Yesterday the Wizard Thief Fighter patreon, where the Ultraviolet Grasslands is fast approaching its fifteenth and penultimate update, hit 150 patrons and $400 dollars. Throwing caution to the winds, I decided it was the perfect time to tease my Skeleton.
WTFSkeleton is not a ‘fantasy heartbreaker’—whatever that bs phrase even means.
With WTF I am not even trying to create a comprehensive rpg ruleset to cover every eventuality or possibility. The various dice and rule mechanics are create random outcomes that neither the referee nor the player can predict. If rules or subsystems are in conflict, use communication, words, and common sense to negotiate a reasonable outcome.
I am 80% sure the whole ruleset is an elaborate joke, but it has worked fine for me for over 5 years, so there must be something to them.
The heart of Skeleton is a character generator that spits out heroes to throw into a gaming meatgrinder. The thief looks something like this (leading with the thief, because if you’re playing gold for xp … all characters are thieves).
- level 1; 0 XP; +2 bonus; HD (1d8); 8 hp; light armor; simple weapons and three random weapons; good Dex saves and one random save; three regular and two expert skills; no spells known; spells cost 2; double wealth; two random abilities or sneak attack and one random ability.
- level 2; 500 XP; +2 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +4 hp, +1 expert skill, +1 ability.
- level 3; 1500 XP; +2 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +5 hp, +1d6 sneak attack damage, +1 ability.
- level 4; 3000 XP; +2 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +4 hp, stat improvement, +1 ability.
- level 5; 6500 XP; +3 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +5 hp, +1d6 sneak attack damage, +1 ability.
- level 6; 13,000 XP; +3 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +4 hp, one more good save, +1 ability.
- level 7; 25,000 XP; +3 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +1 hp, +1d6 sneak attack damage, +1 ability.
- level 8; 50,000 XP; +3 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +1 hp, stat improvement, +1 ability.
- level 9; 99,999 XP; +4 bonus; +1 HD (1d8), +1 hp, +2d6 sneak attack damage, +1 ability.
- level 11; +99,999 XP; +5 bonus; double all sneak attack and ability damage, advantage on all skill checks.
By looking at it, you can probably see the core of a 5E engine in there. You can adjust the XP as you like. There’s also a B/X mod, for those who want more old school compatibility. It modifies the chart as follows:
- +0 bonus to hit; HD (1d6); 6 hp; good Breath Weapon save and one random save; replace sneak attack with Backstab x2.
- +1 bonus to hit; +2 hp.
- +1 bonus to hit; +3 hp; Backstab x3 instead of sneak attack.
- +1 bonus to hit; +2 hp.
- +2 bonus to hit; +3 hp; Backstab x4.
- +2 bonus to hit; +2 hp; randomly improve one more save.
- +2 bonus to hit; +0 hp; Backstab x5.
- +3 bonus to hit; +0 hp.
- +3 bonus to hit; +0 hp; Backstab in the face when you win initiative.
- still error
- +5 bonus to hit; advantage on Backstab attacks.
The other thing you will notice is that hp progression ends at level six. There is a good reason for this. Since there are three skeleton classes—wizard, thief, and fighter—this means that all their levels end at the number of the beast. This is obviously important.
Abilities, Powers, Whatever You Call Them
The thing that makes individual heroes unique are all the random tables with random abilities they can roll on. The abilities are usually descriptive, with the mechanical effects only suggested (and up to the referee to revise, if it fits their game better. Lets look at the example of some Thief of Skins abilities.
- Infiltrator—You can spend a week creating a false identity for yourself. This can’t be an identity that belongs to someone else. You can then adopt this identity as needed, and creatures will believe you unless given an obvious reason not to.—Effect: you can create multiple, relatively flawless personas for your hero.
- Impostor—You can spend a week closely studying a target, steal their identity and impersonate them. Casual observers are fooled, and you can trick acquaintances of the target with some effort. You can rush the job, but it’ll make your disguise harder to pull off—Effect: you have advantage when deceiving people who know your target.
- Skintaker—You can spend a day to ritually flay a creature of approximately the same size as you, and create a magical (and horrible) suit out of its skin. Whenever you wear the suit, you become completely indistinguishable from the original. Only your behavior can give you away.—Effect: this is a level 2 Ritual (costs a thief 4 hp or stat points). The skin will decay naturally unless you sustain it with your life force, by imbuing it with 2 of your hp or stat points until you want to release it back into the cycle of nature—Additional ability: you can now cast 1 free ritual / long rest.
- Skulker—You are really good at hiding in shadows.—Effect: You gain proficiency (or expertise or advantage) in Stealth. When you miss a target with a ranged attack from hiding, you do not give away your position. Remember that you always have advantage to hit when attacking from hiding—Additional ability: you take no penalties from dim light conditions.
Generally, if an ability doesn’t apply or is totally stupid, the player should roll again. Use common sense and use it quickly!
So, yeah … that’s skeleton in a nutshell.
The final thing is obviously going to be neatly designed … sort of like this free zero-one version teaser.