Monday, November 21, 2022

What Does It All Mean?

Over the course of the last year, I've been sharing a number of creatures from the science fantasy setting I'm developing, sha-Arthan. If you look carefully, you'll notice there have been small but significant changes to the creatures' game statistics. The stats of the earliest entries are nearly identical to those found in Old School Essentials, which is itself nearly identical to the TSR era Basic and Expert Dungeons & Dragons rules. As I've developed sha-Arthan more and done some preliminary playtesting of it, I've also deviated from OSE and those changes are reflected in the game statistics of the creatures I post here. Since a number of readers have asked me to explain those changes, I thought I'd do so briefly in this post. 

I'll use the stats of the kelthaga as an illustration:

DR 14, HD 3** (13hp), Att 1 × touch (1d6 + Vigor drain), AB +2, MV 18p (6p), SV F12 D13 M14 E15 S16, ML 12, XP 65, NA 1d4 (1d6), TT None (see below)

DR stands for "Defense Rating" and is more or less the equivalent of the creature's ascending armor class score. 

HD is, of course, "Hit Dice" and is the number of d8 rolled to determine the creature's hit points. The asterisks indicate the number of special abilities the creature has for the purposes of calculating experience points, while the number in parentheses indicates its average hit points.

Att indicates the number and type of a creature's attacks, along with the damage caused by each one.

AB is "Attack Bonus" and represents the bonus added to a creature's d20 attack roll, which is compared against an opponent's Defense Rating.

MV is the speed at which the creature moves, given in paces, a unit equivalent to 5-foot (or 1.5-meter) increments. The first number is the creature's base movement rate, while the second one in parentheses is its encounter movement rate.

SV represents the creature's saving throws, with the letters being the following:

  • F = "Fortitude"
  • D = "Devices"
  • M = "Mental attacks"
  • E = "Evasion"
  • S = "Spell"
ML is the morale rating.

XP is the experience point value of defeating the creature.

NA is "Number Appearing," with the first number being the number encountered wandering through the Vaults beneath sha-Arthan, while the second indicates the number encountered in a lair. 

TT is "Treasure Type" and is used in conjunction with a table to determine the amount of treasure, if any, a creature has on its person or in its lair.

As you can see, most of the game statistics are like those found in most forms of Dungeons & Dragons, with a few changes here and there to better reflect the setting of sha-Arthan and my personal preferences as a referee. Like all such things, I continue to tinker with these details; they will probably not reach their final form until I've had the chance to playtest them more fully (which I hope to begin in the new year, but I make no promises).


  1. This all looks quite interesting, but I must have missed where you defined what ‘Vigor’ is. Is this Constituion renamed, or is it a combination of STR+CON?

    1. Vigor is a combination of STR and CON and is the main physical ability score in Secrets of sha-Arthan.

  2. Why not a single save with bonuses for specific circumstances when needed?

    1. For purely esthetic and nostalgic reasons, I've never been a fan of the single save. It's completely irrational, I know, but there it is.

    2. Sure I get it. But here is something to consider. I started using a single save because of Swords & Wizardry. I didn't have a preference one way or the other. Later which things morphed to the point I had my own variant system, I found the single save to be a boon when dealing with mucking around with the various list of "stuff" like monsters, classes, NPCs, etc.

      I generally had a one or two good idea for something to better (or worse at). But rarely I had an idea of how all five of the traditional categories would work out.

      Also there was the benefit of not trying to figure which of the five shoe in whatever I was working on. I just describe it exactly how I had it pictured in my mind.

      Hope this proves to be food for thought. I get how nostalgia and feel can influence one's creative choices.