Monday, 14 October 2019

The Blade of Bizhan

The Blade of Bizhan - an adventure using the Advanced Fighting Fantasy Rules

On the continent of Allansia in the foothills of the Icefinger mountains north of the town of Fang resides a tomb carved from black stone. It is known as the Tomb of Bizhan and appears on many treasure maps traded for silver in the taverns and back alleys of nearby towns and villages. The warlord Bizhan is a local legend. If he existed it was many years in the past. By reputation, he was a fearsome warrior. But he also has a cursed reputation as a man who killed friend and enemy alike.

Adventurers have returned from the tomb in the past. They report that it is fairly easy to enter. However, they were confronted with a featureless stone pit with no openings. Finding nothing, they could not confirm any of the legends about the tomb or for whom it was actually built.

One of the legends about the tomb is that it holds the legendary sword carried by Bizhan. The sword, the name of which has been lost to history, was known as a magical slayer of men.

I wrote this short adventure for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules. I sketched out the concept as I was reading and posting about the rules. But it took me a few months to actually finish the writing of the adventure. It would be suitable for starting adventurers. I placed it on Allansia from the published Titan setting but it could be easily placed just about anywhere.

The Stone Shaft in the Black Stone

The Black Stone

The Tomb of Bizhan is located in the foothills of the Icefinger mountains. In the winter months, the area is generally buried under a few feet of snow. In the spring the area is muddy and boggy in the low lying areas. But in the summer it is dry and easy to reach. However, the summer months also bring swarms of biting insects which make camping out in the area uncomfortable.

The black stone tomb is 5 by 6 meters in size and 5 meters tall. A large door on one side of the tomb can be slid aside to reveal a single chamber. In the center of this chamber is a 3-meter square stone shaft descending deep into the earth. The only light in the tomb comes from any light sources the adventurers bring with them. The entry chamber will be lit by natural light coming through the door as long as the door remains open.

Aside from the pit in the center of the chamber, there are four statues, 2 meters tall, one in each corner of the chamber. The statues are carved from a light grey stone and are fairly simple in construction depicting a man holding a spear. Despite looking ominous the statues are inanimate.

The shaft descends a total of 20 meters into the earth. The sides of the shaft are made from stone blocks with nearly invisible gaps between them. There are four doors in the side of the shaft, all at different depths from the main chamber floor. There is one door on each shaft wall. The doors are so well constructed they are hard to see. Players need to make an Awareness Special skill check to spot a door. One door is easily visible because it is propped open by a small brick. The space the door is cracked open is too narrow for an adult human to squeeze through.

The doors can be slid to one side fairly easily once they are noticed (Skill check). Each door is 3 meters square. Adventurers trying to access the doors in the shaft will need to use a rope to climb down to the doors. The walls of the shaft do not have enough handholds to allow climbing without a rope. Even with a rope it is a difficult climb. Adventurers need to make a Skill check every 5 meters they descend the rope. If they fail a check they do not move that turn. A double 6 fumble means they slipped and lost hold of the rope falling to the bottom of the shaft. A falling adventurer must test for Luck, with the score reduced by 1 for every 5 meters he falls. Acrobatics Special skill can improve this. If unlucky the adventurer will lose 1 Stamina point plus a number of points covered in the Falling Damage table.

North Tomb

The door to the north tomb entrance is slightly open. The door was blocked open with a small stone brick. The door is located 4 meters below the main chamber.

The door leads to a long hall which is 9 meters long and trapped with swinging blade traps. An Awareness check (roll 2 six-sided dice if the result is less than or equal to Skill) allows an adventurer to spot the trap. The trap is activated by stepping on the floor. Each trap is a large, ax blade that swings out of the ceiling and continues to swing for 1 minute before resetting. There are three blade traps located under three pairs of pillars holding up the ceiling of the hall. The first trap is 1 meter into the hall, the second is 4 meters and the third is at 7 meters.

If a trap is activated an adventurer must make a Luck check to avoid a trap. Also possibly the Dodge Special skill. The blade damage is as follows:

Dice Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6
Damage 2 3 3 4 4 5

The tomb at the end of the hall is entered through a stone archway. The chamber is 4 meters square and has a simple stone crypt in the center of the room. Against the east wall is an ornate mahogany chest. The chest is held shut with a simple latch. Inside the chest is a layer of sand and three gold coins partially obscured by the sand. The adventurers were beaten to this chest by earlier treasure hunters.

The large crypt appears undisturbed. A pry bar is needed to lift the lid off of the crypt. A skill check is needed possibly aided by the Strength special skill. Inside the crypt is a skeleton in tattered leather armour holding a sword. If the crypt is opened the skeleton will animate and attack.

Skill 6, Stamina 5, Attacks 1
Weapon Sword
Dice Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Damage 2 3 3 3 3 4 5
Skeletons have resistance to edged weapons they take only a single point of damage from edged or pointed weapons.

Opening a Crypt
East Tomb

The east tomb is 8 meters below the main chamber above. The door to the hall to the tomb is closed and hard to detect. But once it is detected it can be slid to one side. A short, 3 meters long, hall leads to an open archway. There are runs carved above the archway that state that the tomb belongs to Bizhan but the language is long forgotten.

Past the archway is a 4-meter square chamber. Along the north and south walls of this chamber are three standing sarcophagi. A total of six sarcophagi. Jutting out from the east wall is a closed stone crypt. The symbol of a crown is carved into the end of the crypt.

 In each sarcophagus, there is a skeleton armed with a sword. If a sarcophagus or the crypt are distrubed the skeletons will push the lids to their resting place aside and attack.

Skill 6, Stamina 5, Attacks 1
Weapon Sword
Dice Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Damage 2 3 3 3 3 4 5
Skeletons have resistance to edged weapons they take only a single point of damage from edged or pointed weapons.

In the Crypt is the desiccated corpse of a tall man. The bones can be seen in some places but the corpse has most of its skin and hair. The Corpse wears a simple band of gold on its head. The corpse holds an ornate sword in its right hand. A blade of dark metal and a gold hilt. The creature is a zombie of the corpse of Bizhan.

Skill 6, Stamina 6, Attacks 1
Weapon Sword
Dice Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Damage 2 3 3 3 3 4 5
Zombies are particularly susceptible to damage from Holy water.

The sword that the zombie holds is not Bizhan’s blade. It is an ornate fake. The weapon is poorly balanced and gives a -1 to attack rolls. It is worth 200 gold coins.

West Tomb

Eleven meters below on the west wall is the closed door to the west tomb. Beyond the door is another short hallway (3 meters) leading a single tomb chamber (4 meters square). This chamber is different. There is no crypt. Instead, there is an enormous stone statue of a demon covering the west wall of the chamber. The statue’s head nearly touches the ceiling. The statue has the appearance of a seated, enormously fat humanoid with outstretched arms. The demon has large horns on its head and its hands are open and the palms are facing upward.

On the north wall is a carved frieze showing a human warrior losing a battle to his enemies. The human retreats to a cave and bows before a huge demon that looks like the statue in this chamber. In return for offerings the demon hands the human a sword.

The eyes of the statue are stone but seem to follow adventurers as they walk about the chamber. If the statue is touched, deep, rumbling laughter will be heard that appears to come from the statue. Everyone who hears the laughter must make a Luck save. Those failing the save must roll a 1d6. On a 1-2 they attack their fellow adventurers, on a 3-5 they stand still and are unresponsive, and on a 6 they have free action. The effect lasts 3 rounds.

If an offering is placed in either of the demon’s hands it will disappear and any adventurers currently suffering from the effects noted above will have it dispelled. If an offering of at least 100 gold is made to the statue, the Blade of Bizhan will appear in the demon’s hands.

The Blade of Bizhan, a sword of human-slaying doing double damage against humans.

South Tomb

The door to the south tomb hallway is 15 meters below the floor of the entrance chamber. Again there is a short hallway leading to an archway and a 4-meter square tomb chamber. In this chamber are two stone crypts. On the west wall is a mahogany chest and six, sealed clay jars. The chest is latched closed and can be easily opened. Inside is a pile of small gems. A total of 200 gems worth a total of 4,000 gold coins. The clay jars are sealed with wax. Inside are dried out human organs.

Like the other stone crypts, it will take a pry bar to open them. Inside the crypts are a pair of small corpses. The corpses appear to be those of children. Possibly a boy and a girl. The two corpses are actually ghouls.

Ghouls (2)
Skill 5, Stamina 5, Attacks 2
Weapon Claws
Dice Roll 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Damage 2 2 2 3 3 3 4
If a ghoul makes a successful attack the victim must make a Luck save or be paralyzed and unable to take actions for 2 rounds.

The ghouls are the children of Bizhan who Bizhan killed with his Blade while in a fit of madness. Afterword he entombed himself alive in this place.

Map of the Tomb

Monday, 9 September 2019

AFF Combat

To get a feel for the Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules and how they work I ran a quick fight between a pair of combatants. The generic adventurer archetype from the rules and a skeleton.

Gavin the gladiator is a fighter in the fighting bits of Port Blacksand. Today he meets a skeleton on the sandy surface of the arena.

Gavin (Human)
Skill 7, Stamina 16, Luck 10, Magic 0, Magic Points 0
Special Skills: Armour (2), Awareness (2), Brawling (1), Swords (1), Climb (1), Swim (1).
Weapon 1  2 3  4 5 6 Armour 1  2 3  4 5 6
Sword 2  3 3  3 3 4 Leather 0  0 0  0 1 1
Large Shield 0  0 0 +1 +1 +1

Skill 6, Stamina 5, Attacks 1 sword, No armour
Weapon 1  2 3  4 5 6
Sword 2  3 3  3 3 4
Special: skeletons take only 1 point of damage from weapons with an edge or point.

To attack both combatants roll 2d6, and add their skill score and appropriate weapon Special skill if possessed. So Gavin has a modifier total of +8 to attacks with his sword (Skill 7 + Sword 1). The skeleton has a modifier of +6.

Round 1: Gavin rolls a total of 14. The skeleton gets a total of 10. Gavin wins the round and gets a damage roll (1d6) of 5. This would normally do 3 Stamina damage but because he is using a sword the skeleton only loses 1 Stamina.

Round 2: Gavin rolls a total of 19 and the skeleton gets a total of 12. Gavin wins again and does 1 more point of Stamina damage reducing the skeleton to 3 Stamina.

Round 3: Gavin rolls a total of 17 and the skeleton gets a total of 17. It is a draw and no damage is done this round.

Round 4: Gavin rolls a total of 12 and the skeleton gets a total of 15. The skeleton wins the round and hits Gavin with his sword rolling a 5. However, Gavin rolls a 4 on his armour roll and deducts 1 point from the damage as he deflects the skeleton’s sword strike with his shield. Gavin loses only 2 points of current Stamina.

Round 5: Gavin rolls a total of 15 and the skeleton gets a total of 15. Again it is a draw and no damage is done this round.

Round 6: Gavin rolls a total of 18 and the skeleton gets a total of 12. Gavin hits the skeleton reducing its Stamina to 2.

Round 7: Gavin rolls a total of 17 and the skeleton rolls a total of 14. Gavin hits again reducing the skeleton to 1 Stamina.

Round 8: Gavin rolls a total of 15 and the skeleton rolls a total of 13. Gavin cleaves the skeleton’s skull from its spine and the bones fall to the sand. It is defeated.

It would not normally have been such a long fight. It took Gavin more than a minute to dispatch the skeleton. But the skeleton’s special ability against edges weapons delayed the inevitable.

The system appears to be quick and functional.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Advanced Fighting Fantasy RPG Rules

Advanced Fighting Fantasy rules are based on the mechanics of some pick-your-path gamebooks that were popular in the United Kingdom in the early 1980s. I was aware of the books from seeing them in stores and advertisements in Game magazines but I never owned one.

I bought the rules in 2014 and never looked at them too closely. But this weekend I went through them in detail. It is a simple system that is very different from other fantasy games I have played.

What follows is a brief overview of the rules.


The system does not use classes or levels and allows a lot of customization in creating the hero you want to play.

Heroes have four characteristics, Skill, Stamina, Luck, and Magic. The characteristics have starting values of 4, 8, 8, and, zero respectfully. There are 8 additional points that can be added to the characteristics. Skill and Luck can each be increased by 3 points. Four points can be added to Stamina and each point added to stamina is worth 2 points. It is possible to leave Magic at zero if you do not plan to create a magic-using character. But you can put 7 points into magic.

The game assumes that must heroes are humans. Humans gain +1 to Luck. If you want to play an Elf they get a +1 to magic and dwarves get a +2 to stamina. Elves and dwarves also must take the Dark seeing talent.

The real customization begins in taking Special Skills. Special skills are Lore skills, stealth skills, combat skills, and magic skills that define a hero. All new Heroes also assign 2 points to three different special skills and 1 point to six more special skills. No skill can be increased twice. Although racial special skills can be further raised.

The Magic Special skills detail the different types of magic available. To have one of these skills the hero must have at least one point in Magic skill. Only one type of Magic can be chosen.

Minor Magic, Magic Priestly, Magic Sorcery, Magic Wizardry are the types. Magical Heroes need to calculate how many Magic Points they have. Magic points (MP) power Wizardry and Magic-Minor spells. The Hero receives 2 MP for every point in the Magic Characteristic, Magic-Wizardry or Magic-Minor.

Finally, every hero chooses one Talent.

Core Action Rules

The core rules of the system are Unopposed checks and Opposed checks. The Hero rolls 2d6 and compares the result to the appropriate Characteristic. If the result is lower than or equal to the Characteristic it passes. Usually, this will be the Skill characteristic. If the hero has an appropriate Special Skill, the value of the Special Skill is added to the Characteristic. There can be other modifiers that add or subject from the hero’s Characteristic.

Most results are simply a passed or failed check. However, a roll of double 1 or double 6 each produces special results. Double 1 is a critical while double 6 is a fumble.

If the Hero is in competition with an opponent to complete the task then the opposed check system is used. Both the hero and the person opposing him roll 2d6 and ADD it to their Characteristic and Special skill total. Other modifiers may apply. Whoever has the highest result succeeds.

There is also a Luck check. This is normally requesting when a Hero is trying to avoid a Trap or any other situation where luck is the overriding factor. To test Luck the hero rolls 2d6 and compares the result to his CURRENT LUCK score. In this case ignore double 1 or double 6 results. Regardless of the result, the Hero’s current Luck will be reduced by 1 point. A player can choose not to be tested for Luck and fail automatically. A player can also voluntarily request to check for Luck in certain circumstances usually as an alternative to Skill.

Luck does not automatically recover over time. The DM may allow it to return to its full level at the end of an adventure.


The combat system is different from the skill check system and that makes it a little confusing for new players.

When a Hero fights an enemy BOTH combatants roll 2d6, and add their Skill score and appropriate weapon Special skill (if possessed). The highest total wins the round. If there is a tie the round is a draw. The winner of the round then rolls 1d6 to determine damage. This result is compared on the appropriate weapon damage table to find out how many Stamina points are lost. The loser of the round rolls 1d6 and compares the result on the armour table. This will determine how many Stamina points of damage are prevented by the armour.

If a hero reaches 0 Stamina they are immediately knocked unconscious. If they reach -4 Stamina they die outright. An unconscious hero loses 1 Luck every minute (six combat rounds) until attended by a Hero with the First Aid Special skill or is healed with magic. If they reach 0 Luck they die.

The rules suggest rolling 3d6 to speed up play. One die is a different colour and indicates a damage or armour roll.

If a combat roll is double 6, that combatant automatically wins the round. Also, they inflict more damage. Roll 1d6 damage roll and double the result. Armour works as normal. This is a critical hit. Critical hits also force the victim to lose one point of Skill. Conversely, if a combat roll is a double 1, that combatant has fumbled and will automatically lose the round. They also must roll 2d6 on the fumble table.

If magic is cast or a magic missile weapon attacks these attacks are resolved first, followed by any magical spells or items, followed by any melee attacks.

Heroes my make a Luck check in combat to give themselves an edge. This will reduce the Luck score. Luck may be used after attack rolls are made to force the successful attacker to roll a 1 for their damage roll. Luck may also be used to increase the damage of a successful attack. The hero must check Luck before making the damage roll. If successful the Hero will use the damage from column 7 of their damage table.

If a hero or a monster is facing multiple enemies. The single combatant must choose which enemy he is attacking. All combatants roll as normal and calculate as normal. If the lone fighter beats the nominated enemy then he inflicts damage. If he has a higher roll than other enemies he avoids damage. But if another enemy has a higher roll he will take damage from that enemy.

Some creatures have 2 or more attacks. These creatures may inflict damage on multiple opponents, up to the number of attacks. BUT they may only attack each opponent once. So if a creature with 2 attacks is fighting a single opponent it only gets a single attack.

Missile attacks are handled the same way as melee combat with the exception that the combatant firing a weapon will only take damage if the other combatant has a missile weapon as well.

Each type of armour has a protection value. However, a hero must be trained in the wearing of armour or he will suffer penalties. A hero must compare his armour Special Skill plus Skill characteristic total to the listed protection value. If the hero has insufficient total to wear the armour but wears it anyway, then the difference between the required total and the hero’s actual total is deducted from all physical Skill checks including combat checks.

If a shield is used, then the protection provided for a particular result should be added to that provided by the armour worn. Only one armour roll is made whether or not a shield is used. A small shield does not require an Armour special skill to be used.

Damage can only be healed after a battle. A hero can benefit from First Aid immediately after a battle. A successful Healing Special Skill check allows the person healed to recover 2 Stamina. On a roll of double ones the subject actually recovers 4 Stamina. A roll of double 6 inflicts 2 Stamina damage. Only one First Aid check can be made per hero per fight.

A hero will also recover 2 Stamina from eating a meal. A hero can eat as many meals as the like but he regains Stamina only on the first two meals eaten.

If a hero does not eat a meal during the course of a day he loses 2 Stamina.

A night’s sleep also restores 4 Stamina as long as it is uninterrupted. A hero who goes a full day without sleep loses 3 Stamina. It takes a week of rest to recover 1 point of Skill from a major wound.


All heroes who want to use magic must have at least one point in the MAGIC characteristic. Spells of Minor Magic and Magic-Wizardry types are powered by mystical energy in the hero. This is represented by Magic points as noted earlier. Points are replenished by a night’s sleep.

The rules to cast spells are the same as those for skills. Roll 2d6 and compare to the Magic characteristic. You must roll under the characteristic to succeed. A fumble roll (double 6) requires a roll on the spell fumble table.

Some magic spells can be resisted by the target of the spell even if the spell was cast successfully. Spells that can be resisted are noted in their description.

To resist a spell, the target must make a Luck check. A successful check means that the spell fails to have its full effect. The Luck score would be reduced by one. A hero can voluntarily decide not to make a LUCK check.

If a caster invests extra magic points (wizard) or STAMINA (sorcerer) into a spell they can lower the chance of a Luck check succeeding. The test for Luck is modified by the number of extra points.  

Minor Magic
These spells are cantrips. Because of the ease of these spells, a standard spellcasting roll is made with a +6 bonus. A spellcasters total of his MAGIC characteristic and his Magic-minor special skill is known as his Incantation score.

These spells are powered by magic points. The number of points is equal to the rank of the spell. A wizard wearing armour must expend extra spell points for every spell cast. The number of additional points depends on the armour.

The total of sorcery, Magic characteristic plus Magic-sorcery special skill is called the sorcerer Inner Strength and is powered by Stamina. As with wizardry, a roll of 6 requires a fumble table roll. Unlike wizardry, the wearing of armour does not affect sorcery spells. The sorcerer still needs the armour special skill to receive the fill protective benefits of armour.

A sorcerer must always have a component if one is required for the spell. The required Stamina is deducted immediately after the spell is cast. It is possible for a sorcerer to knock himself unconscious with the casting of a spell. Casting a sorcery spell does not cause wounds, only weakness. This Stamina loss from spell casting cannot be restored by the Healing skill. It is recovered by food, sleep, a healing potion, or priestly ability. Unless noted in the spell description, the components for a spell are not consumed when the spell is cast. They can be reused.

The priests of a god can only worship one god and will always carry a symbol of the god they follow.  Each god grants powers to his priests. The priest need only mumble a prayer for the power to take effect. A priest still requires the Magic characteristic but he does not need to make a Magic check to cast spells. The total of a Priest’s Magic characteristic and his Magic-Priestly special skill is referred to as Devotion. This is used to determine the effect of his powers.
A priest simply states his action for a round to use a power and it happens. The only thing that prevents a priest's power from occurring is falling out of favor with his god. A priest does not use magic points but he may only use each of his gifted powers once per day. They become available again at midnight. In dire circumstances, a priest may use the same power twice in one day but he must deduct a point of Luck to do so. Each god grants its priests a specific power and three common powers.

The main criticism I have with the rules is that the system of checks using a roll under method for success. I much prefer a rule over mechanic it feels right to roll high. This is made clumsy by the fact that combat uses the opposite approach. I do not think it would have taken a lot of work to change it so that the mechanic was standard. It will be confusing to think of rolling a 1 is a critical for skills but a fumble in combat. Especially, when unopposed checks can occur in combat (Luck for instance).


It is a different rules system then what I am used to for a fantasy game. That is a definite plus when you are looking to try something different. I am also a big fan of systems that do not have classes or levels. The character customization looks solid. The rules do provide some standard archetypes (ranger, wizard, fighter etc.) if you do not want to put a lot of thought into your starting character. The rules have a fairly standard experience system that allows you to spend points on increasing characteristics or buying Special skills.

I can see myself trying out these rules to see how they play. There is a fair amount of additional products on Drive Thru RPG. Monster books and adventures. Seeing these online was the inspiration for me to dig out the rules are review them.