Monday, July 18, 2016

Inflicted Conditions vs Energy Drain and Paralysis

I’m not a big fan of level draining effects in fantasy campaigns. It’s a paperwork nightmare in all but the simplest of dungeon-crawling games, adjusting the impact of a lots level on attack chances, saving throws, and special abilities round per round is a colossal waste of time in a situation that is supped to be exciting and dramatic. Instant effects are ultimately boring and offer players little to worry about once suffered by a character. There are also limits on the utility of some undead throughout the the life of a campaign because of level draining,a Vampire would be darned horrible against a party of 2nd and 3rd level characters even without the level-draining as is but is virtually a TPK that all but the most clever will have no chance elf avoiding. Later in the life of a campaign level drain gin while still being a play slowing effect is also not a huge deal as restorative magics become available or levels climb high enough that level loss is bothersome but of minimal impact. Multiple undead also quickly become overwhelming beyond other threats in the campaign or relatively inconsequential. Here I’m going to propose inflicted conditions over level loss and overwhelming paralysis. I prefer a play style where players see the end coming, I favor "die slowly effects" as it enables heroic attempts to save other characters and enables foolish players to waste PC resources; there's more roleplaying opportunities presented to a player in having a character be slowly overcome by rictus or slowly descending into madness as opposed to instant effects (sudden paralysis had no real roleplaying challenge.

An inflicted condition is a contra-ability that is tallied as it is inflicted upon a PC/NPC/Monster. When the condition exceeds 1/2 it’s paired attribute a character is disadvantaged (-4 to related action in old-school talk) and when the paired attribute is exceeded a character is helpless.

Suggested Inflicted Conditions
over 1/2
-4 to actions and move is halved
-4 to related saves and healing effects are halved
overcome, Will die after 3 days. May cause sickness in others nearby.
-4 to actions and 50% chance to temporarily forget a spell or command word
-4 to related saves and 25% chance to descend into gibbering madness in times of stress
Raving lunatic incapable of coherent and directed action.
-4 to related action (melee attacks and damage). can only carry half as much as normal without begin encumbered,
Too weak to move under own power.
-4 to related actions, 25% chance to be overcome with horror or ennui in times of stress. -2 to reaction checks/loyalty/morale checks of minions if using 2d6.
Collapse into a near comatose state. Hirelings and Henchmen will become forlorn and may abandon character.

Recording an inflicted condition:
As attacks that causes one of these inflicted conditions are suffered the score should be tallied for the condition and as a character recovers the condition is decreased.

How many points are inflicted on an attack? 
This is a matter of campaign style and scale. As it is tied to ability score the flexibility and range of score should be considered. If attributes are fixed and or rarely increased the effect of inflicted conditions is going to remain essentially identical across levels of play.

I recommend 3 points of a condition be inflicted where the effect would take place or drain a level normally. Yes ghouls would be less dangerous with their attacks inflicting Rictus and not paralyzing one completely on a single failed save.

If a saving throw is normally allowed against the special attack it will allow defend completely against the inflicted sate on that attack with a successful save.

Recovering from an inflicted state.
Each full day of rest will allow a character to remove 1 pt per level from inflicted states they may suffer from. Magical effects that restore ability damage will equally reduce inflicted states on paired abilities and those that restore levels will restore points lost on an attack.

Additional notes on use of an inflicted state:
•Varying The inflicted State an undead begin causes to meet the origin or use of the undead within the campaign/adventure. Ghouls that cause sickness with their filthy claws and Vampires that cause Dread with their Gaze will have a different feel and use in an adventure.

•The enduring but not indefinite nature of inflicted conditions make them something to be avoided but are not campaign changing following a survived encounter.

•Items can be utilized that allow for the inflicted conditions to be suffered as well. Filth Flasks that inflict sickness could be hurled, Mummies may have weapons enchanted to cause madness on those they strike.

•Necrotic transformation…just when a character is transformed into an undead begin by the results of begin overwhelmed by a condition are up t the DM and should reflect the nature of the monsters so harming characters. Unless the attack states a specific time after begin defeated in monster description I recommend 3 days after being overwhelmed.


  1. So the average person would need to be hit 4-5 times before the 1/2 level is reached?

    1. 4 or 5 times would be 12 or 15 points, more then enough to overwhem an average person, Half would be on 2 or 3 blows going with 3pts of inflicted condition per blow.

  2. Would the 'drain' point per hit vary by the HD of the undead critter?

    1. I suppose there can be different ways to scale that for a campaign. I'd keep a set score per creature relative to the level drained or relative severity of the attack and scaling that to HD may work out here and there. I've been looking at 3pts per level drained in original write-ups but that causes some odd scaling issues when applied to other monsters. Take ghouls for instance: an attack can cause paralysis: if that's each attack there's a high chance in a round people are normally going to be completely paralyzed, if a save only be made if AN attack (not each) the impact of paralysis diminishes but doesn't go away; I favor a per hit in rules where the ghoul gets multiple attacks but this makes them over-whelming compared to many other monsters but the application of inflicting say 3pts of Rictus on each hit keeps them dangerous but not as overwhelming. Were a DM to have that be only once per round regardless of number of wounds 3pts of rictus would not be anywhere near a severe, which may work out ideally but changes the relative danger of the monster significantly if one want s to keep using them as written into the rules and published adventures.
      So the answer to your question is: do what fits for a campaign.