Saturday, January 28, 2012

Thief Skills

At the tail end of my last posted I remembered that even though I use d6 for everything I'm still using d100 for Thieve's in particular.  That got me thinking, if I'm going to be using d100 anyways why not make Thief skills a little more fun and a little less rigid.

I've already talked about swapping out classic Thief skills for ones that would more suit your concept.  That's all fine an dandy but what I'm referring to is letting player's parcel out their percentile points at character creation and at level up.  If you're familiar with Fallout in either it's original isometric or more mordern 3d incarnation you may have an idea of what I'm getting at.

First let's take a look at the standard D&D thief after the break.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

3d6 D&D

A while back I decided to try using d6 for everything in classic D&D.  I already used abstract damage (everything was a d6 although I gave twohanders 2d6) and I used d6 for hit points as well, with Fighters, like the ye olde Ranger, getting 2d6 Hit dice.

Now I have heard people mention using 3d6 in place of d20 in the past and I was eager to try it.  I've had many a game night mellow out very quickly because one player could not roll greater than 10 on a d20.  If you're familiar with the math behind the latest two incarnations of D&D, less than 10 is usually a death sentence unless you've walked into the realm of absurd min-maxing synergistic munchkinism.  Well, perhaps that's a bit extreme but it's something I wanted to avoid.  Which is why I was drawn to 3d6 with it's wonderful, truly wonderful bell curve.

I've been using 3d6 for quite some time in my Labyrinth Lord game and I have had zero complaints.  The only time it would come into conflict would be at low levels, where an 18 saving throw is likened unto instant death, to counter that I allowed certain Stat mods to be added to certain saving throws (Dex vs Breath Weapon, Con vs Save or die, and Wisdom already applied to Spells) and fortunately since I had a Dwarf and Treasure Hunter their saves were a bit beefier.  I imagine this would be a problem at much higher levels as well when a Fighter's saving throws are in the realm of 4-6.  This won't be a problem for me in particular since in my games there is a soft-cap at level 10.

I like it enough that I've been testing out using 3d6 in the game system I'm working.  Things have been going well so far but in our most recent playtest I've come to the conclusion that I will need to get rid of ability modifiers.  I've managed to solve most of the problems that would occur in doing so but that's time better spent in a later post.

I should note that I still use d100 for Thief skills.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Who needs excess bookeeping when you have players?

While I was running a game last night I had an interesting idea pop up, but first a little background.  I've spoken about Wounds before.  I've always liked the idea of having a specific pool that directly represents taking a serious injury.  I enjoy death spirals in certain games but not in D&D, so I adapted Wounds from the old StarWars RCR d20.  Wounds are a measure of how much lethal punishment you can take before dying.
I talked about problems with it in the past but I've managed to solve most of them (I should really do a follow-up post), and I use them in my current Labyrinth Lord game.

Here's how it works in my current game.  In addition to Hit Points all characters have a maximum number of wounds they can receive equal to their Constitution score plus their Level.  So at first level, and the way I do stat generation, any given character has 7 -19 Wounds at first level.  I stumbled upon a very elegant critical system during the course of gameplay so any given critical hit can do at best 1-6 Wounds.  I also have a simple bleed-out system where if you take a Wound from a slashing or piercing weapon you begin taking 1 Wound each round.  This brings me to a novel idea.

  • Since Wounds are a clear representation of how badly someone has been hurt there is no point in hiding that from the players.
  • When you have lots of different creatures in a fight it be a bit of a hassle ticking off 1 Wound each round.
  • Why not have the player that wounded the target in charge of the ticking time bomb.  
    • They will be more invested in their opponent, creating a fight to the death scenario
    • At any given time they have a good idea of how close to death their opponent is and how close they are to finishing the fight
    • Putting players in charge of this will prime them to be DM's should they ever give the try
  • If you get the player's to do the work for you you can sustain your lazy DM lifestyle.
With that in mind I'm going to give this a try in the next session.  I'll keep you appraised of how well it works out.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rewarding Roleplaying

My players have never been big on roleplaying and that's fine.  But I think there is a bare minimum required to separate the game from "Kill monsters, Get money."  That's a bit of an inflammatory statement, there's nothing wrong with kicking down doors, killing orcs and taking their pies.  For me it's one of the most fun parts of the game.  However, the game is more than that, and aside from 1, maybe 2 players most of them don't try to branch out past that giving a chilling effect towards newer players.  That's beginning to change and I'm very happy as a DM to design something more than an exciting combat.

Here's what I've been doing.  In this particular campaign I had each player play through an opening vignette that established their motivations and the reasons for how they ended up in Hommlet.  This was the first session for the player's present.  During these vignettes I took notes on the players actions and the mindset behind them.  I wrote down different character traits and jotted down a quick bit of reference for what it was referring to.  At the end of the session I had them write down these character traits and explained to them that these were based on how their character acted and were useful in developing a personality.

(I should clarify, about half my players have never developed a character personality separate from their own, I'm lucky that they even choose a name sometimes hah!)

I let them know that when they continued to exemplify these traits during play they would be rewarded with experience for each major occurrence.  Furthermore that they could earn new traits through roleplaying.  This creates a positive feedback loop, that by playing to a character personality that their actions created they would be rewarded with experience.  The more they do it the more experience they earn.  Since then, my one player who frequently falls into the trap of chaotic=sociopathic, has been my best roleplayer.  He pays close attention to his actions and does his best to make sure his actions coincide with his earlier displayed traits and has earned a few more as well.  As an example he recently added 'benevolent' to his traits as he took it upon himself to become foodclaus after being rewarded with a surplus of crop rather than traditional coin.

Here are a few traits (after the break) and the situation where they displayed them:

Monday, January 9, 2012

Class Kitting on the Fly Test Run

Last time I talked about drafting up AD&D-esque class kits on the fly to personalize your player's character.  Here is what my players came up with.  These kits are applied to the the revised three base classes I talked about here.

After the break I'll detail the kits used for Treasure Hunter, Berserker, and Double Agent.