The Boons of Fate: Inspiration System for the OSR

Currently I run for two groups, a smaller game of Warhammer 4E on Wednesdays and then a larger weekend group, where I have recently started a dark fantasy game using the Rules Cyclopedia. It has certainly been a learning experience for all of us, since most of the players have never hunkered down for a proper, long-term old-school style game. But I think we are settling into a good groove and I will surely be telling all of you fine readers about my friends and their adventures through post-apocalyptic byzantine-land soon enough!

Hard Times on the Dead River. Expect more of this doomed world to come!

One of my favorite things about the game has been tinkering with the Rules Cyclopedia, which is a very complete rulebook but full of all sorts of odds, ends and strangeness. For example, their are no natural healing rules, which is strange to say the least. So far I’ve added in a system for natural healing, human cultural bonuses and different sized shields, all of which will probably find their way to this blog when I am confident enough in their quality.

I think one of the better additions I’ve made is the ‘Boon System’. I wanted some way to reward those players who put a lot of effort into roleplaying, but I didn’t want that reward to be the rules-recommend bundle of EXP. So I came up with the Boon System, essentially an old school version of the D&D 5E inspiration system. A character either has a boon or does not, and when they have a boon, they can spend it to get either a generic or class-specific bonus, like extra spell slots for the magic-user, a mighty blow for the fighter, etc.

The rules are getting their first test run tomorrow, but here they are as they are currently written. I am quite happy with them, the only aspect I would like to maybe change is how some of the abilities are not universally useful across the 36 level range of a BECMI character, but I think for most Dungeon Masters that won’t be a problem. If anything changes about these it will probably be to make the class abilities applicable across the entire level range.

It will also be necessary to explain another house rule for this to fully make sense, that being the Die of Fate. Essentially, whenever a player suggests something that is reasonably plausible but completely out of their control, I.E ‘Shit! We can’t pick this lock! Maybe the mayor has a spare key under the doormat.” the GM may call on them to roll a 1d6 Die of Fate, if the roll comes up as a 1, then fate is on their side! This system is also useful for keeping track of ammo in games where you don’y want to count every bullet or arrow, and I use an adapted version for my crime system, but it is mostly being used in situations similar to the first example. All credit to Burning Wheel, from where I shamelessly pilfered this excellent little rule!

She Giveth, and She Taketh Away…

Boons of Fate

A boon is an award bestowed by the GM upon those who have shown their roleplaying chops through dramatic play, hilarious in-character jokes, emotional monologues, or really any moment that makes people say ‘That was great!’. A character either has a boon or does not, and cannot have multiple boons. A character with a boon can spend it at any time to perform one of the following actions.

  1. Amazing Skill: Receive -5 to your next skill roll. (BECMI skills are roll under appropriate attribute)
  2. Fate’s Smile: For your next Die of Fate roll, fate is on your side on a roll of 1-5.
  3. Love and Labor: During your downtime, training or work on a long term project, you may spend your boon to speed the work along, improve its quality, receive unexpected help, etc.
  4. Mighty Deeds: You may perform a great deed related to your class.
    1. Cleric: Miracle! The next time you turn undead you turn as though you were three levels higher. OR the next time you heal, you heal the maximum possible amount.
    2. Fighter: Smite! Gain +5 to hit your next strike and if you hit you may add your strength or dexterity score to the damage.
    3. Thief: Trickery! Gain +30% to the next two rolls of your thief skills.
    4. Magic-User: Power! Regain 3 spell slots, divided how you wish. You may instantly memorize spells to fill them.  (I.E one level 3 spell slot, three level 1 slots, or one level 2 slot and one level 1 slot)
    5. Elf: Otherwordly! You may cast any spell from the magic-user spell list, even if you have not put the spell in your spell book. You may only cast spells of a level you can already cast.
    6. Dwarf: Stalwart! All damage you take next round is reduced by half. You also have a 4/10 chance to resist spells until your next combat round.
    7. Halfling: Clever! You gain the option to re-roll two d20 die rolls during the session.
    8. Mystic: Enlightenment! You gain the abilities of a mystic who is three levels higher for 1 Turn.

Let me know what you think of these rules. And feel free to use them in your own games!

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