Saturday 30 May 2015

Abiezer Coppe

Another oddball wandering around in the English Civil war is Abiezer Coppe, the infamous Ranter prophet.

Reading about the Ranters today it is hard to believe such lunatics existed as long ago as the 17th century. They were extreme Antinomian anarchists, they believed that for the truly 'saved' there was no obligation to follow the laws of God or Man, that sin existed only in the imagination of men who wished to restrain God's spirit, not exalt it and that there was no such thing as private property for all belonged to God alone, and was free to use by the fiathful..

They drank and smoked tobacco immoderately (the nearest thing to dope they could get in 17th century England presumably), indulged in 'love feasts' full of serious drinking and casual sex and ran off without paying the bill, they allegedly stole, lied and cheated and were generally complete arseholes.

But there was a manic mysticism behind it all, a genuine feeling they had transcended the mundane Christianity of the Churches to become greater than Jesus himself, their personal wants one with those of the Godhead. Some even burned the Bible to demonstrate they had no need of it, and went around naked to show they abandoned absolutely all earthly goods.

Needless to say they got in serious trouble and the whole mad sect dissolved during the 1660's, variously converting to less deranged (but still pretty mystical) sects like the Quakers, ending up in jail or transported to the colonies, running off the the colonies before they got transported, and probably drinking, smoking and fornicating themselves to death.

They never had leaders, the whole concept was against everything they lounged louchely in the corner of a pub for, but one of the most famous today was Abiezer, as he left us some quite remarkable and pretty incomprehensible writings, most notably 'The Fiery Flying Roll' published in 1650.

As of 1642 Coppe is a young man of 23, not long 'graduated' from Oxford University (he kind of abandoned studying Divinity under such conventional church-bound bores, kind of got thrown out for being the worst kind of slack, argumentative and drunken student imaginable). He is making his way round England meeting the many extreme dissenting preachers of the many sub-sects and political movements beginning to emerge as the Civil War loosens and occasionally preaching his own brand of kooky salvation on street corners, crowds of drunks in taverns and at the odd Seeker meeting house and radical Congregationalist church.

This character was created using Marc Gacy's classess LotFP system from Undercroft #4, available from Daniel Sell at

Abiezer Coppe, Laurence Clarkson, Prudence Hever and Sally Price live it up at the Lamb and Flag in Colchester

Abiezer Coppe

Age 23
Alignment: Neutral Cavalier
Religion: Ranter
Level 4

Cha 13 (+1) Con 15 (+1) Dex 11 Int 13 (+1) Wis 17 (+2) Str 8 (-1)
Saves: Pa: 11 Po: 11 BW: 15 MD: 13 Ma: 14
Sills: Stealth 3 Bushcraft 2 Climbing 2

Att + 1
Can cast Cleric spells at level 2
Languages: English, Latin

AC 13
HP 19

Buff Coat with 'poacher's pockets'
Felt hat
Tuck (d6 dam -1 to hit vs AC 15+)
Purse with 3s 17d
Several rabbit snares, 1 in 3 chance of a rabbit
Someone else's mutton pie
Bottle of cheap wine
Pewter beer mug with engraving 'Property of Merton College'
A bent spoon, gift of a Jewish mystic he met while pissed as a newt in a pub in London
Heavily annotated Bible, with many crossings out, marginal comments like 'rubbish', 'Ezekiel was a dunce' and 'must use in next sermon'
Hastily scrawled sermon on back of a tavern bill of fare with numerous beer stains, lots of exclamation marks and underlinings of bits to be delivered in stentorian shout
Pouch of tobacco
Twist of paper with willow bark for use as hangover cure
Letter from Laurence Clarkson, a fellow Ranter; contents partly theological, partly a good pub guide to the taverns of Essex
Key to the back door of the home of Mrs Prudence Hever of Colchester, an advocate of Free Love

Level 1: Purify Food and Drink, Sanctuary

Abiezer is a tall, thin young man, usually sporting a couple days growth of beard and long, somewhat unkempt, hair, a shirt with a few small holes from stray wisps of burning tobacco and a hard used leather coat with patches on the elbows and voluminous pockets. There is little visually to distinguish him from any number of wandering labourers and runaway apprentices, such vagabonds are ten a penny, and he will often be found in the company of such.

He is better spoken than most (though he can put on a 'Mockney' fake working class accent when trying to pass unnoticed), and has a slightly mad twinkle in his eye and a tendency to use long words that don't entirely pass as proper English. His habit of addressing people as 'Fellow Creature' will suggest that he is some variety of religious oddball, and he never raises his hat to people of greater social status, a bit of casual rudeness that is a sure mark of a Leveller.

He may be met almost anywhere, but hiding in the woods from the law, preaching on a street corner with his pipe hanging out of his mouth and a mug of ale in his hand, and stuck in the town stocks for a day for being out of order or skipping church are all likely possibilities.

He stays in inns when he can (and leaves without paying when he can get away with it), but is also used to living rough. There are sympathisers all over the place - he is a frequent lodger at John Pordage's house when he is London (Pordage is an astrologer and pretty eccentric in his own right), and knows John Tradescant, Elias Ashmole and John Lilburne in that city. His uncle Tobias runs a printing press and a newspaper in Boston in Lincolnshire, and Abiezer sometimes wanders up that way. 

His current project is the formulation of a doctrine that will confound the most flinty Presbyterian busybody and make them realise that salvation through being a judgemental nosebleed and trying to get all to conform to their rules is against God's will as expressed through the desires of ordinary mortal men, not a path to salvation. He is also concerned about goings on in Essex - he took part in the looting of suspected Catholic gentlemen's houses there, but is concerned that the Puritan mobs have taken to witch-hunting as well. He is plotting the rescue of accused witches, taking the view that they are closer to God that many of their hide-bound accusers and are mostly innocents picked on for their difference and petty village squabbles.

Not Abiezer Coppe, just some other scruffy ranting loon

Monday 25 May 2015

Rules I use

I use a few house rules for LotFP, not very consistently unfortunately, so for my benefit if no one elses I will try and codify what they are, and try and explain why.


In an encounter where one side has quite definitely 'got the drop' on the other surprise is automatic and lasts one round. 

Unsuspecting party in a boat floating through apparently uninhabited marsh gets volley of arrows from a prepared ambush, a round of 'wtf, argh, where's my musket?' kerfuffle is fair enough.

In situations where one or both sides don't know what is going on, but are expecting something the whole party are surprised on a 1-2.

Party A sploshes through the swamps, party B knows they are out there thanks to successful listen rolls but don't know where. When they meet party A may be surprised, B won't be.


PCs make an individual roll with Dex bonus, monsters get a roll per group. If there is a tie PCs get the benefit of the doubt for being protagonists and go first (they get precious few other breaks and saves time faffing with on the fly Dex rolls).

If you use a special action like Press or Parry the AC penalty or bonus lasts until your initiative tick next round.

Fumbles and Criticals

On a natural 1 you fumble and on a natural 20 you crit. I use the Compleat Arduin fumble and critical tables, except for firearms where I have my own table. Crits do normal weapon damage, but the special effects add further penalties and may kill outright.

Fancy combat moves

I am a great fan of the DCC feat dice and RQ6 combat effects, gets the players thinking about more than just the thud, bang, wallop of melee and how to get the upper hand. For LotFP any character may try this - roll a second d20 add your combat bonus, subtract the enemies and if you get 17+ you have pulled some fancy manouvre; blinding, tripping, pushing back, blocking etc. Opponents may get a save or characteristic roll to avoid it, if appropriate.

Damage and Death

Not been very consistent about this but will follow this procedure...

If you are down to below 0 HP you are not automatically dead, but you roll on the Crit Table to see what horrible injury has happened to you to put you down; this may be terminal, like being shot in the head, and may leave you with a permanent disability like missing fingers, limbs, ears, face mashed in and scarred etc. .

If you are not dead yet, your friends may save you. Save vs Paralysis with a modifier of how many HP you are below 0; make it, you live, fail, well, that's it...

Roll your Con or under; if you fail you permanently lose 1d3 points on STR, DEX or CON rolled randomly due to scarring.

You remain on negative HP, and if not outright unconscious, you will able to do nothing until healing has brought you back to positive HP; if by some miracle you survive a boulder being dropped on you from a great height, expect to spend a week in bed getting over it.

PCs will become increasingly battered and scarred, limping, eye-patched and hook-handed. If they wish to quit this adventuring malarkey as too much like hard work, they are free to.

Being beaten to a pulp and living to tell the tale in this way earns a +d100 XP bonus, for what it is worth. The experience isn't fun, but it will teach you what not to do next time.


Effects like broken arms, sprained ankles, dislocated shoulders etc, are healed when you reach full HP again.

A Cure Serious Wounds will remove such effects even if it does not restore the recipient to full HP, and can be used to reattach missing limbs and digits (if they have been recovered from the site of the carnage) and restore damaged eyes and ears if cast within a week.

Heal will induce the regrowth of lost limbs at a rate of 1d10% of lost part per week.

Clerical Services

The various churches and denominations are more than willing to provide healing magic to those who make donations, and may possibly be persuaded to do it for free for co-religionists who are obviously fighting the good fight. Basic costs are below, though these are subject to a wide variety of circumstantial modifiers, and the higher level ones will only be available from a very few preachers who will require a long journey to find. The Archbishop of Canterbury is himself only 11th level, most typical parish priests and Puritan preachers are level 1-5 (roll 2d4-3, min 1).

(using the 12 pence = 1 shilling, 20 shillings = 1 pound system of pre-decimal England)

Level 1
Bless - 1s plus 6d per level of cleric
Cure Light Wounds - £1
Detect Evil - £1

Level 2
Augury - £3
Delay Poison - £2

Level 3
Cure Disease - £10
Remove Curse - £50

Level 4
Cure Serious Wounds - £3 10s
Divination - £10 + £1 per caster level
Neutralize Poison - £10

Level 5
Commune - £150
Cure Critical Wounds - £6

Level 6
Heal - £100

For the devout Clerical scrolls may be sold. These may also take the from of specially blessed holy symbols which will provide one use of a spell when a specific prayer or verse from the Bible is spoken, rosaries or candles (for Catholics), blessed printed tracts with woodcuts (for Puritans) or other form of religious paraphenalia. The cost is level of spell x £30, far from cheap!

Magical Services

Witches, alchemists and other such dubious riff-raff can be found all over the place, though the devout frown on their odious practices and it may take a bit of careful inquiry to locate them and persuade them to help. Astrologers practice openly, and there are 'scholars' who will offer advice and opinions on magical matters.Some common services on offer are below, but any given magic user will only know some of the spells and have some of the equipment.

Spells may be bought from a few magicians. A magic users livelihood and reputation rests on his unique stock of arcane knowledge and most like to keep what they know secret for fear of setting up rivals. Basic cost is £25 per level of spell, including the cost of transcription into the recipients spell book. It is often cheaper to research it yourself.

Level 1
Potion of Charm Person - a perennial favourite, these 'love potions' may also take the form of charms or rituals to be used to attract the target. Cost £20.
Identify - £10 if the magic user has a suitable lab, usually only available to wealthy apothecaries and scholars.
Detect Magic - £1 10s

Level 2
Light, Continual - 5s (note that these only last one day from time of purchase)
Magic Mouth - £10

Level 3
Dispel Magic - £10 plus expenses if travel required to magical site


Sunday 10 May 2015

Sir Kenelm Digby

Sir Kenelm Digby was the real life analogue of a D&D character. A diplomat, natural philosopher and intellectual, he also managed to be a soldier, duellist and of course, was an egotistical braggart and bighead with it. 

As of 1642 he is in England after a sojourn in France to help King Charles put down those argumentative Parliamentary rebels (and get away from the relatives of the French aristocrat Mont Le Ros, who he killed in a duel). The King has sent him to investigate alarming reports of an outbreak of witchcraft and demons in the eastern counties of the country, rife with rebellion, the Ague and Puritanism, Quite possibly someone at court wants rid of the argumentative little twit, but he has thrown himself into the task with his customary brio, trusting that his natural panache and verve will see him win yet more plaudits and material for another book.

This character was created using Marc Gacy's classess LotFP system from Undercroft #4, available from Daniel Sell at

Sir Kenelm Digby 

Age 39
Alignment: Royalist Cavalier 
Religion: Catholic
Level 9

Cha 16 (+2) Con 11 Dex 9 Int 16 (+2) Wis 7 (-1) Str 12
Att + 4 Can use Defend and Press
Can cast magic user spells while heavily encumbered
Magic User spell-casting at level 3 (2x 1st level, 1 x 2nd)
Languages: English, Latin, French, Italian

AC 15
HP 34

Pikeman's breastplate
Buff Coat
Cavalier hat
Sword with basket hilt
Flintlock pisttol
Powder horn
Pouch of 20 balls
Locket with miniature of a lady (worth £5 (gp))
Wedding ring
Signet ring
Safe investments worth £1000 (gp)
20 doses of his patent 'Weapon Salve'
10 copies of his pamphlet on Weapon Salve
A copy of 'Conference with a Lady about Choice of a Religion'
A commonplace book, mainly full of recipes for fancy meads
Letters from Thomas Hobbes on his evolving political theory of The Leviathan
Fine cavalry horse
Saddle and saddlebags

Phillippe Fabrice, Servant

Level 1: Read Magic, Detect Magic, Unseen Servant, Magic Missile, Light, Charm Person, Magic Aura
Level 2: ESP, Forget, Detect Invisible 

Sir Kenelm's father, Everard, was part of the Gunpowder plot of 1606 and was hung, drawn and quartered. Sir Kenelm loudly proclaims his loyalty to the Crown and decries his father's foolishness in being led astray by Robert Catesby, Guy Fawkes and those other wretches. He is a Catholic, but outside the reasonably Catholic friendly court (and especially in the lands of the Eastern Association) he will keep it very quiet; he is an argumentative type though, so he might be goaded into defending his faith, quoting his own work of Catholic apologetics Conference with a Lady about Choice of a Religion.

The locket has a miniature of his late wife Venetia, if he is playing for sympathy and acting the respectable gent, otherwise it is Marie de Medici, Princess of Florence and also Queen of France at the time he knew her, if he is playing the man's man and cavalier. She, he claims, pursued him, but generally he only spreads this about when in England of the Netherlands;  in France it recently got him into a duel which he only won by Magic Missiling his opponent, a terrible breach of etiquette.

He is wealthy and still owns lands in Buckinghamshire and owns glass factories in Staffordshire and in Picardy in France where bottles of his own patent design of wine bottle are made, which provide a good income. He was also granted the monopoly of selling sealing wax in Wales and on the Welsh borders which was pretty lucrative and still theoretically holds the monopoly on all trade with the coast of Guinea, not that he can enforce it. If any PCs have access to a ship and fancy a bit of privateering in African waters, he'll be more than happy to get King Charles to issue them a Letter of Marque in return for a cut of 'his' lost customs dues.

The Weapon Salve will heal 1d4 hp of damage if applied to the weapon that caused the extant wound, but at the cost of reducing that weapon to corroded rust. Very useful when treating musket shots.