Saturday, March 9, 2019

Ability Scores in Lighthouse at the Threshold

Lighthouse at the Threshold is a game about normal folks who travel to a dangerous and fantastical world to have adventures. To read more about the project, see this post. Striking the balance between heroism and reality is important to me. I want the players to be able to do awesome stuff, but they need to be vulnerable.

Lighthouse at the Threshold uses a simplified set of ability scores almost identical to those found in Chris McDowells’s Into the Odd, but they are utilized in a slightly different way.

Loner by AnDary

Ability Scores are a Resource

All of your ability scores are expendable pools of resources. During character creation you roll 3d6 to determine you maximum in that score, but you also have a place to record your current score. You can spend your ability score points for various in game benefits.


Body represents your physical strength and endurance.

Spend body points to: 

  • Avoid death
  • Survive disease 
  • Perform feats of strength or endurance
  • Gain advantage on melee attack rolls

When reduced to 0:
You are on deaths door. Roll a d20 under your max body score. Failure is instant death. Success means you take a permanent injury and are unconscious.

Body points are literally your hit points, but they are also used for a number of other things. Players start with 3d6 body points, which makes them quite hardy for a starting character, but since you can spend them for combat advantages and feats of strength, you’ll need to carefully manage them. Spending them liberally allows you to cut through swathes of enemies with ease, running out puts you on deaths door.

Death in Lighthouse at the Threshold

The death rules for LatT are a bit different in that humans from our world cannot die in the world of Threshold. When a human dies in Threshold, they are returned to the portal from which they entered and are banished; they may never again enter the world. The town of Marqwood has its fair share of banished adventurers.


The passive part of your mind. Consciousness & automatic reflexes.

Spend Awareness points to:

  • Avoid detection.
  • Dodge things.
  • Read a social situation.
  • Find hidden things.
  • Anticipate your enemies.

Awareness points are highly valuable in exploration and in combat. First, they are spent in exploration to avoid detection. Monsters or guards with different levels of alertness will require different expenditures of awareness points in order to avoid detection. Everyone has a pool of 3d6 making it easy for all players to skulk around in the shadows undetected for awhile. Awareness points are also a resource you spend to avoid traps and detect other things that are expertly hidden.

There are no perception checks in LatT. Players should find things through good old fashioned exploration, but the DM can save a players bacon using awareness points. “Dock 4 awareness or the bucket of acid falls on your head”.  Players can also choose how

There is no initiative in LatT (more on that in a later post). All combat actions taken happen simultaneously and resolve immediately. That means you can’t take down the ogre this round before he has a chance to try to bash you into the flagstones. You can, however, spend awareness points to ‘take the initiative’. This lets you resolve your turn before anyone else who hasn’t taken the initiative.


The active part of your mind. Your thoughts, intellect, and sense of self.

Spend Ego points to:

  • Avoid mental status effects (fear, confusion, charm)
  • Recall lore.
  • Avoid conflict with negotiation.
  • Disarm traps
  • Repair items.
  • Improve the effect of spells.

LatT takes the ‘combat as a fail state’ edict of the OSR fairly literally. Not only is combat deadly, the ‘win’ state of most encounters is actually making friends and forming bonds with the folks you encounter in both Threshold and Marqwood. Ego points are the fuel that drives you to building these important bonds.

Increasing your bond with certain NPCs is the main way to advance as a character. LatT doesn’t have levels or experience points. All advancement is done through questing and learning secrets from the world and NPCs. High bond with a mentor in Threshold means they will reveal their secrets to you.

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