06 April 2014

Musings on combat for my home game.

 I have several goals with my home game.
  1. Maintain easy compatibility with D&D, such that it is just an overlay and I can just plug and play old-school modules. 
  2. Be intuitive to new people, both in how the mechanics work out of game, and in way they perceive the results from an in game perspective.
  3. Be fast. 
  4. Prevent the excessive bonus bloat I see in the post 3.5 era of D&D. 
  5. Make attributes matter, but not too much. If attributes don't really matter then there is no need to roll them ya dig. 
Point 1 is why I have been fighting to stick with derivatives of D&D instead of going to RQ derivatives. I just simply don't want to do the conversion work. It is tedious and not fun, unlike this constant spiraling around  making D&D make sense to me and my players.
Point 2 is why I went to armor reducing damage instead of making things harder to land a telling blow.
Point 3 and 4 are parts of the same thing. I myself hate doing constant double digit addition or subtraction while gaming, and I am a former math minor.
Point 5 feeds into 4, and is why I like the B/X highest bonus is +3, although I thinking of going to OD&D's highest being +1 or +2.
Points 4 and 5 are also why I removed strength and dexterity bonuses to hit and dexterity bonuses to armor class (or defense). But I am starting to think that having dexterity affect defense might be ok, that way strength increases melee damage, dexterity makes you harder to hit, and constitution makes you able to take more damage.

The Six Ability Scores
Strength is a measure of a character’s raw power. Strength modifiers affect a character’s damage in melee combat, ability to open stuck doors, and any other instance in which physical strength matters.

Intelligence is the ability to learn and apply knowledge. Intelligence modifiers add to a character’s learn languages roll, the number of extra starting proficiency slots, and an arcane spell caster’s number of spells per day.
For arcane spell caster it affects the time (and thus expense) required to research spells and create holy items, as well as influencing the success of the Cleric’s spells.
When a character comes into contact with another language, his chances of knowing the language is 1 in 6. There is a –1 penalty if the language is not local to the culture, –2 if the language is exotic, and –3 if it is an ancient, dead language. A character gets one attempt to know any particular language this. If that one attempt fails, the character simply does not know the language. Magical languages cannot be known using this method.
Any language determined to be not known this way can still be learned later with the acquisition of a tutor and expenditure of money.

Wisdom is the measure of a character’s connection to the greater universe, and the strength of the character’s spirit. Wisdom modifiers apply to saving throws caused by spells or magic items. This would include, e.g., a save versus Blast against a fireball or a save versus Death from a finger of death, but not a save versus Petrification against a medusa’s gaze.
For divine spell casters it affects the time (and thus expense) required to research spells and create holy items, as well as influencing the success of the Cleric’s spells.

Dexterity is the measure of a character’s agility and reflexes. Dexterity modifiers add to the Thief Skills: Open Locks, Remove Traps, and Pick Pockets.

Constitution is the measure of a character’s health, vitality, and toughness. 
Constitution modifiers affect a character’s Hit Points, and fitness for certain physical activities such as traveling long distance. A negative constitution modifier cannot reduce gained Hit Points below one.

Charisma is the measure of a character’s ability to influence and lead other people. Charisma modifiers affect the character’s ability to hire retainers, the loyalty and morale of those retainers, and reaction rolls. The maximum number of henchmen a character may have at any one time is four plus their charisma modifier (between one and seven henchmen).

But hit points are bugging me. Does it really make sense to have both an improving defense and improving hit points? If I were to have improving hit points, they would improve much slower than would be expected, a small fixed number every level, because people who do any kind of martial activity, they do become tougher and less likely to be taking down with one hit. I've been thinking of constitution be the base number of hit points with an small amount added every level based on class.

Character and Monster Combat Advancement Table
Attack Bonus
Defense score

Less than 1 HD
1+ to 2
2+ to 3
3+ to 4
4+ to 5
5+ to 6

6+ to 7

7+ to 9

9+ to 11

11+ to 13

13+ to 15

15+ to 17

17+ to 19

19+ to 21

21+ and higher

  Hey look a handy table compiling things. Defense score is obviously descending AC, and the ascending attack bonus obviously so I can use the two together with the Target 20 scheme of determining success on a hit.

I've also be thinking about armor and firearms since I am including early modern firearms (EMF). Basically, rigid metal armors can be purchases normal and proof against the guns of the day. What this means is that, firearms will ignore the unproofed armor, but proofed armor provides its full protection. This also means that theoretically, I could "scale" this upwards so that armor proof against EMFs, will not be proof against higher tech weapons, like lasers or higher velocity firearms.

Armor Class
Light (Leather or Textile)
1 (1d2)
Medium (Mail or Breastplate)
150gp-proofed Breastplate
2 (1d4)
Heavy (Plate and Mail Armor)
3 (1d6)
Super Heavy (Full Plate)
4 (1d8)

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