Friday, September 22, 2017

Campaign Design - The Luck System

The Luck System
(from the Book of Roguish Luck)

All characters are lucky or unlucky to some degree, but rogues, chameleons, scouts, and similar characters tend to be luckier than most. The luck system grants all characters luck points, represented by a renewable pool of points that one can apply to saving throws, attack rolls, and skill checks.

On a going forward basis, I am eliminating the use of the Swashbuckling Cards and the Hero Points. The Swashbuckling Cards have mostly been more amusing in theory than useful in practice, with the cards rarely seeming to be in the hands of players when they would be helpful. It also seems that people routinely forget they even have them. As far has Hero Points go, no one ever seems to have bothered to use them, and I suspect that most of the players in the campaign don't even remember that they exist. Instead, I'm going to introduce the Luck System from the Book of Roguish Luck into the campaign.

I will point out that this system may at times be something of a mixed blessing. While these rules will help player characters succeed more often on a given roll, NPCs and monsters can use them too. For most monsters, this factor won't make a big difference, but fortune's favor means that powerful villains may succeed more often.

Luck Points
ClassLuck Die
Favored Soul
Each character begins play with a number of luck points, determined by her character class and the roll of the initial Luck Die, plus her Charisma modifier. A character might have 0 or negative luck points at 1st level. The luck die for each class playable in the campaign will be listed in the class description. For convenience, the luck die for the base classes available in the campaign are listed on the table to the right.

Note: I am uncertain about using different luck die for different classes. This is the base version of the rule as presented in the Book of Roguish Luck, but I am not certain what the basis for having differing die for each class is, or whether this is a balanced system. As we see how this works in play, I'll reevaluate as necessary.

When a character increases in level, she gains additional luck points to spend and raises the maximum number of luck points she may have at a given time. The number of luck points a character gains depends on the class she has just advanced in.

Prestige classes gain points depending on whether they are primarily rogish classes (1d6), fighting classes (1d4), divine casters (1d3) or arcane casters (1d2). This is a DM determination for each prestige class. As prestige classes get added to the campaign documentation, I will make evaluations concerning what kind of luck die they use.

A character's maximum luck always equals her starting luck roll plus her rolls from gaining additional levels, just like maximum hit points. A character cannot exceed this number of luck points, even through the use of spells, feats, or magic items that grant additional luck points.

Using Luck Points
A character can spend luck points to improve an attack roll, a skill check, or a saving throw. Luck points cannot be used to reroll damage rolls, hit point rolls, ability checks, caster level checks, or percentile rolls.

One can use luck points to improve initiative checks or negate critical hits in conjunction with appropriate Luck Feats or class abilities. I will be posting feat and spell descriptions that affect luck in the near future.

Lucky Attack and Lucky Skill Checks
A character can use luck points to reroll attack rolls and skill checks. When an attack roll or skill check has failed, a player may declare that roll unlucky after the fact and announce that she is making a lucky roll. The character spends 1 luck point from her pool to reroll the original d20 roll. A luck reroll can only be made once for each attack roll or skill check, unless the character has the A Step Ahead feat.

When a character spends a luck point, she rerolls the attack roll or skill check immediately. The spent luck point is deducted from the character's pool, which she can replenish by gaining additional levels or through certain feats, spells, and magic items. The result of the second roll is used, whether it succeeded or not.

A luck point may be used to reroll an attempt to confirm a critical hit.

If a character's luck pool falls to 0 points or less (due to a spell effect or use of the Burn Luck feat), she cannot make any luck rerolls until her pool has at least 1 point in it.

Lucky Saving Throws
Lucky saving throws are similar to lucky attacks and lucky skill checks, but it costs 2 points to reroll a failed save. The character is stuck with the result of the second roll, whether it succeeds or not.

Magic and Luck
Sorcerers, wizards, arcane engineers, and other arcane casters can use luck to reduce or avoid the chance of arcane spell failure when casting a spell. To do so, such a character spends 1 luck point for every 5 percent chance of spell failure she wishes to offset. If this expenditure of luck brings the arcane spell failure chance to 0 percent, she need make no arcane spell failure roll.

Regaining Luck Points
A character accrues luck points by gaining a level, from the effects of certain spells or Luck Feats, and sometimes when granted as part of an adventurer's award. Luck is a fairly rare quantity in the universe. Be careful how you spend it.

Lucky Style
Players may earn luck points for good play. A player who makes the group laugh (or gasp), a player who delivers a line with gusto, or a player who steps up to a big confrontation may earn a luck point for doing so. Lucky style points are awarded immediately and can be used immediately.

All of these awards are more or less arbitrary and entirely at the DM's discretion, but the general idea is to reward good and amusing play. None of these awards will normally be given more than once per game session.

Impressing the Group: If everyone at the table goes "Oooooh" at what a character just did or said, it is probably worth a point.

Invoking Lady Luck: A truly amusing bit of pleading might be worth 1 luck point. Point-mongering and chiseling for points will be ignored. I may make this award based on a die roll or coin flip.

Extra Style or Panache: When someone performs with daring, pluck, spirit, or bravado, such as facing down a powerful demon while the rest of the party flees, to taking on the elder dragon's mother-in-law, that character deserves a luck point, She'll probably need it.

Making the Group Laugh: It's about having fun. Jokers will get luck points.

Taking a Huge Chance: Sometimes a character does something monumentally stupid that may save the entire party. If the party survives, I'll grant that character 2 luck points. This award will never be given to someone being stupid to save themselves, only for helping other characters.

Luckiest Player: If someone just made an almost impossible roll with or without spending a luck point, she deserves a luck point. This award isn't just for rolling a 20 to get a critical threat, but also for a low-Wisdom barbarian who sees through the clever bluff of the wily villain against all odds, or the foolhardy gnome who decides to disarm the fiendishly clever trap with a toothpick and some cross-class ranks in Disable Device.

Writing Up a Game Session: Any player who does a good write-up about a game session to share with the group gets a luck point. Maybe two.

Maximum Luck
No character may exceed her maximum luck. Maximum luck is always equal to the total result of all Luck Dice the character has rolled, just as maximum hit points are always equal to the total result of all Hit Dice the character has rolled.

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