Dude, your project is amazing! But please, you urgently need a better layout! Maybe in A5 format, with two columns, or something like that, for better visualization. Reading your project on cell phone is hell.
Block, Dodge, Parry - A Levelless, Classless Expansion of Cairn
A downloadable game
Check out the free SRD by clicking the image above!
Join the discussion on Discord!
Block, Dodge, Parry aims to be somewhat of an 'Advanced Edition' to Yochai Gal's Cairn. It is playable as an entirely standalone game, or as an 'expansion pack' to Cairn, Into The Odd, Electric Bastionland, or any other Mark of the Odd-type games.
I hope it also proves helpful as a toolbox: a collection of ideas that hopefully inspire you to use what you like, tweak what you want, and expand where you find it lacking.
The main concepts behind its contents are
- To integrate 'fiction' into OSR-style play. If you are a wizard, it should be fun and easy to do wizard stuff, without causing major balancing issues.
- To make any fantasy character concept a player might have, easy to 'build' and play. The backstory is the character building.
- To provide players and Wardens with meaningful, impactful choices that emerge naturally during play.
- To organically create 'prompts' for new adventures from play itself. Do you want to master a new weapon? Use it! Do you want to learn how to master a particular skill? Find someone who can teach you!
Block, Dodge, Parry has 42 pages, and contains the following:
- Time, Gear & Skill; a system for ‘skill checks’ without requiring a whole list of skills, that rewards the character’s background and preparation.
- Fantasy Species; a simple framework to play as non-humans with unique properties.
- Extended rest rules, rewarding more comfortable places of rest with more rejuvenation.
- Social Conflict; an alternative to physical combat, allowing for tense negotiations. It straddles the line between “complete abstraction” and “having the players actually argue with the Warden” by using dice rolls as prompts.
- Blocking, Dodging & Parrying, the namesake of the system, giving players more tactical options during combat while maintaining its overall flow and simplicity.
- Location-based critical damage; an optional system to add a bit of impact to your blows.
- Weapons; wherein each weapon can deal one of three types of damage, combined with fast, balanced, and heavy attacks and different special properties, which characters master by using.
- Careers: 16 careers, each with a description, related skills, and "common knowledge" (things any person of that career would know)
- Skills: 97 skills, which give you tangible new options during play. These skills can be picked at character creation, or learned along your travels.
- Training: A system to learn new skills by studying, doing, or finding the right trainer.
- Magic; a free-form magic system inspired by GLOG, allowing you to freely sculpt energy, hinder opponents or alter reality. To inspire the free-form system, 12 common magic effects are expanded upon, and the offensive magic section has more than 15 tags to start with.
- Miracles; divine magic allowing you to banish your foes or aid allies. Compose your own Higher Power using one of the 100 domains, and dedicate your actions to your Higher Power to receive healing and bonuses.
In order to download this game you must purchase it at or above the minimum price of $10 USD. You will get access to the following files:
- 1-year Anniversary - What's Next?2 days ago
- Update: Version 1.3226 days ago
- Update: Version 1.31Jul 01, 2023
- Out now: The Block, Dodge, Parry SRD!May 29, 2023
- Version 1.31, 1.4 and the SRDMay 22, 2023
- Update: Version 1.3May 06, 2023
- Block, Dodge, Parry - French EditionMar 20, 2023
- Big Update: Version 1.23Feb 25, 2023
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Thank you! Lay-out is a big priority at the moment. Thing is, it's been seeing small updates over the last year, so it hasn't been in a stage where there was a 'final' version to lay out. However, I do feel that that point is rapidly approaching, and phone lay-out is the next big step. For what it's worth, I have the Adobe Reader app on my phone, which has a mode that just takes all the text from a PDF and presents it responsive :)
Hey Dice Goblin! I really love your ruleset! So Cairn uses spellbooks for Enemy NPC spellcasters. Is there a particular way you like to run NPC spellcasters within BDP's magic rules?
Good question! I tend to run npc spellcasters either as "they can just cast 1d6 arcane blast", or, in the vtt where I run games, I just give them a PC character sheet to track fatigue. I feel that often, making a note about number of md and fatigue slots would cover it. But you're right, it is a thing I should add! Maybe together with a bestiary 🤔
Hello, I see that there is a Version 1.31 here, will the Drivethru version be updated at some point or have you moved on from here? The latest version I can download is v1.3
Hello friend! First say I love your work
1. Do you have plans to improve the layout of the book? I read the PDF mainly on my cell phone and the visualization is very impaired. The font is small and the page is large, very uncomfortable to read, especially in the parts where the text is not placed in two columns. I'm a layman, but I think the game would benefit from A5 formatting and text always in two columns. At least be inspired by Cairn 2e formatting.
2. I own the game purchased from DTRpg. Would it be possible to access it here as well? I prefer to follow the evolution of the game through itch. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Many thanks for your amazing work!
Hey there, thanks for the kind words!
- I definitely want to reformat the book, for both print and digital formatting. I've had a bit of a slump creatively due to some stuff in my personal life, but as I'm getting out of that, it's definitely on the to-do list. Until then: I have an Adobe Reader app on my phone that has a 'fluid reading mode', that basically removes all formatting from a pdf and presents the text optimized for mobile.
- I'll send you an Itch code!
Hi there. I'm confused on the section relating to magical tricks. The directions state:
"The caster invests a number of Magic Dice of choice, as with casting a spell. For each 1-3, the difficulty of the Save is increased by 1. For each 4-6, the difficulty of the Save is increased by 2 – and the user gains Fatigue."
However in the example below this:
"Maltas tries to make an enemy orc stumble, and invests 2 MD. He rolls a 3 and a 5. The orc must roll under or equal his STR (14) but above 1, as the 5 raises the difficulty by 1. Maltas gains 1 Fatigue, from the 5."
Shouldn't the orc have to roll above a 3? The player rolled a 3 (+1 to difficulty) and a 5 (+2 to difficulty and the user gets fatigue)? Doesn't the +1 and +2 stack?
Yesss, you are completely correct! It used to be that a roll of 4-6 raised difficulty by 1, and 1-3 did nothing, but I 'buffed' it. I'll update the example in the next release. Thank you for your keen eye!
RAW it looks like you always have to Block, Dodge, Parry, or Fight Back whenever you are attacked. Is this intended by the rules? My first impression is that this rule would make combat much more damaging than in standard Cairn.
That's a very good point! You can, in fact, "do nothing", i.e., your character uses their Hit Protection to defend themselves. I'll make sure to amend that in the text in the next version!
I made a character sheet that tries to hint at the rules. Please tell me if I made any mistakes: https://justgage.itch.io/block-dodge-parry-character-sheets
Finally got around to picking this up. The frequent updates and interesting content kept it at the top of my to-read list.
Any Plans for a Physical Version?
I am contemplating a version with A5 layout, possibly through lulu, but as that process is all new to me, I need to figure that out first. Also, I want to make sure that the print version would be somewhat 'final', and I'm still working on new ideas and updates :)
I love this so much. This may be a bit too much to ask, but is it possible to eventually have an A5 version? I printed it as a booklet and the text is extremely small!
Other than that, it's truly excellent! Bought it, then bought it again for a friend :)
Good to hear that you love it! I've done layout in word so far (oof), and I would love a proper A4 and a5 layout done somewhat more properly (as I'd also like to print it). It's next on my to do list, and I'm looking for someone who can do professional layout for me!
That sounds absolutely fantastic! I know a few people who do layout, if it so happens that I find someone who's interested I'll let you know :) Keep up the fantastic work!
I’m not a professional but I have done some layout in affinity publisher. I would love to take a stab if you want.
How do monsters who do not use weapons fit into the expanded combat mechanics? Do you give their natural weapons, like claws, tags like regular weapons?
Yes, I would! Monsters do have damage dice for their attacks, so that translates in and of itself. Take, say, a lion:
5 HP, 12 STR, 12 DEX, 11 WIL, bite (d10), claws (d6+d6)
Now, a lion's bite isn't necessarily slow, but you could argue that it comes with more warning (I guess?). Either way, d10 attacks counting as slow is more balanced, in my opinion.
Beyond that, I find the idea of "Are the monster's teeth like daggers? Like swords? Talons like spears?" always translates quite well :)
Are there a plans to add skills that allow for a playstyle similar to a druid?
That is... a very good idea! Druids are a bit of a blind spot for me - as a DM in 5e, I never really find them interesting, so that must be why I kinda... skipped them. It's going on my to-do list!
For what it's worth, you could argue that a Druid is like a Divine caster, with their Higher Power being Nature. You could merge it with Arcane casting, and flavor spells as, say, vines and thorns.
I absolutely agree, in fact I always thought that Druids in 5e would be a lot more interesting if they were combined with clerics to form an "Invoker" of sorts. You could make the less than stellar Cleric Channel Divinities be the Druid's Wild Shapes from Subclasses.
And while flavoring spells could fit with BDP the main problem I see is that it doesn't really offer the ability for a shape changer style of character. Same goes for a character that wants to let their pet do the fighting, the Animal Companion is good but I am currently allowing people to take it multiple times which will give them a more powerful pet.
Finally I noticed that unarmed attacks aren't stated to have a speed. It is most likely fast but I still wanted to mention it.
Yeah, good points!
I'll think about shapeshifting - that could be an interesting thing outside of Druids, with a variety of different interpretations (is it a mutation? Polymorphing? The Holy Spirit enhancing you?).
I'd put unarmed attacks last generally, yes, since their damage die is essentially already Impaired.
The weapon chart in the latest update states that the crossbow and greatbow are fast but have a d8 and d10 as a die. Additionally on the Tricks Magic Example shouldn't the DC for the orc be under 14 but above 3 rather than above 1. Additionally I'm not quite sure where you get armor from, there is no chart for it like weapons.
Thanks for your questions!
- The older edition also had the text, "Ranged weapons are always fast for the purposes of defense, regardless of damage die." The newer release doesn't have that text, but just has it in the tags. I figured it made more sense for ranged weapons to always be Fast, though you could argue that the drawing of a giant bow would take time (and if it fires a single spear-sized arrow, you might still want to Dodge.
- You are completely correct! I changed the Difficulty, but forgot to update the example. I'll do that in a future version!
- BDP builds upon Cairn. I don't have any rules that add or modify Armor in any significant way in comparison to Cairn, so the base rules cover that quite well. In short, Light Armor gives 1 Armor, Medium Armor gives 2 Armor, and heavy, expensive plate gives 3, with a Shield giving +1. I'd have cheap Light Armor be Bulky, expensive Light Armor just be 1 slot, and perhaps have Medium Armor always be bulky.
Wonderful, two last questions. The skill Inspiring says that allies automatically pass morale saves, but the morale portion of the pdf says that PCs don't make morale saves. Is the skill meant to work on companions and retainers only. Second question is about the poisoner skill and what specifically does "dangerous poison" mean. Sorry if I missed something obvious and thanks again.
- Yes, Inspiring is meant for retainers, allies and hirelings!
- "Poisoner" is deliberately open-ended. Say the party really wants to kill a noble. One of the players comes up with the idea of poisoning his food. Having the "Poisoner" skill would mean that that player could ask the Warden things like, "Do I know how to make a deadly poison?" (Yes), "What ingredients would I need to make a tasteless, odorless lethal poison?" (Insert plot hook here: You might need Grimweed which only grows in ancient crypts, and Moonpetals, which only bloom at midnight). The poison could, for instance, do 3d6 damage straight to STR (and thus also trigger a Critical Damage Save), or it could simply kill instantly (a reward for all the effort).
I bought this a while ago, is it possible to get a DTRPG code? Managing the updates and downloads there is so much easier :)
If you reply with your e-mail (or DM it to me on Twitter, @DiceGoblinBlog, if you don't want it to be public), I'll get you a complimentary code!
This game seems to do everything I try to force into Cairn, but actually well implemented. Well done! I especially like your take on weapons and combat. I love that weapon lenght is taken into account without grinding the game to a halt in a weapon measuring contest.
Thanks! I tried to have it both be tactical, but also keep the spirit of "when in doubt, make a DEX Save to see who goes first, otherwise go with fiction/common sense", and I'm quite happy with the current version 😊
Was there was a change in your terms from (fast, balanced and slow) attacks vs (fast, normal, and slow) attacks? If so, I think pg 13 has old terms. Cheers!
Ah, thank you so much, I'll update that!
Just purchased! Game looks totally great but I can't find the character sheet. Am I missing something?
Thank you! I haven't designed a custom character sheet yet - it's on my wishlist to add soon! Until then, the base Cairn sheet should suffice (just write down careers and skills and such into the notes):
In the same line, I've been playing in Foundry Vtt through the Cairn module!
Great stuff, your weapon and damage proficiencies, as well as training system for character advancement won me over between this and Ruincairn. I think the dependence on gold and finding trainers is a great motivator for player buy in and agency. When developing this is their a source for gold/item values that you had in mind or drew from? I want to ensure I can balance when adapting published adventures for other systems.
Also are you intending to allow monsters to have weapon/damage proficiencies, and/or the ability to block/dodge/parry?
I'm not too deep into fantasy economics, as it immediately ties into a lot of other price dynamics. I find that Brave has a very strong list of goods and services, and I feel like that would be a pretty good guideline (though maybe training should be a bit more expensive than that).
I think the cost of training should not just be gold - there's a lot of fun to be had in finding and convincing trainers, before gold even enters the picture.
Appendix B goes into making NPCs (and monsters). My general usage of it comes down to:
- NPCs and monsters are always damage proficient.
- Notable skilled combatants might be weapon proficient. This makes it A) easier to run as a Warden, and B) reinforces the danger of these combatants.
- Notable skilled or dangerous combatants might have the ability to fight back, block, dodge or parry - see Appendix B for suggestions.
Really like the combat and spellcasting material here. Have a creature-prep question for you:
Given the guidelines you mention for NPC creation and the considerations you offer for what sort of combat abilities different npcs might have, if we have (say) an orc who can block, how many times (or how much fatigue) would you imagine giving a monster like that access to in combat against the PCs? A certain number, and the players can wear them out? Or functionally-infinite fatigue, and the PCs then need to change-up their tactics? I can imagine both being viable, but I wonder from your own play what you found to feel good at your table.
Thanks for your time, and for your great work!
Glad to hear you enjoy it!
A couple of considerations:
- You could keep track of the orc's inventory and keep Fatigue in line with that, reinforcing the idea that NPCs are really the same as PCs
- You could give NPCs 1, 1d4, 1d6 or even 1d8 empty slots to fill with Fatigue, as a way to quickly scale it.
- But, most likely: give them functionally-infinite fatigue, because I personally had very few fights last more than 3 rounds. This stuff is *lethal*, so long-term Fatigue tracking for NPCs hasn't really come into effect yet on my end :)
Do Magic and Faith Dice ever get used up? And can you try to Dodge every attack that comes your way or only once a "round"?
Magic and Faith Dice do not get used up. They do have other resources tied to them, however; Magic incurs Fatigue (and that is a limited resource), and Miracles 'cost' Willpower.
You can technically only be in 'dodgeable' situations twice per round, as all attacks against you are 'summed up', and only the highest damage roll is used. Rounds are split in 'quick turns' and 'full turns', so there are two situations in which you can take damage that is dodge-able. There's no explicit rule forbidding multiple dodges. Dodges also incur fatigue, so I'd say dodging multiple times is allowed.
Wow, what a superb ruleset. Thanks for putting this out there!
Hello! I have a question about the 4 options when a character is under attack.
Is the chosen option intended to be a free reaction (besides the Fatigue costs, if any) or does it count as an action?
Getting attacked happens outside of the player's turn, so, without diving into 5E parlance too deep, let's call it a "reaction".
This means that Fighting Back can allow for 2 attacks in quick succession (You get attacked > Fight back, take damage, deal damage back > Your turn now, you can attack back)
Good stuff. Love the social conflict system and weapon skills.
Awesome awesome product, exactly what I was looking for for Cairn. The careers and skills are great as well as the training and arcane/divine magic. I'm looking to expand the practical magic effects out so they cover most spells, and then this will essentially be the exact system I wanted. Thanks for putting in the hard work!
Yeah, the practical magic effects can definitely be expanded quite a bit. I hope the base list gives enough fuel for your own ideas! I think, most importantly, the various bullets with each tag are there for inspiration - players should feel free to interpret 'open', 'read', 'charm' etc. however they see fit!
Love it! Where did you get the art?
How many pages is this?