Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Dwimmermount Campaign House Rules

The following is my initial stab at documenting the house rules I plan to make to Swords & Wizardry for my Dwimmermount Campaign, which begins in earnest this coming weekend. Many of these rules derive from discussions on the OD&D forums or from Philotomy Jurament's excellent site. More will almost certainly arise through play and I'll post them here as they do.

Alignment

Alignment consists of the following options:

Chaotic: Inimical to civilization and possibly reality itself – the alignment of demons, Faerie, and the insane.

Neutral: Apathetic and/or unconcerned with the battle between cosmic forces.

Neutral (Balance): The philosophical stance that a balance between Chaos and Law is necessary for the well-being of the cosmos.

Lawful (Good): The philosophical stance that civilization exists to foster the common good.

Lawful: The philosophical stance that civilization, regardless of how it is organized, is preferable to other alternatives.

Lawful (Evil): The philosophical stance that civilization exists to allow the strong to lord it over the weak.

Combat Sequence

The combat sequences proceeds according to the guidelines found here.

Helmets

Not wearing a helmet with one's armor grants opponents a +1 bonus “to hit” to reflect the likelihood that they will aim for the vulnerable head and neck area of anyone they are facing in combat.

Hit Dice

Hit Dice are re-rolled upon gaining a new level, but maximum hit points never decrease as a result of a re-roll, although they may not increase.

Example: Brother Candor of Tyche is a 3rd-level cleric; he has 15 hit points. Upon gaining 4th level, he rolls 4D6+4 for hit points. If the result is below 15 hit points, he gains no new hit points this level.

Liquid Courage

Once per session, characters who possess strong alcoholic beverages may partake of them to gain an additional 1D6 hit points that lasts for the duration of the next combat, after which these “spiritous hit points” disappear should they not have already been used up in the combat.

Magic Shields

The armor bonus from magic shields does not stack with that of magic armor. Instead, it is either used instead of the magic armor's bonus if it is higher or ignored entirely if it is lower. For example, a fighting-man is wearing a suit of chainmail +1 and a shield +2. In this case, only the shield's +2 bonus applies. If the bonuses had been reversed, the shield would confer no additional benefit beyond the usual bonus for any shield. Of course, when retreating or caught by surprise, a shield confers no benefit to a character, in which case the normally-suppressed bonus from magic armor may apply instead.

Scrolls

Spellcasters of any class and level may create scrolls at a cost of 100 gold pieces per level of the spell to be inscribed and 1 week's worth of time.

Weapons

Dual Wielding

A fighting-man with Dexterity 13+ may wield two weapons simultaneously, but makes only a single attack roll at +1 “to hit.” A successful attack deals the normal damage for the weapon, however.

Two-Handed Weapons

A fighting-man wielding a two-handed weapon rolls two dice on a successful attack roll and uses the higher result (to which he can apply damage bonuses, etc.).

19 comments:

  1. What was the reason for not making magic armor/shields not stack?

    I like your dual wielding and two handed weapons rule - that gave me something to think about, going back to my SCA/LARP experiences.

    When I've dual wielded, I used those weapons in a way to maximize my hits and damage. Think of it like "setting up" someone - I may bring one weapon in a feint and then slip the other one into a non-guarded space. I might maximize my chances to hit, or I might be able to maximize my damage that I cause if/when I hit.

    Dual wielding was hard for me! I must preferred sword/shield in SCA than dual wielding, but it did have some advantages. Going against martially trained fighters with two weapons was always a cause for pause.

    I think that I might allow my characters to choose either to add the +1 and have 1d6 of damage, or no bonuses to hit, roll 2d6 and take the higher of the two. They choose before they attack which option, the default being +1 to hit.

    That's just something I thought might be interesting to throw out there.

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  2. Non-stacking of magic armor bonuses is actually a rule in OD&D, so I'm going with it in slightly simplified form. The actual rule is that the shield bonus stacks once out of every three attacks, which seems needlessly complex to me.

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  3. Shouldn't booze give you a penalty to saves against charm-type magic? Beer goggles, after all.

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  4. Kevin,

    That's probably more complexity than I want, but if through play, it looks like something we might want to add, I'm all for it. Right now, I just wanted to give the PCs a properly in-genre way to boost their survivability, given that hit points will be low and curative magic precious.

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  5. Yet another subtlety of OD&D I've missed. I think incorporating the "Shields Will Splinter" houserule will still leave shields a viable and useful item, especially with magical shields gaining some saves to not break.

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  6. Good suggestion! I do like those shield rules, so perhaps I should include them as well.

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  7. I just plain love your booze rule, though it would take more time than I have right now to explain all the ways I think it's right. FWIW, the early modern archival sources I've been reading give an impression that strong alcoholic drinks had almost magical effects.

    Sadly, though, the Dutch do not use the term "Dutch courage."

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  8. Just an observation that the hit dice rule has the effect of driving hit points toward the middle of the range for each level. This may be intended, but for myself as a cleric I'd be just as happy to roll 1d6+1 at each level and take my lumps or loaves as they arrive with each level.

    Bob P

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  9. Bob,

    That is indeed intended. One of the goals of this campaign is to keep things as "middling" as possible. I think D&D works best when characters are fairly mediocre mechanically and the hit dice house rule is part of the plan to encourage that.

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  10. For two-handed weapons, is that roll damage twice and take the higher?

    That spawns an idea in my head regarding dual wielding, two handed weapons, and shields. I'm tempted to add this to my own list of AD&D house rules:

    Shields: Force an opponent to re-roll an attack once per round.

    Dual Wielding: Roll twice for attacks, take the higher result. Maybe use weapon size as a limit on what you can wield in both hands, to steer toward lighter, lower damage weapons.

    Two-Handed Weapons: Roll twice for damage (your rule). Particularly useful since two handed weapons tend to use bigger dice.

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  11. For two-handed weapons, is that roll damage twice and take the higher?

    Yes.

    Shields: Force an opponent to re-roll an attack once per round.

    I hate anything that requires re-rolls, as it slows down play. I'd much prefer to use this variant for shields: http://trollsmyth.blogspot.com/2008/05/shields-shall-be-splintered.html

    Dual Wielding: Roll twice for attacks, take the higher result. Maybe use weapon size as a limit on what you can wield in both hands, to steer toward lighter, lower damage weapons.

    That works nicely, I think.

    Two-Handed Weapons: Roll twice for damage (your rule). Particularly useful since two handed weapons tend to use bigger dice.

    In AD&D, this makes 2H weapons potentially very powerful, which isn't a bad thing. In OD&D, all weapons do 1D6 damage, so it's still an advantage but far less powerful a one.

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  12. I wonder why nobody wants a "use shield parry" roll, which is how I've handled it in other games.

    But then I start thinking about the difference between target and kite shields vs. missile attacks, and it starts getting complicated.

    I do love the splintering thing, though.

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  13. As somebody who likes his drinking, and has been in a few knock down drag outs in his life, intoxicated and sober (I never started it - I'm a jolly drunk), I'll chime in on the intoxication rule. I know you are keeping it simple, but I use these rules, and I'm known as "Mr. Simple."

    May I also recommend that strength goes up (I usually have +2 for those with strength lower than 14, and +1 for higher strength) and Dex goes down a point. Make it more complicated you say? OK, also knock intelligence and Wisdow down a couple pegs.

    If drinking fast and hard with the intent to get drunk quickly, have Con represent how many minutes it takes for affects to show up.

    Affects should go away after an hour, unless you keep drinking moderatly. In that case, make a system shock every hour to keep from passing out, or use a Con roll on a D20 instead.

    I'm a big fan of the late, great Mr. Gygax, and still love 1st Edition AD&D. But even as a teen reading bare fisted fighting and drinking rules in the DM guide, I could tell Mr. G had never been in a real fight (from the Hand to Hand rules)or gotten blazing drunk. Of course, he was a gentlemen. Me, on the other hand...

    Mmmm...getting thirsty. Feels like a Bass Ale night tonight...

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  14. hmmm boosting strength by a point and knocking a few abilities down a point doesn't really seem worth it to me as youre tracking a lot to gain pracically nothing; but an extra d6 hitpoints is definitely a big deal and can make the difference between life and death.

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  15. youre tracking a lot to gain pracically nothing>

    Of course you are right, King. But I was thinking it would only be worth it if you aren't trying to be super-simple with what is a minor thing. A single roll/thing to worry about is probably appropriate in very basic D&D.

    But I also think that downing booze and suddenly getting harder to kill (cue Popeye eating his spinach music) is just a bit too cartoonish/video game RPG for my taste. I think it best to have at least one small trade off to represent how drinking is bad for you. Heh heh, maybe just give liver and brain damage to anyone who does it a lot for 20 years.

    If anyone drinks hard to get drunk enough to be harder to knock out, you gotta at least make them do a DEX roll here and there while fighting/running drunk. I mean, C'mon...

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  16. Some mathematical observations:

    Rolling 2d6 for damage and taking the higher produces roughly the same average as 1d8 or 1d6+1, but skews more toward high numbers. A roll of 4+ (50% with 1d6) is about 63% with 1d8, 67% with 1d6+1, 75% with better of 2d6.

    Rerolls modify the final chance proportionately. A second chance to succeed boosts 20% to 36%, 50% to 75%, etc.. A second chance to fail cuts 50% to 25%, 80% to 64%, etc..

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  17. The really big skew: A result of 6 is 11 times as common as a result of 1, versus an even distribution with 1d8 or 1d6+1.

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  18. I like your alignments. One thing I would change is to split up Chaotic into those that 'merely' want civilisation to fall and are willing to work with Chaos up to a point (a sort of anti-Lawful) and those that serve Chaos itself and want to completely destroy reality. Right now, there is no middle ground between Neutrality and total-annihilation-insanity. I can imagine a druid that would prefer an untainted, pure Nature over one with civilisation 'blighting the earth', even if it means handing Nature over to Faerie. But that's just me.

    How do you describe hit points? Does cure light wounds actually heal injury, or are characters basically fine until at zero hit points they're fatally run through?

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  19. How do you describe hit points? Does cure light wounds actually heal injury, or are characters basically fine until at zero hit points they're fatally run through?

    I intend to be studiously vague about the matter :)

    My gut tells me that spells like cure light wounds and so forth work best if described blessings of various sorts -- they "refresh" body and spirit, thereby enabling the replenishment of hit points, thereby avoiding the sticky question of what percentage of hit points constitute actual physical damage and how much is fatigue, etc.

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