Blood Pools

This is a system for:

  • modeling how characters become better at fighting monsters they have repeatedly fought
  • providing a systemneutral orthogonal advancement track

What Blood Pools Do

Our fighter Severus is fighting four kobolds:

  • He’s fought them many times before.
  • He’s still level 1 (treasure for XP; so his previous fights against the kobolds haven’t leveled him)

Whereas a normal level 1 fighter might be a in bad way surrounded by the monsters, Severus has a Blood Pool of 3 vs kobolds.

That means he has three Kobold Blood Points to spend during the fight, which represent his experience against them.

Spend Blood Points to modify rolls.

That’s saves, attacks, damage rolls, whatever.

The default setting is for spending a BP to mean the die is rerolled, and you take whichever of the results you prefer, and you can spend as many BP per roll as you wish.

There are obvious ways to customize this system; see the Dials heading below.

Why Use Blood Pools

  • Because your characters advance slowly
  • Because you don’t use advancement
  • Because you want to model progressive experience against particular monsters

Why Not Use Blood Pools

  • Makes PCs more powerful than otherwise
  • Something else to track (but only players need to do so)

How to Track Pools & Points

Note: the “Total” Blood Pool Points are your General Pool; they mean the same thing in the text below.

How Blood Pools Work

  1. When initiative is rolled, players note how many Blood Points they have to spend this fight. Their General Blood Points can be spent vs any opponent; the Blood Points from Blood Pools associated with particular monsters can only be spent against monsters of that type.
  2. During battle, players keep track of how much damage they deal and receive vs each type of monster
  3. After battle, we see the blood pooling: take a moment to imagine the scene and describe it briefly to the players; this also indicates we are entering the phase of totaling up our Blood Pools
  4. Sum up per monster type how much damage, total, was dealt and received
  5. Split by the number of combatants in the PC party
  6. Have each player scratch that down, per monster type and the overall total
  7. Have each player multiply that number by the Blood Pool Multiplier of his class
  8. The Blood Pool Multiplier is the size of the class’s HD (by default, see the Dials section). So a 5e d10 HD fighter has a Blood Pool Multiplier of 10.
  9. Have each player add the Blood Points gained this fight per monster type to the Blood Pool entries on his character sheet.
  10. Have each player add the Blood Points gained this fight, total, across all monster types, to his General Blood Pool.
  11. If this breaks the Blood Pool Limit for an entry, the Blood Pool increases by 1 for that monster entry and its Blood Pool Limit doubles. Repeat if the current total breaks the limit again.
  12. The Initial Blood Pool Limit for a monster entry is its max hp (by default; see Dials). So a 5e goblin would have a starting BPL of 7.
  13. The Initial Blood Pool Limit for the General Blood Pool is 100 (by default; see Dials).

Appendix: Dials

These are things you can adjust easily.

  • Type of Modifier: reroll n (default), +n
  • Ratio of Modifier: 1:1 (default), 1:3
  • Point Basis: hp (default), hd, hits
  • Blood Point Totals: averaged among party members like XP (default), only what you deal and take gets added to your totals
  • Blood Pool Multiplier: full HD size (default), half HD, none
  • BP Spend Limit: spend as many BP per roll as you want (default), n per roll
  • Pool Limits: 100 for total and max hp per monster entry doubling each limit break (default), fixed numbers, limits pegged to XP thresholds
  • Monster Taxonomy Granularity: wing it (default), exact name, by type (e.g., fire elementals vs fire creatures)
  • Monster Blood Pools: monsters do not use (default), hero monsters only, all monsters

Appendix: Dissassociated?

I would say this is not disassociated since it clearly represents and has a causal link to established diagetic events.


Clarification re: Hall Drakophon Post

A reader pointed out that the previous post about Hall Drakophon may appear to be fake. However, it’s indeed a post of mine, just password protected for the patrons of my actual play podcast, gg no re.

I won’t be making further protected posts; this was just an experiment. And, so this post isn’t totally useless, here’s the map (but not the key) from that post:

I started a solo podcast

Episode 1: Click Here

This is just an enhanced audio version of the corresponding blog post I wrote today, but, in the future, I intend to post stuff here that’s more “Daniel’s world” than the stuff we typically do at gg no re.

I’ll probably make audio versions of “significant” blog posts in the future; so you can consume the blog via audio should you prefer.

Anchor will be submitting the feed to the usual endpoints, but here’s the RSS feed in the meantime for manual subscription:

Review: Book of Lairs: People and Places

Simon Forster makes good product. You can buy it and use it immediately without reading it. If you need stuff to run, he gives it to you.

Affiliate link: Book of Lairs: People & Places

It’s for ACKS, but obviously converting is no problem (I believe the AC conversion is that the ACKS AC is a bonus to whatever the default armor class is).

I buy pretty much all his stuff, and I rarely buy RPG products. That’s as good a recommendation as I can give.

This review will cover his newest book, but it’s applicable to the whole series to some degree.

Here is a sample 4-page sequence, speedily marred. You can still see enough to understand what I’m critiquing.

Map Key
Organization & Treasure

The Good

I’ve already talked about what makes these books excellent, and the newest volume participates in that same virtue.

You got a game tonight? Need to start a campaign? Draw some hexes on scratch paper and drop these locations in them. Done.

If you don’t need that, you likely won’t find much of use in the books.

But who doesn’t need that?

Despite my word count’s being focused on The Bad, I want to reiterate that Simon’s material is wonderful and worthy of your few bucks. It is unpretentiously useful.

The Bad

There is room for improvement despite my praise.

Standard Treasure

I have tended to note standard ACKS treasure in the locations, which I think lacks pep.

Unannotated Maps

Needs to have stuff written in the maps. If you want a version you can use in roll20, I’d advise providing an appendix of unannotated maps.

Info Design Flaws

The writeups need more bullet pointing. (OTOH, he does bold important terms.)

And the descriptions need to be organized under relevant headers. Instead of several paragraphs describing different areas and people in the location, the page space should be organized this way:

Area Name

One sentence summary

  • Senses
  • Features

Relationship with Surroundings

Outsiders fear/love/etc. Bullet points, natch.


One sentence and/or bullets.

The NPC pages are good, but the info needs to be presented in reverse order. See how the wants, secret, and summary are at the bottom? Put that stuff at the top; it’s the most important info.

Needs More Wordswag

I find the descriptions a bit prosaic. Some specific imagery, even if not describing the scene thoroughly, is more useful and enjoyable than mundane but more complete descriptions.

Example: replace “rare perfume” with “myrrh in spiderweb-motif vial.”

Maps Need Jacquaying

With the exception of the RAINBOW WIZARD’s lair, the maps tend to be too straightforward. They would benefit from more loops, verticality, secrets, and environmental shenanigans.


It’s good; you can use it tonight without looking at it beforehand.

Get it: Book of Lairs: People & Places

DnDable Biblical Quotations

If you paid attention in Hebrew/Sunday School, you might know some of these.

I’ve got a big collection that I’m updating all the time; here’s a selection. (Next time, you might get bonus quotations from Boethius.)

The Death of Sisera (by Kevissimo)

Dungeons & Treasure

Can I forget any longer the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is accursed?

Micah 6.10 (ESV)


Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.

Psalm 91.13 (ESV)


I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:

And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places

Isaiah 45:2-3a (KJV)


Plunder the silver,
plunder the gold!
There is no end of the treasure
or of the wealth of all precious things.
Surely a man goes about as a shadow! Surely for nothing they are in turmoil; man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather!

I remove the boundaries of peoples, and plunder their treasures; like a bull I bring down those who sit on thrones.

Isaiah 10.6b (ESV)


And he spake unto them, saying, Return with much riches unto your tents, and with very much cattle, with silver, and with gold, and with brass, and with iron, and with very much raiment: divide the spoil of your enemies with your brethren.

Joshua 22.8b (KJV)


Through a land of trouble and anguish,
from where come the lioness and the lion,
the adder and the flying fiery serpent,
they carry their riches on the backs of donkeys,
and their treasures on the humps of camels,
to a people that cannot profit them.


Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;

Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.

Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.

Psalm 91.5-8 (KJV)


Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?

Psalm 94.16 (ESV)


His mouth is filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under his tongue are mischief and iniquity.

He sits in ambush in the villages; in hiding places he murders the innocent. His eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

he lurks in ambush like a lion in his thicket; he lurks that he may seize the poor; he seizes the poor when he draws him into his net.

The helpless are crushed, sink down, and fall by his might.

He says in his heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Psalm 10.7-11 (ESV)