Friday, August 30, 2013

Campaign Design - General House Rules for the Three Worlds Campaign

Game Rules: The campaign will use the 3.5 edition Dungeons & Dragons rule set (referred to as “3.5e”) mostly “by the book” with a few modifications. Except where otherwise noted, material from the 3.5e Player’s Handbook and Dungeon Master’s Guide is generally available for players to use. In addition, I have selected certain modified rules (as specified on the site) from Unearthed Arcana for use in the campaign. Subject to review, material from Complete Adventurer, Complete Arcane, Complete Divine, and Complete Warrior is available for use by players on a case by case basis. If you want to use material from some other source, I may or may not allow it (depending on my assessment of whether it “fits” the campaign and the “soundness” of the proposed option). The specific house rules are:
  1. Spellcraft: Because their powers and methods are so different, arcane casters suffer a -5 penalty to Spellcraft checks to identify divine spells, and vice versa. Characters who do not cast spells but have ranks in Spellcraft must specify whether their knowledge pertains more to the arcane or the divine. This is true whether the character is observing spell casting or using the skill to identify magical writing (such as a scroll). Multiclass casters of both arcane and divine spells suffer no penalty.

  2. Death and Dying: Instead of the standard rules detailed in the section titled Injury and Death on pages 145-146 of the Player’s Handbook, I’d like to use the following alternate rules. Except where noted here, all other rules detailed in this section are unchanged:
    • Disabled: When a character reaches 0 hit points, he is disabled. You remain disabled until you reach a negative hit point total equal to your Constitution modifier (minimum 0, no one is ever disabled at a positive hit point total). You can only take a single move or standard action each turn (but not both, nor can you take full-round actions). You can take move actions without further injuring yourself, but if you perform any standard action (or any other strenuous actions, such as casting a quickened spell) you take 1 point of damage after completing the act. Unless your activity increased your hit points above 0, you remain disabled, unless your negative hit point total exceeds your Constitution modifier, in which case you fall unconscious and are dying. Healing that raises your hit points above 0 makes you fully functional again, just as if you had never been reduced to 0 or fewer hit points. A spell caster retains the spell casting capability she had before becoming disabled. You can also become disabled when recovering from dying. In this case, it is a step towards recovery, and you can have more negative hit points that your Constitution modifier (see Stable Characters and Recovery, below).
    • Dying: When your negative hit point total exceeds your Constitution modifier, but are less than your total Constitution score, you are dying. A dying character immediately falls unconscious and can take no actions. Every round, you must roll a d% to see whether you become stable. You have a percentage chance equal to your Constitution score of becoming stable. If you do not become stable, you lose 1 hit point. This continues until you die or become stable (see below).
    • Dead: When your negative hit point total equals your Constitution score, you die. You can also die from taking ability damage or suffering an ability drain that reduces your Constitution to 0. When a character dies, his soul immediately departs. It is virtually impossible to return from death (see Campaign Rules, Section 5 concerning spells that are generally unavailable in the campaign).
    • Stable Characters and Recovery: On the next turn after your negative hit point total exceeds your Constitution modifier, but is less than your total Constitution score, and on all subsequent turns, roll d% to see whether you become stable. You have a percentage chance equal to your Constitution score to become stable. If you don’t, you lose 1 hit point. When you are unconscious or dying you cannot use any special action that changes the initiative count on which your action occurs. If your negative hit points exceed your Constitution score, you die. Someone can keep you from losing any more hit points and make you stable with a DC 15 Heal check. If any sort of healing cures you of even 1 point of damage, you stop losing hit points and become stable. Healing that raises your hit points to a point where your negative hit point total is equal to or less than your Constitution modifier makes you conscious and disabled. Healing that raises your hit point total to 1 or more makes you fully functional again, just as if you had never been reduced to 0 or lower. A spell caster retains the spell casting capability she had before being in danger of dying.
    • Nonlethal Damage – Staggered and Unconscious: When your nonlethal damage equals your current hit points, but does not exceed it by more than your Constitution modifier, your are staggered (no one is ever staggered at a positive hit point total). You are so roughed up that you can only take a standard action of a move action in each round. You cease being staggered when your current hit points once again exceed your nonlethal damage. When your nonlethal damage exceeds your current hit points by more than your Constitution modifier, you fall unconscious. While unconscious, you are helpless (see Helpless Defenders, page 153 of the Player’s Handbook). Spell casters who fall unconscious retain any spell casting ability they had before going unconscious.

  3. Fractional Base Bonuses: Because I like them, the campaign will use the fractional base bonuses rule set forth in Unearthed Arcana in the sidebar on page 73. Classes that are listed on this site incorporate this rule information into their descriptions.

  4. Weapon Sizes: The unnecessarily overcomplicated weapon sizing rules in 3.5e will not be used. Instead, the original 3rd edition weapon sizing rules (because they are easier to work with) will be used. For those of you unfamiliar with these rules, they are simple. All weapons are given a “size”, for example, a short sword is a “Small” weapon, a longsword is a “Medium” weapon, and a greatsword is a “Large” weapon. The size of a weapon compared to a character’s size determines whether the weapon is light, one-handed, two-handed, or too large to use for that character:
    • Light: If the weapon’s size category is smaller than the character’s, then the weapon is light for that character. Light weapons are easier to use in the off hand, and they can be used while grappling. A light weapon can be used in one hand. There is no special bonus when using such a weapon in two hands.
    • One-Handed: If the weapon’s size category is the same as a character’s, then the weapon is one-handed for that character. If a one-handed melee weapon is used two-handed, apply one and a half times the character’s Strength bonus to damage (provided the character has a bonus).
    • Two-Handed: If the weapon’s size category is one step larger than a character’s, then the weapon is two-handed for that character. A two-handed melee weapon can be used effectively in two hands, and when damage is dealt with it, add one and a half times the character’s Strength bonus to damage (provided the character has a bonus).
    • Too Large to Use: If the weapon’s size category is two or more steps larger than a character’s own, the weapon is too large for the character to use.
    • Thrown Weapons: Thrown weapons can only be thrown one-handed. A character can throw a thrown weapon with one hand even if it would be two-handed for you due to the character’s size, but doing so counts as a full-round action because the weapon is bulkier and harder to handle than most thrown weapons. Add the character’s Strength bonus to damage.
    • Missile Weapons: A character can use a two-handed projectile weapon (such as a bow or a crossbow) effectively in two hands. If the character has a penalty for low Strength, apply it to damage rolls when you use a bow or a sling. Add no Strength bonus to damage with a projectile weapon unless the weapon is a sling, a mighty composite shortbow, or a mighty composite longbow.
    • Unarmed Strikes: An unarmed strike is two size categories smaller than the character using it.

  5. Scribing Scrolls: A single standard scroll can hold up to nine levels worth of spells, combined in any manner the scribe desires. A single scroll could hold one ninth level spell, a fourth and a fifth level spell, nine first level spells, or any combination with total spell levels of nine or less. A cantrip scribed onto a scroll counts as a half-level for the purpose of this rule (therefore, a single scroll could conceivably hold up to eighteen cantrips). For the purpose of calculating the crafting time under the item creation rules, a single scroll may be scribed as if it were a single item, no matter how many spells it holds.

  6. Critical Hits: By the standard 3.5e rules, the critical threat range increases from the Improved Critical feat and the Keen weapon enhancement do not stack with one another. I am reversing this to the original 3rd edition rule, and an individual with the Improved Critical feat who is using a Keen weapon has the base critical threat range of his weapon tripled.

  7. Multi-Classing: The multi-classing restrictions for monks are removed as game rules (the multi-classing restrictions for paladins are also removed, but because the base paladin class has been removed from the campaign, this is somewhat moot), although some particular organizations of such individuals may have particular rules regarding the “proper” area of study for those members.

  8. Dodge: The Dodge feat as written is somewhat cumbersome to use in play. The Dodge feat as written provides a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against one opponent designated each round. Instead, for simplicity, the Dodge feat will simply grant a character a +1 dodge bonus to Armor Class against all attackers. If you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your Dexterity bonus, you lose this bonus.

  9. Metamagic: For the time being, the use of metamagic and the effects of metamagic feats are both governed by the Highly Experimental Metamagic Rule. This rule is provisional, and may be subject to change if it becomes a problem.

  10. Skill Bonus Feats: There are several feats that give a +2 bonus to two skills, such as Alertness, Diligent, Investigator, Stealthy and so on. Rather than having a dozen or more feats that basically do the same thing, I’m replacing them all with the Skill Augmentation feat.

  11. Spell Focus: Abjuration: In addition to its normal effects, the Spell Focus: Abjuration feat grants a +1 caster level bonus when making caster level checks related to spells from the Abjuration school of magic (such as those resulting from casting dispel magic, or banishment), and adds +1 to the DC to disarm magical traps created with spells from the Abjuration school of magic (such as that resulting from casting explosive runes).

  12. Skills: The following skills have been clarified, or expanded. The campaign will use the Skills by Character house rule. In addition, the campaign will use the expanded Synergy Bonuses listed in that page.
    • Craft: Alchemy: As a quasi-magical art, the Craft: Alchemy skill can be used by individuals who are not spell-casters.
    • Knowledge: Local: When this skill is selected, the character must specify the locality for the skill, usually a town, city, or relatively small region. The more specific the locale to which this skill applies, the more detailed the information it provides is. This skill may be taken multiple times. Each time it applies to a different locale.
    • Knowledge: War: This skill covers strategy, tactics, and logistics. At the start of a battle between two opposing forces numbering 50 combatants or more on each side, the leaders of each force may make an opposed Knowledge: War check (a commander may substitute a subordinate’s skill for his own if he delegates command). The winner of this opposed check may bestow a +1 circumstance bonus to attack rolls to a number of allied combatants equal to the margin by which he beat his opponent for a number of rounds equal to his Charisma modifier. Any number of subordinates may use the Aid Another action to increase the commander’s skill result provided he has had time to consult with them while formulating his battle plan.
    • Profession: Scribe: This skill may not be taken by illiterate characters.
    • Speak Language: While not a modification of the speak language skill per se, any time a character experiences a permanent increase in his or her Intelligence bonus, they may, after obtaining appropriate training, learn a new language without expending additional skill points.

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