Showing posts with label House Rules. Show all posts
Showing posts with label House Rules. Show all posts

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Movement Game

In AD&D, movement is not real clear. On page 39, of the PHB distance is covered. 1" is 10 yards outside or 10 feet inside. Ah, easy. Next it says: "Your referee will have information which will enable him or her to adjust the movement rate to the applicable time scale for any situation".

Actually, that's not true. The information is on 101 and 102 of the PHB. Characters move 12" per round or 120 feet per minute. Outside, the rate changes to 12" = 12 miles per half day of travel, where "day" is defined as "daylight hours". Encumbered characters move less.

It is all very reasonable, so long as one doesn't ask "how fast can I move?". If you can run an 8 and half minute mile, you're moving at 62" in game terms or 621 feet per minute. An Olympic runner would be much faster. That is totally nuts.

But why break the math like this? This is AD&D, not a running simulator.

Last session, my players got in a dice heavy combat that came dangerously close to killing several of them and as the DM, I didn't realize how bad it was. 8 NPCs were actually killed, in some cases over-killed.

In this session, I wanted that fun without the element of danger and without railroading the characters with imaginary danger. The players realized the scenario was good fun without too much danger.

Here are the rules:

  1. A character can move 12" per segment, or 6 seconds. Encumbered characters move less fast.   
  2. At these speeds, no weapons can be used. 
  3. Turning 45 degrees costs 1" of forward movement. 
    1. Diagonal movement on the ground has no penalty as the character moving parkour style. 
    2. Diagonal movement for flying creatures is doubled. One unit at a 45 degree angle counts double as they need to avoid things to stay airborne. 
    3. Turning 90 degrees costs 3" of forward movement.
    4. To stop, one must roll a 1d4 to see how many inches they will travel before stopping. 
  4. You can hit people with things in the environment, such as tree limbs, baskets, boxes, etc. 
  5. Everyone is AC 10 to these attacks, less Dex bonus and magical item bonus.
  6. These attacks don't do damage, they change the target's facing. 
  7. Roll to hit vs. AC 10, then roll a 6 sided die for effect. Consult the following table: 
    1. Turned 90 degrees to the left for free, but returning to your previous course costs 3".
    2.  As above, but to the right. 
    3. Turned 45 degrees to the right for free, but returning to your previous course costs 1". 
    4. As above, except to the left. 
    5. You hurtled the object and moved one 1" forward for free. 
    6. You are knocked down. You are motionless for the remainder of the segment. 
  8. Repeat as long as the fun allows. 
What is great about this system, is everyone can participate with little danger of death. Of course, wiley characters will invent ways to kill each other like this.

As near as I can tell, there is no good way to implement normal combat with this set of mini rules. Some rules of thumb. Bow fire could come once every 5 segments, twice per round and always comes last in the order above. Crossbows can fire immediately on segment 1, but then have to reload over the next ten segments. The interesting effect of bow fire and crossbow fire, is the environment itself. In a crowded city street, even a slow character can step around a corner preventing a shot from landing or even being fired.

As far as melee weapons go, even a lowly magic user or urchin should be able to stay one jump ahead...

Monday, December 2, 2019

I Totally "Invented" My Own Archery Rules for AD&D and It Screws Up Everything

The other day, I had a game session that featured an awful lot of archery. Bow fire in this campaign turns out to be very deadly. It probably didn't help that between myself and the player characters, over a half dozen 20s were rolled in a single combat.

I decided to look back at my PHB and DMG for AD&D e1 to see what I was doing wrong.  According to the PHB, characters get two shots per round. On page 61 of the DMG, missile fire comes after evasion, parley and awaiting other party moves. Step 4 D covers all kinds of distance attacks. The old wargamer in me sees no problem with this.

Bow wielding characters can fire twice before the onset of melee in Step 4 E. But the question in my mind is: do you have to shoot twice? Since you have two shots, can you invoke 4 A, B, or C in lieu of your second shot? The extremes of this are "yes, what if you only have one arrow?" or "no, you missed your chance this round".

As a player, I have seen the "best" way of avoiding this is to have each character roll their own initiative. As a player, I like this choice, but as a DM, I think it's too much paper work and dice throwing. I am certain to goof this much dice action up. 

My house rules make clarify to the order of battle, without making too much of hash out of out. It does have the effect of making bows more deadly.

Here is how I handle initiative. If all parties are in one group, then they get one die roll modified by the best player's reaction. As a reward for that reaction bonus, the best player goes before all others on his team. Everyone else in each party is going at rough they same time.

Sometimes, I have a three or four way initiative if there a number of players not in the same general area. Note: I never allow separated members to roll for surprise on their own. Surprise is strictly an all or nothing affair. The curve on a six-sider makes an extra surprise opportunity too deadly.

Typically, in the first round of action missile fire is king and it is important to get off all missiles into the closest targets first. In the second round, spells are trump arrows, as they tend to hit harder and archers have to start selecting targets more carefully.

I don't really need to think about missile fire as fragmented actions until the second round.

I use a modified initiative system:

1. Roll for initiative. Win or lose, the player/npc that provided a bonus goes first for his team.
2. Side A proceeds down the sequence of combat.
3. Side B proceeds down the sequence of combat.
4. Side A performs any awaited actions. (Repeat 4 A-H from DMG)
5. Side B performs any awaited actions. (Repeat 4 A-H from DMG)
6. Last actions occur, such as slow monsters always striking last. If there is more than one, they are simultaneous. Do not repeat 4 A-H, it's a free-for-all.
7. Go back to one.

If a character decides to hold an arrow for some contingent event like a new opponent stepping into the battle, that is an awaited action and occurs at either 4 or 5 of the sequence above. It turns out that players who are used to the bow mechanics don't always shoot when they can. 

I have some other special rules.

  • Magic trumps missile fire. Either the spell was prepared last round* and is available first or is coming from a device with no prep time. 
  • Once you shoot, you can drop your bow and draw a weapon. You can't melee this round but are ready to do so in the next round. 
  • Missile fire can occur while advancing at a walk (or on a mount) with no penalty. 
  • An archer jogging fires at a -2. Running is a -4. Sprinting is right out. Mount speed is treated the same as character speed, so a running horse is just as bad for shooting as the player running.   
  • If an enemy charges AT someone with a ready missile weapon, their AC is reduced by 2 for thrown weapons and 4 for bows and crossbows. The target is only getting bigger. 
  • Shooting at a foe moving quickly across your field of view is done at a -1 for running and -2 for sprinting. This is ignored if charging a ready archer. I am pretty sure much of this is right out of Car Wars
Shooting into a melee is kind of interesting in my game. Instead of trying to figure out cover, size, and concealment, I merely note which guy has cover or concealment and which does not. The archer rolls two to hit dice for each arrow, because there are two targets. Typically, one will hit and one will miss and the damage is applied to the target hit. It's fun to shoot your friends in the back! 

If both dice indicate a hit, the first two points of damage are applied to the target which was providing cover or concealment. All remaining points are applied to the covered or concealed target as the completely stopped the arrow's motion. If there is nothing left to damage the second target, oh well. 20s are handled as per normal, doubling the damage to that target. 

In this method, I do not consider the flanking or back attack modifiers. It makes things too deadly and besides, the archer is at a disadvantage because he is trying to avoid one of the targets anyway. His ability to hit anyone is degraded. 

How do you handle missile fire in AD&D? 


*I do have a handful special rule for spells to make this system work. Once you prep a spell, you can hold it as long as the spell description says OR as long as you do nothing more than walk or turn, which every is MORE restrictive. Casters can step behind barriers and pop out later with a spell prepped, but can't go prone as that requires not holding your hands correctly. 

If combat ends before the moment of casting, the caster can pull back the power in a controlled fashion, so they don't lose a prepped spell for a lack of opportunity. It saves on rest and study time. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Never, Ever Do I Ever... Horses, Drownings and First Aid.


I never let my characters have a skill called "horsemanship", "swimming" or "first aid". Know why? Killing a player because they don't have these skills is painful. Boring. Nothing is worse than being in bored and in pain. I wrote a book just for that reason. 

If a player wants to role play that they can't ride a horse, the other players can cart him around like a bag of oats. No need for silly rolls. I'm not prepping a campaign for players where one of them wants to die of a horseshoe to the face.

How hard it is it to jump in the ocean in a full set of plate armor, shield and sword? Super easy. Why roll? It's obvious as to what happens next.

One time, I amused myself with this very scenario by having the player to roll a four to succeed. As an epic battle of life and death raged around him, he was the only person not in on the joke.

"No... you're still aliv- er, hanging in there... keep rolling..."

I have this rule that characters aren't dead until they hit -10 hp and once you hit zero or less, you lose one point per round. Anyone attending to that character stops to the hit point drop. It creates an interesting scenario where the wizard drops to -4 hp, and all the way down to -7 before the cleric hits him with a cure light wounds for 4 points leaving them at -3 until they heal naturally. It's a couple of days before the wizard wakes up.

No need to screw any of the characters by telling them the medic couldn't figure out the arrow was the problem due to a bad roll. This is realistic for some reasons and total BS for others. In the Middle Ages, if you didn't respond to treatment, they'd bleed you. Save vs. Barber? No thanks.

Why do this? Because I like to reuse bad guys. A dude with a club isn't assured of killing someone with it unless they beat that person downed and beyond. If THAT doesn't occur to the players, well, I can be lazy with their enemies and they can have endless rematches with opponents. My NPCs can have names.

Which is more legendary, beating someone to death in a dark, dank, dungeon or having a horde of people who refuse to fight you because they don't want to be whupped again, third time this month? 

In my last aborted campaign, the "heroes" hacked apart 4 raiders that wouldn't surrender and took two captive. The captives were obviously intimidated by the PC's bloodthirsty treatment of their friends. Although the campaign ended, one of the players put two and two together and realized that the prisoners were the ones responsible for most... actually all of the raiding parties kills in the village. The 4 guys killed were a patrol that didn't mix it up with anyone. They let the wrong people live.

Trust me, that would have come back to haunt the party.

The lesson is, don't give people stupid skills.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Drinking from Pods - Red Dice Diaries

Lately, I have listening to a bunch of different podcasts, new and old stuff. One 'cast that stands out to me is The Red Dice Diaries. John Alan Large has been hosting the show for a while now, and he has many interesting titles. This week I picked four: Potions (new), Magic Items (also new), DMing Rough Spot and Setting Agnostic vs Setting Specific. The first 3 I listened to really made me think of all the games I've played, to extent of not listening (yet) to the last.

Back when AD&D was the big boy game for TSR, we had about 12 regular players but only 3 of us would GM. Mark had an excellent style that was deeply planned out, but he rarely branched out into improvising anything. If it wasn't in the book, it didn't happen. Doug had an excellent game plan, but improv'd his way through everything. The rule book was something for the dice to fall on. My style was someplace between the two, very well planned out but using almost improvisational style comedy to make a point.

Doug was my best friend, so we argued. But it was a strange sort of arguing. If I didn't like something he did, I'd say so, but didn't expect this to change anything at the table. Usually, it didn't matter much. But for one campaign, Doug switched up his style and went entirely by the book. I couldn't get a sense of what he was doing and tried to play characters as smash mouth, in your face sort of people.

It didn't work out at all. My characters would level up the fastest and get the best equipment, but I died six times. My last character was "Reg". That wasn't his name. Doug asked me what kind of character I had rolled up and I answered, "Aw, just one of the regulars." Man, did that make him laugh. And the tag stuck. Reg the Magic User.

As a player, I understood the REASON for the change in style. The issue was Doug wanted to tell a complete story, therefore he needed to drop the goofy, light-hearted improv. My characters kept dying because I didn't know what story they were in.

Reg the Magic User broke out of that by being dangerously wrong genre savvy. He was also help by some incredible luck. I am not much of a magic user type, so I advanced by wit and cunning rather than magic. Usually by the end of the session, I had expended most of my 1st level spells, but nothing higher.

One bit of luck I had was a couple of magical items meant for the party cleric who expired before they could claim them. I could heal. An old man gave all of the characters magic weapons, except me, who received a black rock and a bag of holding. We battle a witch, killed a massive pack of wild animals and generally hunted for loot. We chased a unicorn and bought a ship.

One player found a green ring of regeneration, which I identified for them. At the time, I asked if there were any other magic rings in the treasure.

Doug said, "Yes."
I asked, "What kind is it?"
"What kind do you think it is?" Doug answered.
"Flying!"
Doug rolls some dice and says, "It is a yellow ring of flying!"

You totally know where this is going right? For the next year or so, my ring of delusion provided endless humorous to horrifying scenarios.

Doug decided that if my character had time, then he would cast fly on himself while attributing the magic to the ring. Unsurprisingly, my character would discover they forgot to study that third level spell. However, if my character ever tried to fly spontaneously or with no prep time, the ring would fail.

This went on for over a year, the player tagging off the DM to create interesting stories. Suddenly, the campaign ended, as we had completed the story, whatever that was. I had though the whole thing was lost on me due to my style of play. I couldn't figure out what the point was, or what the ending meant, but I did have a lot of fun. That seemed to be the message sent.

Fast forward 25+ years. I was watching a movie with my kids. There was a scene that left me dumbfounded. I picked up the phone and called Doug. "Reg was in Narnia!"

"Yes!"

I got it. Being a good DM goes beyond storytelling and being a good player doesn't have to follow expectations.

Monday, June 10, 2019

House Rule - Empowering Arcane Casters

For years, I battled my players on Magic Users and Illusionist. No one would play them because at low level, they can't survive combat. Of course, they can't. They aren't meant to rush headlong into combat. You need those clerics, thieves and of course, the mighty fighting man to smash whatever remains of the enemy after the Magic User has his or her way with them. Once a couple of spells are released, Magic Users should take a back seat to the action.

No one likes the back seat.

I even had trouble trying to get players multi-classing MUs. My players' opinion was that fighters fight, thieves steal and Magic Users use magic. And never the three should meet. Two of my players advanced a ranger and paladin to spell casting levels, but then never used the option because they believed it to be to unbalancing.

I was always a fan of Fighter-Magic User-Thief when I couldn't be a Bard under AD&D, and wanted my players to do the same.

In an effort to inject something attractive to the players into the Magic User classes, I tried some house rules. The only one seemed to appeal to the players was Counter Magic. Back then, I didn't have the whole thing codified like I do now, so it was a relatively unsuccessful trial run of House Rules.

Two other ideas struck me: Down Casting and Crisis Casting. They also turned out to be untenable.

Down Casting is simple. The character has a certain number of spells of certain levels. A fifth level Magic User has 4 first level spells, 2 second level spells and 1 third level spell. When Down Casting is in play, the Magic User can forgo his or her third level spell and convert that to 3 second level spells. They can take it a step further and convert a second level spell into 2 first level spells. Note that you get x number of spells based on the level of the forgone spell. I had thought this was diminishing returns, but it wasn't enough.

You can probably see how that didn't work. While we were play testing this rule, the 5th level Magic User Down Casted his 3rd level spell to two second level spells, then Down Cast all of his second level spells to first level spells. He then spent the entire combat casting magic missile. I am uncertain as to how many times that was, but he could have potentially put 36 magic missiles in to the enemy. I recall they ran out of enemies really fast.

I still think the idea has merit, but needs a different mechanic to prevent a magic missile MERV attack.

Crisis Casting was a little more successful, but also equally untenable. The rule was, if a Magic User has 10 or less hit points and is hit for damage, they regain memorized one first level spell. I had intended for this ability to make a spell caster more dangerous in combat, but it ultimately caused the deaths of several characters.

From a DM's perspective, Crisis Casting seemed to be a cure for any number of tactical problems. However, in practice, it made the Magic Users too aggressive. Instead of using Push, Jump, Spider Climb or Feather Fall to take control the tactical situation, most player simply unleashed another offensive spell. Usually of the type which didn't help them the first time. It could be that with limited spell slots available and combat being on the mind, they didn't memorize the right spells to make good use of the talent.

I'm probably going to try to reintroduce these option in my next campaign, but need to rethink each of them. I have the most hope for Counter Casting. What do you think?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Gotta love a sale! Rules Cyclopedia on DriveThru

Rules Cyclopedia is on sale at DriveThruRPG. This game was published back in 1991, long after I had abandoned my Basic D&D campaign. This set of rules brought me back to Basic.

Being a player from way back, perhaps 1977 or so, the concept of "edition" was not real clear. I had started with D&D and moved on to AD&D as it seemed like the expected direction. Transitioning from D&D to AD&D seemed expected, but felt unnatural. When second Edition appeared, I had little concept of what it was. It didn't feel like AD&D that I knew, so I did my best to ignore it.

I had difficulties ignoring 2.0 as Unearthed Arcana seemed to be the first indication that a new edition was coming. Back in the 1990s, it was possible to see all of the various sets, in pieces, on a store shelf and it was very unclear as to what was happening.

My campaign had evolved from D&D to AD&D without regard to the change in setting. Our band of adventurers absorbed new materials and tossed others aside. While I said I was playing in Greyhawk, our shared world was a mishmash of Blackmoor, Greyhawk, Mystara and Hollow World, with Mystara taking the lead place.

When I found Cyclopedia on the shelves of my local Waldenbooks, I was entranced. It expanded on classes and levels while adding a few new spells and most importantly, weapon mastery and character skills. It was exactly what I was looking for. Gone was the one paragraph explanation of skills.

I immediately incorporated it into my hodgepodge campaign with only a few tweaks to make it fit the AD&D rule set. All abilities were generated as per the AD&D methods while character classes of race could either be played as described in AD&D or per Cyclopedia's rules.

Technically, that combo of classes and races vs classes should have been very broken, but as players, we made it work. The RC Druid was a subclass of Druid from AD&D, Mystics became a subclass of Monk. The Racial Classes became the "default class" of those races, as if someone didn't pick a specific class to play.

And we loved it.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

The Handy Post - Handling Hands

Ah, we all have that player that wants grab an advantage. The easiest advantage to seize upon is being ambidextrous. Two hands, two attacks. Right?

Well... by the rules, sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

Ok, let's look at a scenario where someone actually needs both hands. A boxer. This is the default ruling that opens up the whole "left hand AND right hand as an advantage" line of thought. It is pretty natural to swing one hand then the other. It's like walking or breathing. My house rule is that left and right punches or kicks have no bearing on the game. There is no penalty if someone kicks left and punches right, even in the same round. The motion lends itself to the practice.

What about a sword fighter? Well, to be honest, fighting men probably bust their wrists a lot, so it would not be implausible for them to train as if ambidextrous. Archers train heavily and off hand shooting would be something they would explore as a gimmick or challenge. Wizards and clerics casting spells probably causes them to do the same.

So, most of your characters should be ambidextrous... to an extent. It might be plausible for a wizard to write with either hand because all of their magic is focused on hand movements, but a fighter isn't going be especially noted for writing, period. Fighting, the focus of most games, should not incur a penalty for using the off hand. Hockey players, baseball players and other athletes typically have the ability to use their off hand, sometimes even with the wrong type of tool because they are professionals. And all RPG characters are professionals, so the logic neatly follows.

However, using your off hand for other, uncommon tasks should incur a -2 penalty. Say, painting a picture with the off hand, especially when your character isn't a professional artist.

What the players are really asking for is a second attack because the character has two hands. The rules are punishing, a significant penalty because this is a gimmicky move. And unfortunately, these rules get abused by both players and DMs. When should it apply?

When the player is demanding a cheap and easy advantage for goofy reasons the negatives should apply.

History is full of cases where people walk into combat with two weapons. The player abuses this fact. A soldier with a sword and dagger will likely use one item to parry and one item to attack, which one depends on the circumstances. And it's fluid, they switch back and forth. For example, a swordsman may make an obvious "attack" with the sword only to swing the dagger in because the sword was blocked. That is one attack, the sword wasn't really swung with the intent to hit, merely to tie up the opponent's attention and weapon. The DM should be aware that this was relatively common, so she or he shouldn't want to invoke this penalty at this time.

How do you simulate this?

Option one: Average weapon damage. If a character has two daggers, then they do (1d4+1d4)/2. If they have a long sword and dagger, they do (1d4+1d8)/2. At first glance this looks odd. How can a dagger do 5 points of damage? We have two weapons and there is a small chance that both land hits, but one of them was far less effective than the other because it wasn't swung with intent. To this end, if a 20 is rolled, both weapons have hit but instead of double damage, the player merely rolls damage once for each weapon and adds them together. It could be great or could be poor.

Option two: Have the player declare which is the parry weapon, forcing them to roll for damage with the other weapon. In this case, the player has the option of either weapon and is technically declaring which hand they are using without saying so much. Damage rolls for a 20 are back to the normal double. Technically, they are handling two weapons, but don't have a chance with one of them. 

If they player insists they can swing both weapons at the same time, this is when you start piling on the off hand penalties. They aren't entitled to two attacks because they aren't skilled enough. So add those penalties up.

Now, what happens if the character IS entitled to two or more attacks? Nothing in the rules says that the player can't swing one mace 3 times in a round, nor does it say they can't kick someone as an attack in lieu of swinging the mace. Let them do it. Options one and two can be combined with this, if the character is so armed.

How do you handle two weapon attacks in your campaign? Let me know in the comments.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

House Rules - Combat Tempo - Swinging Two Weapons

Many PLAYERS attempt to gain an advantage by swing two weapons at once. The various sets of rules accommodate this in one of two ways:

1) the character is simply swinging two weapons very fast, like a skill-less boxer.
2) the character is high level and receives extra attacks.

The first has a significant penalty, while the second does not.

My house rules handle these events slightly differently. Unarmed characters, who are not monks, can punch or kick twice per round. They receive no penalty unless they are making a last attack after losing a morale check. Failing a morale check removes any strength bonuses as the character is panicked. They are kicking and punching to get away, not to do damage.

By the way, punches do 1d2 points of damage per hand and kicks do 1d3.

Having established that it is natural to attack with both feet or hands and that panicking is bad, we move to the next scenario: Weapons. If a player has a weapon and a free hand, they can attack with the weapon and punch or kick at the same time. There is no penalty, as being unshielded is a penalty enough.

Characters may use a shield as a weapon, but they operate paradoxically. Bucklers do 1d3 points of damage plus strength bonus, while larger shields are relatively ineffective as weapons and do not do damage. A large shield, although it does no damage, it can disrupt a spell casters ability to cast and can foil a missile attack against another character. To hit someone in this fashion with a shield, one must normally be able to use a shield. Fighters, clerics, assassins, etc.

Now let's add in that second weapon. A character with a long sword and a dagger, 1d8 damage and 1d4 respectively, can use the tempo of combat to strike or threaten with both weapons each round. Only one attack roll is made. The effect is that the damage is shifted to a point between the two weapons: 1d6. Maybe they hit lightly with both weapons or perhaps they used one to force an opponent into dropping their guard for a single attack with the opposite weapon. Which one happened is not important, we are merely empowering players to act out realistic scenarios as they see their characters behaving. If a character is using two equal weapons, say two short swords or a mace and short sword which do 1d6 each, there is no change to the damage. It is simply a 1d6 roll.

In the AD&D rule set, there are significant penalties to swing both weapons at once. These rules should remain in effect when a character is unskilled, panicked or otherwise unwilling to be subtle in their attacks. Given the choice of using combat tempo or taking a big penalty, when would a character desire the penalty? Attacking massive creatures that can't strike back, attacking from behind, attacking creatures where a little damage is worse than no damage.

The last scenario, when a fighter gains multiple attacks can be handled either by the combat tempo rule which reduces damage, OR they pick one weapon to swing OR they can do the crazy "two at once" swing with a penalty. The player should choose based on the needs of the situation.

Did you know I have a little book called Zero to Hero: Uncommon Commoners, over at DrivethruRPG? It contains all kinds of rules you can use in your campaign. Give it a try, it's pay what you want.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

House Rules: Oh, no you don't!

I've always like the idea of counter magic. On several occasions I have thought of implementing it into my campaigns.

For a dirty hack applicable to most game systems, I would use the following system:

1) Magic user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Is not prepping a spell themselves,
3) Makes a save vs. magic,
4) Enemy spell is disrupted and fails to function.
5) Enemy spell caster does not lose the spell.

1) Magic user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Magic user has the exact spell memorized,
3) Is not prepping a spell themselves,
4) Makes a save vs. magic,
5) Enemy spell is reflected on to them.
6) Both spell casters lose that spell.

1) Magic user knows the spell being cast at them,
2) Magic user has the exact spell memorized,
3) Magic user chooses to prep that spell themselves.
4) Target magic user makes a saving throw vs. magic, Spell is reflected back at enemy,
5) Enemy makes a saving throw vs. magic. If passed, the spell is reflected back at the original target.
6) Cycle repeats until the spell strikes either caster.
7) Every cycle adds 1 to the damage roll, if applicable.
8) Whoever is hit by the spell loses that spell, the other caster does not lose the spell.
9) Magic users hit by spells in this fashion will experience subduing damage, meaning that they can't be killed outright in this fashion.

A couple of other thoughts. The subduing damage is there to encourage players to use this ability. First, being a magic user effectively allows you to shield the rest of the party. The magic users, friendly and enemy casters attract spells meant for other targets while countering magic. A magic user struck by a spell with an area of effect is a barrier to that magic. The effect of the spell will not pass a plane defined as a wall 90 degrees to the angle of the spell's path. People standing between dueling magic users can be hit by an area of effect spell, but those standing behind either caster are unaffected as the magic user absorbed that power.

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

3.5 House Rules - Arrows

I don't like tracking arrows. Treasure Hunters HQ has posted on this very issue. Treasure Hunters HQ has a whole collection of posts to make your game more interesting and flow better than ever before. Everything from shields to magical unguents. Go ahead and follow them, the HQ is full of good ideas.

Ah... back to the point. Arrows. Tracking arrows on character sheets simply burns holes in the sheet. It is annoying and subject to abuse. Many years ago, I realized that player's will cheat on ammo more than any other thing. Why? Because, it is annoying. To avoid it, I tended to have the players encounter lots of arrows, either because the enemy had them, they were working from a fortification, or they had a natural pause to collect up their used arrows. Some players will want to roll a number to see if the arrow broke, but that is as exciting as my other pet peeve, save vs. drowning.

After a while, I decided to impose a rule that if a player rolled a 1 with ranged weapons, they fumbled the quiver and dropped all of their arrows on the ground. Picking one up, pulling one from a target or returning an arrow shot at the player takes time, a single action. If the character doesn't take any other action, they can refill a quiver in a single round. It seemed reasonable, since the standard has been changed from a quantity to have something or don't have something.

My primary issue with running out of arrows as a DM is, the rules don't take "out of ammo" into account. It is assumed the characters have a functional method of attack, and a certain quality of weapons. But if the requisite ammo is missing, they have neither. Suddenly striping the characters of missile weapons isn't really accounted for in the rules. While a good DM will give players and characters time to reprovision, the DM really can't account for 4 character's missile counts on the fly.

Monday, December 28, 2015

3.5 House Rules – A Crock of Equipment

Sometimes, deception is required for characters to make headway. If a caravan is ambushed every time there are no obvious defenders, it may be beneficial to hand the wizard a lance. Weapons, no matter how old or unserviceable maybe pressed into service for deceptive purposes. I have a house rule for this effect.
When a character is untrained with a type of weapon, but that weapon itself is unserviceable, the attacker only suffers half the normal penalty but only does half the damage. For instance, a wizard with a lance will suffer a -2 instead of a minus 4. The attacker only does 1d3 or 1d4 damage, which can be doubled for being mounted. The weapon is also dropped on impact. This modification occurs because the wielder is using a  known weapon in an extraordinary way. It is not normal to fling a two-handed sword at someone’s feet or let go of a lance on impact.
Players may opt to retain the weapon, but automatically switch back to the normal -4 penalty for being untrained.
Armor can also be used in the same way, with the Armor check penalty being halved. Old, unserviceable armor is ripped away when the wearer is hit or the wearer fails a Armor check roll. Since this is really poor armor, it is easily damaged. Damaged armor still inflicts half the penalties, so characters should remove it immediately. This requires either a Dex or Str roll, at the DM’s discretion.
Another trick is Doodad Armor.
Doodad Armor is a fake armor. Typically, this deceptive armor is constructed of leather, wood and blocked felt, with metal connectors. It is very warm to wear, but far less cumbersome than real armor. It imposes one half the normal Armor check roll for the type simulated and is not destroyed when struck. However, it may show signs of distress atypical of normal armor. For example, Plate Doodad armor will show a large tear when struck by a weapon.
It functions as padded armor, no matter the type of armor simulated. This can cause an Arcane Spell Failure. Speed is unmodified by this special purpose armor, so enemies may be surprised by quick movements.
Doodad armor can also be ripped off, as it is designed to be removed quickly. This requires a Dex check.
Depending on your campaign, deceptive armor types can give a bonus one or two to grappling, as both Doodad armor and damaged armor has all kinds of extra friendly grab points to enable an attacker. The attacker would have to be aware that the armor is fake to receive a bonus. This requires either a prior strike or a Wisdom check.
One comical result is a grappler grabbing the arms of the armor and pulling, which is a Strength check. The defender can also make a strength check to rip the armor off. What happens next is usually comedy gold.