Mutant Economy

Costs for food, water, and other goods scales based on availability.

Marketplace Chart

Scarcity | Cost Modifier

  • Plentiful | goods cost slightly less than listed market prices with bulk discounts on large purchases
  • Normal | market price
  • Sparce | most goods are available at double price
  • Meager | goods available at triple price or higher, if available (roll luck dice to determine availability)
  • Unavailable | requires skill checks to locate any supply – may require persuasion, travel or special costs (doing the current owner a major favor, etc.)

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5th edition Dungeons & Dragons Combat Critical Fumble Rules

I like critical fumbles in my D&D game. They increase randomness, speed up combat, and create tension and chaos on the battlefield. For me it’s a significant part of the fun of the game, so I use a critical fumble rule for combat when I’m the Dungeon Master or Referee.

So here’s my house rule: when someone rolls a 1 on an attack roll, they have to roll a d20 again to see how bad the fumble is:

20 – Recovery – the fumble has no major ill effect (feel free to make up some comical reason why)
16-19 – Over-swing – disadvantage on fumbler’s next attack roll
12-15 – Miss-step – advantage on the next attack against fumbler
9-12 – Fall Down – fumbler falls prone
5-8 – Drop Weapon – fumbler drops weapon, or else is dazed next round
4-2 – Wild Swing – attack self or ally (attacking player makes new attack roll)
1 – The Gods Frown – attack self or ally with advantage (attacking player makes new attack rolls), or something equally disastrous

The basic idea is, if you roll a 1, something bad happens. Not only have you failed, but your situation has gotten worse somehow.

I used to use a different simple critical fumble table, where the results were basically a d4, and the lower you rolled the worse it was. I like it because it’s easy to memorize and use without having to refer to a table.

The above table is expanded to use the full numerical granularity of a d20. It also uses the “rolling 20 is good, rolling 1 is bad” game design element.

D4 Fumble Table
4 – off balance – enemies have advantage to attack you next round
3 – fall down – fall prone
2 – drop weapon – drop weapon or are dazed next round
1 – bad swing – attack self or ally

There have been a lot of critical fumble rules published, but recently I’ve seen a fun idea about how to handle fumbles. On the Moisture Farmer’s podcast, I heard them using a new-to-me critical fumble rule. Not only is it great for it’s simplicity, but also for the opportunity to be creative.

If a player rolls a 1, the GameMaster decides what happens to the player’s character. When a GameMaster rolls a 1, the players decide what happens to the GameMaster’s character. So when the GM fumbles, the players get to narrate what happens. When a player fumbles, the GM gets to narrate it.

No boundaries are needed, but as a DM, I’d probably usually limit to to, at worst, damaging your own character or an ally. If the players always end up demanding the the monsters fall on their swords and die, then it would be reasonable for the DM to decide the same thing happened to the PCs. So there’s an opportunity to do some creative role-playing and cooperate to keep things “in bounds”.

Do you use critical fumbles in your game? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments below.

Posted in 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, d20 Future, D20 Modern, Gamma World, Uncategorized, Variant Rules and tagged by with no comments yet.

Nebular Refueling

“Aye, the Skein be pretty, and desolate. They say, long ago, the Naikerran Empire core systems all went nova and blew everything to hell. The nebulae’s all that’s left. If you trawl the brightest strands of the Skein, you can refuel on ’em.” – Cpn’ “Squinty” Globbels

An optional rule for Traveller games set in the Skein Reach.

Interstellar travel among the sparse stars and glowing nebula of the Skein Reach can be difficult and slow, which is one of the reasons why the Reach is sparsely populated. Captains of ships with low jump ratings, which include most of the small freighters and other small ships that make up the low end of commercial transport, have a difficult time plotting courses away from the few small star lanes in the sector.

Yet some salty old space dogs employ an unusual technique for gathering fuel as they ply the void between gas giants – gathering hydrogen from the tendril-like clouds of the nebula themselves. This requires adjusting the ship’s fuel scoops magnetic fields to project a much larger, weaker intake field, which is somewhat tricky (-2 DM Engineer skill check).

When refueling, a ship with adjusted fuel scoops can trawl through the sparse gases of a nebula. Refueling from such a source takes much longer than when gathering hydrogen from a gas giant. Applying the Traveller rules for refueling, time, and tasks, refuelling takes 1d6 days instead of 1d6 hours.

Of course, spending such long periods refueling poses certain dangers – attacks from pirates or Mantid ships being chief among them. However, as the nebulae are huge and barely traveled, captains find that the slow routes along the glowing strands of can provide uneventful, if slow flying.

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Variant Rule: Brace Action

Bracing is when a character readies whatever defenses available for an imminent attack. This could involve raising and ducking behind a shield, preparing to dodge a blow, or holding your weapon in a guard position.

Bracing is a standard action which gives the character who braces a +1 dodge bonus to their AC and Reflex save until the start of their next turn.

Use of this optional rule may give combat a more granular feel, and peels back a bit of the abstraction that is assumed in the combat rules around AC and Reflex saving throws. As such it may slow combat down slightly, while giving a new tactical option to characters and monsters.

If you end up giving this new rule a try in your game please let us know what you think.

Posted in 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, Variant Rules by with no comments yet.

Serious Injuries, Scars and Maimings

Axes grind and maces clash as wounded fighters fall to the ground
Severd limbs and fatal woundings, bloody corpses lay all around

Iron Maiden

Want to up the ante in your game? Characters get knocked down just to get back up again? Try these optional rules for character scars and maimings.

Whether blasted in the heart with a ray of white-hot flame, shot in the liver with an arrow, or stabbed in the neck by a raving marauder, some wounds are going to leave a mark, if not result in serious and permanent disability, assuming that the victim survives at all. The maimed, the amputees, the crippled begging outside the temple of Heironious, Aries, or Hextor. All are the evidence of the price of the battlefield. Accordingly, these rules are intended to bring more life to the threats which wound the crusaders.

Optional Rule: Serious Injuries, Scars and Maimings

When a hero or important NPC takes enough damage to be reduced to negative hit points, check on the Serious Injury, Scars and Maimings chart to determine where the blow that laid the character low fell.

With the exception of destroyed organs and severed limbs, which require regeneration to regain, these effects should be reversible through the use of magic such as Restoration, Heal, or other magic or effects that heal permanent ability damage. There are also rumors of magicians and priests who have crafted magical arms and legs for those so hurt, as well.

Serious Injuries, Scars and Maimings (roll 1d20)

Roll Effect location Full description of effects
1-4 Leg -2 strength, -2 dexterity, and lose use of wounded limb: roll 1d20, on 1-11 limb is crippled and character moves at half speed, 12-20 limb is severed and character moves at 1/2 speed with a crutch but otherwise must crawl at 1/4 speed.
5-6 Guts -4 constitution, sensitive stomach: must eat special diet or additional -1 constitution per day.
5-6 Groin -2 strength, -2 constitution, cannot reproduce.
9-12 Chest -2 constitution, -2 strength, after jogging or running, make a DC 10 saving throw or be dazed for 1 round.
13-16 Arm -2 strength, -2 dexterity, and lose use of wounded limb: roll 1d20, on 1-11 limb is crippled, 12-20 severed.
17-20 Head Roll once on Head Chart, below.

Head Chart (roll 1d20)

Roll Effect location Full description of effects
1-4 Eye -2 on perception or spot checks, -2 on all ranged attacks. Second lost eye blinds character.
5-8 Ear -2 on perception or listen checks. Second lost ear deafens character.
9-12 Face -2 charisma due to serious scarring or deformation of face.
13-16 Mouth -2 on all charisma based skills, due to difficulty understanding speech from character.
17-20 Throat The character is unable to speak.

As always, when introducing optional rules like this, especially rules that increase the danger for the player characters, talk it over with the group you’re playing with. Unless everyone consents to having more fun by making the game more dangerous, don’t use them. Nothing makes some players hate playing more than DMs springing new rules on them out of the blue.

These optional rules are compatible with 3.5 D&D, 4e D&D, d20 modern, and Pathfinder RPG systems.

Posted in 1st edition D&D, 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Variant Rules by with no comments yet.


We have been following the exciting 4thcore developments at Save Versus Death, and thought we’d add to the table joy.  For information on 4thcore, that 4thgore playfully plays off of, read the manifesto at and return to this post.  Here is a supplemental table to add more gore to your games.

In a high-gore 4thcore game, roll 1d20 to establish painful effects of a critical hit (or miss, if you were to apply this chart to effects for damage from friendly fire).  The non-severed effects can be undone in non-combat rounds by spending a healing surge, making the duration of these effects is “for the rest of the encounter”.  For each of the locations where there is more than one potential target (for characters and creatures with 2 arms, 4 legs, 5 heads, etc), roll an appropriate die to determine which is affected.  Severed limbs require rituals to mend.

And in a somewhat more friendly HTML text format:

Roll Effect location Full description of effects
1 Hand Target’s hand is severed from the wrist, and target drops anything in its hand.
2 Wrist Target’s wrist is crushed, making all actions target attempts with that hand -4.
3 Elbow Target’s elbow is bent back, affecting all actions with that hand at -2.
4 Shoulder Target’s shoulder is pulled out of socket, rendering it useless.  2nd hit severs it from the torso.
5 Finger Target’s finger is severed, rendering fine motor skills with that hand useless.
6 Chest Target’s ribs are cracked, reducing Athletics and Endurance rolls by -5.
7 Chest Target loses breath, is winded and is stunned (save ends).
8 Chest Target’s heart is pierced and is wounded, taking 10 points of damage at the beginning of every turn.
9 Abdomen Target’s abdomen is knotted, and target is weakened (save ends).
10 Abdomen Target’s abdomen is bruised, and target is knocked prone.
11 Abdomen Target’s abdomen is pierced, and target is dazed (save ends) and takes 5 points of damage every turn.
12 Groin Target’s groin is ripped, negating actions requiring Acrobatics and Stealth.
13 Hip Target’s hip is pulled out of socket, reducing move by 2 squares (min 1).  2nd hit severs it.
14 Upper Leg Target’s upper leg is gouged, pushing the target back 1 square.
15 Knee Target’s knee is crushed and target is knocked prone.  Target must make save to stand.
16 Lower Leg Target’s lower leg is severely cut, and target is knocked prone.
17 Ankle Target’s ankle is sprained, a target receives a -5 on Acrobatics, Athletics, Endurance, and Stealth rolls.
18 Foot Target’s foot is crushed, reducing move by 2 squares (min 1).
19 Head Target’s head is bruised and target is dazed (save ends).
20 Head Target’s head is severed cleanly (or rather messily) from the shoulders.

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A Fast and Simple Critical Fumble Option

I like critical fumbles in my games for a number of reasons.  First of all, as a storyteller I like it when disaster strikes.  When I’m visualizing and describing a pitched battle I relish the possibility that one of the combatants might slip in the growing pool of blood on the flagstones or over-swing their battle-axe and accidentally strike one of their comrades.  It makes the battles feel more real to me, and it also makes combat feel more dangerous.

In practical terms, it does make combat more dangerous for everyone involved.  If big monsters might accidentally kill their minions when they’re trying to smash that knight, or if the players might lose their footing and fall prone, then there’s more damage being handed out every round.  It makes the monsters go down a little more quickly, but it also exposes the players to more danger.  As DM I consider this a win-win because I like my games to feel as dangerous as possible, and I like combat to go quickly.

But I don’t like to slow my games down with looking anything up.  I’ve been playing and running games long enough that I know pretty much all the rules by heart, and for my fumble rules I wanted to come up with something that could easily be memorized and that wouldn’t slow down combat with referencing a table.  Therefore, I came up with the following optional rule.

Critical Fumbles

Any time an attacker rolls a 1 on their attack roll die, they fumble.  Roll another d20 to determine the severity of the fumble.

Die Roll        Fumble Result
16-20           Character is off-balance and grants combat advantage until the end of the current character’s next turn.
11-15            Attacker looses their footing and falls prone.
6-10             Attacker drops their weapon or loses their next attack if weaponless.
1-5                Attacker targets an ally or themselves with the fumbled attack.  Re-roll the attack to see if it hits the new target.

I like it because it’s nice and simple – there are four results with increasingly dire consequences, so it’s easy for me to remember “off balance, fall prone, drop weapon, or attack self or ally”.

Let us know what you think in the comments below, or on our Facebook page.

Posted in 1st edition D&D, 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons, 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons, Variant Rules and tagged by with no comments yet.

Astral Magic

By Kevin Gates & Adam A Thompson

Astral Magic is a new way for spellcasters to gain access to metamagic-like abilities.  Through study of the mystical properties of the stars and constellations spellcasters are able to modify the warp and weft of their spells, increasing their power, changing their shape, changing their range, and modifying them in other ways.

Planisphæri Cœleste

Astral Magic

Recorded in the pages of the grimoireConstelation Magic by the sage Gevestikan are the secrets of using the power of the stars to modify spells.

A character who finds one of the rare copies of this tome gains access to a new knowledge skill – Astronomy.  Reading the tome makes knowledge (Astronomy) a class skill and gives the reader a +2 competence bonus in the skill.  Fully studying the tome takes a total of 24 hours of reading.

A character with ranks in Knowledge (Astronomy) has 3 uses of star magic per day.  You make a Knowledge (Astronomy) check to successfully invoke the stars you know.  Using Star Magic is a move action.


Rigel – on a DC 20 check, the damage rolled for the next spell you cast  cannot be less than 50% of the possible damage. On a DC 25 check, it can’t be less than 75%, and on a DC 35 check, it’s maximized.

Izar – a DC 20 check lets you cast an area spell that excludes one
ally within the area of effect. A DC25 lets you exclude 2 allies. A DC 35
check lets you exclude all allies within the area.

Altair – a DC 20 check lets you invoke Altair. When a spell requires concentration, invoking Altair allows the caster to instead concentrate as a swift
action for one round per three caster levels (minimum 1 round).

Alpheratz – Invoking Alpheratz lets you cast your next touch spell as a ranged spell at the following distances.  DC 20: 15 feet.  DC 25: 30 feet.  DC 35: 60 feet.

Pollux – Invoking Pollux requires a DC 30 knowledge (Astronomy) check, and allows the next spell you cast to effect 1 additional target who is within 30 feet of all of the original targets.  Spells with the target “self only” cannot be modified with this ability.

Optional Rules

By night under the open sky knowledge (Astronomy) checks are +2.  Underground they are -4.

Posted in 3rd edition Dungeons & Dragons / d20 fantasy / Pathfinder, Variant Rules by with no comments yet.


Michael Kane, a new contributor to Claw/Claw/Bite, came up with this new skill that gives DMs and players a fun way to introduce some cinematic action and daring-do into their games.

If you wish to use it in your game, you could make it available as a class skill to rogues, bards, and other quick martial characters.

Cunning (Wis+Int) – Take the average of the two scores.

You are a quick thinker. You can quickly survey a area and see cause and effect. A decorative rug on the floor looks nice to everyone else but to you its a trip attempt, or an elaborate pulley system on a boat is complex, but you know which rope to cut that could pull you to safety and possibly collapse the sails on its crew.

Check– A successful check lets you spot out situations that could come to be. Once in a area you scan the room paying more attention to detail then everyone else. Dms can use this skill in their game, either to place fun and creative situations on the pre-existing maps or make it up from the hip during gameplay.

DC: All check DC will be determined by the DM. A handy rule of thumb – DCs can be set at 10 + Encounter Level for easy tasks, +5 to spot harder situations, or +10 for really tough longshot situations.

Task: Example: Nadira the crafty little Rouge walks into the Thirsty Throat Saloon. The bar is full of patrons all having too much of a good old time. She could make a Cunning check to notice a simple rope holding up a chandler made of antlers, wooden barrels of ale sitting at the the top of a stairway, or a floor plank that is loose and that could be shot up with a solid stomp – causing damage or tripping someone over.

Example: Nadira is on top of a moving carriage being chased by bandits. A standing dead tree on the side of the road just needs a good yank to come tumbling down, stopping the bandits from their chase. Dms can use multiple skills together making a situation have a possible out come good or bad. Here’s a round-by round example of how it could be played out:

1st round: While on-top of the carriage Nidira notices the dead tree ahead and quickly pulls out some rope.
2nd: Attempting to make a lasso Use rope DC 12, if its a success she will be granted a +2 circumstance to lasso the tree, if failed Nadira can another attempt next round
3rd: Lasso in hand Nadira will spend the round setting up for the touch attack on the dead tree (+2), rope in hand Use Rope DC 12, if fail situation is missed
4th: Nadira make touch attack to lasso tree AC 11, if failed situation is missed
5th: Rope is lassoed to tree and rope is beginning to tighten (this is where the good or bad situation occurs) Nadira makes a Wis DC 12-14 if successful she’ll notice that she doesn’t have enough weight to pull the dead tree down and can attempt to tie the rope to the railing of the carriage, if failed Nadira will hold on to rope.
6th: The rope will tighten on the railing and dead tree will come toppling down on the bandits, or if she is still holding on to the rope Nadira is yanked from the carriage and is swung towards the bandits. Nadira makes a swinging kick attack at the surprised bandit knocking him off of his mount. They both tumble to the ground. Nadira may use the downed bandits horse to catch up with the party.

This skill is optional for a player and a DM to use in the game. There is no limit to the creativity of craftiness.

-Michael Kane

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Initiative Around the Table

One variant that I have seen work well in multiple sessions is having whoever wins the initiative start the round, and have play proceed around the table from there at the discretion of the first player. This makes it easier to know who moves next, and players can stay close to the action until their turn is up before grabbing a snack or using the restroom.

This can really keep the action moving, but may upset players who want to go next. Use at your own risk.

Posted in Variant Rules by with no comments yet.