Saturday, September 26, 2009

Combat Variant Armor Classes

Here are some combat options and related variant ACs for descending AC. Not perfect, not playtested, just some ideas.

WAC- Waylay/Wallop Armor Class.
This is ones AC versus attempts to waylay or wallop them upon the head so as to stun or knock one out.

WAC Table
Hat/Skull cap...5
Great Helm......0
...........normal AC improved by 3.

If a target is harmed by a wallop attack they are required to make a save if damage suffered is > HD or Lvl.

Waylay/Wallop effects
Target Level.........Effect
1 to 3.....................Knocked out for 2-5 rounds
4 to 8.....................Stunned for 1-3 rounds
9+..........................Staggered, other attacks against target +2 to hit this round.

CON and DEX bonus apply to WAC if defender is aware of opponent.

GAC- Grab Armor Class.
This is ones Ac versus attempts to grab.

GAC Table
Spiked Helmet....................6
Spiked collar&bracers.....5
Spike G&B w/spiked
Spiked Armor....................2
Monster W AC 3 or better
.............use monster AC improved by 2

STR& DEX bonus apply to GAC if defender is aware of opponent.

Unless surprised a foe is allowed a free attack against one attempting to grab them. Special attacks can change the situation. Successful free attacks cancel the grab attempt.

A grabbed opponent can be hit by allies at +2.

A large creature can't be completely neutralized by being grabbed unless the total number of folk grabbing are greater then the creatures HD.

An attack of a large creature, such as a lions bite can be neutralized by a successful grab.

On following rounds A foe can break off a grab with a successful grab attack against the grabber unless special abilities prohibit this.

Grabbed opponents are -4 to attack others. Situations and natural attacks can mitigate this. (avoid trying to grab a Wraith)

KBAC- Knock Back Armor Class.
This is ones armor class vs attempts to knock one back or down in melee combat.

KBAC= Normal AC improved by 2 and modified as follows

STR bonus applies to KBAC
Medium sized.....improve by 1
Large sized........improve by 2
Huge sized........improve by 4
four or more legs.... improve by 4

Effects of KBAC attack
small weapons.... 1d6
medium weapons....2d6
large weapons........3d6
blunt weapons.... +1d6

Target only suffers 1 normal point of damage but if Knockback is greater then or equal to target STR, consult chart:

Knockback -STR......result
less then effect
0.................................Staggered, any other attacks against target are +2 this round
1-6.............................Knocked to knees, target loses DEX bonus to AC and is -2 to own attacks.
7-12...........................Knocked Back, target is sent sprawling up to 10' away.
13+..........................Sent sprawling up tot 10' away, target drops weapons and is knocked prone. Stunned for 1-3 rounds if save failed.

quickie STR calculation:

10+monster HD + any hp bonus listed.
If small divide by 2
if large add 6
if huge add 12

Friday, September 25, 2009

No Level Dungeon Adventures

From this post over at grognardia I got to wondering what no level D&D like gaming could be like. By "no level" I'm meaning no PC levels, no exp.

Here's some suggestions:

Start with your favorite old-school fantasy rpg change things as below.

Hit Points: PCs and Villains get a number of HP = CON + 1.5 x HD type. So if the class has 1d8 HD and the CON of the PC is 14 we are getting a PC with 26 HP.

A spell using character starts with 3 first level spells if they get them at 1st level normally. They start with no spells if they don't start with spells at first level normally.

The highest number of spell levels a spell-caster can have ready is equal to the PC's primary ability score associated with spell casting. A MU with INT 15 would be able to have a total of 15 levels worth of spells ready. ( maybe 4-1st level, 1-2nd, 1-3rd and 1-6th level spell)

Spells are acquired by tutelage or theft. A Cleric would have to maintain a prayer book of spells.

Spells that do variable damage do a number of dice equal to the spell level.

Class skills/ability checks:
If a class has a skill that requires dice rolls to resolve that are normally tied to levels use ability checks. Roll 3d6 vs a ability for class skills, 6d6 vs a ability when it isn't a class skill.

normal-man/non-fighters- THAC0 20
semi-fighters- THAC0 18
fighters- THAC0 14

Saving Throws- use the scores your original game would use for 4th level characters.

Clerical Spell Acquisiton Mechanic

from the AD&D 1st edition DMG: "the character is dedicated to this deity and is able to perform as a cleric thereof. It is this background which enables the cleric character to use first level spells. ...continued service and activity on behalf of the player character's deity empower him or her to use second level spells as well, but thereafter another agency must be called upon. Cleric spells of third, fourth, and fifth level are obtained through the aid of supernatural servants of the cleric's deity... Cleric spells of sixth and seventh level are granted by direct communication from the deity itself."

Carefully read this is a major limiting factor on cleric power. I've never seen this played out in the game or related games, possibly because there were no related mechanics.

Here now is a possible set of mechanics:

Clerics are able to gain spells of 1st and 2nd level without consulting the following table so long as they maintain their faith.

Acquiring spells from Intermediaries
3 or less.......Atonement Required
4-5...............Stern Refusal
6-9...............Spell Refused
10-14...........Granted Reluctantly
15 or more...Spell Freely Granted

roll 3d6 apply the following modifiers.
-1 per regular service missed
+2 for praying at temple of faith
+2 for praying at altar dedicated to Intermediary.
+2 for incorporating relic linked to Intermediary.
-1 if Cleric CHA 6 or less
+1 if Cleric CHA 13-15
+2 if Cleric CHA is 6-17
+3 if Cleric CHA is 18+
+2 to all requests if lesser sacrifice has been made today.
+4 to all requests if greater sacrifice has been made today.

results explained-
Atonement Required- spell denied not further spells may be requested from entity until cleric atones by spending 2-8 days in prayer, fasting, and contemplation. May try to gain spells again after atonement but even so will still suffer a -2 modifier to roll. Other Intermediaries may not be contacted to gain ANY spells of that level or greater until atonement is complete.

Stern Refusal- spell denied and all further requests for spells will be made with a -4 modifier. Spell may not be asked for by that Intermediary for 2-5 days. Other Intermediaries may be contacted to gain the a sternly refused spell but a request for that spell will require a -3 modifier.

Spell Refused- spell denied. Cleric may ask again in a day. Other Intermediaries contacted on the same day may grant the spell but the appeal is at -2.

Granted Reluctantly- Intermediary reluctantly grants spell. All other requests from Intermediary for the day are made at -1.

Spell Freely Granted- cleric is granted use of the spell.

Acquiring spells from Deity
4 or less.......Atonement Required
5-7...............Stern Refusal
8-12...............Spell Refused
13 or more...Spell Freely Granted

roll 3d6 apply the following modifiers.
-1 per regular service missed
+2 for praying at temple of faith
+2 for incorporating relic linked to Deity.
-1 if Cleric CHA 6 or less
+1 if Cleric CHA 15-17
+2 if Cleric CHA is 18+
+1 to a request if lesser sacrifice made.
+2 to a request if greater sacrifice made.
+6 to all requests if Major sacrifice made this week.

Atonement Required- spell denied not further spells may be requested from entity until cleric atones by spending 3-18 days in prayer, fasting, and contemplation. ANY spells of that level or greater are lost unless Deity grants their use for a quest related to atonement. Intermediaries contacted for lower level spells during this period will do so with a -4 modifier.

Stern Refusal- spell denied and all further requests for spells will be made with a -2 modifier. Intermediaries contacted for lower level spells for the next week will do so at -2.

Spell Refused- spell denied.

Spell Freely Granted- cleric is granted use of the spell.

Contacting multiple Intermediaries-
As can be inferred from the table above multiple Intermediaries can be contacted by clerics. A cleric should start play only knowing the prayers and rituals required to contact a single Intermediary. The means to contact additional intermediaries can be sought out or made available as the DM established for the campaign.

A DM could limit the spells that will be granted by speicifc Intermediaries thus compelling the player of the cleric to seek out the means to contact specific Intermediaries to gain access to some spells.

The DM may freely apply situational modifiers. This sub-subsystem weakens the power of the cleric but builds player involvement in the role of playing a cleric.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

"Shazarot"...uh no..."shagzamot" it's "Shamaazak" !

Alternate MU spell casting sub-system for old-school games

This sub-system is an example making magic use more involved at the tabletop as discussed in my last post. It's an attempt to model forgetful old wizards and magical duels.

Every MU has the same number of spells ready as defined in the rules used. Each spell is not automatically cast nor is it expended when cast.

Readying Spells.
Readying spells takes a considerable amount of time and effort. A hour per spell level must be spent to ready a spell known to a MU. It takes a high level MU a great deal of time and effort to ready a full range of spells. (What do folks think wizards are doing in their towers after all?)

Casting A Spell
Spells are not automatically successful. A MU must make a casting check each time they attempt to cast a spell.
A Casting Check is made by rolling 3d6.
The following modifiers apply to the roll
-1 if the level of spell being cast
+1 if the level of the MU
-2 if the MU has weapons or device in hands other then magical apparatus.
-3 if the MU moved this round or is mounted
-9 if the MU is engaged in melee
-12 if the MU is held or bound
-12 if MU damaged while spell casting
+2 for each MU helping (multiple MU can aid each other if they have spell prepared)

Casting Check Results Table
4 or less...spell lost
5 to 8.......spell forgotten
9...............spell miscast
10 to 15......spell delayed
16 or more...spell cast

Explanation of casting check results:

Spell Lost- the spell is removed from the list of ready spells.

Spell Forgotten- the spell is marked as forgotten and may not be cast until it is remembered. (see remembering spells)

Spell Miscast- spell simply doesn't work

Spell Delayed- casting isn't complete caster is able to act next round, it is then successful.
An enemy MU can counter if in area of effect.

Spell Cast- spell is successfully cast. An enemy MU can counter if in area of effect.

Counter Spell
All MU are able to counter the spells of other MU without risking loss of readied spells. A MU attempting to counter spell must be the target or within the area of effect of the spell to do so.

roll 3d6.
+1 per level for counter spelling MU
-1 per level for casting MU
-12 if counter spelling MU cast a spell this round
-2 if counter spelling MU has weapons or device in hands other then magical apparatus.
-3 if counter spelling MU this round or is mounted
-12 if counter spelling MU is engaged in melee
+2 for each MU helping (multiple MU can aid each other if they are in area of effect)

Counter Spell Check Chart
3 or less....Counter Stunned
4 to 12.........Counter Spelling fails
13................Spell Halted
14 to 15.......Casting Delayed
16 or 17.......Counter Spelling Successful
18+........... Spell Reflected

Counter Stunned- counter spelling fails and MU attempting to counterspell is stunned for 1-3 rounds
Counter Spelling Fails- counter spelling fails

Spell Halted- spell goes off midpoint between caster and target, casting MU can cancel spell if
higher level then the countering MU.

Casting Delayed- incoming spell is delayed one more round.

Counter Spelling Successful- spell is successfully countered, will not function.

Spell Reflected- spell sent back to casting MU, it "goes off" at max range if range to target and back to caster greater then spell range. A higher level MU can cancel a spell reflected if Mu would still be in area of effect. A MU may attempt to Counter a spell reflected back at them but shoudl carefully consider modifiers when doing so.

Remembering Spells
A MU can spend a full 10 minutes trying to recall a forgotten spell at any point in time.
A MU may attempt to quickly recall a forgotten spell as a free action once a day per level (not in the same round they forgot a spell however)

The chance to Remember a spell is tied to Intelligence

INT score....Chance to Remember Spell
9 or less......45%
10 to 14.......55%

If one is attempting quickly recall a forgotten spell subtract the spell level from INT to determine effective INT to determine the chance to remember the spell.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making magic magical (part 2)

(continued from part 1)

3. Tie Magic to Non-Character Resources
by non-character resources here I mean equipment, items and other elements that are not defined in the rules as being part of the defining elements of a character or character class. A MU must seek out and resupply such resources. The resources could involve supernatural/magical energies that must be sought out, special materials that must be sought out or simply a mix of components that must be present to enact magic.
Magical energies could include such things as elemental essence or soul-force. It must be actively sought and harvested by a MU. A likely source would be other MUs and magical beings putting the MU in a role of having to engage in potentially dangerous activity to collect enough power to produce the really powerful magical spells. This is similar to spell points as often expressed in RPGs but it isn't a renewable quality of the MU alone but a resource that must be collected from somewhere else.
A magical material (incantium, magicum, etc...) is needed to cast spells. This differs from the above in that non mages may collect and transfer the substance and the material itself directly provides the energy for magic.
Components as the energy source that powers magical spells. The mage combines the components and the method this is done powers the magical spells. Many games and campaigns use components but not extensively and they provide little room for the player to experiment.
A versatile range of components with lesser and greater effects and some components requiring additional preparation on part of the mage adds involvement and utility to component based magic.

4. Make magic use more involved at the tabletop
Many a campaign the player of a mage announces: "I cast spell X" , effects are determined and that's it. Not very exciting or magical. This situation is relieved somewhat by requiring a roll for success to build in drama. If one makes this roll different from combat or skill checks (if your game has them) magic stands a bit apart by having it's mechanics a little different.
Allow use of gimmicks that add to success of a mages spells; a mage with a lock of hair from a victim or calling out a targets true name or wielding a wand dedicated to a specific target should all aid the mage.
There is a lot of room in making magic more involved by adding new subsystems to the game. I only really hinted at some solutions here and hope to have more with mechanics on later posts.

5. Making Magic Rare
Making magic rare would certainly make magical more wondrous and exciting. Raising requirements for spell casting characters. Increasing spell casting times or renewal; by example if clerics could only renew spells once a week and otherwise obeyed all rules of the game then clerical magic would indeed be rarer. Forbidding more then one spell caster of a certain class to operate in the same party at the same time.
Perhaps spell casting requires magic items, this reduces the immediate availability of a spell if the device i not present. Knowledge of the fireball spell or possession of a fireball wand alone do not permit one to cast a fireball spell one must have knowledge of the spell and the wand to use the spell. One would have to allow relatively inexperienced mages access to manufacturing of magic items, either by rules that allow them to manufacture the item themselves or contact with more powerful mages who can provide the devices. This method makes magical rarer through expense.
Limit frequency of casting. The laws of magic as they are could forbid a spell from being cast immediately after it was cast and or maybe no more then three times a day. This forces more variety in spell casting and limits some frequently abusive RPG tactics.

The techniques in this post and the earlier one will not alone make magical more magical in every instance. Balancing multiple methods will certainly have impact to make magic feel different from one campaign to another which uses uncertainty to increase the mystery element of magic. NPC reactions to magic (and encouraging players to go along) in seeing magic as wondrous and exciting certainly should add to the success of making magic feel magical.

I hope to provide more detail and possible rule subsystems for making magic magical in future posts as keeping the fantastic as just that makes fantasy role playing games special.

Making magic magical (part 1)

Magic is everywhere in fantasy RPGs. It does fantastic things and provides immense amount of power to it's practitioners. Usually only the brief application is exciting and generally forgetful. It's generally actually slightly boring and not very involving.

There are a lot of reasons for this I suppose; keep things simple, once upon a time fighters were the featured characters in FRPs, as games acquired MORE over the years there was less and less call for detail.

Some possible ways to make magic more magical:
1. Hide the rules of magic from the PCs.
2. Tie magic to the setting.
3. Tie magic to non character resources.
4. Make magic use more involved at the tabletop.
5. Making magic rare.

1. Hiding the Rules of Magic from PCs
Not letting the players know what is really going on with magic but having a system where behind the curtain the DM knows what is going on.
One means of supporting this method is unknown interactions: Spell X and condition Y have spcific interactions the DM is aware of but the player does not immediately have knowledge of.
For the majority of the spells/magical effects in the game the DM could maintain a list of effects and counter effects for each spell/effect. This method rewards the player who pays attention in the game and who can then learn form experience. It does require the DM to pay a fair bit of attention to spells as they are cast because players can't know everything that is going on.

2. Tie magic to the setting.
When magic is tied to the setting it becomes a defining element of the campaign, it is a means in itself to explore the setting. There are a number of ways to tie magic to the setting including: Bloodlines, Cults/Schools, Geographic power, Locus specific spells.

Bloodlines restrict and provide access to magic based on a characters origins. The capabilities and capacities of a magic-user are tied to character creation and the use of magic eventually exposes some of that characters background (and limitations) to others. If a bloodline prohibits the use of lighting based magic and a character is never seen to be zapping folks with bolts of lightning it provides information to players, they learn more about the setting and the characters in that setting by the magic folks use. Dramatic situations are presented: "What do you mean Lord Dark used the Scintillating purple Ray ? Only my family can use that spell...". It also limits a character based on a decision at character creation which can end up with someone realizing they invested a lot of time abnd effort in a character that will never be what they really want.

Cults/Schools limit and define capabilities of what one can do with magic based on where there are provided with the knowledge of that magic. Many games limit clerical magic based upon gods served and this is certainly one method of the cult/school of magic. Player interaction with cults/schools provide them or limit their access to spells. Interaction between PCs/NPCs is a limiting factor on magic use. Players can change access or ability to learn spells based on their relation to NPCs and that element of the campaign can become as involved as the DM and players wish it to be. This does provide the DM with the opportunity and burden to create magical organizations that fit the campaign. It is possible to shift the cult/school method from one that requires the DM to draft organizations to provide magical powers to that of books which hold mystic secrets and limit spell access to those that have studied specific books. Player decisions can be tied to knowledge and relations to cults/schools: "Zoltan used the Jakarian Exodus? Why that is only known to the Magi of Catrinax, could they be behind all the trouble we have been having?"

Geographic Power
Usign this method a characters capacity to magic use isn't tied only to what they know but where they draw magical power from and where they attempt to use it. Be they Ley-lines, Vortexes or Magic Zones a MU access to spells is tied to how poerful such a location is and how well tied into that source the MU is. Spells can be limited by what type of magical power source they are tied-to, the casters link to the power source and/or the distance from the power source.
Interactions of sources and zones will impact the effectiveness of magic: "I'm close enough to the Erudian Vortex to draw up such a powerful spell but the radiations from the Tower of Zax make success very unlikely, we nust consider another path."

Locus Specific Spells
Spells tied directly to the location they may be cast make willy-nilly spell casting unlikely and require careful planning of magic use. A raise dead spell may only function on the slopes of a specific mountain. Some spells may only be fully realized when standing in the middle of a magical circle. The more powerful a spell the more work and difficulty the MU must spend in acquiring and prepping the location. This method plays heck with the kick in the door and blast off spell X method of play but does confine mysterious and powerful mages to remote and unusual locations.

(more in part 2)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009