Thursday, April 24, 2014

Simple Weapon Quality

Weapons in old school D&D barely exist.  You chose them at character creation (whichever does most damage, probably) and then forget about them unless you encounter a rust monster or drop your weapon on a critical miss.  That's a bummer because there is a lot more richness in the source materials: weapons forged by masters, weapons forged of rare materials, ceremonial weapons, crude weapons, weapons that break, worn weapons, rusty weapons, dull weapons.  When was the last time your players honed a blade in game or visited a blacksmith to have a weapon made?

Necropraxis has a great house rule to get at this.  Go here and follow all his links to read the cool conversation about weapon wear.  While having a system of wear allows weapons to become part of the resource management of adventure gaming, I'm most interested in how this could make weapons more tangible.  So, I would probably simplify the wear aspect even a bit more.  Here's my go at it:
All weapons have a quality from 1-20.  If you roll under the quality of your weapon when you attack you "notch" it.  Notched weapons are -1.   If a weapon is notched again, it breaks.  You can hone out a notch in camp.
So, you basically have two pieces of bookkeeping (quality # and notched or not) and one thing to keep in mind as you play (did I roll under?).  I think that would be worth it.

To keep things simple I would consider a weapon that has had a notch honed out of the same quality as a brand new weapon.  In other words, I don't want to have to track how many times a weapon has been notched.  I would probably allow a blacksmith to fix a broken weapon at half original cost, but wouldn't reduce the quality because it was repaired.  I would probably not have criticals affect notching, otherwise, if a critical miss is always a notch than a #1 and #2 weapon are identical.  The same if a critical hit never notches, a #20 and #19 would be identical.

Cool Side Effects
One thing I've been trying to do in my game is make the campsite a tangible place too.  For example, music and freshly cooked food each give +1 to hit point recovery rate.  Having weapon honing be important, would give players another thing to do in camp and another reason besides recharging the magic user to want to stop and camp.

This rule would also make carrying weapon spares an interesting proposition, making encumbrance matter for more than just how much gold you can carry out of a dungeon.  And weapons found in a dungeon could become important if you don't want to risk breaking your already notched, but high quality sword.

Why No Armor?
You'll notice I've left out armor.  Armor presents a different challenge for me.  First, notching would depend on monster attack rolls so, I would have to worry not just about player AC but player armor quality as well and I've got enough to worry about in the heat of combat.  Second, if armor is found in the dungeon, it's not like your going to stop, strip off your old armor and put on the new the way you might immediately start using an axe you find in a crypt.  I think maybe a piecemeal armor system might be a possible solution, but armor is less a concern for me right now.

I'm excited to try this in play.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Class-based Rule Responsibility

I've long wanted to do some player handouts or booklets specific to each class.  Someone wants to play a fighter, give them a handout with all they need to know about fighters: how shields work, weapon damage, missile range, experience chart for leveling.  I haven't made these yet. 

But I was just thinking that in addition to giving that player everything they need to know at their fingertips, it could be quite nice for more casual players to have rule expertise in one realm and not need to worry about the rest.

So, if you have a house rule for armor wear and tear, let the fighter know about it, and they can explain it to the other players.  If you have special resurrection, level draining, or healing rules, let the cleric/priests become the expert on that.  This gives each player a reason to be important and it would probably increase the number of house rules/mini-games you could get away with without becoming too complex, because no players will have to know them all. 

Traditionally, a lot of the rules can be dealt with when need arises and only the DM needs to know the rules at all.  But when your start talking about subsystems like hunting, repair, special house rules dealing with travel, players need to know this stuff to be able to make decisions.  So, split up the responsibility of that rule knowledge.

Magic users could know about your world's languages and writing systems, all about scrolls and making them, perhaps about maps and curses and such.  Maybe also enough vague history of your realm to know what things are older than others.

I would probably include a lot about the undead for divine petitioners, and like I mentioned above, how healing and disease works.

Thieves would know any relevant lock mini-games, of course, but would be a good place to put knowledge of the values of treasure sold in different towns, the going rates for different gems and different types of coins, etc.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sandbox Wonders 12

91. Dark Ice Caves - The ice these caves are found in is a dark, purplish hue.  It melts to water of the same color.  This water freezes in darkness regardless of temperature.  Treasured by desert castellans.
92. The Great Stillwater - This lake in the center of a northern bog is deathly still.  In fact no ripples move on the water when it is disturbed.  If some of this is poured in another body, that water will still for an hour.
93. Ghost Road - Parties traveling on this ancient road see no one behind them and a party far in front of them that looks identical to theirs.  All parties see this.  Two parties traveling at the same time will not see each other until close enough to be mingling horses.
94. The Old Teeth - A line of obsidian plugs jutting from a rocky landscape.  Fires set next to them produce no smoke, as if the plugs breathe it all in.
95. The Round Pools - A flat, stone plain dotted with small, circular pools.  The fresh water never dries up and bathing in one will speed healing of small wounds.  Bathing in several in the proper intervals will heal completely and even restore limbs.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sandbox Wonders 11

86. Grey Hills - These low rolling hills are a sickly grey and made almost entirely of clay.  They are treacherous in wet weather but folks say bricks made from the clay cannot be broken by siege engines.
87. Keep Tree - From a distance it looks like a stand but it's actually one huge, ring-like tree.  With one entrance and a clearing inside some thirty feet across, many tribes, patrols, and pilgrims have sought shelter here over the years.  Oaths made inside bind like a geas.
88. The Honeycomb - Red sandstone with tight, twisting passages and holes of different sizes worn by wind and ancient water ways.  The best shelter for miles in the badlands, it's said you can hear the conversations of all those that have camped there before in the wind moaning through the crannies. 
89. God's Bowl - In the floor of a rocky mountain valley a massive vein of white quartz holds a pool of water.  This water will never freeze even if taken from the pool.
90. Wight Woods - Evergreen trees that do not move in the wind but move as if by wind if the dead are moving near them.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sandbox Wonders 10

81. Sand Falls - A plateau in a desert with dunes on and around it.  Every third day sand falls from above.  The sand is so pure and fine it's said a person with cursed weapons or armor can remove them while standing under the fall.
82. The Roots - Acres of twisted roots with no soil.  Very difficult to travel through.  These roots consume soil around them and cuttings are feared by farmers and desired by sappers.
83. Dark Water - Somewhere in the ocean a patch of dark water exists.  It is oily and stinks like-rotting fruit.  Bathe in it and animals will ignore you for a day.
84. God's Breath - These rocky flats are blasted by a continuous downward wind.  So loud that speech is impossible.  It is said someone cannot be scryed for as long as God breathes on them.
85. The Shells - Deep in a desert a vast area of pinkish dunes.  These are actually made up of millions of tiny shells.  Placing the shells in water causes them to revivify as tiny molluscs and crustaceans that are voracious and consume any meat nearby.