Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Links O' Houserules

Pretty much any houserule by Jeff Reints is freakin awesome. Esp including any and all random tables. Here's one on XP rewards and what they really should be rewarding.

For crusty grognards there's Philotomy's OD&D Musings and this forum post on Counter Spelling which probably needs a little work but the spirit is spot on.

Less of a house rule and more of a full rule set it gets honorable mention for having the best set of art!

Shields Shall Be Splintered! is the houserule that got me interested in house rules again. It also addresses one of my pet peeves, that a shield is worth only +1 AC! If you've ever done any actual sword and shield combat (even as a kid with a garbage can lid and a plastic sword) you know a shield is a hella of a lot better than a +1!

Click the image to read an interesting article about accurate reproduction shields and weapons at A most excellent source of Viking Age history, life, arms and armor. Well worth exploring.

D&D Style Hit Points are an abstraction of luck, skill, stamina, etc. But at some point your luck runs out, your skill fails, you get exhausted. Then it gets real. This is were the dandy knights offer quarter and barbarians chop off body parts. I like the idea of RoleMaster criticals but the mechanics are too much. I also prefer D&D's wear them down then make a blood fountain from their jugular to RM's if they get crit on first swing and roll 66 game over man. But I really dislike D&D's "nothing but a flesh wound" until you hit 0 hp, then it's dead or unconscious and dying. So, I'm all for creating a division between the wearing them down and the giving them scars.

Old school solution Death & Dismemberment. A d20/3.5 new school solution Wounds & Vitality. I've been very happy using the later in my home campaign. It brings a sense of risk and fear of death to higher level players. It's a big deal when they start taking wound damage.
Draining levels is too much record keeping and lamely "meta". I've converted level drains into attacks that bypass vitality and go straight for wounds. Which I think nicely simulates the undead or whatever sucking the life out of you much better than level draining ever did. They are very, very deadly though.

Strange Magic is built ontop of the RoleMaster magic system but the concepts can be extracted in whole or part to houserule most any system. It's actually three plus systems Essence(what D&Ders might call arcane magic), Channeling(divine magic), Mentalism(very loosely psionics), plus Arcane and Hybrids. Including guidelines on concentration, magic perception ala Sauron detecting Gandalf's use of magic, and real game play experience. "noise created by Essence use made the party very hesitant to use any Essence magic. The fact that I was willing to have the bad guys come hunt them down once they gave away their position made them more cautious about spell use."

Interesting way to organically "enforce" low-magic(rare but powerful) or sword & sorcery style campaign. It has good explanation and in game benefit for using spell foci aka material components. I very much like how arcane power flows from the environment which provides for meaningful high/low magic areas, ley lines, why magic users are rareish and tend to live in isolated towers/dungeons/etc. Similar treatment for divine magic based on prayer, lots of prayer. A player quote: "I could heal that with magic, but that would mean 18 hours on my knees."

I've always liked the RoleMaster three(now four)-way magic system and its rationalization. The mechanics of tracking Power Points and percentile skills isn't really what I want in a game these days. But, these Strange Magic rules demonstrate its flexibility.

Most every Wednesday I'll post a semi-thematic selection of links from my wanderings.

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