Thundering Steps, The Rules

Thundering Steps, The Rules

May 5, 2023
system, magic, setting
character creation, gear, combat, worldbuilding, horselords

These are just rules. I didn’t want to bother with elaborate prose for most of it. Thanks to Chasing a Blaze in a Northern Sky for the gear list. I edited it for the setting.

The same author also provided me with the mounted combat rules. The to-hit tables are also inspired by Chainmail’s.

Honestly, this thing is a whole hodgepodge of rules from different sources. I’m happy with it for now, but feedback is welcome.

Characters #

  • You are a proud warrior of the Ten Zakha Tribes.
  • Attributes
    • Thews adds to attack rolls. For feats of physical ability.
    • Wits adds to initiative rolls. A general measure of your aptitude.
    • Charisma adds to NPC reaction rolls. It increases your likelihood of being invited to a meal.
  • Roll a d3 for each of them.
  • Inventory
    • 6 quick slots, can be pulled at a moment’s notice.
    • 8 rucksack slots, takes at least 5 seconds or 1d2 rounds in combat to procure
  • Start with 2d4 x 100 hacksilver to purchase your equipment
  • You begin with a mix of 1d4+1 riding and hunting horses
  • 50% chance that you start knowing 2 Words of Power, an action and an object.
Turkish archers shooting elevated targets for sport

Skirmishes #

  • Roll 3d8+5 for hit points
  • Roll 1d6+Wits to determine initiative
    • For ties between players, discuss who goes first
    • For ties with NPCs, if Half of HD is greater than Wits, creature goes first. Otherwise, players firsts
  • Attack rolls are always 2d6 + Thews.
  • Ambushes enable a surprise round, attackers gain 1 free round of attacks or miscellaneous actions. 1 attack roll +1 vs surprised targets per ambusher.

Fighting on Foot #

This presumes completely unmounted combat. Use the mounted combat rules if any number of combatants are on horses.

Always compare the attack roll vs armor type to know when attacks hit.

On Foot Creature Speeds #

Speed is always measured in inches on the table.

CreatureFree Movement per Round
In Leather or No Armor12"
In Chain or Plate9"
Supernatural Beings9–18"

Supernatural Creatures’ speeds depend on the specific creature encountered. Regardless, the value is always a factor of 3.

To-Hit Target Number in Melee #

If you are within 3" of an enemy, you all engage in melee.

Melee weapons all deal 2d6 in damage during skirmishes.

WeaponNoneLeatherShieldLeather + ShieldChainChain + ShieldPlatePlate + Shield
Two-handed Sword66666567

To-hit Target Numbers for Ranged Attacks #

Range is divided in thirds. The target to hit depending on the range between the shooter and the combatant.

If you break line of sight with the enemy or are within 3" of them (in melee), they cannot shoot you.

Missiles deal 3d6 in damage during skirmishes. Arquebuses, 4d6.

Finally, spending a whole round to aim grants a +1 to your attack roll next round.

RangesWeaponNoneLeatherShieldLeather + ShieldChainChain + ShieldPlatePlate + Shield
5/10/15"Short Bow6-7-86-7-86-7-87-8-98-9-109-10-1111-12-N12-N-N
6/12/18"Horse Bow5-6-75-6-85-6-86-7-88-9-109-10-1111-12-N12-N-N
6/12/18"Light Crossbow5-6-75-7-85-7-86-7-98-9-1010-11-N11-12-N12-N-N
8/16/24"Heavy Crossbow4-5-64-6-74-6-85-7-86-8-97-9-108-10-1110-11-12

N means a hit/damage is impossible at that range

a scene of mass combat in antiquity

Mounted Combat #

A succesful hit is determined by the table below. 2d6, rolls equal to or above the value listed below indicate hits. Whether it hits you or your horse is a coin flip (50%).

Horse Bow91011

Characters who elect to aim rather than fire, roll with +1 on their next turn. Strong winds or rain both incur -2 to rolls.

Mounted combat occurs in alernating rounds. The side with the highest overall roll of 1d6 + Wits goes first. Over the course of a round you may shoot an arrow and make two movements each up to your horses’ speed. These actions may be in any order, but an arrow may only be shot from the front, back, or left. Players with Thews +3 and human enemies with 5HD may shoot twice, unless with arquebus.

You must always move first before attacking in melee. If you move closer in a straight line at full speed, spending at least a movement, you are considered charging. Engaging in melee (within 3") scores a hit against the rider on rolls of 8+, charging and wielding a lance each add +1 to the roll.

Each horse is classed according to its quality rate from 1 to 6. A horse may be spurred onwards, allowing the rider an additional movement during their round a number of times equal to their quality. Once a horse is struck by an arrow, it is no longer able to serve as an effective steed in combat and the rider must roll 2d6 + Thews to remain in the saddle. A 6 or higher means they continue riding, but cannot spur the horse anymore. Riders which fall from their saddle take a hit of 3d6 damage.

Barded horses can ignore 3 hits but have their speed reduced by a third.

Those not of the 10 tribes who engage in horse-back combat, untrained in firing mid-gallop, may not fire during movement. In order to shoot an arrow, they must slow their horse to one-third speed and may only fire at the start or end of their movement. They roll at -1.

Finally, weapon damage remains the same value as on foot.

Mount Speeds #

All horses and camels are rated from 1 to 6. Spur them during skirmishes to additional movement a number of times equal to their rating.

These speeds are only applied during combat.

ItemUnarmored SpeedBarded Speed
Pack Horse18"12"
Riding Horse24"16"
Hunter Horse21"14"
War Horse21"14"

Mounted vs Unmounted #

Use alternating rounds for initiative. The side with the most mounted fighters gain +1 to their highest initiative roll and, in the case of ties, first actions default to them.

Mounted fighters need a 5+ on all attack rolls against combatants on foot. +1 still if charging to melee or with Lance. +1 for aiming shots.

Hitting mounted targets on foot #

Consult the following tables when trying to hit mounted targets while on foot.

To-Hit Target Number in Melee #
WeaponUnarmored MountsBarded Mount
Two-handed Sword68
To-Hit Target Number for Ranged Attacks #
RangesWeaponUnarmored SpeedBarded Speed
5/10/15"Short Bow10-12-N12-N-N
6/12/18"Horse Bow9-10-1112-N-N
6/12/18"Light Crossbow9-10-N12-N-N
8/16/24"Heavy Crossbow7-9-129-11-N
Nogai Warrior

NPCs #

Enemys only have HD (Hit Dice) which are worth 1d8 each. Always roll their HD to determine their hit points.

Half of HD, rounding up for Humans and rounding down for other creatures, adds to all their rolls except for damage (i.e. contested ability checks, initative, and attacks). A 5HD human elite warrior always rolls at +3 for example.

Humans only range from 1HD to 5HD. Supernatural creatures can go greater than that.

Unless a supernatural creature, they deal damage equal to their means, same as the players. Humans deal 2d6 in melee, 3d6 with missiles, 4d6 with Arquebuses, etc.

Supernatural creatures always deal 4d6 worth of damage.

NPC Reactions #

  • Roll for when unsure how NPCs might react/respond to players
  • Always roll on this table when summoning Outriders
2Attack! Curse if Outrider
12Treats you like family
a warrior seeing the light of divinity

The Magic #

  • Presume we’re using Bastards’ Magic system of combining words to form different effects
  • Named Outrider Spirits grant Words of Power to those who seek them.
  • Each Outrider can grant 1d6 words per ritual
    • The number of Words it grants is equal to the number of people that must partake in the ritual
    • One random Word is granted to each person in the ritual
  • Use Thrifts’ incantations tables for the Words of Power
  • Outriders can only be summoned once
  • Each of the Zakha Tribes know 1d6-1 unused Names at any point in time. They are willing to share a Name only to those who do a great service to their Tribe.

Ritual Summoning #

  • Anyone can summon Outriders from your people
  • Outriders always roll on the NPC reaction table
  • Meditating with the Name of the entity in mind for 3d6 minutes allows one to converse with it
    • It will tell you what it likes and dislikes
    • It will describe suitable offerings among other things
  • It will ask for an offering and entertainment for 1d6 hours. After that is done, each ritualist is granted one Word of Power.
  • Memory of the word is burned into the brain of the ritualist for as long as they live
  • The Outrider Spirits name used in the ritual is altered forevermore and must be relearned
  • There are only a few ways to find the names of Outriders
    • sheer luck
    • earning it from other Tribes
    • weeks worth of communion and meditation in sacred sites
    • recovering ancient texts

Casting Magic #

  • Invoke the Words of Power
    • The Word, when spoken, is heard by others as if it were in tongues or glossolalia.
    • There is little that can decipher these spoken Words.
      • Other Spells can translate
      • Certain Magical Items can do the same
  • Casting a single Word costs 3 HP and produces a minor effect. The damage it might deal is 3d4.
  • Casting a spell worth multiple Words costs 3 HP for every word. The damage, 4d6.
  • Alternatively, a blood sacrifice worth enough HP can power spells of any caliber.

Two bashkirs horsemen

Gear #

All items are priced in hacksilver. At times, hacksilver isn’t always accepted, but trade in kind or social credit is a common practice.

Armor and Weapons #

Chain100sNoisy. Impossible to sneak.
Plate225sNoisy. Impossible to sneak.
Horse Barding200s
Two-handed Sword185s
Quiver of Arrows10s20 pcs
Lead Balls5s10 pcs

Tools and Utilities #

3m wooden pole10s
Alpinist rope10s/1m30m per slot, lighter and more resistant to snapping
Caltrops15sA bag, enough to cover a 4m square, three bags are enough to set up a 1m wide circular perimeter with a 5m radius.
Charcoal20s1 sack’s worth, can be used to make markings, or start a fire in wet conditions.
Climbing Pick10s
Climbing Piton1shammer into sheer surfaces to climb up
Cooking Pot20s
Fine Tools175sAllow one to open a lock or disable a trap, those untrained in their use risk breaking them inside of locks or setting off traps prematurely.
Heavy hook5sCan be paired with a rope for climbing or hammered into trees
Iron Spike2sRequires a mallet
Oiled-Bag30sProtects items from the rain
Oiled-Cloak30sProtects against the rain
Padded Boots20sQuieter movement
Polished Mirror40sreflects light and allows one to look beyond corners
Rope5s/1m15m per slot
Rucksack15s+ 5 slots to person
Satchel15s+ 5 slots to person
Shovel10s6 cubic ft. per hour, one grave in 3 hours
Snow Shoes20s
Tent for 225stakes up 3 slots
Torch3s10m radius of light for 2 hours
Warm Furs30s
Naptha20sHighly flammable liquid, bought per gallon

Chalk for writing on stone. It’s common and the cost is negligible unless you’re buying a sack.

Easier to make the items below than buy for smaller quantities. Large quantities, around 10L or so, is faster bought at civilization. Roughly 15s per container.

  • Grease wards off water and lubricates objects, allowing things to slip.
  • Hide Glue is an easily made adhesive along with Pitch.

Sustenance #

1 Week of Dried Food10s
Waterskin/Airbladder5s4L in capacity, 2 days’ worth of water
Wineskin15scontains enough wine for 8 people to drink their fill

Foodstuff is a day’s worth of raw food for cooking over fire in a pot. The price depends on the relative rarity of ingredients.

Horse’s may be bled for hydration in case of lacking water supplies. This may be done once every other day.

Flora and Medicine #

May be bought from an apothecary or Witch for varying prices, availability subject to seasons and geography. These are foraged in the wilderness and crafted with time.

Ephedra Tincture is able to rouse a man from unconsciousness or end paralysis.

Aglofotis is able to be rubbed into a wound to counter act the effects of venom or purify imbibed poison.

Monkshood is a possibly sub-lethal poison which if swallowed cools the flesh, slows the pulse and breathing to near imperceptible levels allowing the imbiber to mimic being death. Frail men risk death upon imbibing it.

Nightshade is a poison potent enough to kill a horse if swallowed or kill a man when smeared on a weapon or arrowhead.

Civilization Equipment #

A Tome contains lore about a subject, a character may spend 4 hours to pour over a tome to find an answer to a question about its topic.

The Mongolian Steppe from the Book of Ser Marco Polo, an illustration

Beasts of Burden #

Pack Horse50sall horses carry 15 slots
Riding Horse150sfor riding quickly over far distances
Hunter Horse450strained for combat speed
War Horse1500strained for combat and to trample over others
Donkey25scarries 10 slots, draft animal, but not as hardy
Ox40scarries 25 slots, draft animal
Yak50scarries 25 slots, draft animal, warm coat
Camel225scarries 20 slots, riding or pack animal
Cart75sallows for 80 slots while hitched to a draft beast
Wagon150sallows for 250 slots while hitched to a draft beast

Animals hitched may pull 4x their slots, but require a road to pass through mountains, forests, swamps, or dessert terrain.

Beasts of Burden require 4x as much water and 2x as much food as a man. Camels can forgo both for 2 weeks.

Mount Speeds #

All horses and camels are rated from 1 to 6. Spur them during “combat” to additional movement a number of times equal to their rating.

ItemSpeed in Inches
Pack Horse18"
Riding Horse24"
Hunter Horse21"
War Horse21"

Storage #

Barrel20s20 slots or 40 slots (80L) of liquid
Sack12stakes up 10 slots, holds 20 slots inside