Maze Rats v5.3 – Hot Springs Island-hopping Edition

v.5.3 is a modified version of Ben Milton’s v.4.3 of Maze Rats. Here it is.

EDIT: This game has been updated. Find it here!

I’m using this to run Hot Springs Island (see a text review here and a video review here) as an open table game, which I picked up at Gen Con this year.

Lightly Annotated:

  • Danger rolls and stats stay as they are.
  • Side-based initiative. Forever and always.
  • Lower armor and no shield-breaking to change a hit to 0 damage.
  • Attack Bonus (AB) based on weapon type (unarmed = -1, ranged = +0, light melee = +1, heavy melee = +2).
  • No more Critical Hits when you roll boxcars. It would always weird-out the math.
  • Dying rules instead of straight death at 0 Health. New Dying rules includes Scars.
  • Exploration rules right from HSI.
  • Hazard roll included in the rules.
  • Bartering rules instead of gold amounts. Money is abstracted (stolen liberally from PbtA’s Uncharted Worlds).
  • New XP questions (based on this article) to vary up the options for ways to advance.
  • Increased Health at level 1 so no one dies in only one hit. Lower Health increase per level to offset this early boost.
  • Having a goal and relationship is now a part of character creation. Get your players invested in the world!
  • Many (72) brief, interesting backgrounds with a lot of room for interpretation. Roll once for your father’s side and once for your mother’s. Instant family tree (or at least the start of one).

New archetypes!

  • Mystic, a wizard that rolls for spells. As they level, they obtain access to more spells and can further control the winds of magic.
  • Disciple, an adventurer devoted to a cause or deity. They have more reliable magics than the wizard, which makes them more predictable and dependable.
  • Vagabond, a tough-as-nails adventurer. They use their signature weapon and superior skills to loot the deep places of the world.
  • Each class has a unique table!
  • This list of spells is a modified, alphabetized form of Knave’ spells. #94 is my favorite.

There it is. All in five pages. Enjoy.

Merry Christmas! 🙂

23 thoughts on “Maze Rats v5.3 – Hot Springs Island-hopping Edition

  1. This is fantastic! I like how you changed the armor and damage rules!
    I have two questions for you:
    You vagabond covers both the thief/specialist and the fighter type of character: why did you decide to not separate the two archetypes, like you have done with cleric and wizard?
    How do you create monster stats? I have seen that the original maze rats rules have some guidelines about monster building, but since you have already done a semi-long campaign, I’m curious to know about your process
    Thank you!

    1. For the classes, I had a few things I wanted:
      -A more in-depth mage (because the magic systems in Maze Rats and Knave are excellent) to represent the chaotic side of random spells and big pools of magic.
      -A more reliable spell caster (AKA cleric) because there is no reliable healing in Maze Rats (which I love, but got a lot of complaints for).
      -A martial class, because the Conan adventurer is awesome. A lot of classless games like Knave and Maze Rats lean into this very well. The problem I found is that there aren’t a ton of mechanically interesting options with someone like that while keeping it brief. So I combined the warrior and skill monkey to make the generic adventurer. And I use the term “generic adventurer” quite fondly.

      As for monsters: I made a post here, just for you: https://dreamingdragonslayer.wordpress.com/2020/01/09/maze-rats-5-3-monsters/

      1. Thank you very much for the post!!
        now that you put it in that way, I think that your vagabond is cooler than two separate mundane classes

    1. OG 4.3 Maze Rats. I haven’t mentioned it, but I printed out a booklet form of that game two years ago and I use it all the time. There’s a 6×6 table in there for both Insanity and Mutation. That booklet is the single best resource I own… And it only cost me a couple of cents to print out.

      Otherwise, I just make it up.

      The Metamorphica is also something I’ve flipped through for more ideas. Also a good resource: https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/198038/The-Metamorphica-Revised

  2. Hello, I know that I’m late, but I am very happy to find this new rule, I liked them a lot. I have a question why you didn’t use the magic of “normal” maze rats for the Wizard? And why you decided to use the one from Knave? Thanks for the time to answer this.

    1. It’s a little too “interpret-y” for my tastes. The spells from Knave are more straightforward: a player rolls them, and they’re understood. The player and I don’t have to figure out what “Cone Snake” means (and I say that with nothing but affection for the game).

      Coincidently, I also put this out today, which was scheduled before you made your comment, funny enough: https://dreamingdragonslayer.wordpress.com/2021/03/04/island-rats/

      1. Life is full of surprises, jaja

        Thanks for the answer, seems perfectly fine. But you have to do “the chat” with the Disciple player for the Dominion Miracle? Or maybe I understood that wrong.

        Sorry for my clumsy English it’s not my first language.

      2. That’s a good point. I do have that chat with the Disciple for their Dominion, just I do for the Mage’s Quintessence and the Vagabond’s Armament. It’s different as it happens before the character “enters” the world. With the original Maze Rats magic, you have to do that with each spell, each session. That feels more like “making it up as you go” than deciding the rule before the game starts.

        Just a preference.

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