Labyrinths & Liontaurs


Playing the Game

While playing the Labyrinths & Liontaurs roleplay game, the Game Master (GM) describes the events that occur in the game world, and the players take turns describing what their characters do in response to those events. Unlike storytelling, however, the actions of the players and the characters controlled by the Game Master (frequently called non-player characters, or NPCs) are not certain. Most actions require dice rolls to determine success, with some tasks being more difficult than others. Each character is better at some things than she is at other things, granting her bonuses based on her skills and abilities.

How to Play an RPG

In a tabletop roleplay game, you describe your characters' actions through speech. You decide what your character says and tries to do based on the personality and background you've created. You succeed or fail according to the rules of the game, the outcome of dice rolls, and the GM's narration of the story. Within the rules, you have the freedom to improvise; your choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.

Here are two examples of what actual play is like. These are not examples of great play, rather, they are pretty typical. But they give you a feel for what it is like to sit around a table and just play.

Dr. Strangemath, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Arithmetic!

Let's say it right off: This game, and indeed, most table-top RPGs generally, are full of math. This is a game about rolling dice, adding dice rolls together, adding modifiers to the numbers you roll, and keeping track of your character's advancement by adding up numbers. I've tried to limit the math, especially for single-class characters, and by using fractions in quarters and halves only ... but it is what it is. The game uses math. A lot. If you love RPGs but cannot deal with math, I suggest playing video game RPGs, like World of Warcraft, in which all the math is handled invisibly by the computer. But my hope is that you will buckle down and learn to love the math. Seeing your numbers advance is part of enjoying the game.

So let's get into it.

Whenever a roll is required, the roll is noted as “d#,” with the “#” representing the number of sides on the die. If you need to roll multiple dice of the same type, there will be a number before the “d.” For example, if you are required to roll 4d6, you should roll four six-sided dice and add the results together. Sometimes there will be a + or – after the notation, meaning that you add that number to, or subtract it from, the total results of the dice (not to each individual die rolled). Most die rolls in the game use a d20 with a number of modifiers based on the character's skills, his or her abilities, and the situation. Generally speaking, rolling high is better than rolling low. Percentile rolls are a special case, indicated as rolling d%. You can generate a random number in this range by rolling two differently colored ten-sided dice (2d10). Pick one color to represent the tens digit, then roll both dice. If the die chosen to be the tens digit rolls a “4” and the other d10 rolls a “2,” then you've generated a 42. A zero on the tens digit die indicates a result from 1 to 9, or 100 if both dice result in a zero. Some d10s are printed with “10,” “20,” “30,” and so on in order to make reading d% rolls easier.

The game sometimes uses fractions. You may have a +2.5 base attack bonus, or a 12.75 caster level. In just about every situation, whenever you are must round a number, always round all fractions down. Even that 12.75 rounds down to 12.

As you go on adventures, you earn gold, magic items, and experience points. Gold can be used to purchase better equipment, while magic items possess powerful abilities that enhance your character. Experience points are awarded for overcoming challenges and completing major storylines. When you have earned enough experience points, you increase your character level by one, granting you one new class ability and one new non-class ability. These allow you to take on even greater challenges.

The Most Important Rule

The rules in this book are here to help you breathe life into your characters and the world they explore. While they are designed to make your game easy and exciting, you might find that some of them do not suit the style of play that your gaming group enjoys. Remember that these rules are yours. You can change them to fit your needs. Most Game Masters have a number of “house rules” that they use in their games. The Game Master and players should always discuss any rules changes to make sure that everyone understands how the game will be played. Although the Game Master is the final arbiter of the rules, the Labyrinths & Liontaurs roleplay game is a shared experience, and all of the players should contribute their thoughts when the rules are in doubt.

Note: The L&L RPG uses a number of terms, abbreviations, and definitions in presenting the rules of the game. Please check out the Common Terms listed in the Glossary when you are not sure what a game term means.

Creating a Character

From the sly rogue to the stalwart paladin -- and from the stalwart rogue to the sly paladin, for that matter -- the Labyrinths & Liontaurs roleplay game allows you to make the character you want to play. When generating a character, start with your character's concept. Do you want a character who goes toe-to-toe with terrible monsters, matching sword and shield against claws and fangs? Or do you want a mystical seer who draws his powers from the great beyond to further his own ends? Nearly anything is possible.

Once you have a general concept worked out, use the following steps to bring your idea to life, recording the resulting information and statistics on your Labyrinths & Liontaurs roleplay game character sheet, which can be found as a PDF here [link to come], and either used digitally or printed out.

Step 1) Determine Ability Scores: Start by generating your character's ability scores. These six scores determine her most basic attributes and are used to decide a wide variety of details and statistics. In general, most class selections work better with better than average scores in particular abilities, for example, Intelligence for a wizard, or Dexterity for a rogue.

Step 2) Pick Your Race: Next, pick your character's race, noting any modifiers to his ability scores and any other racial characteristics. There are eight basic races to choose from, although your GM might have others to add to the list. Each race lists the languages your character automatically knows, as well as languages he may know if his Intelligence is high.

Step 3) Pick Your Class: A character's class represents a profession, such as fighter or wizard. If this is a new character, she starts at 1st level in her chosen class. Class also determines hit points, a measure of how much punishment your character can take. As she gains experience points (XP) for defeating monsters, she goes up in level, granting her new powers and abilities.

Step 4) Pick a Trait: A trait adds background detail to what you have been doing before you were an adventurer. You gain traits at levels 1, 6, 11, and 16. Future traits will help commemorate exceptional experiences you have had as an adventurer.

Step 5) Pick Skills: Determine the number of skill ranks possessed by your character, based on your class and Intelligence modifier (see below). Then spend these ranks on skills, but remember that you cannot have more ranks than your character level in any one skill (for a starting character, this is usually one). At first level, you can only buy class skills, because your max ranks in non-class skills is your character level -2. You can start buying non-class skills at level 3, when you can put max 1 rank into them.

Step 6) Buy Equipment: Each new character begins the game with an amount of gold, based on her class, that can be spent on a wide range of equipment and gear, from chainmail armor to leather backpacks. This gear helps your character survive while adventuring. Generally speaking, you cannot use this starting money to buy magic items without the consent of your GM.

Step 7) Finishing Details: Finally, you need to determine all of a character's details, including his starting Armor Class (AC), saving throws, initiative modifier, and attack values. All of these numbers are determined by the decisions made in previous steps. Aside from these, you need to decide on your character's name, alignment, and physical appearance. It is best to jot down a few personality traits as well, to help you play the character during the game. Additional rules (like age and alignment) are described in Additional Rules.

Planning ahead: You may want to think about and plan for your options as you gain levels, for example, choosing a Feat at levels 2 and 4, a new racial power at level 3, and increasing an ability score at level 5. Also, every time you level, you pick one of the two class abilities available.

Ability Scores

Each character has six ability scores that represent her character's most basic attributes. They are her raw talent and prowess. While a character rarely rolls a check using just an ability score, these scores, and the modifiers they create, affect nearly every aspect of a character's skills and abilities. Each ability score generally ranges from 3 to 18, although racial bonuses and penalties can alter this; an average ability score is 10.

Generating Ability Scores

Unlike other games, Labyrinths & Liontaurs allows just one method for determining ability scores. There are six ability scores, so roll six dice. Roll 1d8, 1d6, 1d6, 1d6, 1d4, and 1d4. Add all your rolls together and subtract from 34. Those are your lionheart points (see below). Add each individual number rolled to 9. Those are your six base ability scores. Arrange as you prefer.

Determine Bonuses

Each ability, after changes made because of race, has modifiers ranging from 0 to +4. Ability score modifiers are a vital part of the game, and affect almost everything you do. Each ability score has a set of "Column A" modifiers and a set of "Column B" modifiers; Column A modifiers rise at odd ability scores, and Column B modifiers rise at even ability scores. If a rule calls for the use of an ability score modifier and the column is not specified, then use Column A. The Table: Ability Modifiers (below) shows the modifier for each score. The modifier is the number you apply to the die roll when your character tries to do something related to that ability. You also use the modifier with some numbers that aren't die rolls. A positive modifier is called a bonus, and a negative modifier is called a penalty.

Abilities and Spellcasters

The ability that governs bonus spells depends on what type of spellcaster your character is: Intelligence for wizards, bards, and sorcerers ("arcanists"); Charisma for clerics, summoners, and paladins ("priests"); Wisdom for druids, monks, and rangers ("naturalists"); and Constitution for barbarians, fighters, and rogues ("marrowmancers"). A high ability score determines the spellcaster's casting modifier, used to boost saving throw DCs and to give bonus spells per day, but ability score also determines the highest level spell that you can use.

Table: Ability Modifiers and Spellcasting
Ability ScoreModifierAllowed Spell Level With This Ability Score
Column AColumn B
1-5-4You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
2-4-4You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
3-4-3You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
4-3-3You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
5-3-2You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
6-2-2You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
7-2-1You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
8-1-1You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
9-10You cannot cast spells tied to this ability.
1000You can cast cantrips tied to this ability
11+10You can cast 1st and 2nd level spells tied to this ability.
12+1+1You can cast 3rd and 4th level spells tied to this ability.
13+2+1You can cast 5th and 6th level spells tied to this ability.
14+2+2You can cast 7th and 8th level spells tied to this ability.
15+3+2You can cast 9th and 10th level spells tied to this ability.
16+3+3You can cast 11th and 12th level spells tied to this ability.
17+4+3You can cast 13th and 14th level spells tied to this ability.
18+4+4You can cast 15th and 16th level spells tied to this ability.
19+5+4You can cast 17th and 18th level spells tied to this ability.
20+5+5You can cast 19th and 20th level spells tied to this ability.
21+6+5You can cast all spells tied to this ability.
22+6+6You can cast all spells tied to this ability.
23+7+6You can cast all spells tied to this ability.
24+7+7You can cast all spells tied to this ability.
25+8+7You can cast all spells tied to this ability.
Notes on this table: Player characters never start with ability scores less than 10. A score above 20 is rare, and above 30, pretty much impossible. However, unfortunate circumstances could lower an ability score, and certainly various non-player characters, monsters, and other things can have scores well above and below a PC's normal range. Modifiers for ability scores above 25 can be easily extrapolated from the table.

The Abilities

Each ability makes a contribution to your character's potential actions, capabilities, and potentials, both for roleplaying and for game mechanics. When an ability score changes, for example, because a spell has affected you, most of the modifiers listed below are changed immediately. Some few change only after a permenent change of a week or more, notably skill ranks. And native language fluency depends on initial Intelligence, and does not change if your Intelligence rises or falls.

Strength (Str)

Strength measures muscle and physical power. This ability is important for those who engage in hand-to-hand (or “melee”) combat, such as fighters, monks, paladins, and some rangers. Strength also sets the maximum amount of weight your character can carry. A character with a Strength score of 0 is too weak to move in any way and is unconscious. Some creatures do not possess a Strength score and have no modifier at all to Strength-based skills or checks.

Table: Strength
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Melee attack rolls.Damage rolls when using a melee weapon, natural attack, or a thrown weapon, including a sling.*
Special attack rolls (Grapples, etc).Strength checks to lift heavy objects, dig yourself out of a cave-in, etc.
Feats, such as Intimidating Prowess, etc.Skills: Break, Climb, Jump, and Swim.
*Exceptions: Off-hand attacks receive only half the character's Strength bonus, while two-handed attacks (and some natural attacks) receive 1-1/2 times the Strength bonus. A Strength penalty, but not a bonus, applies to attacks made with a bow that is not a composite bow.

Intelligence (Int)

Intelligence determines how well your character learns and reasons. This ability is important for arcanists because it affects their spellcasting ability in many ways. Creatures of animal-level instinct have Intelligence scores of 1 or 2. Any creature capable of understanding speech has a score of at least 3. A character with an Intelligence score of 0 is comatose. Some creatures do not possess an Intelligence score. Their modifier is +0 for any Intelligence-based skills or checks.

Table: Intelligence
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Number of initial fluent languages known.Bonus spell slots per day, modifier to saving throw DCs.
Bonus number of skill ranks gained each level.*Concentration checks casting arcane spells.
Feats, such as Spell Mastery, etc.Skills: Appraise, Craft, Language, Scrivening, Search, Spellcraft, and all Knowledge skills.
*A creature or NPC with a non-zero Intelligence score always gets at least 1 skill point per level, regardless of penalties. If a creature's Intelligence score changes permanently, then the number of skill ranks per level also goes up or down, even retroactively through past level advances.

Note that for Arcanists (including Wizards, Bards, and Sorcerers), the highest level of arcane spell you can cast is linked to your Intelligence, per the table above.

Wisdom (Wis)

Wisdom describes a character's willpower, common sense, awareness, and intuition. Wisdom is the most important ability for naturalists. If you want your character to have acute senses, put a high score in Wisdom. Every creature has a Wisdom score. A character with a Wisdom score of 0 is incapable of rational thought and is unconscious.

Table: Wisdom
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Will saving throws (for negating the effects of charm person and other spells).Bonus spell slots per day, modifier to saving throw DCs.
Wisdom checks to avoid scroll mishaps.Concentration checks to cast natural spells.
Wild Empathy checks.Monk bonuses to AC and CMD.
Feats, such as Gorgon's Fist, Scorpion Style, Stunning Fist, etc.Skills: Heal, Profession, Sense Motive, Spot, and Survival.

Note that for Naturalists (including Druids, Monks, and Rangers), the highest level of natural spell you can cast is linked to your Wisdom, per the table above.

Dexterity (Dex)

Dexterity measures agility, reflexes, and balance. This ability is the most important one for rogues, but it's also useful for characters who wear light or medium armor or no armor at all. This ability is vital for characters seeking to excel with ranged weapons, such as the bow or sling. A character with a Dexterity score of 0 is incapable of moving and is effectively immobile (but not unconscious).

Table: Dexterity
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Ranged attack rolls, as with bows, darts, and many ranged spell attacks.Armor Class (AC) and CMD, provided that the character can react to the attack.
Reflex saving throws (for avoiding fireballs and other attacks that you can escape by moving quickly).Initiative checks.
Feats, such as Agile Maneuvers, Combat Reflexes, Weapon Finesse.Skills: Disable Device, Escape Artist, Fly, Ride, Sleight of Hand, Stealth, Tumble, and Use Rope.

Constitution (Con)

Constitution represents your character's health and stamina. A Constitution bonus increases a character's hit points, so the ability is important for all classes. Some creatures, such as undead and constructs, do not have a Constitution score. Their modifier is +0 for any Constitution-based checks. A character with a Constitution score of 0 is dead.

Table: Constitution
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Fortitude saving throws, for resisting poison, disease, and similar threats.Bonus spell slots per day, modifier to saving throw DCs.
Modifier to each roll of a Hit Die*.Concentration checks to cast inherent spells.
Checks vs drowning, starvation, thirst, suffocation, and natural sleep.Checks to run, march, and stabilize when dying.
*A penalty can never drop a result below 1, that is, characters always gains at least 1 hit point each time they advance in level.

Note that for Marrowmancers (including Rogues, Fighters, and Barbarians), the highest level of inherent spell you can cast is linked to your Constitution, per the table above.

If a character's Constitution score changes enough to alter his or her Constitution modifier, the character's hit points also increase or decrease accordingly.

Charisma (Cha)

Charisma measures a character's personality, personal magnetism, ability to lead, and appearance. It is the most important ability for priests, especially clerics and paladins, since it affects not only their spellcasting but also their ability to channel energy. For undead creatures, Charisma is a measure of their unnatural “lifeforce.” Every creature has a Charisma score. A character with a Charisma score of 0 is not able to exert himself in any way and is unconscious.

Table: Charisma
Column A Bonus changes at odd numbersColumn B Bonus changes at even numbers
Channel energy DCs for priests attempting to harm undead foes.Bonus spell slots per day, modifier to saving throw DCs.
Checks that represent attempts to influence others.Concentration checks to cast divine spells.
Feats, such as Command Undead, Leadership, Selective Channeling, Turn Undead, etc.Skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Disguise, Gather Information, Handle Animal, Intimidate, Perform, and Use Magic Device.

Note that for Priests (including Clerics, Summoners, and Paladins), the highest level of divine spell you can cast is linked to your Charisma, per the table above.

Ability Score Checks

The game master may sometimes call for an ability score check. Two arm-wrestlers may make opposed strength checks to see who wins. The game master may call for intelligence checks to help solve a riddle. Two casters both trying to mentally control a creature must make opposed charisma checks to determine the true controller. In all cases, ability score checks are made with the odd (column A) modifier. In general, for any case where an ability score modifier is needed but the Labyrinths & Liontaurs rules are ambiguous or silent as to which modifier to use, choose the odd (column A) modifier.

Increasing Ability Scores

You can increase your ability scores in several ways. You can use spells or magic items. Some class abilities raise scores. At levels 5, 10, 15, and 20, you can add +1 to your highest score, or add +1 to a lower score and also raise your lionheart point maximum by one.

Each ability makes a contribution to your character's potential actions, capabilities, and potentials, both for roleplaying and for game mechanics. When an ability score changes, for example, because a spell has affected you, most of the modifiers listed above on this page are changed immediately. Some few change only after a permenent change of a week or more, notably skill ranks. Note that native language fluency depends on initial Intelligence, and does not change if your Intelligence rises or falls.

Note that changes to ability scores from the same source never stack, aside from the increases gained as non-class-based advances at levels 5, 10, 15, and 20. Increases from other type of source are always limited to a maximum of +4. If an adjustment to an ability score is higher than that, please treat it as a misprint and reduce it to +4. As usual, bonuses of different kinds do stack.