'D&D' Category

Completely Exhausted!

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020


Apparently there is this mechanic in 5e called “exhaustion” that takes effect when…reasons. I don’t really know beyond “falling unconscious” triggers the effect. I’m only aware of the mechanic because I read a play report regarding a desert chase scene an adventuring group undertook while in bad, bad shape, which exhaustion only made worse (slower movement, inability to spend or regain HD, etc). The idea intrigued me, as it seemed to add a level of tension to play that simple hit point loss does not.

My understanding is that there are levels of exhaustion, from one to five. The first level of exhaustion doesn’t seem to have a huge effect, but level five means you can’t move, defend yourself, cast spells, use HD, or regain hp, or pretty much act in any way until you bring down your exhaustion level with a full night of rest (healing spells don’t help).

My inclination is not to add this as a constant mechanic to the game, but to add it as a sparingly utilized mechanic for tense, long-term situations — wilderness treks, pursuits, moving through extreme environments, failure to take regular long rests, severe injury and unconsciousness, and so on — and to have only three levels of exhaustion, from “tired, but fully capable” to “halved movement, penalty to all actions” to “completely incapable”.[1]

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Adventure Design in Short

Friday, February 14th, 2020


One of the methods I use to design and run adventures is by using organic situational development based on a pre-existing bare-bones infrastructure, fleshed out in play by both player character actions and by the addition of customized random event lists. Which totally sounds like some kind of crazy corporate jargon — localized variegated synergyzms? But here is what that actually means and how one would, themselves, go about doing so.

The short version, anyways.

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DC Without a Tire Fire

Wednesday, December 11th, 2019


In our D&D hack, there are no specific skills, no skill points to distribute, and so on. To attempt to use “skills”, players instead roll Attribute checks based on the most logical Attribute involved in what their character is attempting, and receive a bonus to that roll if their Profession or Background applies and/or if they have the appropriate tools or toolkit for the job.

In most games, the success of such skill checks is based on a sliding scale of difficulty–represented by a difficulty class (DC)–that attempts to account for all sorts of various calculated factors. I’ve found setting the difficulty for skill checks in this way, and doing so with consistent fairness, can sometimes be challenging and can simply bog-down play. This was something I felt needed to be simplified, and as such ruled that any difficult task a character attempts requires the a player’s modified roll to reach or exceed a result of 12. So when a player asks what they need to roll when attempting a skill-related task, the response is easy: 12. To the point they no longer need to ask: they already know what succeeds.

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Tick-tock Dungeon Clock

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019


“Clocks” are a concept from the Blades in the Dark RPG by John Harper. They are circles divided into anywhere from four to twelve sections, which are “ticked” after certain rolls are succeeded or failed. One or multiple sections can be ticked depending on the outcome of the roll. When a clock fills, something happens, something in the game’s fiction changes in some significant manner.

One of the issues I had run into with our D&D game is the concept of “running away” or “chasing down” being wholly reliant on Speed and the differences between those of the pursued and their pursuit. And the few times there were chases, they didn’t feel as fun or engaging as they should–just “I use my Move action, then they use their Move action, then I use my Move action, then they use their Move action, etc.” usually interspersed with some skill checks or ranged attacks.

Then I realized D&D already has something like a clock built-in, and why shouldn’t I add another?

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Carry On, My Wayward Hireling

Tuesday, October 29th, 2019


I was working on some resource rules, inspired by a preview from Dungeon Delvers: the Red Book, and by Blades in the Dark, attempting to simplify and abstract-ify consumable resources and available equipment. I like what I came up with, but realized it ended up much more fiddly than I really want for this particular design. Perhaps someone else will find it of value.

The idea is based around a Supply score, representing a character’s planning and foresight while equipping themselves for an adventure, but without using fine granularity to track certain consumable supplies such as food, clothing, arrows, torches, bandages, and so on. Supplies also affect a character’s Carrying Capacity — how much equipment and treasure they can wear and carry, and vice-versa.

The basic Supply rules rely on a series of ability score-limited checkboxes and rolling a die of decreasing value when supplies are used, potentially removing a checkmark from a box. The total amount of Supply available to a character is based on Intelligence, while a character’s total Carrying Capacity is based on Strength.

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