Posts Tagged With: d20

Non-Vancian Magic: Options

Here are some additional things to increase the scope of my particular non-vancian magic system. Since some people complain about the 15-minute workday that the Vancian system perpetuates, I thought I would add in some extra rules that I had thought of previously to address that particular issue.  I didn’t include them originally because I didn’t want to make the whole thing too bloated.  But I guess I’ll bloat it up over here and call them “optional” rules or some such so that I can claim the whole system is actually elegant and streamlined.

Hmm.  I should come up with a name for my system, shouldn’t I?  From here on out, let’s call it Urbanekovian magic.  Is that too egotistical?  If Elminster, Mordenkainen, Tenser, and Otiluke get to name spells after themselves, why shouldn’t I name my system after myself? Especially since it’s fantastically brilliant.

Anyway, here are the “optional” variants:

1) Cantrips or At-Will magic:

Any minor spell effect may be effected for free, as long as the base cost for the spell is lower than the caster’s level divided by 3 rounded down.  Thus, a 3rd level Arcanist may cast any spell worth 1 SP (before any focus or specialization reductions) for free.  Familiarity point reductions do apply.

2) Healing and SP regain:

There are three options for this variant: Mild, Moderate, and Brutal.

Mild version:  Hit points regained by the caster also add half as many SP into the caster’s pool, up to the max number of SP the caster is allowed.

Moderate version:  The caster’s SP pool is not refilled by sleeping.  Each hour the caster does not work any magic (cantrips included), the caster regains his Int (or Wis bonus for Elementalists) bonus in SP.

Brutal Version:  The caster’s SP pool is not refilled by sleeping.  Each hour the caster does not work any magic (cantrips included), the caster regains his Int (or Wis bonus for Elementalists) bonus in SP.  Further, if the caster is healed, he regains half as many SP to his pool as he gains in HP.  Also, each time the caster takes damage, he loses half as many SP as HP.  Thus, if a caster takes 12 damage, he also loses 6 SP.  If he is healed 12 damage, he regains 6 SP.

Personally, I like the Brutal version best, because it reflects the physical toll that manipulating the thaumflow takes on a body.  Physical exhaustion makes it harder to manipulate the supernatural energies, so taking damage also affecting your casting ability makes sense.

Also of note, neither of these variants has much effect on Called Ones, since their manipulation happens through an intermediary, and they technically don’t even have a SP pool. Which is another way they are differentiated from Arcanists and Elementalists.

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Non-Vancian Class: Called One

This is the second of three major classes related to my non-vancian magic system.  Please see the introduction piece for a thorough description of how the system works.


Ability Scores:

Minimum score: Cha 16

10% XP bonus: Cha 18+

Hit die:

d8

Class Skills:

Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Knowledge (Religion), Knowledge (Planes), Profession, Speak Language, Spellcraft

Table: The Called One

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Max Spell points:
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Ceremony 1 3
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 4
3 +2 +1 +1 +3 Prayer 4
4 +3 +1 +1 +4 5
5 +3 +1 +1 +4 Ceremony 2 6
6 +4 +2 +2 +5 7
7 +5 +2 +2 +5 Miracle 7
8 +6/+1 +2 +2 +6 8
9 +6/+1 +3 +3 +6 Ceremony 3 9
10 +7/+2 +3 +3 +7 10
11 +8/+3 +3 +3 +7 Vision 10
12 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 11
13 +9/+4 +4 +4 +8 Ceremony 4 12
14 +10/+5 +4 +4 +9 13
15 +11/+6/+1 +5 +5 +9 Intercession 13
16 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 14
17 +12/+7/+2 +5 +5 +10 Ceremony 5 15
18 +13/+8/+3 +6 +6 +11 16
19 +14/+9/+4 +6 +6 +12 16
20 +15/+10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Holy One 17

Class Abilities:

Skill proficiencies:

2 at first level, plus one additional every 5 levels above first.

Weapon and Armor proficiencies:

Called Ones begin with two weapon proficiencies. A new weapon proficiency is gained for every four levels above 1st. The proficiencies may be selected from the following list: bola, bo stick, club, flail, godentag, jo stick, hammer, mace, maul, morningstar, quarterstaff, sling, staff sling.

Called Ones are proficient with any armor and shields.

Spellcasting:

Unlike Arcanists, who recognize patterns in the universe and exploit them to create magical effects, the Called are individuals specifically chosen by a supernatural power (either a god or an agent of a god) for a special task on the Material Plane.  The Called are themselves aware of their particular mission, but often it is to spread the knowledge of their deity and increase the number of worshippers (meaning that the player is allowed to determine their own divine mission, which once chosen cannot be changed).

When a Called One casts a spell, it is not so much the Called him/herself manipulating the thaumflow, but the supernatural entity assigned to the Called One which does the manipulating.  The Maximum Spell Points given on the table above indicate the maximum number of SP that the supernatural entity attached to the Called One (hereafter called the Guardian Angel or Angel) will allow in any one casting.  The number of castings per day is unlimited so long as the Called One is directly acting to accomplish their mission.  If the Called One wishes to cast a spell not directly pertaining to the mission, the Angel will allow a number of spells per day equal to the Called One’s level plus Charisma Modifier.

There are 4 “Realms” which comprise the Called’s spell bases:

  1. Blessing – aid for those who the Called wishes to bring into the fold
  2. Bane – curses against those who oppose their deity’s agenda
  3. Creation – Bringing material objects into existence
  4. Destruction – Removing material objects from existence.

Base effects for each Realm:

Blessing –

  • +1 to attack or damage for 1 round – 1 SP
  • Cure subject of natural disease – 3 SP
  • Restore 1d6 HP – 1 SP

Bane –

  • -1 to attack or damage for 1 round – 1 SP
  • Cause natural disease – 3 SP

Creation –

  • Create food for one meal for 1 person – 1 SP
  • Advance 1 lb plant by 1 season – 1 SP
  • Create 1 gallon water in held container – 1 SP
  • Restores deceased 1 HD creature to life – 10 SP

Destruction –

  • Remove 1 cu. ft. of inert material from existence – 1 SP
  • Inflict 1d6 HP loss on touched target – 1 SP
  • Raise corpse as 1 HD undead – 5 SP

Any spell which a Called One casts through his guardian angel will be tied to one of these four Realms, and may not combine realms.

Divine Focus:

A Called One may possess or create for themselves a symbol which assists in the channeling of thaum  from the Angel to the material world.  Such a symbol will either be an image of the deity itself, or a part thereof, or else a stylized representation of a key portion of the deity’s theology.  The purpose of the benefit of the divine focus is to make more clear to unbelievers who is responsible for the power that they witness.  There are four classes of divine focus, which provide increasing benefit to the Called One who wields it:

Type Cost Benefit
Humble 10 gp +2 SP per spell
Righteous 100 gp +4 SP per spell
Mighty 1000 gp +8 SP per spell
Exalted 10,000 gp +16 SP per spell

Benefit:  A divine focus increases the maximum SP available to the Called One per spell.

Ceremony

The Called is invested at various levels with the authority to conduct certain ceremonies on behalf of the calling power.  The format of the individual ceremonies varies greatly between religions, but lasts at least an hour and involves many symbolic elements, whether physical objects, actions, or invocations.

  • Ceremony 1:Burial, Induction

The induction ceremony “claims” a soul for the deity and opens access to the deity’s particular afterlife for the individual.  Spells cast by Called Ones of the same deity as the Inducted person belongs to are cast at a 20% SP discount.  Receiving a second induction from a different deity invalidates the previous induction, and will mark that person as a traitor to the Called Ones and priests of the original deity.

The burial ceremony (usually) places the soul of a deceased person to rest, opening the way into the afterlife for the soul, and preventing the recently deceased from rising as undead.  This may be performed on any dead person, not just those who follow the same deity as the Called One. An emergency burial may be performed in one minute given a grave is already provided.

  • Ceremony 2:  Marriage, Investment

Married individual enjoy several blessings in relation to both their relationship and the production of offspring.  +2 Morale bonus to attacks, damage, and skill checks while the spouse is within 30 ft, +4 to attacks and damage when the spouse is in mortal danger, +20% to fertility checks.

Invested priests may participate in religious ceremonies and are blessed with the power to perform some simple magic and ritual magic dedicated to the deity. Priests may perform induction, burial, and marriage ceremonies, as well as lead ordinary worship services, offer standard sacrifices, and hold revival services to encourage more worshipers to join.

  • Ceremony 3: Excommunicate, Consecrate

Inducted followers who deviate greatly from the teachings/laws of the calling deity may be excommunicated by the Called of the same deity, whether in person or not.  This ceremony strips the offending individual of any blessings currently ongoing, and marks forever that soul as one who is cursed.  This mark is visible to all Called Ones and Priests, and may only be removed by an Atonement ceremony.

Holy ground or buildings may be consecrated by a Called One.  From that point on, as long as the site is maintained, any dead buried in the consecrated ground/building are immune to spontaneous undead generation.  Blessings cast and ceremonies performed on consecrated ground by followers of the same deity receive bonuses.

  • Ceremony 4: Atonement, Imprecate

Atonement will restore an excommunicated individual (of any religion) into the good graces of the deity (and church) the Called One serves.

Imprecate will call down the wrath of the divine upon any individual, typically leaders of groups directly opposed to the mission of the church or deity served by the Called One.

  • Ceremony 5:  Anoint, Desolate

Anoint is the ceremony whereby sovereigns of nations or heads of churches are installed in their offices, granting blessings to the rulers as long as they support the deity which installed them.

Desolate calls a curse upon an entire nation or region for their defiance of the deity confirming the desolation ceremony.  Effects may vary widely.

Prayer:

A Called One may spend at least a minute in prayer to ask for intercession in an urgent matter to the Called.  The prayer may be accompanied by any number of rituals (including sacrifices, relics, and any other manner of thing depending on the deity being prayed to) for increased effect/likelihood of intervention.  Things typically in the purview of a Prayer are blessings for a large number of people (such as an army before a critical battle), good weather for abundant crop production, or other wide-ranging but numerically small boons.

Miracle:

The Called One may request some form of miraculous event from his deity.  Such things may be creation of large amounts of material, forestalling or causing natural events, or other signs and wonders.  Final result left to the discretion of the DM.  Typical miracles might include the destruction/rout of a military enemy, the creation of enough food to support a nation in time of famine, a particularly showy event to convince undecideds to follow a particular deity.

Vision:

The Called One may receive an immutable vision of the future (typically far in the future). Most will be compelled to record the vision for future generations.  Sometimes the vision is of the deity itself imparting knowledge for a particularly important upcoming event, or for the encouragement of the Called One.

Intercession:

Once per week the Called One may ask his deity for some direct intervention on the part of himself or another which is not technically directly involved in the Mission the Called One received.  (effects similar to a small Miracle or a larger Prayer)

Holy One:

The Called One has gained the highest honor from the deity who called him.  He may now perform at will any minor miracle (any miracle that would have a minor effect on a large number of people, or a profound effect on one person that does not defy existing natural patterns).

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A.M.I.S.S.

I’ve been working on bulking out the second entry in my Non-Vancian Spellcasting classes series, but I’m not going to have it done in time for Friday like I hoped, so I’ll post something else that isn’t finished to make up for it.

That’s right, my much-vaunted gigantic cross-referenced index of every monster published (nearly) I am releasing into the wild.  It isn’t finished but the Agglomerated Monster Index Sorting Suite (AMISS for short) is now available for viewing here:  LINK.  I have it set up so you can sort, filter, and list by every category available.  Feel free to save a copy to your own Drive to set your own filters, and keep checking back because you never know when I might be adding monsters to it.

As I said, it isn’t done yet, but it does have more than 500 individual monster entries included so far.  By the time I’m done, it may well have over a thousand.  I am totally finished with the Heroes of Horror and the Monster Manual III.  I am mostly finished with the Monster Manual/SRD monsters.  I plan to have in the final product the following:  Monster Manual/SRD Monsters, Monster Manual II, Monster Manual III, the Fiend Folio, Heroes of Horror, and any other books I own with monsters in them (version 3.5, but since there aren’t any stats included you should be able to utilize the list for any edition of the game).

What good is this list?  Well, it’s super cool for me because with the filters on I can compile in under a minute a custom random encounter table for any given CR range, climate, environment, organization, sourcebook, type, subtype, and even weight!  No more long prep time coming up with random encounter tables for Warm Forests 5, 10, 20, and 40 miles from civilization.  Just set the filters, =randbetween(1,n) the number of options, and off you roll!

Now, I should say that those entries are based on 3.5/Pathfinder monsters, so perhaps the CR listing won’t be as advantageous for you 5th Editioners out there, but hey, this is a tool I made for me that I’m sharing with you.  Feel free to copy it and edit to your heart’s content.  At least take a look at it, though.  Took me forever to get it this far.

Bonus:  On the second tab (titled “Calculation”) there is my rough guide for levels of encounters based on relative settlement level, as well as percent chance for any given encounter to be one with intelligent humans/demihumans.  Also a seagoing encounter table with weather events.  But wait, there’s more!  If you act now, you will see four whole days of hourly encounter rolls on that same sheet.  Refreshes at the editing of a cell!

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Skills, Revisited

I figured this out in the shower this morning, so you know it’s a good idea.

I’ve been puzzling over how to make the skills work really well within my game, especially with the combat-XP system.  I think I finally have something that is simple, easy to implement, and easy to remember.

Skills advance by use.  Some things which used to be skills are now class features, namely Open Lock, Climb, Hide & Move Silently (now called Stealth); Spot and Listen have combined into Perception, and the function of several “interaction” skills has been taken over by the Conflict! system.

At first level, you may choose a number of skills to be “proficient” in (equal to the number of ranks you would have received upon a level up).  You get a +2 bonus to all of these skills.  You may only be proficient in class skills.

Making skill checks:

Each skill is tied to a particular Ability Score.  When you make a skill check, roll a d20.  If the result is less than or equal to your ability score plus proficiency and experience bonuses, you succeed.  If the roll is higher than your ability plus proficiency and experience bonuses, you fail.  Particularly difficult tasks may impose penalties on your ability score, but typical activities will not.

Skills and Experience bonuses:

Each successful use of a skill earns one SXP, or skill experience point.  When you have accumulated 7 SXP in one skill which is also a class skill, you receive an experience bonus (+1) to future checks in that skill. Further increases require 7+(current XP Bonus) more successful uses of the skill.  Remember lucky number 7.  For cross-class skills, double the number of successful uses that must be achieved (14 for +1, 16 for +2, etc.)

Compound Checks:

Some activities are more complex than simply using a single skill.  In these instances, a series of skill checks may be required, possibly in conjunction with straight ability checks.  If any of the checks fail, the task may not be completed successfully, but may be partially completed, depending on circumstances.

Opposed Checks:

Opposed skill or ability checks work much as they did before, with d20 rolls adding all bonuses (including ability modifiers).  Higher result wins.

The table of current skills can be found on the Obsidian Portal wiki.  For everyone who are not my players, I have very little business telling you what skills to use or not.  Go crazy.

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Starvation

Lack of food, or even proper nutrition has a profound effect on anyone. I have worked up a table to indicate the effects of malnutrition on PCs. For simplicity’s sake, an adventurer out on campaign should have about 2 lbs of food per day, with 1/3 to 1/2 of that being Carbs (potatoes, breads, etc.), 1/3 to 1/2 of it “Greens” (being fruits, vegetables, etc.), and the remaining 1/4 to 1/3 of the diet being Protein (meat, fish, fowl, etc.). Beans have the honor of counting as both greens and protein. Water should be consumed in quantities of 3 liters or more per day.  On a low activity day (hanging around in town, for example), only one pound of food is required.

The table indicates the cumulative effects of lacking any or all of the above nutritional elements. Of course, adverse conditions will aggravate the conditions listed, and should be adapted as necessary (extreme heat greatly accelerating water depletion, for example)

Days Lacking Carbs Greens Protein Water
1 Sickened
2 -1 Dex -1 Str Fatigued
3 -1 Cha -1 Int -1 Con Exhausted
4 -1 Con -1 Str Disabled
5 -1 Dex -1 Wis -1 Con Disabled
6 -1 Cha -1 Str Dead
7 -1 Int -1 Con
8 -1 Dex -1 Con -1 Str
9 -1 Cha -1 Wis -1 Con
10 -1 Str

As you can see, the table progresses in a linear fashion and may be interpolated out as far as necessary.  Each of these penalties are cumulative, and add up with each other.  So, if you have a party that forgets to bring along turnips in their field kit, they will be fine for a couple of days.  However, lacking all those vitamins and minerals will start affecting their health, both mental and physical.  They will be more susceptible to disease, and will begin to lose cognitive ability as well.

Granted, some foods will account for more than one category.  Beans function as protein and veggies, potatoes act as carbs and veg, etc.  Also, if there is decent rationing going on, a half day’s worth of food will only count for 1/2 of a day on the table.  So it will take twice as long for any given condition to take effect if some food is being eaten.

However, I am assuming in this table that adventurers are undertaking normal actions: combat, hiking, arguing, carrying heavy stuff all over creation, wearing armor, and such like.  This is a tool for you to use, to give a baseline for something that is not covered in the DMG.  Unlike typical ability damage, starvation damage will recover at 2 points per day, once normal nutrition is restored.

Lacking adequate water is, obviously, a dangerous proposition.  3 litres a day is necessary for normal activities, and every day you have no water at all severely depletes your ability to perform.  Less than 3 litres, but more than 1 a day will halve the rate of declining health, and restoring full water intake will bring a character back up the table two day’s worth at a time.  But strenuous activities will increase the need for water.  Say every hour of intense physical activity (combat), or two hours of moderate physical activity (hiking), or for every 10 degrees over 70 the temperature is will increase the daily need for water by 1 litre each.  So if it’s 90 degrees, and the PCs are hiking across fields all day (8 hours), and then have to fight goblins for an hour, they will require 10 litres of water that day, each one of them.  Frankly, it sounds like a terrible day to me, too.  But there it is.  If they only brought 5 litres of water apiece, they would do alright for one day.  But two days like that, and they would wake up the next day feeling sick.  Look up heat stroke sometime.  It isn’t fun.

So there’s that.  Who says wilderness adventures can’t be fun?

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Heroic Weaponry

A Hero’s Weapon is a legendary weapon wielded by a hero of great renown. Any weapon or armor has the potential to become a Hero’s Weapon, and as it’s wielder increases in power, so does the weapon’s (or armor’s) own power increase. At each level, a PC gains a number of Upgrade Points equal to his previous character level. Thus, a 4th level character increasing to a 5th level character gains 4 Upgrade Points. These points may be used according to the tables below to upgrade any weapon, armor, or shield that he or she wielded for a majority of the previous level’s adventuring. Certain special abilities may or may not be available at the DM’s discretion, and special ability prerequisites may be modified by the DM. These bonuses act as magic bonuses.

When wielded by someone other than the PC who imbued the weapon with power, the total available bonuses are equal to half of the weapon’s total bonus (which special abilities and enhancement bonuses available are up to the DM) until the character has gained Upgrade Points of their own and has used the weapon enough for it to be eligible to receive Upgrades from the new character.

Adding upgrade bonuses to weapons or armor functions essentially similar to adding magical bonuses to weapons, the difference being that the cost is paid with experience rather than gold. In order to add a bonus to a weapon or armor, a character must have the requisite Upgrade Points available to spend. Unused Upgrade Points may be carried over from level to level, but can only be spent during a level-up. Once allocated, these upgrades can be removed at another level-up period, but they only return half of the points used to create them to their owner’s point pool. The exception to this rule is that if an upgrade is superseding a lower-power version of the same ability (eg. upgrading from flaming to flaming burst), the upgrade cost is a number of levels lower according to the bonus of the superseded power. For example: upgrading from flaming (+1 bonus) to flaming burst (+2 bonus) would only cost as many points as an increase in one total bonus level.  Or, upgrading from Acid Resistance (+4 bonus) to Acid Resistance, Greater (+8 bonus) would only cost as many points as going up 4 levels in power.

Only one upgrade may be applied/removed per item per level. If a character has sufficient points to add upgrades to more than one item, he may do so during the same level-up process. To add a special ability that would increase the total bonus of the weapon or armor by more than one, the upgrade points for both levels must be spent. E.g. if a +1 Longsword were to have Flaming Burst added to it (a +2 equivalent bonus) it’s wielder would have to spend 16 points (6 for +2 total, and another 10 for +3 total bonus). Weapons or armor may not have more than a +10 total bonus until their wielder reaches 21st level, and they may not have more than +5 in simple enhancement bonuses until 21st level.

Weapon upgrade point costs:

Weapon Upgrades Armor Upgrades
Total Bonus Point Cost Total Bonus Point Cost
+1 2 +1 1
+2 6 +2 3
+3 10 +3 5
+4 14 +4 7
+5 18 +5 9
+6 22 +6 11
+7 26 +7 13
+8 30 +8 15
+9 34 +9 17
+10 38 +10 19

Special ability tables:

Weapon Special Abilities
Cost Description Key Event Omen Notes
+1 Bane – deadly against certain foes Must deal 80 points of damage to creatures of the particular subtype Glows when creatures of the appropriate type are within 60 ft
+1 Defending – transfer weapon bonus to AC Must have parried 10 attacks (extra bonus from fighting defensively used) Faint shield appears to wielder only Melee weapons only
+1 Distance – doubles range increment Must have dealt 20 points of damage to an enemy at least two range increments away Weapon hums slightly when fully readied to fire/throw Ranged weapons only
+1 Flaming – deals fire damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of fire damage or used to slay a monster of fire subtype Sounds of fire crackling when wielded
+1 Frost – deal cold damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of cold damage, or used to slay a monster of cold subtype Handle always cool to the touch
+1 Returning Must have dealt 80 points of damage with thrown attacks Returns per description Thrown weapons only
+1 Shock – deal electricity damage Must have been used to inflict or channel 15 points of electricity damage, or used to slay a monster that deals electricity damage Sound of thunder when opponent struck
+1 Seeking Must have dealt 20 points of damage to enemies with cover Wielder’s vision focuses on target when readied to fire/throw Ranged weapons only
+1 Ghost Touch – deals normal damage to incorporeal creatures Must have dealt 20 points of damage to incorporeal creature Weapon appears slightly transparent to wielder
+1 Keen – double threat range of weapon Must have dealt 3 critical hits in one day, or seven in one week Blade edge becomes difficult to look at
+1 Merciful – weapon deals extra nonlethal damage Must have been used to deal 50 points of subdual damage sharp edges appear rounded, blunt surfaces feel softer
+1 Mighty Cleaving – extra cleave per round Must have been used to make 3 cleaves in a day, or 7 in one week Weapon appears slightly tarnished by bloodstains
+1 Throwing – may be thown without penalty Must have dealt 20 points of damage from throwing Weapon hums slightly when waved about or thrown Melee weapon only
+1 Thundering – deals sonic damage on crit Must have dealt killing blow to a monster during a thunderstorm Thunders loudly on critical hit
+1 Vicious – deals extra damage to opponent and wielder Must have dealt 20 points of damage to its wielder (through fumbles or self-inflicted) Weapon glows dark when held Melee weapons only
+2 Anarchic Hero must be of Chaotic alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to lawful creatures, or used to deal killing blow to lawful outsider. Weapon covered in faintly glowing random swirls and lines that appear to shift when observed
+2 Axiomatic Hero must be of Lawful alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to chaotic creatures, or used to deal killing blow to chaotic outsider Weapon is covered in mathematically regular pattern
+2 Disruption Hero must be of non-evil alignment and weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to undead creatures Weapon glows with pure white light that shines as a torch. Will save DC increases by +1 for every two levels weapon is kept elegible for upgrades.
+2 Flaming Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of fire damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature with fire subtype Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in flame when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Flaming ability
+2 Icy Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of cold damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature with cold subtype Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in frost when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Frost ability
+2 Holy Hero must be of Good alignment. Weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to evil outsiders, or be used in completion of divine quest. Weapon prominently displays holy symbol of patron diety of Hero
+2 Shocking Burst Weapon must have been used to deal 80 points of electricity damage, or dealt lethal critical hit to creature that deals electricity damage Blade or head of weapon is wreathed in arcing electricity when wielded Upgrade only costs +1 bonus when replacing Shock ability
+2 Unholy Hero must be of Evil alignment. Weapon must have dealt 80 points of damage to good outsiders, or be used in completion of 10 sacrificial rituals. Weapon prominently displays unholy symbol of patron diety of Hero
+2 Wounding Weapon must have severed 10 limbs, or be used to slay a vampire or other energy draining monster. Weapon appears caked in dried blood
+3 Speed Weapon must have made 6 successful attacks in 3 rounds Weapon feel ligher than it appears it should
+4 Brilliant Energy Weapon must have slain a creature of the air subtype As the ability description
+4 Dancing Weapon must have dealt 30 points of damage while unattended Weapon seems to try to leap from it’s wielder’s hand
+5 Vorpal Weapon must have removed 10 heads from enemies Weapon turns black with a shining silver edge when wielded
Armor Special Abilities
Bonus Description Key Event Omen Notes
+1 Glamered Must have spent 24 hours disguised Appears as normal clothing
+1 Fortification, Light Must have been subjected to 3 critical hits Armor is decorated with a tower motif May also be applied to shields
+2 Slick Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 24 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 3 times Armor feels as though it has a film of oil on at all times
+2 Shadow Must have hidden in successfully from 10 enemies Armor is black and blurred at the edges
+2 Silent Moves Must have moved silently past 10 enemies Edges of this armor feel soft and padded, but do not look so
+2 Spell Resistance (13) Must have been subjected to 13 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in very dark environs May also be applied to shields
+3 Ghost Touch Must have been worn while fighting 3 incorporeal enemies Armor appears translucent May also be applied to shields
+3 Invulnerability Must have blocked 40 attacks Armor appears thicker than usual and has a stonelike feel to its surface
+3 Fortification, Moderate Must have been subject to 9 critical hits Armor is decorated with a tower and wall motif May also be applied to shields
+3 Spell Resistance (15) Must have been subjected to 27 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in dark environs, shines briefly when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields
+3 Wild Must have been worn while in an alternate form Bears image of alternate form most often used by Hero May also be applied to shields
+4 Slick, Improved Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 48 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 6 times As Slick Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Shadow, Improved Must have successfully hidden from 20 enemies As Shadow Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Silent Moves, Improved Must have moved silently past 20 enemies As Silent Moves Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+4 Acid Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Cold Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Electricity Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Fire Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Sonic Resistance Must have been subjected to 20 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields
+4 Spell Resistance (17) Must have been subjected to 44 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in shadowy environs, shines briefly when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+5 Fortification, Heavy Must have been subject to 27 critical hits Translucent armor plates appear to wearer May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+5 Spell Resistance (19) Must have been subjected to 63 levels of offensive spells Armor glows and shimmers faintly in shadowy environs, shines for 1 round when a spell is resisted May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Slick, Greater Must have been submerged in an oily substance for 72 hours or worn while escaping from bonds 9 times As Slick Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Shadow, Greater Must have successfully hidden from 30 enemies As Shadow Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Silent Moves, Greater Must have moved silently past 30 enemies As Silent Moves Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Acid Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Cold Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Electricity Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Fire Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+6 Sonic Resistance, Improved Must have been subjected to 40 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+7 Etheralness Must have spent 8 hours on the Etheral Plane Armor is covered in faint etchings reminiscent of spiderwebs
+7 Undead Controlling Wearer must have rebuked 26 HD of undead while wearing the armor Armor is decorated in a death’s head motif May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Acid Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Acid damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Cold Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Cold damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Electricity Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Electricity damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Fire Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Fire damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
+8 Sonic Resistance, Greater Must have been subjected to 80 points of Sonic damage Per ability description May also be applied to shields, Reduce upgrade bonus by previous bonus when upgrading from lesser version
Shield Special Abilities
+1 Arrow Catching Shield must have protected its bearer from 20 ranged attacks Shield engraved with concentric circles (similar to a bullseye)
+1 Bashing Shield must have been used to deal 20 points of damage Shield appears to have a hammered finish
+1 Blinding Shield must have been subjected to 5 ray attacks Shield is decorated with a lighthouse or lantern
+2 Arrow Deflection Shield must have protected its bearer from 60 ranged attacks Shield is decorated in a tortise shell motif
+2 Animated Shield must have exposed to magical levitation/manipulation for 8 total hours Shield seems to try to jump out of the hand of it’s wielder
+3 Wild Shield must have been wielded while in an alternate form Shield emblazoned with owner’s favored alternate form
+5 Reflecting Shield must have been subjected to 3 gaze attacks or 60 levels of spells Per ability description
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Big Things Coming

I’ve been away a while, yes.  But I’m currently working on a few things that will be published here over the next couple of weeks. First up, something I like to call Heroic Weapons, then some comprehensive encounter tables, weather tables based on the Köppen climatic classifications, and a few other thing I’m preparing for a campaign I’m hoping to run in the near(ish) future (with all the hubbub about 5e, I should probably note that all of this will be for 3.5e as that is the system I am familiar with and own books for).

Stay tuned!

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The Problem of Armor Progression

Ok, I think we all know that armor in D&D is fairly limited in it’s usability/usefulness.  As levels increase, attack bonuses increase, saves increase, hit points increase, but armor is fairly static.  Why is this?  Mainly because AC is primarily a function of equipment bonuses, with ability as a small supplement.  (I should note that this lack is primarily a concern for the front-line fighters, and not so much support or skilled characters)  In contrast, attack bonuses are primarily a function of ability, with equipment bonuses as just that, bonuses.

The solution for this problem can come from a few different angles.  Below I will present two possible fixes:  Armor Feats, and Armor as Damage Reduction.  First the feats:


Why is it that there are no feats to increase a character’s ability to utilize the armor they practically live in, day in, day out?  Fighters get weapon focus and weapon specialization, two-weapon fighting, the list goes on.  But what about armor?  Proficiency is as advanced as any character can get in the core rules.  So I propose some new feats, to mirror those that are provided to reflect weapons training.

Improved Maneuverability [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield.

Prerequisite: Proficient with chosen armor, base attack bonus +4.

Benefit: When wearing the armor selected, your armor check penalty is halved (round up).

Special: You can gain Improved Maneuverability multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat you choose a new type of armor or shield.

A fighter may select Improved Maneuverability as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Shield Finesse [General]

Prerequisite: Base attack bonus +2, Weapon Finesse.

Benefit: A shield’s armor check penalty no longer applies to attacks made with light weapons using the Weapon Finesse feat.

Special:  A fighter may select Shield Finesse as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Armor Focus [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor or shield, base attack bonus +1.

Benefit: You gain a +1 bonus to AC while wearing the selected armor.  This bonus does not apply when you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat you select a new type of armor or shield.

A fighter may select Armor Focus as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Armor Specialization [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected the Armor Focus feat.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus for selected armor, Fighter level 4th

Benefit: You gain damage reduction 2/- while wearing the selected armor.  This bonus does not apply when you are caught flat-footed or otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter may select Armor Specialization as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Greater Armor Focus [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected Armor Focus.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected weapon, fighter level 8th.

Benefit: you gain a +1 bonus to AC while wearing the selected armor. This bonus stacks with other AC bonuses, including the one from Armor Focus (see below).

Special: You can gain Greater Armor Focus multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter must have Greater Armor Focus with a given weapon to gain the Greater Armor Specialization feat for that armor.

A fighter may select Greater Armor Focus as one of his fighter bonus feats.

Greater Armor Specialization [General]

Choose one type of armor or shield for which you have already selected Armor Specialization.

Prerequisites: Proficiency with selected armor, Greater Armor Focus with selected armor, Armor Focus with selected armor, Armor Specialization with selected armor, fighter level 12th.

Benefit: You gain damage reduction 5/- while wearing the selected armor. This bonus does not stack with the damage reduction gained from the Armor Specialization feat, and does not apply when you are caught flat-footed, or are otherwise denied your dexterity bonus.

Special: You can gain Greater Armor Specialization multiple times. Its effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies to a new type of armor.

A fighter may select Greater Armor Specialization as one of his fighter bonus feats.


An alternative to adding additional feats to the list is to change how armor works entirely.  This change is a little more drastic, and requires your players (and DM) to be on board with this rather more complex variant.

In real life, most armor converts damage from one type into another.  For instance, bulletproof vests transfer a projectile’s energy from a single, high-energy point (piercing damage) into a lower-energy, more widespread area (bludgeoning damage).  Chainmail works in much the same way, converting slashing damage into bludgeoning damage.  The gambeson worn under top layers of armor would absorb a portion of the bludgeoning damage, and convert the rest into subdual damage.

Armor as Damage Reduction Variant:

Instead of AC being a static number, it is now an opposed roll, with dexterity modifier, shield bonus, size modifier, and miscellaneous modifiers as bonuses to a d20 roll.  Armor no longer adds a bonus to this check, but acts as damage reduction/conversion instead.  Dexterity and shields work to avoid being hit, armor serves to blunt the impact of those strikes which do.  Since the armor check penalty indicates how difficult it is to move in your armor, it affects your ability to dodge attacks.

Defense rolls look like this:

1d20 + Dex mod. + Shield bonus + Size mod. + Deflection bonus + Misc. mod.s – Armor Check Penalty

For simplicity’s sake, you may roll once per round instead of in opposition to each attack if you find that combat is taking too long due to utilizing this variant.

Armor now has different properties: Damage Reduction and Damage Conversion (DR and DC, respectively)

The damage reduction property of armor indicates how much damage from an individual attack is ignored, just like the barbarian’s class ability of the same name.  Different armors will reduce different amounts of damage from different weapon types (Piercing, slashing, and bludgeoning). These are indicated in the listing after the slash as P, S, and B (ex. 3/P, 6/S, 1/B)  The remainder of the damage (if any) is then subject to Damage Conversion.  Damage Conversion then changes the indicated amount of leftover damage into subdual damage, while any remaining damage is taken directly.

Example: Bruk Ironfoundersson the Dwarven Fighter is wearing full plate armor (DR: 6/P, 8/S, 8/B; DC 8).  He is attacked by three orcs, who are conveniently (for our example) wielding a shortspear, a longsword, and a club.  The first round of combat he rolls a d20 and adds his Dex mod of +1, his Shield Bonus of +2, and subtracts his armor check penalty of 6 for a total bonus of -3.  He “adds” this to his roll of 18 for a respectable defense of 15.  The goblins with the shortspear and the longsword miss, but the one with the club hits with an 18.  He deals a total of 12 damage to Bruk.  The first 8 damage is ignored (due to the DR 8/B of the full plate), and the remaining 4 damage is converted into subdual damage.   Round 2: Bruk rolls a 5 on his defense roll, for a total of 2.  The orcs land all three of their attacks easily, but Bruk’s armor still protects him.  The shortspear wielding orc deals 9 points of damage, the first 6 of which is ignored, and the remaining 3 is converted into subdual.  The orc with a longsword strikes with a critical hit, and deals 24 damage to Bruk.  8 of this is negated, 8 is converted to subdual, and the remaining 8 remains lethal damage.  The orc with the club hits, but only deals 6 damage, all of which is ignored.

After two rounds of combat, our stout dwarven hero has taken 15 subdual damage and 8 lethal damage.  Not too shabby.

And now, what you have all been waiting for, the new Armor Table (Note: Cost, Max Dex, Armor Check Penalty, Spell Failure, Speed and Weight all remain unchanged:

Light Armor

Padded:  DR 0/S, 0/P, 1/B; DC 1

Leather:  DR 1/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 2

Studded Leather:  DR 3/S, 2/P, 1/B; DC 3

Chain Shirt:  DR 4/S, 3/P, 1/B; DC 4

Medium Armor

Hide:  DR 2/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 3

Scale Mail:  DR 4/S, 3/P, 2/B; DC 4

Chainmail:  DR 5/S, 4/P, 1/B; DC 5

Breastplate:  DR 5/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 5

Heavy Armor

Splint Mail:  DR 6/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 6

Banded Mail:  DR 6/S, 5/P, 5/B; DC 6

Half Plate:  DR 7/S, 6/P, 6/B; DC 7

Full Plate:  DR 8/S, 6/P, 8/B; DC 8

Magic Armor:

Any magical armor effects (bracers of armor, mage armor and the like) has equal protection across the board, so Mage Armor would provide DR 4/S, 4/P, 4/B; DC 4.  In addition, these spells (along with magical enhancement bonuses to armor) provide damage reduction to spell effects such as Fireball, Acid Arrow, and other evocation spells.  However, deflection bonuses (vis. Ring of Protection) to armor would simply improve the Defence roll.  Enhancement bonuses to shields would provide a bonus to Defense rolls as normal as well as the enhancement bonus being applied to reflex saves.

If desired, the ultimate in realistic armor performance would be to apply some sort of mechanic to indicate when the armor had taken so much damage itself that it becomes useless.  A simple way to do this would be to assign it a number of “hit points” equal to five times its DC score, and count each attack that manages to deal lethal damage to its wearer as one against that hit point total.  Masterwork armor would have hit points equal to six times it’s DC score.


So that’s my ideas for you.  Any questions or comments are appreciated.  It may be a bit cumbersome, but believe you me that I simplified it quite a bit from my original idea.  Even the stuff I made up just now I edited back a bit.  If anyone out there sees this and actually puts it into use, please let me know.  Good Gaming to you!

 

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