Thursday, March 26, 2020

Notes for a Redwall Campaign

    Redwall! Holy shit, what a good idea for a campaign! It's all there already! Brian Jacques already drew you a bunch of maps! The world is already populated with weird towns and cults and caves and ghosts and ancient evils and bizarre ruins! The races-as-class are practically already statted up! The rules of the setting have been made clear!
The mechanisms for starting an adventure are in place (some bullshit is going down at the Abbey)! The mechanisms for replacing fallen party members are in place (the world is full of humble but forthright heroes)!

    I have and have had a lot of thoughts on this subject. Let's go through them in no particular order.


    How does this work? Should there be size categories? Does it affect your AC? Your to-hit? Your hitpoints? Your stealth? Your move? Yes, probably.

This is probably all the relevant numbers for anything you might want to roll.

    Ignore this next part if you already have enough crackpot takes on GLOG rules and homebrew:

    I don't like rolling under stats. I understand that, in the GLOG, you (as a player) are supposed to want to avoid rolling. It's supposed to be risky, a bad idea, &c. I just don't like it. Someone with 5 strength has a 25% chance to pass a strength check, someone with 15 strength has a 75% chance. You might be three times as likely to pass a given check as your friend who rolled up a character at the same time. Eh.
    Plus it's not as simple as that, since you also might apply bonuses and penalties to a roll depending on circumstances (not every strength-check situation is as difficult as every other). So you're rolling a d20, maybe adding or subtracting from the result, comparing it to a number which is different for every player — eh. Don't like it.
    So maybe I just won't do that. Instead, you roll a d20, add/subtract relevant bonuses/penalties, then see if you've got 10 or above. Maybe for more difficult challenges I can use AC-like numbers. 12, 14, 16 at the upper end. Maybe I will run a game using only derived stats.
  • MOVE: to move in an interesting way (climbing, running, jumping, swimming), to move despite restraints (chains or giant snakes), to move an inanimate object (a barred door, a heavy statues), to move someone who doesn't want to be moved (when knocking them over or picking them up). Includes STR bonus/penalty.
  • HRTS: to resist pain (from poison, exposure, torture), to rally against mental effects (like fear or charm), to hold out for a little while longer (while alone against an army, or on the edge of death). Includes CON bonus/penalty.
  • SNEK: to move smoothly and carefully (such as on a tightrope or across a minefield), to slip from restraints (chains or giant snakes), to walk without making a sound. Includes DEX bonus/penalty.
  • SKLL: to do something cunningly (when crafting, painting, writing), to shelter inside your own head (when exposed to the Awful Horrors of the Outer Darkness), when interacting with brain parasites (such as spells) Includes INT bonus/penalty.
  • INIT: to act without hesitation (when starting a fight), to throw yourself out of harm's way (when setting off a trap), to throw yourself in to harm's way (when tossing someone out of the range of a trap), to browbeat a crowd before they realize what's going on (Innit? Innit?). Includes WIS bonus/penalty.
  • SAVE: when there's nothing left to do but hope. Includes XHA bonus/penalty.
    So, here's how character creation works: First you roll your stats. Then you check the different animal races to see what you can pick (need a lot of strength and con for badgers, need to have low int to be a rat, something like that). Then your species determines which templates you can pick at first level.
    After that, when moving around the world, when faced with a situation that calls for a skill check (following basic good sense like "don't roll unless any result would be interesting" &c), you roll a d20, add or subtract MOVE, HRTS, SNEK, SKLL, SAVE as appropriate, and compare the result to 10.

    Now, finally, we may discuss what's up with the little and the big animals. Here is a list of playable (ish) species:

  • Shrews (Any class except Cursed, Knight)
    Must have at least 12 DEX. Know how to use a rapier (light, +1 melee damage, 1 slot). Can work a boat as Riverfolk. If Riverfolk, proficient in an extra weapon.
    +2 HRTS.
  • Dormice* (Monk, Chef, Musician, Smith)
    +2 HRTS.
  • Voles (Any class except Soldier, Cursed, Knight)
    +2 MOVE.
  • Dormice*
  • Mice (As a Dormouse at first level, and then any class)
    +2 INIT, SAVE.
  • Squirrels* (Any class except Riverfolk, Smith)
    Must have at least 12 DEX. No move checks to climb trees, ever.
    +2 MOVE.
  • Hedgehogs* (Any class except Thief, Soldier, Cursed)
    Must have at least 12 CON. Can roll up in a ball for +4 AC, 1d6 unarmed attack (you are blind while rolling).
    +2 MOVE.
  • Moles (Any class except Riverfolk)
    Must have at least 12 WIS. Poor daytime vision, excellent night vision, always know which way is North.
    +2 SKLL.
  • Hares (Any class except Thief, Riverfolk)
    Must have at least 12 DEX and STR, or 15 in one. Hands and feet are light weapons, extra hex of movement per day.
    +2 MOVE, HRTS.
  • Otters (Any class except Thief, Smith)
    Must have at least 12 CON and WIS, or 15 in one. Know how to use a heavy javelin (medium but can be thrown as light). Hold breath for CON+ minutes (minimum of one minute), swim at double walking speed.
    +2 MOVE, INIT.
  • Squirrels*
  • Hedgehogs*
  • Foxes (Any class except Monk, Riverfolk, Soldier, Cursed)
    Must have at least 12 DEX and WIS, or 15 in one. Excellent night vision.
    +2 SAVE, SNEK, SKLL.
  • Badgers* (Any class except Thief)
    Must have at least 12 STR and CON, or 15 in one. May choose to start with Bloodwrath, even if not Cursed. If Cursed, you get an extra attack.
    +4 MOVE, +2 HRTS.
  • Wildcats*
    Non-PC. Very strong.
  • Badgers*
  • Wildcats*
  • Wolverines

    Creatures marked with a * can be different sizes (player's choice). "Slight" creatures cannot use two-handed weapons, but get a +2 bonus to SNEK. Oversized creatures eat double rations, but get a +2 bonus to MOVE. Ancient creatures have doubled STR and CON (yes, this is broken).

    AC is determined by armor, and a given set of armor fits only one size category. You can only use a shield if you have a class that allows it. Everyone can wear light armor (0/3 slots); higher tiers can only be worn if you have a class that allows it. Everyone can wield clubs (light) and throw stones (1 damage). You can use other weapons safely if your class gives you that proficiency, or if you train under someone with that proficiency for a week and pass a SKLL check.


    "Proficiency?" I hear you ask. "This isn't 3.5, drongo. We're real gamers, and Moldvay never mentioned anything about proficiencies". Well, don't lynch me yet.
    Being "proficient" in a weapon means that rolling a nat 1 on an attack roll is merely a miss and a notched weapon. If you didn't have that proficiency, you would have fumbled and risked injuring yourself or others. The primary use of training isn't to make you better at using a weapon, it's to make you less likely to hit yourself in the foot with it. Nothing is preventing you from swinging any weapon you happen to come across.

    Pick your classes depending on your species' list. Most only have one template, but a few have a second if you wish to devote yourself to them.
  1. Thief
    A: Guile.
        People assume you are allowed to be doing whatever it is that you're doing, unless given a good reason to think otherwise. Guards might accept false paperwork or "surprise inspections", cooks might believe you're a taste-tester, locals assume you're one of them unless you're very out of place. You are proficient with slings and knives. +2 SNEK.
    B: Shadow.
        You may roll SNEK instead of SKILL when picking a lock or a pocket, and instead of MOVE when scaling walls or climbing ropes.
  2. Chef
    A: Good Cook
        You can prepare a good meal out of trail rations. Good meals heal 1d6 hp for everyone who participates in them, and they get an additional save against any ongoing negative effects. Good meals take an hour to prepare and twice as many rations as just eating food. +2 HRTS.
  3. Musician
    A: Talent
        If you compose and perform a song about your adventures, people in nearby communities will have heard about it within a week. You get +1 to reaction rolls wherever you go. Additionally, if you know the name of something (a person, place or object), you know a useful fact about it.+2 INIT.
  4. Monk
    A: Neophyte
        You may heal another person for 1 HP with a successful SKLL check. You can continue doing this until you fail a check. You always pass your SKLL check when learning how to use a new weapon. Additionally, you are a skilled read (which not everyone can do). +2 SAVE
  5. Soldier
    A: Campaigner
        Battle training and experience make you a dangerous enemy. You may use shields and medium armor, and have a permanent +2 to-hit. Choose three weapons; you are proficient in all of them. +2 MOVE.
    B: Old Soldier
        You've survived when others haven't. You have a permanent +2 SAVE and AC, and angry ghosts always target you first.
  6. Knight
    A: Nobility
        You represent a level of civilization no longer extant in this world. You may use shields and any armor, and have learned how to repair your own gear (which you can do for free with a successful SKLL check, difficulty depending on the gear). You can't repair gear you don't know how to use. Choose two weapons; you are proficient in both of them. +2 HRTS.
    B: Majesty
        People can tell what you are at a glance. Your words carry weight, and even your enemies will take them seriously. Additionally, you may issue a challenge during combat, forcing enemies to attack you and ignore others. Intelligent enemies get a save.
  7. Riverfolk
    A: By Boat
        Yes, it's a boat and not a ship. You are proficient with the javelin (light) and the sling (medium ranged). You can row, or direct people unfamiliar with rowing. You can steer, or scream in terror at someone unfamiliar with steering. You also know how to swim, which not everyone can do. +2 INIT.
  8. Wanderer
    A: On Foot
        You've spent your life in the wilderness traveling between the small settlements that dot the land. Wanderers are something like peddlers, something like mailmen, and something like mercenaries. When you encounter an omen (like from Rat on a Stick), you may choose to reroll and take the second result. You can use medium armor and shields. Choose one weapon; you are proficient with it. +2 SNEK.
  9. Cursed
    A: Bad Blood
        One of your ancestors was afflicted with the bloodwrath, and now so are you. You have a rating, X, equal to your level. When blood is spilled or INIT is rolled, you have an X-in-six chance of entering a murderous rage. You can always choose to fail these checks. While raging your attacks cleave and have +X to-hit and damage. You will target the closest person, friend or foe, unless you pass another check.You must attack; if there are no enemies within reach you will attack your friends. There is no way to reduce your rating. +2 MOVE.
  10. Smith
    A: Mongery
        You can repair notched gear with a successful SKLL check (but damage it with a failed one). If you have the forge, the tools, the supplies and two weeks you can produce two slots of equipment (this is forty pieces of ammunition, six light weapons, two medium or one heavy). +2 SKLL.
  11. Hunter
    A: Woodcraft
        You may roll SKLL to follow someone's trail through underbrush or meadow for up to two days after they have passed. You are proficient in bows and one light weapon. +2 SNEK.
    B: Stalker
        Your ranged and thrown weapons get 30' of extra range before distance penalties are applied. You can follow prints across sand, damp stone or frozen earth.
  12. Captain
    A: Tactics
        On your turn, you may shout orders to another character to give them an additional action, foregoing your own. You have +2 SAVE, and if your allies have the same bonus if you pass the check first.


    Guys Redwall is a kung-fu world. At first it might be hard to tell, because the world is Quaint English Countryside and everyone is a mouse. But this is not a High Fantasy story where there are cosmic forces of Good and Evil and everyone picks a side, and this is not a Romance sort of a tale (tail haha) where Good defeats evil through love and compassion. This is a world where Good defeats Evil by whipping its ass. Your value as a person is defined by your capacity for and willingness to inflict hideous violence. You get better as a warrior by traveling the land and murdering evil people. There are no wizards, and there is a suspicious absence of clerics given that the central theme of the book is monastic life.
    There is one thief who ever lived anywhere in the world. They named him "The Thief" because the idea of thievery is just that wild to them. The only thing he steals is pie and, once, a flute.

    When rats and stoats &c go about raping and pillaging, the valuables they steal consist largely of food. Wine, ale, beer, cheese, bread, cakes and candies. Besides that, they steal clothing and weaponry and occupy buildings. Sometimes they nick tapestries. Once, they discovered pearls, and the existence of semi-precious gems toppled the local governments. What I'm trying to get around to saying is; Redwall doesn't have any money.
    There's no cash. Gold and gemstones exist (there's a golden cup in one book, a few crowns, and Martin's sword has a ruby in the pommel), but no coinage. Nobody has produced any currency. Hell, there aren't any stable civilizations that might come up with the idea. No kingdom or country seems to last longer than the lifetime of its warlord, or possibly the child of the warlord.

    So where does that leave us? We can't do gold for XP, because there isn't any gold. Nobody has any piles of treasure. And violence for XP leaves us wanting a little something. That incentivizes murder for murder's sake — off-tone for Redwall, I hope you will agree.
    The solution, as proposed by a member of the OSR discord, is exploration-for-XP. You gain experience from wandering through the world. Every hex is worth thus-and-such (depending on how dangerous or interesting it is), and you level up through the traveling itself. This makes combat interesting — you don't want to fight, because you don't get much out of it, but you might need to fight because the bad guys are impeding your path forward, or are occupying some important location. Loot is nice, but the more you're carrying on your back the slower you travel (and thus the slower you level)

    Is this a perfect solution? No.


Ok sure, here you go.
Here's one from Lazurez on Deviantart. It shows Salamandastron as being slightly north-ish of Redwall, which I don't think is correct.

Don't know what this one is from, but Salamandastron is slightly south-ish of Redwall and that's good.

This one is in Swedish. What fun! Salamandastron is north of Redwall again — it flips back and forth depending on what map you're looking at I guess.
    Those give an idea of the scale of the world, but there are plenty of little maps that chart the journeys of their books. Here are a few:*xZ2pJOItavMg07oKg46M9g.jpeg
This is from The Long Patrol, which is about the eponymous organization of, basically, rangers.
Think this one is Doomwyte. Turns out, there's more than one thief in the world — he started a secret organisation dedicated to the concept of thieving.


  1. Ok but that proficiency rule? Incredibly good!

    1. It works fairly well. I don't like the "haha, you rolled a nat 1 and cut off your foot thing", but I also want there to be some reason for Wizards to not carry two-handed swords everywhere. Thank you for your comment.

  2. I know this is wildly belated, but the obvious source of XP in Redwall is the acquisition of food.

    Seriously. The books devote huge amounts of time and effort to the description of food. Of course, it's not just the acquiring it, but the slow making use of it by the community. Or something like that. Fits well with a woodland preparing-for-winter style, too.

    1. Aaaaah. Hmmm. That would make a lot of sense. I've been told that in the LotR 5e RPG, "long rests" are only possible at safeholds, and long journeys in the wilderness slowly drain your spells, HD and once-per-long-rest abilities. Something similar would be very Redwall — maybe you're following a poem like a map, scurrying from adventure to safehaven feast to adventure and back again.
      Thank you for your comment.