Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Playing the Deux Ex Machina Card

In our game, there have come times when something comes out of the blue (we like to keep things really random in our game which can lead to some nasty, unexpected surprises)  and it looks like a TPK might be inevitable.

Now, I play this game for what it is.  It's a game, people play it to have fun.  Because of that, sometimes it's just not in the best interest of the game to allow that random TPK to happen.  Now, some people out there might cry out about DM fiat and other such things but whatever.   Play your game your way, we'll play our way.

 What we've begun to do is allow the DM to play a DEM (Deux Ex Machina) card in certain situations to allow the game to go on.  It's not just a DM decision though, In a situation where it's fairly obvious that a random roll has brought about something that just will not end well, the DM can tell the players that this is an opportunity for a DEM.

The Players are the ones who actually decide on whether to play the DEM card or not though.  It is the Players decision because to play a DEM Card will cost the players a certain number of XP, like 5,000 XP or more, at the end of the game, for each DEM Card played.

This way, the game can go on if the players decide it would be more fun to continue onward or to just let things happen as they will, risking almost certain TPK.  Only the DM can offer to play the DEM card though, the players cannot ask for it.  The players can only vote to take it or not when it is offered and whatever they choose, the DM will go with.

Doing it that way allows the DM to keep things from getting out of hand because of poor playing on the players parts.

So far, we like it and in the last few weeks, it really hasn't been used very often at all despite them knowing it can be used.  It has actually been turned down a couple of times.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Playing with Magic Users again

I still find Vancian magic too clumsy and, in my opinion, incompetent.  However, I am still working out a system that works better for my table.  I have been testing this in my game and so far, I like it and the Players seem to like it as well.

What we are doing is allowing MU's to cast any spells within their ability to cast as determined by the tables in the PH and as long as they have the spell in their spell book.  Kind of like free-casting in that way.

However, their ability to cast spells cost them Hit Points from their current total.  ach spell costs as many points as what level spell it is.  Thus a 3rd level spell reduces the MU's current total by 3 and so on.

By doing this, it seems the players have really gotten an greater appreciation of the value of magic items such as wands, rings, staves, rods, and scrolls as those items do not incur a HP loss when used.

I've also noticed that the players now also tend to put more thought into what spells they cast and when they cast them a lot more.  It seems most tend to favor casting defensive and utility spells from their own strength and favor using magic items for casting offensive and some utility spells if the have them.

It's a pretty simple change that seems to make things more interesting for my players with MU's.  The MU still uses only a d4 for gaining HP at each new level so it encourages conservative spell casting.

I have made one concession on the issue of XP and HP gained when they level up.  I have a spell that can be cast by them or on their behalf by a Master who is training them to level up that allows them to auto max the HP gained at level up at a cost of a certain amount of XP.  (Right now we're using 1,000 XP as the cost but no one has gotten to try it yet.  We'll see how and if it needs to be adjusted when we get to that part.)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Trying a diffferent way to handle Clerics and Druids

One of the things I think of most often when it comes to handling Clerics and Druids is that as part of their class, they have an obligation to a higher authority for the use of their powers.  I've never really been thrilled with the BtB handling based on how the Player RP's the character.  Too much room for interpretation.

Here's something we are trying with some interest and success so far.

Clerics and Druids have a list of 4 tasks that is given at the creation of each new Cleric or Druid PC.  Essentially, these are the things the deity expects their devotee to do daily to stay in the deity's good graces.  the DM and Player can come up with any 4 tasks they like based on the deity, the alignment of the PC and deity, etc...

What it boils down to is that as long as the PC performs the 4 tasks as expected the day before, they are in the deity's "Best" graces and their spells automatically work as expected to maximum effect.

If the Cleric/Druid in question only performs 3/4 tasks then they have a 15% chance of spell failure and the spells that do work do so in the expected manner as randomly rolled for results as usual.

If the Cleric/Druid in question only performs 2/4 tasks then they have a 30% chance of spell failure and the spells that do work do so in the expected manner as randomly rolled for results as usual.

If the Cleric/Druid in question only performs 1/4 tasks then they have a 45% chance of spell failure and the spells that do work do so in the expected manner as randomly rolled for results as usual.

If the Cleric/Druid in question performs none of the tasks then they have an 60% chance of spell failure and they are in the deity's "Worst" graces and their spells work as expected to their minimum effect.

Clerics and Druids can use atonement much as they do BtB or immediately step up to their tasks and complete them es expected to get on the deity's good graces the next day.

I find as a DM that the tasks are easy to keep up with as the Player is required to announce when they are performing each task and if they do not then the DM assumes it did not happen and make a note of it.

This has really increased the roleplaying of Clerics and Druids in our game to make sure that they are earning the spells that they are given by their deity.

Try it out and let me know how of if it works at your table.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Healing another way

I've been tossing around another way to handling healing in the game.  we've played it a bit and it seems to work pretty well and folks are liking it.

The idea goes this way...

When being healed by a Cleric or another person, they have a base chance to automatically give maximum hit points from the spell.  I've been using a 10% chance of auto max hit points restored.  However, for each level of the healer, there is a 3% bonus applied to the base chance.

The way I work it is like this.  Using percentile dice, the Cleric or Druid or whoever has to roll a 90 or better to get auto max HP restored per the spell.  For each level of the Cleric, for example, say 1 4th level Cleric, they gain a bonus of 3%/level for a total bonus of an additional 12% applied to the base.

This means that the 4th level cleric can roll a 78 or higher to give auto max HP.

For use of a wand, staff, scroll, etc... the spell is cast as a given level spell caster and thus has the bonus applicable to that level.  If the spell caster rolls less than the required number, then random rolling on the applicable die as usual is the result.

When it comes to healing by resting, I am using a percentage based on range of HP lost in the 24 hours previous as an indication of severity of the damage.  For example, A fighter with say, 50 HP total loses 50% of their HP in a battle within the 24 hours before rest.  That means they lost 25 HP and are at 25 HP left.  Normally, using a base of 10% again or rolling a 90 or above, the fighter can auto max potential HP to be gained from rest.

However, in the situation of having lost 25 to 50 percent of their total HP, that gives them a 3% penalty for auto max healing during rest.  this means that for 1-25% they lose 3% and for 25 to 50 they lost another 3% meaning we subtract a total of 6% from the original 10% base chance.  That Fighter now must roll a 96 or higher to get an auto max HP restore per die   Anything below a 96 means they have to roll randlomly as usual and take what they get.

It might seem more complicated written all out here but in reality it's actually pretty simple and adds some extra excitement to the game, at least, we think so.

Try it, let me know if it works for you.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Psionics, doing it different

I'm not sure how many of you folks use psionics in your games.  I don't.  Looking over the BtB description of it just looks like an dull edged blade of a headache.  I figured the game doesn't need psionics and have been content to leave it at that.

Then I discovered a book series by Larry Correia called the "Grimnoire Chronicles" and I was instantly inspired.  Here were people that had seemingly magical abilities but without having been trained as wizards, etc...  Literally, they were just "born that way".  Over the course of their lives, they had to teach themselves how to master their abilities and discipline themselves with little to no help from anyone else.

There were, eventually, organizations of these magic wielders that one might turn to for help.  Many of those people not born with magic were often afraid and distrustful of those who were.

The abilities each individual had fell into a type or class of power.  Each along the same lines, such as a "Healer" whose abilities were limited to helping (or hurting) the body.  There were people who could "Jump" from one point in space to another instantly.  One type who could affect the gravity or cellular cohesion of themselves or others and make themselves lighter, heavier, denser, etc....

The point is, they never seemed to have a variety of abilities, just those geared toward a specific field or purpose.  This was interesting, exciting to me.  I began looking through the psionic appendix in the 1E Players Handbook again and was interested to note how many of the abilities listed therein would fall into similarly directed Classes of  abilities.

Since then, I have been working up a system partially based on what I got out of the "Grimnoire Chronicles" and from 1E.  There are similarities to both obviously, then again, there are some noticeable differences as well.

I'm still working on the system.  I want to try to keep it relatively simple or at least easy to figure out in terms of handling and adjudication.  There is no separate point strength system.  It costs the PC Hit Points to power each effort.  I want to allow the Player a feeling of power and ability but keep them disciplined and careful about each time they go to use that power.

It's an experiment and a fun one at that.  To me, doing psionics this way is a lot more fun than the BtB system in 1E.  If you want to see how it's written up and how it's going along, you can look it over at my wiki site, "WikiMage".  Friendly, rational discussion is welcome here or on G+.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Quick Perusal of 5e Basic PDF

I saw some recent reviews of the 5e Basic PDF yesterday so I thought I would finally take a look at it, seeing as it's a free download and all.

I saw a couple of interesting things in it.  Not enough to make me want to play it.  One thing struck me as I "flipped" through it.  It assumes a lot of influence over character creation and details.

They make it clear you are playing in "their"world.  That was all I need to see to know I want to have nothing at all to do with it.

All throughout the character creation section they insert references to WotC owned gaming content such as Dragonlance and other generalized specifics.  the racial descriptions also make much reference to WotC provided content. 

I bring this up in contrast to say 1E books which leave much of the background and behavior, etc.. up to the Player and DM.

I get the notion that they are influencing the reader to think of it as playing a character the way they intend it to be played as opposed to how the DM and Player might creatively decide.

In short, they provide too many details.   It's more like playing a "Choose Your Own Ending" story where the Player is simply running a mostly pre-defined gamepiece and choosing from their offerings as opposed to self, DM or group determined details.

Like I said, it's like they are making it known in advance, we are playing in their world, not our own.

I am far too much of a home brewer to go along with that.  It's an instant turn off to read that in the PDF.

Some well known things are conspicuously missing.  They don't have gnomes listed as a PC racial option. Nor do they list Orc or the half breeds either.

Others out there might like this, I have no doubt of that.  As for me, it comes off as stifling individual creativity and seems opposed to home brewing. 

I'll stick with my 1E/OSRIC thank you very much.