Wednesday, June 2, 2010

No Bonuses

Aggregating ideas from numerous sources and going down crazy rabbit hole... Is this even D&D anymore?  Does it matter?

Got it in me that I want:
  1. at most 1 attack per round, preferably 1 die roll.
  2. to curtail bonus/damage creep.
  3. to eliminate bonus hunting/math.
  4. run a sub 9-12th level, low "power" game. 

STR/DEX do not normally provide to hit/damage/AC bonus.
  • 1hand weapons do d6 damage.
  • 2hand weapons do d6 + STR mod damage.
  • two weapons do d6 damage, add DEX mod to the single attack roll.
  • Crossbow do 2d6(take best), doubles are critical/cool effect.
I very much like how 2hand requires strength and dual wielding requires dexterity to garner benefit.  The all weapons do d6 is fallout from "hit points are not physical" and desire to not penalize rp choice of hammer over ubiquitous (cause mechanically it best) long sword.

Instead of adding bonus tohit/dam, +X weapons increase damage die size. d6 -> d8 -> d10 -> d12.  +3 max.  Conversely creatures that required +X weapon to damage instead reduce damage die d12 -> d10 -> d8 -> d6 -> dNothing (immune).  A sword of Slaying Foo would do d20 damage against Foos!

There are three levels of armor with increasing movement penalties and minimum strength requirements; Light AC8, Medium AC6, Heavy AC4.  There is actually a fourth Plate AC2, but is so rare/expensive it's not regularly available "equipment".  Instead of AC bonus +X magic armors (and other +X AC magical effects) provide a save.  High dexterity provides armor like protection rather than adding to AC.
  • Dex 13-15(+1) AC8 equivalent to Light armor.
  • Dex 16-17(+2) AC6 equivalent to Medium armor.
  • Dex 18(+3)      AC4 equivalent to Heavy armor.

Pure Fighters have a couple talents unique to them.
  • "Melee Master" -- Melee weapon damage dice explode.
  • "Slaughterhouse" -- When in melee with opponents who are all less than your level gain X damage dice where X is "your level" - "highest opponent level".  Damage dice may be assigned (before roll) to opponents that are close.  One die per target, all targets get one die before any get two.  It is assumed fighter is hacking their way through this fodder and thus can reach enemies who aren't directly adjacent.
Likewise other classes have some unique talents.  For example, the Scout/Archer class has the unique talent "Marksman" -- Missile weapon damage dice explode.  Then there are talents available to all (like 3.x feats, one of many options characters can select from every 1/2 level).
  • "Archer" -- Bows do 2d6(take best), doubles are critical/cool effect.
  • "Errol" -- Light armor provides AC6(medium).
  • "Flynn" -- Requires Errol. Light armor provides AC4(heavy).
  • "Bloodlust" -- After dropping opponent, roll free attack against close opponent.
  • "Backstab" When attacking a completely unawares opponent, damage die explodes >= half. So, e.g. 4-6 on d6 and  7-12 on d12.
  • "Disarm" When maximum value on damage die rolled may forgo dealing damage for attempt to send your foe's weapon clattering across the floor .  Success if rerolled damage die + Str mod or Dex mod > opponents to-hit bonus.
Finally, some combat options are available to all no "talent" required.
  • "Charge!" if you can move at a jog or better and have room to charge then get to attack after move.
  • "Reckless Assault" -- Attack single target and take best of two attack rolls.  But suffer limited defense, anyone who attacks you also gets best of two attack rolls.
  • "Called Shot to the Nuts" -- Take worse of two attack rolls.  Normal damage and/or special effect depending on attacker's intention.  Used to leave permanent mark "Zorro", cut above eyes (-2 to actions), hamstring (1/2 movement), sever tentacle, cut rope, target vulnerable spot (double damage), to shoot arrow into apple on head, etc.

Lots of other bits; Shattering Shields, Shield Walls, hit points aren't physical, Death & Dismemberment, Lucky Number, special weapon effects (flails negate shield bonus, pole-arms have reach, etc), non-martial types use d4 damage die, et "holy fantasy heartbreaker batman" cetera.

Replaced +X modifiers, damage multipliers, multiple attacks, other with changing die size, exploding dice, multiple damage dice, and roll twice take best/worst.  What's the point?  So, will remembering fighter's but not scout's damage dice explode, and called shot is 2d20(take worst) rather than -4 to hit, and so on take just as much time and effort as remembering and adding up bonuses?  Even if so, one of my goals is alter player perception/behavior, reduce power-gaming, get them thinking "better" isn't more +x modifiers but rather tactics.  Still, need to review, simplify, and reduce number of different systems (aka refactor).  

Bah, probably dump it all and go with stock Labyrinth Lord...


  1. My instinct is to say that if your players are powergaming then they're powergaming and that's unavoidable in any system, but I am gonna hold off judgment because I could be wrong.

    anyway, it looks like a clever system and I hope you do get to test run it

  2. I went through this as I exploded in complexity. Part of it is to spend a while sitting down and gutting the system, asking what each piece is supposed to do and if something else you have either a) does it better or b.) could do it better.

  3. and to add to that: After finding cool gems and rules you like, its like switching to medium wings after being used to hot. Even though it still has kick, you feel like its mild wings.

  4. A very good instinct: to shy away from numbers in favor of traits. For each weapon and character, to have a special *thing* more important than any statline.

    You may be interested in what I'm doing with weapons, here. In general, going for less cinematic and more tactical effects. But definitely feeling the pull of the former.

  5. I think system matters, and the way to encourage certain gameplay is to build it into the system.

    Experience for Gold is a perfect example of the system encouraging certain kinds of play. The only problem is that OD&D retains experience for monsters. Imagine if there was NO experience for monsters killed... how would the players approach change?

    I often agonize about making a change that will result in me "not playing D&D".

  6. I liked a lot of the ideas in here, especially fixed weapon damage and reducing stat bonus impact.

  7. Thanks for all the comments. I have much to mull over. Looks like I might get game going soonerish than I had thought. Of course I will blog all about it ;)


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