Friday, July 31, 2020

Playing Dice with Death

The Box Full of Boxes Blog wrote a fascinating post about how to handle re-rolling a character when one dies—a not uncommon occurrence in OSR play. While the standard rule (just to start a character over from level one) is perfectly good in some circumstances, in other circumstances you might want some way of getting player characters up to speed with the rest of the party as quickly as possible without negating death as a meaningful. Box Full of Boxes suggests several alternatives, including a funeral rule which I think is particularly excellent. 

I love little minigames, so my contribution is a risk vs. reward minigame you can use when rolling a new character after death or even at the start of a campaign. I wrote this with the Lamentations of the Flame Princess rules in the standard 17th century setting in mind, but it should be easy enough to adjust this to your role playing game/setting of choice. Even 5e if you're heretically minded.

The rules
After you have finished rolling stats and chosen your character class roll 2d6 and mark the total. Keep rolling and marking totals until you either choose to stop or you roll the same total twice. If you choose to stop, add up all your totals and you start the game with the gross total x200 xp. If you rolled the same total twice, you start at level 1, but you gain a boon as compensation. Check the table for your class under the last total you rolled (the one that you rolled twice).

For example, I'm going to re-enter the game with a new fighter. My first roll is a 4. I can do better so I keep rolling and get an 8. Not daunted, I keep rolling and get an 11 and then a 10. If I stopped here, my gross total is 33, so I would start the game with 6,600 points. A level 3 fighter—not bad at all. My hubris gets the better of me though, and I roll again hoping to push myself to level 4. Blue skies be cursed, I roll an 8! Since I've already rolled a 8, I lose all my points and I start at level 1. I do get a boon, though. Since my last roll was a 8, I look on the fighter table under 8. My character starts with a 3-in-6 search skill, a decent compensation.

The Tables



Start the game with your father's sword. A humble-looking thing. Whenever

you roll a 1 for damage in combat using the sword, your body turns to mist,

allowing you to instantly transport anywhere within sight and rematerialize.

Does not work for anyone else.


When you were a child, a fairy taught you how to cast a random level 1

magic-user spell once per day


Gain +1 Strength or Constitution 


You have been blessed by the great one of the night of time. You can drink

water from a natural water source once per night to make a roll-under charisma

check. On a success, you grow moth wings and a flight speed of 15 feet per

round for 1d4 turns (the referee should make this roll in secret. Hopefully you're

not in the air when the effect ends!)


You have a poet's heart. In town, you can spend 150 sp on writing

supplies (mostly alcohol) and spend a week writing a poem to gain 300 xp

or a retainer at +1 loyalty (a fan of your work).


Gain elaborate Tattoos. They look very impressive, especially to sailors


You are eagle-eyed. Your search skill is 3-in-6


You sometimes fly into an uncontrollable rage. The first time you are damaged

in combat, make a roll-under wisdom check. If you fail, gain +1 to AC and +2 to

your to-hit rolls, but you must make an attack roll if possible for the next d10

rounds—even attacking allies if they are the only targets available!


Your tracking skill is 3-in-6. Spend a turn to make a tracking roll. On a success,

you can tell if any living being passed by an area and in which direction they

were heading.


One of your ancestors was a demon. If you die by flame, become a terrible flame

demon for 2d10 rounds before being dragged to hell [AC 15 AB +10 HD 8 HP 40

Att#3 Terrible flaming sword d12]


Whenever you shed blood, it rains in a 6 mile radius. The more you bleed, the more

it rains.



Gain a very loyal dog that will obey all commands.


You have befriended a cat that will visit you from time to time. Feed him/her/them,

and he/she/they will utter one sentence worth of information relevant to your quest.


After years without shoes, your feet are calloused and strong. You can carry 5

more items without gaining an encumberance slot. You don't need to wear shoes.


You've learned to cook a great mushroom stew. Your chance of foraging in forests

is increased to +3 in 6 and only reduces distance traveled by 1d4x10%. The stew

is so good that it restores 1d4 HP.


Gain +1 Charisma or Dexterity


Your middle toe is exceptionally long. Those in the know recognize this as

"thieve's toe," increasing or decreasing your cred depending on the social circle.


You can talk to birds. You have the option of taking a magpie as a retainer using

the normal follower rules. The magpie requires payment in shiny things equal to

an animal handler.


Gain a trusty Green cloak with many pockets. There's a 2 in 6 chance of finding

any small, mundane object within one of its pockets. It takes one round to search

your pockets. Cannot be used by any other character.


Gain a sturdy walking stick. You wouldn't dare go anywhere without it. It counts as

a small weapon and a 10' pole (but is not oversized). Cannot be used by any

other character.


Gain a lucky pawn chess piece. You will never lose a game of chess as long as

you use this chess piece as one of your pawns. Cannot be used by any other



Walls just make sense to you. If you stare at a wood, plaster, or stone wall up to

10 feet thick for 1d6 uninterrupted hours, you can pass through it.

Magic User/Elf


Gain a familiar cat (gain an extra level 1 spell slot) or raven (the raven can fly to

any known location and deliver a message one sentence long in an eerie croaking

voice. You can see through the raven's eyes.) If your familiar dies, you die.


Roll a second character. This second character can be a different gender or even

a different race. Every night, roll a save vs. magic. On a failure, you wake up as

this second character. Your two characters have no memory of each other.


Lunacy. Your eyes grow milkier as the moon waxes. On the night of a full moon,

you can attempt to cast any magic-user spell regardless of level one time. If you do

so, make a save vs. Magic. On a failure, cast summon instead.


You can speak to goats.


Your blood is thick and black. If anyone drinks your blood, they gain 1d6 hp, but

you lose 1d4 hp


You have a third eye. It doesn't do anything, but it looks mighty impressive.


You always float about a half inch above the ground.


You have an uncanny ability to find rare books. You can always tell in which direction

to find the most expensive book in a 6-mile radious


You can't die...or perhaps you have just forgotten how. You are so old that you've

forgotten most of your once-great magic. you cannot die unless you reach -20 HP

(you still fall unconcious at less than 0 HP). Your strength total is reduced to 3.


Your laughter gives people the heebie-jeebies. Whenever this player's character

laughs in real life during a session, the character laughs in the game, causing

everyone in a 10 foot radius to drop whatever they're carrying and lose their next

round in stunned silence. It has to be genuine laughter, though—no strategically

timed chuckles allowed!


You are three inches tall and were born in a tulip bulb. +2 AC, but you only gain

1 HP per level and cannot use weapons.

• Cleric


You have divine serendipity. If you pass a saving throw, all other characters who had

to make the same saving throw automatically succeed.


Glowing. You always slightly glow with holy light as long as you have at least one

spell slot remaining. 


You have Sampson's hair. Increase your strength score until it equals your highest

score, but suffer a permanent -10 to your strength score if your hair is ever cut.


You can make heretical books (expensive and rare) explode into flames at will.

Use rules for oil and flame on pg. 60.


Heretic. Your beliefs are deemed heretical by the church. You have the knowledge

of one random level 2 magic-user spell that you can cast once per day.


Your Latin is excellent. Very impressive to members of the clergy, where knowledge

of Latin is suprissingly uncommon or passable at best. You are automatically

conversational in any ancient or dead terrestrial language.


+2 to your wisdom score if you are not carrying any money or treasure


You can turn any human who has committed a mortal sin in the last 24 hours as

you would undead at +4 to their HD


Your status allows you to claim sanctuary in any church, although they don't have

to like it.


You can never lie. Anyone within 10' of you must make a save vs. magic to lie


You are myopic and require (somewhat rare and expensive in the 17th century)

spectacles. Any roll you make is at -2/-10% without them and they may fall off

when running (the spectacles used in this period did not have earpieces and were

prone to falling off). However, they grant +1 to your wisdom score and you can

cast one extra level 1 spell per day.


  1. Love your double d6 dice. I will never roll another cube d6, (very few exceptions anyway).

  2. Love your double d6 dice. I will never roll another cube d6, (very few exceptions anyway).

  3. Love your double d6 dice. I will never roll another cube d6, (very few exceptions anyway).