Friday, August 30, 2013

Campaign Design - Table Rules for the Three Worlds Campaign

Table Rules: I don’t really consider these to be house rules per se, rather they are interpretations and practices I use (mostly to make things like combat flow better). I want to avoid having the sessions bog down, and make resolution of combat and other similar mechanical elements hop along. These are in no particular order of importance, and have no greater organization scheme than “in the order I remembered them to write down”:
  • Initiative: In the case of a tie when rolling for initiative, the first tie breaker will be the total initiative bonus of the two tied individuals (i.e. the combatant with the higher total initiative bonus acts first). If this does not resolve the tie, the combatant with the higher Dexterity bonus will act first. If this does not resolve the tie, the combatant with the higher Dexterity score will act first. Finally, if there is still a tie, then a dice-off (using an unmodified d20 roll) will be used.

  • Natural 20/Natural 1: A natural 20 is not an automatic hit or save; and a natural 1 is not an automatic failure or miss. A natural 20 is treated as a base result of 30 for the purpose of attack rolls and saving throws. A natural 1 is treated as a based result of -10 for the purpose of attack rolls and saving throws. Resolve the attack or saving throw normally using these results.

  • Open Book Policy: During the game, if your character is going to cast a spell, use a non-standard combat maneuver (such as disarm, sunder, trip, or so on), use one of your class abilities, or something similar, please have the rules concerning your character’s action on hand and ready to go. Flipping to the appropriate page while other players are resolving their actions before it gets to your turn in the initiative order will do a lot to speed up play.

  • Pacing: Everyone will be given a reasonable amount of time to decide what they are going to do. I don’t expect you to be able to make snap decisions as quickly as your characters would, but a combat round (for example) is only six seconds long, so no one should really be mulling over their options for an extended period of time. If someone seems to be taking overly long to make up their mind (I’m generally pretty forgiving on this), I’ll give a warning. If they are still unable to decide what they want to do, that character will take the delay action until they can make up their mind and I’ll move on through the initiative order until they do.

  • Ongoing Effects: If you put into play something that has an ongoing effect (such as casting a bless spell, using the bardic inspire courage ability, and so on), please have a note-card or other marker available to put out to remind everyone that it is in play. If you use a buffing spell (such as bulls’ strength, cat’s grace, righteous might, and so on) or similar ability please figure out the modified bonuses of the target at the time the modifiers initially come into effect and write them down (so they don’t have to be recalculated multiple times).

  • Summoned Creatures, part I: If you summon a creature, using any of the various summoning spells, you must have its statistics on hand, detailed and ready to use. So, for example, if you want to use summon monster I to summon a celestial dog, you must have, pre-prepared and on hand, the statistics for a celestial dog.

  • Summoned Creatures, part II: While the list given for each summon monster spell attaches certain templates to certain creatures (i.e. celestial badger, fiendish dire rat, and so on), I allow mixing and matching of creatures and templates. Thus, for example, you could summon a fiendish monkey, or a celestial raven if you wanted even though that would normally be the “wrong” template for those creatures.

  • Summoned Creatures, part III: There are eleven templates for summoned creatures: anarchic, aquan, auran, axiomatic, celestial, fiendish, fioð, ice, ignan, shadow, and terran. When a wizard or a sorcerer acquires a summon monster spell, they may choose two different templates. Their summoned monsters must use one of those two templates. If a wizard or sorcerer wishes to summon additional types of creatures, they must either select the spell again (for a sorcerer), or scribe a new copy into their spellbook (for a wizard). They may then select another template, and can now summon three different types of creatures using summon monster spells. Other than total spell slots (for sorcerers) and money, time, and spell book pages (for wizards), there is no limit to the number of different templates an arcane caster may be able to summon. Clerics and favored souls summon creatures depending upon their chosen Lord of Heaven or Lord of Hell. The specifics for summoning as it is related to each Lord of Heaven or Hell are given in their descriptions.

  • Ammunition: Ammunition (arrows, bolts, sling bullets) is destroyed when used, whether it hits or not (to simplify bookkeeping). Ammunition made from special materials (such as adamantine, silver, and so forth) may be salvaged for the raw materials, but is useless as ammunition after it is used. Magical ammunition may be recovered using the standard rules fo ammunition recovery.

  • Damage Reduction: In 3.5e, the rules don’t differentiate between different levels of magical damage reduction, listing it merely as DR/magic. This means that a +1 weapon is just as effective against creatures with DR/magic as a +5 weapon. However, I use varying levels of DR/magic, so you may run into creatures that have DR/magic +1, or creatures that have DR/magic +3 and so on. Note that you may also find creatures with the standard substance sensitive type of DR as well (i.e. DR/silver, DR/adamantine, and so forth).

  • Sundering Magical Weapons: In addition to the increased hardness and hit points weapons gain as a result of being magically enhanced, a magical weapon can only be sundered by a weapon with an equal or higher enhancement bonus than itself. Therefore, a +3 weapon could only be sundered by another +3 weapon, or a weapon with a greater magical enhancement. These benefits do not apply to weapons that have gained a temporary enhancement bonus as a result of the magic weapon or greater magic weapon spells.

  • Monsters: The details of monsters in the various books serve as a starting point for me, and are not set in stone. I interpret the statistics given in the books to represent the average creature of a given type. For intelligent creatures especially, I will likely vary the feats, skills, ability scores, equipment and so on from the basic information given in the books. Don't be surprised to find a goblin with Point Blank Shot rather than Skill Augmentation (Listen and Spot), or a bugbear with Power Attack and chain mail.

  • Scribing Wizard Spell Books: The core rulebooks contain contradictory information concerning the cost to scribe spells into a wizard’s spell book. I rule that it costs 25 shillings per page to scribe a spell into a spell book. The two spells a wizard may put in his spell book each time he goes up in level do not cost anything.

  • Searching: To give some shorthand language terminology for searching rooms or other areas, and avoid lots of die rolls and confusion, I’d like to do this. If you want to quickly search a room, tell me you want to “poke around”, that means you are going to Take 10 on your Search check in every searchable area of the room. If you tell me you want to do a “thorough search of the room” (or something similar), that means you are going to Take 20 on your Search check in every searchable area of the room. If you want to search something specific, we’ll handle that as it comes.

  • Opposition Fatalities: Just as with Player Characters, Non-Player Characters (friendly, hostile, and indifferent) all benefit from the “disabled, dying, dead” rules, meaning that even when you drop an enemy, he may not be dead, just wounded and unconscious. This probably won’t matter very often – I will assume that, in most cases, fallen foes will either expire from their wounds, or you will “mop up” any survivors unless you tell me otherwise. But, it does mean that foes that do not die right away could be healed on the spot, moved out of harm’s way, or otherwise return to fight another day.

  • Forgot Something? If you mistakenly forget to add in a modifier to one of your rolls or actions and don’t figure it out until later, generally it will simply be treated as a “self-inflicted penalty” and we won’t go back to correct the mistake. It is usually too clumsy and cumbersome to try to go back and “fix” things that happened a couple of actions previous, let alone a round or two in the past. There may be exceptions to this rule depending on mitigating circumstances, but I’d like to keep “reruns” to a minimum.

  • Invisibility and Flanking: If you are invisible, completely hidden from view (such as when you are within an area of total darkness), or otherwise undetectable by an enemy, you cannot provide an ally with a flanking bonus. The exception to this rule occurs if you actively make a melee attack while invisible, hidden, or undetectable, then you may provide a flanking bonus against the creature you attacked to an ally for the round following your attack.

  • Leadership: Subject to my approval, characters may take the Leadership feat multiple times, and gain additional cohorts and followers.

  • Cohorts: Cohorts may be members of any standard class, and any standard race. If you desire a cohort with an ECL (who may be added under the same conditions as a player could bring in a new character from a race with an ECL), the cohort must be eligible to enter play at least twice as high in level as his ECL (i.e. if you want a cohort from a race with an ECL of +2, your Leadership score must be no lower than 6). Cohorts may multiclass and take prestige classes just as PCs may. As elite individuals, their statistics are generated using 4d6, six times, arrange to taste. A cohort is equipped with gear appropriate to his level when recruited (as set out in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 127). You may build your preferred cohort, subject to my approval, who will be introduced to play when it makes sense for them to show up. Once the cohort comes into play, he or she will be an NPC acting under your control for the most part, but if I think I should (for whatever reason), I may take control of the cohort and run him or her directly.

  • Followers: Followers are much more limited than cohorts. Followers may be commoners, experts, or warriors, (and, in rare cases, with my approval, adepts) and usually of the same race and alignment as their leader (there may be exceptions this rule, when appropriate, although followers must always be a member of one of the standard races found in the campaign). Their statistics are generated using the following method: 3d6, six times, in order. A follower is equipped with gear appropriate to his level when recruited (as set out in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 127). You are responsible for generating the statistics of your followers, subject to my review and approval: if you don’t make them, they won’t show up. Once you have put together your followers, give their character statistics to me, and I’ll introduce them to the campaign when appropriate. Alternatively, you may try to recruit NPCs you meet as followers. Once a follower has been inserted into the campaign, he will be an NPC under your control, though, as with cohorts, I reserve the right to take control of these NPCs whenever I think I should and run them directly.

  • Flanking: The standard rule set requires that each pair of allies act independently to flank an opponent. Instead, I use a “flanked by one, flanked by all” rule. While a combatant is flanked by a pair of opponents, any other attacker who makes a melee attack against that combatant gains the benefits of flanking with respect to his attacks. As a side note, only individuals involved in melee combat with an opponent can gain a flanking bonus, or help an ally gain a flanking bonus.

  • Charging: You may charge through a space occupied by an ally provided that ally chooses to allow you to pass unhindered.

  • Lances: Effectively, a heavy lance, and a longspear are the same weapon. If you use a longspear while mounted, I will treat it as a heavy lance for all purposes related to its combat statistics. Similarly, if you use a heavy lance on foot, I will treat it as a longspear. The same rule holds true for the light lance and the halfspear.

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