Monday, May 15, 2023

The Sapper

A well-supplied sapper corps will make or break a siege. In nominal peacetime, their particular set of skills lends themselves well to the mines, but mining pays even worse than spoils of war. Fortunately for the enterprising mercenary, there's no shortage of ruins to delve - compared to the battlefield, how dangerous can they really be?

Master the dungeon. Undermine the opposition.


from Adrian Smith

For each template in Sapper, you gain +1 HP and +1 inventory slot.

A: Miner, Improvised Explosives
B: Stonesense, Earthworker
C: Crew Boss
D: There's Gold In Them There Hills

Starting Equipment: Pickaxe (d6+STR damage, +2 to-hit vs. armor), shovel (d6 damage, can fling debris up to 60' for d4 damage), helmet w/ lamp mount, 100' rope, pitons

Once per day, with an hour's hard labor, you can create a tunnel 30' long and 5' in diameter through any material softer than your tools. The excavated spoil is placed outside the tunnel. Each additional template of Sapper lets you use this ability an additional time per day.

Your movement speed is not reduced by difficult terrain or tight passages.

Improvised Explosives
With ten minutes of prepwork and 3 inventory slots of adventuring gear, you create a bomb with properties similar to the items used. Items spent are consumed. The bomb takes up 1 inventory slot and deals 2d6 damage in a 10' radius; double damage to inanimate objects and terrain. It can be detonated manually (not recommended), and automatically detonates when damaged.

Some item effects:
- Rope: Create a fuse up to one hour in duration, or a tripwire.
- Alcohol or oil: Fire damage; leaves burning puddle.
- Projectiles (arrows, bolts, ball bearings, etc): Shrapnel. +5' radius for each slot.
- Black powder: +1d6 damage.
- Magnesium: Bright flash. Everyone in radius must save vs. blindness.
- Magic item: Discuss with your GM.

By knocking on a wall, you know how far it is to the next open space (if it's less than 30' away), and if there are any hazards behind it (e.g. water, creatures, mechanisms built into the wall).

You may use Miner to construct crude earthworks with the spoil from other uses of Miner. The total volume of the spoil in the construction must remain the same.

Crew Boss
Once per day, you may spend four hours directing a team of up to 12 people. During this period, they each have one use of your Miner ability, provided they are all properly equipped. You cannot mine while using this ability.

Gold In Them There Hills
You may expend a use of Miner to search through a pile of spoil you have created. Roll a d66 to see what turns up. You may only search through each pile once.

11. Ancient tablet with a fragment of text.
12. Ancient jewellery, set with gems worth d10 gp.
13. Ancient pottery; contents rancid.
14. Partial ancient tapestry, depicting controverisal mythic scene.
15. Ancient holy text, currently deemed heretical by a major religion.
16. d100 ancient coins marked with the face of an infamous king.
21. Set of scrimshawed knucklebones.
22. A human skull.
23. Internal organ, perfectly preserved in fat. Still throbbing?
24. Skeleton hand. 2-in-6 chance it's animate. Rings?
25. Fossilized bone. Odd shape. Maybe more nearby?
26. d4 wizard's teeth. One powdered tooth can be consumed for one temporary magic die.
31. Dense patch of mycelium. Psychedelic? Toxic?
32. Larval mimic.
33. Clutch of rust monster eggs. Good eating!
34. Extremely minor earth elemental.
35. Dire pillbug.
36. d6 slots of purple worm leavings. Potent fertilizer, or as black powder for a bomb.
41. Small lockbox.
42. Ragged banner of a fallen army.
43. Piece of leather armor, covered in bite marks.
44. Adventurer's pack, all items heavily used.
45. Small, well-carved stone figurine.
46. Torn fragment of a paper map.
51. Iron sword, chipped, rusted, and spattered with dried blood.
52. Shield painted with the crest of a long-dead noble.
53. Helm, rusted. 2-in-6 chance there's still a head inside.
54. Worn pickaxe from previous mining effort.
55. Cannonball, undetonated.
56. Bronze trap mechanisms, disconnected.
61. Lost key, opens something important.
62. Metal flask, full of strong liquor.
63. Thick glass vial, hermetically stopped with wax. Full of something?
64. Large egg, sturdy shell. Inside sloshes.
65. 1-inch-cube, indestructible. Ceaselessly humming.
66. A fist-sized gemstone, finely cut and polished. Something glitters within.

Tuesday, February 28, 2023

GLOGSTAR Pirate Missions

 The Interstellar Regime controls the trade lanes that tie the galaxy together, perpetually threatening violence against the neighboring Empyrean Bureaucracy. The Rebel Militia seeks any advantage they can to free the galaxy from the Regime's tyranny. In the midst of this conflagration, pirates find ample opportunity for profit, snatching prizes off of trade routes, threatening worlds with destruction if they fail to tithe, battling privateers across the stars in epic tales that are sung and embellished in a thousand spaceport bars. You are a pirate captain - fearless, merciless, and willing to do anything to make a quick buck.

by unccleulty


  1. The once-thought indestructible treasure ship Navigator's distress beacon has been recovered by the Intrepid Factor. It carries a black box that includes, among other things, its coordinates, deep within the wartorn Hyades Cluster. You have been granted exclusive first rights to plunder and salvage the Navigator, so long as you give the Factor exclusive information on what wrecked it and ensure that no one else aboard survives to tell the tale.
  2. A bulky trade fleet from the Empyrean Bureaucracy travels along the Kochab Corridor, a trade lane just off your primary hunting grounds. Your fellow captain, the Brazen Buccaneer, has already embarked with his fleet to take them as his prize. Hours after he entered a communications blackout to conceal his location, the Intrepid Factor notified you that new intelligence reveals this trade fleet to be a honeypot, and an Empyrean fleet under the command of their Bureau of Naval Intelligence lies in wait to ambush any pirates that take the bait. Can you ambush the ambush before you're ambushed yourself?
  3. The Regime has bought out a half-dozen pirate Free Crews with letters of marque signed by the Pompous Admiral himself. These newly-minted privateers know all your hideaways and secret warp-routes, and they've already sent a dozen captains to the prison world of Kraz IV. Simply killing the Admiral won't stop the crews - you'll need to kidnap and ransom someone important to force him to invalidate those letters of marque with his own hand.
  4. El Space Presidente, deposed from his benevolent rule of the Glorious People's Republic of Meridiana VII, sulks with his government-in-exile on the airless mining colony of Algol IX! The Grim Warlord sees an opportunity where most see despair - backwater colonies make for excellent pirate ports. Gain El Space Presidente's trust and ensure safe harbor for other Free Crews, but be cautious: the Presidente is a proud man whose sights are set on one thing alone: Meridiana VII.
  5. The Craven Commander, formerly of the Regime Starfleet, has deserted and started their own pirate operations out of the Tarazed Nebula. Their advanced sensors and drives allow them to operate in the electromagnetic cloud where you're blind and slow - it would be an incredible coup if you could somehow lay your hands on these technologies.
  6. A civilian fleet of supply ships is en route to relieve the heavily industrialized world of Mu Cygni III, in the throes of a devastating series of gravity-quakes. It's a wonderful prize, but this juicy target is guarded by a rare (and tenuous) ceasefire between vessels from both the Rebel Militia and the Regime Starfleet, each of whom want to be seen as the real saviors of the planet's populace.
  7. Pilgrims make their annual journey to the holy world Cygni IX, carrying relics sacred to their schismatic sect of the Church of Celestial Intelligence. Pilgrims are traditionally easy prey, but their sect is militant and flies upgunned one-man starfighters in ecstatic trances with divine speed and precision. Some of the ships and guns themselves are the relics, too, so destroying them isn't an option - and boarding means fighting their holy men, whose light-swords cut through armor, flesh, and (some say) the soul. However, if you took their ships, you'd have their Celestial relic weapons for your own...
  8. The Empyrean Bureaucracy is funding a new privateer campaign. So is the Interstellar Regime. Double-dipping is a time-honored tradition among the Free Crews, and until their myriad bounties on each others' ships expire, everyone in the sky is shooting at everyone else and dragging their hulks back to forward outposts for money. Its a free for all up there, and even the dirtiest tricks are legal.
  9. The Grim Warlord grows restless. The Throne of Hulls leaks and groans. She demands more hulks to add to its bulk, and has her sights set on some truly vast automated colony ships that failed in their ancient mission to settle the (apparently nonexistent) garden world of Hadar III. How do you disarm, dismantle, and recover something the size of a small moon? What happened to them and their sleeping populations at the absent world?
  10. The fall of the DARK EPOCH battlestation around the Monocerotis black hole has not gone unnoticed. Vast bulks of scrap and hypertechnology are ripe for the harvest - at least, until they're devoured by the very black hole it was built to exploit. Every independent scavenger in the sector, plus Naval Contract Corporation cleanup fleets, have descended on the wreck to do the exact same thing.
  11. Legends of the Worldvault, a vast xenogen treasure-planet, have always been a fool's errand to pursue. But now, the Dreaded Dominus claims he's found it, and has returned to the Throne of Hulls with a map to an uncharted point in the Triangulum Nebula and a cache of weapons of clearly alien design. If he's right, and the Worldvault is as the rumours say, he'll become the greatest pirate king in history and bring all the Free Crews to heel with his iron augmetic fist. But if you can get there first, that power may be yours to claim...
  12. Your last offense was too egregious to go unpunished, and so a fleet of the Interstellar Regime's finest warships under the ostensible command of the Pompous Admiral flies to quash the Independent Stronghold around the Sheliak protoplanetary disc. Turn the fleet back, whether by force of arms, cunning, or diplomacy - or lose one of the last free ports near Regime space.
  13. A new colony ship is settling Leonis V, a mineral-rich world near the Azanar Way, a major trade lane you prey upon. Teach them the nature of business around these parts by demanding their first tithe (of many going forward), but take care: their expedition was funded by the merciless Obdurate Marquess, and the colonists are hardbitten veterans of a dozen wars all armed to the teeth.
  14. The Grim Warlord has given tentative sanction to the Impulsive Intellect's latest design. The Intellect believes new research permits a short-range "hyperbreach" weapon that can abduct ships right off of trade lanes for easy plunder, and has constructed a working prototype on a safely uninhabitable nameless dwarf planet in the lucrative Dziban Sector. Test the weapon however you see fit, but don't bring it back unless you have conclusive proof that it's safe and cost-effective.
  15. A one-of-a-kind collection of Old Earth relics is being moved for the first (and likely only) time this century, traded from the Megarich Mogul to the Paranoid Plutocrat. The security corporation Volatex is responsible for the relics' transportation, but an insider, the Audacious Aspirant, has leaked the route to you so they can profit at its expense. Volatex has spared no expense in the defense of the relics, but their planned path takes them near the Gamma Velorum supernova and its total scanner blackout. It should be a by the book  raid - hit the delivery, take out the escorts, and recover the cargo unharmed - assuming you've been told the whole truth.
  16. Two wealthy pirate captains, the Dreaded Dominus and the Brazen Buccaneer, each accuse the other of planting traitors within their ranks. Their fleets have simultaneously docked at the Throne of Hulls, and their crews have already come to blows aboard the station several times. The Intrepid Factor demands you use your formidable reputation to mediate between the two, as the Grim Warlord is away on a therapeutic pillaging retreat and would rather her favorite station not be trashed in her absence.
  17. It's time for the semi-annual "recruitment drive"! The Regime's Naval Contract Corporation is hosting an opulent dedication ceremony for a new line of vessels hot out of drydock at the Raselhague IV shipyard ring. Interrupt the festivities, board the targets, and swashbuckle your way out of the system aboard some fancy new vessels.
  18. The megacorporation Solintel has decided to disrupt the piracy industry by hiring gig workers as bounty hunters to "enforce smuggling regulations" on ships traveling outside Regime-sanctioned trade lanes. Your supply of easy prey has dried up. Show Solintel what real disruption looks like, right above their Agitated Executive's regional branch headquarters on the third moon of Achenar VII.
  19. The Impulsive Intellect's latest development is going to get him killed. He cultivated a true AI, the Credulous Cephalon, and installed it into the crude matter of a gun. The gun, naturally, has become a triumph of engineering capable of truly apocalyptic devastation. The Celestial Intelligences don't want any competition, no matter how revolutionary this feat of microcomputing is. Now a hunter-killer dreadnought, the Rapacious Warmind, is blazing a path through inhabited space right to the Impulsive Intellect's front door - which also happens to be your home station. Protect him - or at least protect yourselves.
  20. The Pirate King of Space, at the helm of his Formidable Flagship, has returned to the Throne of Hulls. Or, at least, someone is claiming to be the Pirate King, and is flying a vessel that looks (and kills) a whole lot like their old, terrifying hulk. The Grim Warlord claims she killed the old bastard on the steps of the Throne, took command of the Free Crews, and banished their whole crew to the farthest reaches of the Triangulum Nebula - but is there more to her story? Will you back your Warlord, or throw your weight behind (potentially) the most dreaded pirate ever to sail the seven skies, who says that even death could not defeat them? Choose swiftly, for neither will wait for you to fully investigate the matter.

Sunday, January 29, 2023


You are a band of itinerant traders; hungry, destitute, and unwelcome in Society. Your wagons are battered, your beasts are crotchety, and your reputation is foul. To escape these unacceptable conditions and claim the riches that are your right, you will do anything: lie, steal, kill, and worst of all – arbitrage.


Wagons. Each point of wagons allows you to carry 6 cargo.
Beasts determine the speed at which your caravan travels.
Reputation determines how you are received by locals. You learn reputation rumors per week in town.

Each stat starts at 1. To improve the caravan’s stats, see Caravan Upgrades. Your caravan also begins with 3d4 crowns (♛) and a partial map of the region.

art by yoggurt


Start in town. Each week you spend in town costs 1♛for basic lodging, food, and board. Better lodgings cost more ♛. You must spend at least one week in town to sell off your wares and acquire new goods or supplies.

Supplies (☒) cost 1♛ each. A unit of supplies will sustain your caravan for one caravan turn.
Commodities are either scarce or common in a location. Common commodities can be bought for
d3♛ per unit. Scarce commodities can be sold for d3+3♛ per unit. All other commodities can be sold for d4♛ per unit. Only common commodities are available for wholesale, unless a rumor says otherwise.

You may also take on Passengers. Fares are based on destination and are paid half up front and half on arrival.
➢ Some passengers are rich and will pay d6 times the normal fare. Such passengers include unapparent heirs, incognito diplomats, eccentric wizards, wealthy merchants, notable scholars, or successful adventurers. Taking on rich passengers is a great way to improve your reputation, but requires status to attract them.
➢ Passengers need to be protected along the journey. Each lost passenger decreases your reputation by 1.
➢ You may carry 1 passenger per full wagon, or 3 passengers per wagon with no commodities. Rich
passengers refuse to travel with cargo or passengers of a lower social strata.

Villages have 1 common and 2 scarce commodities, appear along trade routes or around keeps; local lord demands tithes from traders. Passenger fare 20 nibs (⇃). 100⇃ is 1♛.
Keeps have 2 common, 3 scarce, d3 trade routes linking them to other locations. Traders must give lord first pick of wares. Passenger fare 20⇃.
Towns have 3 common, 6 scarce, d3+1 trade routes. Local nobles’ guards enforce taboos and confiscate contraband. Passenger fare 50⇃.
Cities have 6 common, 3 scarce, d3+3 trade routes. Requires trading license (10♛, halved if reputation 3+) for access to market stalls. City watch checks cargo for contraband. Passenger fare 100⇃.


Increases in stats are tied to specific material changes in your circumstances, and so can be lost in similar ways. You may gain beasts through more, faster, or hardier mounts, wagons through more, larger, or sturdier wagons and pack animals, and reputation through positive relations with important individuals and colorful characters.

Special Upgrades
1. Banners. Visible far and wide; you're a traveling spectacle with wares to ply. Raises your reputation with locals, people will approach more often (whether for good or ill).
2. Beasts of burden. -1 tick of distance on all journeys (minimum 2).
3. Exploration gear. Good for exploration, weathering storms, fording rivers. Takes up an entire wagon.
4. Dire beasts. Eat live prey, not supplies. Double your beasts.
5. Hidden compartments. Deep enough to conceal 1 contraband per wagon from careful scrutiny.
6. Hired guards. Will defend your caravan; fee of 1♛ per guard per trip (may vary based on guard level). May abandon or turn on you if it appears they won’t be paid on time.
7. Passenger carriage. Rich passengers won’t grumble (as much). Counts as an extra wagon for purposes of route length.
8. Quality saddlebags. Carry 2 additional cargo per point of beasts.
9. Well-kept books. Keep meticulous records of prices and goods available. Can hide shady transactions in clever accounting. Raises reputation with bureaucrats and honest merchants.
10. Writ of Passage. Immunity from tax collectors and guards while engaging in lawful commerce. Authority figures grudgingly respect this writ, though they will try to make your life hell through any remaining avenues.

art by Tooth Wu


Each week in town, roll reputation times on the rumor table. You may buy another round for 50⇃ to hear an additional rumor, as many times as you want (up to the level of
your accommodations). Rumors will help you fill out your map, warn you about hazards, provide
deals on cargo, and more.

1. A local common commodity is scarce elsewhere, and the reason why.
2. A local scarce commodity is common elsewhere.
3. A commodity you’re carrying is scarce here! What luck!
4. A deal on supplies! 1☒ costs 75⇃.
5. Danger or characteristic of a nearby trade route.
6. Opportunity on a nearby trade route.
7. Local common commodity available for 1♛ per unit!
8. A commodity is available for wholesale at common prices!
9. Rich passenger needs transport.
10. Learn of a local opportunity to upgrade your caravan for only 2d3♛!
11. Learn of a new trade route from this location.
12. +1 reputation, roll again, and remember nothing else from the night.


Once you've loaded up your wagons and are too broke for another night at the inn, choose a route to a destination.

➢ Routes have a danger level from 1 to 5, representing the number of slots on their d6 encounter table that are filled with random encounters. Slot 6 is always an opportunity. Other results are neutral, or may be modified by the route’s characteristics.
➢ Routes also have a distance to their destination, measured in ticks. A tick is an abstract unit of distance that represents the distance your caravan can travel, comfortably, on one unit of supplies. If you have more beasts than wagons, subtract the difference from the distance. If you have more wagons than beasts, add the difference to the distance. Minimum distance 1.
➢ If you’re insane or well-prepared, you can set off on your own into the wilds. Treat this as a route with danger equal to its distance. Your stats cannot decrease this distance. 

art by Boris Martsev

Travel proceeds in Caravan Turns. Each caravan turn, do the following in order.
1. Move 1 tick closer to your destination.
2. Roll for an encounter.
Danger. Encounter occurs.
Opportunity. Choose to either take the opportunity or move 1 tick closer to your destination.
3. Take a Caravan Action.
4. Consume ☒.


Speed up. Move 1 tick closer to your destination.
Pursue a specific danger or opportunity that you've heard of or encountered on this route. You may replace non-Danger results with that danger or opportunity until you successfully encounter it.
Stop for rest and repairs. All characters may take a long rest. You may consume 1☒ to repair any damage that your caravan has sustained this journey.
Forage for local supplies. Make an appropriate skill check. On a success, gain 1☒.
Something else.

d20 route characteristics

1. Heavily traveled.
2. Long and winding. +2 distance.
3. Poorly mapped.
4. Pilgrimage route.
5. Highly populated.
6. Smuggler’s route.
7. Wet, swampy. -1 tick per wagon.
8. Sparse. No foraging en route.
9. Dense foliage. Can't speed up.
10. Tight paths. At max 2 beasts.
11. Underground.
12. Heavily patrolled.
13. Rampant beasts.
14. Storm-wracked.
15. Plagued.
16. Embattled.
17. Cursed, according to locals.
18. Monster hunting ground.
19. Ruined route, from a past era.
20. Doesn’t go where marked.

art by Piotr Dura

d20 random route encounters

1. Highwaymen, demanding toll.
2. Bandits, demanding your cargo.
3. Lawmen, checking contraband.
4. Tax collectors.
5. Rival caravan.
6. Mercenary company, disgruntled.
7. Traveling preachers and flock.
8. Adventurers, looting.
9. Storm!
10. River. Must be forded.
11. Plague! -1 beasts until cured.
12. Wolves or other pack hunters.
13. Bear or similar megafauna.
14. Dragon or similar gigafauna.
15. Bridge troll, bridge optional.
16. Goblins or similar nuisance.
17. Ghosts.
18. A battle!
19. A stowaway!
20. Roll twice; both at once.

d20 opportunities en route

1. Village, not on map.
2. Crossroads and trading post.
3. Campsite & travelers. d4 rumors.
4. High vantage; expand map.
5. Wrecked caravan, unlooted.
6. Rich passenger, needs ride to city.
7. Pilgrims, need ride to sacred site.
8. Monster nest, seems unguarded.
9. Fork in road, leads to new route.
10. Standing stones, magical.
11. Local commodity for harvest.
12. Shortcut! -2 ticks of distance.
13. Supply cache. +d4☒.
14. Adventurers, questing.
15. Abandoned keep.
16. Ancient ruins.
17. Lost temple.
18. Noble mansion, taking visitors.
19. Wizard tower.
20. Buried treasure (likely cursed).

➢ Don’t put every encounter on every trade route.
➢ Some encounters are best addressed without violence, but none can be avoided.
➢ Create new entries or tables for your setting.


When buying or selling commodities, a price is given up front. In response, you may haggle. If you are successful, you may roll another price and take whichever result is more advantageous. If you fail, roll another price and take whichever result is less advantageous.

art by Ilia12345
d20 commodities
1. Grain.
2. Iron, copper, tin, etc.
3. Gold, silver, other precious metals.
4. Foodstuffs. Can be eaten as supplies in a pinch.
5. Booze.
6. Salt.
7. Spices.
8. Weapons, armor, & ammunition
9. Tools & manufactured goods.
10. Ceramics.
11. Fabric.
12. Fauna, alive.
13. Livestock. Does not count towards beasts.
14. Narcotics
15. Relics.
16. Books, whether holy, rare, or magical.
17. Art.
18. Magical reagents.
19. Trinkets.
20. Roll twice, it’s both.

d20 reasons why it’s scarce
1. Brand name.
2. High quality.
3. Subject of recent fad among wealthy.
4. Impossibly rare.
5. Magical.
6. Contraband in major polities.
7. Other traders bought it all out.
8. Dangerous or difficult to carry.
9. Recent shortage.
10. Easily disguised as something more valuable.
11. Eccentric aristocrat wants lots of it for "reasons".
12. Recently proscribed by clerical decree.
13. Bandits raiding caravans along common routes.
14. Necessary for recent innovation.
15. Monopolized by cartel, syndicate, or guild.
16. Supply shortage due to recent disaster.
17. Difficult or dangerous to harvest.
18. Royally-imposed punitive taxes.
19. Recently discovered; subject of gold rush.
20. No one knows – profit by finding out why!

Most Recent Post

The Sapper

A well-supplied sapper corps will make or break a siege. In nominal peacetime, their particular set of skills lends themselves well to the m...