OSR: The Flame Pomerium Part 3: Giant Mecha Fights in LotFP and D&D 5th Edition

I'm trying to show that you don't need any specialized subsystems to run giant mecha-based games. All you need to do is change the scale. In the previous post, I tested my theory on Arnold K's GLOG system. Now it's time to take on two mainstream juggernauts: Lamentations of the Flame Princess and D&D 5th Edition.

Age of Conan Concept Art

Lamentations of the Flame Princess

I'm still going with the "One Mecha Per PC, NPC crew" idea.

1. Roll Stats
2. Pick a Class
3. Pick Alignment
4. Starting Gear

I've rolled up a usual mortal-scale character: Benta, the Specialist. I now want to roll up Benta's Bulwark.

1. Stats

No changes here.

STR: 11
DEX :13
CON: 11
INT: uses Benta's stat -> 14
WIS: uses Benta's stat -> 12
CHA: 7

2. Class

Cleric seems like the most difficult to adapt, other than Specialist, which I'd probably just ban/ignore at the Bulwark scale. Maybe there's a way to make it work really well that I'm not seeing.

HP: 5
Saves (13,11,16,12,15)
Spells: 1

3. Alignment

Doesn't really matter for giant mechas.

4. Starting Gear

The Bulwark starts with 9x10sp of "Bulwark-scale" money used to buy "Bulwark-scale" stuff. Benta's going to spend 50sp on two pistols, 10sp on two bandoliers of shot, 25sp on leather armour, and 5sp on a dagger.

Bulwark-Scale Pistol:
Damage: 1d8
Short: < 1,250'
Medium: <2,500'
Long: <5,000'

We're going to waive the requirement to have a hand free. A mecha with two giant cannon-arms is just too cool. Most spells do not need any changes, provided target is Bulwark-scale.
1. Bless: probably scatters minor spirits and demons.
2. Command: anything not Bulwark-scale near the target (birds, peasants, etc.) will probably also obey the command.
3. Cure Light Wounds: no changes.
4. Detect Evil: no changes
5. Invisibility to Undead: no changes, but to be honest, it's a giant mecha. Hard to hide. I'd remove this one from the list.
6. Protection from Evil: no changes.
7. Purify Food & Drink: no changes, but not that useful on the Bulwark-scale. Remove this one too.
8. Remove Fear: can also be used to stop an army from routing.
9. Sanctuary: can be used to remove boarders*
10. Turn Undead. Undead not on the Bulwark-scale also flee.
*boarders use the Disease rules

Other Changes:
XP: remove the "Recovering Treasure" section, increase XP given by creatures by 10x.

Total Edits:
1. Remove alignment

2. Change ranges
3. Remove a few spells

Otherwise, it looks like this system scales up very smoothly. There aren't any mandatory LotFP-specific mechanics that wouldn't scale to Bulwark scale.

Benta's Bulwark

Its name is "The Cathedral That Walks." Stone bones, spires, copper and lead sheets. A marble tomb-mask. Leather plates stitched from a thousand holy oxen, painted lead-white. Both arms end in pistols the size of siege cannons. Each takes 2 NPC crew to load (deaf-mute monks, powder-scorched and irritable). The cannons fire giant stone spheres carved with the images of the saints and lines from scripture. The Cathedral That Walks is filled with icons, relics, and the raw power of prayer. Even moderately holy pilots are hauled off to heaven at inconvenient times, so Benta, a skeptic, sinner, and thoroughly un-saint-like woman, was selected to pilot it.
Ojha, GoldenDaniel

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition

I'm only using core PHB stuff. No errata; can't be bothered, probably isn't relevant anyway. This is a more hasty exercise. Feel free to stop reading.

1. Race
2. Class
3. Stats
4. Describe Character

5. Starting Equipment

1. Race

Rename the races for Bulwark scale. They are now chassis. Any subraces that boost Wisdom or Intelligence are going to be suboptimal. That's fine by me.
Dwarf -> Bastion

Elf -> Striker
Halfling -> Urbanmech

Human -> Brawler
Dragonborn -> Lancer
Gnome -> Ambusher
Half-Elf -> can't think of anything even slightly interesting, so banned.
Half-Orc -> Smasher

Tiefling -> Infernal

Oh thank goodness. We're done. Let's go with... Halfling.

So +2 Dex, about half the size of a normal Bulwark, slightly slower, Lucky (seems a little broken, but OK), Brave (not applicable), Nimble (seems handy if you're dealing with really Great Beasts). Right.

Oh wait I have to pick a subrace. Stout Halfling -> Squat Urbanmech. +1 Constitution, and resistance to poison. Since poison = boarding actions at the Bulwark scale, I guess that means the mecha is extra spiky or full  of bees. Actually, let's go with that. Bees, trained ferrets, and traps.

2. Class

The classes look like they would work without any significant edits. I'd probably ban Bard (mechanics would scale up in a very silly way) and Sorcerer (the random table... doesn't feel right at Bulwark scale).

Let's go with Ranger.

HP: 10+Con modifier
Saving Throws: Str, Dex
Skills: ignore
Equipment: scale mail, two shortswords, a longbow and 20 arrows
Favoured Enemy: no edits needed. Let's go with "undead."
Natural Explorer: no edits needed. I'm going to pick "mountains".

All the rest of this stuff doesn't kick in until higher levels, so I guess we're done?

That seems weird. Screw it. We're going to level  up this guy, because seriously, if you're going to pitch a game about heroic explorers, at least make them kind of interesting to start with. It might be interesting to have Bulwarks get Classes while the actual PCs don't get class features (or alternatively, have the Bulwarks level faster)

Level 3 Ranger

HP: 10+3xCon modifier+2d10

Saving Throws: Str, Dex
Equipment: scale mail, two shortswords, a longbow and 20 arrows
Favoured Enemy: undead
Natural Explorer: mountains
Fighting Style: Archery. No scaling issues with the others.
Spellcasting: 3 1st level spells

Ranger Archetype: the "Hunter's Prey" archetype seems pretty decent for Bulwark-scale play, but the "Beast Master" archetype is just too hilarious to pass up. I need to pick a beast no lager than Medium and has a Challenge Rating of 1/4 or lower. A hawk seems good. At this scale, it's some sort of Emperor Roc.


Ranger Level 1 Spells
Alarm (fairly useless but not broken)

Animal Friendship (can't make friends with Great Beasts)
Cure Wounds
Detect Magic
(not applicable on this scale)

Detect Poison and Disease (not applicable on this scale)
Ensnaring Strike
Fog Cloud

Goodberry (wat)
Hail of Thorns
Hunter's Mark

Speak with Animals (not applicable on this scale)

Really, at this point, all the rest is irrelevant. I've learned what I needed to learn.

Total Edits

1. Rename and edit Races
2. So many edits to Classes. So many.
Actually, that's as far as I need to go, I think. You can use this system with 5E, but there's a weird issue.

5E seems to be trying really, really hard to make characters capital-I-Interesting, mechanically. Unlike in LotFP and the GLOG, just "being a giant mecha made of stone and pewter" isn't.... comparatively interesting. It feels like having a Fighter Bulwark with a Fighter pilot would be OK in LotFP, but if you did it in 5E, you'd see so many "doubled" mechanics that it would get... boring.

Somehow, making a giant robot out of a 5th Edition character feels less interesting than running one as-written. I'm not sure if that's a failure of design or a success. Imagine a magic can of spray paint that will always coat your deck furniture evenly, but can't be used for graffiti, miniatures, or getting high. Responsible, very sensible, but very carefully crafted to be one specific thing.

Plus, there are so many things to keep track of. So many possible scaling issues.

Kukulkani character concepts, Georgios Dimitriou

Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition

I'm not going to run through this idea, but it occurred to me that you could have a game where the PCs are rolled up via an OSR system, but their Bulwarks are rolled up using 4th edition. The weird mechanical hard edges of 4E are smoothed out by the increased scale and changing the people into piloted giant robots. Might be worth considering.


Horrible Peasant NPC Generator

Partially inspired by this post, and partially by just how many peasants the PCs are likely to encounter on their travels (if they're traveling through civilized areas)

Other useful articles:

1d100 Peasant Grievances
1d50 Reasons the Peasants are Revolting
If you want a more refined sort of person, from a different age, try the Dickensian NPC Generator
You could also use this table to vastly improve the quality of your Camp Followers and hirelings.

Peasants don't get last names because nobody really cares. They get smells instead. Peasants usually smell like unwashed people, but underneath the body odour there are other scents.

Name Odour Appearance Demeanour
1 John stale beer sweats profusely devout
2 John rotten vegetables permanent grimace devout
3 John dried herbs fidgets with anything in hands devout
4 John frying oil dribbles devout
5 John fecal sweat bulbous goiter devout
6 John peat smoke youthful, unsmiling face  devout
7 John bitter sweat whistling voice devout
8 John ice-cold water deep, booming voice devout
9 John goose blood one dense eyebrow devout
10 John wood shavings extraordinarily crooked nose devout
11 William raw sulphur almost bald stoic
12 William urine splayed, wide-nostrilled nose stoic
13 William chalk dust slouching stoic
14 William rotting fish sheds clouds of dust stoic
15 William flour lumpen stoic
16 Robert salt missing limb stoic
17 Robert soggy paper narrow face stoic
18 Robert rotten fruit blind in one eye stoic
19 Thomas acidic sweat sunken head and short limbs stoic
20 Thomas oysters deep-sunk, lidded eyes  stoic
21 Thomas cat hair prominent, sail-like ears passive
22 Richard onions one tooth passive
23 Richard garlic concave forehead passive
24 Richard battery acid hooked, dribbling nose passive
25 Henry olives dotted with warts  passive
26 Roger pond scum prominent, angular chin passive
27 Walter butter mouth-breathing passive
28 Adam dry, well-rubbed leather smiling, open face passive
29 Nicholas sour milk coated head to toe in muck passive
30 Hugh ozone has a silent partner passive
31 Peter molten rubber speckled with sores  hopeless
32 Geoggrey wet dog wiry-haired  hopeless
33 Ralph mushroom old burn scars hopeless
34 Simon mashed earthworms ferocious squint hopeless
35 Gilbert dry, very fine dust deaf in one ear hopeless
36 Edmund charcoal furious eyes hopeless
37 Phillip soil rheumy, raw eyes  hopeless
38 Stephen hot blood feverish movements hopeless
39 Alan pine carbuncle hopeless
40 Lawrence burnt pork fleas and lice hopeless
41 Andrew musk bandy-legged lazy
42 Reginald dry straw slow-witted lazy
43 James stale bread bafflingly beautiful lazy
44 Bartholemew roses long, winding scar lazy
45 Eli violets lopsided body lazy
46 Giles burnt leather stiff as a board gluttonous
47 Jordan wine stump teeth lustful
48 Matthew damp mouldy bread large mouth, like a fish greedy
49 Michael cottage cheese facial abscess prideful
50 David compost pale, cracked skin slothful
51 Alice rye bread vein-coated neck wrathful
52 Alice horse sweat thin, pale lips  envious
53 Alice freshly cut grass back bent like a hoop incompetent
54 Alice camel haggard and hunted blasphemous
55 Alice wet horse pig-like nose petty
56 Alice ash cross-eyed ignorant
57 Alice rotting flowers long, skeletal fingers  ignorant
58 Alice sun-baked egg blubber lips ignorant
59 Alice vinegar mismatched arms ignorant
60 Alice mouldy bread vaguely suggestive comments ignorant
61 Joan porridge long-necked  ignorant
62 Joan metal shavings wipes nose constantly ignorant
63 Joan flax dust dented head ignorant
64 Joan wood smoke unusually large head  ignorant
65 Joan wet wool flicking tongue, cracked lips ignorant
66 Agnes pickled cabbage irregular, yellow teeth diseased
67 Agnes rotten meat phlegm-spraying cough diseased
68 Agnes freshly baked bread bird sits on shoulder diseased
69 Margery grease flat, pancake face diseased
70 Margery asparagus tufts of irregular hair diseased
71 Margery urine and blood slab-faced skeptical
72 Isabel skin flakes extraordinary compressed  skeptical
73 Isabel lavender hissing, raspy voice skeptical
74 Isabel wet clay sunken head and short limbs skeptical
75 Margaret tar twitches and jerks skeptical
76 Emma blackberries thunderous flatulence frantic
77 Juliana sharp raw sewage stump-fingered frantic
78 Christine cedar small, tightly pursed mouth  frantic
79 Katherine cloves cannot make eye contact frantic
80 Beatrice mothballs crooked back frantic
81 Elizabeth roast chicken loose skin frantic
82 Ellen old spinach remarkably small head frantic
83 Mary wax  little goggling eyes frantic
84 Amice rotten eggs spindly, knob-jointed limbs  frantic
85 Sibilla wet cereal no chin at all frantic
86 Cecily pungent blue cheese bloated stomach  surly
87 Sara damp straw languid, calm speech surly
88 Avice lye terrifying laugh surly
89 Isolda pus widely set eyes surly
90 Lucy wet mortar potato-shaped nose surly
91 Mariota mouse urine astonishingly old surly
92 Ann yeast hideous grin and winking eyes surly
93 Annabel pig shit oddly effeminate, or masculine surly
94 Anastasia horse shit half-asleep  surly
95 Avelina goat shit missing fingers surly
96 Letitia dog shit waddling gait rebellious
97 Agatha cow shit stutter rebellious
98 Eustacia ten different kinds of shit sagging lips rebellious
99 Sabrina no odour wild, tangled hair rebellious
100 Susanna eye-wateringly strong (reroll) prominent mole or boil  rebellious

Names collected from here.