Guide to the Salamandar

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You are born, you adventure, and you die. Maybe.

In the empires, magic is tamed. Small sparks, carefully controlled, power the machinery that pumps water to sturdy, warm homes. Spirits that once danced mayhem across the land now lie peacefully under the careful eye of the Church.

Merchants ring their bells on wide streets as dusk falls, unafraid of demon or wraith. Farmers toil in fields bounded by tall stone walls, safe from the beasts that plagued their ancestors in years just past the edge of memory.

But there is a gash in the earth. A place where ancient curses lurk and newborn sin crawls up from the depths to cut its sharp teeth on the bones of the pure. Law and reason have no purchase here. Were it not for whispers of treasures material and arcane sunken beneath its black soil, this land would be abandoned.

There will always be those who cast aside security to chase the scent of fortune. The foolhardy outcasts who would die for the chance to clutch at the strands of the unknown. These few venture into the Salamandar.

The Game

The Salamandar is untamed land. Far from the protections of the empires, a handful of outposts struggle to survive in the wilderness. Their reason for persisting is the same as their gravest threat: the sunken dungeons that riddle the Salamandar.

Some say the dungeons are the relics of civilizations long fallen. Others insist they are the work of shadowy cabals, or even the interconnected organs of a great, living beast. Whatever their origin, the heavy gold coins found in their depths are every bit as valuable as the Empress's own mint.

Such treasure does not come without cost. The very air in the Salamandar's dungeons hums with magic, twisting over itself in fractal folds. Impossible wonders nest in among unspeakable horrors, and both can take their toll on the uncareful explorer. Those who do return come back different. Touched by an alien world that is nothing like the stories they heard as children.

In the game of Salamandar, you play adventurers who delve into these dungeons. Your motives are your own, but your goal is to bring treasure up from the depths without falling prey to the dangers below.

Tread carefully.

Rolling

Salamandar uses the usual 7 polyhedral dice.

When a die formula has two numbers separated by a diamond, roll the two dice in order and read their results as one number. For example, roll d4⬩6 by rolling a d4 and a d6. If you get a 3 and a 5, the result is 35.

When a die formula has an "x" following the number, the die explodes: reroll any max rolls and add to the total, repeating if necessary. For example, a single d4x roll might yield 4, 4, 1 = 9.

To roll with advantage or disadvantage, roll an extra die and discard the least or most favorable result respectively. Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other but do not stack.

"Max" refers to the maximum possible result of a die roll. For example, a Mystic's HD is d6, so their HD max is 6.

Time

Time spent exploring is measured in 10 minute spans, long enough to search a wall for secret doors or plunder the pockets of fallen enemies. Each span, the party takes a collective action or adventurers take separate actions simultaneously.

Time in combat is measured in initiative, in turns of a few seconds and rounds of about a minute. One adventurer or NPC acts during each initiative turn, with enough time to move about 30ft and take an action such as attacking, casting a spell, or heaving the lid off a sarcophagus.

At the beginning of a combat round, each adventurer tests Agility. Adventurers who succeed act before the NPCs, and those who fail act after. At the end of the round, apply any end-of-round effects and start over.

Attributes

The three ability scores represent your general aptitudes.

Ability scores range from 1 to 19. To test an ability, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to the ability score, you succeed.

The three saving throws represent your knack for avoiding threats.

Saving throws range from 1 to 19. To save versus a threat, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to the saving throw, you succeed.

Armor class (AC) represents how difficult it is to land a damaging blow against you. Your unarmored AC is 0, and your AC increases when you wear armor.

Attack value (AV) represents your skill at landing a blow in combat. AVs range from 1 to 19. To attack, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to your AV and greater than the target's AC, the attack hits.

Skills

As you level up, you acquire skill slots. Fill a skill slot with a specific skill during play, the first time you use the skill. A skill grants you the ability to do something uncommon (such as Lockpicking), or advantage when doing something common (such as Fishing).

Health

Flesh represents your physical wellbeing. Grit represents your composure, resolve, and energy.

Damage reduces Grit until depleted, then Flesh. Maximum Flesh and Grit are based on your Hit Die (HD), determined by your class.

Any time you take damage that reduces you to 0 or less Flesh, suffer a Wound. If your Flesh is reduced to negative HD max, die.

While you have 0 or less Flesh, you cannot regain Grit by any means. Furthermore, any exertion greater than dragging yourself to safety risks a Wound or death; roll d6 on the table. Resolve your action before suffering the consequences.

d6 Exertion consequences:

  1. Die.
  2. Current Wounds become permanent, and suffer a new Wound.
  3. Current Wounds become permanent.
  4. Fall unconscious.
  5. Live on.
  6. Live on.

Wounds

When you suffer a Wound, roll d12 for its location and consequences. Healing the Wound removes its consequences. A Wound made permanent no longer renders you Wounded, but its consequences remain and it cannot be healed.

On the next rest after recovering from Wound (or after a Wound becomes permanent), save versus Rot. On a success increase your max Flesh by 1, to a maximum of 2 × HD max.

d12 Wounds and consequences:

  1. Bleeding out. Any time you exert yourself, save versus Rot or suffer 1 damage. When permanent, immediately suffer d4 Flesh damage; if you survive, the bleeding stops.
  2. Arm trauma. The arm is rendered useless. Roll d6 for the point of injury, even left/odd right.
  3. Leg trauma. Reduce your Agility by 1. Roll d6 for the point of injury, even left/odd right.
  4. Blinded. Roll attacks and all checks that rely on sight with disadvantage.
  5. Concussed. Reduce your Wits by 1.
  6. Deafened. Roll all checks that rely on hearing with dis‐ advantage.
  7. Internal bleeding. Reduce your Rot save by 1.
  8. Facial trauma. Lose your next turn as you reel with pain. When permanent you have an urge to flinch away from danger; reduce your max Grit by d6.
  9. Spinal trauma. Reduce your Might by 1.
  10. Knocked cold. Pass out for d4 rounds. When permanent, you suffer from narcolepsy and fall asleep any time you roll a 1 on a d20.
  11. Cracked ribs. Reduce your Force save by 1.
  12. Organ damage. Lose your next turn vomiting. When permanent, reduce your max Flesh by d4.

Healing

Heal naturally by resting and eating. You cannot heal naturally while Wounded.

Rest for 10 minutes to regain 1HD Grit. Eat a day's rations once per day to regain 1HD Flesh.

Rest for 8 hours to regain all your Grit. If you have eaten that day, also regain 1HD Flesh.

During downtime, regain all your Grit and Flesh.

In civilized areas, a surgeon can heal Wounds. The typical rate is 100gp per Wound, and recovery takes 1 week.

Fatigue

Strenuous conditions cause Fatigue, which accumulates in 3 levels. The effects of each level are cumulative with the lower levels.

  1. Roll ability tests with disadvantage.
  2. Roll attacks with disadvantage.
  3. Roll saving throws with disadvantage, and attacks against you have advantage.

Rest comfortably for 8 hours and consume a day's rations to reduce your Fatigue to 0.

Interests, XP & Levels

Earn XP by spending gold on your Interests. Each of the eight Interests has a die determined at character creation, one of 0, d4, d6, d8, d10, or d12. Larger dice represent the greater significance of an Interest to your character.

  1. Art, Performance & Sport. Such as painting, performing or enjoying music, or watching or engaging in athletic compe‐ titions.
  2. Carousing. Such as drinking, gambling, or fornicating.
  3. Civics. Such as political donations or philanthropy.
  4. Education. Such as the study of languages or history.
  5. Fame. Such as spreading tales or commissioning songs of your exploits.
  6. Hobbies. Such as crafting, cooking, or agriculture.
  7. Luxury. Such as fine clothes, decadent meals, or servants.
  8. The Church. Such as tithing, purchasing offerings, or funding Church facilities.

Between adventures, spend as much gold as you choose on Interests and gain 1 XP for each gold piece spent. Then roll each of your Interest dice and note the highest result (break ties any way you choose). Roll on that Interest's downtime table for an event between adventures.

When you reach the XP threshold for the next level, level up as described in your class.

Level XP threshold
1 0
2 500
3 1,500
4 3,000
5 6,000
6 12,000
7 24,000
8 48,000
9 96,000
10 192,000

Combat & Equipment

Combat

To attack, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to your AV, and also greater than the target's AC, the attack hits: roll the weapon's damage die.

A roll of exactly your AV is a Crit. Crits deal damage directly to Flesh, and Crits that roll maximum damage also inflict a Wound.

A roll of exactly 20 is a Fumble. Fumbles have an unpleasant side effect for the attacker; the GM may invent one or roll on the table.

d6 Fumble consequences:

  1. Fall prone.
  2. Drop your weapon.
  3. Damage your weapon.
  4. Break a piece of equip‐ ment in your inventory.
  5. Deal half damage to yourself.
  6. Your target makes an opportunity attack against you with advantage.

Special attacks

When you hit with an attack, optionally choose to trip, grapple, or otherwise inconvenience the target instead of dealing damage.

Attacks against the defenseless deal damage directly to Flesh. Attacks when flanking have advantage to hit.

When you wield two weapons, attack with advantage and choose one weapon's damage die to roll on a hit. On a Crit, roll both weapons' damage dice. However, treat a 20 on either attack die as a Fumble.

Opportunity attacks

Once per round when an enemy within reach casts a spell or misses you with an attack, you may immediately make an opportunity attack against them with a weapon you're holding.

Retreating from melee provokes an opportunity attack when you are cornered, but not when your path is clear.

Armor

Wearing armor increases your AC.

You can wear 1 helmet, 1 chestpiece, and 1 pair of greaves at once. Armor fits in your stowed inventory even while worn.

Armor interferes with your Agility. When you test Agility for the purposes of stealth, speed, or another task for which heavy and restrictive clothing could cause problems, treat a roll of less than or equal to your own AC as a failure.

Armor AC Inventory (magnets) Inventory (Google Sheets)
Light +1 2 slots 1 slot
Heavy +2 3 slots 2 slots

Shields

Shields can block damage from successful attacks. Roll the shield die and reduce the damage by half the roll rounded up.

When you roll max on the shield die, the shield is damaged; record a notch. When a shield collects notches equal to the shield die max, it is destroyed.

Shield Damage reduction
Light d4/2
Medium d6/2
Heavy d8/2

Weapons

Melee weapons can attack targets 5ft away.

Reach weapons can attack targets 10ft away, but have disadvantage against targets within 5ft. When an enemy tries to approach closer than 10ft, you may make an opportunity attack. A successful hit prevents the target from approaching.

Bows and all heavy weapons require two hands to wield. Crossbows can be wielded with one hand, but require two hands to load.

Ranged weapons attack with disadvantage within 5ft and above their range. They cannot attack past twice their range.

Melee weapons:

Size Examples Damage
Unarmed 1
Light
  • Dagger, knife, sap, cestus
d4x
Medium
  • Sword, axe, mace, staff
  • Reach: spear
d6
Heavy
  • Greatsword, greataxe, warhammer, flail
  • Reach: glaive, halberd, pike
d8

Ranged weapons:

Size Examples Range Damage
Light Sling, blowgun. 30ft d4
Medium Shortbow, crossbow. 60ft d6
Heavy Longbow. 200ft d8

Usage dice

Track consumable items such as arrows, torches, and lantern oil with usage dice. Each type of item has its own die, which increases or decreases along the sequence: empty–d4–d6–d8–d10–d12.

When you use a consumable item, roll its usage die. If the result is 1, decrease the die by one step. When you find a bundle of arrows or a flask of oil, increase the appropriate die by one step.

Roll usage for ammunition at the end of each round in which you attack with the weapon. Roll usage for lighting when you light a candle, torch, or lantern.

Spellcasting

Spellcasting is the art of harnessing fickle magic into useful forms. To meddle with the arcane and the divine is to dance with danger, but the rewards are incalculable.

Mana

Expend Mana to cast spells. Your class and level determine your max Mana.

When you rest for 8 hours and eat a day's rations, regain all your spent Mana.

Casting

To cast a spell, spend Mana according to your class rules and complete any physical actions required by the spell's description or rites. Generally you must be able to speak and have a hand free to cast a spell.

A spell "cast in reaction" to a stimulus happens immediately, regardless of whether it is your turn.

Effects

A spell's effects are measured on the axes of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse. Any spell can manifest any combination of effects, dependent only on the caster's ability to shape it.

Intensity:

Duration:

Expanse:

Tempting the Fates

Magic is inherently unpredictable, and especially so under pressure. When called to Tempt the Fates while casting a spell, roll on the Tempt the Fates table. Some results cause the spell to fail, while others add to the spell's usual effects.

Any time you take damage while maintaining the effects of a spell, either end the effects or Tempt the Fates.

While you maintain the effects of a spell, either end the effects or Tempt the Fates when you attempt to cast an additional spell.

Artifacts

An artifact holds the energy of a certain spell. Mages and Mystics sense the energy within an artifact and may test Wits to identify the spell. Test with advantage for spells in your class list.

Anyone can cast the spell from an artifact. Spend no Mana but roll d6. On a 1, Tempt the Fates and the artifact is destroyed.

Roll 3d6 for the effects of a Mystic artifact; each Mage artifact has set effects. If you have not identified the spell, choose a target and hope for the best.

Spellcasters may learn the spell from an artifact instead of learning a random spell at level up. Learning a spell from an artifact always destroys the artifact.

Classes

Fighter

Fighters use blade and bow to dominate in physical combat.

Fighting Styles

When you defeat a worthy opponent in combat, learn from their technique. Once per level, choose a Fighting Style that you take away from such an exchange.

Fighting Styles should grant you a benefit either in specific situations or at the cost of a tradeoff. Discuss them with the table and the GM.

Earn Fighting Style slots when you level up and fill them during play upon defeating an opponent.

Feats

Advancement

When your level increases:

  1. Increase your max Grit by d10.
  2. Adjust your saves, AV, and damage bonus according to the table.
  3. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  4. Gain a Fighting Style slot.
  5. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Damage
1 0 7 8 6 11 +1
2 500 7 11 6 12 +1
3 1,500 10 11 6 12 +1
4 3,000 10 11 9 13 +2
5 6,000 10 14 9 14 +2
6 12,000 13 14 9 14 +2
7 24,000 13 14 11 15 +3
8 48,000 13 17 11 16 +3
9 96,000 15 17 11 16 +4
10 192,000 15 17 13 17 +4

Thief

Thieves misdirect and deceive until the time is right to strike.

Sneak Attack

Set up a devastating Sneak Attack by stacking the deck against your foe.

Record a tick for each action that you take to prepare the upper hand over a target. On a successful attack against the target, unleash these preparations and roll 1 extra damage die for each tick. You can have up to your Sneak Attack ticks at any time; erase the ticks after the attack.

Actions might include rigging a trip wire or loosening a floorboard. They should be stealthy or obscure enough that the target cannot anticipate your purpose.

Stolen Aspects

You are not only a thief of mere trinkets. Once per level when you defeat a worthy opponent (whether by combat or otherwise), steal an Aspect. An Aspect can be either:

Feats

Advancement

When your level increases:

  1. Increase your max Grit by d8.
  2. Adjust your saves, AV, and Sneak Attack according to the table.
  3. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  4. Gain a Stolen Aspect slot.
  5. Gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Sneak Attack
1 0 8 6 7 10 1
2 500 11 6 7 11 1
3 1,500 11 6 10 11 2
4 3,000 11 9 10 12 2
5 6,000 14 9 10 12 3
6 12,000 14 9 13 13 3
7 24,000 14 11 13 13 4
8 48,000 17 11 13 14 4
9 96,000 17 11 15 14 5
10 192,000 17 13 15 15 5

Mage

Mages poke and prod the arcane, risking its wrath in order to shape it to their will.

Your Hit Die is d6. You have 6 Flesh, and d6 Grit per level.

Learning spells

You can learn Mage spells.

When you learn a spell from an artifact, it maintains the same effects as the artifact. Otherwise, roll your level d6 and assign one result to each of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse. For example, a 3 could be assigned to significant, lingering, or few. At level 1 and 2, treat the missing dice as 1s. These effects apply every time you cast the spell.

Roll to learn Intensity Duration Expanse Casting cost (mana)
1–2 curious fleeting one 0
3–4 significant lingering few 1
5–6 profound lasting many 2

Sum the casting cost for the effects and add 1; this is the Mana you must spend to cast the spell. For example, the casting cost for a profound/fleeting/few spell is 2+0+1+1=4 Mana. Finally roll d12; if the result is less than the casting cost, roll for rites which you must complete any time you cast the spell.

Casting spells

To cast a spell, spend the spell's casting cost in Mana and perform the casting rites, if any.

If you have no Mana left, you can still cast. Tempt the Fates instead of spending Mana.

When you cast a spell on an unwilling target, the target saves to resist the effects. Spells cast on willing or inanimate targets always succeed.

Feats

Advancement

When your level increases:

  1. Increase your max Grit by d6.
  2. Adjust your saves, AV, and Mana according to the table.
  3. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  4. Reroll the effects, casting cost, and casting rites for 1 spell you know. Keep either the old or the new result.
  5. Learn a spell from an artifact, or roll to learn a random spell. If you roll a spell you already know, choose any Mage spell.
  6. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Mana
1 0 7 6 8 10 12
2 500 7 6 11 11 16
3 1,500 10 6 11 11 20
4 3,000 10 9 11 11 24
5 6,000 10 9 14 12 28
6 12,000 13 9 14 12 32
7 24,000 13 11 14 12 36
8 48,000 13 11 17 13 40
9 96,000 15 11 17 13 44
10 192,000 15 13 17 13 48

Mystic

Mystics are conduits for the magic of the wild gods.

Your Hit Die is d6. You have 6 Flesh, and d6 Grit per level.

You serve a specific wild god. Your god grants you abilities and the promise of a known afterlife, in exchange for carrying out their will among mortals.

Consecrate

When an ally dies in your presence, you may spend 10 minutes consecrating the place of their passing. You, your allies, and those favored by your god heal at twice the natural rate from resting in this place.

Learning spells

You can learn Mystic spells.

Learning a spell involves discovering the right way to ask your god for their divine intervention. When you learn a spell, write it down and note any casting rites. Each time you cast it, the effects can be different.

Casting spells

The wild gods have a tenuous connection to the needs of mortals, so the results of spellcasting are always unpredictable.

To cast a spell, perform the rites, roll 1 or more d6, and spend 1 Mana for each die rolled. Assign one result to each of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse to determine the effects of the spell, treating missing dice as curious/fleeting/one. If you roll any doubles, Tempt the Fates.

Roll to cast Intensity Duration Expanse
1–2 curious fleeting one
3–4 significant lingering few
5–6 profound lasting many

If you have no Mana left, you can still cast. Instead of spending Mana, Tempt the Fates and roll 3d6 for spell effects.

Feats

Advancement

When your level increases:

  1. Increase your max Grit by d6.
  2. Adjust your saves, AV, and Mana according to the table.
  3. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  4. Learn a spell from an artifact, or roll to learn a random spell. If you roll a spell you already know, choose any Mystic spell.
  5. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Mana
1 0 6 7 8 10 9
2 500 6 7 11 11 12
3 1,500 6 10 11 11 15
4 3,000 9 10 11 11 18
5 6,000 9 10 14 12 21
6 12,000 9 13 14 12 24
7 24,000 11 13 14 12 27
8 48,000 11 13 17 13 30
9 96,000 11 15 17 13 33
10 192,000 13 15 17 13 36

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