2020-04-10 Monsters and Spells for Just Halberds

I’ve added some monsters and spells to Just Halberds. The monsters

As you can see in the list below, it’s not always about fighting. Bureaucrats make life difficult for you, bards make fun of you, bandits blackmail you. When looking at the numbers below, remember that this is their best skill. If bandits add one when threatening people, they probably don’t add anything when you beat them up. When boars add one when charging, they probably don’t add anything when in melee.

I basically took the monsters from Halberds & Helmets that I really liked, looked at their hit dice and the write-ups I had done at the time, and picked a bonus. 🙂

Then I wrote up some spells based on the elemental magic users I have in my campaign (one for each element and an animal friend), and the spells I noted on the monster list above and tried to keep it to a line each in the PDF. A ☆ marks the more powerful spells. Learning them should be a reward from somebody in the game. Learning spells in-game from other people remains an aspect I still like very much about the B/X magic system! See 2013-11-26 A Strict Reading of the Magic System for more.

Here’s the list I have so far:

Perhaps it’s more interesting to consider how I adjudicate some of the spells.

Spells that can conceivably deal damage, deal damage. A spell like wave washes away opponents when the difference is five or more, or if the opponent is out of hits.

Spells that enable a subsequent effect need to either happen before combat, like the flaming weapon, or require the initiative, and not doing anything, and therefore losing the initiative without an opposed roll.

Spells that affect multiple people at the same time involve all of them rolling their dice and comparing their result to the result of the spell-caster. So when Fo Pi casts a fire ball all the orcs in the target area need roll. If they roll less than the fire-mage, they take damage.

Spells that only have a special effect like charm can still have an effect based on the difference of the roll: one or two is the bare minimum, like the victim agreeing to some course of action and being reluctant about it. Three or four is the full effect, like the victim being charmed and doing the thing like a friend would. Five or more is a decisive effect, like the victim being a loyal friend for a day or a week, depending on how gullible they are.



This is a very tight way of stating monsters; I like it very much.

Having small HPs for heroes and enemies is good to maintain the numbers low and ease the use of maths. It also keeps the battles tense and short, combatants can die fast if they are not careful. Oh, and the heart icon is perfect. 😍 All this reminds me of Zelda, in a good way.

We can also apply to monsters the format used by D&D +1/+3 vs somebody magic weapons. For example:

  • orks ♡, +1 when using violence or handling iron / +3 when confronting elves
  • skeletons ♡, -1 by day / +1 at night
  • trolls ♡♡♡♡♡♡, +3 as long they stand on solid ground / +5 when defending their bridge

One final idea is to link HPs to monsters abilities and bonuses. When a monster loses half its HPs it may lose one special ability or get its roll penalized.

– Ludos Curator 2020-04-30 18:05 UTC

Yeah, that would work!

And yes, Zelda was an inspiration for the heart. 😀

– Alex Schroeder 2020-04-30 19:45 UTC

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