Thursday, December 31, 2015

Alignments

I'm actually not a big fan of alignments. I think they're dumb and a heavy handed way of attempting to control a player that I just don't need at my table.

That said, when alignment is not used for that (meaning throwing out the 5 or 9 point alignment system and rethinking the 3 point one), and is instead used to reference the general position of the character's soul in the grand scheme of things, I actually quite like it.

95% or more of the player races are Neutral in my world. They may be good, evil, flip flop as the situation demands. Mostly they're out for themselves and those they care about. Some may care about nothing more than themselves. Some may care about close friends and families, or their community, or even their entire country and go to the lengths they deem necessary to protect/enrich those people.

You know....like real life.

I only use the Lawful/Chaotic alignments when the players have done something to align their souls to the greater cosmos battle between heaven and hell (in whatever name the culture chooses to call it). This does not mean that all clerics are lawful or chaotic. A number will be, no question, but you don't have to be. You can still be doing good works and not fully align yourself to the mandates of heaven. There will be certain circumstances that would change the alignment of the character, but almost never against the character's will. Usually it involves making oaths or promises, or selling your soul.

There are some Black Magic spells that have the side effect of changing your alignment to Chaotic, but they are unquestionably evil and the character never has to cast those spells.

The most important part of this system is that your alignment need not change the way you act/make your decisions. Just because you're chaotic does not mean that you have to be an ass all the time. It means your soul is destined for hell when you die. Just like being lawful doesn't mean you have to be holier than thou do gooder all the time. It means when you die your soul is destined to be judged by the heavens.

Quite often your alignment will color your choices, but it never mandates your choices. You could still be lawful and commit genocide. You'll find some way to excuse your actions, and your soul may have to answer for it in the afterlife, but no immediate effects because of the action.......except for the world reacting to what you did.

The main game mechanics result of your alignment is how certain spells and magic items affect you. Some have greater/lesser effects if you are lawful or chaotic.

It's not exactly a revolutionary view on alignments, but it's what I'm going with.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Combat

OK. Combat. I've already linked to what my main system for resolving combat is (here). Very little has changed for my table. Here's a quick overview of some minor changes I've made, but you'll have to peruse the wiki for the full rundown of the actual system.

  • All normal PCs (and NPCs) have 5 Action Points. These points are used to do things during the combat round.
  • You can only make one attack action a round (Fantastic Heroes & Witchery rarely has multiple attacks for PCs) unless there is a special case reason for it.
  • I am currently not using Alexis's stun or wound rules as I'm still messing with to many other systems and felt that would overload me and my players at the moment.
  • Here's a consolidated list of actions and their costs that I use:
Mostly I just consolidated multiple lines into one line for my own ease of use. 

That's about it for what he's already done that I've messed with. That I can think of anyways. Here's a quick list of the things I've added.
  • I am using the RAW Fantastic Heroes & Witchery rule of "You suffer a -1 to most d20 rolls for every Wound HP lost".
  • You only get your full Defense against one target (normally). Any enemy that attacks you that you are not currently attacking only has to hit a Defense of 10. If the new enemy is in the three hexes in front of you, you can add your Shield bonus to the roll. Any miscellaneous modifiers the DM thought appropriate would also apply.

Honestly...I think that's about it. It's a really solid system for combat if you want a little more crunch (very little really) and miniature style combat. I've used it for a couple sessions and it's gone over pretty well. The biggest hurdle is most of the group is coming off of later systems (and our other game that is being run concurrently by one of my players is a 5e game) and are used to doing a lot more with their rounds. It's not bad though. Combat moves quickly and the enemies are restricted the same as the players are. They are also (some of them anyways) are thinking a lot more tactically about positioning and separating from the group in combat. They haven't started acting like a unit yet....but they've got some tough fights ahead of them (they just had a pretty tough one and are licking their wounds in the enemies stronghold....totally not going to backfire on them...nope) so maybe that'll start to change.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

My Wife Loves Me

She's feeding my current nerdiness with her Christmas gift to me this year:



No idea if it's any good, but I'm very much looking forward to finding out.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Level 3 Spell List

Finally have a day off. A few days off actually. Hoping to use this time to build a back log of posts for when I start getting busy again. This is just a quick one while I figure out what I want to talk about next.

Level 3 Wizard Spells



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Level 2 Spell List

Quick post as I've been working a lot and had a busy weekend (I did manage to squeeze in a very quick game of D&D though.....unfortunately it was not my best work).

More spells! Here's my first pass at narrowing down all the spells I want wizards to be able to cast from the base Fantastic Heroes & Witchery book:


This is quite a time consuming project. It's kinda fun though. Especially since I usually skim the spell section of most RPG books and only read the spells that are necessary for play as they come up. Not that I have all these memorized, but I'm reading them and giving them a first pass edit based on the various house rules I'm using.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Criticals and Fumbles the Second

I don't mind the critical and fumble rules I've already talked about (here and here), but I wonder if the tables are worth the effort of remembering and keeping track of (as little as that is) and if something that just happens when the appropriate number, no extra randomness on top, would be better.

So, If I was to come up with something other than the tables, I'd probably do this:

Criticals

A natural 20 is an automatic hit and, if that roll plus modifiers actually hits your target, it is also a critical hit. A critical hit causes maximum damage and ignores your targets armor.

Fumbles

A natural 1 is an automatic miss and, if that roll plus modifiers actually misses your target, it is also a fumble. A fumble potentially breaks your weapon. Roll a die based on the quality of your weapon and if you get a 1, your weapon breaks:
    • d6 - Poor
    • d8 - Average/Standard
    • d10 - High/Superior
    • d12 - Master crafted
    • d20 - Magic

--

This is super simple, should play very quickly and packs a lot of punch. Especially if you're a thief and and get a critical backstab. Ouch.

I dunno. I'll have to talk to my group and see what they want to do because I can't decide. They, being players, will most likely opt for the tables because they're gamblers. 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Fumbles The First

If I'm going with what I talked about before for crits, I feel fumbles should work in a similar fashion. So that means another table!

Fumbles happen the same way as criticals, just in reverse; roll a natural 1 on an attack roll, then roll a d6 for the table. There is one exception to this rule though. If rolling a 1 and adding all your modifiers would still result in a hit, you don't fumble, but you still miss.

Fumbles

1-2: Drop Weapon - Your weapon drops to your feet. You can pick it up on your next turn.

3-4: Break Weapon - You have to roll a die based on your weapon quality (thanks to Alexis; and an assist from the Jovial Priest just for the modified quality table he has) :
    • Poor - d6
    • Ordinary/Standard - d8
    • Well Made/Quality - d10
    • Master Crafted - d12
    • Magic - d20
If you roll a 1 on this die, your weapon breaks.

5-6: Leave an Opening - You leave an opening and your opponent takes advantage and gets a free attack on you.

This should work and be fine. Also, easy enough to remember during play, much like the critical tables.

I haven't started using this yet. I've been just using the "Fumble = Target gets free attack on you". It's fine. It's quick too.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Critical Hits The First

I don't remember if FH&W uses confirmation rolls on crits. I don't really care because I've never used that rule in any system that I've run because I find it annoying. It takes all the joy out of rolling a natural 20. So you roll a 20 you've scored a critical. Huzzah.

Okay. So. Now that that's settled, lets get on to what I want to do. I've been using a modified version from Charles Taylor over at Spells and Steel in my current campaign. It seems to be working so I'll cover that first.

When you get a critical hit, you get two choices:

  1. Choose to enter (getting into disarm or grapple)
  2. Choose to just deal damage and hammer at your opponent.
You make your choice and roll a d6.

Entering


1-2: Disarm - You knock your opponents weapon away from them and toss/kick it 5 + STR mod feet away.

3-4: Lock - Your opponent chooses one option:
  1. Take 1d6 damage (bypasses armor), drops weapon, but remain standing.
  2. Move with the lock, get forced to the ground. They'll still have their weapon, but will be pinned to the ground by the lock.
5-6: Throw - 1d4 damage (penetrating 1), opponent will be lying on the ground.

Damage

If you are holding a second weapon or a shield, you can choose to make a second attack using that weapon, OR roll 1d6:

1-2: Bypass Armor - Roll normal damage, but it is not reduced by armor. If the target has no armor, treat as Mighty Blow.

3-4: Mighty Blow - Double the damage from the weapon, then add the modifiers normally. This is reduced by armor as normal.

5-6: Break - Roll normal damage, but you damage the armor of your opponent and permanently reduce the targets armor rating by 1 (until it gets repaired). If this reduces the targets armor to zero, then the armor is destroyed beyond repair and, until he takes the time to remove it, encumbers the wearer and he suffers a -2 penalty to all d20 rolls based on physical actions. If the target has no armor, deal 1 additional damage straight to Wound HP.

Edge Cases:
  • If you're carrying weapon or object in your off hand: choose to drop it or strike with it. 
  • If the object is a handle based shield, you can drop it or strike with it, if it's a strap based shield, you can only choose to strike. Shields do 1d6 bludgeoning damage.

--

This has been working pretty well. It's taken a little bit to gt used to simply because it's new, but it's easy enough to remember while running without needing to look anything up, but still adds some variety to the aspect of the critical. 

I'm just not sure it's the way I want to go. It does require an extra "thing" for combat. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Comic Talk: 12/9/2015

Yeah! I love comic book day!

OK. Now that that's out of the way, lets get right into it. I have a pretty weird collection for this week.

Pathfinder: Hollow Mountain #2

3 out of 5


I like the Pathfinder universe (and their graphic design) of Golarion more than I actually like their RPG. It's good, and I ran a fun, year long campaign before a TPK with it. Then I experimented with other systems and now have an almost allergic reaction to all the feats and fiddly bits with the system.

Back to the comic. I liked the original run of Pathfinder comics, under the pen of Jim Zub I believe, but wasn't thrilled with the art. They've closed that "ongoing" and opened and closed a few mini-series since then, continuing the storyline. This run, by F. Wesley Schneider and Tom Garcia, has the makings of a fun D&D adventure story. The various characterizations of all of the Pathfinder Iconics is consistent, it flows well, the art is quite good, though nothing special, detailed and fairly anatomically correct. Mohan finishes off Garcia's art with a pretty mellow and well done coloring. The issue leaves on a surprise cliff-hanger I didn't see coming. Story, though well told, like I said, was mostly filler-ish and introducing another group of adventurers, and ones less moral than the main characters. So they butt heads and agree that the mountain is big enough for all of them...for now. Then the shit goes down.

It was fun. I liked it.

Grayson #15 (Robin War: Part 2)

2 out of 5


Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin continue the tail of the Robin War crossover and....it's passable. It involves Grayson taking over and training the "robins" and then things come to a head for the issue. The story telling is fine. Janin's art feels a little weak this issue compared to some of his others. The story itself is moving into an OK position, and between this crossover and Batman & Robin Eternal, DC seems to be really pulling for Grayson to be a major player in their universe. As he should be. He's great.

As a side note, because I'm a horrible person, I bought Detective Comics #...47 (I think) digitally because it released the same week and it's Part 3. I haven't been reading Snyder's Batman, but anytime Gordon's MechaBunny appears in a book, Its never really worked for me. Not because of some strong allegiance to Bruce (I personally don't really care about Bruce and liked it better when Dick was Bats before they reset the universe). I just don't find it all that engaging. Meh.

So..an entirely skippable issue if you don't care about the crossover. I hope the Grayson picks up in the next few months.

Giant Days #9 (of 12)

3 out of 5


I love Giant Days. It's about (mainly) 3 girls who became friends in college because they are either roommates or live next door. Sounds dumb, but John Allison's characters are a fun to follow around and Max Sarin's art is a joy to absorb. It does cartoony without resorting to the stupid Adventure Time stupid noodle-arm crap that seems to be all the rage in kids cartoons these days (I feel old typing that). This issue takes a slight departure and, instead of following the three main women, it follows Ed. One of the side characters who has a crush on the goth character...who doesn't think of him that way....awwww. Right? Anyways, the story is a little jumpy at bits and I thought I accidentally skipped a page occasionally, when in fact, it was just a time jump. That, and the fact that it relegated the characters I read this book for to the background, is the main reason this gets a 3. I still enjoyed the book and it was a fun story. 

I'll be sad when this is finised, but I'll be looking forward to the hardcover deluxe edition of this to collect all 12 issues.

Snow Blind #1 (of 4)

4 out of 5


Written by Ollie Masters and illustrated by Tyler Jenkins. This is the intro scene to a potentially interesting crime story. Main character is the kid who hates living in Alaska with his parents who he doesn't connect with and doesn't know that they're in witness protection. This issue revolves around him finding out that there's something going on and being determined to figure it out. Pretty simple. Very little dialog, lots of narration captions. Works for the type of story being told. Jenkins's art is VERY loose and the water colors make it feel even looser. If you can get past that (if that sort of thing is an issue for you), it works quite well. The art flows well and is easy to follow and helps tell the story the words are spinning. I'll probably be picking up the rest of this miniseries.

Toil and Trouble #4 (of 6)

4 of 5


The story of Macbeth as told from the view of the three witches. Written by Mairghread Scott and drawn by Kelly & Nichole Matthews. This has been a fairly fun read so far. The art style is VERY storybook which is now starting to contrast with the darkness starting to infest the book with the assassination of the king happening (I assume, based on where this issue left off) next issue. The writing has been solid all the way through and the witches, more like spirit guardians or gods of the land, have been interesting characters and their meddling and trying to find the best path forward for their country has been fun. This would have had a 5 out of 5, but the art seems to be a slight step down from the earlier issues. Still not bad, but maybe the monthly grind is affecting them. Hopefully they pick it up and really nail the last two issues.

Limbo #2

4 of 5


I'm just going to copy and paste the description from Image's site to describe this book because I'd just describe it as weird:

"A detective with no memory, no identity and no manners. A femme fatale seeking escape from a powerful crime lord. A voodoo queen with a penchant for mixtapes and hi-tops. A goat-eating TV… Welcome to Dedande City, where good people check under their beds at night and reality is never quite what it seems. A NEW surreal neon-noir series crossing 50s pulp with an 80s VHS visual aesthetic drawing from the likes of Carpenter, Cronenberg, and Lynch."

Dan Watters and Caspar Wijngaard weave the second chapter in this strange detective story in a fun, trippy way. The main character gets sucked into a TV by a Teleshaman and is chased through channels and is almost killed by various television characters. This is just a strange book.

The script is well written and the art tells the story very well. Its a pretty simple, but complete style that moves the story in an easy to follow manner. The neon-esque coloring is spot on and just fits. If you want a detective story that breaks from the mold of the tried and true stereotypes, give Limbo a shot.

 Birthright #12

5 of 5


This book, by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, has been dark and solid since it's beginning. It's a story about what happens to the kid that falls into (or is stolen into) another world and is told that he is the Hero of Legend. Sounds pretty standard, except this story picks up when that kid comes back home. What does he do. Well in this case, his family fell apart and he comes back all Conan-like (instead of being a scrawny...12(?) year old when he left 1 year ago). Now he's on the run from the law with his older/younger brother hunting down some renegade mages that escaped to our world. There's more stuff going on obviously, but thats enough. The art has a roughness to it that works for the story. Not that the figures or anything are rough, just there are no real clean lines. Everything seems to have a rough edge. Hard to describe. If any of this sounds interesting to you, go pick this book up. It's good.


Unless there's a burning desire for me to continue this (Based on my page views I'd settle for 2 people expressing interest), I'm probably going to stop "Comic Talk" as a weekly "This is what I bought this week" and leave it as an occasional "Here's something cool I want to talk about" type of thing.


Friday, December 11, 2015

Weapons

Figured I'd talk about weapons. Mainly because I don't want to get into combat at the moment and because I'm working through some ideas about crits and fumbles. After combat I'll start getting into races and classes. Combat comes before them because some of the changes I'm making to them are based on the changes I'm making to the combat system.

I'll get to it.

ANYWAYS...weapons.


**EDIT: See this post for updated weapons list**

Most of this is self explanatory, but I'll go over it anyways.

Weapon: Primary name of the weapon. Can be called other things, or even a completely different weapon that would act basically the same way. For example, a War Pick would use the Battle Axe stats.

Type: B = Bludgeoning, S = Slashing, P = Piercing. I'm pretty sure I'm keeping these relevant. It's pretty simple to remember and adds some variety to some monsters in terms of resistances.

Hands: Number of hands required to wield the weapon effectively. 
  • Lances can only be used from horseback, but only require one hand to use.

Damage: Die rolled on a successful hit. The number in parenthesis is if you're wielding the weapon 2 handed.

Range Increment: For weapons with just one number, you suffer a -2 penalty to attack at each increment beyond the first, up to it's maximum of 4 increments (-6 penalty). If there are four numbers, the penalty works out the same, but because of the missile weapon, the longer ranges are longer than thrown weapons.

Special: Any special effects the weapon has.
  • Penetrating: Armor is rated 1 lower when being struck by a penetrating weapon. Also, as long as you actually do 2 or more damage, your minimum damage is 2 against an armored opponent, instead of the normal 1.
  • Balanced: You gain a +1 bonus to Attack and Defense while wielding these weapons because of their balance allowing superior motion and ability to parry quickly.
  • Reach: You engage opponents up to 10' away in melee and they require the engaged penalty to movement in order to move closer to you.
  • Lance: When charging from horseback with a lance (or long spear), you ignore armor on a successful hit.
  • Bows and Crossbows: This is basically the same as Penetrating above, but they get to do it at range (and more of it in the case of heavy crossbows). Each number corresponds to a range increment. For example, Short Bows do a minimum of 2 damage and count their targets armor as one less within short range. Heavy Crossbows, on the other hand, reduce armor by 2 and do a minimum of 3 damage if the target is armored and in short range.
  • Firearms: Firearms are also subject to backfire and misfire. On a natural attack roll of 1 on the d20, firearms simply don’t shoot: they either backfire or misfire (equal chances). In the first case it causes 1d6 of damage to the user; in the second case the powder is fouled, and the user must spend 10 minutes cleaning the gun, before it can shoot again. Note that in wet conditions, firearms misfire on a 1 or 2 on the d20 (but do not backfire). Nonetheless, firearms do have their own advantages: they ignore armor at close range and have penetration 1 on all other ranges; they deal double damage on a natural attack roll of 19/20 on the d20 (rather than 20 for other weapons, though a 19 is still not considered a critical hit).
Weight: How much the weapons weigh and encumber you.

Cost: How much the weapons cost to buy....until I work out my trade tables in the future...probably far future..

These weapons aren't 100% balanced against each other, but it should be pretty good. Polearms and Long Spears are pretty great (and they kind of should be), BUT they require SPACE to use. If they are in a confined space, say a 10ft square area, they take a -4 to their attacks and defense,  and they loose their special abilities. If they are in an area smaller than 10ft, they cannot attack and may not even be able to bring the weapon into the area.

I'll probably have another Comic Talk this weekend and I'll figure out my crits and fumbles to talk about next week.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Defense (and Attacking) Overview

So I've done a lot of postulating and rambling in the last handful of posts. I thought it'd be good to have an overview of what options I'm leaning towards using for my own sanity (and possibly for any reader that is attempting to follow along).

Defense


Defense is replacing D&D Armor Class. It represents your ability to stop yourself from being hit by an opponent. It is calculated thus:

Combat Skill + Shield + Miscellaneous Bonuses

Umm....Combat Skill....I suppose I should mention that...so...

Attacking


Combat Skill replaces the class Base-to-Hit bonuses. It is a representation of your character's combat training and ability to read your opponent's actions, find openings in their defenses, and defend yourself (see above). Attacking is calculated as below:

d20 + Combat Skill + Miscellaneous Bonuses

One important factor in each of these calculations are that there is no ability bonus to either of these aspects. I talked about it in my posts that talked about attacking and defending as potential options. The more I thought about it the more I liked it. To reiterate the reasons; it keeps the number of variables down, it keeps the overall numbers down, it removes the major psychological drive for players to think they need high stats to be effective combatants, and it represents that, despite all the natural talent in the world for various activities, the actual act of combat requires training.

Is it 100% realistic. Probably not. Does it make game sense? I think so. 

Armor


Armor reduces incoming damage by a given amount based on its Armor Rating (called DR in the table below). Any successful hit ALWAYS deals 1 damage minimum for a couple of reasons; it keeps the fight moving, and represents that even though your armor took the brunt of the damage, you are still being beaten down/demoralized/fatigued by a successful attack. 


DR is the amount of damage the armor reduces. Skill Penalty is the penalty you take when performing most physical actions (those usually relying on strength or dexterity, but occasionally constitution as well). The number in parenthesis is the penalty you take for swimming. Weight and Price are self explanatory, although price might change once I start delving into potential trade tables (much in the future). Spell Failure is the number a magic-user has to roll equal to or higher than on a d20 in order to successfully cast a spell while wearing the that type of armor. If that roll is lower than indicated number, the spell fizzles and is lost for the day.

Important note; since armor does not make you harder to hit and I can't find any evidence that wearing armor is not significantly more difficult than wearing clothes as long as it's properly fitted, there are no class restrictions on wearing armor. As long as you're willing to suffer the consequences for wearing it, you can do it. I think that's balance enough.

Shields


Shields are used to parry blows away from you rather than reducing damage you take. This bonus to defense is only gained for opponents in the 60 degree arc in front of you. I don't care to go into the minutiae of a buckler vs a small shield vs a kite shield vs a heater vs a whatever the hell other type of shield you care to come up with. I have one mechanical type of shield with two ways of wielding them. The actual description of the shield is up to the player and GM. Based on what I can find each type of shield had it's own benefits and flaws that pretty much average out to "it works".


The two ways of wielding shields are a handle, usually with a metal boss protecting the hand, in the center of the shield. This allows the character to equip the shield quickly, but prevents the use of the hand for almost everything other than holding the shield. The other type is by strapping a shield to the forearm with one strap and gripping another strap with your hand. This takes longer to equip, but cannot be disarmed under normal circumstances. This type of shield (usually with a long body as in a kite shield) was favored by knights as it allows them to protect most of their body and still hold the reigns. 

The skill penalty is to most physical actions in the same way (and stacks with) the penalty from wearing armor. But, while wielding the shield, you cannot do more than swim exceedingly slowly or tread water in very calm water. Doing anything more, or trying in any kind of water moving at any kind of speed, is virtually impossible. 

Hit Points


There are two types of hit points. Wounds, which is the actual physical damage you can take, and Vitality, which is a catch all term for your ability to stay in the fight. Vitality heals quickly, Wounds heal slowly. It is possible for a character to die from loss of Wounds while still having Vitality left. You suffer a -1 penalty to almost every d20 for every point of Wound damage you are missing.

To determine your Wounds:

1/2 Constitution score + Racial Modifier (usually 2)

To determine your Vitality:

Each level (up to level 9) you roll a new hit die (size based on class) and add your Constitution modifier. Past level 9 you gain a flat hit point bonus, but do not add your CON mod. Just like the book (and most editions of D&D). The difference is, I'm lowering the hit die size for most classes on account of armor reducing damage.

If the book gives a d10, it becomes a d8. A d8 becomes a d6. A d6 becomes a d4. Any class with a d4 doesn't have it's hit die size lowered. I'm not cruel.

This took a little longer than I thought it would to put together, but I quite enjoyed going over it again now that I've had some time to think on it. Though, I'm only testing a few of these at the moment in my current campaign. I am seeing some issues which I'm accounting for in these proposed rules. These should streamline and clean things up a bit and make it easier for me to run and my players to play. Which is the ultimate goal.

Final note, I've had daily (or more) posts since I restarted this blog. Future posts will be a little delayed and probably no longer daily because, you know, life. I haven't left this again. I have lots more to talk about and rules to propose, but I need some time to order my thoughts.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Hit Points

Ahh...hit points. The ever "THIS is what hit points really are" game mechanic. ...That probably didn't make any sense. Point is, everybody is trying to define what hit points are or are not. I'm just going to talk about how I use them and leave the debate to people who care about the fight more than I.

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery has two types of hit points, Wounds and Vitality. Wounds are based on your race, usually a d8. Vitality is based on your class. Losing Vitality has no impact on the game other than bringing you closer to death. For every point of Wound you lose, you suffer a -1 to pretty much every roll. It works and is perfectly fine. No issues from me.

So here's how I want to tweak it a little.

Because I'm a kind DM, I want to go with one of two options:

  1. d6 wounds become d3+3, d8 becomes d4+4. I do not want my players to run around with 1 Wound. Just doesn't work for me.
  2. Make Wounds based on Constitution. I figure 1/2 CON score + Racial modifier.
Option 1 has the advantage of randomness. Player's seem to like that. I've played around with the 5e model of hit point generation where you could take the average and be guaranteed that amount of hp. OR you could roll and gamble. Could be more. Could be less.

Player's always gambled.

Option 2 has the advantage of giving players a little more wounds, figuring the average is 5 from Constitution + 2 for humans and the like. So not really changing much, but it's based on you're character's inherent toughness which I kind of like better.

So I guess I'm leaning towards option 2.

Now, hp in relation to Defense and Armor.....that's a little tricky. We now have 3 levels of defense instead of the normal 2.

Attack roll >= Defense; Damage roll > Armor Rating; HP = 0

So Defense (and the Combat Skill it's based off of) is how capable you are at defending yourself. Armor Rating is how protected from damage you are. Wounds are how much actual, physical damage you can take before you drop. Where does that leave Vitality. For my purposes, it represents your fatigue and willingness to stay in the fight and morale (those last two might be the same thing). 

So...I guess the question would be, Should your Vitality go up as you level up, or should that stay the same and it's all based on your ability to defend yourself and how armored you are. If it does go up as you level up, should you continue to gain hit dice up to the normal 9th level? I need to find that sweet spot between having enough hp that you're willing to risk going into battle, but not so much that you're not cautious and combat drags.

I dunno. I figure these options exist:
  1. Keep it as written. PCs continue to gain HD up to level 9, then a flat hit point gain beyond that.
  2. Lower the HD to Basic D&D levels (warrior d8, divines d6, rogues and magic-users d4).
  3. Gain a flat, lump sum bag of Vitality at level 1 that never goes up. Maybe, (roughly) 30 for warriors, 25 for divines, 20 for rogues, 15 for magic-users.
Lets start with figuring out what the "average" vitality would be for each of the 4 types of classes (ill get to the actual class list later). Remember, that there's a small pool of Wounds (I'm leaning towards option two, so assume 7 Wound HP on average on top of these numbers).


That's not terrible. The averages anyways. This doesn't take into account good/bad rolls (I would allow rerolling of any 1's though) or good/bad Constitution modifiers for levels 1-9.

Option 2 drops the average HP of each type of class by about 13 points on average at level 13. I do like that. Fighter types still have the most hp, but it's even with the damage that a long sword deals. I like that.

Option 3....well based on the table, the numbers I suggested above would be just about the equivalent of 6th level HP. That Might be a little higher than I'd want. Probably put it more at 25, 20, 15, 10 if I was going to go with this option..

Hrrm...My current campaign is using the hit dice as written, but I think I'd probably go with option 2 and lower the die types. I prefer hit points be lower, but I don't think I'd go with the flat HP option mainly because I really like how integrated the HD is into monster construction and their combat effectiveness. If I change that, then I have to COMPLETELY rewrite monsters. I do not want to do that. I'm messing with enough at the moment. 

As an aside, I do plan on having Vitality heal rather quickly. 1HD + CON mod after a 30 min rest after an encounter, and all Vitality after a 6 hour sleep. Wounds would heal slower, healing 1 point over 6 hours of sleep, 2 points if you spend the entire day resting.


I Wants this so Hard...

I really, really do.


Elantris is one of my favorite fantasy books and quite possibly my favorite Brandon Sanderson book. Though it might be tied with Mistborn. But still....it's sooo pretty...

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Armor

If I'm going with Defenses: Take 2, I need to further define two more aspects related to defense. Armor and hit points. Let's start with armor.

First off, most editions of D&D, and FH&W, have way more armors than I care about having. I'm not going to go over each type of armor in the book. Instead, I'm going to talk about the ones I actually plan on using.

Note; because armor doesn't make you harder to hit, and there's no real evidence that properly fitted armor requires any special training to wear, any class can wear armor. As long as they are willing to suffer the consequences. Improperly fitted armor, however, doubles the skill penalty (but not the swimming penalty).

Brief description about the armors (mostly pulled from wikipedia):

Padded


Padded armor (also known as a gambeson or padded jack) is a defensive jacket produced with a sewing technique called quilting. Usually constructed of linen or wool, the stuffing varied, and could be, for example, scrap cloth or horse hair.

Leather


Leather armor (also known as lamellar) is a type of body armor made from small rectangular plates (scales or lamellae) of leather laced into horizontal rows. This is the most common armor for regular infantry, brigands, and the lower classes who are part of an army.

Mail


Mail is a type of armor consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. This is the most common armor used by the armored fighting types. It's a good balance between protection and ease of use.

Plate & Mail


Plate and mail is a type of mail with embedded plates. This can also work for mail with a metal breast plate and such.

Plate


Plate armor is (as far as my game is concerned) is a full suit of armored plate, as pictured above, but may be more or less ornate as the wearer can afford.

Those armors would look like this, mechanically:



DR is the amount damage is reduced by, but you always take at least 1 point of damage. The Skill Penalty column would apply to most movement based checks. The number in parenthesis is the penalty to swimming. The number in the Spell Failure column is the number the Magic-user has to roll (or higher) in order to successfully cast while in the armor. If the magic-user rolls under the number, the spell fizzles and is lost until re-memorized.

This would mean that most small, one handed weapons would only be doing 1 damage a hit against someone in plate as they deal 1d6 damage. So....without a Strength bonus someone in plate (or monster with equivalent toughness) would be terrifying. I dunno...this table might make armor more effective than I want and would probably slow combat down way to much.

I figure I have two options:

  1. Up the damage of everything by a die (d6 becomes d8). Side effect is that if you're not wearing any armor, the world is gonna HURT. Not necessarily bad, but might be a little unfair to the d6 and d4 hit die classes. Maybe not. They're not really supposed to be in combat anyways and upping the damage better reflects that you DO NOT want to get hit with weapons. I dunno.
  2. Remove Padded Armor and drop the DR down a step so the table would look more like this:

This version means I don't have to change any damage dice, combat stays pretty much the same as normal. Plate armor still will only allow 1 point of damage from d6 weapons, but now if you're using an unbalanced weapon (axes or maces), you have a chance of doing 2 points. "Normal" or "medium" sized weapons (long swords, battle axes, etc) do d8 damage.

Hrmmm....I think option one better reflects reality (although for that, I'd probably have to up the damage two steps - d6 becomes d10 - but I don't think I could get away with that and have the game be fun for my players), but I don't know if it would make the game more enjoyable. It really punishes wizards who have little health, little combat training, and if they wear armor, they have a much harder time casting their spells.

Option 2 is probably the way to go as it keeps everything balanced the way it has been, but it allows the fightery types a little extra staying power. I'd be interested in thoughts on this. 

That covers everything except shields that I care to use. Shields are pretty simple for me, but remember, shields add to your DEFENSE not to your ARMOR:


There are two types of shields as far as mechanical benefits/hindrances. There's the shields that are held via a single handle in the center of the shield, with the hand usually protected by a metal boss (the viking circle shield for example). These are quicker to equip, but can be disarmed. The other type are the shields that are strapped to the forearm (as in the kite or heater shields). These take longer to equip, but cannot be disarmed under normal circumstances. Other than that, the real world differences between them are balanced out as far as game mechanics matter.

Doing anything more than slow swimming or treading water in very calm water (which may still require a swim check if wearing armor) is impossible with a shield equipped)

I'm in the process of testing out the damage reduction rules in my current campaign, so, as everything I put up on the site, it's subject to change if it doesn't further the game in a meaningful way. It should be alright though.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Attacking Interlude

So...I was going to talk about armor (followed by hit points), but I felt I needed to talk about attack rolls first since that is the most direct relation to Defense totals and I want to work that out in my brain gunk before playing around with hit points.

OK. So, if I'm settling on a Defense rating formula of:

10 + Combat Skill + Shield + Misc

Thus basing your ability to defend yourself completely on your combat training. If we continue on this route, then it stands to reason that your ability to hit should only be based on your combat training. Making an attack formula of:

d20 + Combat Skill + Misc

This has a couple of advantages over adding ability scores to either formula.
  • It keeps the number of variables in the formulas lower, which means less to keep track of.
    • This has the extra effect of keeping the numbers a little lower overall as well
  • It removes the illusion that to be combat effective you must have high attribute scores
  • It relegates attribute scores to skill checks mostly, rather than combat effectiveness
  • It puts all the rolls of the game more in line as far as the things you add together.
    • Combat = d20 + CS + Misc
    • Skill = d20 + Ability mod + Misc
I guess, the best way to think about this would be that your Combat Skill is an extra Ability Score that goes up as you level up.

That's not a bad way of looking at it. (remember, most of these rules ideas are "thinking out loud", so I'm mostly running with various ideas to see where they take me)

It also keeps inline with original D&D. Not that it makes it a better rule, it's just something to point out.

Note; I plan on keeping ability score bonuses to damage rolls to compensate for armor. It also nicely keeps with the roll + main bonus + miscellaneous formula that's going on.

Speaking of damage, I'll cover that now for completion's sake. The formula is basically unchanged.

Damage Die + Ability Modifier + Misc

Technically there's one more step to dealing damage. Reducing the damage by the target's armor rating. There is ALWAYS a minimum of 1 damage dealt on a successful attack roll. This is representing that, even though your armor took the brunt of the damage, you still are being fatigued and such from the successful strike.

Figure Strength modifier for melee and thrown weapons within short range (possibly all ranges for ease of play) and Perception for missile weapons.

Perception? Whaaaat? Yeah. Perception. I'll get into that when I go over Ability scores...probably after talking about hit points.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Comic Talk: 12/2/2015

This was a lightish week, but still pretty solid. I did splurge a little and buy some things I wasn't planning on....but I did resist the deluxe Rat Queens hardcover.....for now.

Paper Girls #3

4 out of 5

This series has been solid, if weird, from the start. But I've liked pretty much everything that Brian K. Vaughan has written. The writing continues to be solid, building on the mystery of what happened (is happening still) in the first issue. Cliff Chiang's art and story telling has rocked the series so far. His panel layout is clear and the panels themselves are usually well laid out. Enough detail to get what's going on, not enough to confuse. The lettering, inking, and coloring all work very well together in finishing off a pretty great comic.

Side note; I really like the line art with one solid color background for these covers. Very pretty.

Annd...sadly that's it for creator owned comics I picked up this week. The rest are all Marvel and DC stuff.

Daredevil #1

4 out of 5 on a unbiased scale; 2 out of 5 for me personally...except for the art. That stays a 4.

New volume by Charles Soule and Ron Garney. I wasn't planning on picking this book up, but I liked the cover, have a passing interest in the character, and flipped through it. I was blown away by the art. I love it. It has a Riley Rossmo quality to it, but is less sketchy and adheres more to the "heroic" body types for the characters.

Unfortunetly, while the story was fine, Matt Murdock did something that caused everyone to forget that he's Daredevil except Foggy who is not pleased with Matt, it didn't grab me as much as the art did. Everything about this book is solid. Panel layouts are great. Lettering is laid out in a non-distracting, easy to follow way. Story sets up whats going to happen over the next arc very well.

Just wasn't feeling it.

Invincible Iron Man #3

4 out of 5

This book continues to be my favorite solo super hero book. But to be fair, I'm not actually reading very many. This book has a super clean art style, witty and fun dialog, the lettering is executed perfectly, the story continues to move at a good pace. I love it.

There is one part of the book I would have preferred different and "hurts" the book. There's a two-page spread that has Tony in his armor garage talking to his AI (Friday) trying to figure out what's going on. There's an arc of back and forth dialog going from the top left to the middle right of the two pages. Everything is fine. Except for some reason the pages are broken up into 3 rows of 8 rectangular panels. For no reason that I can see. It's like looking at a single image spread out over 24 TVs in the portrait position. Just distracting. Other than that. Great book. Lots of fun.

Spidey #1

3 out of 5

Brand new series from Robbie Thompson (whom my wife loves from his episodes of Supernatural and his run on Silk). This series is telling "in continuity" stories (if you care about that stuff) of teenage Peter Parker dealing with high school and being Spider-man. It was fun. The art works. Is a little busy and some layouts are a little hard to follow. But the writing had me laughing. 

Once my wife reads it and likes it, it'll be added to our list. If she doesn't... its fun, but I don't have a burning desire to follow that book monthly, but it's definitely worth a look if you're looking for some solid Spider-man stories and don't want to deal with whatever adult Peter is doing with his international business ventures. Despite being fun, this is very much a "been there, done that" kind of story/series. But I grew up watching the 90's cartoon.

Robin's War #1

2 out of 5

The big(?) crossover event going on with the "lesser" bat-books starts here! It's meh. A round robin of art styles accents an OK at best story. The two redeeming things in the book are 1) Damian beating up Mecha-Bunny (I love me some Damian) and 2) The Court of Owls having plans for Dick Grayson (one of my favorite DC characters. Now if only we could get a good series with Hawkgirl or Zatanna...) and mentioning that "Nightwing will rise" or something like that. I've been mostly enjoying Grayson since its launch, but it's felt like its been floundering for a couple issues. I'm gonna give Grayson until this crossover is over to get it's shit together or it's gone.

OK...A little bit of a tangent. Basically, don't bother with Robin's War #1 unless you need to collect the cross over event.

Robin: Son of Batman #3-5

3.5 out of 5 for all three on average (I normally hate the .5 thing, but I can't separate them at the moment)

I picked up this series when it launched. I liked it, but I was (am) reading a lot books and it didn't quite make the cut then. I figured, now that it has a few more issues out (and they were actually in stock at my comic shop), I'd see how it was doing. 

I do that from time to time on a series I was on the fence about cutting, but did. My wallet hates me.

Overall, they were a good set of books. Damian is trying to make reparations for things he did during his Year of Blood when he was still being raised by Talia and running around with the Nobody II (daughter of the original Nobody, who I believe Damian killed) and that interaction is fun to read. Patrick Gleason's art is...fine. The storytelling is good, but some of the figures and faces are a little weird. Not "bad", just weird. I personally don't mind it. The results of Damians good works are a nice twist to what could have been a plodding over plot that could have gone on for too long.

It was fun. I say that a lot, but I like comics. I like super hero comics. But, I tend to do at least passing research before I buy into a series and figure out if it could be something I'd like. Most of the time, that's true. Occasionally, I get a stinker. Rarely, I pick up a terrible book. Not because I'm some great officianado. It's because I'm not made of money. If I had more money, there'd be a lot more books in this post, and a lot of them would be more "It's ok. Pick it up if this sounds like something you'd like."

Level 1 Spells!

I wasn't planning on making this post or talking about magic until getting to the wizard class, but I just finished going through the 666 spells in Fantastic Heroes & Witchery and edited and made a list of all the spells I actually want the wizard to be able to use. This was time consuming and I feel a silly sense of accomplishment so I'm going to share:


When I actually talk about the wizard and magic I'll get into the differences between white and black magic.

Only 5 more spell levels to take care of.....Thankfully each level should get less and less spells.

And then I have the Elf spell list...I'm pretty sure I want the two elf classes to have their own separate lists...pretty sure.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Defenses: Take 2

OK....So replacing the ability bonus to AC with Combat Skill was a bust (see previous post), but I will continue to explore.

Another option would be to remove Armor from a defensive bonus to damage protection...you know....what armor actually does. This would give a DEF (since Armor Class doesn't really apply anymore) formula of:

DEF = 10 + CS + Shield + Misc

Lets go through the levels again and compare. Note, I'm doing short hand (Warrior = W, etc) and assuming the same set up as the previous post.

Level 1 - W 1 (12), D 0 (10), R 0 (10), M 0 (10)

Level 3 - W 3 (14), D 1 (11), R 1 (11), M 1 (11)

Level 5 - W 5 (16), D 3 (13), R 3 (13), M 1 (11)

Level 10 - W 10 (21), D 6 (16), R 6 (16), M 3 (13)

This is a little better, as level Divines and Rogues would need a 12, 13, 13, and 15 to hit at each of the levels. It's a little low(ish), but if I'm adding damage reduction via armor, being hit a little more often is a decent balance.

On the reverse side, Warriors only need a 9, 8, 8, 6 (and a bit less for magic-users as the levels go up). Which also isn't terrible. 

These numbers are also assuming no class abilities or magic bonuses which would be too many variables for me to take into account.

Side effect of this, I could add the Non-proficiency penalty for attack rolls to your DEF when wielding a weapon you're not proficient in. Seems to make sense.

I don't see this as unworkable. It reflects "reality" while still being gamey and not complicating the rules unnecessarily.

Compared to the RAW rules....I think at low levels, fighters might be hit a little easier in this version, and Divines and Rogues (rogues especially) take a bit of a hit. As the levels raise, I think it gets close to what you'd expect for normal AC rules. BUT, I don't need any extra rules for Touch Attacks, as Combat Skill would still apply....although I guess shield wouldn't...or would it? Should touching a shield count as touching the person....I'm leaning towards no...

If it's not that much different once you start gaining levels, why not just use the rules as written? Good question. This version of defense reflect the character's growth, rather than their wallet. It also has the advantage of not requiring PCs to have to run around town in the armor while still being able to defend themselves. It also means that a higher level fighter will be able to hit and defend himself better against a lower level fighter, even if they're wearing the same type of armor.

But you said the problem with what you did in the previous post was doubling up on defense, relating to CS and HP. Isn't having armor as DR and HP basically the same thing? ...Kinda. The weight of heavy armor makes it something most won't wear without penalty (which I'll get into in a later post) and potentially reducing what you can actually accomplish in a combat round. 

Defenses: Take 1

WARNING: This is, and the next post or two that I'm going to do on defense are basically stream of thought and may or may not be coherent.

OK. I'm gonna start with defenses because it's something that I'm battling with and I think I need to "think" out loud in order to get anywhere. But before we get to defenses, I'm going to talk about attack bonuses.

Just stay with me.

One of the things I'm pretty set on doing is changing the class's Base-to-Hit bonuses to Combat Skill.

This is more than just a nomenclature change. I love the idea that, as you gain levels and increase your combat ability, your ability to defend yourself goes up as well. So, (keeping AC as it is in FH&W) the formula would be:

AC = 10 + Armor + Dexterity mod + CS + Shield + Misc

Now, I'm pretty happy with the idea of removing your ability modifier from your AC as it should really be about training, not about your Dexterity. 

But what about my thief who needs his dexterity modifier in order to be competative? Don't care. Thieves aren't trained fighters. Fighters are. A fighter should be able to defend himself better than any other class.

But what about reflecting natural aptitude for combat? That is done by the very fact of having a class. Every class has requirements that need to be met in order to be them. Congratulations. You have the natural aptitude for being whatever class you qualify for. NPC's have a slightly "lesser" version of the four main types of classes (Fighters, Rogues, Magic-Users, and Divines). This represents all those people in the world that are better than level 0, but don't quite have what it takes to be extraordinary.

That leaves us with the formula of:

AC = 10 + Armor + Combat Skill + Shield + Misc

That's not terrible. Basically the same as it was before, but now your AC goes up as you level. But a fighter will have a better AC than any other class at higher levels, regardless of what armor he wears. That's a good thing.

Now here's the problem.

There's already a mechanic that kind of takes this into account. Hit Points. Every level you gain more hit points and that can represent your ability to better defend yourself (among other things). So I don't know if I want to double up on your class "defense". Maybe it's not that big of a deal, all things being equal.

Lets take a look at the various classes at levels 1, 3, 5, and 10 and we'll assume Warrior with chain (5 by the book) and a shield (1 for medium) (Base AC 16), Divine with chain (Base 15), Rogues with leather (Base 12), and Magic-users with none (Base 10)

Level 1 - Warriors 1 (17), Divines 0 (15), Rogues 0 (12), Magic-Users 0 (10).

Warrior only has a slight advantage, but being combaty types, that's not a bad thing.

Level 3 - Warriors 3 (19), Divines 1 (16), Rogues 1 (13), Magic-Users 1 (11).

Warriors start to pull away a little bit more, but they're not out of the realm of reasonable. But, you'd really only want to send another warrior type in after a warrior with chain and shield. Which was pretty much true at level 1, but quite a bit more-so now. Rogues pretty much need back attacks (or my version of the "gang-up" rules I'll get into in a later post) and Divines are gonna need to get lucky.

Level 5 - Warriors 5 (21), Divines 3 (18), Rogues 3 (15), Magic Users 1 (11)

Level 10 - Warriors 10 (26), Divines 6 (21), Rogues 6 (18), Magic Users 3 (13)

Hrmm....now that I've written that out, that doesn't really work. Rogues and Divines need a natural 20 to hit.

Interesting experiment. Back to the drawing board...

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery

I'd like to start off getting right into what I've done/am doing/want to do to the game, but I first thought I should at least give a shout out to what I'm using as a base.

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery

Click the link, download the free version. If you like what you see, throw him some money and purchase the fully bookmarked pdf, or buy a dead-tree version. Or both. Whatever works.

Fantastic Heroes & Witchery (known as FH&W for the rest of the post) is a pretty solid version of D&D. It's not a retro-clone, as it doesn't really emulate any specific edition of D&D. Instead, it does a good blend of every edition (except 4th since it was such a huge deviation from what D&D is and doesn't really play well with the other editions). Its got the simpleness of Basic, the "feel" of 1/2e, and some of the fancy doodads from 3e.

All while still feeling like a coherent game.

This is kind of what I wish 5e had been. But it exists, so I don't really care who made it.

The game uses the universal modifiers of Basic D&D, and has all the standard PC races and classes (plus a few extra) for Traditional Fantasy (human, elf (wood and high), dwarf, halfling, fighter, wizard, thief etc) as well as different take on Tieflings. Each of the races has a stripped down set of racial abilities (from 3e at least), BUT thing I like about the racial abilities if FH&W is that they really only take into account the "genetics" of the race when determining abilities and leave out cultural/training based abilities. Elves are not automatically better with bows/long swords. Dwarves are not automatically good at killing greenskins.

Some of the classes are a named different (the cleric became the friar, paladin became templar) and most of the classes are a little (or a lot) different than in traditional D&D.

Along with Traditional Fantasy races/classes, FH&W has a section for "Weird Fantasy". These races/classes are to emulate sword and sorcery or sword and planet or most other adventure pulps. Races like reptilians, ape-men, earthlings, witchlings, and tainted. Classes like the Occultist, Necronimus, and others.

Other than some changes to races and classes, most of the rules are pretty standard D&D, with a strong influence of 3e, but stripped down and simplified.

My longest running campaign was an almost year long Pathfinder campaign that sadly ended in some terrible rolls and a TPK. After that, I was burnt out on all the STUFF going on in Pathfinder, despite liking most of the system. FH&W is what I've been looking for. Enough crunch to have some weight, but not enough to crush me.

This is a SUPER light "overview" of the system. I've left lots of stuff out (its a pretty long book even though it doesn't have any monsters or magic items in the book -- it assumes you'll use whatever you want for those and make it work - any old school monster manual will work with almost no changes), but I plan on going over pretty much the entire book in future posts as dissect, dismember, and rebuild it into my ultimate goal for what I want in a fantasy RPG...which I'll get into later.

Oh! One last thing for this post. Some of the writing in FH&W is......rough in spots, some of the grammar is off and some sentence structures get massively overused. It doesn't detract from the rules, but it is annoying.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Relaunch/refocus

So, partially because of this post (and this follow-up), I was reminded of how little I've done and remembered this little site that kept getting pushed off to "tomorrow" until I almost forgot about it.

This post is to signal a fresh start. I'm not removing any of my old posts (of which there are more than I remember doing), but I may retread some of the same, or similar, ground.

Things I plan on covering:

  • House rules to the system I use
  • Info on my world
  • Session recaps for the game I'm running (and reflecting on how I screwed up)
  • Comic reviews
  • Book reviews
There will be other posts that don't fall into those categories based on events happening, or other random stuff (board games, movies, TV shows, my baby, etc), but most post should fall into those categories.

Hope you enjoy the ride.

I'm not Dead!

I'm not. Neither is this blog. It's been a while and I've let this go for way too long for a number of reasons. The two primary reasons are:

My wife had a baby girl in December of last year and that's been keeping us busy.

Mainly because of that first reason, I haven't done much D&D.

I've managed to get a fairly steady group now though. One week, I run (I'll be talking about that in the future), the next week one of my players runs 5e. It's working pretty well so far.