Listen at the Door

live-action fantasy role playing game

Listen at the Door

PART III: Artifacts, Spells, Character Classes, Treasures and Traps

This section is fun. It tells you about how magic and characters work and provides lots of examples.

The good news is: you just get to make your artifacts and spells any way you want that doesn’t compromise game balance in the view of the GM. You don’t roll characters, you just make them the way you want. The rules and the GM will steer you toward fun characters, because invulnerable characters are utterly boring in this game.

Table of Contents

d20Initial Artifacts and Spells
d40Special Rules aka "Enchantments"
d40Finding Artifacts
d40Transferring Artifacts to Other Players
d40Special Rules aka "Enchantments"
d40Active Side-Effects
d40Passive Side-Effects
d20Treasure Traps
d40Character Classes
d60Magic Users
d60Minion Monsters

Initial Artifacts and Spells (top)
Players define their own own initial artifact items and their own spells. This is a lot of fun and it allows players the chance to equip their heroes or monsters with the kind of artifacts and spells that work with the character's persona, or would be fun to play.

The artifacts can be pieces of clothing, doodads, sonic screwdrivers, or just about anything that can be worn or carried and activated. If it is an inanimate object that cannot be activated, you must develop a mystical, ceremonial, or traditional way to summon the power of the object to let everyone know that it is now being "used."

The use of the artifact should be announced somehow so that everyone knows it.

d40"One… Two… Five!"

So, when defining your artifacts they must also define how you will summon the power of them if it isn't obvious, such as would be with an enchanted kazoo.

All players start out a game with the same number of gold pieces and artifacts and the number of spells indicated by their character class. During the game they may gain and lose artifacts and gold. But, all players are more-or-less equally powerful at the start.

The GM has the responsibility to keep the game balanced and can freely affect even artifacts you originally designed before the game if the GM believes it will upset their sense of game balance.

The GM will occasionally provide artifacts and gold to the players as treasure or sometimes they will instruct the minion monster to leave one of their artifacts behind if they are defeated (probably to be replaced by the GM if the minion lost well.) Artifacts in the game may not reveal their nature even to magic users until they are used, at the discretion of the GM.

Game balance is important -- everyone should feel powerful. The GM wants interesting characters, not invulnerable ones. So, if you add something new it is nice when it has a "fun flaw" that others would enjoy. Discuss it with the GM before the game. Feel free to be creative, because special rules can easily tuned to retain game balance without sacrificing the original idea.

For the sake of fun, players should be given a chance to use their artifacts and spells and other powers. The game should not race past them. Not only does hurrying spoil the fun, it punishes the players less familiar with the rules.

Spells (top)
The rules for a spell are simplest. A spell is simply an action card you have written in advance.

When the game is defined by the GM, they will tell you how many spells you may carry with you. Your "Character Class" may give you more or less. Some artifacts affect your use of spells.

When you use a spell during the Resolution Phase's Spell Phase", it is consumed in the game and that spell card is given to the GM for safekeeping until the end of the game. Or, you can mark it as "used" if you prefer to hold onto it and use it later as a simple action card (to minimize writing at the expense of an opponent possibly remember what you wrote on it.)

Spells are used during the "Spell Phase" as a way to change your action card (to a spell card) after you see the action card just played by an opponent. You can only use one spell per round unless you are a magic user, who can use two. Special rules could add a third.

Artifacts (top)
Artifacts are objects that can be worn or carried and used. It could be clothing or a flashlight, a spoon. Anything except a gold piece.

Each artifact must have a unique name. You will have to use its name every time you use the artifact or if you give it to another player on your own team.

Your "Character Class" may prevent you from using some artifacts.

Most can only be used during , so long as you name the artifact and make it clear, out loud, that you are using it. If that happens before the next step of the game, it counts. If something already happened and then you realize you could have used something to stop it, it is too late.

Artifacts are "enchanted" in an imperfect process that ends up yielding an object that when activated triggers one special rule, but also triggers one active side-effect that occurs at the same time. Think "tragic flaw." The rest of the time that it is in the possession of a player character, it has one or more passive side-effects.

Many artifacts can only be used once per game or once per melee.

If the GM thinks an artifact is too powerful or boring they may add additional enchantments of their choice by simply adding additional active or passive effects, or even additional special rules. An artifact can trigger more than one if the game master agrees to it.

Special Rules are usually but not always helpful to the person who is targeted by them. There are many kinds, but they all change the rules of the game and can be directed at one player of either team.

The Active side effects affect the game each time the artifact is used.

The Passive side effects actually do not usually have any real effect on the game. They are there to force the players to say and do things that add some fun to the game. Passive side effects provide chances for creativity and to role-play.

Players are welcome to choose the passive effects for their artifacts any way they wish and so long as they do not affect the play of the game or interfere with the enjoyment of others, they do not need to be approved by the GM, just make it fun.

Special Rules aka "Enchantments" (top)
Here are some special rules, but players and GMs are encouraged to extend the list and add diversity, so long as you enjoy playing it and the game remains balanced.

1. Yet Another Spell, you get another round to replace your active card with a better spell you possess
2. Defense against a specific part of your body being touched. Nothing larger than genitals or a pair of breasts or a butt. Things like "mouth" and "ears" and "feet" are also useful and fun.
3. Defense against you touching a specific part of a woman's body
4. Defense against you touching a specific part of a man's body
5. Power to choose how a draw is resolved, once per melee
6. Power to move twice as far as usual
7. Exchange any two player characters positions from your own team, at the end of the movement phase
8. Exchange any two player characters positions from the other team, at the end of the movement phase
9. Exchange your artifact with one that it is changing hands or just changed hands during this movement round. Once exchanged, it cannot be re-exchanged with the same artifact until it has been exchanged with some other artifact first.
10. Both players throw away their current, active cards, before they are resolved, and write new ones, once per game
11. Power to invert the resolution, once per game (maker the winner be the loser and vice versa.)
12. Power to stop one other special rule from having its effect.
13. Power to use two defenses on one card, once per game
14. Power to play your card second, after you get a chance to see the card the other player plays
15. Power to force a player to create or use a different card, once per game
16. Power to be invisible -- this ends a round as a "draw with skip," once per game 17. Power to win. You win one round of your choice.
18. Power to lose. You lose one round of your choice.
19. Power to draw. Force a draw resolution both players can agree on, but not skip.
20. Power to create a new spell once at beginning of each melee
21. Zombify any player on either team that has no points. They fall under your command. You write their cards for them and direct them, but any gold won or lost is yours, not the zombie.
22. Unzombify any player and return them to life with 2 melee life points (costs 2 gold pieces.)
23. Multiple Attacks: attack two different players in one round. Fighters can use this every round they face two or more opponents. Magic users may use this once every other round. Thieves cannot use any artifact with this power.
24. Convert 1-4 gold points into transferable melee life points, once per game.
25. Something that can only be used during a battle cry or anything a player on the other team is forced to say or elects to say because of an artifact or character class requirement, including the transfer of artifacts.
26. Power to take one treasure item from another player of either team. This can only be used by a thief. The thief must be close enough to touch their victim but must not be engaged in an attack with them or be attacked by them. This is easiest from behind. This can only be used once per melee.

An artifact gets one of these special rules as a magical enchantment, or any other special rule the GM will allow. If it is too powerful, it should be usable only once per game, or once per melee, or not allowed without incurring more than one active or passive side effect. The GM has the final say on artifact modifications required for game balance.

Artifacts must be worn or in use for their benefits to be available or for their active side effects to occur. It is necessary to wear or use them to receive their benefits, and you must declare aloud that you are using your artifact, including its name when you do so.

It is sufficient to simply be in possession of an artifact for it to have its passive side effect so long as you started the game with it or it has been used once already in the game. If it was acquired within a game as plunder or treasure then its active and passive side effects do not become known until it is first used by someone (anyone.)

Finding Artifacts (top)
The GM is free to create treasure artifacts by declaring that objects found during a melee are in fact artifacts, what their name is (if known) and what else is known of them if anything. Magic users may also determine if an object is an artifact, and the presence of a magic user in the party is sufficient for the GM to simply say that an object is an artifact. The GM isn’t required to say any more than the fact that it is an artifact, but the GM is encouraged to provide interesting and/or useful information about each artifact, and leaning a bit more toward useful information if there is a Magic user who examines the item, which must include touching the object, but doesn’t require activating it.

Activating an artifact to determine what it does is useful, but many artifacts can only be used once per melee.

Magic Users may divine the true nature of the artifact's special rule 50% of the time and the rest of the time the GM lies. Only using an artifact reveals its actual power and all of its side effects, which lie dormant until its first used.

The GM acts as narrator telling all about the wonders of this artifact. All should marvel at it and may make their characteristic sound of wonder, or just say "Ohhh". But, throw in "By Crom" and see what happens…

Whoever picks up a treasure or plundered artifact is its possessor until it is given or taken away. Although, it is common to give an artifact to a character playing a class that can make best use of it.

Transferring Artifacts to Other Players (top)
A player who is not themselves disabled and who carries or wears an artifact may choose to give it to another player that is not disabled. The transfer can only happen during the Movement phase in lieu of both players taking a step, or it can happen freely during exploration mode.

However, any time an artifact changes hands the two players must each say their own names and also name the artifact out loud. No exceptions unless you are using sign language.

d40"I, Master of Dominion, give you the mighty Hat Fedorus, capable of exchanging players on other teams! Use it well."
d40"I, Rowena, Mistress of the Night thank you for this worthy gift and I pledge to use the Fedorus Hat to defeat our foes!"

Or, the two people could just say:
d40"Master D is giving up the Fedorus Hat"
d40"Rowena is taking the Fedorus Hat"

It is your story and your dialogue. But, you are required to name yourself and the artifact because other game rules depend on this.

Things can happen when artifacts change hands. For example, one special rule that an artifact might have is the ability to switch with another artifact. This switch is only allowed while it is changing hands (figuratively) from one player to another. The exchange special rule must be used during this artifact exchange dialogue.

If the player who ends up holding an artifact after the switch cannot use it or will not use it, they do not benefit from it. But they are still vulnerable to its passive side-effects until they can give it to someone else.

It is considered poor form to throw artifacts through the air and not to exchange them hand-to-hand. Throwing an artifact is allowed, but if the GM observes it happening, at their discretion the GM may add an additional random active or passive side effect to the artifact, either until the end of the melee or the end of the game.

Active Side-Effects (top)
One or more active side-effects occur each time an artifact is used:
1. Use deprives user of one piece of one item in their possession or being warn (not necessarily an artifact.)
2. Use deprives user of one spell of their choice
3. Use deprives user of one spell at random
4. Use costs user one gold piece
5. Use means player gets no choice if there is a draw
6. Use means player can use no other for the next two rounds
7. Use deprives user of their chance to move next round
8. Use means next round the player must move before everyone else (a disadvantage)
9. Use means no other players on the same team may exchange artifacts
10. Use means no other player on the same team may use an artifact
11. The player may not move in the round this artifact is used or it won't take effect
12. Use incurs a 50% chance that the special rule for the next artifact they use will change the time it is next used. The GM will determine which new special rule the artifact will have.

Passive Side-Effects (top)
Passive side-effects aren't usually too harmful, and they add some fun to the game. If something happens "once in a while" it should be no more than once every few rounds. Shake it up a little and do it when it is dramatically appropriate or would be funny or fun.

Possible Passive Side Effects:
1. Anything that could each be written as a "Defense". That defense is considered an additional defense for that player, in addition to any other
defenses they may have.
2. You must make a funny noise or other non-characteristic sound of your
choice, once per round.
3. You must briefly reminisce about a fallen comrade from a previous adventure, or one of your own disabled players.
4. Once in a while you must laugh out loud at danger
5. Once in a while you must boast in so ridiculous manner so as you
cannot be believed. If you are a thief you must insist it is true and
not let it go for a little while.
6. Once in a while you must loudly say "Leeroy Jenkins" in the
Fantasy Attack phase.
7. Once in a while you must have a conversation with yourself, out loud
and end in an argument.
8. You must imagine that the artifact has a personality and that it is upset that you only ever play with it when you need something done. You must have a conversation with it. You must console it somehow and convince it to work.

You can use a lot more creativity when creating your own passive side effects. They shouldn't affect game play, but should add something unexpected to the game periodically. You can think of these in advance and use them in the game when needed. They do not need to be approved by the GM, but they should not interfere with the game, only add.

Treasure (top)
Treasure can consist of gold pieces, artifacts, jewels and anything else the GM decides to name as treasure.

Anything that can be treasure can also have a trap, except gold pieces.

Jewels and jewelry are useless monetary treasure that can also be trapped. They can contribute toward a team achieving a goal, but it serves no real purpose in the game, except that dropping a jewel or jewelry can allow an easier retreat.

The first two are obvious and previously explained. Erotifacts are objects with no special abilities, but which have significance in the game, such as being required for a team to earn experience. They can be literally anything and are entirely at the GM's discretion. It is not unheard of for an artifact to become an artifact when the right conditions are met (at the discretion of the GM.)

Treasure Traps (top)
Any treasure item except gold pieces can "contain" a trap or "be trapped."

A trap can be thought of as a magical, one-time curse on a treasure item. Once it springs and has its effect, it can't strike a second victim.

When a trap springs it has an effect determined by the GM on the person who activated it by touching it first. Thieves are able to detect traps without touching the item. If they touch the item they are subject to the trap.

If a trap springs there is a 50% chance it will take effect on the person who touched it. This is called the trap's effect.

Some trap effects include:
1. A random active side effect.
2. Player cannot move for 1-4 rounds
3. Player loses 1-6 gold pieces from the non-life-point gold pieces.
If they don't have enough, the remainder come from their life
point gold pieces.
4. Player loses use of one artifact (chosen at random) for 1-4 rounds
5. Player is not allowed to use their own spells for 1-4 rounds
6. Player is not allowed to give or receive any artifact for 1-4 rounds
7. Player loses any draw in this round
8. Player's choice: remove one piece of clothing or throw away one prepared spell.
9. Player's choice: play the next round entirely on your knees (or sitting) or give up an artifact until the next melee
10. Player's choice: play the next 1-4 round with your hands bound together at the wrists (or ankles, or both) or give up an artifact until the next melee
11. One of your own artifacts will have a random effect next time you use it.
12. Player adopts one passive side effect until the end of the melee

Some of these are more serious than others. They should be attached to more valuable treasures, so if you are choosing at random and it doesn't make sense, repeat until the outcome seems fair.

Like the rest of the lists, this one was meant to be extended. The GM tells the players out loud when someone touches a trapped treasure item:

d40"As Master D touches the at, a green light glows in his eyes and he now knows he can not use his artifacts for 3 rounds!"

It is acceptable but not required for other players to shriek, shield themselves with their hands, and lean away from the person who triggered the trap.

Thieves who attempt to detect traps do not trigger them, whether they are able to detect them or not. If a thief detects a trap, it means the trap is also disabled and will never take its effect.

Characters (top)
Each player must create a character to use in the game. It must have the following attributes:
- a name
- a character class
- one intrinsic defense
- one or two intrinsic passive side effects

These can simply be selected by the player for the character, but once selected they cannot be changed during the game, except by a special rule.

Each player must also have a set of characteristic sounds and/or catchphrases:
- a battle cry
- a cry of defiance (when your defense works)
- a cry of victory and perhaps a little victory dance, for when your
fantasy attack wins
- a sound of wonder or amazement, or just "Oooooh, pretty!"
- an "I'm disabled" death chant, sound, or catchphrase
- one or more characteristic noises, because, why not?

Players may also have:
- a silly walk
- any kind of costume or props they want
- non-player-character items, such as a beverage or their mobile phone
- an imaginary minion to whom they speak and give orders. Imaginary
minion do not affect the game.

You dress the part of your character and you bring your own artifact(s), which you have defined for your character hopefully in keeping with their individual style. You must still clear your artifact(s) with the GM before the game begins.

It makes sense for one character to make a map as the game progresses, because the GM will describe how you got from your last location to the current one during exploration mode, unless your game venue happens to already have all of the correct rooms, doors and corridors.

Character Classes (top)
All characters must be one of these established character classes:

d40Magic User
d40Minion Monster

The character classes affect some of the rules of the game. Those rules apply to all players using that character class.

The purpose of these character classes is to make the game more fun and add variety as well let people take interesting, sometimes unique roles in the game because of class-specific abilities or artifacts only they are allowed to use.

Magic Users (top)
- Magic users get four spells for every three the game allows fighters. Fractions of a spell can't be used.
- Magic users may use up to two spells per round

- Regenerate one spell per melee, no matter how many were spent. No other character class regenerates spells during the game.
- Magic users get to move two steps.
- Magic users can use any artifact.
- Magic users have a 50% chance of knowing what an artifact does. The GM will secretly determine the success when attempted and lie if required. This only works in exploration mode.
- Magic users must periodically tell ridiculous, outrageous magic item they tried to create, and what happened to it that caused it to explode, catch fire or otherwise fail spectacularly. If it is interesting, they can add how they managed to escape with their life. Especially when there is a spare moment.

Thieves (top)
- Thieves can use any artifact whose primary power begins with "Power to" which are loosely defined as "rule hacks."
- Thieves get only 2 spells for every three the game allows fighters. Fractions of a spell can't be used.
- Thieves may use one spell per round
- Thieves get to move three steps per round
- Thieves must periodically tell ridiculous, outrageous lies. The less plausible, the better. Especially when there is a spare moment. Other characters are encouraged to humor the thieves.

Thieves, have some special abilities no other class has. These can only be done during the exploration phase of the game. They cannot be done during a melee unless they have no opponent. If they have no opponent, they may perform these instead of moving during the movement phase:
- Thieves get to ask a game-master-determined number of yes/no questions when "at the door"
- Thieves can detect traps 50% of the time -- the GM randomly determines the outcome a private. The GM should only indicate a trap was found if there is a trap and the thief beat their 50% chance.

Fighters (top)
Fighters are the class against which others are compared, so they seem simpler.
Yet, fighters also have some special abilities:
- Fighters get to move four steps
- Fighters may use one spell per round
- Fighters can use any artifact except those that only affect spells.
- Fighters must periodically tell ridiculous, outrageous exaggerated tales of conquest and honor. Especially when there is a spare moment.
- Fighters must have heartier cries and pronouncements than non-fighter folk

Minion Monsters (all kinds) (top)
Minion Monsters are also player characters acting the part of a monster in the game. They may be given special instructions by the GM so that their actions will fit within the scenario, such as to protect some object in a room. They are required to do what the GM commands, but GMs are only supposed to give commands that fit within a scenario, or make the game more fun.

Minion Monsters are sometimes referred to as just minion. The GM is free to name them. Good monster!

GMs give minion a goal and a minimum of game commands so that there is room for interpretation about how to accomplish the goal creatively.

For example:
d40"I command you two minion to wait around that corner and prepare
d40to make sounds like rodents of unusual size, and you must be on
d40your knees or sitting during the entire melee. Above all, protect
d40the enchanted hat of finger protection to the bitter end! "

The Minion Monsters do their best to win the melee given those constraints. The GM can reimburse them for gold if it seems that the Minion Monsters were doomed to lose. In this case, two against a party of more than two means that the two will likely lose.

The GM can simply create gold pieces to reimburse minion, if the GM wishes to do so. But, whether there is more or less than a complete replacement may depend on how well the minion performed while losing, in the opinion of the GM.

It isn't always fair being a minion monster, but it is quite fun and varied, because they get more interesting capabilities and get to switch artifacts and spells between melees.

Minion Monsters must identify as one of the other character classes (adhering to the rules of that class) but Minion Monsters have some important differences and additional characteristics:
- They are themselves an artifact that cannot be taken or disabled by other artifacts. They always carry and are able to "use themselves" whenever the rules allow artifacts to be used.
- Minion Monsters must have 2 additional passive side effects.
- Minion Monsters must have a characteristic sound they make while behind the door and also once in a while.
- Minion Monsters must dress a more monsterish.
- Minion Monsters must occasionally burst out with something unexpected, such as:
d40- an explanation of why it isn't easy being a monster
d40- how hard it is to get barbarians out of your teeth
d40- a haiku
d40- an aphorism or other brief but sage advice
d40- utter gibberish
d40- a statement about their GM that shows pride or fear
d40- a statement about what kind/how good of a dinner their opponent would be
d40- you could insist that you eat jewels and poop gold

It should not be very long -- just a few sentences or less.

Like other characters they have their own set of characteristic sounds and catchphrases, but the GM may ask them to be a different kind of creature each melee, so the minion monsters must often think up new sounds and catch-phrases when they are needed.

There may not be time for minion monsters to even think of all their sounds until they are needed for in the game. That is part of what makes a minion monster fun to play: you get to improvise in the heat of the moment. Have fun with it! You won't break the game by saying the wrong thing.