TRAVELLER: Out of the Box–More On the Value of Tables, Improvisation, and Lack of Plot


In this post I discussed what “Encounters” meant in 1970s RPGs.

I later came across this post at Dispatches from Kickassistan called Dynamic Hexcrawl Required Reading: Yoon-Suin & Philosophy.

While the post is primarily about Yoon-Suin‘s amazing tables and design philosophy for presenting an RPG setting, it also addresses the value of randomization and tables in general.

I believe that such syntactical weight should be given to the improvisation, innovation and creation processes. Charts and tables can give you elements to play with, but it is through a conscious, creative action of building interrelations between those elements that details become facts and that facts are given life at the game table. We must interpret the data given to us and it is in that act of interpretation that data-gathering becomes synthesis, where we create something new out of the raw “A, B, C” of our data source.

This is why I love tables.

The best things that tables can be are (a) inventive (introducing new things I might not have thought about otherwise) and (b) useful. Yoon-Suin’s tables do these things on nearly every page. The book focuses more on creating interesting and useful social structures than stuff like terrain and lairs because, let’s face it, there’s enough stuff out there in other resources (or already in our brains) that reinventing the wheel isn’t always the most practical thing an author can do. But what is practical? Taking the “here, make it yourself” a few steps further than I’ve seen it done before and instead of telling me “this kingdom is like this, this other kingdom is like that,” author David McGrogan gives us different series of tables to let us figure out for ourselves what each place is like. In essence, he provides an aesthetic, you and I fill in the blanks when set about using the material. He provides the words, you and I supply the syntax.

One only has to keep the logic of this post in mind and see the value of Classic Traveller’s Main World Generation system and the use of its Random Encounter Tables. (Traveller‘s random encounter tables range from NPCs, to Patrons, to Starship Encounters, to Legal Encounters, to Animals.)

I should add that the Kickassistan post and posts like it are a corrective to folks who say, “I don’t like the crazy worlds Traveller‘s Main World Generation system offers.”

Tk Ben fair, the people who complain about the results of the Main World Generation System are  usually the folks trying to map entire an Traveller sector. That’s 16 subsectors, which averages 560 worlds! And sometimes they are trying to map multiple sectors(!), so drilling down for imaginative gold for so many planets might well prove frustrating if not impossible.

But if one remembers that in original Traveller one was supposed to develop one, maybe two, subsectors, the use of randomly generated Main Worlds as “a prod to the imagination” makes perfect sense. The system produces results that demand extraordinary justifications–and thus settings worthy of pulp adventure science-fiction.


I think expanding the Random Patron table in Classic Traveller with some lessons from Yoon-Suin might be interesting.

Here are example tables from Yoon-Suin. In these tables the Referee determines what group the Player Characters encounter or know:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 6.46.48 AM

One of the results is 6. Noble House.

Here is the table for Noble House:

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One could create such tables for a world, a cluster of stars or a subsector, to create a specific feel of culture and place. Many elements on the tables could be design as “open sets,” so instead of “Nobility” it might be “Ruling Class”–a term translatable to any kind of government system or world culture.

For something far less involved one could expand on the Traveller Patron Encounter table, modeling it on this table from Yoon-Suin:

Screen Shot 2016-07-24 at 6.53.43 AM

In this case, one would roll on the Patron Encounter from Classic Traveller, then roll on the middle column above, and then once more on the Classic Traveller Patron Encounter table. In this way the Referee doesn’t find himself simply staring at a noun (“Arsonist”). Instead, the table helps prompt action and situation in the Referee’s imagination.

Also note that in this method which NPC is looking to hire the PCs is not specified. The Referee, once he brainstorms up the situation, is free to have any of the NPCs he concocts wth this method approach the NPCs. An Arsonist might be the first NPC rolled, but it might be the Noble who hires the NPCs, knowing their is an Arsonist on his tail.


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Over at Citizens of the Imperium (membership required to read threads past the first post), Mike Wightman wrote up another interesting method of using the Patron Encounter table to help generate interesting results:

Easiest way is with an example (note that this is using the 81 version of LBB3 – Starter Edition and The Traveller Book actually have much more comprehensive tables)

I roll on the patron table and get:

rumour, avenger, army

next I roll on random person encounter

workers, animal encounter (a roll of 6,n I take as animal or alien) and ambushing brigands.

I pick the starting encounter:

Lets say the players encounter some workers who are obviously agitated, discussion with them reveals that the industrial plant they have been operating has been closed due to rumours of some violent native beast, and that some hotheads are thinking of going to hunt the animals down. There is a rumour that the animals in question have highly valuable (insert whatever you want here – anagathic glands, valuable fur, expensive blubber – whatever).

Players may or may not join the hunt, but they have been seen talking to the workers.

Next encounter depends – if they go on the animal hunt then they may encounter the ambushing brigands who are also after the animals, or they may encounter the army patrol guarding the industrial site and containing the animals.

If they don’t go on the hunt they are approached by the avenger who has lost (family member, best friend, whatever will pull players in) and offers to guide the players past the workers/army guards to get to the animals.

If they went along with the workers they may still encounter the avenger being attacked by the brigands/army patrol.

It’s fairly organic – I may decide to change the encounter order in response to player actions, and reaction rolls may make things more tense than they need to be.

And at some point I have to generate the animal stats…

By making several rolls on the Patron Encounter table, and letting his brain mull how they might be connected, he creates situations (not a linear adventure) for the Player Characters to wander into.

This kind of thinking–create situations for the Player Characters to wander into through the use of random tables–is often poo-pooed these days. But it was the bread-and-butter of RPG play in the 1970s.

The shift occurred when the model of publishing changed. At first, games were self-contained, with tables offering Referees and players a toolset method for creating situation, setting, and play. When you bought OD&D or Original Traveller, you really didn’t need anything else to have countless hours of play.

But, of course, that led the creators of these games with nothing else to sell. Moreover, consumers, being consumers, wanted to buy more things. Publishers obliged the consumers  by creating detailed setting and pre-built adventures.

cropped-big_thumb_5cd94fac8a576ffacd5c650d9754f745.jpgBACK IN THE OLD DAYS: SITUATIONS, NOT PRE-PLOTTED STORIES

A distinction has to be made here. The early adventures of Dungeons & Dragons were environments. That is, they had no plot and were not linear in their expectation of play. They were situations scattered around a map. What the Player Characters chose to pursue, in what order, whether to fight them, outsmart them, avoid them, exploit them, were all matters left to the Players to decide for their Player Characters.

So, as a modern example, I ran the module Death Frost Doom from Lamentations of the Flame Princess. (You can read all about my LotFP campaign if you are so interested.)


The module is a terrific dungeon scenario. But it is structured in an interesting way:

The quest-item the PCs seek is at a “chock-point” in the geography of the dungeon, which basically divides the dungeon in half, and thus the adventure. The Players, upon having their characters find the quest object, can elect to grab the object and get the hell out of the creepy place. Or they can continue on, dealing deeper into the weirdness.

Importantly, the second half of the dungeon is where things get particularly bat-shit crazy. Even more importantly, there are events waiting in that back-back have what can have a cataclysmic, apocalyptic effect on the game’s campaign setting.

I ran the scenario knowing of two things would happen: An undead priest ruling an army of thousand of undead would rise and march on 17th Century Europe — or he would not. That, clearly, is a big fork in the road for any campaign. And I played it without any concern or expectation as to which way it would go. The Players would make choices and take actions on behalf of their PCs… and the fallout of those choices would dictate the direction of the campaign. I had no big plot, no agenda, no “right way” I wanted the “story” to go. I had no story, I had no expectations for the campaign. The campaign would, in fact, be exactly what it turned out to be, found through play, not in planning.


If one reads the Adventure 1: The Kinunir for Classic Traveller one finds four situations, not a “story” or a campaign of any kind. The book is basically a list of suggestions for scenarios that the Referee will have to flesh out.  Adventure 1 does not assume any sort of straightforward plot. Rather, Adventure 1 assumes the Referee will be using both the material contained within its pages and all the Random Encounters Tables found in Traveller Books 1-3. These tables would be used to flesh out situations and an evening of play, adding unexpected details and situations and filling out the environment in unexpected ways.

But module design would change drastically within the first few years of the hobby.

By 1980 what I think of as “Old School” was already shifting and becoming lost. The needs of publishers are in many ways the antithetical to the promise of the early years of the hobby. Call of Cthulhu, for example, published in 1981, was firmly in the camp of very linear, very “Your Players Will Experience This” modules.

I don’t think the folks first playing D&D from 1974 to, say, 1978 would ever have imagined such a structure as the Dragonlance modules. And, I would argue, the folks first playing Traveller would have looked at The Traveller Adventure and not quite known what to make of it.

Many people enjoy these very plotted adventures–and I would never begrudge those people their pleasure. My only point is that such designs gut the original spirit of play of early RPGs.

Tightly structured adventure scenarios fall apart with too much randomness or too much freewheeling agency on the part of the PCs. Rather than find out where the campaign goes based on the mix of the PCs actions and randomly rolled details, later RPG design expected PCs to follow the paths of the adventure “correctly”–or render the investment of the module useless. Whether such play is better or worse, it is certainly different.

One of the joys of the OSR is bringing back a trust and expectation of randomness, and a love of discovering where the campaign will go through play.

Yoon-Suin: Notes on Tonight’s Game


I used the tables in Yoon-Suin to generate Four Social Circles for the PCs, five NPCs, Four Small Communities and three Rumors/Hooks.

However, tonight is a one shot, and as much a I am madly in love with the sandbox nature of Yoon-Suin and The Yellow City, I realized I better start focusing or we’d spend a whole session with us wandering around (which would be amazing) and then me saying at the evening’s end, “Welp, that’s it.” Also, there are so many situations and conflicts already in motion that I want the Players to interact with some of them.

So, I decided to focus on one of them, breaking out some of the details in one of the Social Circles, combining it with a Small Community already on hand, pulling in an NPC from another Social Circles, adding a Lair of Crab-Men, and creating a daemon of love that lives in a lotus blossom growing on a rock in the Topaz Isles…

The notes below are for this focused thread for tonight. Note that I have no expectations on what that the Players will have their characters do, what the “climax” might be, how it will end, or which “side” they might back. There’s plenty of directions to go… and it’s up to them to decide what their PCs value and want to do.

In short, the Player Characters will have several NPCs in their social circles. But one in particular, an owner of a Fighting Club Troupe, is in dire straights as his fighters keep losing matches for uncanny reasons…

How this will all unfold, I have no idea. I also have all the other NPCs and Social Circles and setting details I’ve created on tap, so if the PCs want to seek information or help from other people, I’ve already got some NPCs with their own concerns and agendas waiting in the wings.

I’ll have the more details about how the process works (and the other details I rolled up) in a future post.


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And a few tables later, I ended up with this…


The Fight Troupe of Po-Li’s Ever Calming Hammers

Conflict: The owner’s wife has become an opium addict. Her dreams have opened a passage for a daemon of love to enter the world and curse the troupe so it will fail and the wife and a addled, retired fighter can go off into happiness.

Hook: The Fighters in the Troop keep losing in improbable circumstances. They have been unknowingly cursed.


Po-li: The Owner, rail thin and perpetually wound up. His desire is for money.

Har-kuah: Po-li’s wife, an addict, and Dimdaalo’s primary caretaker. She is voluptuous and earthy. Her desire is love.

Dimdaalo Jin the Victorious: A retired fighter, an addict. A man with a battered body, a good nature, pleased to be in reposed so often every day after so many years fighting.

Kelo-Bindo: Har-kuah’s sister, who made the trip out to the shrine of Ko-Re-Nah and prayed for her sister’s love to break her addiction, leave Po-li, and return to her family.

The Curse: When fighting, Ko-Re-Nah influences them, moving them from the focused aggression and hatred required for a battle to one of loving the man they are fighting. It is only for a split second (it takes effort for Ko-Re-Nah to make this change in the demeanor of the fighter for this brief period of time) but it is enough for the men to lose their focus and make a move or mistake that throws the fight to their opponents.


Bo Pan’s Mining Operation on a Topaz Islet

A Brutal Foreman and his guards are facing off against local Crab-men who believe the islet is sacred. The islet is home to a natural shrine of Ko-Re-Nah, a spirit of love.

Bo Pan: a Noble of the Yellow City who sponsored the mining operation.

Lee Don: the Brutal foreman who desires to get back home to his wife and children. He is determine to mine out the topaz as quickly as possible.

  • Lee Don: 2HD Fighter
  • 17 Guards: 1HD Fighter
  • 85 Slaves: 0HD
  • 11 Unites of Topaz
  • Bo Pan is getting ready to double down on his investment and hire mercenaries to go wipe out the Crab-men lair.
  • Lee Don is on pins and needles. No one is allowed near the island anymore, and is fired upon on sight by the five archers he has in his company.


The Lotus Shrine of Ko-Re-Nah

On the islet, in a small hole in a group of tall rocks not much bigger than a fist. It is the sacred shrine of Ko-Re-Nah, which contains a lotus flower which grows from the very rock. The flower is only visible at night, one the light from one of the three moons touches the stones.

Ko-Re-Nah: A spirit of love in the form of a lotus leaf. She has entered this world through Har-kuah’s dreams. She wants Har-kuah to be happy and has cursed the troop to always fail in their fights, hoping to ruin Po-li’s Ever Calming Hammers and allow Har-Kuah and Dimdaalo Jin to drift away into a slumber of love together.

Rituals & Rules for the Shrine

Anyone within 10’ of the Shrine feels rejuvenated and receives 1d8 HPs of Healing. This healing effect is usable once per day and leaves whomever receives this blessing unable to commit acts of violence for 1d4 hours receiving it

Anyone asking for Ko-Re-Nah’s blessing or a favor, with an appropriate offering (a pledge of service to love), will receive a boon of some sort indirect aid in the request via an act of love.

If the shrine is somehow moved, the magical properties reman intact.

If the shrine is destroyed (the rock ruined or the lotus blossom destoryed (the first will cause the second)): the loving spirit of Ko-Re-Nah is destroyed, but in her death throes she becomes a bitter hateful spirit. Her spirit will last 1d6 rounds until the magical properties that let her exist in this plane dissipate.

Ko-Re-Nah’s Hateful Spirit

HD 3
AC 15
#ATT 1
DMG: Special
Move 0 (Fly 150)
ML 8
Save As: F4
TT: None

  • Is immune to non-magical weapons.
  •  The sight of an ice ghost causes fear – failing a saving throw versus magic results in the victim fleeing in terror for d6 rounds and dropping any items carried.
  • The sound of an ice ghost’s screams cause instant death to any living thing within 50 yards on failure of a saving throw versus death.

If Ko-Re-Nah’s evil spirit is killed before she leaves this plane, her heart falls to the ground. It is a Black Diamond worth 1,000sp.

If Ko-Re-Nah leaves this plane, she will return in 5d10 weeks in a new location. She will work to use Love to ruin those who harmed her.Lair



On a nearby islet is a group of 30 Crab-men who have taken it upon themselves to drive Bo Pan’s mining operation from the islet with the shrine to Ko-Re-Nah.

Big Man: 5HD  AC 18
(2) Shaman: 4HD
(30) Crab-Men: 0HD
(3) Nudibranch


  • Crab-men are so strong and their claws so powerful that each successful hit causes double damage: roll to hit as normal and then roll 1d8x2.
  • Crab-men have a natural AC of 16 from their tough shells. This improves to 17 at level 3, 18 at level 5, 19 at level 7, and 20 at level 9.
  • Crab-men cannot speak human languages, though they can understand what they are told and communicate with gestures to some degree.
  • Crab-men cannot manipulate magic items, or indeed do anything requiring fingers, and cannot learn how to read or write. They cannot wield weapons.

Giant Nudibranch

A soft-bodied, slug-like marine mollusc, often brightly and unusually coloured and with strange frills, spines, tentacles and protrusions. It enjoys the taste of flesh and will eat it voraciously with its rubbery mouth. Often lives symbiotically with crab-men who feed it and receive its protection in return.

Giant Nudibranch

HD 6
AC 4
#ATT 1
DMG d10+2
Move 90 (Swim 150)
ML 7
Save As: F4,
TT: Nil

  • On a successful hit, can clamp and devour – continues to damage the same target each round automatically until death of the victim – or itself.
  • Roll a d3 to determine chemical defenses:
  1. Secretes acid 1/day, does d4 damage to anything within 10 feet for 3 rounds
  2. Bite is poisonous – save versus poison or faint for d3 hours
  3.  Bite is poisonous – save versus poison or constitution permanently halved

Lair Treasure:
Plus 2d6 Crab-man artwork of Shell Arangements worth 500sp each (must be preserved with Preserve Crab-man Art spell (lvl 2))

“Every single NPC in any game…” More Thoughts on Yoon-Suin


I just came across this interview of David McGrogin (author of Yoon-Suin) by Venger Satanis at Draconic Magazine.

The whole thing is worth a read, but idea, that McGrogin tapped time and time again was this:

Everybody, every single last NPC in any game, even those who appear randomly and you make up on the spot, should have goals and desires and interests. If you can make sure that happens games almost run themselves – because any chance encounter with an NPC can become an adventure or a tangent or a reason to do something.

And later…

Everybody is a person, everybody has motives, everybody has goals: that real life is impossibly rich and varied and if you’re serious about creating a fictional world you need to recognise that.

As I keep saying, there’s a lot to talk about regarding Yoon-Suin, and my head is filling up with ideas for future posts about how Yoon-Suin does what it does, how it expresses a world without tons of prose, how it helps the Referee build content for adventure, how I’ll be taking what I’m learning from Yoon-Suin and applying it to my Traveller game, and that I could probably take Yoon-Suin right now, switch out the proper nouns, and use it to generate compelling Main Worlds for Traveller right now

But what I want to note is one of the things McGrogin builds into the setting again and again… characters in motion. He is helping the Referee build one NPC after another who wants something, who will be going after other NPCs, who will be needing help (Hello, Player Characters!)

There is so much that is interesting about the setting itself that I didn’t really notice this at first. There is so much texture and sensation in the setting. But its clear from the interview (and from the information in the book itself, once I paid attention to it) that McGrogin is not interested in having you show off Yoon-Suin to your Players. What he wants is for you to have NPCs that are driven, in motion, and taking action for their passions and desires. He wants the Yellow City and the environs of Yoon-Suin to be alive with action, plotting, lust, romance, vengeance, ambition, fear, loathing, and desire. He wants the the world pulsing with the human heart.

These motivations and plots are big world-shaking stuff mind you. It’s all quite human and personal. Even the Slug-people. (Especially the Slug-people, really.)

There’s a quote that I came across at Patrick Stuart’s False Machine that I think sums up what I like about the setting of Yoon-Suin so much, why I’m so drawn to it and what I want to deliver to the Players tomorrow night:

Perhaps something else no-one has said is how much Yoon-Suin is about beauty… All of the sights in it are picturesque. Very like an orientalist painting. Even the very horrible locations are a little more ripe than harsh. And the culture depicted in Yoon-Suin is about luxury and about beauty. Its relaxed instead of tight, slow instead of quick, warm rather than cold, lit rather than dark, sad rather than grim, opium not cocaine. Some RPG settings are created, in the manner of Apocalypse world, on a kind of energetic tilt so that whatever the PC’s do when they wander into it will have deep ramifications, the world will spin around them. One gets the sense that, no matter how the DM constructs it, the world of Yoon-Suin is not going to change very much regardless of what the players do. The opium barges will still drift down the Yellow River, the slaves will still have rubbish lives, the Slug Men are not going to be deposed from the Yellow City. (Who would bother to? And who would replace the Slug Men? Calm down and have some tea.) The politics of the Hundred Kingdoms will always be chaotic and the chaos will never change. The PC’s are simply moving through this world like everyone else.

But while the landscape and the world might not change much, the people of the land of Yoon-Suin are in constant, passionate motion. They are driven by their passions–the good, the bad–and in those passions there is something beautiful as well.

If you look at the quotes from McGrogen above, and if you read the interview, you’ll see he cares very much about people. That he’s very interested in people. That what people want matters, and that what people to to get what they want is worthy of note–no matter who that person is, no matter what they want, no matter what they’re in the midst of doing to get it. If they’re alive with a motivation and motion, then they are of value.

I think that has a lot to do with what Yoon-Suin is about. What McGregor, I think, is getting at is that there’s something very beautiful in that as well.

As I type up the notes I’ve generated from the book’s tables and expand on the NPCs , I’ll be remember that each step of the way.


“Monday Night We Awake in Yoon-Suin”

Following up on last night’s post, I sent my gaming group the following email this morning.

I gathered up the images from the Monsters and Manuals blog, which is where you can find links for Yoon-Suin in both PDF and Print form.


Screen Shot 2016-06-25 at 10.11.45 PMThe people of the Yellow City are many and varied, but they are united in their love for three things: opium, knowledge, and tea…

The city at the mouth of the God River has many names. The City of Topaz, the City of Gold, the City of Gods, the City of Whores. The Old City, the First City, the One City. The Grand Lady. The Great Stink. But this humble author will call it the Yellow City, which is what the people of his home call it, because of the way it glows in the light of hot sunny days…

First, the inhabitants. It never fails to impress a visitor to the Yellow City that its citizens are by turns the wealthiest, most refined, and most educated people in all the world, yet at the same time capable of the most malicious cruelties and licentious depravities. Like all those whose societies are ancient and rich, they are also cynical and filled with ennui. 

The most singular feature of their life, which strikes any visitor the moment he arrives, is their strict hierarchical stratification, which all inhabitants obey without question. In the highest strata are the slug-people, the race who built the city’s first buildings, founded its great civilisation, and who have lived there since, they say, the dawn of time. They alone are permitted to own fixed property, to import and export goods, and to attend many of the city’s libraries, archives and madrassas. They are a pompous and effete people, fascinated by clothes and fashions and the decoration of their own appearances, though they love learning and study and pursuits scientific, aesthetic and sorcerous.

Below the slug-people are human beings, who are themselves separated into castes. Some are warriors in private employ (for there is no public military in the Yellow City), others are shopkeepers or sailors, while others fight for money or sell their love (the whores in the Yellow City being notable for their beauty and skill). Their lowest rank is called the ulufo, the people who herd giant cockroaches in the darkest alleyways. These cockroaches eat the city’s litter and are in turn eaten by their herders, a sight which can be seen on any street corner around the docks and the river side. The scent of the roasting insects seemed to the humble author to resemble chestnut, though he did not eat the meat.

Lowest of all are the crab-people, who live outside the city in the mangroves and the rocks called the Topaz Islands, and are not permitted to enter the city proper except in servitude. They are unintelligent things, but strong and tough, and they are sometimes forced to do manual labour or simple tasks, on pain of death or torture and for scant reward. They are undoubtedly unfortunate and pathetic beings, very meek of character, though the people of the city think of them as the reincarnated souls of criminals and breakers of taboo, and deserving of their miserable lot. They do not generally have names, though those in employment are often daubed with paint to signify who is their master.

The humble author saw one goaded into executing a criminal: it severed the man’s head from his neck with one movement of its claw, without showing any emotion on its arthropod countenance…

I’ve been getting my notes together for the resumption of our LotFP FALLEN WORLDS campaign.

But as I’m knee deep in that tone (and we’ll be in it for a while once we start up again) I’ve decided to switch things up on Monday nigh for my own enjoyment. (Like I said I’ve got so much I want to share with you all!)

So, Monday, we’ll be in the lands of of Yoon-Suin
Inspirational Images of the Landscape…

Some thoughts on Player Characters…
A Warrior
A Magician
A Clever Thief
A Holy Man

Yoon-Suin–The Purple Land


Am I prepping a campaign for Yoon-Suin?

Why, yes, yes I am.

There’s so much to write about this marvelous book. But for now, I’m just so thrilled to be using it–and so happy with the results so far, I’m posting just to say, “Yay!”

My Lamentations of the Flame Princes campaign is still on hiatus for a few more weeks.

We’re currently playing Unknown Armies, 3rd edition, being Refereed by another player in the group. But he’s out of town this week. So I offered to run something Monday night.

I had thought to run something like The Pale Lady as a one shot. (Which looks great, by the way.) But I realized I’d soon be neck-deep in Weird Fantasy 17th-Century nightmares once my campaign was back up and running and wanted to offer my players something with a different tone.

And since I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Yoon-Suin since I read it…

I had originally thought I’d be using Whitehack to run the setting. But time will be tight (one night, that’s it) and didn’t want to have to ease the Players into a whole new rules set. Moreover, I remembered something Geoffrey McKinney said during a podcast interview when talking about Carcosa: “The best system to play Carcosa with is the one you’re used to.” And since I’ve been running Lamentations of the Flame Princess, that’s what I’ll use.

If you’re interested, I’ve created a booklet for creating Players Characters using the rules for LotFP in the setting of Yoon-Suin. You can find it here. It’s my hope I can send it out tomorrow (Sunday) and have the Players have characters ready before the game on Monday night. Probably won’t happen, but we’ll see.

If you read the booklet, you’ll notice I’m futzing with the magic. For Magicians (which is what Magic-Users are called in Yoon-Suin), I’m switching out the typical level-based spell lists and replacing them with Wonder & Wickedness from Lost Pages. (Print + PDF copy of W&W here. PDF only copy here.) Wonder & Wickedness rebuilds the cancan magic system into seven disciplines (Diabolism, Elementalism, and so on.) The trick is, spells are not split up by level. Any Magician can cast any of the spells… but each spell becomes more powerful the more powerful the Magician becomes.

For Yoon-Suin, I want the magic to feel fresh and strange. This seems a way into doing that.

As for Holy Men (which is what Clerics are called in Yoon-Suin) different gods have different aspects (appearance) and spheres of influence (sex, the sun, love, disease, and so on). There are countless gods in the setting, and I want the fact a Holy Man chooses one god instead of another to matter. Now, again, I had planned on using Whitehack, which has a luscious improvisatory magic system. But, again, I didn’t wan to overload players with new system details and an utterly novel setting all in a one shot.

So, the variation for Holy Men is that if you cast a spell while in a situation within the sphere of influence of your god, you don’t burn your spell. And, if it’s an edge case, the Player makes a Save vs. Magic for his spell, and if he succeeds, it isn’t burned off. Note that this isn’t the sphere of influence of the spell. What is at stake is the context within which the spell is cast. Thus, I’m not limiting the spells a Holy Man can cast because of his god. But I’m encouraging him to see the world through the lens of his god’s sphere of influence. He can choose what he wants his limits and risks to be.

I’ll post more as I go. There is so much to discuss about how the book is formatted, how it reveals the setting to the Referee, how useful it is to helping create situation and adventures, how the whole thing is built not to dump a lot of data about a fictional world on me, but always keep me focused on delivering the goods to my Players so they can engage the world through their characters… but that can wait.

I’m posting right now because I’m already very happy with the ideas and campaign details the well thought out tables of Yoon-Suin is helping me generate.

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Print version of Yoon-Suin.

PDF version of Yoon-Suin.