Guide to the Salamandar

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You are born, you adventure, and you die. Maybe.

In the empires, magic is tamed. Small sparks, carefully controlled, power the machinery that pumps water to sturdy, warm homes. Spirits that once danced mayhem across the land now lie peacefully under the careful eye of the Church.

Merchants ring their bells on wide streets as dusk falls, unafraid of demon or wraith. Farmers toil in fields bounded by tall stone walls, safe from the beasts that plagued their ancestors in years just past the edge of memory.

But there is a gash in the earth. A place where ancient curses lurk and newborn sin crawls up from the depths to cut its sharp teeth on the bones of the pure. Law and reason have no purchase here. Were it not for whispers of treasures material and arcane sunken beneath its black soil, this land would be abandoned.

There will always be those who cast aside security to chase the scent of fortune. The foolhardy outcasts who would die for the chance to clutch at the strands of the unknown. These few venture into the Salamandar.

The Game

The Salamandar is untamed land. Far from the protections of the empires, a handful of outposts struggle to survive in the wilderness. Their reason for persisting is the same as their gravest threat: the sunken dungeons that riddle the Salamandar.

Some say the dungeons are the relics of civilizations long fallen. Others insist they are the work of shadowy cabals, or even the interconnected organs of a great, living beast. Whatever their origin, the heavy gold coins found in their depths are every bit as valuable as the Empress's own mint.

Such treasure does not come without cost. The very air in the Salamandar's dungeons hums with magic, twisting over itself in fractal folds. Impossible wonders nest in among unspeakable horrors, and both can take their toll on the uncareful explorer. Those who do return come back different. Touched by an alien world that is nothing like the stories they heard as children.

In the game of Salamandar, you play adventurers who delve into these dungeons. Your motives are your own, but your goal is to bring treasure up from the depths without falling prey to the dangers below.

Tread carefully.


Salamandar uses the usual 7 polyhedral dice.

When a die formula has two numbers separated by a diamond, roll the two dice in order and read their results as one number. For example, roll d4⬩6 by rolling a d4 and a d6. If you get a 3 and a 5, the result is 35.

To roll with advantage or disadvantage, roll an extra die and use only the most or least favorable result respectively. Advantage and disadvantage cancel each other but do not stack.

"Max" refers to the maximum possible result of a die roll. For example, a Mystic's HD is d6, so their HD max is 6.


Time spent exploring is measured in 10 minute spans, long enough to search a room for secret doors or plunder the pockets of fallen enemies. Each span, the party takes a collective action or adventurers take separate actions simultaneously.

Time in combat is measured in rounds of about a minute, split into turns of a few seconds. Each round, every combatant gets one turn: long enough to move about 30ft and take an action such as attacking, casting a spell, or heaving the lid off a sarcophagus.

At the beginning of each round, all adventurers declare the action they will take and roll for speed:

Combatants take turns in the order of their speed rolls, counting up from 1. Break ties however you wish. Monsters act at a fixed count based on their speed, always at a half-count so they never tie with adventurers.

After everyone has acted, apply any end-of-round effects and start a new round.


The three ability scores represent your general aptitudes.

Ability scores range from 1 to 19. To test an ability, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to the ability score, you succeed.

The three saving throws represent your knack for avoiding threats.

Saving throws range from 1 to 19. To save versus a threat, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to the saving throw, you succeed.

Armor class (AC) represents how difficult it is to land a damaging blow against you. Your unarmored AC is 0, and your AC increases when you wear armor.

Attack value (AV) represents your skill at landing a blow in combat. AVs range from 1 to 19. To attack, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to your AV and greater than the target's AC, the attack hits.


As you level up, you acquire skill slots. Fill a skill slot with a specific skill during play, the first time you use the skill. A skill grants you the ability to do something uncommon (such as Lockpicking), or advantage when doing something common (such as Fishing).


Flesh represents your physical wellbeing. Grit represents your composure, resolve, and energy. Maximum Flesh and Grit are based on your Hit Die (HD), determined by your class.

Damage reduces Grit first. After Grit reaches 0, further damage reduces Flesh. Flesh cannot be reduced below 0, but having 0 Flesh is a dangerous state.

While at 0 Flesh, endure a Scar whenever you take damage. Additionally, you risk a Scar anytime you take strenuous action. Save versus the most appropriate of Force, Rot, or Magic and endure a Scar if you fail. Resolve your action before enduring the Scar.

Retreating from danger generally isn't strenuous action, but attacking, casting a spell, or hauling a fallen comrade onto your shoulders is.


Scars are physical reminders of the violence you have engaged in. They make you stronger, but increase your risk of death.

When you endure a Scar, roll for the random body part affected. If you roll a result you have already recorded (considering only the first roll, so all "Arms" results are equivalent), die.

Otherwise, decide with the table the nature of the Scar and record it. Increase your max Flesh by 1.


Heal naturally by resting and eating.

Rest for 10 minutes to regain 1HD Grit. Eat a day's rations once per day to regain 1HD Flesh.

Rest for 8 hours to regain all your Grit. If you have eaten that day, also regain 1HD Flesh.

During downtime, regain all your Grit and Flesh.


Strenuous conditions cause Fatigue, which accumulates in 3 levels. The effects of each level are cumulative with the lower levels.

  1. Roll ability tests with disadvantage.
  2. Roll attacks with disadvantage.
  3. Roll saving throws with disadvantage, and attacks against you have advantage.

Rest comfortably for 8 hours and consume a day's rations to reduce your Fatigue to 0.

XP & Levels

Earn XP by retrieving Treasures from the dungeons of the Salamandar. A Treasure is a named, particularly desirable piece of loot with an XP value: 1 for the most common Treasures near the surface, and more for the deepest, most jealously guarded pieces.

Each Treasure brought to safety earns its XP value for each adventurer who helped retrieve it. The XP value is separate from any value in gold it might have.

In addition, earn 1 XP at the end of each session.

When you reach the XP threshold for the next level, level up as described in your class and reset your XP to 0.

Level XP
1 0
2 3
3 6
4 9
5 12
6 15
7 18
8 21
9 24
10 27

Combat & Equipment


To attack, roll d20. If the result is less than or equal to your AV, and also greater than the target's AC, the attack hits: roll the weapon's damage die.

A roll of exactly your AV is a Crit. Crits deal damage directly to Flesh.

A roll of exactly 20 is a Fumble. Fumbles have an unpleasant side effect for the attacker; the GM may invent one or roll on the table.

d6 Fumble consequences:

  1. Fall prone.
  2. Drop your weapon.
  3. Damage your weapon.
  4. Break a piece of equipment in your inventory.
  5. Deal half damage to yourself.
  6. Your target makes a free attack against you.

Special attacks

When you hit with an attack, optionally choose to trip, grapple, or otherwise inconvenience the target instead of dealing damage.

Attacks against the defenseless deal damage directly to Flesh. Attacks when flanking have advantage to hit.

When you wield two weapons, attack with advantage and roll the larger weapon's damage die on a hit. However, treat a 20 on either attack die as a Fumble.


Wearing armor increases your AC.

You can wear 1 helmet, 1 chestpiece, and 1 pair of greaves at once. Armor fits in your stowed inventory even while worn.

Armor interferes with your Agility. When you test Agility for the purposes of stealth, speed, or another task for which heavy and restrictive clothing could cause problems, treat a roll of less than or equal to your own AC as a failure.

Armor AC Inventory slots
Light +1 1
Heavy +2 2


Shields can block damage from successful attacks. When you would take damage from an attack, optionally roll the shield die for a shield you are holding and reduce the damage by the result.

When you roll max on the shield die, the shield is damaged. If a shield is damaged a second time before being repaired, it is destroyed. An armorer in town can repair damaged shields for a fee.

Shield Damage reduction Inventory slots
Light d4 1
Heavy d6 2


Melee weapons can attack targets 5ft away.

Reach weapons can attack targets 10ft away, but have disadvantage against targets within 5ft. When an enemy tries to approach closer than 10ft, you may make a free attack. A successful hit deals no damage but prevents the target from approaching.

Bows and all heavy weapons require two hands to wield.

Ranged weapons attack with disadvantage within 5ft and above their range. They cannot attack past twice their range.

Melee weapons:

Size Examples Damage
Unarmed 1
  • Dagger, knife, sap, cestus
  • Sword, axe, mace, staff
  • Reach: spear
  • Greatsword, greataxe, warhammer, flail
  • Reach: glaive, halberd, pike

Ranged weapons:

Size Examples Range Damage
Light Sling, blowgun 30ft d4
Medium Shortbow, crossbow 60ft d6
Heavy Longbow 200ft d8

Usage dice

Track consumable items such as arrows, torches, and lantern oil with usage dice. Each type of item has its own die, which increases or decreases along the sequence: empty–d4–d6–d8–d10–d12.

When you use a consumable item, roll its usage die. If the result is 1, decrease the die by one step. When you find a bundle of arrows or a flask of oil, increase the appropriate die by one step.

Roll usage for ammunition at the end of each round in which you attack with the weapon. Roll usage for lighting when you light a candle, torch, or lantern.


Spellcasting is the art of harnessing fickle magic into useful forms. To meddle with the arcane and the divine is to dance with danger, but the rewards are incalculable.


Expend Mana to cast spells. Your class and level determine your max Mana.

When you rest for 8 hours and eat a day's rations, regain all your spent Mana.


To cast a spell, spend Mana according to your class rules and complete any physical actions required by the spell's description or rites. Generally you must be able to speak and have a hand free to cast a spell.

A spell "cast in reaction" to a stimulus happens immediately, regardless of whether it is your turn.


A spell's effects are measured on the axes of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse. Any spell can manifest any combination of effects, dependent only on the caster's ability to shape it.




Tempting the Fates

Magic is inherently unpredictable, and especially so under pressure. When called to Tempt the Fates while casting a spell, roll on the Tempt the Fates table. Some results cause the spell to fail, while others add to the spell's usual effects.

Any time you take damage while maintaining the effects of a spell, either end the effects or Tempt the Fates.

While you maintain the effects of a spell, either end the effects or Tempt the Fates when you attempt to cast an additional spell.


An artifact holds the energy of a certain spell. Mages and Mystics sense the energy within an artifact and may test Wits to identify the spell. Test with advantage for spells in your class list.

Anyone can cast the spell from an artifact. Spend no Mana but roll d6. On a 1, Tempt the Fates and the artifact is destroyed.

Roll 3d6 for the effects of a Mystic artifact; each Mage artifact has set effects. If you have not identified the spell, choose a target and hope for the best.

Spellcasters may learn the spell from an artifact instead of learning a random spell at level up. Learning a spell from an artifact always destroys the artifact.



Fighters use blade and bow to dominate in physical combat.

Fighting Styles

When you defeat a worthy opponent in combat, learn from their technique. Once per level, choose a Fighting Style that you take away from such an exchange.

Fighting Styles should grant you a benefit either in specific situations or at the cost of a tradeoff. Discuss them with the table and the GM.

Earn Fighting Style slots when you level up and fill them during play upon defeating an opponent.



When your level increases:

  1. Reset your XP to 0.
  2. Increase your max Grit by d10.
  3. Adjust your saves, AV, and damage bonus according to the table.
  4. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  5. Gain a Fighting Style slot.
  6. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Damage
1 0 7 8 6 11 +1
2 3 7 11 6 12 +1
3 6 10 11 6 12 +2
4 9 10 11 9 13 +2
5 12 10 14 9 14 +2
6 15 13 14 9 14 +3
7 18 13 14 11 15 +3
8 21 13 17 11 16 +3
9 24 15 17 11 16 +4
10 27 15 17 13 17 +4


Thieves misdirect and deceive until the time is right to strike.

Sneak Attack

Set up a devastating Sneak Attack by stacking the deck against your foe.

Record a tick for each action that you take to prepare the upper hand over a target. On a successful attack against the target, unleash these preparations and roll 1 extra damage die for each tick. You can have up to your Sneak Attack ticks at any time; erase the ticks after the attack.

Actions might include rigging a trip wire or loosening a floorboard. They should be stealthy or obscure enough that the target cannot anticipate your purpose.

Stolen Aspects

You are not only a thief of mere trinkets. Once per level when you defeat a worthy opponent (whether by combat or otherwise), steal an Aspect. An Aspect can be either:



When your level increases:

  1. Reset your XP to 0.
  2. Increase your max Grit by d8.
  3. Adjust your saves, AV, and Sneak Attack according to the table.
  4. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  5. Gain a Stolen Aspect slot.
  6. Gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Sneak Attack
1 0 8 6 7 10 1
2 3 11 6 7 11 1
3 6 11 6 10 11 2
4 9 11 9 10 12 2
5 12 14 9 10 12 3
6 15 14 9 13 13 3
7 18 14 11 13 13 4
8 21 17 11 13 14 4
9 24 17 11 15 14 5
10 27 17 13 15 15 5


Mages poke and prod the arcane, risking its wrath in order to shape it to their will.

Your Hit Die is d6. You have 6 Flesh, and d6 Grit per level.

Learning spells

You can learn Mage spells.

When you learn a spell from an artifact, it maintains the same effects as the artifact. Otherwise, roll your level d6 and assign one result to each of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse. For example, a 3 could be assigned to significant, lingering, or few. At level 1 and 2, treat the missing dice as 1s. These effects apply every time you cast the spell.

Roll to learn Intensity Duration Expanse Casting cost (mana)
1–2 curious fleeting one 0
3–4 significant lingering few 1
5–6 profound lasting many 2

Sum the casting cost for the effects and add 1; this is the Mana you must spend to cast the spell. For example, the casting cost for a profound/fleeting/few spell is 2+0+1+1=4 Mana. Finally roll d12; if the result is less than the casting cost, roll for rites which you must complete any time you cast the spell.

Casting spells

To cast a spell, spend the spell's casting cost in Mana and perform the casting rites, if any.

If you have no Mana left, you can still cast. Tempt the Fates instead of spending Mana.

When you cast a spell on an unwilling target, the target saves to resist the effects. Spells cast on willing or inanimate targets always succeed.



When your level increases:

  1. Reset your XP to 0.
  2. Increase your max Grit by d6.
  3. Adjust your saves, AV, and Mana according to the table.
  4. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  5. Reroll the effects, casting cost, and casting rites for 1 spell you know. Keep either the old or the new result.
  6. Learn a spell from an artifact, or roll to learn a random spell. If you roll a spell you already know, choose any Mage spell.
  7. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Mana
1 0 7 6 8 10 12
2 3 7 6 11 11 16
3 6 10 6 11 11 20
4 9 10 9 11 11 24
5 12 10 9 14 12 28
6 15 13 9 14 12 32
7 18 13 11 14 12 36
8 21 13 11 17 13 40
9 24 15 11 17 13 44
10 27 15 13 17 13 48


Mystics are conduits for the magic of the wild gods.

Your Hit Die is d6. You have 6 Flesh, and d6 Grit per level.

You serve a specific wild god. Your god grants you abilities and the promise of a known afterlife, in exchange for carrying out their will among mortals.


When an ally dies in your presence, you may spend 10 minutes consecrating the place of their passing. You, your allies, and those favored by your god heal at twice the natural rate from resting in this place.

Learning spells

You can learn Mystic spells.

Learning a spell involves discovering the right way to ask your god for their divine intervention. When you learn a spell, write it down and note any casting rites. Each time you cast it, the effects can be different.

Casting spells

The wild gods have a tenuous connection to the needs of mortals, so the results of spellcasting are always unpredictable.

To cast a spell, perform the rites, roll 1 or more d6, and spend 1 Mana for each die rolled. Assign one result to each of Intensity, Duration, and Expanse to determine the effects of the spell, treating missing dice as curious/fleeting/one. If you roll any doubles, Tempt the Fates.

Roll to cast Intensity Duration Expanse
1–2 curious fleeting one
3–4 significant lingering few
5–6 profound lasting many

If you have no Mana left, you can still cast. Instead of spending Mana, Tempt the Fates and roll 3d6 for spell effects.



When your level increases:

  1. Reset your XP to 0.
  2. Increase your max Grit by d6.
  3. Adjust your saves, AV, and Mana according to the table.
  4. Choose a feat. You can only take each feat once.
  5. Learn a spell from an artifact, or roll to learn a random spell. If you roll a spell you already know, choose any Mystic spell.
  6. Odd levels: gain a skill slot.
Level XP Force save Rot save Magic save AV Mana
1 0 6 7 8 10 9
2 3 6 7 11 11 12
3 6 6 10 11 11 15
4 9 9 10 11 11 18
5 12 9 10 14 12 21
6 15 9 13 14 12 24
7 18 11 13 14 12 27
8 21 11 13 17 13 30
9 24 11 15 17 13 33
10 27 13 15 17 13 36

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