top of page
Falcon light infantry in Fighter in medieval proto-roman armorat Porto Napoli.jpg

Question: Why would humans from the 23rd century Earth revert to such a medieval society on Planet Archipelago?

Answer: A couple of things influenced the conversion.

One: The situation with weapons. As modern laser weapons began to malfunction due to a shortage of spare replacement parts the early settlers found that a 200-pound medieval crossbow that always fired was a better way to kill dangerous local alien creatures than a malfunctioning laser weapon that might only fire at full power 60% of the time.

Two: Several of the very first colonists from Britain and Northern Italy were members of medieval re-enactment societies back on Earth and they had a good knowledge of how to build the needed medieval weapons to replace the malfunctioning modern weaponry.

Three: Due to their medieval expertise these early re-enactment colonists became the “Go-to” source of needed information. They became social influencers of a sort for all of the other colonists including matters not connected to weapons or armor.

Four: Once the Humans contacted the Ferlie, who had a culture with many medieval-ish artistic styles, the humans were pushed even more towards the ancient as a cultural choice.

Last: Once the human colonists realized they were stranded on Planet Archipelago, they began to develop a nostalgic longing for a fantasized ancient Earth. Earth, but not the ugly polluted Earth of their most recent modern memories. Rather a fantasy Earth of medieval chivalry and unpolluted lands. It is fair to say the medieval re-enactors helped feed this imagined view of Earth.

medieval fighter in realistic maille armor

Game-master Notes.

During normal gameplay, I do not normally use the dexterity penalty with armor. However, there is a place/time where I will use it as part of the rules.

Because armor can be layered in the game, you as game-master may have a player who wants to have what in any practical historical respect is unreasonable armor layers for their player character. For example, the player who wants to have a character with quilted armor covered by maille covered by plate armor that is then covered by heavy leather armor. This would give a combined armor code: Cut 64, Thrust 36, Impact 50, Burn 12. In this case, because they want an unrealistic level and amount of armor, Which I would allow them to have, I would require the dexterity penalty rule to apply to all movement and dexterity rolls. As they would have a terrible burden moving in that many layers of armor. The dexterity penalty for the example given in the basic rules is +4. I would apply that to all movements for the character both in attacks, parry movements, sailing, climbing or just walking. If they fell in the water, I would apply the swim penalty as well. Which for this example is a +12 penalty on any dexterity roll to swim.

Using the rule in this fashion allows the player to make a choice for their character and to deal with the realistic consequences of that choice.

medieval fighter in fantasy barbarian armor

Problems with Fantasy Barbarian Armor.

A: The head is only protected by a leather band. It is a straightforward target to hit with almost any weapon and almost any arrow, crossbow bolt, pole-weapon, or sword will inflict a blow that could kill instantly with foreign metal in the brain. Even minor wounds will bleed profusely with a serious risk of the target being blinded by blood in their eyes from a minor wound.

B: The exposed neck opens the carotid artery, and cervical vertebra to being cut by a wide range of weapons resulting in death. Even a thrust to the larynx could render the victim unable to speak but runs the risk of causing the victim to choke on their own blood flowing into the lungs.

C: The heart and lungs are exposed a good thrust passing between the ribs can result in instant death from the heart or a slower but just as fatal death from a collapsed lung filling with blood internally. The armpit holds the axillary artery. A slicing blow from a pole weapon sword or even a dagger will render the victim unable to use the arm as they quickly bleed to death in just minutes.

D: A thrust into the liver will bring a slower death as the body cavity fills with blood. But in the end, it was still fatal.

E: The inside of the elbow holds the Brachial artery. A good slice to an unarmored inside of the elbow results in the inability to hold weapons in that hand and rapid blood loss that can result in death in a matter of minutes if efforts are not made to stop the blood flow. A fighter can’t stanch the flow of blood from a cut artery spurting blood under pressure with each heartbeat beat and still fight.

F: It is very easy to slide the blade of a weapon into the groin area and slice open the femoral artery that runs down the inside of each leg. Death is quick when a major artery is severed. If the blade misses both arteries, then it has most likely removed the target's manhood rendering them a eunuch. They would be in great pain and maybe wish the artery had been cut instead.

G: The back of the knee is an easy target for a pole weapon. Just below the tendons that control lower leg movement is the popliteal artery. Cutting it and in the process the tendons will leave the victim lying on the ground unable to stand and bleeding to death with each heartbeat.

H: The exposed ankle is another easy target for a pole-weapon. Cutting the Achilles tendon that attaches the foot to the leg will leave the victim unable to stand and in great pain. It is not by itself fatal but leaves the victim helpless and vulnerable to another fatal blow.

I: Removing toes with a weapon, stepping into a punji pit, or on a caltrop are all real risks going into battle with bare feet. None need be fatal, but they can render the fighter less than effective.

Unless this armor has some magical ability to prevent the above-listed problems this fighter has a death wish. In reality, no amount of training can allow him to physically swing two swords as heavy and short as the ones he is wearing fast enough to block or parry all of the possible attacks listed. After all his attack may be just as fast with their weapon as he is.

Medieval fighter in maille armor being hit by thrown javelin.

The rules on thrown weapons give distances in feet per player character strength points. So many weapons have a thrown range in the 20-to-150-foot range. This is much shorter than some of these weapons can in fact be thrown. For example, a professional athlete can throw a 28-ounce (1.75 lb.) sport javelin 280 to 320 feet. In addition, the professional athlete is not wearing armor. This is done with a running start, and most important, they are throwing for distance not at a target. The medieval javelins-spear-harpoons in the game have a weight in the range of 2.2-5 pounds and are often thrown without a running start by a person wearing armor and with a flatter trajectory with the intent to hit a specific target. So, in the game, a javelin throwing skill has 4 feet per player character strength point. A strength 10 player character can throw 40 feet with a mostly flat trajectory and have a good chance to hit their intended target without making a running start to their throw. Axes have the shortest throwing distance. With a strength 10 player character being to hit a target at 20 feet and slingers have the best distance with a strength 10 player character being able to sling a stone with accuracy 150 feet.

If Game-masters have player characters who want to attempt a throw greater than their normal accurate range, I suggest the following as a possible guide. For every five feet past the normal range maximum that a to hit penalty of one point be added. So, the javelin thrower whose normal range is 40 -feet should be allowed to try and hit a target at 60 feet with the penalty of +4 being added to their D20 die roll for the added distance.

wounded medieval fighter with arrow in his leg

Game-Master Notes:
I was recently asked what type of hit points did the characters in Planet Archipelago have. On planet Archipelago only the non-scient creatures are killed by reducing their hit points. An insect may have only 3-5 hit points and some larger creatures may have hundreds. One significant difference is that to reduce the hit points, only hitting the creature's vital body parts will reduce its hit points. For example, an archipelago octopus, so named because it resembles the octopus on Earth, has hit points equal to three times the length of the creature from head to tip of its longest twelve arms. So, a midsized 25-foot-long octopus will have 75 hit points. However only blows to its head or body will count towards killing it by reducing the hits points. There are no vital organs in its twelve arms so cutting the arms off may cause it to flee and find an underwater cave to regenerate new arms but only attacks on its head or body will count to reduce its hit points and “Kill” the creature. If the player characters are intent on killing the creature, they may have to leave the relative safety of their ship’s deck and go underwater to attack the creature’s head.


Game-Masters Notes:

Since Planet Archipelago player characters do not use hit points like creatures do, how is combat damage calculated? In the Planet Archipelago game rules, the same D20 die roll to determine a hit on a target also determines the hit location. This means the roll can range from a total miss to a half damage hit that slides and ricochets off the armor to a full damage hit in the location of choice. The greater the weapon skill the higher the chance of rolling a location of choice in making a hit. For example, you are targeting a human fighter who is wearing an iron archers' helmet, a hip length maille burnie, and over this a hardened leather breastplate. His legs have soft leather covering them and his boots are soft leather over the leather pants doubling the protection for the lower legs. He also has a wooden shield with iron reinforcements. You want to use your long bow to hit this fighter before he is close enough to engage you. You have a dexterity level of 9 and an archery skill of +6. This means when you combine the 9 and 6 you have 15 the number you must roll below to hit this target. Using the D20. On your first shot you roll a 16 and miss the target. The second shot you roll a 14 one under this is a half damage to the torso. The hardened leather and maille have a thrust value of 25 your long bows half damage thrust is 10 so the shot hits the target but ricochets off not injuring your target your third shot rolls a 7 meaning you are 8 under and hit him full damage in the leg. Your bow does 20 points of thrust and his leg armor is 2-4 points depending on upper or lower leg so your shot will do 16-18 points of damage. Enough in either case to have the arrow sticking out of the far side of the leg. With this much damage to the leg he is unable to stand, he takes a -4 reduction in his strength, and you have sliced the popliteal or femoral artery in the leg. He is alive but unable to fight. He will bleed to death in about 6 game turns if he does not receive medical treatment to stop the bleeding. If he does, he may live to fight again. A couple of months from now in the game. Had you rolled a 5 or less on the D20 you would be able to place the arrow in a location of your choice. Such as the face where he has no armor. If this had been the case with the arrow in his brain, he would be dead before he hit the ground. He would be one npc that would not fight you again.

Sailors on a small boat fighting an alien octopus creature

Game-Master Notes:

I was recently asked what type of hit points did the characters in Planet Archipelago have. On planet Archipelago only the non-scient creatures are killed by reducing their hit points. An insect may have only 3-5 hit points and some larger creatures may have hundreds. One significant difference is that to reduce the hit points, only hitting the creature's vital body parts will reduce its hit points. For example, an archipelago octopus, so named because it resembles the octopus on Earth, has hit points equal to three times the length of the creature from head to tip of its longest twelve arms. So, a midsized 25-foot-long octopus will have 75 hit points. However only blows to its head or body will count towards killing it by reducing the hits points. There are no vital organs in its twelve arms so cutting the arms off may cause it to flee and find an underwater cave to regenerate new arms but only attacks on its head or body will count to reduce its hit points and “Kill” the creature. If the player characters are intent on killing the creature, they may have to leave the relative safety of their ship’s deck and go underwater to attack the creature’s head.

alien sea creature attacking swimmer attempting to get into a sailboat.Parrot shark attack copyright.jpg

Game-Master Notes:
A couple of weeks ago I was asked if Planet Archipelago had saving rolls like D&D, to keep a player character alive. The answer is no and yes. No there are no rolls called a saving roll to be made with the dice. For example, your player characters are onboard a ship at sea and the craft is rammed by a parrot-shark. A creature who rams ships in the hopes that something good to eat will fall into the water. The player characters on board will need to make a dexterity roll to avoid losing their balance and falling from the shark's impact to the ship. If they fail this roll, they may then make a second dexterity roll to grab onto the ship’s rail, rigging or a rope to keep from falling overboard into the sea. If they fail this roll they have fallen overboard. Any of or all of the other player characters on board may make a dexterity roll to throw them a line. A rope to catch and be pulled back on board. If these other player characters fail, they have not thrown the rope close enough for the player character in the water to reach. If they pass the roll the player character must make a dexterity roll to catch the rope so that they can be pulled back on board. If they also fail this roll the parrot shark will have had time to circle around and eat them. Often in one bite. The unlucky player character having failed multiple dexterity rolls is now fish food. There is no “saving roll” in the game for that.


Occupational Skill Groups: Certain occupations tend to use groups of related skills. This is provided as a suggested guide in the creation of player characters based on what they or their parents did before they decide to go adventuring.

Fishermen: These are individuals who make their living close to shore in small boats. They will tend to learn the following skills:  Sailing, Rowing, Fishing, Harpoon, Dagger, Carpentry (boat repair), Sewing (sail & net repair) Cooking, Gambling, Swimming, Diving, Sea-lore, Weather-lore, and Ropemaking.

Sailors: These individuals make their living sailing in larger ships out of sight of land. They will tend to learn the following skills: Sailing, Navigation, Weather-lore, Helmsman, Climbing, Crossbow, Dagger, harpoon, Axe. Rowing, Cooking, Carpentry (boat repair), Sewing (sail & net repair), Sea-lore, Ropemaking, Gambling, and Recognize value.

Farmers: These individuals make their living on land by growing plants in the ground and foraging in the edges of the jungle or forest. They will tend to learn the following skills: Agriculture, farming, Carpentry (building repair), Archery (all types of bows or crossbows possible), Dagger, Spear, Axe, Billhook, Herbalist, Ropemaking, Weather-lore, Forest-lore, Cooking, Vintner, Brewer, and Animal husbandry.

Hunters: These individuals earn their living by hunting wild game to sell to townsfolk and others as a source of fresh meat. They will tend to learn the following skills: Hunting, Forest-lore, Tracking, Traps, Weather-lore, Ambush, Sling, Dagger, Spear, Axe, Archery (all types of bows or crossbows), Herbalist, Recognize value, Scout, Foraging (living off the land), Jerking meat, Sausage-making, Smoking meat, Wood cutting, Climbing, and Ropemaking.

Ranchers: These individuals make their living raising animals for fiber, hides, meat, milk, and cheese. They will tend to learn the following skills: Animal handling, Cart/team driver, Tanning, Cheesemaking, Sheep shearing, Dagger, Sling, Archery (all types of bows or crossbows possible), Wool carding, Felting, Spinning, Weaving, and Weather-lore

Artisans: These individuals are small businessmen who make a living making and selling craft items or selling a service. They will tend to learn the following skills: Read & writing, Recognize value, Merchant, Drawing, Singing, Musical instruments, Dancing, Sculpting, Wood carving, Box-maker, Cooper, Shipwright, Cart wright, Builder, Carpentry, Masonry stone or brick, Black smith, Tin smith, Pewter smith, Copper smith, Bronze smith, Silver smith, Gold Smith, Jeweler, Armor smith, Engraver, Weapon smith, Bowyer (Makes bows and arrows), Sewing, Weaving, Tailor, Potter, Glass-blower, Dagger, Crossbow, Leather-craft, Tanning, Glazer (makes glass windows), Map-making, Runner (carries messages +2 endurance), Mathematics/bookkeeping (keeping a ledger of expenses and income), leadership, Basket maker, and Cooking.

Industrial workers: These individuals earn a living in a part of the manufacturing industry. They will tend to learn the following skills: Logger, Axe, Miner, Explosives, Smelting, Climbing, Milling, Sawyer (saws lumber), Potter, Glassmaker, Glassblower, Glazer, Brick-maker, Stone quarry, Paper-marker, and Mechanical (repair or make devices).

Private Guards: These individuals make their living providing physical security for the wealthy, banks, and members of the nobility. They will tend to learn the following skills: Surveillance, Interrogation, Sword, Dagger, Pole weapons, Crossbows, Gambling, Hand to hand combat, Lying, Brawling, Streetwise, Flattery, Diplomacy, and Medic.

Nobel Born: These individuals are born to money and do not work for it, but they can acquire the following skills: Reading & writing, A second language, Swimming, Diplomacy, Flattery, Lying, Leadership, Surveillance, Math/Bookkeeping, Musical-playing an instrument, Singing, Dancing, Artistic-prose/poetry, Artistic-painting, Artistic-sculpture, Historian of Earth & humans, Courtly Graces,  Charm, Clark/clerk, Recognize value, Flirtation, Seduction, Poison, Lawyer, Dagger, Hand to hand combat, and Astrology.

Local Militia: These are volunteers who help defend and police their local area for free, They may learn the following skills in addition to the skills of their family vocation listed above, if they are 14 years of age or older: Leadership, Sword, Dagger, Spear, Pole weapon, Ballista, Crossbow, Brawling, Streetwise, and Surveillance.

Thieves & Outlaws: These individuals earn their living by stealing from those who do earn a living. Generally, they selfishly steal from those too poor to defend themselves, hire guards, or track down the thief for punishment. They will tend to learn the following skills: Lying, Acting, Forgery (the artistic copying of words or signature even if you cannot read or write), Climbing, Stealing, Pic-pocket, Seduction, Flirtation, Murder, Gambling, Dagger, Crossbow, Kidnapping, Blackmail, Streetwise, Black market (Knowing the secret signs and symbols of the dark world to recognize other criminals), Lock-picking, Brawling, Recognize value, Ambush, Stealth, and Cooking.

Adding or Improving Skills with a Private Tutor: In this case the player character needs to pay the tutor and spend a minimum of 3 months not adventuring but being taught by the tutor. A player character may learn up to one skill level less than the skill level of the tutor. For example, if the tutor is a swimmer +4 then the player character may not learn the skill of swimming higher than a +3. In general, the cost of learning from a private tutor is going to be 1 gold florin per student in the tutor’s class per skill level of the tutor, per month. If a private lesson is sought, then the player character needs to pay a minimum of 30 gold florins per month plus the tutor’s board and room for the minimum three months of instruction. Most tutors follow a practice of 2 hours of instruction followed by 2 hours of practice or study followed by 2 hours of follow up instruction then another 2 to 4 hours of practice and study. For an educational day of 8-10 hours of instruction and practice. The player character may not learn a skill the tutor does not know.

To lean a single skill from a tutor the Player character needs to attend the tutor every day and roll once per month on their intelligence if they roll under their intelligence value by at least two points they have learned the skill at a +1 level. The second month they roll again and if passed they have increased the skill by +1 again, to a +2 level. The process repeats for the third month. If the player character does not complete the minimum three months, then they will “Forget,” and their skill will reduce to only one point or be forgotten completely if they only had one skill point. Some skills have a prerequisite. For example, you cannot learn to dive if you do not know how to swim first.

Game-master: Not all skills have the same level of difficulty in being learned so it is up to you to “tweak” the instruction and practice time to fit the difficulty of the skill being learned.

Most cities, towns and larger villages will have one or two tutors who make their living providing instruction to a small group of 4 to 9 students. Skills frequently taught by these tutors include Reading, Writing, Basic Math/bookkeeping, Herbology (herbalist skill), Principles of Being human (Servi religion), Geometry (map making), Another language, Weather-lore, Forest-lore, and Medic. Villages and towns without a tutor are those that have accused a past tutor of being a member of the rumored Nemo society and held responsible for the disappearance of children.


Troy Callaway, Private Tutor:  Troy has his “classroom” in the basement of the local mercantile. This room also is his bedroom and living area. The Mercantile owner was hoping that he might draw in more customers in the form of parents of the students being taught when he rented the space to Troy for 2 florins per month. Troy teaches Reading, Writing, Math basics of Addition Subtraction and Multiplication. Herbology, Forest-lore and drawing. He is fluent in both Italian and English and can teach either language. All students pay monthly in advance. His Age: 28 His Motives: He is trying to save more money to help him in his search for the Isle d’ Prime. The very first island colonized by the humans from Earth. Teaching these little stupid brats helps finance his search. Things he may say to the player characters:

1. “You look a little old to be wanting to learn something new.”

2. “Do you know how to read or write at all?”

3. “Here is a simple math problem please sole the addition problem for me.”

4. I charge 4 gold florins per month paid in advance. I also expect you to be in class six day each week starting 3 hours after sunrise and until I dismiss you.”

5. “Do you know what this device is? (holds up a pocket watch) Do you know what it is used for?”

6. “Okay, I will accept you as a student if you agree to what I have said. You can pay now.”

His Skills: Strength 8, Endurance 10, Dexterity 9, Intelligence 12, Morale 10. He is fluent in both English and Italian and can read and write both. Mathematics +6, Dagger +5, Reading & writing +5, Herbalist +4, Forest-lore+4, Sea-lore +3, Artistic Drawing (dangerous/useful plants and animals) +3, Weather-lore+2, Sailing+1, Fishing +1, Diplomacy +1. His Equipment: He wears a trim linen tunic armor code: Cut 2, Thrust 1, impact 2, Burn 1. Soft leather pants, armor code: Cut 4, Thrust2, Impact 4, Burn 3. And open sandals. His dagger weapon Code: Cut 12, Thrust 5, Impact 0. His belt pouch holds an antique pocket watch gold plated brass made in London. 15 copper and 8 silver. He has a sea-cheat in the rom with two changes of clothing a wool blanket cloak, an oiled leather rain poncho and hidden in the false bottom 50 gold florins. And a well-used map of human islands with private notations in a substitution code he invented. He also owns five books from which he teaches.

Adding or Improving Skills at a University:

The University of Aruth: located in Edinburgh the capital of Aruth. The university will accept all English-speaking students. Citizens of the Falcon Empire need not apply. The educational year is divided into four quarters. January to March, April to June, July to September, and October to December. The tuition is 45 gold florins per quarter. Room and board in Edinburgh averages about 10 florins per month for a conservative student.

To be admitted the player character needs to be able to read and write English and to pay 2 florins and take a test with a +1 penalty on their Intelligence. If they pass, they are admitted to the university. If they fail, they can retake the test at the start of the next quarter. If they fail twice, they will be barred from any additional attempts to enter the university.

After admission they may start no more than three different classes each quarter with no penalty. A fourth class adds a +1 penalty on all four classes to pass and learn the skill being taught. A fifth class adds a +2 penalty to pass. While a sixth class adds a +3 penalty on each classes passing, and the skill being learned.

Engineering Department: Classes offered.

  1. Geometry a study of shapes and how to use them in buildings.

  2. Basic math computations. How to add, subtract, multiply and divide numbers for problem solving.

  3. Basic navigation. Gives a navigation +1 skill.

  4. How to use an astrolabe or sextant. Gives an additional +1 to navigation skill. (must already have navigation skill to take class.

  5. Fortifications – How to build earthen redoubts, palisades, and the best use of topography. (requires passing Geometry +1 skill first.

  6. Siege machines – How to make, repair and operate. Requires picking ballista, ornager, or trebuchet as the skill. Gives a +1-skill level.

  7. Ballistics & trajectories – How to calculate hitting a target with a siege machine or projectile weapon includes indirect fire operations. (requires passing siege machines first.) increases archer or siege machine skill by +1.

  8. Road building-city planning-Building construction. Adds a +1 to carpentry, masonry skill and 10% to the strength or armor value of buildings built. (requires carpentry or masonry skill first.)

  9. Ship Building for beginners – (requires passing geometry first.) Gives a ship wright +1 skill.

  10. Basic Geology. Gives the ability to recognize minerals in their natural setting. Gives a +1 geology or prospecting skill.

  11. Basic Metallurgy and understanding of smelting and mixing metallic minerals. Gives a smelting +1 skill.

Music Department: Classes offered.

  1. Beginning Guitar

  2. Beginning Lute

  3. Beginning harp

  4. Beginning violin

  5. Intermediate Guitar

  6. Intermediate Lute

  7. Intermediate harp

  8. Intermediate Violin

  9. Advanced guitar

Humanities Department: Classes offered.

  1. Basic Italian for merchants – give a 10% understanding of spoken Italian for merchants.

  2. Basic Italian for sailors – gives a 10% understanding of map and nautical terms used at sea or in port by Italians.

  3. Basic conversational Modern Duarf – taught by the local Duarf Suurilla. Gives manners and greetings trade and exchange vocabulary for those wishing to open trade or negotiate trade with the Duarf. Includes social norms of what needs to be done and what must not be done so as not to offend the Duarf with whom you are speaking. Equals a 5% understanding of spoken modern Duarf.

  4. Basics beliefs of the Servi faith and customs -taught by a local Servi brother.

  5. A History of Humans since the colonization.

  6. Cartography for beginners. Gives a cartography skill +1. (requires a drawing skill +1 or higher.)

  7. Basic Creatures of the Sea. – Gives a Sea-lore +1 skill.

Business Department: Classes offered.

  1. Recognize value in retail and wholesale merchandise. Gives or adds a +1 to recognize value skill.

  2. Recognize value in ancient Duarf objects includes which objects are sacred and should be returned to the Duarf or not touched on pain of death in the Duarf culture. Gives or adds a +1 to recognize value skill.

  3. Basic bookkeeping for merchants and shop keepers. (basic math is a requirement to take class.)

  4. Basic merchanting - how to make money buying and selling. Gives a merchant +1 skill.

  5. Basic diplomacy for merchants. - Political situations and considerations important for merchants between different political identities. Gives a +1-diplomacy skill.

Medical Department: Classes offered.

  1. Basic Herbology. Gives an herbalist +1 skill.

  2. Dressing wounds and injuries in the field. Gives a medic +1 skill.

  3. Basic Dentistry how to pull infected teeth, make replacement teeth from ivory or human teeth, including would reconstruction of damage teeth. Gives a dentistry +1 skill.

  4. Basic Surgery treating wounds, injuries and illness with surgery and potions. Gives a surgeon +1 skill.

  5. Intermediate Surgery. Requires passing basic surgery first. Includes stitching up wounds and treating wound infections. Adds a +2 to surgery skill.

  6. Basic Midwifery teaches how to assist in the birth of a child and basic fetal health. Gives Midwife +1 skill.

Game-master: After being admitted the player character should pick the classes, they want, spend the time in class and tuition, room and board money and then roll under their intelligence by a minimum of one point to pass the class and learn the skill. Failure to pass the intelligence roll and no skill is learned. Due to the availability of instructors as game-master you may choose to not offer all classes or to add a special one-of-a-kind class with a guest instructor.

As Game-master feel free to add a university in any of the larger capital cities as you want. Use the model above as a core guide.

Troy Callaway medieval tutor and game character.jpg


Planet Archipelago is a traditional table-top role play game and Novel Series. The Novels are written by B.A. Simmons. The game and game art are designed by Steve Simmons. The game is a skills based rather than class or level based RPG. Designed to be played with a copy of the rules, a 20 sided die, percentage die, and six-sided die. Along with paper and pencil. This game originates from a game designed for play by middle school students in an after-hours club 30 years ago. The game is designed as a family friendly game. There are bad non player characters and make believe violence possible. The game is a medieval- science fiction game, so characters in the game may find technology that appears magical but in fact has no magic and is simply technology that is not understood by the player characters.The Game session is controlled by the person called the game-master. They control the weather based on the season of the year as well as the non-player characters and all creatures. The players create one or more fictional player characters which they control to problem solve different adventures presented by the game-master. The author believes that there is valuable social and citizenship skills that can be taught and learned by playing this type of game as opposed to a computer games where the child/student plays against a machine devoid of face to face human contact. Playing the game promotes: Reading, problem solving, math skills, record keeping, consequences for personal choices, team work, social interaction skills and the value of enterprise. In the game, player characters may obtain money by seeking adventure, looking for lost treasure, hiring out their skills to an employer or becoming a merchant buying low and selling high. when this is combined with alien creatures(monsters) and alien races of creatures there is lots of room for both learning, fun and adventure.

Tropical grass 3.jfif

Game-Master Notes- Going Cross-Country in a Meadow/Clearing:

When the player characters decide to go cross country in a tropical meadow or clearing. Hiking off the trails or roads into the unknown. Off the route you as Game-master want them to follow. The following are some things to consider as what the results of the player character actions may be. The choice of options are yours as the game-master.

1. The grass in a meadow may range from 8 feet tall to 18 inches tall. If tall vision in the grass may be worse than on a game trail in the surrounding jungle. While glimpses of the surrounding terrain, trees, or mountains may keep them from going off course, the grass is thick enough that often you cannot see more than a single step or two directly in front of the player character.

2. If the grass is short and has been grazed down then there is the greater risk of being trampled by a herd of territorial herbivores.

3. Meadow grass is prime habitat for trap-door spiders some large enough to be a serious danger to a human.

4. Open clearings like this are also the hunting ground for Wyverns, and acctels who can carry a victim off to be eaten. The smaller members of the player character’s group could be at real risk.

5. Open meadows are also prime habitat for several types of snakes that will not be visible until they strike their victim.

6. Open clearings may hold watering holes that attract both herbivores and predators in greater numbers.

7. A meadow may hide a sinkhole cave pit that will not bee seen until the player characters emerge on the rim’s edge, with a possible risk of losing one’s balance and falling in or having weak and loose rock on the edge of the sink hole give way dropping one or more members of the party into the sinkhole cave mouth below.

8. The meadow may have a drainage problem so that the center of the meadow may become a mire of mud and stagnant water with the player characters sinking knee-deep in grass and mud. This situation may result in shoes being sucked off a character’s feet as they seek to pull their foot and leg up to take another step. Being barefooted can lead to stepping on all sorts of dangerous, even deadly objects.

9. Grass can grow out over and float on top of water. So that as the players advance across the meadow, they may at first notice tea colored water forming around their footsteps followed by a sloshing sound as they walk this is then followed by the ground undulating in waves as they walk, and they may then realize they are standing on floating matts of grass with water of unknown depth below the grass. The grass matt can be weak in places so that in a single step the player character’s leg crashes through and they sink through the grass mat to the knee or even the hip. This can result in their leg dangling below the grass roots and a target for any predator living in the dark water below to bite part or all the leg off. The sudden stop of having only a part of your body punch through the grass mat can also mean an ACL tear in the knee so that the player character cannot walk, a hip dislocation or even a broken bone as the body pitches forward when the leg plunges into the water below the mat. If the whole body breaks through and if the water is over their head, they will be unable to come to the surface to get air. The

pressure of the grass mat will close the hole they plunged through almost as fast as they fall through it. Plus, they will never surface in the exact spot they broke through resulting in death by drowning.

10.  Travel through a meadow filled with tall grass is very slow travel, since the grass bends with ease it cannot be cut by a sword with ease except near the ground as the grass just tends to bend with the sword blow so that only about 20% of the grass stems are cut with each sword blow. The taller the grass the harder it will be to cut. The sap/juice from the cut grass will also remove one point of cut value for every 20 game turns spent cutting as it builds up on the blade dulling the cutting edge.

Dense jungle 1.png
Dense jungle 2.jpg

Game-Master Notes - Cross-Country in a Jungle:

When the player characters decide to go cross country in a tropical jungle. Hiking off the trails or roads into the unknown. Off the route you as Game-master want them to follow. The following are some things to consider as what the results of the player character actions may be. The choice of options are yours as the game-master.

  1. They will get sopping wet from water droplets that are on the vegetation. This may result in rusting iron weapons and armor with a reduction in cut value. The rotting and breaking of leather and the molding of cloth with may require an endurance roll against getting sick from moldy clothing.

  2. Walking face first into a spider web spun between tree and almost invisible against the background noise of different shades of green and brown. This can result in a spider bite that may be poisonous. The sticky web may cause leaves and twigs to stick to the player character and their gear becoming an irritation or worse.

  3. Tripping over logs or rocks covered in moss and hidden by the leaves such that the player character is walking without seeing where their feet are. Tripping can result in sprained ankles, or hands, arms, or lower legs impaled by broken branches or thorns doing real physical injury and adding a risk of infection and blood poisoning.

  4. The risk of a predator hidden by the undergrowth attacking the legs, groin and or belly from ambush as they lay silent, and unseen hidden by the lush green leaves of the undergrowth.

  5. The risk of a creature falling out of a tree or vine as the player characters hack and slash their way through the vegetation of the undergrowth. These creatures are going to most often be landing on the head, face, shoulders or back of a player character often biting the intruding player character in pure fear. Then scampering out of sight in the jungle. These attacks will also get the ambush bonus as they literally fall out of the air onto the player character.

  6. Travel time is reduced either from the need to walk carefully and slowly, the time to hack and chop a trail. Time taken to care for a player character who has tripped or fallen and time to deal with ambush attacks from wild creatures.

  7. Getting lost. Unless they player characters have a compass and took a reading for the direction they want to go, once in the jungle it becomes possible to get lost. The sun is hidden by the tree canopy above and it is green in every direction the player characters look. It would be possible that a failed intelligence roll could result in the player characters walking in a large circle coming across their own trail and hour or so later. It might also have them by “chance” find the trail you wanted them to take in the first place allowing them to start over.

  8. Ranged weapons become less effective. In the dense jungle without a trail 20 feet might be the maximum distance that an arrow could be shot at a visible target and not have a tree, vine, or bush in the way. In many places 3-5 feet might be the farthest a player character can see. Finding an arrow that has been fired but missed its target would be a 1% chance type of die roll.

  9. While a solitary player character with a hunting or tracking skill could move through such a jungle in silence, there is little chance a larger party will be able to move in silence the result is wild animals good for food will run away before the player characters ever see them. While wild predators hear the approach of a potential meal and can prepare an ambush attack.

  10.  As the player characters move through the jungle, they will stir up insects like sticky bugs, thatcher bugs, sorflies and such. Once stirred up these creatures can swarm the player characters by the hundreds looking for a tasty bite.

  11. They may suddenly find in the jungle some hidden ruin or mini adventure they were not expecting or looking for. This can divert them from their intended goal resulting in the player characters needing to decide the “bird in the hand or the two in the bush” quandary. This can also lead to the option of you adding in your own adventure. We have several mini adventures designed to fit on almost any island that can be plugged in for this type of event.

The Players will have their player characters go where they want. This is just a few suggestions of what you can have happen when they make this type of choice.

reature attack as seen from inside medieval helmet
alien creature attacking at night

To Wear or Not to Wear a Helmet

This is the question. Many players want as much protection for their game characters as game armor will allow, yet this protection should come with a price. As game-master you must help the players see that there is a price that must be paid with armor.

The view from inside your helmet on night watch protecting your sleeping companions. This creature can jump a great distance in its ambush attack, so this is your first view as it appears out of the dark of night. Notice you can not see most of the creature and what it’s doing other than its suddenly moving towards you.

Here is the view without a helm. Notice that the creature’s large foot talons or claws are set to try and disembowel you. A fact you could not see or respond to with a parry defense if your view is blocked by an enclosed helmet.

In the game rules armor has a value called a dexterity penalty. As game-designer I never use this to limit the player character’s ability to use a weapon. In my experience with medieval combat re-enactment battles, a good swordsman is just as good in armor as out. However, armor can have an effect on a person’s abilities.

  1. Depending on the type of helm, It reduces vision and hearing therefore as game-master I may use the penalty value as an added penalty on any intelligence roll to see or hear (notice) something that is happening nearby. This could include the location of ambush ranged weapon fire, a person/creature sneaking up on the player characters, even an attack on a friend nearby.

  2. Armor will impact the speed and duration of physical activity such as a charge, or running, moving in general. I can and have run in armor, but I can’t run as fast, nor can I run as long. So, in the game if you as game-master are using miniatures to play out combat; a player character without armor and a strength of 10 can move a full 10 hexes or squares on the battle map. yet another player character also with a strength of 10 but wearing armor with a combined 6 points of penalty, they would only be able to move 4 hexes or squares in the same amount of time. If a character with endurance 10 is on a ship that is leaking, and they are manning the bilge pump, as game-master I would subtract their armor penalty from their endurance to reduce how long they could man the pump without a rest since wearing the armor helps tire them out.

  3. An experimental archeology test showed that a person wearing iron maille and a padded gambeson jumping 18 inches off a dock, sank to the bottom due to the armor weight and the momentum of the jump from the dock. The person had to be rescued by a safety diver. Later after resting, the same person in the same maille and pad waded into the water and swam. Not very far, nor very fast, but they could swim in armor if their momentum were along the surface and not downward via gravity and a jump or fall. As game-master, if a player character in armor falls or is knocked from the deck of a ship I have them sink and drown if they fail a dexterity roll to grab onto anything that might prevent the fall, if something was available. Historically many sailing ships would sail with a rope being towed from the siderail so that a sailor falling overboard would have a chance to grab onto the rope and be towed by the ship until it could stop and they could be rescued. However, I will allow a player to wade into a river and make a short swim across the river if they have swimming as a skill. I will subtract the armor penalty from their unarmored swimming distance as given for swimming as a skill. The experimental armor swimmer estimated that the armor reduced their swimming ability by two thirds at a minimum.

  4. Metal armor absorbs heat and will overheat the wearer in a hot tropical climate, and it will absorb the cold and suck body heat from the wearer in a freezing climate. Therefore, as game-master, I will add the metal armor penalty against an endurance roll for heat stroke during a hot tropical summer and I will use it as a penalty on an endurance roll in a winter or cold climate against hypothermia shock. Both heat stroke and hypothermia can be fatal if not treated. Freezing to death or passing out and slipping into a fatal coma from heat stroke are realistic options on Planet Archipelago.


One of the pluses for Planet Archipelago is that there is lots of room for you, as Game-master to add in such creatures, plants, relics and adventures as you wish. There is room for a creature or plant that exists only on one island. There is room to add in your own islands. One there are un-named islands shown on the map that you can develop as you wish, plus you have the option of adding an island of your design off of the main sea lanes for your players to discover. The fact that the game was designed by a retired educator also means there are opportunities to teach basic life skills while playing the game. Skills such as weather, the economic principles of a free-market system, math and map skills. The supplement on when nature attacks gives the option to explore volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and other such natural phenomenon. Of course, there is the adventure of exploration, discovery and combat with aliens, alien creatures, or other humans.

Discovering New Islands

The Game-master may use a storm at sea, the players changing course to avoid a creature or pirates, a broken compass, or a misaligned sextant to guide the player characters off the regular sea trading lanes to the discovery of a new island not on any maps. The chance to explore is a strong draw to the game. It can allow the game-master to add a feature to the game that they want but that is not found on other islands already. All the game-master needs to remember is that in general planet Archipelago is a class “M” planet with general vegetation not to dissimilar from Earth when seen from a distance, an understanding of which climate zone the “discovered island will be in. A copy of the unique plants and animals already known on the planet, an idea of what they want to add on the island, a map of the island and some imagination.  Then the game-master can enjoy watching the player characters make discoveries. It is best for the game-master to draw out a map of their island in advance. If they don’t feel they can draw an island they can go to the website;  this can generate random maps for those who have no drawing skills. This site can make a physical features map or any of several other types of maps including bump maps that can be used to tell a program like unity how to generate a 3D model of an island.  A new island may have one or more of the following waiting for the player characters to come ashore.

  1. Ancient Duarf ruins

  2. Living Duarf. Either hostile or friendly

  3. Living Oric always hungry and hostile.

  4. Living humans who are the descendants of a shipwreck decades ago.

  5. Strange creatures not found on any other island.

  6. Ruins of a failed, lost and forgotten human settlement.

  7. Lost and forgotten remnants of the first human colonists.

  8. Most anything the game-master wants to add that fits with their version of planet Archipelago.

Adding Character Skills:

During the creation of a player character or NPC in the game Planet Archipelago there is the selection of skills also referred to as character skills. These represent the occupational skills that character would have developed up to that point in their life. A young character will have lower skill levels and fewer “learned” skills. They need not have all of the skills allowed by their intelligence level. The skills they do have may have been learned from their parents, a tutor, or as an apprentice with an older skilled individual. The game-master should decide if some skills are not available on the island that the new Player character is from and those skills would not be allowed. If an older character is being created, then they may have more of their total possible skills learned and in addition they will have greater experience and practice in the use of those skills, as opposed to a youth. Once the game has begun and the player character is engaged in the adventure, then any “new” skills they want to add will be with the permission of the game-master not the player controlling the character.

 As a guide to the game-masters the following is recommended. No player should be allowed to suddenly decide that a skill they need in the current situation was in fact learned years ago. Part of the plus of the game is teamwork. No player character can have all of the skills that might be needed, so having different player characters with different skills who must work together as a team is not only realistic but a very practical reality. If a player wants, their character to learn a new skill they may only do so from another player character or NPC who has that skill. No player character or NPC may teach a skill to a level equal to or higher than their own level in that skill. So, for example, if the player character wants to learn to throw a harpoon, they can only learn the skill from a player character or NPC who has harpoon or spear-throwing at a skill level of +2 or higher. How long should it take the player character to learn a new skill? That must be decided by the game-master.  My rule as a Game-master is the time will depend on the actions of the player’s character. If they say they are going to go ashore for a week and practice spear-throwing on the beach for 8 hours every day, then at the end of that week in game time you could have a spear throwing +1 skill and a very sore arm muscles on the player character. If the player character simply  buys a spear and they have the odd practice or instruction mingled into the ongoing adventure, it may take a couple of months of time in the game before I, as game-master say “yes,” you now have a spear-throwing skill +1.


Weather-lore, The Skill:

Why should my player character have weather-lore as a skill?  If your player has this skill, they can combine the skill level with their intelligence to forecast not only what type of weather the group of player characters may have in the near future but a successful roll can also give them an idea of how to prepare for the coming weather. A player character may make a weather-lore roll no more than once every 24 hours. The Game-master rolls or determines what type of weather is probable based on climate and season of the year as outlined in the basic rules. If the player makes a successful weather-lore check for their player character by rolling lower than their combined intelligence and skill level on a 20-D. The game-master will roll to determine what the chance is the forecast will be accurate. The game-master then tells the player character who made the successful role their weather forecast. The Game-master may also provide suggestions of how to prepare for the forecast. The game-master need not say if the forecast is accurate or not. Even the most skilled weather-lore specialist has a chance of being wrong. The successful roll means the Game-master can’t have the wind rip the sails from your ship, or the players all freeze to death with a sudden cold snap. Without some warning if the weather-lore roll was successful and the percentage roll reliable. Thus, giving the player characters a chance to lower or reef the sails, build a fire or buy warm clothing. If the player character’s weather-lore roll forecast the risk of high wind ripping the sails and the player characters decide to keep full sail anyway; then the wind can damage their sails because they ignored the forecast. There is with each forecast the possibility that the forecasted bad weather may not happen. If the percentage roll is such that the forecast is wrong, then the Game master need not tell the player character exactly what the weather will be until it happens. It could be either better or worse than the forecast.

Die Roll


Die Roll = to

50% reliable weather forecast for next 6 hours.

-1 below

75% reliable weather forecast for next 12 hours.

-2 below

85% reliable weather forecast for next 18 hours.

-3 below

95% reliable weather forecast for next 24 hours.

-4 below

95% reliable weather forecast for next 36 hours.

-5 below

95% reliable weather forecast for next 48 hours.

-6 below or greater

95% reliable weather forecast for next 72 hours.

No weather-lore forecast is possible more than 72 hours into the future.

role-play adventurers along narrow mountain trailg

Just a Little Rain: The addition of a sudden rainstorm can turn a difficult mountainside climb to explore an island into a deadly adventure with multiple dexterity rolls against slipping on wet moss and rocks. Plus dexterity saving rolls to grab onto something solid to prevent a last minute plunge to the player character's death hundreds of feet below. The sudden rain storm might also bring down a land slide destroying the trail and forcing the player characters to backtrack and try to return to their ship via a different route. A route not yet explored. Or perhaps the rains creates a waterfall that blocks the player characters route, forcing them to wait with the risk of running out of supplies. The  "When Nature Attacks" supplement or the new pending "Game-Master's Guide paperback give some of the possible ways a game-master may use weather and nature as a parry against the skills and intelligence of the player's characters. Requiring the player characters to go where they didn't plan to go and perhaps to take longer than they planed. A simple day hike to "check out" something they think they see on an island mountainside a quarter mile away, can turn into a multi-day adventure.

Time on Planet Archipelago

Planet Archipelago is 1.05 Earth normal in size. So, it is 26,102.72 miles in circumference at the equator. So, an hour on the planet is 63 Earth minutes long. Almost all of the original colonists had bio-electric wrist watches that were powered by the bioelectric energy of the human body, They always worked. However, because each hour was three minutes longer, these watches lost 72 minutes every 24-hour day over the planet’s real time. They had to be reset every day. Within a few months many of the first colonist simply quit wearing them and simply relied on when the sun came up and when it went down.

With time the human colonists reverted to the old medieval Earth normal of sunrise being at 6am everyday and sunset at 6 pm everyday year-round. Noon was when the sun was at its zenith in the sky and Midnight was when the constellation “Nessie” was at its zenith in the night sky. This did mean that a daylight hour in the summer was longer than a daylight hour in the winter, but it was easy to maintain and fit the lower technology level the humans found themselves living in. As spring powered clocks were re-invented on the planet, they had a slightly longer minute, and their new hour was designed for the 63- earth minute hour of Planet Archipelago. their owners had to wind them up each day, so it became easy to reset the clock to either 6am or 6 pm with the sunset or sunrise when the clock was wound up for the day. Only the “magical” Ferlie clocks and Chronometers that are wound once per year keep totally accurate time since they incorporate hidden light sensors and microcircuitry that automatically adjust the clock’s movement to the varied length of the day. Showing Sunrise at 6am and sunset at 6pm.

In addition to the human made spring wound clocks and the magical ferlie clocks, humans on the planet use sand clocks These glass and wood timers filled with fine sand are made in one hour, fifteen minutes and five-minute sizes. This allows the city official to turn a one-hour sand timer three times before ringing the curfew bell which would be about 9pm.

A sailing chronometer is set at the time in the local seaport the ship is leaving. This time is compared at 12 noon during each day’s sail. Since the planet rotates at a regular rate, the time difference between the chronometer set at the point of departure and the ship's local time at noon as measured by the sun can be used to calculate the longitude of the ship east or west of its starting point for the voyage. The ship’s speed is calculated once each hour using a sand timer the average speed multiplied by the number of hours since the ship left port will give an approximate distance traveled east or west of the starting point. The distance north or south of the equator is measure by the sun’s height above the horizon adjusted for the time of year. Each degree of arc as measured by an astrolabe or sextant at sea represents 72.5 miles north or south.

Game-master, having sunrise at 6am and sunset at 6pm every day on all islands can greatly simplify the calculation of time in your adventures. The calculation of time become important for determining if player characters are going to get caught in the dark or when nocturnal predators will come out and many other factors.

Thief as a skill

If either a player character (PC) or a non-player character (NPC) has the skill of “thief” the following information is for the game-master on how the skill may be used. Because a thief has to be both sneaky and have a good dexterity, the thief skill can be added to the dexterity value of the character who has it to see if they can pinch something without making noise or dropping something. The skill may also be added as a penalty to the intelligence roll of the town guard, night watchman, or the guard of a specific location to see if they see the thief sneaking about in the dark. The watchman or guard can make an intelligence roll with the thief character’s thief skill level as a penalty. If they pass the roll, they see the thief and can call out, attack or take such action as necessary. If they fail the roll, they don’t notice the thief in the shadows. If there are two guards together then both may make separate intelligence rolls one may notice the thief even if the other didn’t.

So, for example the players ship is tied up at a town dock with two guards on deck during the night. A thief NPC decides to try and lift some valuables from the player characters ship. Each of the two guards may make an intelligence roll with the NPC’s thief skill as a penalty. Let’s say they fail. That means the thief has crept onboard from the dock without having been seen. The thief heads for the captain’s cabin where most ships keep valuables. The captain is asleep now the thief must make a dexterity roll with their thief skill added as a bonus to their own dexterity. If they fail, they make noise and the captain awakens. If they pass the captain sleeps on as they steal something. The Thief skill in not a recognize value skill so if the thief, looking about in the dark cabin, doesn’t have recognize value, they may steal something of little value to fence. The game-master can decide what the chance is of grabbing a pouch with creature’s teeth being saved to make a necklace over grapping a pouch with pearls in the dark. As the thief exits the captain’s cabin to leave the ship the two guards get another intelligence roll with the same penalty as before, to see if they notice the moving shadow trying to leave the ship. If either makes their roll, they see the thief and can take action to stop the thief’s escape. If they both fail the roll a second time, the thief NPC makes good their escape.

The Thief skill is not a climbing skill so if a thief wants to use rooftops, they had better also have climbing skill.

Being a thief either as an NPC or as a player character should not be easy, it simply needs to be possible. The successful burgle of the ship in the example above required 5 die rolls, all of which had to go in the thief’s favor to make the caper a success. Possible, but not a piece of cake.

Mining and Geology as Skills.

Any Player character may buy a pan and try and wash gold from the gravel, dirt and sand along a stream. However, without a mining or geology skill they will have to make a successful recognize value roll or an intelligence roll with a +4 penalty to not confuse fool’s gold for the real gold that might be there. With no skill in mining 60% of any gold present will become lost and not recoverable due to the inexperienced player character’s lack of skill.

Mining +1 gives the PC (player character) the ability to placer mine using a pan and shovel to wash lose alluvial gold out of the surrounding gravel, dirt, and sand along a stream. It gives the PC the ability to recognize gold dust and nuggets in its natural setting without a recognize value roll. At this skill level only 30% of gold dust becomes lost and will not be recovered.

Mining +2 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, pick and shovel. Each hardrock mining skill can remove 1,500 pounds of stone or 3 cubic feet of stone per mining skill level in an 9-hour workday with hand tools. Plus, placer mining with only 20% of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +2 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, pick and shovel plus placer mining with either pan or sluice rocker. With only 10% of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +3 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel plus placer mining with only 5% of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +4 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel. It also includes the ability to shore up with timber lose rock in a mine with 20% chance of cave-in failure. Plus, placer mining with only 2% of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +5 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel. It also includes the ability to shore up with timber lose rock in a mine with 10% chance of cave-in failure. Plus, placer mining with only 1% of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +5 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel. It also includes the ability to shore up with timber lose rock in a mine with 5% chance of cave-in failure. Plus, placer mining with none of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +6 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel. It also includes the ability to shore up with timber lose rock in a mine with 2% chance of cave-in failure. Plus, placer mining with none of the gold present becoming lost.

Mining +7 gives the PC the ability to do hard rock mining with hammer, drill, explosives, pick and shovel. It also includes the ability to shore up with timber lose rock in a mine with 1% chance of cave-in failure. Plus, placer mining with none of the gold present becoming lost.


Geology as a skill; gives the PC (player character) the ability to recognize common types of rock such as, Limestone, Sandstone, Marble, and Granite.  With their comparative strength for use as building stone. Plus, it also gives two different types of mineral/stone per skill level recognition in the natural environment. Each PC who has geology as a skill should pick two minerals for each skill level from the list below that they could recognize in the mineral’s natural setting during game play.

A player character who comes across a stone or mineral they don’t know, based on their skill level knowledge, may make an intelligence roll with their geology skill as a bonus to “guess” at what they think the mineral is, but the game-master need not tell them if their guess is correct or not.

Gold ore, Silver ore, Copper ore, Tin ore, Lead ore, Iron ore, Lodestone ore, Zinc ore, Mercury, Platinum ore, Raw Diamond, Raw Ruby, Raw Emerald, Raw Jade, Raw opal, Raw Musgravite, Raw Sapphire, Soapstone, Raw Bloodstone, Raw Cardun Heart, Rock Salt, and Flint/obsidian.

Interrogation as a skill:

In the game Planet Archipelago, there may be times when either an NPC (non-player character) or a PC (player Character) may need to question another NPC or PC. This may be because they have been captured, as part of a court trial due to allegations of a crime, to learn the location of a hidden item, perhaps an interview about a job or to just find out about the current situation the player characters find themselves in. If the character asking the questions that need answers, has interrogation as a skill; their skill level is added to the intelligence die roll of the character being questioned as a penalty. If the character being questioned fails their intelligence roll, with this penalty added to the number rolled on a 20-D then they “spill the beans” and say things that they will regret saying. Or they give up information the character doing the interrogating wanted to know. If they pass the intelligence roll even with the penalty, they resist the questions, keep their cool and say nothing that can be used against them or that would help the character doing the questioning.

The skill of interrogation is not a torture skill. It is a skill of asking multiple subtle questions inter-mingled with conversation and thinking about the answers being given. The interrogator is wanting to discern the truth as a reality from the answers and statements of the character being questioned. The Interrogation skill can be added to the intelligence level of the character asking the questions as a bonus on a die roll with a 20-D to determine if what they have been told is A. the truth, B. a complete lie, or C. a deliberated clouding and shading of the truth to hide or leave out some of the facts. The Game-master will tell the player who controls the character which of these choices their player character has learned.

If The character asking the questions has either diplomacy, flirtation, or seduction as a skill as well as interrogation. Then the highest of those skill levels is added to the 20-D intelligence die roll of the character being questions as a penalty. If they fail, they don’t even know that they are being interrogated. They think this is just a friendly conversation between friends. Unguarded they will “spill the beans” and the interrogator will learn everything they want to know.  As the person spilling the beans believes the facts to be.

Game-master it is possible that an NPC or PC may believe something to be true which is of course not true. If they spill the beans, they will share what they believe to be true.  They can’t reveal facts they don’t know, and they will not reveal facts which are true but which they believe to be false.

How to become Baron or King of your own Island.
Aka, what leadership as a skill does:

There are two things that are needed. First, an island and then second you need followers.  
There are two ways to get an island. First explore and try and find an undiscovered island that you can colonize. Second you would have to take over the government on an existing populated island.

Discovering an island: First undiscovered islands are available for the game-master to buy if they wish or they may use the basic game rules to design their own island. These islands are then placed in areas of the map not traveled as shown in the shipping lanes on the games island area maps. Once an island is found the player character may look for colonist who will follow him to the island. These colonists may be other player characters, game-master controlled NPC or new characters created by the player and worked into the game by the game-master. The basic rules also outline the pay scales for hiring employees to live on the island and work for you (the player). Employees must be paid either from business profits or found treasure. Colonists are not employees, but they are often enticed to come with you to your new island by offering them land they can own for themselves on the island you have found. Tenant farmers who rent land from a landlord are good candidates and the games-master should give a -1 per acre you offer them, as a bonus on their morale role to go with you to a new island. Note: Great caution should be exercised on any new island often this is where new and unexpected creatures might be found.

Overthrowing a government: Overthrowing a government takes time, effort and a lot of money. It is easier if the government to be overthrown is corrupt, wicked, or offensive to the local population. Options include: Marry a son or daughter inline to succeed to the leadership of the island. This is almost the only option for an island with a long standing dynastic family leadership structure; Live in the hills and start a guerrilla war against the government; Live on the island and become popular as generous, kind, and wise; then manufacture an island crisis which only your leadership can fix; Invade the island with an army; or bribe government officials to support you for new leadership. The game-master can work out the details as you game play your attempts.

The Second item is followers: Being a king over three people is more the subject of a joke but being a leader over hundreds or thousands is fun.

Leadership as a skill: The ability to attract followers or to get others to respect you and do as you ask or say. (Other player characters or NPC may need to make a die roll against their intelligence and/or morale to follow) under these advanced rules there are different types of followers. The player who wants to have one of their characters become the leader of an island should create a character with leadership as one of their primary four skills the roll on a six sided die as outlined in the basic rules to determine what level of leadership that player character has to start with and the material below will guide the game-master and player as they build a following. Either the player created character, or the game-master created NPC can become a follower on the chart below. The Player may challenge any game-master created character (NPC) with a minimum of three matching skills to the player’s characters skills to make a morale check to see if the NPC has enough in common with the player character to want to follow them. As either a paid employee or an unpaid follower. The player may also create up to a dozen extra characters that can become followers of the character with leadership using the rules below.

Types of followers:

A paid servant/employee: This person is loyal because you pay them an average or above average wage on time. They will need to make a morale check of you ask them to do anything illegal (revolt against the local government or immoral (murder, steal etc.) If you are not paying them fairly and on time, they have no loyalty to you and the Game-master may have them betray you. If you pay them well and on time after a year (game-time) of employment they will move up to the next level or type of follower. Each time you double a servants or employee’s pay you add a -1 to any morale roll they may be required to make. If they are to ever move up a level each minus becomes a plus on the moral roll to go up a level from servant/employee to follower. The non-combat death, caused as the direct result of the player character with leadership orders or commands, of even one employee will cause all others to make a morale check to continue employment.  Combat employees will accept up to 10% causalities per event before a morale check is needed for quitting your employment. They can be bribed if they make a moral role with a +1 on the roll for every 1,000 gold florins in the size of the bribe

Follower: This person will do a few unpaid favors for you from time to time they will still need to make a morale check if you ask them to do anything illegal or immoral. This person will accept a gift as “thank you” for something they have done for you. They can be bribed if they make a moral role with a +1 on the roll for every 1,000 gold florins in the size of the bribe. Two followers may die in non-combat as a result of your leadership before they question your leadership and make a required morale check

Friend: This person trusts you and any moral check will have a -1 on the die roll. This person if they have leadership is willing to have their followers support you. Offering this person money will demote them a level on this chart. They can only be bribed if they make a morale role 4 points over their morale. Making/passing the moral roll means they not only reject the bribe, they will report it to you (player character) Tree followers may die in non-combat as a result of your leadership before they question your leadership and make a required morale check.

Fan: these people will encourage others to support you. They will donate small amounts of money to your leadership (the amount is determined by the Game-master) they have a -2 on any morale check die roll. If asked to do something illegal or immoral for you. They can be bribed only if they make a morale role 6 points over their morale. Four followers may die in non-combat as a result of your leadership before they question your leadership and make a required morale check

Supporters: have a -3 on any morale check for doing what you ask them to do. They will insist that their own followers follow you and support your efforts. They will donate up to 15% of their income to your cause. They can only be bribed if they make a morale role that is 8 points over their morale. Five followers may die in non-combat as a result of your leadership before they question your leadership and make a required moral check

Devotees: These people have a religious like conviction of your goodness and will do anything you ask without a morale check. They cannot be bribed. At this point they are no longer Non-Player Characters, but you have total control over them. Three dozen followers may die in non-combat as a result of your leadership before they question your leadership and make a required morale check. Only the most outrageous public misbehavior will shake the spell of your leadership. If you behave in such a way that the Game-master insists that this class/level of follower make a morale check, and if they fail that morale check they will revert to a NPC under the game-master’s control and they will become committed enemies having felt betrayed by you (player character).

Each player with leadership as a skill may have the following numbers of followers on the chart above:

Skill level 1, a total of 2 followers below the level of fan; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 2, a total of 4 followers below the level of fan; unlimited paid employees.  

Skill level 3, 8 followers below the level of fan; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 4, 16 followers below the level of fan, unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 5, 32 followers with not more than 20% in the fan level, unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 6, 64 followers with not more than 20% at the fan level and 10% at the supporter level; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 7,128 followers with not more than 20% at the supporter level; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 8, 256 followers with not more than 25% at the supporter level, unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 9, 512 followers with not more than 30% at the supporter level and 5% at the devotee level; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 10,1024 followers, with not more than 10% at the devotee level; unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 11, 2500 followers with not more than 15% at the devotee level, unlimited paid employees. 

Skill level 12, 5000 followers with not more than 20% at the devotee level, unlimited paid employees.  

Skill Level 13+, 10,000 or more direct followers of which an unlimited numbers may be at the devotee level, unlimited paid employees. 

Player characters may increase in leadership skill levels past their starting point only with the agreement of the game-master that they, (their game character has displayed leadership in the game. No player may increase more than one skill point per year of game time (Not real time). Military ranks and followers specified in the rules for specific NPC are not subject to the limitations given above since a military leader need not have any real leadership skill to be assigned followers by the military in which they serve.

Sending Messages

Long Distance signaling on Planet Archipelago. There are two established ways to signal over a large distance on Planet Archipelago. The first is used at sea only and are Signal Flags. Most marine mercantile shops will sell a set of marine signal flags for about 5 gold florins. Each flag represents a word and a letter, so a message made of signal flags run up on a rope line allows ships too far away to speak and hear to still communicate with each other. By sending up one or two flags to represent words or to spell out a word as needed. Any sailor with a sailing skill of +3 or higher will know the signals.

In Addition, The Falcon Empire and other larger governments with navies have private codes assigned to certain flag groups of two or three that don’t spell a word but send a secret message between captains of ships in the same navy. These flag combinations may be memorized and only known to the captain of the ship or they might be written in the captain’s official ship’s log, if the captain has a poor memory. Logbooks are locked in a chest in the captain’s cabin.

The second method may be used either on land between field commanders or between ship and shore or between two ships. This is a semaphore alphabet that allows messages to be spelled out and seen from a distance. If a farsee is used this distance might be considerable. Any player character with Spy +3 or higher, Tactics +3 or higher or Scout +3 or higher will have learned this method of signaling. This system uses two flags to make the positions easier to see from a distance.  Of course, militaries use secret nonsense words as a coded message since an enemy may see the signals being sent. But they would not know what the nonsense words meant. Open messages that are not military in nature may be seen by anyone within sight of the person sending the message. Most of these messages are still a little cryptic since, to save time, some words are dropped out or abbreviated like a modern text message on Earth. This saves time in sending the message.

The Falcon Empire has started building Semaphore towers with large mechanical arms to send coded messages over even greater distances within the empire. With the addition of a farsee these large signal arms at the top of a tower manned by light infantry troops can send a message across many miles in just a few minutes.

Encounters with Other Ships and other Human relations: Meeting another ship at sea is always a moment of stress. Will it be another friendly ship with whom you can exchange news, or a pirate or almost just as bad a warship in the employ of some island Baron. There are many times on Archipelago when others humans are just or even more dangerous than any alien creature or culture.

Pirates and Mutiny:  While isolated individual ships may turn pirate once, as a solution to a temporary financial crisis, there is also the banding together of pirate ships into groups which supports each other in their crimes, for mutual defense against the authorities or to support a political cause. The three largest groups are the Red Serpent Society, Murphy's Pirates, and the Independent Brotherhood. 
The Red Serpent society sees themselves not as pirates but as freedom fighters. They only attack ships flying the Falcon Empire flag or ships known to their spies, as being Falcon supporters.They are most active in the seas around Isabel isle, Jacob's Isle and Pearl city on the isle of Martha.The Current leader is Sophie whose husband and child were killed in a Falcon raid.It is believed that this organization can field 10 ships for action against the empire.
Murphy's Pirates are a coalition of five pirate captains with their crews. Murphy is now in his 80's and his son has taken his name and ship along with four others, Capt. Abraham, Capt.Williams,Capt. Raphael, and Capt. Joc. they control the waters between South Port and Murphy's isle with Port Murphy a pirate controlled town.They hunt north- south traffic between the Northern Baronies and the islands of the Falcon Empire.
The Independent Brotherhood is a lose coalition of kidnappers, thieves, murderers, pirates and other undesirables they kill each other as much as anyone as they strive to be the "Senior Brother" and leader of criminals and criminal activities on an island. There are elements of this organization on all of the larger islands where money and population allows them to hide in plain sight. 
As game-master you can have a pirate try and infiltrate a player's ship crew with plans to steal the ship, or if the crew are mistreated by the player characters they may make a moral roll to mutiny and turn pirate. You may give your players the option of coming to the aid of another ship that is under attack by pirates. As game-master you should create a NPC pirate ship and crew to have available when an adventure needs one.


In the game Planet Archipelago

For Game-masters.

Each player character and some NPC will have a morale value as a number between 3 and 15. This number must at time be rolled under using a 20-sided die to determine if the player character has passed their morale roll for some event in the game. Generally. This is because the player as a real person wants to have their player character do something very dangerous or very foolish. At which you as game-master may challenge them to a morale roll. If they fail the roll, it means the player character thought about doing what their player wanted them to do, but then decided not to. This is designed to limit the players “total” control over the player character. In truth this isn’t needed very often so many players when creating a player character will give the morale the lowest die value rolled. Since morale is a numeric value of the player characters bravery and self esteem this is not always wise. Morale may also be influenced by the morale of a leader in the game setting so that an NPC or Player character with leadership skill can increase or even decrease the morale of followers when they are together. This is important if fighting against either humans, aliens or alien creatures takes place. If the player character has too low of a morale you as game-master may challenge them to make a morale roll at the start of a battle or even in the middle of the battle. With the player character bolting in fear away from the fighting if they fail the roll. Wounds especially to the head can reduce the morale value until the wound heals. Some illness may reduce the morale value until the illness is cured. And some situations may reduce the morale value until resolved. For example, being alone at sea in a rowboat with little or no food and water possibly the only survivor of a shipwreck would cause the morale value to drop as loneness and depression sets in. The following gives a more detailed general guild to how to interpret the meaning of a given morale number beyond its use as an indicator of bravery:

The Morale value                                                           Player character behavior.

14-15; the character is unrealistically optimistic about everything, a little rash and maybe to impetuous.

12-13; the character is cheerful almost to the point of being irritating.

10-11; the character is an optimist mostly always positive 95% of the time.

6-9; the character is mostly normal with days of both cheerfulness and some days less so.

4-5; the character is pessimistic about situations, murmuring and complaining a lot, but still trying.

2-3; the character is sad almost to the point of depression activity is interrupted by periods of inactivity.

0-1; the character is in deep depression. They will lay helpless unwilling to seek for or help themselves. Having a morale value reduced to “0” by game events will not kill a player character but it will render them so depressed and negative they will be unwilling to help themselves, So that to continue to live they must be helped by their friends or they will lay down and slowly die.

Stealth as a skill: The ability to both move and hold still while remaining undetected by others. The skill is often found in hunters, and burglars/thieves. The skill level is used as a penalty added to the intelligence roll of a lookout, watchman or scout for spotting a threat. It can be useful in making an ambush so that a point man/scout doesn’t spot the ambush in advance. The skill levels also determines how fast a person using stealth can move closer to a target and remain undetected by the target.  A watchman or lookout with surveillance may add surveillance to the intelligence roll to spot a stealthy opponent.

  Skill Level    Movement in feet per game turn while remaining concealed.

 +1                    0.5 foot per game turn.

 +2                    1 foot per game turn.

 +3                    3 feet per game turn.

 +4                    5 feet per game turn.

 +5                    7 feet per game turn.

 +6                    9 feet per game turn. 

 +7 or greater     Continue to add two feet per higher skill level.

The Fear Factor & Morale

Since some players will not feel any fear about the life or wellbeing of their player character, it may be necessary for the game-master to use the following morale roll as a way to introduce fear to the player characters in a given setting. The Game-master should have the players roll on their character’s morale value and the game-master can then tell them the results of the roll. In reality emotional stress and the psychology of fear in a strange setting can manifest in very real ways. This is an attempt to allow the game-master to introduce these elements in those situations where there should be some fear felt by the players’ characters. The chart begins with a successful roll by 3 or more points. This situation of fear also leads to the possibility that a real threat to the characters may be ignored in the mistaken belief that the character who is seeing it is in fact only imagining it.

Die roll                                                                                         Effects of the die roll

3 or more under needed morale points          Character is nervous but okay with the situation and current leadership. They can                                                                                     continue without too much concern.

2 under                                                              Character is nervous with some concern but okay as long as they are confident in                                                                                       current leadership.

1 under                                                              Character is acting brave, but worried.  Additional morale rolls required if others                                                                                       display open fear by word or action.  

Roll = to                                                            Character is acting brave but will need to make additional morale rolls with +1                                                                                          penalty if situation deteriorates.

Roll missed by 1                                               Character finds their jaws clenching in nervous fear, teeth will chatter if not clenched.                                                                               Muscles begin to ache, Goosebumps on skin air feels cold. (regardless of real                                                                                           temperature)

Roll missed by 2                                               Character finds themselves jumpy and nervous and the actions and sounds of other                                                                                  player characters they can’t see. Frequently asks “what was that?”  becomes irritable                                                                              at others.

Roll missed by 3                                               Character finds themselves jumpy and nervous. They hear sound of growling, footfall,                                                                              creaks, groans, not made by other player characters (they are not real sounds, but                                                                                    sounds created by their nervous imagination)

Roll missed by 4                                               Character finds themselves jumpy and on edge. Any intelligence rolls have a +2-                                                                                      penalty due to stress with trouble in focusing thoughts. They also hear sounds.

Roll missed by 5                                               Character believes they see movements in the shadows or other visual stress induced                                                                             hallucinations. They may mistake another player character in the darkness for                                                                                           something else.  Intelligence roll with +2 penalty against friendly fire mistake.

Roll missed by 6                                               Character has Stress induced hallucinations seeing and hearing things that are not                                                                                    there, using their weapons to attack the imaginary foe. (game-master should tell                                                                                      player what their charters sees as if it was real)

Roll missed by 7 or more                                Character becomes frozen in fright their muscles unmoving, their gaze fixed and                                                                                       unseeing of their companions. Stress trance can be broken by a slap on the face or a                                                                               minor injury up to 3 points. In this state a serious wound will result in the character                                                                                   bolting and fleeing in total fear in any direction away from what they fear. (this fleeing                                                                             will not be a logical retreat back the way they came to a real safe place.)

bottom of page