: sight, sound, smell, touch.
Tattoos of curses, blasphemies, and unholy symbols appear all over your skin.
All of your teeth, hair, and nails fall out instantaneously, or else begin growing uncontrollably fast.
The brains of everyone in the vicinity shift one person to the left.
You age or de-age 1d4 × 10 years.
Every humanoid orifice in the vicinity hisses out hot steam when opened.
In the vicinity, all wood turns to stone, all stone turns to flesh, and all flesh turns to wood.
The weather changes sharply: hail, lightning, hurricane winds, ice, etc.
The ghost of someone either you loved or someone you hated appears.
A portal to another dimension rips open nearby.
A geyser of steam, lava, oil, milk, wine, or ink bursts open. 
1d12 strangely-colored new stars appear in the sky. 



  1. Spells are rituals, which have a 12-segment clock that needs to be filled in to fire.
  2. On their turn, a caster makes an INT check to fill segments: DC 5 is one, DC 10 is two, DC 15 is three. If the caster fails, erase a segment. If the caster gets hurt, save or erase a segment.
  3. If the ritual goes a minute or more without any segments filled, the spell fails. If a segment needs to be erased and there are none to be erased, the spell fails and misfires. 
  4. After the clock is filled, the caster can overcharge by continuing to fill segments. To fire an overcharged spell, the caster makes a WIS check, DC 10 + overcharged segments.
  5. To fire a spell early, before the clock is filled, make a WIS check equal to 15 +  unfilled segments.
  6. Acolytes can help fill a clock, but only at DC 5 and DC 10, not 15. They can get hurt as needed.
  7. Acolytes can only fire a spell if the primary caster lets them; they can overcharge, but can't fire an overcharged spell. They can't fire early. 
  8. Materials are physical objects for the ritual; conditions are surrounding circumstances. Both are necessary.
  9. Accouterments are generic materials and conditions; three of them present fills in 1 segment for free, but if they're lost, that segment is erased. 

I decided to split off the spells from this post because it's getting long, but you can find Six Slow Ritual Spells here. As always, you can and should hack and remix all of the stuff here. And let me know if you get a chance to try it out!