Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Carousing and Philanthropy

Carousing tables are popular among the old-style D&D crowd. We're using them currently in the Keep on the Borderland game I'm playing in, and they're also a fun part of the DCC Lankhmar game. They're a good way to burn through all that treasure the PCs are hording, give them a few in-game bennies, and provoke a lot of random hi-jinks. So of course I wanted to add them to my current campaign. 

Jeff Rients's carousing rules are probably the most famous on the RPG blogosphere, and they were certainly a big influence here. 10 Foot Polemic and Roles, Rules & Rolls and others put their own spin on things, including adding philanthropy rules. Those were all big and obvious influences on the stuff I put together below. Some of the stuff, I'll admit, was lifted directly. 

In brief, carousing lets you spend money and time having a "lost weekend." In exchange, you get XP, and some interesting things may or may not happen to you. If you want to play it safe, you can spend time and money performing charitable acts. In this case you earn XP that goes towards you next character, plus some differently interesting things might happen. 

A lot of the entries on this table use the Apocalypse World technique of rolling 2d6 and adding you attribute mod. A 10 or more means things go great. 7-to-9 means you fail but with benefits, or succeed but with complications. 6 or less means things go poorly. I like that kind of breakdown, and I like giving the players some choices to make. 

Good for you, Conan! Earn that XP!

Carousing lets you earn XP by spending cash on drinking, partying, debauchery, and other frivolous expenditures. Carousing takes a variable amount of time and money as you sink in and out of a series of rolling black-outs. The next few days become a drunken montage. It’s risky, but the rewards are nice.

The amount of time and money you can spend carousing depends on the size of the settlement you’re at. While carousing, you are too wasted and self-abusive to rememorize spells or heal damage.
  • Village: 1d4 days x 100sp
  • Town: 1d6 days x 150sp
  • City: 1d8 days x 200sp
If you cannot pay the required cash, automatically treat your 2d6+WIS roll as a 6 or less. Fellow PCs can chip in to help cover the bar tab, if need be.

When you spend time and money trying to drink the horrors away, Roll 2d6 + WIS
10+: Gain XP equal to money spent, and choose 2:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • You have no mishaps
  • Gain 1d6 “buffer” Hit Points*
7-9+: Gain XP equal to money spent, and choose 1:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • You have no mishaps
6 or less: Gain XP equal to the money spent, and roll on the mishaps table.

*Buffer Hit Points are added on top of your normal HP. If you are wounded, damage is taken of this HP first before effecting your “real” HP. Buffer Hit Points cannot be regained by healing or resting. When they’re gone, they’re gone.

Carousing Mishaps (1d20)
  1. Make a fool of yourself in public. You gain reputation in this town as a drunken lout. Your reputation is reduced by 1 in this town.
  2. Involved in random brawl. Roll 2d6+STR
    • 10+: Chose one
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: All three
      • You wake up in jail.
      • You are down 1d4hp.
      • -1 to your reputation in this town.
  1. Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: Chose one
      7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: all three
      • Fine of 2d6 x 25sp
      • 1d6 days in jail
      • -1 to your reputation in this town.
  1. Romantic entanglement. Roll 2d6+WIS
    • 10+: All three
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: Chose one
      • You avoid marriage
      • The parents aren’t angry
      • You haven’t attracted the ire of a scorned lover.
  1. Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much you lose. (No additional XP for the second carousing roll.)
  2. Gain local reputation as the life of a party. +1 Reputation in this town, but all future carousing in this burg costs double due to barflies and other parasites.
  3. Insult local person of rank. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: They take it in stride… this time.
    • 7-9: They forgive you if you make some sort of public apology or reparations.
    • 6 or less: You’ve made a powerful enemy.
  1. You got into a duel of honor. How good are you with a sword? Roll 2d6+DEX
  • 10+: Chose two.
  • 7-9: Chose one.
  • 6 or lower: None.
    • You won the duel (+1 reputation in this town)
    • You don’t take 1d6 damage.
    • You don’t make a new enemy.
  1. You got a new tattoo! Roll 1d6
    • 1-3: It’s actually pretty cool
    • 4: It’s lame
    • 5: It could have been badass, but something is goofed up or misspelled
    • 6: It says something insulting, crude or stupid in an unknown language.
  1. Beaten and robbed. Wake up in an alley reduced to half hit points. You’ve lost all your money and everything you were carrying except for 1d3 items. Your clothes count as in item.
  2. Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewelry. For each magic item in your possession, roll 3d6 and try to get under your Wisdom. Failure indicates it’s gone.
  3. Hangover from Hell. For the entire next day, you have -2 to attacks and saves. Casters cannot regain spells.
  4. You have the mother of all bad trips. A series of Boschian nightmares shreds your psyche. Take 1d6 damage to each Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. Save vs. Poison for half.
  5. You were caught desecrating a church and shouting blasphemies. Roll 2d6+CHA
    • 10+: Chose one.
    • 7-9: Chose two.
    • 6 or less: All three.
      • You are run out of town
      • Your reputation in this town is reduced by 2
      • The witchfinders are on your trail.
  1. One of us! You’re not sure how it happened, but you’ve been initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Did you really make out with a goat, or was that just the drugs? Roll 2d6+INT.
    • 10: Chose one
    • 7-9: Chose two
    • 6 or less: All three
      • You’ve forgotten what the cult’s entire purpose is.
      • You’ve forgotten the secret passes and code words.
      • They have given you some weird and dangerous mission.
  1. Invest all your spare cash (50% chance all gems and jewelry, too) in some smooth-tongued merchant’s scheme. Roll 1d6.
    • 1-4: It’s bogus
    • 5: It’s bogus and the local constabulary thinks you’re in on it.
    • 6: Actual money making opportunity returns d% profits in 3d4 months.
  1. You and another carousing PC… (roll 1d6)
    1. …got matching tattoos
    2. …adopted a child (1d10 years old)
    3. …got married (matching rings worth 1d20sp each)
    4. …wake up naked, hanging upside down from a tree.
    5. …wake up with blood on your hands and a dead magistrate on the floor between you.
    6. …bought a haunted old restaurant.
  1. You wake up naked in bed with… (roll 1d6)
    1. …another PC.
    2. …an NPC you knew previously.
    3. …an NPC stranger, and they’re beautiful.
    4. …an NPC stranger, and they’re hideous.
    5. …a weird glowing rune on your forehead.
    6. …a dead prostitute, 1000sp in stolen jewelry, a stack of heretical pamphlets, and a backpack full of klartesh. Also, someone’s pounding on your door.
  1. Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totaling 1d6 x 1,000sp paid. All weapons, armor, and magic items confiscated.
  2. The roof! The roof! The roof is on fire! Accidentally start a conflagration. Roll d6 twice. 1-2 burn down your favorite inn 3-4 some other den of ill repute is reduced to ash 5-6 a big chunk of town goes up in smoke. 1-2 no one knows it was you 3-4 your fellow carousers know you did it 5 someone else knows, perhaps a blackmailer 6 everybody knows.

Philanthropy is a safer way to spend your money, with a much smaller chance of mishap. Money spent doing charitable works creates “Karmic XP” which doesn’t go to your current character. Instead, it is banked away and given to your next PC in the event of your current character’s death or retirement.

The amount of time and money it takes to make an appreciable difference in a community depends on its size. While performing philanthropy, you still get enough rest to regain spells and qualify for a night’s comfortable rest.
  • Village: At least 100sp and one day of work.
  • Town: At least 250sp and 1d6 days of work.
  • City: At least 500sp and one week’s work.

When you spend time and money doing charitable works, roll 2d6 + CHA
10+: Gain Karmic XP equal to money spent, and choose 2:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • Your reputation in the area goes up by 1.
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
  • Automatically succeed on your next saving throw.
7-9: Gain Karmic XP equal to money spent, and choose 1:
  • You gain a useful or interesting contact
  • Your reputation in the area goes up by 1.
  • You learn 1d3 rumors
6 or less: Gain XP equal to the money spent, and roll on the mishap table:

Philanthropic Mishaps (roll 1d4)
  1. Your donations arouse someone’s envy or ire. You gain a rival or enemy.
  2. Merchants mark you a source of easy money and charge you 25% more for all goods and services in this town.
  3. Your vulgar display of wealth reduces your Reputation by 1 in this town.
  4. A troublesome urchin, beggar, stray dog, or other social pariah attaches themselves to you.


  1. I attribute my years of success to the correct application of a carousing table.

  2. Great post, I love me some carousing tables :)