Saturday, September 24, 2022

Charting the Sunken Temple of the Gilled Horror: Part 2

Accosted by the shambling dead; damp, cold, and bleeding - the party is joined by a few familiar faces and an emissary of Sachar, God of the Righteous Dawn as they plumb the dark and dripping corridors beneath the Sunken Temple of the Gilled Horror.

Watch below - or on YouTube!

Lessons learned: sleepy CWR is nice CWR. In the future, I'll need to announce target numbers before requiring a roll - as that'll keep me from being wishy washy about what was needed to succeed. Chainmail and the 2d6 combat system we're using - so far - continues to hold up under pressure. I will be excited to see how it handles as the players advance in level!

Delve on!

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Weapons, Wits, & Wizardry: Skirmish & Duel Combat

A Blow on the Head; Albert Robida
Updated: 10/9/2022

Man to Man

...with Multiples

The primary appeal of Chainmail resolution to me is twofold - first, its simplicity and its expeditiousness; and second, its utilization of concurrent hits to casualty larger than life figures. Where the traditional approach of hit points can be used to abstract both grit and skill - the lesser fighter will take a more grievous injury than the superior fighter who knows how to roll with the punches - it doesn't fit well in the context of the game: giving a character multiple attacks, but requiring multiple hits to "connect", better presents the target as defending itself and scaling that defense according to martial prowess: determined by level of experience.

So, with troop combat - there is speed of dice pool successes; and with man to man - there is the granularity of weapon versus armor: how to combine the two? 

To take a hint from Fantasy Combat resolution (and reverse an idea from Majestic Fantasy for Swords & Wizardry to make it fit!)

Man Equivalence and Attack Pool

Each character should consider its own offensive capability in terms of a pool: this pool is a number of attacks equal to the character’s Man Equivalence and is refreshed each round. During the appropriate phase - Missile or Melee - the attack sequence below is then executed.

Attack Sequence

  1. Assign: The character assigns a number of attacks from their pool to a given target, up to their remaining attack pool.

  2. Duellist with Sword and Dagger; Jacques  Callot Resolve: Dice are rolled – 2d6 – and the value, after modifiers, is compared to the target number of the weapon versus the armor (or armor equivalence) of the target.

    If the target number is met or exceeded, the target suffers a number of Hits equal to the number of attacks allocated in Step 1.

  3. Remove & Repeat: The number of attacks assigned in Step 1 are then – regardless of success or failure in Step 2 – deducted from the attack pool. If the character has additional attacks remaining, the controlling player may then repeat this process on the same or a new target.

Once the pool reaches 0, the character may make no further attacks until the following combat round.


When a defender has accrued a number of Hits in one round (cumulative between all sources) equal to or greater than its own Man Equivalence, an Injury is suffered (or casualty inflicted, hit points lost, etc. - to taste).

Critical Blows

Man Preparing to Draw His Sword; Jacques Callot

For an attack which succeeds and on which doubles are rolled on the 2d6 attack roll, a Critical Blow is struck. When a Critical Blow occurs, the hits inflicted on the defender are equal to double the attacks assigned to the roll.

Additionally, hits against vulnerable targets - targets unaware they are under attack, targets which are prone on the field of battle, and so on - are likewise doubled.

This is designed to prevent characters of only slightly higher level than an adversary from being invincible to that adversary in man to man while still preserving the possibility of great warriors or powerful monsters only a hero could hope to tackle alone.

The Math: Hits and Crits

A hit on the Man to Man table can be achieved - depending on weapon vs armor - on between a 5 and 12 on 2d6: producing a wide variety of probabilities. To prove I've thought about it - for the purposes of illustration, we'll focus on target numbers of 6, 8, and 10 - an easy, a normal, and a challenging result.

Provided, a matrix of all possible combinations on 2d6 - with their respective result:

2d6 1 2 3 4 5 6
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
5 6 7 8
9 10 11
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
3 4 5
6 7 8 9
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
In red, a result which will miss all target numbers. In yellow, a result which would hit only the easiest target number, 6. In blue, a result which would hit both the easiest 6 and the moderate target number of 8. In green, a roll which would hit all target numbers.

In deeper highlight and italicized, a double: representing on hit a result which would indicate a critical result.

Observing the provided, there are 36 possible outcomes - with six possibilities for a double. Thus:

Target Number Chance for a Hit Chance for a Double
6 26-in-36, or around 72%.
4-in-36, or around 11%.
8 15-in-36, or around 42%.
3-in-36, or around 8%.
10 6-in-36, or just shy of 17%.
2-in-36, or just shy of 6%.

A character well armed - having a weapon appropriate to the enemy's defenses - may reasonably expect to hit frequently and hit above their pay-grade on a d20 equivalent of 19: whereas a character armed poorly relative to the enemy's defenses will have a difficult time hitting - and will hit above their pay-grade on a d20 equivalent to a natural 20.


The Hero can stand against a squad of normal men, holding his own; the Wizard stares down a fell beast which has laid waste to an army before it! Chainmail accomplishes this via the Fantasy Combat table - a solution to a problem where some units take many hits before going down: making them prime candidates to strategically lock down other units. Concurrent hits - as I describe above - are actually very uncommon: only Lycanthropes, Heroes, Super Heroes, and Wizards (implied) use them: however, this is an even more extreme example - as two Heroes who run into each other on the battlefield, using troop combat - have a statistically insignificant chance (almost 1 in 1,300) to end their conflict in anything other than a draw. Thus, the Fantasy Combat matrix is provided to pit Fantastic creatures and figures against one another - catering to the fiction from which they are drawn: Dragons cannot be killed in normal combat, but can be slain by a Hero with a bow and magic arrows (*cough* *Esgaroth* *cough*) with only a moderate degree of luck; Trolls are fearsome opponents, but are vulnerable to the magical weapons Elves carry (*cough* *The Broken Sword* *cough*). The key take-away here, however, is less the fiction: but from the gamist perspective, the rapidity of resolution. 

Chainmail is a wargame. The intent of Chainmail is not to imitate epic show-downs, but instead to allow armies to clash and to vie against one another for land, treasure, or honor. For that reason, it has to be quick - to bog the game down would result in the inability to utilize the rule in a tournament setting: and might inspire players to ban the Fantasy Supplement altogether - favoring the tight rules for more real-world military engagements. Baron Frederick Ran Me Down; Howard Pyle And it accomplishes this smoothness by pairing Fantastic adversaries against one another on a chart - requiring one roll only to decide the fray.

But how to accomplish the same result without ever and infinitely expanding a literature-based table?

An Equivalence Solution

I referenced Majestic Fantasy for Swords & Wizardry above. In reality, I should have referenced a blog post - Multiple Fighter attacks revisited for Swords & Wizardry: written by Rob Conley, proprietor of Bat in the Attic Games the author of the aforementioned Majestic Fantasy and a perennial figure in the OSR ecosystem. You're shilling him awfully hard  this post, CWR - what's up with that? I want to highlight Rob and his product line because - while, admittedly, I like some of it more than others - by and large he's a sharp cookie who has good insights into the experience of an OSR sandbox game. If you play Swords & Wizardry, or if you play OSE or any other TSR-friendly OSR system - I would encourage you to consider looking into his blog, checking out some of his work, and seeing if it's right for you. 

But - for the time being, we'll focus on what I saw that changed how I wanted to approach combat in Chainmail and Weapons, Wits, & Wizardry: namely, multiple attacks. In AD&D 1e, a Fighter gets multiple attacks - one per level - against enemies of 1 HD or less. This is an import from the Chainmail roots of the game, promoting the Name-Level-Fighter-As-A-Wrecking-Ball of mass combat. Encountering 40-400 Kobolds? No problem. You're taking out 10 at a time - plus, by that point, you're assumed to have retainers behind you: but that's another story. This didn't sit well with me - as I commented on Rob's post when I first read it - because a Fighter is a whirlwind of destruction against 1 HD enemies - skeletons, normal men, goblins - but then becomes no better than his own normal men troops immediately facing anything else - zombies, Elves, a freaking badger, etc. How Rob handles this - I recommend his blog post for a better explanation - but he counts down: the Fighter "spends" attacks according to the HD of the enemy - attacking, dealing damage, and so on as normal with each. It's a considerable boost - but one which is much needed for the character archetype that, though allegedly Gary's favorite, falls behind fellow classes in effectiveness as the levels accrue. Approaching it from a Chainmail perspective - I had the opposite problem: too many attacks and how to pare them down!

In the Spirit of Fantasy Combat

The resolution strategy of Fantasy Combat is solid - the problem comes with extensibility. In Chainmail, Fantasy Combat is a chart - depending on which figure engages which other figure, cross-referenced on the matrix. Knowing this, each new Fantastic monster would need to have a new entry on the list - and values determined for each potential opponent. To stick to literary inspiration - this would also pose a problem as some new monsters have no precedent to appear next to one another in the fiction: naturally providing a narrative limitation on the addition in addition to the margin limitation: that is, how big can the table get before it no longer fits in a book?

The Man to Man approach with a multiple-hits caveat solves this problem.

By treating the attack and defense of a Fantastic creature according to an equivalence on the Man to Man table - which can be extended indefinitely in rows, if the need arises - it provides a natural answer to "how would this monster affect this other monster?" and "how would a human heroic character overcome this monster?" Thus, say we create a Grue. The Grue - according to our own table - has 4 hit dice: a fighting man of normal bearing has no chance to hurt it. However - a Hero - armed accordingly - has a chance. A single success will strike the creature down - as would a Fantasy Combat entry - and also it allows the Hero to outfit himself for the occasion. We know that Grue attack by eating their foes: perhaps bulkier armor (Plate), preventing easy swallowing, will affect its ability to inflict that attack. Weapon and armor choice continues to matter - giving the Fighting Man more tools in the toolbox. But that's another story.

What about Monsters?

Ostensibly, monsters should receive multiple attacks. A cave troll crashing into the packed ranks of pikemen, rending left and right, throwing men asunder before coming face to face with a champion in its way - this is accomplished in Chainmail by troop combats followed by Fantasy Combat when the pair square off. In the same sense - combining the two under the Man to Man approach described above, the troll would - having a high Man Equivalence - be entitled to multiple attacks (the aforementioned left and right) and then few - perhaps one or two - against the hero, who likewise has an elevated Man Equivalence.

If it gets to the point where it's tedious? Say, rolling 2d6 three or four times in a row?

In that case - I may recommend defaulting to troop combat. Roll dice, on 6s - count a hit: appropriate to the light/heavy/armored spectrum - just in the name of speed. However: for the time being, the rule stands - and unless play-test proves a problem? We'll see how it goes!

Thanks for reading!

Death as Victor; Alfred Rethel

Public domain artwork retrieved from and the National Gallery of Art and adapted for use. Attribution in alt text.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Charting the Sunken Temple of the Gilled Horror

A fisherman - venturing inland, navigating the brackish salt-creeks of Honor's Hold - has told a story about strange plinths, coquina in construction, rising - salt-soaked and vine-blanketed - from the still waters of an inland lake. What lies within the silent, damp depths of this forgotten crypt? And who is brave enough to map the innards - charting the Sunken Temple to a Gilled Horror?

Watch below, or on YouTube!

Join the adventure on the CWR Discord!

Saturday, September 10, 2022

Wreck on the Reef

Ships in a Gale; Wilem van de Velde the Younger
The bay, my lad, is a perilous destination for a sailing man – at least, one who hasn’t seen his way about the shoals before. It seems deep enough, aye, but throughout – even to the very center – reefs and rocks jut up from the bottom: waiting to snag your keel and drag the boards right out from under your bottom. Happened to the Earl’s own son, you know – his two-decker: struck a crag unseen from the surface, snapped it clean in half! The aft of her slipping beneath the waves and hanging vertical against the rock!

See now, the captain never did wash ashore… and the crew said they abandoned ship with naught but the shirts on their backs. A betting man – a brave man – might be curious to find out if the Earl’s gold was still onboard along with her dead...

Scale: 10 ft.
Click HERE for a PDF version of this adventure!

Suitable for 4th or 5th level.

A little keyhole icon in a door means the door is locked.
A little "S" through a door means the door is secret.
The other icon on a door - which is supposed to look like a muscly arm - indicates a door is stuck and must be forced open.

A Note on Verticality

The boat, having struck a reef, has split in half; the bow – labeled Topside – is wedged in the coral, comfortably sitting safely at a horizontal plane; however the stern – labeled Down Beneath – is hanging by a thread: dangling over the precipice into deeper waters. Thus, all of the Down Beneath map is under water and should be read with the notion that “east” (or, left) is actually up: while “west” (or, right) is down – deeper into the water. 

Ceilings on the boat are 8 foot.

Wandering Monsters

When a wandering monster is encountered, roll 2d6 on the table below, consulting the column appropriate to the party’s location to determine the monster type encountered.

Roll Topside Down Beneath
Draco (B38)
Hydra (X34)
Buccaneer (B35)
Mermen (X36)
Sea Snake (B42)
Giant Leech (X34)
Crocodile (X29)
Mako Shark (X39)
Fresh Water Termite (X40)
Giant Piranha (X31)
Giant Crab (X29)
Giant Crab (X29)
Flying Insect Swarm (B37)
Bull Shark (X39)
Harpy (B36)
Sea Snake (B42)
Salt Water Termite (X40)
Giant Rockfish (X31)
Buccaneer (B35)
Nixie (X36)
Large Crocodile (X29)
Hydra (X34)



1 - Upper Forecastle

On the south-east side, arrow slits adorn the wall; on the north east, a hole the size of a man and a half. Two Harpies (B36) have taken up residence in the space – which is filled with their nesting.

Main Level

1 - Serpent Watch

Barrels and crates are still battened down in the niches of the outbuilding on the east side. Four Sea Snakes (B42) bask in the sunlight here. Embedded in the wall of the eastern enclosure, facing to the bow, is a circular wooden scarab. If broken open, inside is hidden a Scarab of Protection (X50).

Most of these are empty, some are filled with long-soured water or grog, but one crate to the south contains silver bullion – 1,200 gp worth – weighing 120 lb. Against the bow is sprawled a mostly-decayed and gull-pecked skeleton, still in its clothing. It lies atop a lockbox containing 200 gp.

2 - Lower Forecastle

A colossal paper wasp nest has been constructed, spanning the gap between the stairs up and the forward mast. If disturbed, an Insect Swarm, Flying (B37) with 4 hit dice will emerge.

3 - Deck Remaining

A wooden lattice covering the opening to below-decks has collapsed, having been broken in half. Three Fresh Water Termite (X40) are not helping the matter, slowly working to pulp what support remains.


1 - Upper Hold

Crates and barrels loaded primarily with foodstuffs, long spoiled or dried up, are tethered to the walls and floor. A Giant Crab (X29) is foraging and a ladder tall enough to reach the deck above lies precariously balanced on the edge to the east.

2 - Officers' Cabin

Bunk beds suitable for officers – four of them – align to the north and west walls. Linen mattresses, apparently proofed against liquid, remain in three of them – two west, one north.

A line has been stretched under the lower bunk on the west, such that if one sits or lies upon it, the line will snap: tearing a hole in the mattress and releasing a choking powder. Any character in the room when the powder is released must Save vs Death.

3 - Crew Quarters 

Hammocks appropriate for a crew hang along the walls of the space along crates and a card table near the west wall adjoining room 2. A set of dice sits on the card table. The dice are cursed. They will roll well whenever no one is watching, but will cause the bearer to lose any game of chance in which they partake.

Under a loose board beneath the card table can be found a purse containing 600 gp.

Shipwrecked; Frederic de Courcy

Down Beneath


1 - Helm

The rear mast has broken off, leaving a jagged stump. A helm in the rear attaches to a thick wooden mount. This helm is precariously attached – and extremely dense. A character which is behind it and interacts with it has a chance to dislodge it and must Save vs Paralysis or be caught under it as it careens downwards into the deeps.

Main Level

1 - Sunken Quarterdeck

Circling in the shallows and sniffing around the stairwells to the bridge are 4 Mako Sharks (X39).

Paradise Fish; Unknown Artist

2 - Aftcastle Foyer

Weapon racks along the north and south walls hold long-rusted pole arms. A heavy table has fallen and is propped against the rear mast; stools are piled on the east wall. 

Small fish take refuge in dead plants in the nooks to the north and south.

3 - Captain's Office

A table with what appears to be a map stands on the floor as though it is still upright rather than at a right angle tilt. The map is magically protected – if a character attempts to read it or attempts to remove it, it will stiffen, shatter, and explode in a lateral plane. All characters in room 3 are targeted by a single THAC0 18 attack, dealing 1d6 damage on hit: the trap has a +4 bonus to hit the reader/purloiner only.

4 - Captain's Cabin

A luxurious bed is propped against the east wall. On the west wall hangs a suit of bronze armor and spear – around the neck of the armor is an emerald amulet (900 gp value). In the south west corner, a locked chest is bolted to the floor – it contains 3,000 silver and 200 gold pieces.

5 - Captain's Closet

Two Giant Crab (X29) feed on a bloated corpse – oblivious to knowing they've accidentally locked themselves in. There is a 2-in-6 chance that one will be on the door when a party member opens it: causing the crab to fall through into room 4.


1 - Sunken Hold

A school of four Giant Piranha (X31) circle ominously, concealed from the Mako outside.

2 - Nixie's Hide

A dozen Nixie (X36) are concealed among unrecognizable metal and wooden wreckage fallen against the east wall, waiting for the Piranha in room 1 to move on.

3 - Hallway

Picture frames line the walls three to the north, three to the south, but the pictures have gone missing.

4 - Former Quartermaster

Atop a bed of kelp, an eleven-headed Sea Hydra (X34) has made its lair in this rear room of the hanging wreck. 

Jerusalem. The Sword of Godfroy of Bouillon; Auguste Salzmann

5 - Sword's Rest 

A pile of coins – 9,000 copper and 6,000 silver, wash the west wall. Buried within them is a topaz (10gp), jeweler's garnet (100gp), and two blue diamonds (500gp each).

In a latched case on the east wall is an ornate sword: this sword is magical, +1 (+3 vs Regenerating Creatures) – but the case in which it is contained is trapped. If the latch is undone, an electric circuit is interrupted, causing the current to course through the water and into the un-latcher: who suffers 2d6 damage and must Save vs Paralysis each round: on each failure, remaining stuck in place and suffering a further d6 until a Save succeeds, allowing them to retreat.


Public domain art retrieved from and the National Gallery of Art and adapted for thematic use. Attributions in alt text.


Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Escape from the Brass Ziggurat

Beleaguered and blocked off from the direction they'd come, the party nabs what they can and moves ever forward: snaking through the innards of the Brass Ziggurat in search of a way out and an avenue home.

Watch below, or on YouTube

Learn more about the Ash Coast on the CWR Discord server!

Saturday, September 3, 2022

The Ash Coast, Session -2: Return to the Brass Ziggurat

Lured by the stories of fat zealots laxly guarding hidden treasure, or by the mystery of the strange emblems recovered, a party musters anew - this time, seeking entry to the mysterious Brass Ziggurat: uncovering whatever lies within.

Watch below, or on YouTube

Learn more about the Ash Coast on the CWR Discord server!

Thoul Tunnels

Scale: 10 ft. Click HERE for a PDF ve...