Saturday, November 17, 2012

C&C: the Bravo class

In most fantasy worlds there are those who live (and die) by violence, but who lack the full training of Fighters and other such warriors.  Picking up what they know mainly from the school of hard knocks, they are brawlers who are not entirely adverse to stealth and guile, as they often operate outside the law.  They are street thugs, muscle for the thieves' guild, back-alley throatslitters, barroom brawlers, village goons, highway bandits, and forested revolutionaries.  They are Bravos.


Move Silently (Dexterity):  As per the Rogue ability.

Sneak Attack:  Gained at 4th level, as per the Rogue ability.  If wearing armor heaver than leather, this penalty suffers a -1 penalty for each point above AC 12 the armor confers.  Likewise, non-leather headgear confers an additional -1 penalty, as does the use of a non-small shield,

Weapon Specialization:  Gained at 4th level, as per the Fighter ability, granting a +1 bonus to hit and damage.  This increases to +2 at 10th level.

The Bravo also has two other special abilities, which varies depending on whether the Bravo is primarily urban- or rural-based.

Bravos who work primarily in cities or larger towns have the following two special abilities:

Conceal (Dexterity):  As per the Rogue ability.  Penalties for wearing heavier armors apply, as per the sneak Attack ability.

Listen (Wisdom):  As per the Rogue ability.

Bravos who live more in villages, or who live outside of civilization altogether (i.e. in the forest) have the following two special abilities:

Conceal (Dexterity):  As per the Ranger ability.

Survival (Wisdom):  As per the Ranger ability.

PRIME ATTRIBUTE: Strength or Dexterity
ALIGNMENT: Any non-Lawful
ARMOR: Cuir bouille, hide, leather, mail shirt, padded, ring mail, scale mail, studded leather, shield (small, medium, or pavis), helm (any except armet or great helm)
STARTING GOLD: 30-120 gp (3d4 x 10)
Level       HD          BtH         EPP
  1         d8          0              0
  2         d8         +1          1,501
  3         d8         +2          3,001
  4         d8         +3          6,251
  5         d8         +4         12,501
  6         d8         +5         25,001
  7         d8         +6         50,001
  8         d8         +7        100,001
  9         d8         +8        200,001
 10         d8         +9        400,001
 11       +3 HP        +10       600,001
 12       +3 HP        +11       800,001
 13+ 200,000 EP per level

The first draft of this was posted many, many moons ago on the old Troll Lords Games C&C forums

Sunday, November 11, 2012

House Rules for Castles & Crusades

Now that I'm a couple of sessions into running my new C&C campaign, I just wanted to write down and formalize my house rules that I'll be using...
  • characters who are spellcasters must have a score of 13+ in their class's Prime Attribute; non-spellcasters need a 9+ in their Prime Attribute
  • the Prime Attribute for Rangers is Dexterity, not Strength
  • characters can increase one of their attributes over time as they level up, based on the combined total score of their six main attributes: (added 11/23/13)
               Attribute Total            Increase An Attribute
               50 or less                   At 2nd level, and every two levels afterward
               51-75                        At 3nd level, and every three levels afterward
               76-90                        At 4th level, and every four levels afterward
               91 or greater              At 5th level, and every five levels afterward
  • saving throw penalties for defending against spells are based on the level of the spell, not the level of the spellcaster; the penalty for saving throws triggered by monster abilities are based on half the monster's HD, rounded up (added 11/23/13)
  • characters are knocked unconscious when they are reduced to 0 HP - the 'death threshold' (the point at which a character dies) is (5 + CON modifier) as a negative number, or (10 + CON modifier) for characters with Constitution as one of their Primes (edited 12/9/12)
  • initiative in combat is determined each round by rolling a d6, adding the character's DEX modifier
  • a 'critical hit' in combat is defined as either a natural 20 (unless only a 20 will hit), or a roll that exceeds the target AC by 10 or more - this does the maximum amount of damage for the attack, and allows a second roll, which does in addition normal damage if the second roll hits, or maximum damage again if the second roll is also a critical hit
  • blunt weapon attacks that reduce a monster or NPC's HP to 0 or below may, at the attacker's option, knock the monster out instead of killing it (this is why clerics use blunt weapons - it's hard to convert the heathens if they're dead (unless you're a necromancer, or course))
  • a combatant can forgo taking damage from a successful attack by sacrificing either a shield or a weapon, under the assumption that is was shattered while parrying/deflecting an incoming attack - the only caveat is that it must make a certain amount of sense for the defender's shield or weapon to be able to absorb the damage of the incoming attack... in practice, this generally means that the incoming attack must either be a blunt or cutting weapon (not counting daggers), as piercing attacks usually would not break an opposing weapon or shield - the defending item to be sacrificed can be either a shield, or pretty much any weapon except a dagger (not counting main-gauches, daggers just usually aren't used much as parrying weapons) (a variant of Trollsmyth's 'shields shall be splintered' rule)
  • melee combatants get a 'free attack' if an opponent with a notably shorter weapon (i.e. dagger vs sword, sword vs spear) closes into melee range, if an opponent moves within the combatant's strike range without stopping to defend themselves (i.e. running around or through the minions to get to the main bad guy), or if a melee combatant turns their back to flee without making a defensive tactical withdrawal - the free attack occurs when the opponent moves into the combatant's strike range, separate and independent of the combatant's normal attack on their initiative count (modified 2/24/13)
  • any piercing or edged attack that does damage will also cause continual bleeding until bandaged or healed - the wounded party will lose 1 HP per minute for the next 1d10 minutes per such attack (damage not to exceed the original amount of damage inflicted by the piercing/edged attack) (added 2/24/13)
  • once per game session, a PC may declare that a henchman/hireling/follower suffers the results of any single attack that the PC takes instead of the PC, if it is reasonable that this could occur, based on the current location of the follower in relation to the PC, and the nature of the attack (added 11/17/12)
  • once per session each person at the table (DM included) may roll a d30 instead of whatever die the situation normally warrants. The decision to use the d30 must be made before the roll (swiped from Jeff's Gameblog)

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Alternate spell memorization rules

Like many players growing up with older editions of D&D, I disliked the need for spell memorization from magic-users.  I had not yet read Vance, and the idea of a wizard forgetting a spell upon casting it made no sense to me, nor did it line up with other representations of magic as per Howard, Leiber, Moorcock, etc.  Truthfully, outside of a specifically Vancian setting it still doesn't make that much sense to me, to be honest... however, in recent years I have come to appreciate a bit more the 'resource allocation' aspect of 'old-school' D&D, i.e. the necessity of having the right spell memorized, the right equipment on hand, etc. for a given adventure.  For my upcoming C&C game I'd like to retain a bit of that pre-adventure planning, while still giving wizards a bit more flexibility in terms of overall spellcasting.

The following alternate rules are designed for Castles & Crusades, but could easily be adapted to earlier versions of Dungeons & Dragons with little muss or fuss.  The only possible hurdle might be if your particular flavor of D&D uses a different time scale - in C&C a round is 10 seconds long, and a turn is a minute long.

First, what the wizard (or illusionist, or whatever) is doing after those 8 hours or so of sleep isn't so much spell memorization, but rather spell preparation.  Think of casting a spell as not unlike firing an arrow from a bow.  There are multiple steps involved in the latter: 1) having a bow in hand, 2) grabbing an arrow, 3) nocking the arrow on the bowstring, 4) drawing the arrow (and bowstring) back, 5) aiming the arrow at the target, and 6) letting loose of the arrow, so that it may (hopefully) hit its intended target.  In preparing their spells for the day, spellcasters are essentially going through the magical equivalents of steps 1-5, leaving only the final step undone so that the final triggering of the spell may be cast at the appropriate moment. 

The implication here is that the casting time given for a listed spell is for that last step, when the spellcaster 'pulls the trigger' on the incantation in question.  A further implication is that a spellcaster can cast any unprepared spell they know, but that it required more time to complete.  An unprepared spell whose casting time is listed in rounds requires an equal amount of time in turns/minutes; if a spell has a casting time listed in turns, the unprepared time required is multiplied by 10.  For example, Dragon Mount has a CT of 2 rounds; an illusionist casting it unprepared would actually need 2 turns/minutes to cast it.  Likewise, Explosive Runes has a CT of 1 turn/minute; a wizard would need 10 minutes of cast said spell unprepared.

The exception here is any spell that has a CT listed in minutes, hours, or days (instead of rounds or turns), requires the same amount of time to cast, prepared or not.  This changes the 'resource allocation' dynamic of spell preparation a bit, but not overly much; such spells are comparatively few, and many of them are of a nature that you would not bother to memorize for a dungeon expedition, but would rather save for 'downtime casting' (i.e. Guards And Wards).  If a spellcaster knows such a spell, they can cast them unprepared at no penalty... if they have the time to do so.

The time required for preparing spells after a good night's rest is, unsurprisingly, equal to the full, unprepared casting time described above.  Preparing the spells Detect Magic, Light, Open/Close, Magic Missile, and Sleep (all CT 1) would only require about five minutes.  Preparing the spell Greater Scrying (CT 1 turn) would require about 10 minutes.

While originally intended for arcane spellcasters, the above system can also be applied to divine spellcasters as well, if desired.  The cleric or druid is spending their morning prayers making the mental preparations required to act as a conduit to channel their deity's favor into a specific miracle/spell.  However, if a spell falls under a deity's primary aspect (i.e. Cure Light Wounds for a Goddess of Healing, or Continual Flame for the God of Fire), then the spell can be cast unprepared at the reduced casting time.  

Friday, November 2, 2012