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The Keep on the Yeoldelands is an open table game, using Old School Essentials with B2: Keep on the Borderlands as an adventure foundation. There is scope for further expansion as the characters explore further into the forgotten parts of the world.
Each session covers a single expedition by a group of player characters, starting the game in the eponymous keep and venturing out into the Yeoldelands. The party must return to the safety of the keep by the close of play.
Venturing into the Yeoldelands is dangerous, and adventurers put their lives on the line for the chance to find treasures. Player cunning to stack the odds in the characters' favour is encouraged, because the world won't do it for them. Discretion is often the better part of valour.
We like a relatively light-hearted game where everybody feels comfortable. If it would be out of place in a Discworld novel, it's not welcome at this table.
We generally aim for three to five players + GM at the table.
Bearing in mind there is a real world out there with real responsibilities, this game deliberately focuses on a structure which allows players to drop in and out at their leisure with no pressure to commit to a weekly session. Feel free to come along even if it's just for a one-off.
Priority for who plays a session is given to those who haven’t played for a little while so that players with more time available for gaming don’t shoulder out those who can’t make it as regularly. Alerts for game sessions usually come a day or two in advance.
Characters whose players are absent for a session are assumed to remain in the keep, earning the cheapest food and lodging available through menial labour.
There is usually a game slot available every Thursday evening from 7pm London time (either GMT or GMT+1 depending on the time of year - if in doubt, check what time zone the UK is currently in). Sessions typically last two and three hours or so.
Games may happen on other days, often Mondays.
As well as this wiki for record-keeping, we use:
- Discord for audio
- Google Slides for character sheets
- Owlbear Rodeo for mapping and dice rolling (no log in required)
Get in touch and introduce yourself! My Discord username is Idle Doodler#4769 and I am u/IdleDoodler on Reddit - drop me a line and I can send you and invitation to the Discord channel where we arrange game sessions.
See the Old School Essentials SRD for the core rules we use (or click here for a free PDF of the basic rules).
Click here for guidance on creating a character.
The following house rules apply, with the reasoning included in red italics:
We'll be using the classic rules (as opposed to Advanced OSE), so the standard classes available are:
Through the campaign, the following classes have been unlocked:
Knight (entering the service of Baron Grellus)
Ranger (defeating the leadership of the Caves of Chaos)
I like to keep things simple. The Advanced classes feature only as a result of campaign play.
Rolling Ability Scores
Roll 3d6 for each ability score in order, as per the basic rules, but you may not adjust ability scores. Instead, you have the option of flipping all the scores so that below average abilities becomes above average, and vice versa.
could be flipped to
To calculate this, subtract the roll from 21. There is also a bot on the discord that can do this automatically.
Characters may re-roll 1s and 2s for their initial HP rolls.
This keeps randomness a key element of character creation, but lessens the impact of rolling a generally poor set of rolls.
Class Abilities (Thief and Ranger)
Replacing the percentile skills for both classes:
Thief: replace the skill categories with the single skill 'thievery'. Whenever an action which could reasonably fall within the thievery skillset requires a x-in-6 roll on a d6, the thief can improve their odds with the following bonus:
Levels 1-3: +1
Levels 4-6: +2
Levels 7-9: +3
Levels 10-12: +4
Levels 13-14: +5
They also replace their back stab ability - for purposes of causing damage in combat, their HD counts as d6.
Ranger: replace the assorted skills with the single skill 'wilderness'. Whenever an action which could reasonably fall within the skillset of surviving in the wilderness requires a x-in-6 roll on a d6, the ranger can improve their odds with the following bonus:
Levels 1-3: +2
Levels 4-6: +3
Levels 7-9: +4
Levels 10-14: +5
I prefer to have most skills and activities, if they require a die roll, to have the same resolution method - a d6. This means that all classes can attempt most things, but thieves and rangers are understandably significantly more capable than their untrained comrades.
A new Magic User or Elf rolls a d12 to determine which spell they start with. They then have the choice to take the result or roll again and accept the second result.
Copying a spell from one spell book to another, or from a scroll, requires Read Magic, costs 500gp per spell level and one week per spell level (so half coin and time cost of magical research). If copied from a scroll, the scroll is used up in the process.
Instead of everyone choosing the same starting spells, this provides variety and the challenge of creatively using spells in unexpected ways while still allowing for some player choice.
Inventory Slots and Encumbrance
Each character gets ten inventory slots. One item takes up one slot. If the adventuring gear is stacked on the equipment list in the OSE rules, that many items can be combined into a slot. Backpacks, which still take up a slot, can carry four slots’ worth of items.
One-handed weapons take up one slot. Two-handed weapons take up two slots.
Armour takes up one slot for each point of extra AC higher than over unarmoured AC (so chainmail with AC 14 takes up 4 slots).
Characters may carry up to 100 coins in total in their money pouch, spread across coinage denominations. Further coins must be carried in slots (100 coins to a slot).
This keeps inventory management simple whilst still placing emphasis on player choice.
When reduced to 0HP, the character must make a save vs death. On a failure, they are dead. On a success, they survive. If they took damage which would have taken them beyond 0HP, each point of that damage fills up an Inventory Slot, which can be recovered at a rate of 1 per proper night’s rest in a bed (or equivalent). If all ten slots are filled up in this way, the character succumbs to their injuries and dies.
Items must be dropped to make way for this damage if there are no spare slots. Instead of dropping the whole piece of armour, reduce the armour's AC by the number of slots it loses to damage.
This reinforces the idea of HP as ‘not-getting-hit-points’, and the loss of slots represents injuries a character might take without having to refer to a separate table. The save vs death stops slots from just becoming free hit points – characters are still vulnerable and can’t guarantee that they’ll be injured rather than killed.
Characters may move at their regular movement rate of 120' (40') unless:
their base 10 slots are all full, or
at least one slot is affected by injury
If either of those is true, the character moves at 90' (30').
If both of those are true, the character moves 60' (20').
Characters are slowed by carrying too much and / or an injury. A simple way to replicate the bands of movement used in the original rules.
Weapons, Armour and Damage by HD
Characters may use any weapon and any armour.
Damage inflicted in combat is determined by the character's HD, rather than by the weapon. Wielding two one-handed weapons allows a character to roll two to-hit dice and take the better. Wielding a two-handed weapon allows a character to roll two damage dice and take the better.
If a magic user or thief uses armour other than what their classes allow, they cannot their class abilities, such as spell-casting for magic users or back stab damage or thievery-based rolls for thieves.
Players don't feel forced to carry the 'optimal' damage-dealing weapon, and can instead use what feels appropriate to the character. Fighters are better at combat than magic users, whatever they're respectively armed with.
Four turns in a day (roughly six hours each), and one action per turn:
- Move to another hex
- Explore this hex
- Hunt – find D6-d6 worth of meals for the day
- Rest – recover d3 HP
Characters must eat one ration and rest regularly, or lose an Inventory Slot (or lose two if they neither eat nor rest). Their need for rest and food depends on their movement rate:
|Movement||Rest & eat once every|
X quarter-day turns
All adventures have a 1-in-6 chance of swimming for a turn without drowning. They can improve their chances by carrying less. For every unused inventory slot, they may add +1 to their odds.
e.g. A character carrying six slots' worth of equipment and with one slot taken up by an injury has three slots free, so their odds of avoiding drowning are 4-in-6.
Ensuring they have at least five slots free means that a character wouldn't need to roll to avoid drowning - they have a 6-in-6 chance of succeeding, at least initially. Penalties may incur for circumstances such as duration, strong currents or angry fellow swimmers.
Swimming in plate armour is therefore generally unwise!