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What Is True20?

posted Tuesday, February 2nd 2010 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & CultureOther Systems

Curiosity finally got the better of me, and I decided to buy a PDF copy of True20, the the D20 roleplaying game variant from Green Ronin. True20 features numerous rules changes and has a respectable following among both players and writers. So what does it bring to the table?

If you’re familiar with D&D 3E or another D20 game, True20 brings two major changes. First, it streamlines certain rules to expediate combat and place more focus on character and story. Secondly, it’s a “generic” system, meaning you can play modern, sci-fi, fantasy, horror or something else, using the same rulebook. I’ll go through just how it does this in more detail.

Continue reading this article »

Play Old-School Rules-Light D&D

posted Friday, September 18th 2009 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & CultureOther Systems

Sometimes, the latest edition of Dungeons & Dragons just seems too complex. Perhaps you want to play something less elaborate for a change, or find aspects of the rules too restrictive. You may want to use a simpler RPG to introduce new players. Special lightweight D&D editions are nothing new, and I’ve recently discovered another of particular interest.

Searchers of the Unknown is a single page implementation of Dungeons & Dragons, based on the original 1970s D&D game. There are no powers, feats or skill points in Searchers of the Unknown. Nor are there prestige classes, paragon paths, or magic item lists. In its search for simplicity, even spellcasting classes are omitted. The entire rules weigh in at 900 words, fewer than D&D third edition uses to explain grappling.

Old-school, rules-light

The concept is this: If old D&D monsters required only six statistics (AC, movement rate, hit dice, hit points, number of attacks and damage), why can’t a player character be as simple? A sample statblock is 67 characters long, including character name: Humphrey the bald (AC 5 MV 6 HD 3 hp 14 #AT 1 D 1d10 with a voulge).

Character generation consists mainly of choosing armour and weapons, with no character classes and all characters taking d8 hit dice per level. Heavy armour offers better AC (as in old D&D, low AC is better), at the cost of significantly reduced speed. Heavy armour also penalizes initiative and physical skills. Race, class and so forth are descriptive and have no mechanical advantage.

Combat starts by rolling 1d10+AC for initiative (remember that low AC means heavily armoured). Attacks roll 1d20, and try to roll under the opponent’s AC plus your level. HP are fully restored between battles. Morale is used as in old D&D, where monsters may flee if outnumbered. Oddly, the morale check is 1d10 to beat the monster’s hit dice, meaning 10HD monsters and up will never flee.

Skills roll 1d20 and aim for under the character’s AC+level, while saving throws and skills unaffected by armour are under AC+4. Traps, spells, falls, etc, deal 1d8 damage “if it looks like it could kill a man”, 2d8 if it could kill a horse, and 4d8 if it could kill an ogre. Spells usually come in scrolls which any PC of sufficient level can read; inventing spells is left entirely as an exercise to the DM. Level up adds 1d8 hit points, with the interesting feature that all hit dice are rerolled and the player takes this result if it’s higher than his current hit points.

So what’s so good about it?

A few things about this game particularly interest me.

Morale helps to cut the fight short when the heroes are clearly winning. You can do this in 3E or 4E, but there are no rules for it, so I feel like I’m breaking balance.

Rules-light combat can run faster. In D&D 4E, a combat turn includes a standard action, move action, minor action and managing status effects. With Searchers of the Unknown, turns are faster so you see faster results, and players don’t have to wait as long for their next turn. Monsters have fewer hit points, which avoids long, dull slog-fests.

Rules-light also makes it easier to add new game material. Try creating a character class for D&D 4E, where a class is fourteen pages long. Adding character classes to Searchers of the Unknown can be done quite easily. This manner of experimentation is how character classes originally came about. You have a lot of freedom to invent game elements (monsters, magic items, spell effects) without heavy prep time or rules balance knowledge.

It’s possible that old-style D&D has an appeal that more elaborate current D&D lacks. This is more subjective, and harder to pin down without play.

Leave a comment if you’ve played this game or have insight into a rules-light or oldschool D&D variant.

Hit Points And You

posted Friday, June 26th 2009 by Jonathan Drain
Fourth EditionGame DesignOther SystemsPlayer AdviceThird Edition

In every edition it has baffled new players: “If a first-level character can take two or three sword hits, what does it mean when a high-level character can take ten or fifty? Can the 20th-level fighter really survive being stabbed that many times?” The confusion between hit points and physical injury led many groups to adopt the nifty wounds and vitality system, which fell out of favour when it was discovered that the increasingly lethal critical hits gave every character a 50% of being killed outright by a stray bolt before level 20.

The following article should help you to add a narrative explanation to the cold abstraction of the hit points system, including its results: damage, healing, temporary HP, and those fourth edition specifics, healing surges and minions. Continue reading this article »

What’s New in Pathfinder RPG?

posted Thursday, November 13th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
News, Reviews & CultureOther SystemsThird Edition

With the D&D fourth edition licensing rules in question, Paizo is hoping players will latch onto Pathfinder RPG, their revised version of D&D 3.5 which is planned to become the standard rules set for for future issues of the similarly-named Pathfinder adventure module series. Pathfinder RPG is currently in open beta, and a Pathfinder RPG beta release PDF is available. Here’s a brief overview.

Character generation: No real differences from normal D&D. There are a few extra options for rolling ability scores, such as 3d6, 4d6 drop lowest, 2d6+6, and various levels of points-buy.

Races: Although the core races are the same as usual – dwarf, halfing, elf, human, gnome, half-orc and half-elf – many racial abilities have been shaken up. All races now gain +2 to an extra ability score, such as the dwarf who now has +2 to both Constitution and Wisdom, and -2 to Charisma. A few gain bonus racial traits, such as the half-orc who can fight on for one round if brought below zero hit points. Each race can now pick from between two favoured classes.

Classes: Significant changes here. The barbarian gains powers usable while raging, such as knockback or a bonus attack. The bard uses d8 hit dice and gains knowledge skill bonuses. Fighters gain gradual bonuses to armour and weapon types, and bonuses to saves versus fear. The paladin gains new aura abilities, such as allowing allies to smite. Rangers gain d10 hit dice amd specialties in chosen terrain. Rogues can sneak attack against constructs and undead, and gain new rogue special abilities from level 2. Sorcerers gain bloodline abilities much like cleric domains. The wizard can trade his familiar for an object, like an amulet or staff.

Skills: Skills are handled slightly differently in Pathfinder RPG. Instead of 4x skill points at level 1, you gain a +3 bonus to all class skills that you have ranks in. Cross-class skills now cost one point per rank instead of two, although you’re still three points behind. A few skills have been consolidated, such as Decipher Script, Forgery and Speak language into Linguistics. There are now 36 skills including ten Knowledge skills, whereas D&D 3.5 had 44. Use Rope is gone, and winged or otherwise flight-capable characters can use a new skill called Fly.

Feats: Feats are gained at every two levels, instead of every three. Magic item creation no longer costs XP. New feats are introduced – I count 140 in the Pathfinder core book, compared to 110 in the D20 SRD. Several existing feats have different effects. Alertness now grants +2 to Perception (Spot/Listen) and Sense Motive, raising to +4 if the character has 10 or more ranks in one of those skills. Cleave, perhaps unpopularly, requires a full-round action to attempt, meaning it’s not as ubiquitous a choice as in D&D 3.5.

Equipment: Very little difference here, bar the occasional new weapon. Weapon damage and armour types are unchanged.

Description: Very little difference. The alignment system is unchanged.

Combat: A major new experimental rule is chanelling energy, formerly known as the cleric’s Turn Undead ability. Chanelling positive energy now additionally deals damage to undead, while healing allies in the same area. Negative energy bursts deal damage to living creatures. The other major change is that combat maneuvers like grapple and disarm use a unified “Combat Maneuver Bonus”, and are made against a flat DC rather than opposed roll (1d20 + your bonus, versus DC15 + opponent’s bonus).

Magic: Very little difference. However, there’s a notice in this chapter that Polymorph has been substantially changed, very important considering the problems with polymorph throughout D&D third edition. Paizo’s solution is similar to Rich Burlew’s polymorph variant in that there are separate spells for each creature type (such as low level animal form spells and higher level dragon form spells), although you gain a fixed and limited set of benefits. For example, form of the dragon iii lets you assume the form of any Huge metallic or chromatic dragon, but grants a fixed +10 bonus to your character’s normal Strength (amongst other abilities) regardless of the Strength score of a typical dragon of that type.

Spells: Clerics now gain special domain abilities at 1st and 8th level, and domain spells at 2nd, 4th, 12th, 16th and 20th level. A druid can trade his animal companion for one nature-related domain (air, water, etc). For example, the war domain grants an ability at level 8 to temporarily use any combat feat. Specialist wizards similarly gain special abilities at 1st, 8th and 20th level. Spells with XP costs are replaced with tgold piece costs at 5 gp per XP.

Running the game: Like Arcana Evolved and Iron Heroes, Pathfinder RPG uses its own experience points scale. Story XP bonuses are officially encouraged. Charts and tables are provided for calculating appropriate challenge rating of encounters, including adjustments for high-magic and low-magic campaigns. Pathfinder also expands on the guidelines for creating new monsters.

The rest: Very little difference in the additional rules and magic items, although some cool art. However, the glossary notes that permanent level drain has been replaced by negative levels, essentially -1 to all rolls and -5 hit points.

Still to come: The final release of Pathfinder RPG in 2009 promises to revisit prestige classes, cursed and intellgent items, and new disease, poison and environment rules.

Ioun Stone Complete Guide

posted Friday, September 19th 2008 by Jonathan Drain
Fourth EditionGame MaterialMagic Items & GearOther SystemsThird EditionWondrous Items

In researching an article for Kobold Quarterly #6 I discovered that there are a lot more ioun stones in D&D history than the sixteen appearing in the third edition Dungeon Master’s Guide or the single lonely example in D&D 4th edition’s list. Of particular interest is an article in Dragon magazine #174 which describes the ioun stones’ origin on the positive energy plane, and Larloch’s entry in Lords of Darkness defining several new stones.

I’ve compiled a list of every ioun stone I can find, dating from AD&D right up to the 4th edition Adventurer’s Vault. There are a whopping 154 stones on this list, including sixteen of my own invention and the rest from canon D&D sources. With a little work you should be able to make reasonable conversions for whichever edition of the game you choose to play.

  • Amber sphere: “of Divine Knowledge”; Acts as holy symbol, grants insight into an opponent, grants bonus to Insight, Religion and Intelligence checks (4E, Adventurer’s Vault 2)
  • Amber spindle: +1 resistance bonus on all saving throws, stacks up to +5 (Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast)
  • Anhedral: +1 to AC, as bless spell (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Any: “Singing Ioun Stone”, disguised as any other ioun stone, cursed to fill user’s mind with music and disrupt concentration (4E, Dragon Magazine #311)
  • Balian’s yellow: +1 to a random ability score each day (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Black and white ellipsoid: Provides mind blank effect against scrying (3E, Dragon magazine #319)
  • Black pyritohedron: Energy drain from creature or magic item; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Black spindle: Darkvision and see through mist (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Black star: Absorbs 62HP of fire damage (AD&D, Dragon Annual #2)
  • Blood red orthorhomboid: Transmutes 10ft of minerals into energy; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Blue green spindle: Bestows airy water in a 10′ radius sphere at will (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Brass lozenge: Gain 2d4+2 HP once per day on command, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Bright silver cylinder: User and 200lbs. of possessions can go ethereal for one hour, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II), as cloak of etherealness, double duration (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Bright white rectangle: +1 to saves vs acid (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Brilliant green bipyramidal: Infuses target with energy, dealing damage and heating metal; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Brown rhomboid: User and 200lbs. of possessions can assume gaseous form for one hour, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Brown sphere: Discerns the direction of north (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Cephaloid: Obscure alignment within 20 feet (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Cerulean blue rhomboid: Bestows free action on user, as per the magical ring (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II), as cloak of etherealness (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Clear crystal: “of Adaption”; Sustains creature without food or water, resist environmental temperatures, stop ongoing damage (4E, Manual of the Planes)
  • Clear interconnected spheres: User becomes insubstantial; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Clear pink sphere: “Spirit storage”; if user is killed in combat, his spirit is transferred to the ioun stone and can be restored with a restoration spell (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Clear prism: Store 2d6 spell levels (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Clear sphere: Grants 5% magic resistance (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Clear spindle: Sustains creature without food or water (3E, DMG)
  • Clear teardrop: Use detect undead at will (Ghostwalk Campaign Setting)
  • Copper rectangle: Allows user to read magic at will (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Crimson sphere: +2 enhancement bonus to Intelligence, stacks up to +6 (Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast)
  • Cube: +1 to Dexterity (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Cylinder: +1 to saving throws vs acid (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Dark blue rhomboid: “of True Sight”; darkvision, +6 to Perception and Insight, 1/day see invisible (4E PHB)
  • Dark blue rhomboid: Alertness (as the feat) (3E, DMG)
  • Dark green ellipsoid: +5 luck bonus to AC (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dark orange dodecahedron: Spell resistance 21 (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dark purple pyramid: as ring of wizardry IV (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dark purple triangle: as ring of wizardry III (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dark red cube: as medallion of thoughts (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Decahedron: Sustain user without water (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Decipton: Shed continual light on command (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Deep black sphere: See in magical darkness, 30′ range (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Deep purple prism: Grants 60′ infravision or doubles existing infravision range (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Deep red sphere: +2 enhancement bonus to Dexterity (3E, DMG)
  • Deep red sphere: Add +1 to Strength (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Dendroid: Adds one level of ability, not cumulative (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Dodecahedron: +1 to Constitution (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Dull gray: Provides 1 power point. then disintegrates (3E, Expanded Psionics Handbook)
  • Dull orange rhomboid: as brooch of shielding (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dusty rose prism, Larloch’s: +5 deflection bonus to AC (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Dusty rose prism: +1 insight bonus to AC (3E, DMG)
  • Echinid: User can detect magic (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Ellipsoid: +1 to saving throws vs poison gas (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Emerald ellipsoid: 5 bonus hit points, multiple stones stack (Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast)
  • Enneid: +1 to Charisma (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Euhedral: Has the power of two ioun stones (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Flaming yellow prism: “Heart of fire”, +2 caster level for fire spells, +6 bonus to Knowledge (the planes) and Knowledge (arcana), 1/day cast Quench or empower a fire spell (3E, 17 Relics)
  • Flawed clear spindle: Cursed clear spindle (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Flickering white snowflake: +1 to saves vs cold (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Frosty white octahedron: Contains 1-4 wishes; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Glowing rose prism: +5 insight bonus to AC (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Gold ellipsoid: User and 200lbs. of possessions can go astral for one hour, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Golden ellpisoid: Intelligent stone, provides extra attacks (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Golden sphere: Distracts viewers from your disguise (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Green sphere: +1 to saving throws vs gas attacks (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Hectoid: +1 to Strength (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Helicid: User can turn gaseous for one hour (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Heptahedron: +1 to saving throws vs electricity (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Heptid: Brings dying creature back to one hit point; stone turns to dust when used (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Hexagonoid: Hums softly when poison is within 20 feet (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Incandescent blue sphere, Larloch’s: +6 bonus to Wisdom (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Incandescent blue sphere: +1 level to spell ability (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Incandescent blue sphere: +2 enhancement bonus to Wisdom (3E, DMG)
  • Indigo blue trapezohedron: Emits fossilization pulse affecting living beings within 30 feet; unique ioun stone (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174)
  • Ioun Eye: Grants 360 degree vision (AD&D, Dragon magazine #267)
  • Ioun’s Flame: Bonus to Will and knowledge checks, shed light (4E, Adventurer’s Vault 2)
  • Iridescent spindle: Sustains creature without air (3E, DMG)
  • Jet black unspecified: Low-light vision, light sources reduced by half, improve critical range on one target, use stone as spying device, can’t knock opponents unconscious (4E, Open Grave)
  • Lavender and green ellipsoid: Absorbs spells of 8th level or lower (3E, DMG)
  • Light blue prism: User can understand all spoken languages (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Lime green prism: Ignore the effects of heat and ice (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Lozenge: +1 to saving throws vs charm spells (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Marble sphere: Protects other ioun stones from damage (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Maroon star: User can only be harmed by magical weapons and spells (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Monoclinoid: Disables infravision within 20 feet (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Mottled gray sphere: as ring of counterspells (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Nephroid: Grants 5% magic resistance (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Ochre spindle: Grants 360 degree vision (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Octahedron: Protects owner with continual mind blank spell (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Onyx rhomboid: +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution, stacks up to +6 (Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast)
  • Orange cube: Grants resistance to mind-affecting spells as if user had a Wisdom of 20 (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Orange prism: +1 caster level (3E, DMG)
  • Orthorhomboid: +1 to Intelligence (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Ovoid: Allows water walking for one hour per day (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Pale aquamarine prism: “of Steadfastness”; fear immunity (4E, Adventurer’s Vault)
  • Pale blue rhomboid: +2 enhancement bonus to Strength (3E, DMG)
  • Pale green lozenge: Bestows nondetection (AD&D, Dragon Annual #2)
  • Pale green prism, Larloch’s: +5 competence bonus on attack rolls, saves and checks (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Pale green prism: +1 competence bonus on attack rolls, saves, skill checks and ability checks (3E, DMG)
  • Pale lavender ellipsoid: Absorbs spells of 4th level of lower (3E, DMG)
  • Pale turquoise: Double carrying capacity (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Pale white sphere: Recall three 9th-level spells, as pearl of power (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Pale yellow prism: Glows like a sunrod (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Pearlized brown ellipsoid: as boots of speed, free action to activate (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Pearly black spindle: Undead regenerate 1hp/hour (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Pearly white prism: Repairs 1 point of damage per turn (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pearly white spindle: Regenerate 1 point of damage per hour (3E, DMG)
  • Pebble: Use invisibility to undead once per day (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Peg: Provides a bonus ot 10 arcs, wings or songs to spellcaster (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Pentahedron: Free action once per day for one hour (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Pink and green ellipsoid: Absorb spells of up to 4th level (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pink and green sphere: +2 enhancement bonus to Charisma (3E, DMG)
  • Pink ellipsoid: Adds +1 to Constitution (AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pink rhomboid: +2 enhancement bonus to Constitution (3E, DMG)
  • Prism: User can see in magical darkness (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Puce cube: Bestows ESP at will; user can scan surface thoughts of one person per round within range of 30′ (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pulsing red star: +1 to saves vs fire (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pure white octahedron: +1 bonus to Charisma vs beings of the same race (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Pyramid: Regenerate one hit point every four hours (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Rainbow crystal: Provide 5 power points (3E, Expanded Psionics Handbook)
  • Rainbow ellipsoid: User can levitate at will (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Rainbow spindle: User and 200lbs. of possessions can polymorph self for one hour, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Rectangle: +1 to saving throws vs poison (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Red ellipsoid: “of Regeneration”; regeneration 10 while bloodied 1/day (4E, Adventurer’s Vault)
  • Red sphere: Bestows protection from fire (AD&D, Dragon Annual #2)
  • Rhomboid: Absorb 10 points of damage; turns to dust when used (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Rich green star: as +5 stone of good luck (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Rod: User can comprehend language as the spell (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Round: Continual Read Magic (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Scarlet and blue sphere, Larloch’s: +6 bonus to Intelligence (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Scarlet and blue sphere: +2 enhancement bonus to Intelligence (3E, DMG/AD&D, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Septahedron: Strength spell once per day for one hour (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Sexahedron: User can teleport; stone turns to dust when used (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Shining black spiral: as helm of teleportation (3E, Lords of Darkness)
  • Silver ellipsoid: +5 to saves vs Necromancy (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Silver rod: +1 to saves vs electricity (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Silver sphere: Negates rear-attack bonuses (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Silvery mirror cube: +1 bonus to saves vs petrification gaze attacks (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Sky blue sphere: Delay elemental damage (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Slate blue prism: Bonus smite attempt, turn attempt or 2nd level divine spell (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Soft black rectangle: Protection against level-draining attacks, 2d10 charges (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Sphere: +1 to saving throws vs petrification (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Spindle: Use invisibility to animals once per day (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Star: Use light once per day (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Stelloid: Sustain user without food (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Tan ellipsoid: Identify spells and magic (3E, Kobold Quarterly #6)
  • Tetrapton: +1 to saving throws vs cold (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Tile: Projcets antimagic shell around user; stone turns to dust when used (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Tredyhedron: +1 to Wisdom (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Triclinid: +1 to saving throws vs fire (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Tubule: Grants infravision with a range of 60 feet (AD&D, Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana)
  • Unspecified rhomboid: “of Sustenance”; require no food, water or air, and require half normal rest (4E, Adventurer’s Vault)
  • Vibrant purple prism: Stores three levels of spells, as a ring of spell storing, minor (3E, DMG)
  • White and pink rhomboid: “of Perfect Language”; understand all spoken languages, +5 to Charisma-based skills (4E, Adventurer’s Vault)
  • Yellow sphere: Sheds continual light on command (AD&D, Dragon magazine #174/Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II)
  • Yellow spindle: +1 on saves vs petrification (AD&D, Dragon Annual #2)

Sources: Dungeon Master’s Guide v3.5, Dragon magazines #174, #267, #319 and #331, Player’s Handbook 4E, Encyclopedia Magica Vol. II, 17 Relics (The Le Press), Lords of Darkness, Kobold Quarterly #6, Expanded Psionics Handbook, Adventurer’s Vault, Ghostwalk Campaign Setting, Open Grave, Pathfinder: Spires of Xin-Shalast, Dragon Annual #2, and Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana). Leave a comment and let me know if you find any other ioun stones.

Other publications

Ioun stones also appear in the following, which I haven’t seen yet:

  • Seekers of Secrets: A Guide to the Pathfinder Society (Paizo Publishing)
  • The True Arcane Story: Ioun Stones (Louis Porter, Jr. Design)
  • Spells & Spellcraft (Fantasy Flight Games)


  • 15 June 2009: Added clear teardrop (Ghostwalk), jet black ioun stone (Open Grave), unspecified rhombus (Adventurer’s Vault), crimson sphere, emerald ellipsoid, onyx rhomboid, amber spindle (Pathfinder, Rise of the Runelords #6: Spires of Xin-Shalast).
  • 05 October 2009: Added clear crystal (4E Manual of the Planes), Ioun’s Flame (4E Adventurer’s Vault 2). Removed duplicate entry for “Rhomboid” (see “unspecified rhomboid”.
  • 13th December 2009: Added amber sphere (Adventurer’s Vault 2), black and white ellipsoid (Dragon magazine #319). Added list of other publications.
  • 10th February 2010: Added red sphere, pale green lozenge, black star, and yellow spindle (Dragon Annual #2). (Thanks Matthew Hargenrader!)
  • 26 February 2010: Added ioun eye (Dragon magazine #267). Thanks again to Mathew Hargenrader.
  • 10th March 2010: Added singing ioun stone (Dragon magazine #331). Thanks again to Mathew Hargenrader.
  • 13th May 2010: Added anhedral, cephaloid, cube, cylinder, decahedron, decipton, dendroid, dodecahedron, echinid, ellipsoid, enneid, euhedral, hectoid, helicid, heptahedron, heptid, hexagonoid, lozenge, monoclinoid, nephroid, octahedron, orthorhomboid, ovoid, pebble, peg, pentahedron, prism, pyramid, rectangle, rhomboid, rod, round, septahedron, sexahedron, sphere, spindle, star, stelloid, tetrapton, tile, tredyhedron, triclinid, and tubule ioun stones (Netheril: Encyclopedia Arcana). Thanks to Dale.
  • 24th May 2010: Added indigo blue trapezohedron, frosty white octahedron, blood red orthorhomboid, black pyritohedron, brilliant green bipyramidal, and clear interconnected spheres ioun stones (Dragon magazine #174). Somehow I missed these the first time around.

FATAL – Most Misogynistic RPG Ever?

posted Wednesday, February 28th 2007 by Jonathan Drain
Links and ResourcesNews, Reviews & CultureOther Systems

If you’ve never heard of FATAL, that’s probably for the best.

Save yourself the bother of buying this monstrous PDF and check out this review of FATAL. (Contains strong language.)