I like saving throws. Specifically, saving throws that predate the three-fold, post-2nd Edition approach. To my mind, saving throws represent a character's ability to resist his environment -- physically, psychically and magically. They also describe the sort of categorical hazards inherent to the campaign.
We usually utilize saving throws as a reactional mechanic -- meaning that saves are traditionally elicited from outside the player character. He's being bathed in a dragon's fire, or petrified by a basilisk's gaze. But, if the referee so desires, players could be allowed to use their saves actively. More on this below.
For the purposes of Thainlands campaigns, I've come up with a six-fold array of saving throws:
- vs Dweomer covers magical fields, devices and spells that do not transmogrify the body or effect the mind directly.
- vs Dragon's Breath covers all creature-generated energy attacks, be they from dragons or beholders or whathaveyou. Spells like Fireball or Lightning fall under Dweomer.
- vs Transmogrification (Transmog. for short) applies to any magic that distorts or transmutes the body, eg. vivimantic spells and the eldritch transformation magic of Fey creatures.
- vs Poison & Disease addresses illnesses, venoms, toxins and other non-magical maladies.
- vs Delusion/Charm applies to any effect that artificially alters perception -- psionics, hallucinogens, magical illusions and Fey seemings all fall under this umbrella.
- vs Fear represents a character's resistance to this powerful emotion, be it the result of natural circumstances or malicious sorcery. The referee is within his rights to call for a save vs Fear in situations where a character is severely outnumbered or exposed to something hideous and unforeseen.
Spellforking -- A dangerous spellcasting technique that carries the effect of a single-target spell to additional targets in the vicinity. As many as 1d3 additional targets can be subject to the same spell. For example, a casting of Magic Missile would strike the initial target creature and then fork to the additional targets instantly, with each creature taking the same dice of damage. The caster must make a successful save vs Dweomer to accomplish this feat. Failure indicates that the spell also forks back on himself.
Spell Rupture -- A caster can opt to "crack open" the destructive potential of even the most gentle of magics when the need arises. Essentially he purposely disrupts a memorized spell in order to damage a target with a potentially devastating touch-attack. For each level of the spell, he deals a d6 of explosive damage, with any rolls of "6" indicating an additional d6 roll. He must successfully save vs Dweomer or take a half-share of the damage generated.
These are the first two ideas that came to mind. I'd like to generate about a dozen more for vs Dweomer alone.
So this is an idea that saw some experimentation at my table a while back, and I think it deserves some revisiting. GREGBRANE HAYT MATHS, so the object here is to make dealing with encumbrance stupid easy (like in the title) while retaining its value and purpose -- i.e. eliminating "pack-elephant" situations where players are toting around such a ridiculous amount of loot and equipment that it defies the (admittedly loose) reality of the typical campaign world.
1. THEE BASIC IDEA
All materials that a PC could wear or carry are reducible to generic Units. Units are an abstraction of weight and bulkiness and are not in any way exacting. Every piece of gear or armor has a value of 0, 1 or 2 Units.
- Items that clock in at 0 usually weigh less than ten pounds. Think "non-encumbering" things like a pouch of tobacco, thieves' picks, a wine bladder, etc.
- 1-Unit items include most medium-sized weapons, small chests, sacks full of coins, etc.
- 2-Unit items are usually things like plate armor or massive two-handed swords, big chests and the like.
2. THEE FORMULAE
- A character can carry a number of Units equivalent to his STR score without being encumbered.
- A character cannot carry more than twice his STR (maximum encumbrance).
3. EFFECTS OF ENCUMBRANCE
- Running is not possible, though a half-speed jog could be effected.
- Any DEX-related checks or throws are made at a -2 penalty.
I'm purposely overlooking the largescale travel/movement rate issue because it doesn't really come into play at my table. Any instance where some sort of travel-related roll would be needed to adjudicate a situation could be pretty easily dealt with using percentile dice.
Followers of this blog who've been reading for a while might recall my Vancian MIII memory cell system. What follows is a distinctly simpler smoothing-out of Vancian magic concepts and a light retool of the traditional D&D spell mechanics.
The Memetic Growth Pattern (MGP) system makes some basic assertions about the nature of spells and spell-casting:
- Spells are sentient entelechies that have been forced to assume a temporary dwelling place inside a magic-user's mind. In a sense the magic-user must constantly attend his memorized spells in order to guard against spell loss or leakage. For all spells are desirous of freedom. In order to escape a magic-user's mental grip, they must exit his mind in a precise and calculated form. Which is to say, they must become the spell's effects at the time of casting.
- One of the magic-user's greatest resources is his memory. Memories are like trees -- in infancy they are all but seeds germinating. Eventually they will grow to become stout oaks or massive evergreens. Sometimes they are merely crab apple trees and achieve no great size. The extent of an individual's memory is expanded through learning and experience.
- A spell's level represents its relative complexity. Low-level castings are brief texts in comparison to the interwoven formulae of spells that occupy the very heights of sorcery.
- All memory slots are made equal. In order to memorize a third level spell, three slots are required. For a seventh, seven slots are needed. And so forth.
- A magic-user's total memory slots increase as he gains experience levels. The rate of this increase varies from magic-user to magic-user. It is a unique memetic growth pattern.
I thought it would be interesting to add an element of Carcosa-esque dice randomness to memory slot accumulation. Basically, upon attaining a new level, a wizard must roll a 1d6. The result indicates the dice he will roll to check against his current INT action throw value.
(1, 2) 2d6
(3, 4) 3d6
|I didn't invent this, just formatted it.|
If the player fall shorts of the target action throw value when he makes his roll, then he earns no additional memory slots. If he exceeds the target, he subtracts it from his roll to determine the number of slots gained.
eg. Spidertits the Malignant just became a 7th level magic-user. She has an INT of 15. Referencing the table above, that means her target # is 9. She rolls a "2" on her first d6 roll, indicating she needs to roll 2d6. The result of her second roll is 10. Her slots increase by 1.
A corollary to this system is Open Spell Acquisition. Meaning that any magic-user can attempt to learn and/or cast any spell. Some hard/fast rules for this:
To learn and successfully transcribe a new spell, the player subtracts the spell's level from his character's INT and then makes an INT action throw based on this number. Success indicates that the spell has been added to his repertoire.
To cast an unknown and untested spell, the player must successfully make two action throws like the one described above. Failure on either of these rolls elicits a roll on the Miscasting Table (to be revealed in a future post).
Champion of a particular ruleset or set of concepts. Attains total immunity to Reason and Reason-like attacks at 12th level. Not known for patience, humility or large-mindedness.
A prolific organizer and producer of books. Knowledgeable of the business side of the OSR. Vulnerable to psychic attacks from Pundits.
An inexhaustible supply of cartography. Amazing creative stamina. Counters occasional attacks from Pundits with Total Indifference to That Sort of Thing.
|The Rules Engineer|
Constantly fiddling with the structure of the (imaginary) universe. Can cast Complexify on everything, with impunity, at the flick of a keystroke. +2 to attacks against Pundits (racial enemy).
A collector and collator of forgotten RPG lore. Casts Distraction at will and without daily limits.
NOTE: Any resemblance to actual bloggers may be unfortunate and possibly coincidental.
The foundation of all civilization; the muscular arm of progress; not particularly intelligent and prone to poor decision-making.
PRIME REQ: Strength, Intelligence (Low)
Special: Drunken Berserker
Found in every available alley; experts in the areas of beggary, swindling, and purse-cutting; could advance to Thief-dom or choose to perfect his art; some follow the slattern/whore track and advance to Doxy.
PRIME REQ: Dexterity
Special: Venereal Disease
The bane of every man living; eventually devolves into Senile Hag.
PRIME REQ: Charisma (Low)
Special: Manipulation, Passive-Aggressive Domination
Slightly more intelligent than the Dullard; usually occupies middle-management positions; could advance to Fighting Man, but not particularly motivated in most cases; characteristically loud and over-bearing.
PRIME REQ: Intelligence (Average)
Special: Intimidation, Beer Muscles
A female servant from the bottom of the social schema; some dual-class as Doxy; can eventually level-up to Housekeeper or Nanny; some follow the lonely drunk track to Barfly.
PRIME REQ: Charisma
Special: Advanced Dishonesty, Manipulation, Seduction
Don't think I've posted this (possibly) final draft of the Dolmenwood map, so for posterity it can be found HERE.
I have a question for you guys/gals regarding my editorial approach to the Dolmenwood setting book:
What sort of details do you think are essential for each hex entry? Naturally there will be a short description of the environment and its inhabitants, and I'd like to include a listing of Resources available there. What other deets would you want to see?
Grimalkin -- intelligent, medium-sized cats of the Wood -- rarely speak with humans (such contact is taboo) -- organized as a fierce hierarchy where positions are often contested by rivals -- at the very top is the Yurl, a shadow-creature given cat-form and flesh by Atanuwe. The Yurl’s children (there are dozens -- they are collectively called Yurl’s Get) may will themselves to become incorporeal for limited periods of time -- like Yurl they can enter the Lines at will and traverse the Otherwold while in this state.
All grimalkin are taught an ancient word that is tainted with dark magic. It is an heirloom power, a device that only their cat-tongues can correctly pronounce. Any non-grimalkin, non-plant creatures within earshot of this incantation must save vs Spell or find themselves transmuted into green hardwood. Some (30%) of the victims of the wood-word will eventually sprout leaf-bearing twigs and slowly grow to become true trees -- always, however, retaining the consciousness of the victim. A woman who eats fruit from such a tree may become pregnant if she consumes one or more of its seeds. The resulting child will be green-skinned, willful and dangerous.
So the Female name generator is limited to two syllables (ignore the instructions -- needs edits). The results I've gotten so far are really pleasing to my eye/ear:
MEN of BRACKENWOLD
- Gruwth ("grooth")
- Gringle son of Borgle
WOMEN of BRACKENWOLD