The Alexandrian

Posts tagged ‘advanced D20 rules’

This article originally appeared in the August 2002 issue of Campaign Magazine. It originated as a set of house rules I used in my original 3rd Edition campaign. Its stripped down simplicity should make it widely applicable to most D20-based games (including 3.5 and PF).

This alternate system for magic item creation scraps the original item creation feats (found in the core rulebook) and replaces them with an alternate set, consisting of Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, Enchant Wand, Enchant Magic Arms and Armor, Enchant Magical Items, Enchantment, and Major Enchantment.

The system defines five types of magic items:

Scrolls. A one use device for storing spells usable by spellcasters. This typically takes the form of written parchment, but this is not necessarily the case.

Potion. A one use device for storing spells usable by anybody. However, a potion must affect only the person using it (although the affect may allow the user to effect others, such as a potion of fire-breathing). Potions almost always take the form of a liquid which is activated by drinking.

Wands. Stores a single spell with 50 charges (with each charge allowing the user to use the wand’s spell one time). Wands usually take the form of a thin baton.

Magic Arms/Armor. Magical weapons, armor, and shields. Although arms and armor can actually be used as the focus for many types of items (for example, a sword could be enchanted as a wand), this category specifically applies to only two things: (1) Creating weapons or armor with magical bonuses; and (2) Creating weapons or armor with special abilities.

Magical Items. A catch-all category containing everything else (including items previously defined as wondrous items, rods, rings, and staffs).

The system defines three types of feats:

Basic Creation Feats. Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion are basic creation feats. Spellcasters can use Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion with nothing more than the feat, the spell, and the necessary materials.

Enchant Feats. Enchant Wand, Enchant Magic Arms and Armor, and Enchant Magical Items are the three Enchant feats. These feats represent the spellcaster’s basic knowledge of how to create a specific type of item.

Enchantment Feats. Enchantment and Major Enchantment are the enchantment feats. Enchantments are broke into three categories: Minor enchantments (spell levels 1-3), enchantments (spell levels 4-6), and major enchantments (spell levels 7-9). A spellcaster can create an item requiring only a minor enchantment (for example, an amulet of natural armor) with nothing more than the appropriate enchant feat and spell (in this case, Enchant Magical Item and barkskin). If a spellcaster wishes to create an item requiring an enchantment or major enchantment (for example, a wand of ice storm) the spellcaster must have the appropriate enchant feat, the appropriate spell, and the appropriate enchantment feat (in this case, Enchant Wand, ice storm, and Enchantment).

In general, creating items in the new system is identical to creating items in the original system – except that the prerequisites for creating an item now use the new feats instead of the old (as described above). (See the accompanying table for a quick conversion if the appropriate feat is not readily apparent for some reason.)

NEW FEATS

SCRIBE SCROLL
You can create scrolls, from which you or another spellcaster can cast the scribed scroll. A scroll is a one use device for storing spells usable by spellcasters. This typically takes the form of written parchment, but this is not necessarily the case.

Prerequisite: Spellcaster Level 1st+

Benefit: You can create a scroll of any spell that you know. Scribing a scroll takes 1 day for each 1,000 gp in its base price. The base price of a scroll is its spell level multiplied by its caster level multiplied by 25 gp. To scribe a scroll, you must spend 1/25 of this base price in XP and use up raw materials costing half of this base price.

Any scroll that stores a spell with a costly material component or an XP cost also carries a commensurate cost to the creator. In addition to the costs derived from the base price, you must expend the material component or pay the XP when scribing the scroll.

 

BREW POTION
You can create potions which carry spells within themselves. Potions are a one use device for storing spells usable by anybody. However, a potion must affect only the person using it (although the affect may allow the user to effect others, such as a potion of fire-breathing). Potions almost always take the form of a liquid which is activated by drinking (although some potions are known as elixirs, and magic oils are activated by rubbing them on the body).

Prerequisite: Spellcaster Level 3rd+

Benefit: You can create a potion of any spell of 3rd level or lower that you know and that targets a creature or creatures. Brewing a potion takes 1 day. When you create the potion, you set the caster level. The caster level must be sufficient to cast the spell in question and no higher than your own level. The base price of a potion is its spell level multiplied by its caster level multiplied by 50 gp. To brew a potion, you must spend 1/25 of this base price in XP and use up raw materials costing half of this base price.

When you create a potion you make any choices that you would normally make when casting the spell. Whoever drinks the potion is the target of the spell.

Any potion that stores a spell with a costly material component or an XP cost also carries a commensurate cost to the creator. In addition to the costs derived from the base price, you must expend the material component or pay the XP when creating the potion.

 

ENCHANT WAND
You can create wands, which cast spells. A wand stores a single spell with 50 charges (with each charge allowing the user to use the wand’s spell one time). Wands usually take the form of a thin baton.

Prerequisites: Spellcaster Level 5th+

Benefits: You can create a wand of any spell of 4th level or lower that you know. (You must possess the Enchantment feat to create wands with 4th level spells.) Crafting a wand takes 1 day for each 1,000 gp in its base price. The base price of a wand is its caster level multiplied by the spell level multiplied by 750 gp. To craft a wand, you must spend 1/25 of this base price in XP and use up raw materials costing half of this base price.

A newly created wand has 50 charges.

Any wand that stores a spell with a costly material component or an XP cost also carries a commensurate cost to the creator. In addition to the costs derived from the base price, you must expend fifty copies of the material component or pay fifty times the XP cost.

 

ENCHANT MAGIC ARMS AND ARMOR
You can create magical weapons, armor, and shields – enchanting them with magical bonuses or special abilities.

Prerequisite: Spellcaster Level 5th+

Benefit: You can create any magic weapon, armor, or shield whose prerequisites you meet. (You must possess the Enchantment or Major Enchantment feats to create an item with prerequisite spells of 4th level or above.) Enchancing a weapon, suit or armor, or shield takes 1 day for each 1,000 gp in the price of its magical features. To enhance a weapon, suit or armor, or shield, you must spend 1/25 of its features’ total price in XP and use up raw materials costing half of this total price. (See the core rulebooks for descriptions of magic weapons, armor, and shields, the prerequisites associated with each one, and prices of their features.)

You can also mend a broken magic weapon, suit or armor, or shield if it is one that you could make. Doing so costs half the XP, half the raw materials, and half the time it would take to enchant that item in the first place.

The weapon, armor, or shield to be enhanced must be a masterwork item that you must provide. (Its cost is not included in the above cost.)

 

ENCHANT MAGICAL ITEMS
You can create miscellaneous magic items – including rods, staffs, rings, crystal balls, and others

Prerequisite: Spellcaster Level 5th+

Benefit: You can create any miscellaneous magic item whose prerequisites you meet. (You must possess the Enchantment or Major Enchantment feats to create an item with prerequisite spells of 4th level or above.) Enchanting a miscellaneous magic item takes 1 day for 1,000 gp in its price. To enchant a miscellaneous magic item, the spellcaster must spend 1/25 of it the item’s price in XP and use up raw materials costing half of this price.

You can also mend a broken miscellaneous magic item if it is one that you could create. Doing so costs half the XP, half the raw materials, and half the time that it would take to enchant that item in the first place.

Some wondrous items incur extra costs in material components or XP as noted in their descriptions. These costs are in addition to those derived from the item’s base price. You must pay such a cost to create an item or mend a broken one.

 

ENCHANTMENT
You are capable of enchanting items requiring more powerful spells.

Benefit: You can create magic items requiring prerequisite spells of 4th-6th level.

Normal: A spellcaster without the Enchantment feat can only create magic items with prerequisite spells of 1st-3rd level.

 

MAJOR ENCHANTMENT
You are capable of enchanting items requiring the most powerful spells.

Benefit: You can create magic items requiring prerequisite spells of 7th level or higher.

This material is covered by the Open Gaming License.

Advanced D20 Rules: Lack of Sleep

February 15th, 2013

Die Hard - Bruce WillisIf you get less than eight hours of sleep in a night, you must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 20 – the number of hours you slept) or become fatigued.

If you get less than four hours of sleep in a night, you are automatically fatigued and must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 20 – the number of hours you slept) or become exhausted.

Elves only require four hours of meditation in a night. If they get less than four hours of meditation, they must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 20 – twice the number of hours they meditated) or become fatigued. If they get less than two hours of meditation, they are automatically fatigued and must succeed at a Fortitude save (DC 20 – twice the number of hours they meditated) or become exhausted.

If a character’s rest is interrupted by movement, combat, spellcasting, skill use, conversation, or any other fairly demanding physical or mental task, subtract 1 hour for each period of interruption from the amount of rest that they received.

JET LAG

If a character rapidly shifts to a different time zone (or the equivalent thereof) due to teleportation, dimensional travel, flying carpet, or jumbo jet, they must make a Fortitude saving throw for sleep deprivation even if they get 8 hours of sleep. In addition, they suffer a -1 penalty to their saving throw per time zone they’ve shifted. Once a character succeeds at two consecutive sleep deprivation saves, their circadian rhythm has acclimated to the new time zone and they are no longer affected by the jet lag.

Characters using magical or pharmacological aids — like a sleep spell — to force a rest period that’s properly synched with the local time zone gain a +5 bonus to a sleep deprivation saving throw caused by jet lag.

Taking your shoes off and scrunching them into the carpet grants a +2 circumstance bonus to sleep deprivation saving throws caused by jet lag. This bonus rises to +4 if you happen to do it during a terrorist attack.

CIRCADIAN EFFECTOR
Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Cleric 1, Sorcerer/Wizard 1
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Targets: 1 creature
Duration: 1 minute per caster level
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

When cast on a character suffering from jet lag, circadian effector immediately removes the effects of jet lag. (It has no effect on other forms of fatigue or exhaustion.) The spell can also be used to induce the effects of jet lag on a character not currently suffering from it.

If cast on a sleeping character, circadian effector has the immediate effect of cancelling their jet lag. If used in this fashion, the effect is instantaneous (which means that it does not wear off and cannot be dispelled, although a character can be subjected to fresh jet lag if they move to yet another time zone).

This isn’t really an “advanced” rule. But I’ve got a whole series under that title.

This material is covered by the Open Gaming License.

Advanced D20 Rules: Drugs

January 23rd, 2013

Prescription Drugs - Photography by J. TrohaThe basic function of a drug is similar to a poison: They have a type (contact, ingested, inhaled, injury), a Fortitude saving throw DC to resist their effect, an initial effect, and a secondary effect. However, drugs also have the following statistics:

Buzz: The length of time the buzz from the drug lasts. The initial and secondary effects of the drug end when the buzz comes to an end. (For example, a PCP might inflict a Wisdom penalty as its initial effect and grant temporary hit points as its secondary effect. After the PCP’s buzz of 2d6 hours comes to an end, both the buzz and the temporary hit points go away.)

Addiction Threshold: The number of doses that must inflict the secondary effect of the drug before the user risks addiction. Once the user reaches the addiction threshold, they must make an addiction save. If a user goes one day without using the drug, reduce the current tally of doses by 1 to a minimum of 0.

Addiction DC: The DC of the Fortitude save required to resist addiction. On a failed save, the user becomes addicted to the drug (see below).

Recovery Threshold: If a user makes a number of successful withdrawal saves equal to the drug’s recovery threshold, their addiction is broken. They no longer suffer the effects of addition, but a recovering addict suffers a -4 penalty to future addiction saves against the same drug.

Compulsion DC: If a character addicted to a drug has the opportunity to take the drug, they must make a Will save against the drug’s compulsion DC. On a failed save, they must take the drug. If a character is currently suffering withdrawal, they take a -10 penalty on this saving throw. If the character is currently buzzed on the drug, they gain a +2 circumstance bonus on this saving throw for every dose of the drug currently affecting them.

ADDICTION

If a character becomes addicted to a drug, they must stay buzzed on the drug. When the buzz comes to an end, withdrawal begins. Withdrawal acts just like a disease with an incubation time of 1 day. Once per day, the victim must make a new saving throw against the withdrawal or suffer the withdrawal damage of the drug.

SAMPLE DRUGS

ABYSS DUST: Abyss dust is alchemically distilled from snakeweed (see below), although few associate the innocuous effects of snakeweed with this powerful narcotic. Abyss dust looks like ashes, with a rich black and gray color. It is administered through inhalation or smoking. Some hardcore users like to mix their abyss dust with snakeweed, claiming the snakeweed “takes the edge off” of some of the more extreme hallucinations.

Price: 1 gp
Effects: Inhaled DC 13, buzz 3d4 hours, initial effect Hallucinations (-4 on all action checks), secondary effect -1d4 Wisdom
Addiction: Addiction DC 13, threshold 3 doses
Withdrawal: Withdrawal DC 13 (fatigued, 2 Str, 1d4 Wisdom), Compulsion DC 10

BARBARIAN’S BLOOD: A recreational drug also known as “the red burn” and “veinglory”. Users of the drug are marked by a deep reddening of the skin and a significant protrusion of the veins. They experience a psychotropic dissociation in which physical pleasure is heightened and pain is experienced as pleasure.

Price: 2 gp
Effects: Ingested DC 13, buzz 1 hour, initial effect -2 penalty to Wisdom, secondary effect 2d4 temporary hit points
Addiction: Addiction DC 8, threshold 1 dose
Withdrawal: Withdrawal DC 15 (2 Str and 2 Con), Compulsion DC 15

SHADEBANE: Shadebane comes in the form of a pale, silver-grey powder. Water is added to this powder and it is then smeared on the skin. The user experiences hallucinations which give the impression of gifting them with visions from beyond the grave. Regardless of the truth or fiction of these visions, users of shadebane are intensely unpleasant for undead to approach. Undead within 5 feet of a shadebane user must succeed on a Fortitude save (DC 12) or become sickened (even if they would normally be immune to the sickened effect). Long-term users of the drug, however, become obsessive with death. They often begin collecting memento mori and are drawn to graveyards and others places of death. With prolonged use, these morbid obsessions can lead to suicidal, homicidal, or necromantic inclinations.

Price: 15 gp
Effects: Contact DC 13, buzz 1 hour, initial effect Hallucinations (-1 penalty to all action checks), secondary effect sicken undead (see text)
Addiction: Addiction DC 12, threshold 4 doses
Withdrawal: Withdrawal DC 12 (1d6 Wis, 1d6 Con), Compulsion DC 12

SNAKEWEED: The sunburst flower is found growing in many ancient ruins throughout the Serpent Islands. The trances produced by smoking the dried leaves and flowers of the plant became a popular, casual intoxication among the pirates of Freeport and spread to ports throughout the Southern Sea. When dried, the stuff is simply called snakeweed by most, and while it can be psychologically addictive it is relatively harmless by itself. When smoked, snakeweed produces a feeling of serene calm, a deadening of pain, and slight euphoria. Heavy doses produce an incapacitating euphoric stupor, and sometimes inspire dreams of shadowy, serpentine forms and vast cities beneath the waves. In Freeport, it is commonly used by the poorer citizens and sailors as an escape from the drudgeries of everyday life.

Price: 2 sp
Effects: Inhaled DC 11, buzz 1d3 hours, initial effect +1 to Will saves, secondary effect -1 Wisdom
Addiction: Addiction DC 5, threshold 12 doses,
Withdrawal: Withdrawal DC 5 (insomnia, -1 penalty to action checks), recovery threshold 5, Compulsion DC 5

This material is covered by the Open Gaming License.

Samwise Gamgee's Backpack

ENCUMBRANCE BY STONE

Encumbrance by Stone for OD&D
OD&D Equipment Sheet

Encumbrance by Stone for Legends & Labyrinths
Legends & Labyrinths / 3rd Edition Equipment Sheet

DESIGN GOALS

Basically, the entire point of the Encumbrance by Stone system is to simplify the encumbrance rules to the point where they can be used to meaningful effect on-the-fly during actual gameplay.

All the way back in 1974, this type of gameplay was discussed. In Volume 3: The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, for example, we can read:

If the adventurers choose to flee, the monster will continue to pursue in a straight line as long as there is not more than 90 feet between the two. (…) Distance will open or close dependent upon the relative speeds of the two parties, men according to their encumbrance and monsters according to the speed given on the Monster Table in Volume II. In order to move faster characters may elect to discard items such as treasure, weapons, shields, etc. in order to lighten encumbrance.

But in actual practice the encumbrance rules are such a pain in the ass that either (a) they’re not used at all or (b) the amount of calculation required to adjust your encumbrance is sufficiently huge that no one is going to try to do it in the middle of a chase scene.

But in the half dozen sessions since I’ve introduced the encumbrance by stone rules, I’ve had explicit encumbrance-based play crop up twice. And although “encumbrance-based play” may not sound all that exciting at first glance, being forced to throw away your favorite shield or abandon several weeks worth of rations on the pack horse actually provides a great deal of interest. (Going back to get your shield, for example, can be a unique motivator. Running out of food because you had to leave them behind can throw your plans completely out of whack.)

The real root of my desire to find a workable encumbrance system, however, lies in the open table wilderness explorations my campaign is currently moving towards: Encumbrance can make a big difference in how you supply yourself for a particular expedition and that, in turn, will lead to a lot of interesting strategic decisions down the road. Similarly, being forced to leave potentially valuable treasure behind because you can’t carry it will drive interest in revisiting locales.

THINKING ABOUT STONES

Roughly speaking, for the purposes of estimating the stone weight of larger items:

OD&D 1 Stone = 15 lbs.

D&D3 1 Stone = 10 lbs.

But in practice you can just assume anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds. Although eventually set by British law at 14 pounds, the stone historically varied depending on the commodity being traded and the location in which it was being traded. (For example, the 1772 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica states that a stone of beef was eight pounds in London, twelve pounds in Hertfordshire, and sixteen pounds in Scotland.) This makes it fairly ideal to provide a system which uses crude approximation in an effort to vastly simplify the bookkeeping involved with tracking encumbrance. And the slightly archaic nature of the terminology is immersive for a fantasy world. (“I’m carrying about eight stone.”)

In terms of performance, the system will give you a result fairly homogenous with 3rd Edition up to around Strength 25 and then it begins to fall behind the actual tables when performing a straight conversion of stone-to-pounds.

I’m generally okay with that performance for a few reasons: First, most characters won’t reach those levels of strength.

Second, the bundling system tends to be friendly towards the characters. Each bundle is supposedly around 10 pounds, but many common bundles will actually weigh more than that. (Other bundles will under-perform, of course, but I suspect the opposite will more often be true.) And if you’re carrying 40+ stone, then you have to be carrying 150+ bundles (or a lot of really bulky items).

Third, speaking of 150+ bundles, bulk does become an issue at some point. You may be super-strong, but there are only so many places for you to strap stuff to your body. The exception to that is when you’re just lifting a single, heavy object in your hands (which is why I included a separate column for lift).

Fourth, I just don’t care that much. If I did care that much, I would just use the full-fledged, count-every-single-pound method of encumbrance.

SPECIAL THANKS

The design of this system is heavily influenced by Delta’s D&D Hotspot and Lamentations of the Flame Princess.

This is an equipment sheet designed to be used with the Encumbrance by Stone rules for Legends  & Labyrinths / 3rd Edition I posted yesterday. (It’s similar to the sheet for OD&D, but with a couple key differences.)

Encumbrance by Stone - L&L Equipment Sheet
(click for PDF)

USING THE SHEET

Using the sheet is really where this system comes alive, because it basically makes tracking encumbrance as easy as listing what you’re carrying.

Encumbrance Rule: You can write down your character’s encumbrance rule (based on their Strength score) in the spaces provided in the lower right corner.

Armor/Shield/Weapons: The assumption is that your currently equipped armor, shield, and weapons will be listed for reference on the front of your character sheet. You can jot down the current encumbrance values for these items in the spaces provided in the lower right hand corner of the sheet.

Coins/Gems: These are listed in the upper right and their encumbrance calculated as shown. (To quench the “I have one coin and it apparently weighs a ton” complaints, you can allow players who carrying 20 coins or less to list them as “loose change” in the miscellaneous equipment section.)

Heavy Items: This section is for listing anything that qualifies as a heavy item (i.e., weighs 1 or more stones all by itself).

Miscellaneous Items: The heart of the sheet. Simply list everything you’re carrying in bundles of 20 or less. When you’re done, you can immediately see how many stones of miscellaneous equipment you’re wearing. Bam.

Add Misc. Equipment + Heavy Items + Coins/Gems + Armor + Shield + Weapons = Total Encumbrance. In practice this is all single digit arithmetic and adjusting your encumbrance on-the-fly during an adventure is practically automatic.

Moved equipment to your horse? Picked up a bunch of treasure? Throwing away your shield in order to run away from the goblin horde at your heels? It can all be done in seconds.

TIPS AND TRICKS

Stored Items: This section of the sheet is for anything you own that isn’t currently being carried by your character.

Inventory of Gems: These are tracked separately to make calculating coin/gem encumbrance easier.

Containers: This area is used for listing containers in use (which don’t count against encumbrance). Empty containers should be listed as miscellaneous equipment. There are two easy methods for tracking which items are in which container:

(1) List miscellaneous equipment slot numbers next to the container.

(2) Put a symbol (star, circle, square, etc.) next to the container, then mark items in the container with the same symbol.

Tracking Supplies: The intention is that you list your supplies in the miscellaneous equipment section, but you can quickly check off supplies used on the trackers. At some point of convenience, you can go through your equipment list, adjust the totals, and then erase the supply checklists to start anew.

The Blank Space: After making the sheet I kept expecting something to crop up that I’d forgotten. (At which point I’d have this convenient blank space to slot it into.) After a half dozen sessions, nobody has suggested anything. (Let me know if you think of something.)

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