House Rules

  1. Ascending AC, base AC of 10.
  2. Chainmail Bikinis & Studded Leather Banana Hammocks: Barely clothed characters gain +1 AC per point of CHA or STR above 12. Nearly nudes characters may carry a shield and still benefit from this rule. 
  3. Advantage/Disadvantage Mechanic: Roll two dice (usually d20s), keep the better/worse result.
  4. Shields Shall be Splintered: Sacrifice shield to succeed on a save (or get a save when one would not be allowed) or to keep from being reduced to zero hit points or wounds.
  5. Helms Shall be Dented: Sacrifice helm to succeed on a save (or get a save when one would not be allowed) or to keep from being reduced to zero hit points or wounds. Also get a save (or a save with advantage when a save is already allowed) against a knock out or stun result (helm not sacrificed). Wearing a helm imposes a penalty to hearing and sight based checks.
  6. Drop 'N Chop: Down an enemy and attack another adjacent enemy; may only receive one extra attack per round. Fighters (and all Warriors classes) may receive up to one extra attack per level. He must kill each target in order to receive each extra attack. 
  7. When using miniatures, movement rates are halved (rounded up) in order to facilitate play on a tabletop. e.g. a human moves 6 squares per round when each square represents a 5 foot square. Additionally, when not using weapons two-handed, 3 man sized or smaller characters may form a "front" in 2 squares.
Awarding XP:
* 1 for 1 conversion of silver pieces (sp) spent to XP.
* PCs also earn some XP for overcoming challenges and defeating enemies... defeating does not always mean killing!
* Per my signing the FLAILSNAILS Conventions, PCs earn XP in a per level method, zeroing out each time they level. Also see Jeff's update to Article 3. 

Exploration Movement (given movement rate per 10 minutes)
-Allows for party mapping with "good enough for government work" measurements given by the DM.
-Allows for automatic detection of obvious traps (open pits, etc).
-Non-obvious, exposed traps (tripwires, etc.) are only triggered if the party is fails to detect them and triggers them.
-Normal probability of surprise in an encounter. 

Walking Movement (given movement rate per minute)
-No measurements given for party mapping by the DM.
-Obvious traps  (open pits, etc) are not automatically detected.
-Non-obvious traps (tripwires, etc.) are automatically triggered if the party fails to detect them.
-Probability of surprise in an encounter increased.
Running Movement (given movement rate per round)
-Party mapping is impossible and checks are required to determine whether or not doors and passages are detected as they are passed. When running into a turn or dead end, a check is required to avoid running into the wall, open pit, etc.
-Automatically trigger all traps (obvious and non-obvious).
-Automatically surprised in an encounter (enemies may still be surprised).

Each PC rolls 1d6, adds DEX modifiers, and subtracts any encumbrance modifiers. See weapon descriptions for more information, because some weapons may also modify initiative. 
Wayne, thanks for pushing me in the right direction on this. I have been wrestling with implementing the system in the Ready Ref Sheets for a awhile (I had been using a HR'ed d20 thing which was way to crunchy for my newer players). I am going to try this out for a while.

Doing Stuff in a Fight!
After having played D&D for years, I pretty much know what I can and can't do in a combat round. I have a group with many new players; in order to help then get a good idea of what they can and can't do in a round. I am going with a very 4e-esque method for categorizing actions in my Home School D&D.

Rounds vs. Turns: A round (not a turn) is about 6 seconds long. 10 rounds equal a minute. We generally say that 10 minutes equal a turn. A round is the unit used for measurement and tracking of time in combat. A turns is the unit used for the measurement and tracking of time outside of combat while exploring a dungeon or wilderness area. 

Move Action: This includes any sort of movement. It can be running, swimming, etc. Move actions typically draw attacks of opportunity from their opponents; they do not when a character takes only a "free" 5-foot step. 5 feet typically equals one square on maps used for running encounters. Each character gets one move action per round in which the character can move their movement rate; remember that moving more than just 5 feet when engaging from an enemy may give the enemy a free attack. A character may take an extra move action, running, but he also uses his standard action in doing this (see below).

Standard Action: Typically involves a large amount of effort or concentration. Attacking with a weapon or casting a spell are typical standard actions. Each character gets one standard action per round.

Minor Action: Drinking a potion or drawing a weapon are minor actions. Minor actions involve limited amounts of concentration to be done well. Each character gets one minor action per round.

Free Action: Yelling to an ally is an example of a typical free action. A character may have many free actions in a round.

Use this simple facing and flanking fix for combat.

Charging and Mounted Combat:
Polearms and spears may be set to receive a charge, striking first and doing double damage to mounted opponents as they charge. Dismounted, charging attackers must move their full movement rate, or as much of their movement as they can, but at least 50%, in a straight line. When charging, dismounted attackers do double damage but suffer a -2 AC. Mounted characters benefit from a +2 to-hit when attacking dismounted opponents (unless they are little guys… see below). Mounted characters who charge must move at least 50% of their mount's movement rate and as much as they can upto the mount's maximum, in a straight line; they inflict double damage and suffer no AC penalty. Halflings and other little guys receive a +4 AC bonus when being attacked by mounted characters.
Weapon Damage:
Instead of each weapon having its own damage value and critical values, I like to class weapons into broader, size-based categories with all weapons in each category doing similar amounts of damage. Within each category, each weapon may have other properties which are not tied to damage value: e.g. an axe could be really useful when you want to chop down a wooden door while a dagger is very easily concealed on one’s person.

Melee Weapons:
1d4-Tiny, easily concealed weapons such as daggers. The may also be used when grappling. Staves are technically not tiny when grappling or rolling for initiative, but they do 1d4 when wielded one-handed and 1d6 when wielded two-handed. May use DEX bonus to hit in melee. May be used as off-handed weapons. Initiative, 1st Round Only, -1 Modifier. Other Rounds +1 Modifier. 

1d6-Small weapons designed for one-handed use such as hand-axes and short swords. May use DEX bonus to hit in melee. May be used as off-handed weapons.

1d6/1d8-Medium weapons designed for one or two-handed use such as bastard swords and spears.

1d10-Large weapons designed exclusively for two-handed use such as halberds and two-handed axes. Initiative, 1st Round Only, +1 Modifier. Other Rounds -1 Modifier.

* Polearms and spears may attack from the second rank, but attack last when doing this.

Missile Weapons:
Thrown melee weapons do their normal damage when thrown (ROF 1/1) with no impact on movement. Slings, darts, and knives do 1d4 damage (ROF 1/1) with no impact on movement. All bows do 1d6 damage (ROF 1/1) and reduce the firer's movement by 50% during the round in which the weapon is fired. All crossbows do 1d8 damage (ROF 1/1) and reduce the firer's movement to zero during the round in which the weapon is fired. 

* For slings, knives, bows, etc. during the turn in which the weapon is fired, if the firer does not move at all the ROF is increased to 2/1. The second attack is taken at the end of the combat round. 

When firearms are available, they can pack quite a punch, easily piercing even the heaviest armor. I am using the simplest firearms rules I can find. I am sure I will tighten up these in the future, but for now these will have to do. I have pulled these from the LotFP Better Than Any Man module from Free RPG Day in 2013 with some tweaks, of course.

All gonnes (blunderbuss, musket, and pistol) do 1d8 points of exploding damage with no MOD for STR, and subtract up to 5 points from the value of any armor a defender is wearing when he is hit. The differences between the weapons comes in to play when we consider rates of fire and ranges. 

PISTOL                    Range: 25' (5 spaces)    ROF 1/5     Point Blank Range and Useful as Tiny, Off-Handed Club

BLUNDERBUSS    Range: 30' (6 spaces)     ROF 1/10   Conical Blast (roll to hit and save to avoid damage) and Useful as Small Club

MUSKET                 Range: N/A                   ROF 1/5     Useful as Medium, Double-Handed Club

- When a gonne is fired beyond its range the shooter suffers a -4 to-hit modifier. 
Point Blank Ranged weapons allow a character to use the weapon when grappling; additionally a character may use it when engaged in melee without suffering penalties; if both attacker and defender have not moved the attacker may fire with a +2 to-hit modifier.

Divide all items a character carries into two lists: encumbering and non-encumbering items. Anything bigger or heavier than a dagger is an encumbering item. Anything similar in size and weight, or smaller and lighter than a dagger is a non-encumbering item. A series or group of like items usually only counts as one encumbering item, e.g. a quiver of 24 crossbow bolts would only be one encumbering item for accounting purposes, not 24. Containers are usually non-encumbering. For every portion of 500 coins that a character carries his encumbrance is increased by a value of one. Magic items are always encumbering items. Total the amount of encumbering items that a character is carrying. Weapons generally have an encumbrance value of one. Large weapons, crossbows, blunderbusses, and muskets have an encumbrance value of two. Armor also weighs in a bit differently: heavy armor has an encumbrance value of three, medium has a value of two, and light has a value of one. If this number, the character's encumbrance rating or value, is greater than the character's Strength, the character is over-encumbered; take the difference as a negative modifier (penalty) which is applied it to physical rolls/checks: attacks, saves, skill checks, movement, initiative, etc. Thanks, Brendan, for the inspiration. An additional note regarding the actual weight of one encumbering item. A simplified method for the discussion of encumbrance and weight at the table is to refer to each point of encumbrance as a stone (the old English measure which is still used to measure a person's weight; one stone equals fourteen pounds). If we think about it, a character of average strength, a STR of 9, could carry 126 pounds of clothing and equipment without it significantly slowing the character down. To me, that does seem like a reasonable way to eyeball discussions of weight and carrying capacity. 

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